Review: Q is for Quantum by Terry Rudolph

Cover of Q is for QuantumOne of the modules I’m considering for level 3 of my OU maths degree is the quantum world. I recall my A-Level chemistry teacher trying to explain that electrons weren’t solid balls orbiting an atom but rather a probability cloud of where the electron could be. I read a lot of popular science books at the time but found that there was a huge gap between the very high level “here’s a thing, it’s really cool” and “here’s a thing and after 3 pages we’ll dive into complex theory that you’ve never encountered”. Hence when I heard that a new introductory book on the principles of quantum theory had been written specifically for inquisitive young people to help them decide if they wanted to learn the maths needed to take it further, I thought “this sounds like a book 16 year old me would have wanted to read” and I bought a copy for the kindle. Continue reading Review: Q is for Quantum by Terry Rudolph

Citation Needed – without it you have opinion not facts

Heckle every speech like this ūüôā Courtesy of XKCD

Throughout my academic career one thing that was repeatedly enforced was that if you were claiming something to be true in a paper, you needed to show results to prove it or cite a credible source that had those results.¬† It took a lot of effort in those pre-Google Scholar and pre-Arxiv days1.¬† Reading the journals, being aware of retractions and clarifications and building the evidence to support your own work took time2.¬† Writing up my thesis was painful solely because of finding the right references for things that were “known”.¬† I had several excellent reviewers who sent me back copies of my thesis with “citation needed” where I’d stated things as facts without a reference.¬† My tutor at Oxford was very clear on this: without a citation, it’s your opinion not a fact. Continue reading Citation Needed – without it you have opinion not facts

Choosing a Laptop for Deep Learning Development

Confusion matrix
The matrix, well a matrix… A confusion matrix for a 60 class network running on the Dell XPS laptop

If you’re starting out in deep learning and would prefer a laptop over a desktop, basic research will lead you to a whole host of blogs, Q&A sites and opinions that basically amount to “don’t do it” and to get a desktop or remote into a server instead.¬† However, if you want a laptop, whether this is for college, conferences or even because you have a job where you can work from anywhere, then there are plenty of options available to you.¬† Here I’ll lay out what I chose and why, along with how it’s performing. Continue reading Choosing a Laptop for Deep Learning Development

Review: What If? Serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions

What if? From the creator of xkcd

It’s been a while since I read a physical book.¬† Most of my reading these days is done on the kindle and, while I still have physical text books for my maths degree, I have a lot of books just waiting to be read.¬† What If? by xkcd creator Randall Munroe is one of these.¬† I was given this as a present a few years ago and, despite my initial excitement (having been a reader of xkcd since about comic 17212) the book had sat on my bedside table under the kindle but just above the half-read¬†“Sagas of the Icelanders” that I’d bought on my honeymoon.¬† Last week I picked it up and started reading.¬† I read just under half in that first sitting and then two days later finished it.¬† I wish I’d read it the day it was given to me. Continue reading Review: What If? Serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions

How to build a human – review

Gemma Chan, a real human and also now a real synth
Gemma Chan, a real human and also now a real synth

Ahead of season 2 of Channel 4’s Humans, they screened a special showing how a synthetic human could be produced.¬† If you missed the show and are in the UK, you can watch again on 4OD.

Presented by Humans actress Gemma Chan, the show combined realistic prosthetic generation with AI to create a synth, but also dug a little deeper into the technology, showing how pervasive AI is in the western world.

There was a great scene with Prof Noel Sharkey and the self driving car where they attempted a bend, but human instinct took over: “It nearly took us off the road!” “Shit, yes!”.¬† This reinforced the delegation of what could be life or death decisions – how can a car have moralistic decisions, or should they even be allowed to? Continue reading How to build a human – review

Amazon Echo Dot (second generation): Review

Echo Dot (c) Amazon
Echo Dot (c) Amazon

When I attended the ReWork Deep Learning conference in Boston in May 2016, one of the most interesting talks was about the Echo and the Alexa personal assistant from Amazon.¬† As someone whose day job is AI, it seemed only right that I surround myself by as much as possible from other companies.¬† This week, after it being on back order for a while,¬†it finally arrived.¬† At ¬£50, the Echo Dot is a reasonable price, with the only negative I was aware of before ordering being that the sound quality “wasn’t great” from a reviewer. Continue reading Amazon Echo Dot (second generation): Review

Surface Pro: how I use it – a review

Surface Pro 3I first used the Surface Pro 3 on my trip to Boston to take notes at ReWorkDL¬†rather than scribbling on bits of paper or taking a full laptop and found it to be a great replacement for an A4 notebook, but didn’t really use it to its full potential. ¬†At the start of November, I joined a new company and I’ve been using the Surface exclusively for all my note taking, as well as for studying for my OU Maths modules.

With the recent release of the Surface 4, there may be people wondering if they’re worth it, and what use they’d get out of it. ¬†There are plenty of technical reviews around so I’d suggest using those as a starting point, and if you’re headed out to the sales, you might find my experiences helpful. ¬† Continue reading Surface Pro: how I use it – a review

Girls Can Code – episode 2 thoughts

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

After somewhat mixed reviews of last week’s episode I was interested to see whether episode 2 of Girls Can Code had any more emphasis on the coding side.

It started with a comment that the girls were building a tech business rather than actually learning to code themselves. ¬†This justified one of the major criticisms of the show – that it was nothing about coding. ¬†While I’m sure that this was all fixed months ago, I did wonder if the voice over for the start of the show had been rerecorded after the response to the first episode. Continue reading Girls Can Code – episode 2 thoughts

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

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