Archive for the ‘misc’ Category

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”


A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

I passed another Coursera course last month.

Last year I wrote about my experience doing a Coursera course. Most of that still applies so I wont repeat it all here, but I thought I’d share some of the differences.

I did a couple of Coursera courses last year. They were both fairly technical topics: Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning.

This time I wanted to try something a little different: A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior. No coding this time – it was described in the course overview as:

…learn about some of the many ways in which people behave in less than rational ways, and how we might overcome these problems


I’m in Brazil

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Christ the Redeemer Hello, Rio de Janeiro.

I’m here for a conference but had a bit of time this weekend to explore before it starts.

It’s not enough time to properly learn about the city, but I’m having a fantastic time and thought I’d share a few random disconnected thoughts.

Weather. I should get the cliched observation out of the way first. It’s hot and sunny. Really sunny. I’m regularly covering myself in SPF50 and still ending up more than a little pink. Perhaps I’m just not used to this “being outside” thing.

It’s hilly. Actually, they’re called hills, but that doesn’t do it justice. The bus heading up to Corcovado went up one bit that was so steep I was convinced it would roll back down.

The hills
Wherever you go, the hills are part of the landscape

Rio isn’t a place for people who don’t like heights. Even ignoring people offering me helicopter rides or friends suggesting hang gliding, the big tourist attraction is getting a cable car to the top of Sugar Loaf mountain. The views are apparently amazing, but I thought it looked far too scary and gave it a miss.

Views from Corcovado hill
The view from Corcovado Hill



Sunday, February 17th, 2013

I’ve said before that I don’t like London. I avoid having to work in London wherever possible. But, if I’m honest, I don’t really know the city that well and always tend to go back to the same old places when I am there.

Yesterday changed that a bit. Amy and I went to London for a tour with HiddenCity, and I saw more of it in one day than I’d seen in years.

A HiddenCity trail is basically a treasure hunt delivered by SMS messages. You get a text message with a clue for something to find. Once you’ve worked it out, you reply by SMS. If you’re right, you get the clue for the next step of the hunt.

and we're off Answer number 1


My New Year’s Resolutions for 2012

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

I don’t always do New Years Resolutions, but this year I did, coming up with over a dozen things that I wanted to achieve in 2012.

With a couple of days left, it’s time to see how this worked out.


How to make a phone call from “Microsoft”

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Step 1: Establish trust
Reassure the person you’ve phoned by saying that you’re calling from Microsoft and that you’re Microsoft Certified

Step 2: Introduce a problem
Make them a little nervous by saying that, as you’re calling from Microsoft, because of the “international routing” you can tell their computer is infected with “malacious” viruses. Explain that you’ve been receiving error reports from “the computer” at this phone number and that it is urgent that you fix it.

Step 3: Panic
Scare the crap out of the person you’ve called by getting the user to navigate to C:\Windows\inf . Explain that “inf” stands for infected, and that these are viruses. Exclaim in horror that, as it has so many files and folders in there, this machine is badly infected.

Step 4: Save the day
Start to sound reassuring by reminding the person that you’re Microsoft certified and can fix it.


Natural Language Processing – Stanford University

Friday, May 25th, 2012

I passed a course this week. For the last few months I’ve been studying a distance-learning course on Natural Language Processing taught by Stanford University lecturers, Professors Dan Jurafsky and Chris Manning.

Now I’ve finished I thought I’d share my experiences of doing the course, partly since they run these courses again so you may be considering doing one like it, in the future.

More importantly, because I’ve been working hard on this (Seriously. Blood, sweat and tears went into this.) so I’m damn well going to shout about it. 😉