O'Really?

March 4, 2014

CoderDojo, CodingDojo or CodeJo?

CC-BY licensed picture of a Hacker Dojo by Mitch Altman.

A dojo (or a dōjō) is an event where people train to perform a given task. So for example, software engineers organise code dojos to hone their skills in making software. The term has become widely adopted, so much so, that you’ll often find many flavours of dojo in your local area. In Manchester, there are at least three variants and these often get confused, usually by me. So here’s a quick explanation of what the different dojos do and how they are different.

CoderDojo: @coderdojo & @mcrcoderdojo etc

CoderDojo.com is an open source, volunteer led, global movement of free coding clubs for young people. You’ll find Coder Dojos all over the world, the Manchester Coder Dojo meets once a month in The Sharp Project, and like many coder dojos is very popular and frequently over-subscribed.

CodingDojo: @uomcodingdojo & @codingdojodotco

A group of students at the University of Manchester organise a Coding Dojo @uomcodingdojo see fb.com/uomcodingdojo. They practise problems in TopCoder and other puzzles [1-5] in order to compete in the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest. They do this because it’s fun, improves their skill and prepares them for the kind’s of problems that are commonly found in a Coding Interviews  – a variant of the infamous Microsoft / Amazon / Google / Apple / Facebook / Twitter interviews. [6,7]

(The Manchester Coding Dojo are nothing to do with codingdojo.com  an outfit in Seattle and Silly Valley who claim to “teach you programming in 2 weeks” see @codingdojodotco.)

Codejo: @manc_codejo

The Manchester Codejo is monthly coding meetup in Manchester, where developers improve their skills by performing Katas – exercises designed to improve coding ability through repetition. So at their last meeting for example, Gemma Cameron @ruby_gem recently ran a Codejo session on the Class-responsibility-collaboration card at manchester.techhub.com.

In other words…

So @coderdojo ≠ @uomcodingdojo ≠ @manc_codejo ≠ @McrCoderDojo etc. Hope this clears up some confusion…

References

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dining Philosophers
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight queens puzzle
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower of Hanoi
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travelling salesman problem
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two Generals’ problem
  6. McDowell, Gayle Laakman (2011) Cracking the Coding Interview: 150 Programming Questions and Solutions Career Cup ISBN:098478280X
  7. Poundstone, William (2013) Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google? Fiendish Puzzles And Impossible Interview Questions From The World’s Top Companies Oneworld Publications ISBN:1851689559

June 15, 2012

Alan Turing Centenary Conference, 22nd-25th June 2012

Alan Turing by Michael Dales

The Alan Turing statue at Bletchley Park. Creative commons licensed picture via Michael Dales on Flickr

Next weekend, a bunch of very distinguished computer scientists will rock up at the magnificent Manchester Town Hall for the Turing Centenary Conference in order to analyse the development of Computer ScienceArtificial Intelligence and Alan Turing’s legacy [1].

There’s an impressive and stellar speaker line-up including:

Tickets are not cheap at £450 for four days, but you can sign up for free public lectures by Jack Copeland on Turing: Pioneer of the Information Age and Roger Penrose on the problem of modelling a mathematical mind. Alternatively, if you can lend some time, the conference organisers are looking for volunteers to help out in return for a free conference pass. Contact Vicki Chamberlin for details if you’re interested.

References

  1. Chouard, T. (2012). Turing at 100: Legacy of a universal mind Nature, 482 (7386), 455-455 DOI: 10.1038/482455a see also nature.com/turing

June 8, 2012

From Useful Trees to Powerful Networks: A talk by Manuel Lima from Microsoft

It’s Friday, so here’s another one of those cool RSA Animate videos by Cognitive Media. This one is narrated by Microsoftie Manuel Lima and describes how the tree structures that we know and love, such as the infamous tree of life are becoming inadequate for organising knowledge, despite having been useful for thousands of years.

Trees are, according to Lima, being replaced by networks of various kinds [1] as they are often a better way to organise the huge complexity [1] of the world around us.

References

  1. Manuel Lima (2011) Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information Princeton Architectural Press.

March 15, 2012

Be nice to nerds … you may end up working for them

Thought for the day: be nice to nerds because you might end of up working for them.

This sound advice comes from DARPA defector and newly appointed Googler Regina Dugan (see picture below).

Regina Dugan by Steve Jurvetson

What’s that you say? You’re not sure exactly what a nerd is? There are many definitions but the graphic below sums it up better than the Oxford English Dictionary ever could.

Are you a nerd, geek, dork or dweeb?

But beware! Many self-confessed nerds may actually be dorks, dweebs or geeks. It’s a grey area out there in the Venn of Nerdery, not quite as clear cut as the diagram above. To be sure of treating nerds right, you’ll need to be nice to dorks, dweebs and geeks too! See video for details…

[Creative Commons licensed picture of Regina Dugan at TED via Steve Jurvetson]

December 17, 2008

Happy Christmas Lectures 2008

Machines that learn by Kaustav BhattacharyaOne of the most important Christmas traditions in Europe, aside from drinking too much, excessive eating and generally conspicuous over-consumption, are the Royal Institution Christmas lectures. This year, they are being given by Professor Christopher Bishop (pictured right), Chief Scientist at Microsoft Research and are on the subject of the Quest for the Ultimate Computer. This hi-tech trek includes subjects such as machine learning, microchip design, artificial intelligence and Web technology. Here is the blurb from the one of the lectures to give you a flavour:

“Computers are extraordinary machines, able to perform feats of arithmetic that far exceed the capabilities of any human. They can store a huge quantity of data, and recall it perfectly in the blink of an eye. They can even beat the world champion at chess. So why do computers struggle to solve apparently simple tasks such as understanding speech, or translating text between languages? Why is a 3 year old toddler better at recognising everyday objects than the world’s most powerful supercomputer? In the last of this year’s Christmas Lectures, Chris Bishop will look at one of the great frontiers of computer science. We’ll see how some of the toughest computational problems are now being tackled by giving computers the ability to learn solutions for themselves, in much the same way as people learn by example. This has led to impressive progress with problems such as recognising handwriting and finding information on the web. But we are only beginning to explore the power of computation, and there are many challenges ahead in our quest for the ultimate computer.”

Broadcast on Channel 5 (starting Monday 29th December, consult your UK TV guide for details), these lectures are aimed at children, but can be enjoyed by kids of all ages (including grown ups). The lectures will also be available as a webcast from rigb.org and probably youtube as well. Whatever you’re doing over the coming holidays have a very happy Christmas, pagan solstice festival, winterval. Wherever you are, don’t forget to enjoy an intellectually nourishing side-portion of Computer Science with your festive feasting!

References

  1. http://www.rigb.org/christmaslectures08/
  2. Watch this: Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 2008, The Guardian 2008-12-29
  3. Review of Last Night’s TV: Christmas Lectures, The Independent 2008-12-30
  4. John Benyon Christmas Lectures: Untangling the Web
  5. Rich from Bechtle Christmas Lectures 2008, much better!

[Picture of Chris Bishop by Kaustav Bhattacharya]

December 10, 2008

Congratulations Carole Goble, e-Scientist

Carole Goble wins first Jim Gray e-Science awardAt the Microsoft e-Science workshop in Indianapolis, earlier this week Carole Goble was awarded with the first Jim Gray 2008 e-Science award, pictured here collecting the prize from Tony Hey of Microsoft Research. You can read all about it in the Seattle Tech Report which says:

“As director of the U.K.’s myGrid project, Goble helped create Taverna, open source software that allows scientists to analyse complex data sets with a standard computer.”

It is very inspiring when colleagues win prizes and awards. Personally, I would not be here doing what I’m doing if it wasn’t for Carole and myGrid, and neither would many other people who work on (or have worked on) myGrid and related projects.

Carole, you are an inspiration to us all, congratulations! To celebrate your success, I’m off to commit some more of the seven deadly sins of bioinformatics [1]…

References

  1. Carole Goble The Seven Deadly Sins of Bioinformatics
  2. e-Science in Indianapolis: Carole Goble wins the 1st Jim Gray eScience Award
  3. Joseph Tartakoff British professor given first Jim Gray Award, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Tech Report
  4. Todd Bishop UK prof receives Jim Gray award Tech Flash
  5. Savas Parastatidis Carole Goble as the first recipient of the “Jim Gray eScience Award”
  6. Microsoft Recognise Manchester e-Science Contribution
  7. Deborah Gage Microsoft creates award in the name of Jim Gray San Francisco Chronicle, The Tech Chronicles
  8. Microsoft New tools for Discovery on Display at e-Science workshop

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