Archive for the ‘misc’ Category

The Artificial Intelligence Grand Challenge

Monday, November 4th, 2019

The first of the Grand Challenges identified in the Government’s Industrial Strategy is about Artificial Intelligence. One of the things that these challenges highlight is the UK’s need for skills in these key areas.

To that end, STEM Learning and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have created the “Grand Challenges – Our Futures” programme to improve young people’s knowledge of the STEM skills identified in the Government’s Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges.

Last week, STEM Learning announced a set of new free resources to support teaching in these key areas.

The Artificial Intelligence resources include three different packages aimed at students of different ages.


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Are indie games better value than AAA games?

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

This post started life as a debate with friends about whether big triple-A games are better value than cheaper indie games. We didn’t have data, the debate was just opinions. But it stuck with me, so I decided to collect data to prove I was right. 🙂

The plan was to plot time I spend playing games against how much money I spent on them, and use the clear correlation to prove my point. That didn’t work. I didn’t find much of a pattern, but it’s been a while since I’ve done this sort of quantified-self thing and collecting the data was a pain so I’m sharing it anyway!

To start with, this graph plots the cost of each game (x axis) against the number of hours I’ve spent playing them (y axis).


Cost against Hours played – click for larger version

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Machine Learning for Kids outage report

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

Machine Learning for Kids was unavailable for most of 29th May 2018. I wanted to share what happened and what I’m doing about it.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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 🙂

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