It wasn't meant to be this large. It growed and growed and I kept having to buy more yarn.
Also, no pattern this time around, too much "making it up as I go along" was happening.
Tuesday: Attended a surprisingly poor talk from an experienced academic.
Wednesday: Made post-Cheltenham inspired changes to Lego Rovers Android app. Emailed screenshots to minion. Went to lunch with B.
Thursday: Met with marketing about creating a banner for the Lego Rovers and was pleasantly impressed with them. Attended an extremely interesting talk from Mykel Kochenderfer on how POMDPs (a jargon term I introduce here entirely because I like the way it trips off the tongue when pronounced pom-dee-pee (as it generally is)) are forming the basis of new mid-air collision avoidance software in aircraft. Voted. Went to bed after the Newcastle count was in because I figured I could see which way this was going and wanted to do some work on Friday. B waited up until the London votes started coming in, somehow kidding himself that these meant Remain would win.
Friday: Despite getting plenty of sleep, completely failed to do any work. Walked with G to the hairdressers for us both to get a hair-cut during which she explained (without apparent irony) how much she likes the weather in Manchester.
Saturday: Volunteered at Parkrun and enjoyed watching a very enthusiastic first timer crossing the line in great excitement after 45 minutes of running. G. went to a sleepover, so I made brownies and we watched Deadpool. B thought G should watch it, I think G would find it embarrassing and would disapprove of the swearing.
Sunday: B. away to a thesis defence in Barcelona, though there was a nasty moment at the airport, I gather, where it looked like they couldn't find him on the system and he eventually had to pay an extra 15 euros over the phone to the plane company.
Matryoshka, the Boss and a couple of other academics organised a Dagstuhl Workshop on "Engineering Moral Agents" in early June. I've written about Dagstuhl several times before so I won't re-iterate my descriptions of the place.
This workshop had quite a distinct feel to it, I suspect because they had managed to invite a fairly hefty number of philosophers to counter-balance the computer scientists. This had a number of interesting side effects. Philosophers love discussing almost anything in depth and at length. By the end of the second day we had had (unsurprisingly) a long discussion about the EU Referendum with a particular emphasis on a game theoretic account of how the EU should behave as a "rational actor" in the event of Brexit; what did we mean by a robot; was my dishwasher autonomous (given it can "choose" to refuse to wash the dishes if it thinks there is a danger of a flood); and whether Religion and Philosophy should be taught as part of the same subject in schools - to be honest it felt a little like a certain portrayal of undergraduate life which I felt I rarely experienced (most of the in depth conversations I recall from my undergraduate days were about things like whether sex had any place being mentioned in Doctor Who novels).
The Wednesday afternoon excursion was put to a popular vote revealing a distinct lack of enthusiasm for Trier in the rain, and a rather more surprising lack of enthusiasm for the Town that Exists to Sell Wine to Tourists. On the Wednesday morning we split into two working groups one, dominated by philosophers, ambitiously decided they were going to formalise ethical reasoning the other (containing, interestingly, all the women at the workshop plus a few others, including our token doom-sayer*) wanted to discuss the implementation of ethics. A side effect of this was that each group decided to organise its own walking tour into the German forest. I somehow ended up in charge of ours, I think because I had been to the local lake twice before and so, at least in theory, had some idea of the way there. I also went to reception and got them to give me a map and directions to supplement our numerous mobile phones. I'm sure you've be pleased to know that not only did I not loose any computer scientists or philosophers in the German forest, but even managed to find an extra computer scientist (from the planar graph workshop that was also taking place), her husband and baby and conduct them safely back to the schloss.
Matryoshka, the Boss and I have already submitted one paper as a result of the Dagstuhl (trying to model reposting behaviour across different social media services, as part of Matryoshka's agenda to fix the internet). Admittedly we decided to do this because I had already decided to attend the relevant workshop so it seemed like a good idea to at least submit a paper to it. Our working group is also putting together a position paper covering our discussions. Matryoshka and I were a little sceptical about this having experienced "we must publish our working group discussions" before, however on this occasion people are actually writing stuff, so it looks more hopeful. I agreed to start curating a set of examples of interesting ethical dilemmas (or at least cases where the ethical reasoning required wasn't entirely trivial) which would hopefully provide a useful benchmark resource for people interested in implementing ethical reasoning. I also had some useful discussions with one of the implementors of the major (if not the only) computational ethical reasoning system currently in serious existence about approaches to verifying aspects of their system which may also lead to some kind of publication. Taken together, that makes this a pretty productive Dagstuhl.
*we instantly implemented a rule which involved him paying a forfeit every time he said "super-intelligence".
after Brecht, `Alles wandelt sich'
Everything changes. We plant
trees for those born later
but what's happened has happened
and poisons poured into the seas
cannot be drained out again.
What's happened has happened.
Poisons poured into the seas
cannot be drained out again, but
everything changes. We plant
trees for those born later.
Listening: Fangirl Happy Hour, another podcast recommendation. I listened to an episode a few weeks back and wasn't terribly impressed (it consisted of a lot of hand-wringing about the Hugos without, I felt, really adding to the conversation) but thought I would give it another go. I'm still not sure. It seems to assume a greater interest in the presenters than the subject matter than Verity does, but the next episode will be about Captain America:Civil War so I'll give it at least until I've heard that.
Watching: Somewhat to our surprise we watched the final episode of Warehouse 13. I say surprise, since we were aware we'd only just started watching season 5. A little googling revealed that Season 5 only had 6 episodes but didn't reveal why (the only website I found said they had "run out of money" which makes no sense given what I understand about how TV show seasons are funded and commissioned). The only thing I could think of was that seasons 1-3 were each 13 episodes, but season 4 was 20 episodes, adding an extra 6 for season 5 gives them a multiple of 13 episodes in total, which I assume has some benefit in terms of packaging for repeats and resales, though what eludes me rather. It's a shame its ended though, we enjoyed it a lot. I'm wondering if The Librarians might have a similar vibe to it.
( Me Under the Cut )
The finish line. Two things strike me about this photo. Firstly, the finish line was, apparently, a lot more crowded than it felt on the ground and secondly, while I was aware there was a bunch of squaddies in front of me, I was not aware that the Hulk and Iron Man were behind me.
I noticed yesterday after writing a comment in some code that one of my writing habits had changed, without me really noticing. So I thought I'd see what other people's opinions were.
How do you write 'regular expression' in abbreviated form?
I only ever write it unabbreviated
I don't ever write it at all
How do you pronounce the g in regexp / regex ?
Hard, like in 'regular' (IPA /ɡ/)
Soft, like in 'Reginald' (IPA /dʒ/)
I never pronounce these abbreviations
( behold )
And as I was looking for that the news about Anton Yelchin broke :( Wow.
Monday: Wrote an assembly for Key Stage 3 (on working in Computing and Robotics, with a sub-message of suggested subjects to take at GCSE, and a subliminal message about how women can program too (I had resisted the request to provide an assembly about "encouraging girls into computing")). Submitted a paper.
Tuesday: Just delivered Key Stage 3 Assembly (no thanks to the closure of the Mancunion Way, resulting in a certain amount of frantic emailing while in stationary traffic). Attended departmental Away Day and so had the pleasure of hearing a colleague hypothesise that maybe girls don't take Computer Science because computing jobs have a reputation for being hard work and involving long hours. Bit my tongue, but did flag it quietly to a few people higher up the hierarchy than myself.
Wednesday: Decided the department could live without my presence at the 9am meeting with the Vice-Chancellor. Just as well since my bike gears broke as I left the house and I had to take the bus.
Thursday: Awarded myself a day off. Went out for lunch with B. Jo Cox was murdered.
Friday: Went to a meeting at Daresbury Labs on Vehicle platooning, and also met with the team running their Open Day on the 9th July. Spent the afternoon filling in a form in order to enter a public engagement competition.
Saturday: Did passably in the Park Run, washed things, tidied things, ordered picture frames, researched Bikability lessons, attempted to do some programming but got no further than fixing the bugs caused by a code merge.
Sunday: First of G's birthday parties (the one for school friends) - two of said friends invited over for games playing and making a film as part of an English Homework.
More recently (by which, inspection reveals, I mean in the past decade) Magrs has produced a series of original novels, the Brenda and Effie series, that by all accounts rested somewhere in between the magic realist tone of his early novels and the affectionate and explicit "silliness" of his Dr Who work. Somewhat belatedly I decided to give them a try and Never the Bride is the first.
Brenda runs a B&B in Whitby and lives next door to her best friend, Effie. Over the course of the novel it gradually emerges that Brenda is, in fact, the Bride of Frankenstein while Effie is the descendent of a long line of white witches. The both have a penchant for adventure and meddling. The novel is more a collection of four loosely linked novellas in which Brenda and Effie become involved with a range of characters, often drawn from the milieu of late 19th and early 20th century scientific romances and gothic horror stories (though they also meet a thinly disguised version of the Most Haunted TV team). At the core of the stories is their friendship, which is often prickly and difficult, beset with disagreements and misunderstandings. Since I currently have a daughter grappling with how to manage friendships with people who she frequently considers to be WRONG or BADLY BEHAVED, it was interesting to read this nuanced and affectionate portrayal of just such a friendship.
That said the stories themselves, that surround Brenda and Effie, left me with the same sense of encountering a style of whimsey that didn't quite gell with my own preferences, as reading Magrs' Doctor Who stories gave me. Possibly this is because I have no especial affection for either scientific romance nor gothic horror (and I've never watched Most Haunted) and suspect I was missing a lot of in-jokes as a result, I don't know.
It's a well written book and if you have a taste for whimsey, an affection for gothic horror and/or early SF, and an interest in books that examine the nature of friendship, then I would recommend it, but I don't really think it's for me.