Rewired State Parliament hack weekend 2012

Its 8:44 am and after 5 hours of sleep on my trusty Thermarest I feel quite refreshed, which is more than I can say about the people around me. Some have capitulated and lay scattered around the brightly lit room under their coats in front of their MacBook Air’s. Others are still in exactly the same position I left them 5 hours ago but the intensity has gone and eyes have glazed over. At least one person confirmed the geek stereotype and didn’t manage to hold his beer.

Update: Apparently Parlycloud won a special mention during the judging, thanks!

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Codenoise, A London Clojure Dojo report

A couple of months ago I blogged about my first venture into clojure. This was driven by the desire to learn something completely different to what I was already familiar with.

Real life got in the way and for a while my dabbling in clojure was put on hold though I continued to lurk on the london-clojurians list. It then so happned there was a Dojo on Monday (yesterday) which I could (finally) make. Travelling between Southampton and London is never cheap through but I tend to see it as an investment.

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License to RHoK, Dec 1-2, Southampton, UK

After the great success and feedback of the previous global RHoK event in Southampton I decided to organize the next one as well. This time around kindly helped out by Alejandro Saucedo from HackaSoton.

During the weekend of 1-2 December 2012, The University of Southampton will be one of the satellite cities as part of the global Random Hacks of Kindness Event!

Like in June it looks like we will be the only UK event so let that be an extra motivation!

Click here for the detailed programme

Twitter hashtag: #rhoksoton

Eventbrite - RHoK Global December 2012: Southampton, UK

* Updates:

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Failing small: StackOverflow Machine Learning Competition

Last August every programmers’ faviorite site, StackExchange, announced a machine learning contest on Kaggle. The task was defined as:

…to find an algorithm that predicts whether (and for what reason) a question will be closed. The idea is simple: we’ve prepared a dataset with all the questions on Stack Overflow, including everything we knew about them right before they were posted, and whether they finally ended up closed or not.  You grab the data, build your brilliant classifier, run it against some leaderboard data and submit your results.  Rinse and repeat until the contest ends, when we’ll grab the most promising classifiers and run them against fresh data to choose winners.

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Diving into Data

Since about half a year my podcast subscriptions includes RCE-Cast, an interesting show run by very knowledgable hosts about HPC related topics. One of their more recent episodes was on the Datadive project by Datakind.

From the website:

DataKind brings together leading data scientists with high impact social organizations through a comprehensive, collaborative approach that leads to shared insights, greater understanding, and positive action through data in the service of humanity.

I liked the idea and, while I have plenty of scuba diving experience, data diving was not something I was very familiar with. The problems I have worked on so far have pretty much always been big CPU vs big data. Thus I followed their Twitter feed and signed up to the London event (first in the UK/Europe?) when I heard about it.

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The Research Software Engineer

Some months ago I attended the 2012 Collaborations workshop in Oxford, something which I blogged about in my post The Researcher Programmer, a New Species?.

This then triggered some discussion on the LinkedIn group for scientific software engineering, and that eventually led to a collaborative paper, presented at this weeks Digital Research Conference, also in Oxford.

I didn’t find a link to any kind of proceedings and in the interest of the discussion thought I would reproduce the paper here.

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Coursera-dl: A Coursera download script

I have blogged about in the past and as part of signing up to a number of courses I felt the need to easily download the videos, quizzes, notes, etc. locally for later use offline.

I quickly found a project on github (and there are a few) but wasn’t quite happy with the code. I cleaned it up to a relatively sensible state and it now does what I wanted it to do. The main additional features I wanted were: easily download multiple courses, support for quizzes/homeworks, and support for links to extra material (e.g, 3rd party sites, papers, etc).

Just do a “pip install coursera-dl” and then run as follows:

coursera-dl -u myusername -p mypassword -d /my/courses/ algo-2012-001 ml-2012-002

Code is in python and can be found on Github.

Some people have asked if they could donate something. If you wish you can do that here:

Donate Button

Update: if you have a feature request or want to report a bug please use the github issue system


Learning Clojure: What’s your Bieberscore?

Some time ago I read a tweet from somebody who was comparing lyrics from Justin Bieber and Queen. I failed to find the original tweet but paraphrasing it was something along the lines of:

Spot the difference, Queen: “Misguided old mule with your pig headed rules/With your narrow minded cronies/Who are fools of the first division/” Justin Bieber: “Fa la la la la la la, la la la la la la la…”

The scientist in me then thought it would be interesting to assign some numbers to this, how to quantify the difference? At the same time, in the spirit of the Pragmatic Programmer, I had been meaning to learn a new programming language. I wanted to learn something that was as different as possible to what I knew already. With a nudge from Paul Graham I quickly settled on a Lisp: Clojure. Having seen a number of talks, I have a great respect for Rich Hickey and was curious to experience what he came up with.

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Search and Resuce with UAVs, Worth it?

I gave an overview of the research I’m involved in in a previous post. In a nutshell its about looking at an agile design process for UAVs in the context of Search And Rescue (SAR) missions.

Part of the research involved building a detailed operational simulation model of the Solent area on the South coast of the UK. This simulation model is seeded with historical SAR incident information, weather patterns, as well as the locations of coast guard/RNLI stations & their capabilities. By running the simulation we can then analyze the spatial and temporal distribution of incidents, what the response times are, how often helicopters & lifeboats are needed, etc.

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#RHoKSoton is going to rock!

In 30 minutes we have the #RHoKSoton pre-RHoK Event social gathering in a nearby pub. Tomorrow morning we will join 30 worldwide locations and 3000+ participants to work on a number of challenging problems for the good of humanity and the environment. This is the first time RHoK is organized in this part of the UK and we are the only event in the UK this round!

Its been a lot of work getting this organized and not everything will be perfect, but all I can say is….


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