Novice Rowing Michaelmas 2014   Leave a comment

As my thesis-writing slowly drew nearer to its end, I had the opportunity to work with one last group of fantastic novice Wolfson rowers. In Christ Church Regatta, I coxed the novice women. These ladies trained hard and came out to race fiercely. We won five races over the four-day regatta, finishing third overall — the highest Wolfson women’s Christ Church result in living memory! As always, the successes were celebrated in full Oxford style at a fantastic dinner at the Wig and Pen.

Season of Mists

During training one morning, I snapped the picture above, which also ended up winning a Wolfson photography competition. Click for a few more!

Posted 29 Nov 2014 by John McManigle in Rowing

USB Typewriter and Interrobang App   Leave a comment

USB TypewriterI’ve always had a soft spot for classic devices, and so Jack Zylkin’s USB Typewriter project was naturally intriguing. Jack has come up with a set of electronics that enables a typewriter to be used — nondestructively — as a USB keyboard. Sabine and I constructed one of these “wonders of obsolescence,” and then I wrote a little iPad app to take the best advantage of the device.

Read on for more if you’re so inclined.

Posted 5 Jul 2014 by John McManigle in Technical

Weekend of Balls   Leave a comment

One of the more opulent Oxford traditions is that of the commemoration ball. Hosted by the larger colleges on a triennial basis, commemoration balls are generally white-tie affairs featuring performances, games, food, and drink all night long. This year, Sabine and I made it to St. John’s Ball to find a lavish array of activities. In addition to the performances and refreshments, there were a variety of carnival games (including mini-golf!) and the chance to spy some fireworks being set off at a nearby college.

As our warm-down on Saturday, we attended the St. Cross Summer Ball, a black-tie affair at Wolfson’s de facto sister college. It was also lots of fun, and predictably overrun by rowing club comrades.

St Johns Ball 2014   St Johns Ball 2014   St Cross Ball 2014

Click for a few more pictures!

Posted 28 Jun 2014 by John McManigle in Adventure

Weston-occasional-Mare   Leave a comment

In order to escape life for a while, Sabine and I ran off to Weston-super-Mare, a seaside town in Somerset. The town is across the Bristol Channel from Cardiff, and the tidal range in the channel is so wide that for most of the day, over a mile of mud flats are exposed. Twice a day at high tide, the sea appears.

We stayed at a beautiful bed-and-breakfast and spent our time in Weston relaxing and exploring the shore. We stumbled across a literary sand sculpture festival, the SeaQuarium (“oceans of fun for everyone!”), the Helicopter Museum, an air festival featuring the RAF Red Arrows, and plenty of strolls and relaxation on the seaside and in Weston Woods.

It was a fantastic trip, and we returned to Oxford refreshed.


Click for more pictures!

Posted 23 Jun 2014 by John McManigle in Adventure, Travel

Summer Eights 2014   Leave a comment

I returned to Oxford in time to train for and race in one last bumps race: Summer Eights 2014. In a Wolfson rebuilding year, I was rowing in our men’s first boat and coxing the women’s second boat. Both crews performed strongly. While the men were bumped down over the first two days by speedy Magdalen and Trinity boats, we were able to hold position over Friday and Saturday — the latter in front of a very respectable Balliol. We finished seventh on the river, confirming the tenacity that the past several years have brought out in Wolfson.

The women’s second boat had a stronger performance still. We bumped St. John’s II on Wednesday, followed by a powerful row-over Thursday. We went on to bump St. Hilda’s on Friday, and rowed over Saturday, securing our highest finish since the modern women’s Summer Eights patterns started in the early 1980’s.

Eights14 1

Click for a bit more.

Posted 31 May 2014 by John McManigle in Rowing

Ducklings on the Isis   Leave a comment

Ducklings on the Isis

Click for more pictures…

Posted 20 May 2014 by John McManigle in Notes

Worcester Regatta 2014   Leave a comment

On a beautiful sunny English Saturday, the Wolfson first eight traveled to Worcester for a bit of pre-Summer Eights race practice. We entered the intermediate 2 and senior divisions. Only two crews entered the IM2 division, and Wolfson beat our opponents, Hertford College Oxford (another Eights Division I crew), by just over a length over the 850m course. In the afternoon Senior division, our first opponents, Stourport Boat Club, scratched, so we were again in an immediate final. We faced off against Keble College Oxford, a crew with six Blues rowers and two Olympians, Tim Foster and Storm Uru. Despite the odds, we maintained contact throughout the race and lost by just under a length. While any defeat is gutting, the crew was proud of that result against an extremely strong opponent.


Worcester Regatta Crew

Posted 17 May 2014 by John McManigle in Rowing

London, Edinburgh, and Oxford   Leave a comment

When Lisa decided to take a quick holiday to the UK, we set about planning an itinerary to squeeze in as many of the sights as we could. After watching the Henley Boat Races, we set off to London. On Monday, we made it to a few of the tourist sites, including St. Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, and the Embankment walk. Tuesday, we enjoyed a run through Hyde Park and the Buckingham Palace gardens before searching out a couple of museums. We visited the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons. This gem began as John Hunter‘s collection of anatomical and zoological specimens, and now showcases a wealth of information on the development of surgical technique from crude beginnings to its modern form. Our next stop was the Museum of London, which chronicles the city from before the Roman Londinium through its role as imperial capital and on to its global place today. After an evening show on the West End, we boarded the Caledonian Sleeper Train to Edinburgh.

This was my first trip to Scotland since I was a toddler. The visit, though short, was sweet. We toured the very imposing Edinburgh Castle and visited the National Museum of Scotland. On Thursday, we took a bus tour of the city and then wandered around the Scottish Parliament building and the Royal Mile. Finally, we got back on the train to Oxford (via London). Back in the City of Dreaming Spires, Lisa tried her (surprisingly adept) hand at punting before heading back to Philadelphia.

Edinburgh April 2014
London April 2014   Edinburgh April 2014   Oxford April 2014  

Click for more pictures!

Posted 5 Apr 2014 by John McManigle in Adventure, Travel

Henley Boat Races 2014   1 comment

Each year, Wolfson sends a contingent of Dark Blue supporters to the Henley Boat Races. These races include the varsity events for the men’s and women’s lightweight rowing crews. Additionally, 2014 is the final year in which the women’s openweight race was also contested in Henley. Thanks to a push by Newton, sponsor of the Women’s Boat Race, that race will join the openweight men on the Championship Course in London beginning in 2015.

After a winter of flooding, the river and weather came together in just enough time for a beautiful Henley Boat Races. The atmosphere on the bank was jovial as Oxford won two of the three varsity fixtures (lightweight and openweight women), losing only the lightweight men’s race.


Click for more pictures…

Posted 30 Mar 2014 by John McManigle in Notes, Rowing

Pebble Fonts and Metar Watchface   4 comments

Pebble METAR WatchfaceFor Christmas, my brother gave me a Pebble smart watch. In addition to showing the time in a variety of ways, this little watch can connect to a smartphone over Bluetooth to show text messages and caller ID information. It also interfaces with a variety of sports tracking apps, including my favorite, iSmoothRun. The most exciting feature of the Pebble, though, is that it’s an open platform with a simple development kit for the C language and streamlined developer’s tools.

The holidays came in the midst of the Pebble SDK 2.0 release, which includes a JavaScript environment allowing watch apps to make use of the phone’s internet connection and GPS signal. One of the most popular applications of the Pebble-phone connection is to display the local weather in addition to the time. Partly as an exercise to learn the Pebble system and partly to create a handy way to check aviation weather, I wrote a watchface that displays the nearest METAR — a standardized aviation forecast — alongside the time.

The project involved a PHP backend, C watch app, JavaScript phone component, and — perhaps most surprisingly — becoming intimately acquainted with the Pebble font resource file format. The lion’s share of this post describes generating a custom font for Pebble; the rest gives an overview of the Metar watchface itself. Read on if you’re interested.

Posted 18 Feb 2014 by John McManigle in Technical