BBC: Cracking the Code

Last week’s Cracking the Code had a segment featuring a very familiar little computer, and a guy with a weather balloon whom you might just recognise. Isn’t it interesting how much more technical detail this kids’ show goes into compared to some of the adult tech news coverage we see on TV? Thanks to everyone involved – especially Dave!

[Update: looks like this video isn’t available for viewers outside the UK – sorry if you’re affected!]


Dave Akerman avatar

The video autostarts when the page loads – something up with the link?


matthew rose avatar

woooahhhh, auto-start video and busy office…MUTE MUTE MUTE.

liz avatar

Argh – sorry about the autoplay, folks. It’s gone now; this is what I get for trusting someone else’s embed code!

Andrew Edwards avatar

I cannot view this in the netherlands. I think it only works in the uk. :-(

Dave Akerman avatar

Yes, it’s UK only, but just google for “watching iplayer outside uk” for how to get round that.

Or send me a PM.


Dave Akerman avatar

Now if you could just edit the video so that my bandaged finger* isn’t so prominent, that would be great :-)

*I managed to remove part of the end of the finger the week before when preparing my previous flight. Ended up with a trip to the hospital, where they spent 5 minutes fixing it and 10 minutes telling me off for not going in till after the flight was over!

liz avatar

I was wondering what you’d done to it! I have always been very impressed by the regenerating power of fingertips. Hope it’s better soon!

Dave Akerman avatar

Yeah it’s fine; the recording was quite a while ago now!

Funniest bit was when the lad (Harry) suggested that my coding might be the result of random hammering on the keyboard! My secret is out …. ;-)


ukscone avatar

looks like there is some anti-exile bias from the bbc. those of us who committed major sins in past lives that karma have caused to be exiled to places that aren’t a green & pleasant land can’t watch the video :(

JamesH avatar

At least you don’t live in Cyprus…

ukscone avatar

or milton keynes or basildon. 6th & 7th circles of hell and that’s just the ringroad

liz avatar

Milton Keynes *does* have a very nice Chinese restaurant. And an indoor ski slope. Neither of these are things that any of the circles of hell are renowned for.

meltwater avatar

Shame, been waiting for the indoor ski slope in hell for a while now….one day…:D

alex avatar

And there’s always the MK Jam at the National Museum of Computing too. ;)

Jim Manley avatar

Try having a Revolutionary War with them … they just have NO sense of humo(u)r … or lack of memory … unless it has to do with saving some bacon in the 1940s … and don’t get me started on that Canadian style of “bacon” … ;)

I do have to admit that we greatly appreciate the work of the likes of Isaac Newton, Charles Babbage, Alan Turing, Tim Berners-Lee, and the cast of literally thousands of scientists and engineers who have lent their broad shoulders for all of us to stand on in awe and excitement as we make our puny accomplishments in comparison.

Of course, computing would be nothing without the contributions of Monty Python’s Flying Circus – how else would we have ever tested our code in spewing quotation database nonesense … that actually does make sense when the code finally works! :D

Jim Manley avatar

Of course, “nonesense” should be “nonsense” – the autospeller even tried to change it to “none sense”, but I knew _that_ wasn’t right and overrode it … Smart-a$$ machines are just a robotic assembly line away from taking over … hey, what was it they were talking about is in Pencoed now … ??? 8O

alex avatar

If any of you exiles want to see a Raspberry Pi balloon preparation and launch vid of the TARDIS flight from a couple of weeks ago it’s available, without political boundaries, to all and sundry over on Youtube…

Renzo avatar

If you can’t view the video because you live outside of the UK, download Hola Unblocker in the Chrome webstore or use a proxy, then you can view the video.

Doug avatar

Thanks, Renzo. Hola Unblocker allowed me to watch the video in the U.S. (First two attempts ran a few seconds and stalled. Third attempt worked flawlessly.)

Really excellent BBC report. Worth finding a proxy for non-UK people.

Paul avatar

You think Milton Keynes and Basildon are the rings of hell??? Oh gawd you have no concept of hell, try and spend 48 hours in some of the more impoverished parts of Detroit or LA or most any major US city for that matter. I’d love to live in Milton Keynes, pure luxury mate, pure luxury.

Wyzax76 avatar

Great bit of tech program making BBC keep it up. Now how about some better tech programs for us big kids (I hate the word adult).

liz avatar

It’d be nice, wouldn’t it? Brian Cox using wooden blocks to explain the ratio of surface area to volume just doesn’t cut it…

Dave Akerman avatar

My favourite tweet re the show:

“Jog on Brian Cox. I just watched ‘Cracking the Code’ @BBCLearning. How does the BBC keep finding these gems ?”

alex avatar

It was a very good segment Dave. Well done indeed. Still chuckling to myself about the Helium though ;)

liz avatar

Was it that special sort of flammable helium?

alex avatar

They had to use real Helium rather than the good stuff “wot goes bang” because of TV and kids. “Like a big party balloon”.
I understand it, but it makes me laugh. We’re such a namby pamby country now. :)

It’s really exciting holding a big latex bag with a couple of cubic metres of hydrogen in.

Dave Akerman avatar

Yeah, once H&S get involved then it’s going to be the expensive, post-fusion, limited resource version of hydrogen ;)

I had a tank of H2 handy and at one point thought I was going to have to use it. I’d put the balloon neck a bit too far down onto the filler, leaving too small a section to tie off. So I pulled the neck up to stretch it and …. the balloon came right off the filler! If I’d let go the balloon would have flown towards the clouds at a rate of knots! Fortunately I kept a good grip on it, and Anthony came over to help me get it tied closed and tied down.


ColinD avatar

Oh that’s good, that’s really good that video is. Possibly the best single bite of combined education and optimistic “you can do it” programming from Auntie Beeb I’ve seen. Really encouraging to see they didn’t dumb down the coding side. Kind of like a technical version of The Gadget Show with bells on. Am impressed.

meltwater avatar

Just watched video, what a well presented program.

paul avatar

i reconise that water towerin the background of the field

Steve Smith avatar

I really enjoyed that. Almost made me want to be back at school! Great to see the ‘Pi getting national exposure with it’s target audience.

Giggity avatar

god i love these raspberry pis not a fan of the real thing though but they are really determined not to say raspberry pi aren’t they


Dave avatar

google uk vpn trial and use it

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