My Review of Getting Started with Processing

Originally submitted at O’Reilly

Learn computer programming the easy way with Processing, a simple language that lets you use code to create drawings, animation, and interactive graphics. Programming courses usually start with theory, but this book lets you jump right into creative and fun projects. It's ideal for anyone wh…

useful introduction to Processing

By dakegra from Wakefield, UK on 7/16/2010


5out of 5

Pros: Helpful examples, Concise, Easy to understand, Accurate, Well-written

Best Uses: Intermediate, Student, Novice

Describe Yourself: Developer

This is a short but useful intro to Processing – it starts with the very basics and through a great set of useful and well-illustrated examples takes the user up to a reasonable level of understanding.

It’s not an in-depth book, but as the title suggests, is a perfect ‘getting started’ companion to a first foray into Processsing. It also lightly covers the basics of programming – for loops, functions and so on, so could be a useful primer for someone new to programming.

I really enjoyed working through the book and trying out the examples – it’s left me with a keen interest to try out more things with Processing and apply it to my own projects.

Great fun. Perhaps not ideal for experienced coders, but ideal for beginners and those wanting the basics of Processing explained neatly and well.


movie review: Predators

Saw Predators last night.

To set the scene – hopes for this were high. This was *the* sequel. Robert Rodruigez! Predators, plural!
That ultra-cool trailer moment where Adrien Brody stops and his head and torso is covered in the triple-laser Predator sights. Laurence Fishburne! Danny Triejo!


It started well – we find our hero (Adrien Brody) unconscious in free fall, waking to frantically try and open his parachute. Pretty tense. He meets up with a motley crew of assorted bad-ass misfits.

The action ticks along nicely. The dialogue is fairly predictable – you could literally tell pretty much what Brody was going to say a line or two before he was going to say it. Still, that can be fun.

The action sequences are also fun, and well done. The only issue I have is that we’ve seen it all before, and better in some cases.

Brody plays a kind of sub- Vin Diesel Riddick from Pitch Black – anonymous hard case who is tougher than anyone else by a mile, quick with the wisecracks. Riddick was more interesting though, and you ended up rooting for him in the end, despite him being a merciless killer.

Same with the other characters – you could essentially line them up and say who’s going to make it to the end, who’s going to get killed off, and more or less in what order. Even the odd-man out was predictably not who he seemed, though I did sort of expect him to be working for the Predators in the end.

The bit which got me though was how few Predators were actually in the movie. That trailer? The one with the dozen or so gunsights?

Not in the movie.

That whole scene, that whole ‘oh. my. god… how on earth is he going to get out of *that*??’

Not there.

I wanted it to be what Aliens was to the original Alien – bigger, badder, more intense. What we got though was just another Predator movie, with a couple more Predators and a different motley group of characters to get killed off.

I wanted to see more of the Predators, more of the hunt, more of the why. I know *what* they do, I’ve seen it before. It’s cool, with the thermal imaging stuff, and the laser sights, and the weapons and stuff, but I wanted… more.

Had this been the first Predator movie, it would have been perfectly fine. As it was, it was just another version of it, with no twists or turns or real surprises. It was better than the AvP movies, but Arnie did it better.

That said, I liked the yakuza guy and his swordfight. I liked Laurence Fishburne. Danny Treijo is always watchable. Adrien Brody looked in phenomenal shape.

Oh, and for those who’ve got this far, a question. Why, after being told halfway through the film that Arnie saved himself by covering himself in mud, did Royce (Brody) wait until the very end of the film to actually do it? Then completely ignore the fact that he was covered in mud (as it clearly didn’t work on the thermal imaging camera) and go for the fire instead, which clearly was his plan all along?

So, in summary, a perfectly ok action flick. Decent acting, big explosions, all your standard Predator fare. I didn’t resent paying my seven quid for a ticket, and was quite happy that I’d seen it on the big screen.

It just wasn’t what it so easily could have been. It’s been set up for a sequel. Now I want my Predators, plural. And *lots* of them, this time.

7/10. Try harder next time.

Week 3 update

Week 3, and the allotment is coming along nicely – the damson trees are full of fruit, and the apples are ripening nicely. We’ve got tomato plants in and have sown peas at one end of the plot.

We’ve shifted 2 huge builders’ bags of plants we’ve dug up, and another one is full ready for a trip to the tip. Maybe we could have composted some of it, but there were nettles and docks in amongst it.

The middle third is now mostly covered in weed-resistant matting, tarps and old groundsheets.

I’ve been clearing the other end too – it seems like a shame to ditch the potatoes, but after a bad few, it’s not worth the hassle. Clear ’em out, get some new stuff in instead.

I’ve started clearing a pathway between our half-plot and our neighbour’s half – we’re supposed to leave 9″ either side of the dividing line, so as the neighbour has been away and hasn’t seen their plot yet, I’ve been clearing either side of the line to make the path. We’ve got some board for our edge, and some old carpet to put down for the path.

Last night our neighbour Mark and I were having a chat and he gave me a seed tray full of leek seedlings as he’s got too many. Should get them in tonight, hopefully! Hooray for generous allotment neighbours!

Bites: 5 – 3 on legs from last 2 weeks (now wearing long trousers for digging) and two on my right arm from last night. Hoping those two don’t go the way of the other three, which itched like crazy, hurt, and left painful bruises.

Also my copy of One Man and His Dig: Adventures of an Allotment Novice finally arrived from Amazon last night. Looks jolly amusing, but too tired to actually read it!

Photos later…


Digging the allotment last night. I foolishly decided to wear shorts and yes, I got bitten by another %$*(£%*$(ing mosquito.

damn, but they hurt.

The last bites took a week to sort themselves out and I was left with bruises a couple of inches across on both legs.

Note to Self: wear long trousers when digging, no matter how warm it is.


in other news, the allotment is coming along nicely – we’ve dug out under the damson trees (absolutely bulging with fruit) and cleared a bit next to the path and put tomatoes and peas in.

Took a crop of redcurrants and whitecurrants and made some jolly tasty redcurrant jelly last weekend, which was hard work but great fun, and tasted delicious.

Also started clearing the path between our allotment and the other half allotment. Apparently we need to leave 9″ either side of the centre line, so I’ve been running an 18″ strip down the middle and putting old carpet down as a path between the two.

We’ve also put weed-resistant matting and old groundsheets over the centre section to stop the weed growth whilst we sort the rest out, and started clearing the far end.

You’re curious why we’re covering the middle, aren’t you?

It’s because at the far end there are loads of potato plants, and therefore loads of tasty new potatoes growing. We dug up a carrier bag full the other day, and I dug up another kilo or so last night.

Annoyingly, the veg box we get delivered also has potatoes in this week and we forgot to change the order. Anyone for spuds?


We were doing some sorting in the garage yesterday and I discovered another two of my old juggling balls. Or rather, what was left of the juggling balls – the mice had clearly been at them and had feasted on their innards.

I’m still not entirely sure how my collection of juggling balls ended up in the garage – I had at least a dozen which I’ve picked up over the years too. My first set (of four) I got back at university, so were at least 20 years old. I then inherited my brother’s set when he moved out of his student house, so there’s another four. I bought myself a lovely bright set at Greenbelt a couple of years ago, which were ace. They weren’t *quite* luminous, but came quite close.

I’ve got sundry others too – the orange ‘stage’ balls, which are big and bright but go flying if they bump together. A set of proper glow-in-the-dark juggling balls. A large luminous one for contact juggling, and my clear acrylic ball which I also use for photography.

So, I need[1] some new juggling balls. Or, more specifically, thuds. Thuds are those soft, squishy, multicoloured beanbags. Much better for practising, they have a good heft and don’t roll off when you drop them, or bounce apart wildly when the collide mid-air.

I want to get five too – I can juggle three comfortably, and four with a bit of practice to get my eye in. Never quite mastered five though…

Oddballs do some good deals on thuds, especially when you buy several. Trouble is, which colours to get? I like the multi-coloured ones, but they don’t seem to do the semi-luminous ones like in the photo above…

[1] for a given value of ‘need’, obv

a hush of librarians, and other collective nouns

Collective nouns illustrated


I like the hush of librarians, though why are they all female? Grr*

* pet peeve, having been a male librarian for some years. Though, on further reflection, it merely shows three people dressed in female clothes. It’s entirely possible that one or more is a transvestite**
** I reckon it’s the one on the right