Archive for the 'Fun' Category

Free Rice

Everyone should go have a look at It is a relatively new site that claims to donate rice to the World Food Program, who then distribute it to people who need it. The way they fund this, is by providing a simple (but entertaining) word game, with a small advert on each page (I didn’t actually notice the advert until it was pointed out to me). The game is a series of multiple choice questions, where you have to choose the most similar word to a given word from a list of 4. For each correct answer, they donate 20 grams of rice.

To make the game more interesting, each word has a “difficulty” associated with it between 1 and 50. It starts by asking a few random words to get an idea of what level you are at. Once it has determined a suitable level, it ask you questions from that level. If you get 3 questions right, you go up a level, and if you get a question wrong, you go down a level.  This means that it adapts to your vocabulary to give you words you have a chance at getting, but not making it so easy that it is boring.

FTIR touchscreens

A PhD student at the University of Bath recently told me about a (relatively) new type of touchscreen, which relies on “Frustrated Total Internal Reflection”. (see here). Basically, Infra-Red light is shone down the inside of a sheet of acrylic. When something touches the acrylic, the light is reflected away from the object, where it can be picked up by a (slightly modified) webcam.

Found at

This image shows what a webcam underneath the touch screen picks up (Image from This image can then be processed to pick out the bright “spots”, and the coordinates on the touch screen worked out.

The big advantage of using this method to detect interactions with the screen is that you are not limited to just 1 point of interaction at a time. For example, in a paint application, each finger could be a separate pen/ paintbrush. This also means that the number of users that are able to interact at the same time is only limited by space around the touchscreen.

These touchscreens are also relatively cheap to make. The main expense is a projector (which cost around £300), but all of the other components can be obtained for < £100. Someone has blogged their attempts to make a screen.

Below is a demo of a FTIR touchscreen:

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

And a link in case the player doesn’t work.

It also seems like there aren’t too many problems getting this to work in Ubuntu, so I’m hoping that I may be able to build one myself sometime soon 😀

Google moon

You should visit and zoom right in…

Pimp That Snack

This is one of the best ideas I have come across in a while – people making huge versions of normal snacks.

I think that the Custard Cream is one of the best ones 😀