There's an idea that's been playing in the back of my mind recently: given the diverse background of people involved in roller-derby, why aren't more of the resident techies making things to facilitate officiating the sport?

Actually, that's a bit of a loaded question. They already are. One of the most visible examples is the scoreboard you see projected on a board/wall at most bouts.

A bunch of people took time out to make stuff happen.

As a personal project, I want to write yet another penalty box timing app, one that suits my needs, given that I've done the job and know what irks me about my current system. (Also, I just want an excuse to code up a simple android app for a tablet I plan on purchasing)

After a random conversation at a practice session, it seems other people have other problems they want solved, and other than cost for a pre-packaged solution, I don't see why some of these things can't be done.

For instance, if you're tracking penalties, it's frequently hard to hear referees' calls. What would be interminably cool is some sort of headset system so the people on the inside could listen to the penalties on headphones and deal with them. The main issue is the transport signal (radio/bluetooth/whatever) and the ergonomics of it (and maybe the communication structure).

What I'd love to see is a timing device that could tie into the scoreboard so that the timekeeper could ensure correct time was displayed to the audience/skaters. The easiest solution in my head would be a smartphone app that utilised some method to communicate to the machine running the scoreboard software. Hell, then we could maybe have the penalty box software listen in to sync with the timekeeper so that the timing starts and ends with the jam.

Even if it was beyond the skillset of the league's members, I wonder if something like the Science Day Hackathon could work? Sometimes the hardest thing about figuring out about making something is what to make, or deciding what problem you want to solve.

I think improving some of the technology used could solve a lot of our problems, and it'd be really interesting to see if it works. It's mostly a matter of getting the right people together.
A few weeks ago, there was a Steampunk event in Dublin. I had intended to go to it, and I had also intended to take a dive into making a bit of jewelery for it.

This involved some leather strip, some nuts from a hardware store, and some findings that I got in Beads'n'Bling. Me being me, I managed to lose the leather, so I couldn't make the choker I had intended. It didn't matter that much as, due to a busy week, I missed the event anyway. I still have all the materials, with the nuts littering my room, and the leather being... somewhere.

Anyway, I have a pendant that a friend gave me. It's really worn and the clasp was slightly broken (the main latch was chipped), but I wanted to inject some new life into it. This morning, on a whim, I decided I'd fix up the problem by replacing the latch, given that I'd recently bought a bag of 50 of them.

For reasons I've long since forgotten, I have a pair of pliers on the shelf above my bed (I think it's from the last time I had notions about trying to make jewelery) - they're from Maplins, but they seem to be the same as a pair that I got in a magazine one time, except with a better grip. Using those, I opened up the jump ring, and replaced the latch with minimum difficulty.

Wearing it now, it somehow feels more secure, although that may just be a psychological effect from knowing that I made it more secure.

Yes; I know this barely qualifies as anything on pretty much any scale, but it's a start in the right direction, and it's something I did for myself with materials that I had. It's a feeling I've forgotten until recently, and it feels good.

Now, to put that huge roll of cat-5, rj45 crimpers and heads to good use.



September 2015



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