Friday, October 10, 2014

Not On The High Street Dad Academy: DIY rocket building workshop

A high percentage of the crafts people who make the products sold by Not on the High Street are female, so its founders decided to do something about that.

It's calling for Dadpreneurs everywhere to get in touch and set up Dad Academy to support this initiative.

Dad Academy sets out to teach dads some potentially lost playtime skills. Last week they built and raced their own LEGO cars. Next week we'll learn about storytelling. This week we built rockets.

You can try this at home. All you'll need is.

1 fizzy drink bottle.

1 piece of cardboard.

1 piece of thick coloured paper.

1 cork.

1 football pump adapter.

Gaffer tape.


1 track pump.

Some water.

1 tennis ball.

Step 1. Turn your bottle upside down and gaffer tape a tennis ball to the end of it. This provides a bit of weight at the tip of your rocket - so it doesn't go floating off to the sides like one of those super-light kids' footballs.

Step 2. Cut three fins for your rocket by taking a rectangle of cardboard and cutting it into two triangles. 

Step 3. This is probably the trickiest bit. Stick your fins to the end opposite to the tennis ball. You want about 10cm of find protruding out from the bottom of the bottle. This is so you can attach the pump to the nozzle when it comes time to launch. This step is tricky because, well, it's hard to tape your fins on to the bottle and get them to stay rigid. 

Step 4. Take your football pump nozzle and poke it through a cork you've cut in half so that it looks like the one in the picture below. Don't put it in your bottle yet. You'll need to fill it with a bit of water before you do. If you do put it in the end, do it gently so you can remove it easily. 

Step 5. Make a nose cone for your rocket by folding your thick coloured paper and taping it to the bottle over your tennis ball. 

Step 6. Fill your bottle 20-25% full of water then put your cork in the bottom pushing it in as far as it will go. Then invert it, stand it on its fins and connect your track pump. It'll look something like this. 

Step 7. Start pumping! After enough pressure has built up, it will pop your cork out and water will spew out of the nozzle and towards the ground with enough force to lift your rocket high (probably around 50m) up in the air. Experiment with amounts of water. The world record is around 600m! Good luck!


Thanks to Evolutionary Biologist Dr. Jan Wong for the rocket building masterclass, thanks to Not On The High Street for arranging it all and thanks to Harriet, Bryony and Sharan for being such lovely hosts. Oh and thanks to the Soho House basement staff for keeping those mini burgers, sausages and JD and cokes coming. Here's to drunk rocket building! No hold on, that's probably Bad Dad Academy. Save the bottles for the rockets. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Should the UK get e-voting?

I've been writing about elections and electronic voting for the past 20 months. So it's interesting to watch it appear on the agenda in the UK.

 I was in Parliament last week for the Speaker's Commission on Digital Democracy And I'm still signed up to Google Alerts to get the latest news.

 It's fascinating to hear the debate, although sometimes it's frustrating - the UK should offer electronic voting this year or next, not in the five or ten years it'll probably take.

 The older I get, the more I admire the line advertising agency, Beattie McGuinness Bungay, use: "Whilst we don't hope to re-invent the wheel, we would like it to turn a bit faster."

 I'm writing this as I listen to this debate and I can tell you that Emma Mulqueeny from the Speaker's Commission, one of the people involved, reveals the timeframe she predict's for e-voting's implementation in the UK.

 Read what Sky News has to say about the debate.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Watch your tone

Getting tone of voice right is tricky.

Especially in emails.

Avoid having to send 'I didn't mean it like that' follow-ups with MyFaceWhen, in its own words 'like using emoticons, on steroids'.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

#goodad: Marni at H&M

I have no idea what a marni is.

But I've heard of H&M and I've heard of Sofia Coppola, who directed this ad/video I saw on telly the other night.

Question, though: Could you pretty much put Bryan Ferry's Avalon to anything and you'd think it was good?

Friday, March 9, 2012

#goodad: Park the cliches, drive the Kia Optima

Finally, a car ad that tackles car ad cliches.

Good writing. Good line. Good ad.

Agency: I don't know. I've asked Google. Google doesn't seem to know. Do you?

Sometimes, the chasm between UK ads and their American counterparts is hilarious.

In this case, I can see the link.

US agency: David&Goliath

The Kia Optima retails in the UK from £19, 595. It's not cheap, but then what new car is? Plus it's probably around £10K cheaper than a BMW 5 series, or a Jaguar XF, Auto Express Driver Power's Car of the Decade (yes, decade), which it reminds me of.

What's it like to drive?

Good, it sounds like.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Clicking the like button

Clicking the like button means that you’ve read it, you’ve seen it, you like it.

It’s the least you can do.

There are reasons not to like the like button and there are reasons to like the like button.

A reason to like it is that it’s quick and easy, and you don’t have to say anything.

A reason not to like it is that it’s quick and easy, and you don’t have to say anything.

We quite liked it when people said something. Now they don’t have to.

A reason to like it is that it’s a like button, not an unlike button, which, according to research, we’d all click far more often.

But, then, do we really want to encourage that? Don’t we want to encourage liking, instead?

On the plus side, it makes it easier for lazy people to let you know they've seen, they've heard, they've liked.

The down side is a like button might encourage people to be more lazy.

On the plus side, you might get a response from someone who might never have said anything at all.

After all, we don’t always know what to say, do we?

UPDATE 12.3.12

Are you wasting valuable seconds of your hectic schedule clicking '+' on your mobile device before you can even, like, like a facebook post or comment? Thought so. Me too. Thank goodness clicking the like button now even easier.

Who cares about more clicks? Content providers. The more likes you get off someone, the more chance you have of appearing in their news feed. And that's according to facebook's algorithm, which is called Daisy*.

*I made this name up.

UPDATE 13.3.12

This image is doing the rounds today. Pressing 'L' results in a like for the picture. Now how do they do that, eh?

UPDATE 22.3.12

A year in the like, from Microsoft, lets you look back at your year in a whole new way - through the eyes of your family and friends (Microsoft's words, not mine). UPDATE - June 2013 What really happens when you click the like button

Monday, February 27, 2012

Plink by Dinah Moe

Make music with total strangers (or friends).

Check Plink. NOW.

By Dinah Moe.