EXCLUSIVE: Secret new Ferrari off-roader spotted testing?

Secret test vehicle showing clear off-road capability

Secret test vehicle showing clear off-road capability

Publicly, Ferrari CEO Amedo Felisa and outgoing President Luca di Montezemolo have routinely denied any plans to branch out from sports cars into saloon cars, or even SUVs. However, the apparent sighting today of a secret test vehicle in London suggests that the company’s plans for an off-road model are both real and well-advanced. Cleverly disguised as a 458 Spider, the off-road test vehicle was spotted in a sophisticated test facility designed to replicate a residential street in Westminster. Typically this terrain is the preserve of Range Rovers and other “Chelsea Tractor” SUVs, so it is clear which section of the market Ferrari is targeting with its off-road plans. Hidden from view is an enhanced version of the now-familiar mannetino control dial on the steering wheel, bearing two extra settings: “SM” and “DM”.
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Building a robot at the NASA Space Apps Challenge

Claudia our Space Apps Lego robot

The NASA Space Apps Challenge took place around the world on 20-21 April 2013. Suitably inspired by this global hackathon, I entered the challenge with a team of work mates. We decided to take on the Lego Rover challenge and set about creating a Lego robot with a difference – gesture control. We assembled a Lego Mindstorms NXT robot kit and hooked it up to a laptop PC with a Microsoft Kinect sensor. In a handful of hours we created “Claudia”, the gesture-controlled robot that can use her claw to collect garbage (in this case soft drink cans) – somewhat inspired by and resemblant of WALL-E.

It was great fun and we were delighted (and relieved) that our live on-stage demo worked. Thanks to Steve for his successful arm-waving!

Only where I live

Avid readers of my blog will know that I dislike silly signs. The worst offenders I celebrate here and then do my best to ignore. However, this week the issue of silly signs was brought so close to home that it really must not be ignored. One lift in my apartment block now bears this sign inside and out:

Don't go it alone - this lift demands "3 Persons Only"

Don’t go it alone – this lift demands “3 Persons Only”


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Geek art homage: BloodhoundSSC & Raspberry Pi

At an IET talk on Raspberry Pi this week, I met someone who works on BloodhoundSSC – the awe-inspiring, faster-than-a-bullet, 1,000mph car project. Both Raspberry Pi and BloodhoundSSC are fantastic UK STEM education initiatives doing a great job of engaging geeks of all ages.  Suitably inspired, I couldn’t resist paying homage with my Pi-powered light painting gizmo. Here’s the resulting living room geek art that celebrates these two UK technology icons. Hope you like!?

Long exposure light painting showing BloodhoundSSC car on left and Raspberry Pi logo on right

Geek art homage to BloodhoundSSC and Raspberry Pi

Robotic light painting with Raspberry Pi

First handheld attempt at light painting with Raspberry Pi

Inspired by the amazing images and brilliant write-up by Phillip Burgess at Adafruit, I decided to give my Raspberry Pi something interesting and colourful to do – light painting. A happy day of geeking saw my brother and I pull together a wireless remote-controlled, battery-powered, Raspberry Pi light painting robot. It’s not perfect, but we think the initial results are pretty good for a day’s work and I thought I’d share some notes and photos in case anyone else is interested.
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Apple Maps fails simple London postcode search

This morning, Apple Maps let me down badly on my way to a meeting. All I needed to do was look up a London postcode and find the nearest tube station. Simple. It’s something I’ve done many times using the Google-powered Maps app on my iPhone. But for Apple Maps (which replaced Google Maps in Apple’s recent iOS 6 update), this simple request was too much to ask.

Thankfully Google Maps came to the rescue (via web browser). Have a look at the screenshots below and witness the Apple Maps shambles.

How it should be – Google Maps clearly showed three named tube stations, with Tottenham Court Road closest to the pin (showing the result of my postcode search). Result.
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