Friday, 28 November 2014


Finding balance in your life is a difficult, but important goal. But computer science/maths is teaching me some useful ways to define it.
Defining it, after all is key to creating and maintaining it. So here's my question to you; "How do you define balance?"
Here's my two pennies worth.
  1. Define it - sit down and set your goals for things, relationships, finance and the your development this might help. it helps me
  2. Refocus each day - here are some tools I use personally. But you can do it on paper or in your head in the shower. I sometimes use a recording to give me headings to think on and brief/debrief each day
  3. Take Action - make sure when you have filtered your action plan to the daily level you follow it and record your progress towards each goal
  4. Refocus twice a year - I do the goalsetting thing every six months to refresh my goals and adjust for new priorities. That's why I made it
I hope you find all that useful. It is the system I use to manage my development as a computer scientist, musician, martial artist, parent, security operative, teacher, lover, friend, uncle, brother, son, and everything else that I turn my skills towards in the future.
My website has had some pretty big updates lately, including a new web based image editor (beta) and some new videos. check out for regular updates.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014


Here are some of my favourite quotes from the last month of door work:

"I'm a professional boxer." Announced by an overweight girl at 'The Association' in Ripley. She wasn't..

"You'll get used to the locals here.." Said by EVERYONE! What's the deal? I haven't reacted badly to 'the locals'.

"Hang on a minute mate, I just bought a drink.." Gentleman I asked to leave because he punched someone.

"You're posh aren't you" ... No... I'm southern, shut up.

"... so he said 'can I have a word outside?' an' I said 'that's not happening mate'. I mean I'm not 'urting no one, just a bit of coke for myself. I said 'I think you wanna talk to (insert doorman who's been there longer here) he understands'" Said obviously for my benefit to 'doorman who's been there longer'. To which I responded "I'd have had you out. He was just doing his job. If you don't want to be thrown out don't do drugs." BUT I resisted the urge to make a face..

"raghssshhbagabagawallashitballs" Woman who punched me in the face.. I added 'bagawallashitballs' to make her sound more clever.

"So what would you do if I did this" Said by our 'professional boxer' as she punched me in the stomach, to which I responded by feigning being winded and asked her to 'give me a second JESUS!'

"My boyfriend's over there" said by woman with her arm around her boyfriend.. He nodded. I'm still confused.

"'Insert owners name' said I could stick around." It was 'owners name' who told me to kick him out.

"Ha, you are WAY more ticklish tonight than you were last night!" Overheard two straight men on the front door.

"Catch it, bin it, kill it!!" One gentleman discussing a woman that he had seen and was less than impressed with the look of. He was not exactly a catch either.

Me:"What's your D.O.B?", girl: "16th of march 1986" (wrong), me: "that's wrong.. you don't get your own birthday wrong and it looks nothing like you."... time passes... Me: "You need to go home" as she tried to sneak in ... third attempt, me: "Seriously you need to jog on." she has a tantrum, the like of which I've never seen during which manages to say the utterly golden and pointless "My uncle's a doorman!" 

I love sharing.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

L33t Learning

Since I missed out on my calculus mark by 5%, the school of computer science looked at my application and saw that I had very high marks for programming, so they said if I hit 40% in the resit, I'd progress to year 1 of the degree this September.

This was a mixed result for me. Having been out of education for 16 years and having never studied maths to FE level, I have struggled to get my head around Calculus and Algebra as well as square away my subjects every three weeks for this year.

So for the last three to five weeks I have been on calculus overdrive. I've pushed my brain through real life pain; through threshold after threshold in a relatively short amount of time to arrive at a point where I would actually be comfortable starting the course again. I've inflicted such guilt on myself when avoiding study, that it made me quite difficult to live with I imagine.

Each tiny step up the Calculus mountain took me hours or days of study to get my head around, and during the last week I bashed said head against every past paper I could get my hands on over and over again. I studied the papers, and the solutions trying to reverse engineer the lecturers answers. Occasionally I'd hit a wall, when I could not see how the lecturer made some magical leap in his/her working out. I shed actual tears digging through notes looking for specific axioms that I had missed in the lectures. I scoured the internet, and notably bugged one of my maths lectures with (I estimate) close to 50 emails.

I sat the paper on Tuesday, and I have to say I'm really confident. I completed all 18 questions and did not hit a single point where I felt utterly lost. I couldn't believe it when I came out. It could still all go pear shaped, but I think I've done enough.


I passed with 68%, so the school has accepted me. :)

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Jogging algorithms

Wrote this as a comment on a g+ joke post about how geeks run.. So while I don't take credit for the idea, this was my take on the algorithm which I share now for posterity :)

for(int i = 0; i < routeSteps.length;i++){
Panic() imLiterallyGoinToDie = new Panic();

Tea cuppa = new Tea();
System.out.println("never again");

//I spent WAY too much time on this

Sunday, 4 May 2014


Grown women everywhere, forget about what you think men want. 

That is all. 

Need some context? Ok, here goes:

Over the last couple of days I have spoken with and seen social media from single women who have given the males of our species domain over their emotions that in general, we neither understand nor do we deserve. 

Your state; be it happy, sad or whatever, should not be dependent on whether or not some bloke wants you, or whether he wanted you and now wants someone else. It shouldn't matter how he feels about whether you will sleep with him. Most of all, never compare yourself to past or present partners. 

In a relationship you build respect and the other half will, over time come to care about how you speak, how you feel and act towards them. If you're not in a relationship do not give someone that power. For all you know they don't give a shit. 

I will never figure women out and I suggest that women proceed as if the reverse is true also. 

Also, if you find that the same shit happens to you, I suggest you change the  way you meet men. Change scenery a bit. Get out of the town your in for a few days. Just do something different. You don't need dating sites or anything. Take a friend and go to the next city on for a quiet drink now and again. 

If you're in a town, and have been for a long time, things can get a bit... Claustrophobic?! Every bloke you meet has a mutual friend on fb. This is an emergency! You are about to lose five seconds in the crystal dome! Get out! 

Lastly don't go out lonely. Do anything to change your state before you meet men especially for the first time. Actually if you are changing scene and not giving men so much power you will probably start feeling better and this will come across.

Basically I'm not trying to give dating advice.  I'm trying to say have fun and find yourself mixing in different circles. Put men out of your mind and enjoy your life. I hate seeing friends unhappy. 

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Studying the hard way?

A huge challenge for me during this year at uni (termed year 0, programmers will be pleased to know) is working out how best to study. Ironically the 'study skills' module has helped exactly 0% with this. 

I think that studying is a very personal thing. If, like me, you find that just reading and writing and going through exercises is very difficult and demotivating I have a few tips.

Replace the act of writing with the creation of something. Your own 'study system' if you will. For me I use a third party PDF reader (foxit) to speed read and annotate my lecture notes, copy the highlights onto a pad/whiteboard and summarise them and the formulae in aural notes that I then upload to The next day I listen back through, copy out all of the formulae and add as many as I can in the same fashion. After this ritual is performed I attempt example questions and then exam papers. 

This daily ritual can be split, shrunk, expanded as I need; depending on the events of the day. I also repeat this daily (if there's time) for maths revision. The priority being which exam is the closest, or which I feel weakest on. 

I can happily study 4-8+ hours straight in this fashion. Of course I take breaks at convenient intervals and make sure I get outside and get exercise. 

I also find that it helps to change my scenery sometimes. Considering all I need is my laptop, notepad and pencil case, this is really easy. 

Some other things I've discovered:

- Get Evernote and keep your notes there. You can access PDFs from smartphones in this way.
- Get a mini whiteboard to do practice questions on. You'll save a buttload of paper. The act of writing it down is way more useful than the act of reading them again. 
- Combine rote learning with understanding. If you are overwhelmed by something learn the formula/equations by rote, then read each day on it and attempt questions. This will lead you gently to the lightbulb moment.

and last but not least:
- Don't procrastinate too long on random blog posts...

Friday, 7 March 2014

You're grieving wrong

Loss is quite a thing. The brain has built in functions that will set  it aside indefinitely until you are ready to deal with it. 

Yet even while you are setting it aside, allowing yourself to perform whatever task you decided subconsciously required the delay of that loss, the brain is iterating through it one small chunk at a time. 

The greatest piece of advice I ever got about dealing with a loss was this:

"There is no wrong way..."

As in, whatever you are doing, that is the right way. That is what you need to do. It's terrible to be lost without that knowledge. To feel guilt because you don't seem sad enough, or you're functioning how you need to, to carry on.

The only people who will tell you you're doing it wrong either have no concept of loss, or no mechanism for analysing what they themselves are doing, or they have lived with a guilt for not doing it by somebody else's standard for some time. 

Screw standards. This is your future, and your recovery. Whoever you lost, they would not wish you to live with guilt as well as the pain of loss. 

The other thing that struck me today, after 19 years; you cannot underestimate the trauma that surrounds death. The loss itself is entirely separate to the trauma of witnessing it, and the pain, suffering and degradation of quality of life that leads up to it. 

Today I broke down in tears as I shaved my head. There was no trigger. I am not even sad. Perhaps my brain just finished another chunk. Go brain...

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Facebook - It isn't clever

Tonight I woke up and found it difficult to get back to sleep. This has perhaps put me in a foul mood...

I trawled facebook just to keep me quietly occupied, as everyone is asleep. The more I looked the more I had to resist the urge to jump down some poor thread's throat and tear it a new arsehole. 

Thread after thread of complete drivel. Its like somebody is genuinely attempting the old 'give infinite monkeys a typewriter' experiment. 

I'm not talking about the opinions of my friends (necessarily ;)), although it is always sad to see someone taken in by baseless, wishy washy bullshit written in big words to dazzle and confuse; by a sacked off buzzfeed journo for a 'the world is magical' organisation who can't face the reality that we're probably not telepathic until proven otherwise!! OK maybe I am talking about that a little bit. 

Proven, by the way, does not mean that it is said in another book. Nor does it mean that you heard a person tell a story that someone else heard about their great Gran while she was exploring drugs. Proof is measurable and can be cited. 

As I was saying I wasn't annoyed about that. But scrolling through the waves of drivel I found myself compelled to get involved several times and I suddenly realised that I was probably about to offend someone. So I stopped. I posted, edited and finally deleted several posts that were not meant to offend in the slightest. So I thought to myself; "If I don't want to offend them, and this is not going to achieve anything else... what am I trying to do here?" 

So here I am ranting away at Blogger. At least Blogger won't care that there is zero proof that our earlobes give us a sixth sense by wobbling at the exact fucking resonant frequency of a unicorns fart! At least Blogger will not take offence at me making this face *makes face*. 

I suppose all I'm saying is, if its written on a meme or a thread on facebook, it is almost 100% likely to be utter bollocks!

Rite of Passage

I've been with my girlfriend now for about 18 months. So much has happened it seems a lifetime. Not in a bad way. Time has not dragged, but I have the unshakable notion that so many events cannot happen and so much love and trust cannot be accrued in such a short time.

Before this relationship I was something of a bachelor. I was a 31 year old self employed martial artist. I wasn't badly behaved but my life was very different. Thinking back, I was lost. 

I did not dislike being single. In fact I believe strongly that until you have found the right person you should choose to be single, and bloody well enjoy yourself. Entering a relationship and dogmatically, blindly holding onto it even if it doesn't work is not the way forward.

"Easy for you to say Med. Mr 'When you know, you just know!'"

Not so actually. While for the most part I enjoyed being single, there were times that could only be described as crises.The culmination of loneliness, fear of said loneliness, futile attempts at success in career and love, unstable home-life, poor living conditions and irrational existential episodes brought about a short to medium length period of my life that I do not wish to repeat. 

People mock the 'mid-life crisis' quite a lot. They see older fellas in fast cars and think "criiiiisiiiiis". I was guilty of this once or twice myself. But if these events are anything like I experienced then a) They are not funny and b) All power to them.

I have no stats, but I think men in general do not take care of their mental health very well. Our standard response to poor mental health is booze or mockery. When faced with this crisis though, I needed to take more drastic action. Yet at no stage did it occur to me that I should go to the quack, which I have paid for with my taxes. 

Instead I researched self help, motivation and positivity. Usually I can't hack very much of this generally american dominated industry. But I did what I recommend any of you do should you be in need of a little help in this way. Research a buttload of it. Listen to as much as you can stomach and take action straight away to turn your brain around.

I digress; the original motion for this post was to talk a little about what it's like to be a new dad with a ten year old.

In a lot of ways that I didn't expect, the boy 'found' me. If I was lost, he was definitely key to navigating my way back to the right path. I had never wanted or needed children in the past. Not in the sense that I felt a yearning or a biological clock ticking away. But it would seem that, that was exactly what was happening, to an extent at least.

Interaction with him used to be a lot easier, because originally I was his Aikido teacher. So on the mat I was strict, and off the mat I was just an adult that he knew.

Now everything I say has consequence. Every position I take on every subject is analysed carefully and every tone of voice I take has an influence on his upbringing. This is so easy to forget and quite tough to maintain. It is also irreplaceable in ones life. If men have a final right of passage it is simply to be a true father figure.

I say father figure because being a father is as easy as... well you probably have some idea of what I mean by that. Actually taking on that responsibility is hugely different. I never wiped his bum when he was a baby, or helped him with his first steps. But how he grows now, in his formative years is partly up to me. This is one of the best things in my life, and yet I have never found a bigger challenge.

The mirror that is held up by having this responsibility is ruthless. It tells you exactly what you think of yourself. It shows you completely naked, casting aside your self image for the immature bullshit that it is worth.

The growth and beauty that you witness is incredible and profound. You share a part of yourself that may have hidden from you until this moment.

This experience is refreshing and beautiful, if you are up for it.

Site updates

I've made loads of updates to in the last hour (taking a well earned break from a morning of maths). Notably to the 'games' section with a new project in the pipeline. I've also made quite big changes to the 'learn stuff' links. Separating out the guitar and Aikido tutorials and adding a lot of material for the guitar section.

This is all old stuff that I have been meaning to post for ages, with the exception of the game, which is an ongoing procrastination.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Boiling an Egg; As taught by your Calculus lecturer...

"y = C*E+(½E)
a = π(x/2)^2 v = ( ∫(C+E+(½E))dy)x OR ay
t = 60*3
T = t+1/10t
b=s*v*z (z = equation for boiling one unit of water)

b+T = |Yummy|

OK, that is the technique for boilination, now you try with examples 1-50!!"

While this is probably innacurate, some of it estimated and some of it is undoubtedly incorrect. It serves to demonstrate the point.

If at some point in the lesson the teacher would actually say the words; "this is applied to the real world and is not just an abstract set of numbers and letters and long words..." mathematical studies would probably be more populated at higher levels.

Now I know WHAT integration, differentiation, limits etc are defined as, (discoveries I made independent of my lectures) I feel like I've lost a lot of time for something that could just have been explained a little differently.

Any way.. back to studying.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Day 5 - Sweary Phone Finder

This one goes out to stretch!

I give you, 'The Sweary Phone Finder'. You've been warned... It's very sweary!

Whether or not it is a practical solution remains to be seen.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Day 4 - Mardy Magic

Congratulations and thanks to @bobobex for their list of ideas that today I finally honoured by writing a tiny python magic 8 ball thing..

It was interesting putting this together. Playing around with ways of presenting it and possibly getting the python to run on a webpage. In the end I just zipped it up for download here:

The main reason for this is just time. I discovered some really cool stuff while researching ways to go about presenting it in browser, which I hope will be useful in the future. Check out and they're both awesome.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Day 3 - Regular Impressions

"... and the award for most pointless program ever written goes to (dramatic pause) Med of" Med approaches the mic and starts to speak emotionally; " I'd like to thank my brother Chris for giving me this opportunity!".

When I asked for ideas for things to build this week, my brother jumped in with a tongue in cheek "translation app" because apparently he has no idea what I'm saying on the internet most of the time. Well Chris, here it is:

and Here is a list of terms that it checks for so you can have a play:

"pc", "computer", "IDE", "coding", "app", "binomial", "algebra", "calculus", "plus", "equals", "aikido", "training", "throw", "ukemi", "falling", "he-man", "transformers", "cartoon", "defenders", "visionaries" 

So type any of those within a sentence and it should give you a rough idea of what's being said.

Again, totally pointless but a nice little play with reg ex and passing variables.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Day 2 - mealsBytheway()

Today I went for a really simple but useful little tool. A meal spinner. take a look here:

The winner being my girlfriends mother, she asked for a meal spinner that didn't repeat meats or sides consecutively from a given menu.

If this had been just a case of randomising meals it'd have been simple. As it is it took a little over 2 hours to throw together.

If I had more than a day (as laid out by the challenge) I would probably include uploadable/editable menus with options etc. Thinking I could do with one of these so I may come back to it next week...

Monday, 20 January 2014

Day 1 - The Estimator

The first winner was @nicmods who needed something she could easily use on her mobile device to estimate how much silicone she needed for a mould..

So here's todays project:

It's supposed to be viewed from a mobile device.

I started at about 0925 and finished at about 1130.

I will put a long round up of the weeks shenanigans at the end of the week. For now go and see on your mobile.
the initial page as viewed from my phone

the results page

Sunday, 19 January 2014

5 Days 5 Apps

As a budding programmer, I have ideas all the time. But that generally means I'm restricted by my own imagination. I want to practice this week as part of my studies, so how about this:

Think of a simple, achievable app idea. It could be something that you have wanted, or it could just be for fun. Now comment here, post it on my facebook tweet at me or IM me. 

I will then pick the 5 best (and do-able) ideas, build them, name them after you, host them at and blog the entire process. I will do one per day for the next five days. The likely winners will be those which I can conceivably achieve in a couple of hours, so no MMORPGs I'm afraid (this time), but a simple game isn't out of the question.

First one is tomorrow. Go!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

IDE or not to IDE - Pitfalls for would be coders (like me) to avoid (unlike me)

That is the question? If you are starting out, what do you use to write your code in and how do you compile it or check its working (if its interpreted)?

In the last year I've been struggling forth trying to level up my coding ability on multiple fronts. I started, luckily by finding (starring the hyper-generous Derek Banas) and attempting his Java Tutorials. All of this in an effort to prepare for the start of my degree.

In the past of course I had taught myself HTML, CSS and a little javascript. But this endeavour really kickstart my journey into the code.

Back in the early 00s I tried building websites with macromedia (sickface). This experience put me off for a long time. Until, during my time running my own dojo business it fell upon me to write the website.

After 3 days locked in a dark room with just me, my PC and I emerged bleary eyed to a new world. A world where, armed with nothing but a browser and a simple text editor you can create websites without wanting to eat your own fist or headbutt the PC (who is an innocent bystander in all this).

Returning to my more recent excursion into OOP and Java, I discovered Netbeans. Overall my experience with netbeans was very good, and I still use it occasionally. But it is quite 'heavyweight'. Especially after developing in notepad..

So spin on through the summer and I delve back into web scripting. I ventured deep into the murky depths of HTML5, Javascript, CSS, JQuery and PHP. My steed on this journey: Akelpad (google it ;) ), a fantastically simple and light-weight text editor that is totally free (as is netbeans). Akelpad is feature rich and with a little tweaking and some plugins becomes a viable IDE like experience. Especially when using chrome as a pack mule (to preview I mean). Here's something I made with it while learning about HTML5 Canvas.

Then I began formal education and discovered that on all the comp science machines they encourage you to use notepad++. At first I was put off by its microsoftiness. Then I gave it a whirl and now I'm hooked.

Especially after a little confidence in your code is built up you really don't need to be in an IDE with its preloaded library recognition stuff. It doesn't eat your memory and it DOES NOT MESS WITH YOUR ENCODING!

So my advice to anyone getting into programming is look up notepad++. The best way is to head over to and get it from there. Or just get their platform because that's ace too. Loads of free and legal software that you can move around on a chip with you. I don't leave home without it.

If you want an IDE for Java there is a portable version of eclipse knocking around the ether, but you can just get the full version for free any way. I do prefer netbeans however. I find it more intuitive for some reason but many programmers seem to blow the eclipse trumpet.

Avoid windows 8 apps or coding software in general unless you have looked up peoples experience with it. Especially if you are starting out like me. It really is a minefield and there's a lot that can go wrong that you may not yet understand that will make you chew through your desk in frustration.

Here's some great sources of info:

Once you've got going and think you are getting the idea of OOP, program architecture etc; find a book on a proper language, like C or C++, Java or similar and read. Read like your eyes will die tomorrow.

One last note on the programming community. Ask them questions. They love it and there are only a few complete nobs in a sea of nice and helpful people. They do appreciate it if you have done your homework so before you go cap in hand to make sure you've at least tried to get your head around the source code/documentation in question.

I hope that's all helpful and... this is me

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

The first iteration

Until recently I was a full time martial arts teacher. Martial arts still live at the core of my being, but my life has gone a different way.

Making money doing what you love is the dream, right? Well, I did that and I was successful at times, unsuccessful at others. But it was astoundingly rewarding in many ways besides financially.

So at 32, with a partner, step-son and rent to pay me and said partner brought up the subject of university. It's one of those things that I never got around to. There are lots of reasons why and I'd like to share a couple with you here.

Reason One:

When I was 14 my mother passed away due to cancer. Looking back I can see many events in my life that would have turned out rather differently with her at my back, watching over me or checking up on me...

That's not to say that I regret my life. Sometimes I look at situations that friends of mine are in, and into that factor in the support/berating/kick up the arse from a maternal figure and it confuses me. The role of a mother to a young adult is something that I understand intellectually but not intrinsically. But when I compare these events to similar happenings in my own life and try to overlay the 'mum' factor I can see that occasionally I would have taken starkly different paths.

Of note; I can say with confidence that I would certainly have gone to university at 18 or 19.

Reason two:

I have been let down by systems that I thought would support me or help me take the step up.

Seven or eight years ago, I held a supporting role in Exeter College. During this role I was placed in the music department where they made use of my college experience and musical ability. I attended course aimed at delivering learning to adults and it was arranged that I would teach provisionally on the lower level courses, whilst studying for a foundation degree in music.

Quite suddenly, the department pulled the funding and with one stone killed the two birds named 'hope' and 'confidence'.


I could go on with this rant about how I've been disappointed, but lets face it... boo effing hoo; right?

For anybody that does not know me, these situations are things that I have never considered before in this light. This is not cathartic, I write the accounts down in a purely ponderous way to give some insight into my motivation(?!). They are objective musings to set the scene.

So then, the seed was planted and inevitably grew into a real life event. Now I find myself falling down the rabbit hole of study. After 16 years out of formal education (at least in maths and English), I find myself on an engineering foundation year at the University of Nottingham preparing to undertake my undergrad computer science degree.

The moral of this story is; what-ever your new years resolution is, don't just write it down. Get up off your arse and do two things. Today, make a plan with a timeline on how its going to happen. Straight after you've done that do the first step, whatever it is. Make the first step towards that thing you want, that place you want to go or that person you want to be with (I'm all about motivating stalkers...).

So I thought I would blog about a few of the trials and tribulations that come along the way. This blog has many facets. On the one hand I'm a full-time student who is completely out of his depth (most of the time at least) juggling the roles of father, house-husband and studious learner. On the other hand I'm a mature student returning to higher maths, physics and computer science at 33. Let's not forget that I'm also learning teh Codez and blundering my way blindly through formal and informal education in all of the above.

So this blog will have stories of difficulties, successes and failures. It will have advice for coders who are starting out and probably an extensive library of 'what not to dos' in that area. It will occasionally feature my work which, until I get employed by someone or make something amazing, will be free or open source. There will be some news on the projects that are always available at There will be some journalistic accounts of parenthood and my continuing education and efforts/adventures with the wee Webb (my step-son) and more besides.

So prepare yourselves travellers, for my brain().