The Tale of the missing Coffee Pot


Before                                After


Basically for those who donít know, the Trojan Coffee Pot, based in the Trojan Room, in the Computer Science Dept. of Cambridge University (England), is a glass Coffee pot with a digital camera pointing at it. A frame grabber is used to take a picture of the pot ever 30 seconds or so (I think). The view the world sees is of the pot in the machine. The interest being that the coffee level changes as people in the Trojan Coffee Club drink the contents of the pot, and replace the coffee as required.

Anyway, I suppose Iíll have to start this story.

Part 1

It all started when, listening to Kevin Greening (BBC Radio 1 DJ), the Trojan Coffee room was mentioned. His mention went something along the lines of:

He then preceded to go to the page, live on air. At this point I was doing nothing in particular. So I pointed my browser in the general direction of the coffee pot. Then before I could get there, a further announcement came over the airwaves: "The potís been stolen. I donít believe it, someoneís stolen the pot!" At this point the link loaded up. Yep, the pot was missing. Well what could I do? I just had to email Mr Greening. The email went as follows:

(Apart from correcting the spelling mistake in mathematician. And the email addresses being removed to protect the innocent.)

Although, not a compulsive fan of the coffee pot, I have, on a number of occasions, been to look at the coffee pot. Sometimes it would be missing, but upon later inspection had returned, probably due to someone consuming the infamous liquid. So I had nothing to fear, or did I?

A few minutes later, I was accused live on Radio 1, of stealing the pot:

Success I thought, Iíve been mentioned on radio 1 and I wasnít the only person in my room, so I had a witness to it all.

Well of course I couldn't leave it at that. Anyway KG replied to the email I sent asking about the whereabouts of the pot:

So I sent a map of the building showing the scene of the fictitious? crime, signing the email as the Peopleís Coffee Liberation Front:

All was going well. Until, that is, my friends found out about the situation and, as all real friends do, decided to send further emails to Mr G. The content of these further messages was not revealed to me directly, but some of the content is apparent as you will hear later. (Or read in transcript form.)

Part 2

This was also the night of my matriculation dinner (7th May 1997, a bit late for a matriculation dinner, but better late than never.) As one would expect for such an occasion, the drink was running quite freely (less than predicted, due to exams). Letís just say that I wasnít quite as clear thinking as normal. Anyway, it was suggested by a couple of my friends that we went to look for the room in question. Just to get a look and see if the coffee pot appeared to be missing or not. Of course this initial plan was later modified to include planting a notice as close to the machine as possible. The troop consisted of the following people:

Anyway, we all went over to the building in question, at about 00:30. Upon arrival we entered the building, and got into the lift. This lift was no ordinary lift. It was a turbo lift. So the journey consisted of going from the 1st floor to the 4th floor, down to the ground floor and then up to the 2nd floor. We then got off. After looking around, and trying to get our bearings, the corridor to the Trojan Room was found. We preceded to approach the room. A tiny window was in the door although not a single thing could be seen in the room. The door, unsurprisingly, prevented further exploration. But we still had the notice:

"The Coffee Liberation Front"
Coffee Liberation Front Notice

Downhearted that the plan was of rather limited success, a secondary plan was initiated. We moved onto the Computer room. At which point we set up an email account for "The Coffee Liberation Front" (Using ) and a web page (Using ). Well this is the Internet take a look: Coffee Liberation Front.

A few select email messages were then sent out, from the new email account. I canít quite remember the content of the messages, as the (now morning) was slightly overshadowed by the actions of a member of our group (who shall not be named, but he wasnít graham.)

Part 3

Nothing was done, although a lot was said. We then waited with bated breath, listening intently. Yes I was mentioned, again but not in such a kind light. The comments were recorded (using a Dictaphone. Hence the fuzziness.) Audio Clip of my second mention (1.2MB au) (now unavailable). Or if you prefer, in Transcript format.

So you think that would be the end of it. Well no.

Part 4

It all started at the matriculation dinner, we got talking to our Director of Studies Dr P. Robinson (I must note here that he was not in any way responsable for our actions.) John was going through our plan to pass mains current through a number of pickled vegetables. See Pickled Gherkin and Onion Experiments , when a request for a camera was made. Anyway to cut a long story short we were lent a digital camera for a couple of days.This of course gave us enough time to search further into the matter of the Mysterious dissapearance (It was still missing 2 days after the day of the first annoncement). This time a different group of individuals were to accompany me:

And this time we had a camera.

The lift, was of course, the first port of call. Yet again, a most indirect route was choosen for the traversal of a single floor:

The amazing Turbo Lift

This time the room was approached with more certanty, as two of us had visited the place before. The room was approached, quietly, to avoid ditection. The first thing noted was that the notice was still present, on the door. (I know this is the same graphic twice.):

"The Coffee Liberation Front Notice on The Trojan Room Door"

Coffee Liberation Front Notice

The window in the door revealed, this time, the inside of the room. It was filled from floor to cealing, with pieces of computer. I looked a little closer thought the glass and saw a person. I recoild in shock, to consult with the rest of the group, as to our plan of action. They all looked at me. I was cornered. I reluctantly approached the door, and knocked. Not a sound. I entered and approached the man, sitting behind his desk. He stood up. I sheepishly asked if I could take the coffee pot's photo. At this point I was worrying because, as far as I could tell the coffee pot had been stolen. To my astonishment he said yes. I followed him accross the room to the deapest darkest corner. I looked behind me, and found that my friends had deserted me, in my hour of need. (Chickens !!!!). I couldn't belive my eyes, the coffee pot was not missing. It was sitting on top of the warmer ring on the top of the coffee machine, out of veiw of the camera, pointing fruitlessly at the empty jug filler mechanism. I had come to the end of my quest:


Coffee Pot Found at last (and camera showing "missing pot")

The tale is over, for the moment.

I have not sent the URL to Kevin Greening but that could change.

The notice is still up on the door, at last look.

I hope this is the end of the story, although I shall obviously add anything that happens.

All of the above is true (it all started on 7th May 1997).

I could not have done any of the above without the help of The Trojan Coffee Room .

Thanks also to Dr Robinson for the loan of the camera. And to everyone who, helped me get blamed for a theft I didn't commit.

So you don't Belive me? Well Sarah also has the story.

If anyone mentioned in the above account wishes to be removed, for any particular reason, then they know where to contact me.