Archive for December, 2012

Trying to take a picture

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

Amy and I share a lot of pictures of the kids. Sorry… it’s kind of an unavoidable parent thing.

For example, Amy recently got them to model some hats she’d crocheted.

And people make nice comments saying how pretty they are and how good they are in photos.

But they don’t realise how much effort it takes to get to that picture.

Look at some of the photos it took to come up with one of her looking… sane. (And this is after I weeded out the ones that were blurry, out of focus, or essentially duplicates).

slideshow of some previous attempts (on flickr)

Basically I’m looking for pity. (Is it working?) 😉

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.


What has Watson been doing this year?

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

IBM Watson is a computer system created to answer questions – questions posed in unstructured, free, natural English language.

It answers using knowledge that it builds for itself by reading and understanding the contents of books and other documents.

It learns how to identify answers by being trained, learning from experience how to interpret the evidence in it’s knowledge.

I wrote a (long and rambling) post in January about work that had been done on Watson since it was unveiled to the world.

Here’s a quick overview of a few things that’s happened since then.


What makes Watson different?

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

I’ve tried to explain IBM Watson to a lot of people this year. A common theme in questions I’ve had has been comparing it to search engines like Google.

Sometimes people ask why one is “better” than another. Sometimes they just ask how they are different.

It’s not surprising. A natural response to learning about something new is to put it into context of things that we already know.

In addition, we describe Watson as a question answering technology and over the last few years many people have perhaps become a bit conditioned to thinking that if they have a question then they can Google for it.

There are many differences between search engines and Watson, both in what they can do, and in how they try to do it.

Here is one example.


I have an iPad mini

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

I am now the happy owner of an iPad mini. Obviously I couldn’t let this happen without a mention. But… the Internet is full of reviews of the iPad mini already and doesn’t need another. 🙂

Instead, I’ll write about the gadget that the iPad will be replacing. The gadget that has been pretty much everywhere with me since I got it three years ago. This is my chance to say goodbye to the venerable Asus T91MT.

The T91MT is a small Windows 7 computer. It’s the size of a netbook, but has an 8″ screen that swivels to switch into a tablet mode. It has a touchscreen with multitouch support and a stylus.

I got it in December 2009, but it feels like I’ve had it for longer than that. It’s fairly beat up by now, so it looks like I’ve had it longer than that, too. I think the stickers are the only thing holding the case together at this point.

I loved this thing. As much as I am now loving the iPad mini (and believe me, it’s sweet), there is a part of me that misses the T91MT.

Why did I love this thing so much?