Archive for September, 2012

Extreme Blue : a mentor’s perspective

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

This summer, I was the mentor for a team of interns on an Extreme Blue project. I’ve written about the project, using machine learning and natural language processing to build a smarter screenreader. But I didn’t explain “Extreme Blue”.

Promotional stuff about Extreme Blue is on, but aimed at students who could apply to be interns. I want to talk about what it’s like to be a mentor, as it’s one of the best things I’ve done at IBM.


Extreme Blue is IBM’s summer internship programme. Every year, IBM locations around the world give teams of students projects to work on.

It’s explained on but in a nutshell, a team is four students: three with a technical background, one with a business background. Each team are given one project to work on, a challenge they spend their summer trying to solve.


Conversational Internet : A prototype

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012


We’ve built a prototype to show how we could interact with the Internet using a command-driven approach.

  • A screen reader, but one that uses machine learning and natural language processing, in order to better understand both what the user wants to do, and what the web page says.
  • One that can offer a conversational interface instead of just reading out everything on the page.

It’s a proof-of-concept, but it’s an exciting idea with a lot of potential and we’ve got a demo that shows it in action.

I wrote yesterday about what it was like going to the BBC to talk about a project I’ve been working on this summer. I didn’t talk about the project itself. Here’s an overview.


My inevitable media stardom

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

BBC Broadcasting House

I went to London today to be interviewed for a radio programme on the BBC.

The topic was a project that I’ve been working on over the summer.

I’m not a typical spokesperson, certainly not for something the size of IBM. I’m definitely happier as the behind-the-scenes geek type. The prospect of going on the radio to represent the project, let alone IBM, was more than a little terrifying.

But my best efforts to get someone more able to talk coherently failed horribly, and this afternoon I dutifully got the train up to London to go to Broadcasting House.