The Gamechangers – BBC Make it Digital Season

Daniel Radcliffe in the Gamechangers (BBC)
Daniel Radcliffe in the Gamechangers (BBC)

After yesterday’s Girls can code the BBC kicked it up a notch with the Gamechangers – a TV movie about Rockstar Games and the controversy around GTA San Andreas.  At the start, it was made clear that Rockstar weren’t involved and that it had been pieced together from court reports and third party interviews.  If you missed it then it’s available on iPlayer for the next month. Continue reading The Gamechangers – BBC Make it Digital Season

Girls Can Code – episode 1 thoughts

Alice Levine showing that Girls Can Code
Alice Levine showing that Girls Can Code

As part of the BBC’s Make it Digital season, there was a great program on BBC3 showcasing that “Girls Can Code”.  Such a shame it was on a minor channel at 9pm rather than BBC1 or BBC2 earlier.  However, BBC3 is aimed at the youth market so I’m hoping that enough young women watched it to be inspired.

If you missed it, it’s available on iPlayer (UK only) for the next month, with the second episode next Monday.

This isn’t the apprentice – they don’t need to crush each other to get ahead – Alice Levine

Continue reading Girls Can Code – episode 1 thoughts

3D Printer part 9: Heater plate

At the end of my last post in this series, we had attached the z-axis motor and limit switch although hadn’t tested the action.  This post looks at adding the z-axis screw rod and making a start on the heater plate, covering issues 32 – 35 of 3D Create and Print by Eaglemoss Technology.  If you’ve skipped a part of this series you can start from the beginning, including details of the Vector 3 printer I’m building on my 3D printer page.

Opening up this pack and seeing parts with “heater” in their description was quite exciting – I know there’s still a way to go but I can’t wait to get some filament threaded through to a heater and start trying out some of the many free designs included with the magazines.

You may want to save the plastic bag that the magazines came in so that you can cover the printer after these steps. Continue reading 3D Printer part 9: Heater plate

3D Printer part 8: Z-axis motor and limit switch

At the end of my last post in this series, we had started the z-axis assembly and had paused ahead of adding the second z-axis bearing.  This post looks at adding the z-axis bearing, motor and limit switch, covering issues 28 to 31 of 3D Create and Print by Eaglemoss Technology.  If you’ve skipped a part of this series you can start from the beginning, including details of the Vector 3 printer I’m building on my 3D printer page.

Depending on whether you attached the z-axis shafts from issue 27 or put them to one side as I did, you may have to start by unscrewing the fixing bases and removing the shafts leaving only the top fixing bases attached to the frame.  The instructions below assume that you’ve done this. Continue reading 3D Printer part 8: Z-axis motor and limit switch

The Rabbit who wants to fall asleep – review

Cover of The Rabbit who wants to fall asleep
The Rabbit who wants to fall asleep

Since my daughter was born in 2011, I can count the number of uninterrupted nights’ sleep I’ve had on a very small number of fingers.  She has never subscribed to the 11-16 hours sleep a day that toddlers are supposed to need and has never wanted to miss a thing, stubbornly staying awake until past what I’d consider to be my bedtime, waking up during the night and then again pretty early.  As a result I’ve got used to celebrating if she falls asleep before 11pm 1 and if I get a block of sleep lasting 6 hours or more.

We’ve tried pretty much everything we can think of2 to get her to sleep and, while she’s been well behaved (other than being awake when I’d like a bit of me time),  it’s been frustrating all round.  I’d said on multiple occasions that it would be great if I could hire Derren Brown for an evening just to hypnotise her3 and then I heard about a book that could put any child to sleep… Continue reading The Rabbit who wants to fall asleep – review

Studying Maths – decisions on level 2

M208 text book for maths level 2
M208 – people of a certain age will look at these text books and think blockbusters…

At the weekend I signed up for my next maths modules with the Open University.  I’ve got three distinctions in the level 1 modules and, aside from my severe annoyance with being forced to do a level 1 module I’m not interested in as “punishment” for skipping the easy start module1,  I was desperate to do the next module.  However, I dragged my heels this time. Continue reading Studying Maths – decisions on level 2

Military AI arms race

So yesterday there was the news that over 1000 people had signed an open letter  requesting a ban on autonomous weapons.  I signed it too. While AI is advancing rapidly and the very existence of the letter indicates that research is almost certainly already progressing in this area, as a species we need to think about where to draw the line.

Completely autonomous offensive AI would make its own decisions about who to kill and where to go.  Battlefields are no longer two armies facing up on some open fields.  War is far more complex, quite often with civilians mixed in.  Trusting an AI to make those kill decisions in complex scenarios is not something that would sit easily with most. Collateral damage reduced to an “acceptable” probability?   Continue reading Military AI arms race

3D Printer part 7: Z-axis

At the end of my last post in this series, we had finished the x-axis assembly and successfully tested the motor.  This post looks at adding the z-axis shafts and bearing, covering issues 24 to 27 of 3D Create and Print by Eaglemoss Technology.  If you’ve skipped a part of this series you can start from the beginning, including details of the Vector 3 printer I’m building on my 3D printer page.

As with previous steps, it’s slightly easier to put all these together in one go to save unscrewing components.  These steps should be familiar to you now as this is the third axis to be built.  There is one difference – the z-axis has 3 shafts rather than two. Continue reading 3D Printer part 7: Z-axis

Can machines think?

The following tweet appeared on my timeline today:

Initially I thought “heh, fair point – we are defining that the only true intelligence is described by the properties humans exhibit”, and my in-built twitter filter1 ignored the inaccuracies of the analogy. I clicked on the tweet as I wanted to see what the responses were and whether there was a better metaphor that I could talk about. There wasn’t – the responses were mainly variants on the deficiencies of the analogy and equally problematic in their own right. While this didn’t descend into anything abusive2, I do feel that the essence of what was trying to be conveyed was lost and this will be a continual problem with twitter. One of the better responses3 did point out that cherry-picking a single feature was not the same as the Turing Test.  However, this did get me thinking based on my initial interpretation of the tweet.

In order to answer a big question we are simplifying it in one way.  Turing simplified “Can machines think?” to “can machines fool humans into thinking they are human?”.   Continue reading Can machines think?

From the interviewer’s side of the table

I’m currently building a team for my new secret project and far more of my time than I’d like is spent with the recruitment process. However, every minute of that time is essential and we’re at a point where none of it can be handed off to an agency even if I wanted to1.  So getting the recruitment process right is essential.

One of the basic principles of management in any industry is that if you set metrics for your team, they will adapt to maximise those results: set a minimum number of bugs to be resolved and you’ll find the easy ones get picked off, set an average number of features and you’ll find everything held together with string, set too many metrics to cover all bases and you’ll end up with none of them hit and a demoralised (or non-existent) team2.  The same is true of recruitment – you will end up hiring people who pass whatever recruitment tasks you set, not necessarily the type of person the company needs.  While this may appear obvious, think back to the last interview you were at, either as the interviewer or interviewee – how much relation did the process really have to the role?

When I started recruiting for my new team, I knew I had neither the time nor resources to make mistakes.  I had to get this right first time. Continue reading From the interviewer’s side of the table