It’s Episode Thirty-Four of Season-Nine of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson, Martin Wimpress and Emma Marshall are connected and speaking to your brain.

The three amigos are back with our new amiga!

In this week’s show:

Thing Explainer Competition!

  • Prize: Signed copies of “What If?” and “Thing Explainer” by Randall Munroe (creator of XKCD)
  • Question: Listen to the podcast for instructions
  • Send your entries to competition AT ubuntupodcast DOT org. We’ll pick our favourite and announce the winner on the show.
  • Here are some examples to help get you in the groove:


I write words that are read by a computer. Students who want to learn about something ask their computer for part of a book. Their computer talks to another computer over phone lines, and that computer uses the words I’ve written to send them the book part they want. Sometimes students want new types of book parts that they can use to share their learning with other students. I have to work out the right words for the computer to let them do this, and write them. When I can, I share my words with other people so that their computers can send better book parts to their students.


I talk to people about computer things to help make the stuff they make and the stuff we make better. Also I sometimes write things that the computer gets but I am not great at that. We give away a lot of the things we make which is not like the way some other people share their work. It makes me happy inside that we do this.


I help write a group of books that a computer reads and stores. These books make the computer work much better. When a computer has stored the books I help make you can do things with your computer, like write to people and send what you wrote to the other peoples computers. Or you can ask your computer to talk to other computers to learn things, look at moving pictures, listen to music or buy shopping.

The group of books I help write are free for anyone to give to their computer. You are also free to change these books and share those changes with anyone. This way everyone can help make the books even better so your computer can do more for you.


I help people change their computer to something better. I fix things that are broken and make people happy again. I talk to a lot of people about computers all day. I put my heart into every conversation so people feel like they are talking with a human instead of speaking with a pretend human.

That’s all for this week! If there’s a topic you’d like us to discuss, or you have any feedback on previous shows, please send your comments and suggestions to [email protected] or Tweet us or Comment on our Facebook page or comment on our Google+ page or comment on our sub-Reddit.

6 Comments » for S09E34 – The Mutant Killer Zombie Manhattan Project Thingy
  1. Bibbit says:

    Hello guys,

    For what it is worth, here is my crack at the “Thing Explainer” competition:

    “Although people look they are just one thing, they are really made up of lots of little things called cells that you can only see through glass that makes small things look much bigger. When these cells grow or one cell makes another cell they can sometimes go a bit wrong and what was once a good cell becomes a bad cell that grows and grows and also makes lots of other bad cells. When this happens it can make the person made of these cells very sick. My job is to look through the glass at cells taken from people to see if their cells are about to go bad. If they are we send them to a doctor who takes the bad cells away. If there are no bad cells then the person can go and be happy and then come back in three years and get checked again.”

    Translation: I work as a Gynaecological Cytologist as part of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. I analyse processed, specially dyed cervix cell samples under the microscope, looking for signs in the cell nucleus of Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN) which is a potentially pre-cancerous lesion. If a lesion is spotted then the patient is sent to a Gynaecology or Colposcopy clinic where the suspect lesion may be left to heal itself (if minor) or be removed by surgical excision (if more severe).\

    Love the show and all the best guys.

    PS: I take it the sad absence of Laura is due to PhD issues? Wish her the best of luck with that.

  2. Dell Green says:

    Thanks for ‘direnv’ tip has made a real difference to our team 🙂

  3. Mike Hingley says:

    You asked about Raspberry Pi projects – We’re currently developing a “Selfietorium” photobooth for my brother’s wedding next year. It’s based around a raspberry pi and uses PyGame to present a nice interface to the user. It collates a bunch of photos (that it takes using a picam) together into a single photo that we aim to print out using a photo printer, and simultaneously upload them to twitter.

    The compositing is all done using Inkscape – effectively we inject photos into an inkscape image. It’s going alright at the moment. I’m struggling at the moment with packaging it all up so that dependancies are fulfilled so i might look into some form of packaging for raspberry pi. I also need to tidy the code up a bit, as there’s all sorts in there.

    Code is on Github (

  4. Amir Pakdel says:

    Hello guys,

    Since around 6:50 Emma said “stop making fun of our metrics”, I would like to remind you that your measuring system is not metric 😀
    And I think I found out why on U.S. sites there are always to options: USA and international
    According to “The metric system is an internationally agreed decimal system of measurement.” So the world can be divided in two parts: USA and international
    Oh, how did I forget about UK! Isn’t it part of Europe?
    (I am joking, obviously)

    Love the show!

    P.S. Wish Laura the best of luck.

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "S09E34 – The Mutant Killer Zombie Manhattan Project Thingy"
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  2. […] We announce the winner of our Thing Explainer competition. […]