Orange offer free laptop with 15 per month broadband

I previously wrote about Redten Broadband which offered broadband for £20 a month and included a free computer. They aren’t around any more, but Orange have just begun to offer a new deal where you can get 2mbps broadband with a free laptop for £15 a month.

You’ll need to check out the PC World website and then visit your local store. The 2mbps broadband comes with a 2gb monthly cap which is fair for the price of £15 a month; you’ll probably get a similar cap on other services of the same price. You’ll get a Ei Systems 3103 laptop for free including Windows XP Home, 256MB RAM, a 40GB hard drive and 15.4" screen.

Alternatively you could have a £350 discount on a more expensive laptop; you can get a Centrino Core 2 Duo laptop for £200. Not bad at all! 

You are locked in to a 24 month contract if you take this deal – this compares with an 12 or 18 months which is standard with most ISPs.

If you’ve used this before, please do let us know your experiences with it. 

Wii Infrared

I recently got a Nintendo Wii console, which is super-duper amazing. I must admit I do get the reaction of "OMG you bought the only console with crap processing power, graphics and lack of HD output", but the main thing is it is what any games console should be: fun. (see comic at bottom of post)

Sensor Bar

I had some problems getting the position of the wiimote to be sensed correctly but I quickly realised that was due to the fault of background light. It seems that the sensor bar emits infrared light which the Wiimote picks up and "triangulates" to measure change in position, etc.

Anyway, if none of you believe me: here’s a picture of the Wii Sensor Bar with Infrared: 

 

Infrared Photography

For those of you who aren’t trained in physics – light comes in electromagnetic waves. The visible light we see has a wavelength of between 400nm and 700nm. When the wavelength is longer than red (which has a wavelength of 700nm), it is infrared.

We can’t see infrared because it is beyond the spectrum our eyes can perceive, but we feel it as heat. TV remote controls use infrared.

Camera CCDs

Digital cameras have "Charged Couple Devices". These are designed to pick up light and to convert it into a series of 1s and 0s, so we can view them on a computer. The problem is that CCDs are generally made with a wavelength range of about 350nm to 1000nm so they will pick up infrared (heat), which can give strange photos as our eyes don’t percieve this part of the spectrum.

To get around this, camera manufacturers put filters to block out infrared light. Because mobile phone cameras tend to be of a poor quality and are very compact, they only have a thin film of filter, meaning it will pick up infrared. This is one of the reasons why photos taken on mobile phones are inferior to real digital cameras.

However, we can harness this problem with mobile phones and take images in infrared. If you put a phone cam in front of a TV remote control and press some buttons, you should see a succession of rapid flashing. The same happens with the Wii sensor bar allowing you to take an image of the infrared emitted from the bar.

Clever, eh? 

Wii Comic 

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @ Explosm.net

Music in Python

I was learning C but I got a little bit distracted and spontaneously decided to start writing music in Python code. It’s no Beethoven or Mozart… in fact it’s just Yankee Doodle played through the WinSound library. It only works on Windows. The first argument to the Winsound.Beep function is the frequency of the note; the second is the length of the note. The song plays through your computer’s built in buzzer.

Code follows:

import winsound;

beatlength = 300;

winsound.Beep(262, beatlength) # C
winsound.Beep(262, beatlength) # C
winsound.Beep(294, beatlength) # D
winsound.Beep(330, beatlength) # E

winsound.Beep(262, beatlength) # C
winsound.Beep(330, beatlength) # E
winsound.Beep(294, 2*beatlength) # D (double length)

winsound.Beep(262, beatlength) # C
winsound.Beep(262, beatlength) # C
winsound.Beep(294, beatlength) # D
winsound.Beep(330, beatlength) # E

winsound.Beep(262, 2*beatlength) # C (double length)
winsound.Beep(247, 2*beatlength) # B (double length)

winsound.Beep(262, beatlength) # C
winsound.Beep(262, beatlength) # C
winsound.Beep(294, beatlength) # D
winsound.Beep(330, beatlength) # E

winsound.Beep(349, beatlength) # F
winsound.Beep(330, beatlength) # E
winsound.Beep(294, beatlength) # D
winsound.Beep(262, beatlength) # C

winsound.Beep(247, beatlength) # B
winsound.Beep(196, beatlength) # G
winsound.Beep(220, beatlength) # A
winsound.Beep(247, beatlength) # B

winsound.Beep(262, 2*beatlength) # C (double length)
winsound.Beep(262, 2*beatlength) # C (double length)

Now just to give the computer some artificial intelligence and I can create my own top 10 hit… 

Amazing Javascript Image Effects

If you thought reflection.js was cool, you ain’t seem nothing yet! Christian Effenberger has created three amazing image effect scripts.

Corner.js 

 

Corner.js can add rounded corners to your images, as well as shading and shadows around the image.

Glossy.js

Glossy.js can add that wonderful glossy and shiny effect to your images.

Instant.js

 

And my personal favourite. Gives you that instant polaroid look. Configure the tilts, shadows, borders…

I think "wow" summarizes these scripts for me Check out the license though; it’s not the same BSD license reflection.js is licensed under, and you need to obtain a license to use it on commerial websites.