Archive for the ‘misc’ Category

Will AI destroy the human race? A debate at The Arts Club

Monday, February 20th, 2017

The Arts Club Debating Society – Robots Will Destroy The Human Race from The Arts Club on Vimeo.

Aidan Laverty, Murray Shanahan, Ian Yorston, George Zarkadakis, and me.

This was a weird evening.


Kids should learn to code

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

Does a five-year-old need to learn how to code?

A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed by the BBC. In a fairly long phone call, I either rambled inanely or provided detailed and nuanced answers in context. That depends on your point of view.

Either way, obviously not a lot of it could make it into their story, as they really only needed a few quotes. So I thought I’d put more of what I said here.

The background for the story was the changes to the UK school curriculum which means that all kids are being taught to code. And the basic premise for the piece was that as we’re “entering an era when computers are actually beginning to teach themselves” that this is unnecessary and that coding itself is becoming an outdated skill.


Holiday by numbers

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

We’re back from holiday! We went up to Glasgow to watch some of the Commonwealth Games, and used it as a chance to have a road trip and see a few more places in the UK on the way.

Photos we took at the Games on flickr

I want to describe our last two weeks, so decided to do it with statistics and photos!


Standing desks

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Standing deskI’ve switched to a standing desk for work, and thought I’d share my experiences with it.

I tend to get involved in a variety of things at work, but I’m primarily a developer. I’m a code monkey.

Traditionally, this has involved a lot of sitting. Not just a lot of sitting overall, but for long periods, too. I couldn’t tell you the number of times that I’ve been hunched over a laptop and lost track of time… looking up in surprise hours later.

There has been a lot of press about how bad this is for me. Excessive sitting is lethal. Sitting for an hour does more to shorten your life than smoking a cigarette.

I figured that as long as I went for a run and kept my weight down, that would make up for it. There is also research that says this doesn’t work and that sitting causes harm which isn’t undone by a bit of exercise every day.

I’d ignored more or less all of this.

But then I screwed up my back and sitting for long periods wasn’t an option. Working on a standing desk started as a necessity, but now that I’ve gotten into it, I wish I’d started years ago.

I don’t want to sound like a zealot or try to convert people to it. I just want to share what it’s been like.


Making handwritten notes on an iPad mini

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

I’ve had a Bamboo stylus for my iPad mini for a while now. I’ve used it for sketching and rough diagrams but only recently started using it for making handwritten notes.

It’s not immediately obvious that it’d really work. The iPad touchscreen is designed for use by pudgy human fingers, so that’s what the stylus mimics. You don’t get a fine point for precision drawing, you get a big fat rounded end. (As an aside, this is something that the Surface gets right – a proper active pressure-sensitive stylus is very cool. But anyway…) So your handwriting has to end up really big – like trying to make notes with a child’s chunky crayon.

And the iPad mini screen is so small that you don’t have much room to write.

I ended up carrying a Moleskine notebook and pen around as well – making handwritten in notes in that and then taking photos of it with the iPad. It’s a bit of a kludgy and time-consuming workaround.

I’ve started using Penultimate instead, and it’s pretty neat. It makes up for the limitations of handwriting by giving you a zoomed-in view of a bit of the screen, and scrolling that view around for you automatically as you write – matching the speed of your handwriting. And it’s reasonably good at knowing how how to ignore a wrist resting on the screen.

Camera work by Grace, book to copy provided by Faith 🙂


Why do I keep moaning about my back?

Friday, November 15th, 2013

If you’ve spent any time in person with me in the last month or two, you’ll know that I’ve barely shut up about my back hurting.

If you follow me on twitter or facebook, you might have noticed the occasional moan, or at least mentions of physio, hospital trips and pain meds.

This post is my way of drawing a line under all of this. I’ll explain what’s wrong with me, and then shut up about it. Really. I promise.

I have degenerative disc disease.


Working in the USA

Monday, August 5th, 2013

US tripWe’re in America!

We’ve been here for a few weeks now, so I thought I should let you know how we all are in case you’re missing us.

We’re staying in Westford, which is sort of near to Boston, Massachusetts.

I’ve been spending most of my time here – the IBM Mass Lab near Littleton.

US trip


The office Doctors

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

It started with a Christmas present: a set of LEGO-but-not-real-LEGO Doctor Who figures. They ended up in my office to help keep me company.

When I am trying to figure something out, I absent-mindedly fiddle with one of the figures, and normally end up leaving him on my MacBook as a good luck charm as I code.

Doctor debugger
“Doctor debugger”