8th annual information science doctoral colloquium #iDocQ2018

Bruce's IT-ish world

Calling all information science students! registration is open until 28th April 2018. See below or visit for details.

Register here, and send in an abstract for a PechaKucha here

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Night Fever!

When Mood Music
2013-06-22 04:48:00 pleased

So we’ve just done a solstice-night cycle, part of Edinburgh’s Festival of Cycling.

We were started in groups of 20 from Leith Cycle co – Elly and I were in the second group. There were a few hijinks as we rejoined the road at Portobello – a plastic pint of beer narrowly missed one us. Apart from that, the ride was uneventful but at a fairly fast pace for us. (Real roadents may well have left us for dust.) The 18 miles to Gullane took us 1 hour 23 minutes (13mph average).

Tea and yummy cake were waiting for us at Gullane – but so was the rain. Somehow the first group came in after us – I think they took a wrong turning and went through Longniddry village.

The group structure fell apart at Gullane. A number of people wanted to get going, rather than stand around getting cold and wet, so we set off with a hearty shout of ‘Anarchy in East Lothian!’ (Er, that’s me exercising my poetic licence.) The wind was against us and it felt as though we were going slower than before – but we actually took two minutes less to get back. Leading in the dark is weird, especially with the somewhat hypnotic effect of my flashing front lights.

The actual finish, and celebratory breakfast, was in a church further into Leith. Elly decided to simply go home and to her bed but the calories and caffeine lured me. I’m not sure a baked-bean and mushroom roll has ever been so welcome!

I’m quite pleased that we did around 14mph for the uninterrupted parts of the ride. Traffic lights and other impedimenta took our start-to-finish average down to 13·3mph. Here’s the inevitable map. I should join a road-club and see how Lev’s heavy steel frame and my legs compare to roadents’ carbon-fibre speed-beats and thunder-thighs.

Happy second-half-of-solar-year to you all!

Coolness abounds

When Mood Music
2013-06-20 20:35:00

It’s always fab to discover consistency of good ideas in MacOS and related applications.

For a long time, perhaps predating OSX, command-clicking on a Finder window’s title bar has given a menu enabling movement up the folder structure. (It’s a compact vertical equivalent to OSX’s excellent column view.)

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I’ve just discovered a similar trick in Safari, Apple’s own browser.

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This allows movement up the folder structure on the external web server. Hurrah!

Incidentally, the graphic in the Finder window is the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology. That’s a simple theory. If you want complex, look here – and scream.

 

danger – gas!

When Mood Music
2013-06-19 16:23:00 amused none

A series of emails about taking CO2 tyre-inflators on our flights next month…

  1. From me to the airline:

    I’ve just thought of another potential problem to do with carrying bikes on aeroplane. When cycling in the UK, we tend to carry containers of CO2 – they reinflate tyres much more quickly than using a manual pump. You can see a description here. Is it OK to take these in our hold luggage?

  2. Their reply:

    Dear Mr Bruce,
    Thank you for contacting us. With reference to your e mail I would like to confirm that you will be allowed to carry empty containers of CO2 in your hold luggage as long as it fits in the hold baggage dimension of 275cm (length+width+height).
    CO2 is a highly inflammable substance which is strictly prohibited on board.
    Yours sincerely
    [name]
    [airline] Customer Services

  3. My response:

    Dear [name]
    Thank you for your email. However, it is somewhat puzzling. You say I can carry empty containers in hold luggage, but then that CO2 is ‘highly inflammable’ and ‘strictly prohibited on board’. I assume that ‘on board’ means ‘anywhere on the aircraft’.
    Firstly, there would be no point in carrying empty containers.
    Secondly, CO2 is does not burn under any circumstances. It is commonly used in fire extinguishers because it is inert and absorbs a great deal of heat. During my chemistry PhD, I occasionally ran reactions under a CO2 ‘atmosphere’ to prevent the oxidation (burning) by the oxygen in normal air.
    I do understand that CO2 containers might be dangerous because they are pressurised. I presume this is why they are forbidden in cabin luggage.
    However, they appear to be permitted in hold luggage according to CAA regulations. Please see the top row of the table here.
    So am I allowed to take CAA-approved CO2 containers in hold luggage on your flights?
    Many thanks
    Dr Bruce Ryan

Sometimes my PhD seems worthwhile!

  1. The final word

    Dear Mr. Bruce,
    Thank you for contacting us.
    I apologise for the incorrect information provided to you in the previous e-mail. Having discussed with my supervisor I can confirm that you will not be allowed to carry CO2 containers either on board or in the hold.
    Sorry for the inconvenience caused to you.
    Yours sincerely
    [name]
    [airline] Customer Services

 

marked – permission to proceed!

When Mood Music
2013-06-13 18:51:00 curious News Quiz

Napier has confirmed I’ve passed the taught part of my MSc and may ‘continue with my course’. So I need to get on with my dissertation!

For your delight and delectation, here’s the letter and confirmation of final grades for my taught modules. (Click the thumbnails for full-size versions.)
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I haven’t a clue what the acronyms mean. Assuming these grade-bands were used throughout the marking, and that my marks were in the exact centres of my bands, my average mark works out as 84% and hence my average grade would be D2.

If I’ve recorded the actual marks correctly on my infographic, I’ve achieved 85·79% of available marks so far, leading to a grade of D3.

I’m not bothered by the difference between D2 and D3 – as far as I’m aware, my final grade will be fail, pass or distinction. To get a distinction, I need to hand in a distinction-level dissertation. I’m not confident of that.

How did this happen?

When Mood Music
2013-06-12 23:51:00 tired

I now seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time doing fitness things. The italic items are my regular schedule:

  • Monday: 2 back-to-back 1-hour spinning sessions
  • Wednesday: 1-hour spinning session
  • Thursday: 1-hour personal training
  • Friday: 2 hours of the 24-hour spinning marathon
  • Saturday: the final 2 hours of the 24 hour spinning marathon
  • Sunday: 1-hour spinning session

Next weekend won’t have a spinning marathon but we’ll be doing the solstice night coastal bike-ride.

All my fitness stuff happens at Lifescycle, so there’s also a 4-mile commute each way.

And yet I used to hate sport!

The spinning marathon doesn’t mean doing 24-hours non-stop spinning working at this intensity for 24 hours would be, er, challenging. (Then again, there’s RAAM.) Proceeds from the spinning marathon will go to the Scottish Association for Mental Health. One of the spinners has set up a JustGiving page just in case there are some spare pennies available.

mini-me?

When Mood Music
2013-06-12 13:24:00 Dicky Trisco – Ruff Jams Audio 14

Last year I was given an iPad1. Within a month I’d lost it – I left it in a tray in an airport security check. Rather than being returned to me, it was taken off the airport, presumably by a dishonest member of the airport’s staff. Despite the best efforts of Heathrow police, it wasn’t returned. Fortunately my gadget insurance covered this loss.

But I didn’t use the money to buy a new iPad. Instead I bought a refurbished 4GB MacBook Air. I’m very happy with it because it’s small and light, pretty fast and it runs Windows7 (via BootCamp) just fine. Of course I would like more RAM (not possible – RAM is soldered to the motherboard) and storage (expensive).

However, I do occasionally feel iPadlust, expecially when gaming or using VNC on the iPhone because the iPhone’s screen is just too small. I found the iPad too big to carry and game comfortably but an iPad mini should hit the sweet spot. My other big mobile need is route-finding but for this, I’d want the device to be waterproof. I’m almost entirely happy with the Lifeproof case on my iPhone, and Elly rates highly the Lifeproof case on her iPad 3. However, until now there has been no equivalent for iPad minis.

But Lifeproof have just filled this gap, so my iPadlust has become even stronger!