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Halloween Pumpkins

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment

With lots of time on my hands, I decided that I would do something special with my pumpkin for Halloween. The idea was simple… Would I be able to carve my own face onto a pumpkin? This post tells the story of my endeavour, and by the end of it I’ll let you be the judge as to whether I was successful.

In order to get any sort of design onto the pumpkin, the main job is to create a template of the design that you want. The first challenge is to chose what design you want, which was easy for me as I had already decided that I would carve a picture of my own face. The next step was to find a suitable picture that could be used to make a good template. Keeping in mind that the final design can only use three shades, it is necessary to find a picture that can be converted into a three level grey-scale and still keep its features. In the final carving, the lightest areas will be made by carving out complete holes, the medium areas will be made by removing just the skin of the pumpkin, and the darkest areas will be left with their skin on. The main thing to keep in mind, is that the final pumpkin is only likely to work when lit from within by a candle, and sat in a dark room.

After a little bit of searching, the best hints I could find were to use a photo that is well lit from the front, but with a plain dark background. Luckily for me, I had a recent photograph that fulfilled that role: the professional photography from my graduation. So, cropping the picture so as just to show my face, I was left with the following starting point for creating my template.

Alex PhD Graduation

Now comes the Photoshop skills, or in my case GIMP skills. You need to convert the image into grey-scale, and then “posterize” it down to only 3 levels of grey. If the resulting image isn’t very good, then playing around with the contrast and brightness of the image, before posterisation, can help. You also have to remember that the template will have to be carved into a pumpkin, so you cannot have any dark or medium areas “floating” within light areas. I have changed my 3-level grey-scale image into a 3-level orange-scale image, to add a pumpkin colour theme to the template.

pumpkin template

So, with template in hand, I only had to choose a pumpkin from the green grocer’s, attach a print out of the template, and transfer the layout onto the pumpkin. Then the relevant parts of the design could be cut out or skinned.

PumpkinsPumpkin with TemplateTemplate Transferred to PumkpinHoles Cut OutAreas SkinnedPumpkin lit

I’ll end this post with a photo of the finished pumpkin, lit up with a candle, and placed in a dark room, and a photo of it sat amongst its Halloween pumpkin peers.

Final OutcomeFinished Pumpkins

Comments welcome.

Categories: Life

Painting and Decorating

October 24, 2010 Leave a comment

I was recently asked to help out with some redecorating. This mainly involved a single bedroom, which needed a hole fixing in the ceiling, a few cracks filling in the walls, and a full repaint. I thought this blog post would be a good place to put a brief description of what we did, along with some before, during and after photos of the room.

Firstly the hole in the ceiling…

The original Artex ceiling was falling away from the actual ceiling beneath, and had left a large hole. This was fixed by preparing the surface with some watered-down PVA, onto which the new Artex could be applied. Finally the whole ceiling was painted in “Calm Breeze” so the patched hole would match the rest of the ceiling.

Then the biggest crack? in the wall…

One of the walls had got a little damp, probably due to the placing of furniture in front of the wall. The old plaster had come off in places, so it would require filling to give the wall a smooth surface. Once again, we prepared the surface with watered-down PVA and then filled the hole with Polyfilla. The “before” photo on the left is a little dark, but also shows the original dark blue colour of the room. Finally we finished the wall off by painting it with “Calm Breeze”.

The finished room…

I am pleased with the results. The room is now a lot lighter, and the work only took a few days.

Categories: Life

In The Beginning…

So, I have decided to start a blog… The main question at this stage might well be “Why?”.

Well, my name is Alexander S. Green, and I was born 27 years ago, on the 21st of February 1983. I grew up in Long Ashton, which is a prosperous village close to Bristol, just inside what is now North Somerset. Up until recently in my life, I have spent most of my time in education. Starting at Birdwell primary school in Long Ashton.

Me in my Birdwell uniformMe in my Birdwell uniformMe in my Birdwell uniformMe in my Birdwell uniformMe in my Birdwell uniform

I left in 1994 to move onto St. Katherine’s secondary school in Pill, a short coach journey from Long Ashton. I stayed on at St. Katherine’s for my GCSEs and A Levels, eventually leaving in 2001.

Me in my St. Katherine's uniform

At this point, I started my university education at the University of Nottingham, and finished my BSc. in Computer Science with an upper second in 2005. The same year, I started a PhD. still at Nottingham as part of what is now the Functional Programming Laboratory. My thesis “Towards a Formally Verified Functional Quantum Programming Language” was finally submitted towards the end of 2009, and I was able to graduate at the July 2010 ceremonies.

Me at GraduationMe at Graduation

So, thats a very brief run down of my life so far, or at least my life in education. I am now headed out into the big bad world, and looking for jobs in which I can use all the skills I have been working towards for so many years!

Well, the point is that until this time, I have felt too busy to blog, and have had success in propagating my research through publications. Such as a chapter on the Quantum IO Monad in the book Semantic Techniques in Quantum Computation (link). With lots of spare time on my hands, whilst i search for a job, i have more free time in which to establish a blog.

My plan is to blog about my work, which will hopefully include various forms of Functional Programming, as well as more general happenings in my life. I shall categorise my posts as best I can, and look forward to adding more blog posts, maybe with a little more history about myself, but more looking into the present and the future…

Alexander S. Green

13/08/2010

Categories: Life