Big Issue Article

I had a brief mention in the Big Issue Magazine recently about the ‘Stream‘ exhibition.

John Elliott has transformed the Wagon gallery at Tiverton Museum with Stream, an installation of more than 200 multicoloured butterflies dancing in swirls and eddies bewteen the wooden carts and hay wains, as the water onec flowed past Constable’s. It is inspired by the amazing huge butterflies he encountered on a trip through the Bolivian Rainforest, thier natural beauty replicated in plastic and steel against the organic wood of the ancient farmingmachinery, reminding us of our uneasy realtionship with nature.

Sarah Jane Downing
Big Issue South West September 10 -16 2007 No.578 p.37

Route Deja Vu

I just had one of those odd moments that happen when you are stuck and are trawling through Google and you come across something you have written. At the moment I have a blessed respite from the usual rubbish at work of sorting out and extending other peoples bad code, and I am writing a pretty big website CMS using CakePHP. (I haven’t touched it for about a month and I had quite forgotten how pleasant it can be to work with.)

I’ve got a bit of a routing issue – well kind of – I have a situation like this:

I have a controller called Products based on a table called products that also uses a table called product_items (products is actually a table of product categories – but this is all in the name of nice urls, product_items contains the actual products)

For example:

  • – shows you a list of product categories e.g. ‘Pet Foods’
  • – shows you all the products within the ‘Pet Foods’ category
  • – shows you the detail page for chappie

This all works fine – the way I have done it is to do the following, I have set up the following route:

$Route->connect('/products/(.*)', array('controller' => 'products', 'action' => 'index'));

So anything gets pointed at the index method in the controller, my code within the index method looks something like this:

function index($product_cat_url = null, $product_item_url = null) {

                           // check the product cat is valid

                           // check the product item is valid


This lets me pass all the actions through a single method – works great – but now I want to add locations so for instance I might have a url like:

  • – shows you all the products within the ‘Pet Foods’ category in london

Obviously I can just add more code in the index method, but then this in itself might get really unwieldy – but it has got me thinking is there a better way of doing this? I was Googling and found the following thread where I used a beforeFilter() to pass it to a different controller – but then I might just end up duplicating loads of code in two methods…

I feel… everything

Recently my friend and ex colleague Hannah Storie pointed me towards a wonderful piece of online art called ‘We Feel Fine’ We feel fine is a work of art both on the level of… well art and looks to be a beautiful demonstration of the programmer’s art. As an artist and as a programmer I feel many things… Jealous (but in a positive way), inspired, touched… it makes me feel lighter of spirit.

To tell the truth I had almost given up on the idea that (great) art could happen on the medium of the computer screen. I’ve tried – the results have been so so… and i can’t really think of anything much I’ve seen that works…

There is a great deal of beauty on the internet… films, photographs, design, typography but this isn’t art. The power of art is that it transcends, but there is no route to it because it is about errors and leaps of faith and the spaces between things (both physical and notional). I used to love the work of Jared Tarbell at (actually I still do) but it always felt trapped by the screen and seems infinitely better now it has escaped into art galleries (I haven’t seen any pieces in the flesh but would love to)…

Anyway back to ‘We Feel Fine’… they describe waht they do far more elegantly than I could…


We Feel Fine is an exploration of human emotion on a global scale.

Since August 2005, We Feel Fine has been harvesting human feelings from a large number of weblogs. Every few minutes, the system searches the world’s newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases “I feel” and “I am feeling”. When it finds such a phrase, it records the full sentence, up to the period, and identifies the “feeling” expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.). Because blogs are structured in largely standard ways, the age, gender, and geographical location of the author can often be extracted and saved along with the sentence, as can the local weather conditions at the time the sentence was written. All of this information is saved.

The result is a database of several million human feelings, increasing by 15,000 – 20,000 new feelings per day. Using a series of playful interfaces, the feelings can be searched and sorted across a number of demographic slices, offering responses to specific questions like: do Europeans feel sad more often than Americans? Do women feel fat more often than men? Does rainy weather affect how we feel? What are the most representative feelings of female New Yorkers in their 20s? What do people feel right now in Baghdad? What were people feeling on Valentine’s Day? Which are the happiest cities in the world? The saddest? And so on.

Go and see it today – now.

We Feel Fine

We Feel Fine