Ben North's blog.

Covering various topics, usually of a vaguely nerdy nature.

30 December 2018

Circular Os and Xs

On a ferry journey, Jude wanted a pen and paper game that we didn't already know how to play, so she invented a variant on naughts and crosses ('tic-tac-toe'). You play it on this board: You still have to get three of your marks in a row, but there are more ways for this to […]

04 December 2018

Studying a Hallowe'en LED flasher

A friend kindly gave us some flashing-light stickers for Hallowe'en, and the natural thing to do with them once the festivities were over was to dissect them. So we did this, and found that each contained a square circuit board about 25mm on a side. When you press a little button in the middle, three […]

25 May 2018

BBC software archaeology

Connecting a BBC Master to a modern laptop over a serial link allowed me to extract a friend's old programs from 5¼″ floppy discs.

28 March 2018

Compiling Python into an AWS Step Function

A 'plausibility argument of concept' for the idea that normal Python code can be compiled into a 'Lambda function' and a 'Step Function' for use on Amazon Web Services.

25 January 2018

A set of Scratch worksheets

The school my three youngest children go to runs after-school activities, and I was part of a group of volunteers who ran an 'Advanced Scratch' course. This was aimed at 10–12-year-olds who had done a reasonable amount of Scratch already, and wanted to explore more. We spent several sessions developing a much-simplified version of the […]

03 December 2017

An interesting piece-fitting puzzle

Via, I came across Math=Love's blog entry describing a piece-fitting puzzle, and thought it would be interesting to solve it exhaustively and answer the question in the blog entry: So far, we have found two different possible solutions. I'm looking forward to collecting data to help determine if there are more! I did this […]

19 October 2017

Remote display for pinball machine

To be able to watch our pinball machine's display from anywhere in the house, my son and I put together a system using a logic analyzer and a Raspberry Pi to broadcast it as streaming video.

14 August 2017

Simpler exponential MazezaM level family

Following on from the previous MazezaM-related post, Aaron Williams and I swapped a few emails about my family of MazezaM levels whose solution lengths are exponential in their sizes. Aaron put forward a simplified family of such levels, and I have now produced an animated demo: Full write-up and demo on GitHub.

01 April 2017

'Splat the zombies' 3D game

I recently got another long-running collaboration to the point of having something to show — a first-person shooter in the browser. This was an idea which Sally, my youngest, had. She drew a bunch of house fronts, and also some 'zombies', and then a map of the world where the action takes place. The result […]

29 January 2017

Exponential Mazezam level family

As a correction and follow-up to a previous post, I constructed a family of Mazezam levels whose solutions are exponential in the size of the level. Many thanks to Aaron Williams for pointing out my error to me. Full write-up and demo on GitHub.