Friday, 31 October 2008

HTC Touch HD

Contrary to what I said a while ago, I reckon this will be my next phone. Nice.

[POSTSCRIPT: There's a nice review on The Register today.]

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Ljubljana airport

I last flew through Ljubljana airport at least 5 years ago - maybe longer. It's been improved considerably since then. Most of these improvements are very nice - lots of steel, glass, nice chairs, a decent duty-free (where I got a bottle of viljamovka). The less-good improvement is the weird bus ride of 10m that you have to take after disembarking from the plane to get you to passport control.

I was amused by the glass "specimen cases" they have for smokers:

If you ever needed motivation to give up - I would have thought that being stared at by everyone else in the departures lounge would be pretty effective :-)

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

EasyJet vs Ryanair

I flew out to Ljubljana with the family (as it's also half-term). No great change there, but we flew to Ljubljana with EasyJet, instead of our usual flight to Graz/Klagenfurt with Ryanair.

I was surprised at how much more enjoyable flying with EasyJet is. Maybe it's just Ryanair setting a low bar, but it seemed like a much less stressful exercise. One crucial difference is that EasyJet pre-board families, whereas Ryanair makes them pay. I don't understand this - families need to be sat together and they slow things down. It just makes sense to get them on first. EasyJet appear to preboard their Speedy people first, then families, then everyone else.

In addition, they categorize "everyone else" into groups so they can manage the crush to get a seat. Ryanair basically encourages a free-for-all. This just brings out the worst in people. (I remember being pushed out of the way even though I had a leg in plaster and using crutches!)

I expect we'll be flying to Ljubljana in the future...

[The only downside of the trip is that I returned with a stomach-bug that has laid me low for most of today. I had to cancel my seminar at Oxford due this afternoon - I barely made it to the corner store this evening let alone a drive to Oxford :-( ]

Ljubljana visit

I'm back from a weekend visit to Ljubljana to visit Andrej Bauer and Melita Hajdinjak at the Maths Faculty. I'm privileged to be serving on Melita's thesis committee. I visited them to become acquainted with Melita's work. I was blown away: Melita has some very nice results. I'm encouraging Melita to submit some of her work for PODS...fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Car rental

I was a bit nervous at the Avis desk following my "Banana Yellow" rental last time, but I lucked out this time. I got a Chevrolet Impala LT, just like this:

It's a really nice ride.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Microsoft Surface

Whilst in Redmond I was housed on floor 4 of building 35. Luckily, just by the lifts on the fourth floor is a Microsoft Surface Computer. I congratulate the surface team, because this technology rocks! The demos they had running were very impressive. Ignoring the geek value of the games, I was particularly excited by the video and picture sorter. It really is like having the pictures scattered over the table - you can toss them around, resize them, even whilst the video is playing if its a video. It was a real immersive experience. The software seems rock solid. There were people playing with it most of the time, and it really does seem Just To Work (TM). Cool stuff.

Cultural difference

I'm just back from another great week "on campus" in Redmond. I was well-hosted by Jim and Erik. I've returned tired but excited about the work that we generated over the week - lots of new directions and ideas to try out!

There is a lot to blog about, but here's one of the interesting cultural differences I experienced on this trip: my first time at a drive-thru ATM (at Wells Fargo in Bellevue):

[Apologies for the blue-tint: somehow I screwed up the white-balance setting on my phone.] You can just about make out the car-door and the wing-mirror.

America really is the land of convenience!

Thursday, 9 October 2008


Yesterday we had a talk from Ryan Ingram from EA about the use of concurrency in games software, specifically Spore. I'm not a computer games player, but I was *very* impressed with what he demoed. It's amazingly easy to create creatures, and they seem very characterful in terms of their animation.

Ryan's talk was interesting too: he discussed how games are increasingly taking advantage of multicore shared-memory machines, but also how difficult that can be. He showed some of the programming patterns they use, but he also pointed out how some things could be better supported by language design. I found this very interesting - there does seem to be a sweetspot for a practical language that has a constrained scattering of some POPL-esque language design features. if only I didn't have so much on already...

Thursday, 2 October 2008

100% organic - evidence

I've promised a number of people a picture of the nail that was removed from my left leg. Here it is:

For scale, I placed a 30cm ruler below the nail (with two fixing screws). Yikes!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Old School

I like this website that shows what you can do with a ton of AJAX code :-)