Tuesday, 15 December 2009
Friday, 11 December 2009
Thursday, 10 December 2009
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Most exciting for me was the opportunity to play with a Zune HD. I was completely blown away. It is a fantastic device. Clearly it's up against the iPod Touch, but for me it is a clear winner. Its UI is nicer (in fact more than this, I think it's a revolution in UI design), the screen is vastly superior, and it's wonderful to play with a Windows device with a multi-touch screen!
There's only one question: Why can't I buy it in Europe? I wish I had an answer to this:-(
Friday, 4 December 2009
Moreover, we have lots of new ideas to push on. Much of 2010 is now sorted I suspect :-)
Thursday, 3 December 2009
Yesterday, I think (hope) we made the finishing touches to the technical detail of our C# 4.0 paper. Now we have a big rush to write all the surrounding text. I anticipate a lot of typing on the flight home!
I went to a talk by Manuel on Code Contracts, which is the coolest stuff. If you are a C# developer you should download this package and play. It allows you to write pre- and post-conditions in your code and use them to generate runtime tests, do compile-time verification, and generate documentation. It's very nice. Moreover, this extension is through a library, so it really is the C# compiler that you know and love. Totally awesome. (Although I have some ideas to discuss with Matt when I get back about how to make it even better!)
Last night, I had a great meal with Nik at Trellis in Kirkland. I had the steak which was spectacularly good, although I would have served some potatoes amongst the other root vegetables. But the meat was divine.
Monday, 30 November 2009
Sunday, 29 November 2009
I was cheered though by a call to my mate Richard whose first reaction was "at least you'll get to watch Match of the Day 2." What a philosophy:-)
Luckily I got a seat on tomorrow's flight - let's hope I manage not to screw up again!
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Anyway, the talk seemed to go down well - I certainly had fun giving it. I did get collared by one delegate who wanted to productize some piece of MSR software but was prevented by the standard MSR download agreement, and hadn't been able to get hold of anyone to see about licensing the software. (He wasn't very happy.) It made me realize that some of the recent moves in MSR to license IP to third parties when its not appropriate to use in a MS product is probably a good move although presumably coming with considerable overhead.
In the morning before the Influencers meeting, Rane, Jose and I went on a rapid tour of downtown Belgrade. We started at the Kalemegdan fort; here's me, Jose and Rane at the top of the tower:
and here's the view from the top:
We then walked through the park into the centre of town. Having reached the revolution square, we then wandered around soaking up the atmosphere and the sun (Belgrade was unusually warm at the moment - it was 18C when we got back to the hotel at 11am!).
At one point we came across a huge queue of people. We followed the queue for a while, but soon realized that there were at least 1000 people in the queue. I stopped someone to ask what it was. It turned out that the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Pavle, died on 15 November and was lying in state. The queue was to see the body. It was quite moving to see. Interestingly, sitting in the airport waiting for my plane I was passed by lots of priests from the Orthodox church arriving for the funeral.
On my last night, the local host Zlatko took us to a very nice restaurant called Zaplet. We had a jolly meal; I ate an exceptional pumpkin soup and a huge plate of good cevapi (although I still think my mother-in-law's are the best!) with ajvar, washed down by a very good Serbian wine (Carigrad). Here we all are:
When I booked my flights, I thought I would be helpful and fly on the national airline, JAT, instead of BA. I'm not too sure this was a great idea - the JAT planes are very old and in poor condition, the tickets are NOT cheap, the service is poor (I was served the worst cheese sandwich in the world on the way out; the second worst being the one I had on the return flight!); and the flight was delayed in both directions (as far as I could tell, we were delayed leaving Belgrade because they couldn't find the pilots - it certainly wasn't because the airport was busy!).
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Friday, 20 November 2009
Hopefully Slovenia won't meet England in the tournament proper:-)
Friday, 13 November 2009
Monday, 9 November 2009
Thursday, 5 November 2009
Monday, 2 November 2009
We went last week. I'm happy to say that she's even better live than recorded. It was a fantastic gig - she's enormously talented and her songs work very well in a live context. It was essentially a huge disco! Victoria also wore some kicking outfits!
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
It was a very nice experience - a nice IDE with very fancy (for the time) debugging support, including what one would call edit-and-continue nowadays. I found this review in the MacTech archives. Looking at the screenshots left me with a nice warm feeling :-) I like the concluding statement:
I personally think these products will
revolutionize how software is done on the Mac.
Clearly true, but not just for the Mac!
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
The grant was on a linear lambda calculus (actually more like a linear PCF) that we dubbed Lily. We did quite a lot of work on Lily, but for one reason and another we never really published much - just a single workshop paper. (There's an A4 ring binder on the shelf above my head full of unpublished calculations of one sort or another.) Interestingly, this paper has had some impact and a number of people, including Alex Simpson and Lars Birkedal, have done some cool work following on from it.
Claudio actually implemented Lily - but we never released the code. In fact, I don't think we even documented the fact that we had implemented it!
Anyhow, I'm happy to report that Lily has risen from the ashes! Claudio and I have translated the code from Moscow ML to F#, and late yesterday afternoon, the familiar Lily REPL had returned:
Watch this space. Hopefully in a couple of months, I'll be able to explain why we're playing with Lily again. Either way - even if our experiments fail - I promise to release the bits!
You then plug the card into a recessed port at the back of the telly.
Oops - quite a lot of dust there :-) Then you switch on the TV and get a wonderfully 80s-like screen:
At the end you wonder at the new-found Cbeebies channel, before putting the card into another jiffy bag and sending it back to Panasonic so they can post it to the next person on the list.
Another phrase used for DSU is "hot swapping". I guess this process could be called "cold swapping".
Saturday, 24 October 2009
It was only when Luke knocked at the door, that I realized that this was a group outing that Jo had organized. So I had to be Jo for the evening: vivacious, curvaceous, aristic, and everyone's favourite girl from Essex! Quite a job for a skinny, computer geek from Berkshire! However, I like a challenge.
It was a fun concert: Newton is amazingly (depressingly) talented - playing virtuoso guitar, singing, playing foot keyboard and triggering samples, all at the same time. It was very impressive, and given that he's by himself, he really got the whole crowd going.
We ended the evening with Vicky's favourite: a jug of Long Island Iced Tea at the Maypole. A nice evening.
Thursday, 22 October 2009
But I think the Windows team have done a great job. Go 7!
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
As part of the upgrade, my instance of F# got upgraded to 188.8.131.52. I then went to recompile some code and it failed. It turns out that if you use FsLex/FsYacc in your project (a wonderful feature IMO) then there's a slight glitch in this version of F#. You need to do two things to get it to work again:
- Copy c:\Program Files\FSharp-184.108.40.206\bin\gac\FSharp.PowerPack.Build.Tasks.dll to C:\Program Files\MSBuild\FSharp\1.0\FSharp.PowerPack.Build.Tasks.dll
- Close and restart Visual Studio [this last step is vital]
If you do this, then Lex and Yacc will work from VS as before. Hurrah! I'm now a happy F# developer again!
Monday, 5 October 2009
The gig could have only been improved with kids on BMXs on stage for What's a Girl To Do?!
Friday, 25 September 2009
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
Interestingly, the users are not just college students who need something to keep awake as they're late on an essay assignment because they've been partying. (Nothing new here!) But rather, there is a growing trend of young professional users, who feel under increasing pressure to be more productive (both absolutely and relatively to all those 20 year-old whizz-kids in Mumbai). This cultural perspective seems to me almost as interesting - it's certainly not clear that cosmetic neurology is philosophically any different to cosmetic surgery.
Anyhow, take a look at the article - it's a little long, but I found it fascinating.
Monday, 21 September 2009
Thursday, 10 September 2009
Monday, 7 September 2009
In spite of my and Richard's confidence in a 5-1 scoreline; the game was actually pretty good. Slovenia played really rather well - nice flowing movement, which showed up some alarming holes in our defence. In the end, England were 2-1 winners. England had plenty of chances of score (and should have really scored 4) but Slovenia possibly deserved another goal. Moreover, England's first goal was a terrible refereeing mistake - there was no foul; not even the England players claimed it. That said, I still don't buy Jure's assertion that Slovenia morally won the game!
Anyway, game over and harmony restored in our household. (I was particularly impressed by Hana, who when asked at the start of the game who she supported, looked at me, looked at Mateja and then said "I don't know" and then ran off to play with her friends. A diplomat in the making!)
Friday, 28 August 2009
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Monday, 24 August 2009
We *really* enjoyed this show. Jude Law is staggeringly good as Hamlet. I've not been overwhelmed with some of his film work; but it's clear that he's an outstandingly good actor. Interestingly I read his interview with Michael Grandage where he mentioned his love of ballet. I have to say that this really comes across in his performance. It's full of graceful movement - especially with his arms and hands. He's a physical actor!
For such a long and brilliant play, there are so many great moments but let me mention my three favourite:
- The "To be or not to be" scene. This was the best I have ever seen. Visually it was breathtaking: Hamlet flattened against a huge brick wall, framed by two collosal doors, behind a film of gently falling snow, and intensely lit echoing the introspection of the words. Moreover, I loved Jude's restrained delivery, which really made you listen to the words carefully (a good thing for such a well-known speech).
- The "play within the play" scene. Again, visually superb: the players were in all-white, standing on a white carpet, and bathed in intense white light. This really helped to pull you into the scene, to watch for the King's reaction and to observe Hamlet's emotion and provocation from the side.
- The "king's confession" scene. The simplest of scenes: the King kneeling on an empty stage, hands together, praying for forgiveness; but one of the most powerful. I thought Kevin McNally as Claudius was superb.
Now the play transfers to the actual Elsinor Castle in Denmark for a brief run (how cool is that?!), and then on to Broadway. If you have a chance to see it, you should as I think this is a sensational production.
Friday, 14 August 2009
We've really enjoyed having Mike, Kim and the kids here in Cambridge over the past year; it's been great fun. Certainly Hana and Lina will really miss them. Hopefully we'll be able to go to see them in the US :-) Have a safe flight, guys!
Thursday, 13 August 2009
Monday, 20 July 2009
The abstract is as follows:
A number of important program rewriting scenarios can be recast as type-directed coercion insertion. These range from more theoretical applications such as coercive subtyping and supporting overloading in type theories, to more practical applications such as integrating static and dynamically typed code using gradual typing, and inlining code to enforce security policies such as access control and provenance tracking. In this paper we give a general theory of type-directed coercion insertion. We specifically explore the inherent tradeoff between expressiveness and ambiguity—the more powerful the strategy for generating coercions, the greater the possibility of several, semantically distinct rewritings for a given program. We consider increasingly powerful coercion generation strategies, work out example applications supported by the increased power (including those mentioned above), and identify the inherent ambiguity problems of each setting, along with various techniques to tame the ambiguities.
Sunday, 19 July 2009
Last Saturday, we managed to catch the Donmar production of A Doll's House. We really enjoyed it. It seems that this version has divided some of the critics, but as someone who didn't know the play at all, the setting of 1900's British politics seemed to fit the play rather well. (It was perhaps unfortunate that some of the dubious political motives had such obvious current parallels.)
Particularly impressive were the performances - everyone was very strong; there was not a weak spot anywhere. For me though, the star was Christopher Ecclestone. He has real presence. He oozed anger and jealousy. He and Tara Fitzgerald turned the notoriously tricky third scene into an intense and entirely believable show of emotion. Fantastic.
Leah Davies, making her West End debut as Emmy, is a star in the making.
Friday, 10 July 2009
Thursday, 9 July 2009
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
You should check out their new album (spotify link).
Thursday, 2 July 2009
Thanks to the generosity of Jo and Luke, and Andrew and Lisa, we were able to cobble together enough equipment for the family to go last weekend.
We had a fantastic time! We set off late morning on Friday (luckily Hana's school was closed for a teacher training day) and arrived an hour later than expected at Glastonbury. Unfortunately everyone else had already arrived, so we didn't get into the car park we had a pass for, nor the next, or the next and so on. In the end we were about a mile and a half away from pedestrian entrance D :-( Moreover, it was a mile and a half through fields. In fact, a mile and a half through very muddy fields. After a long and painful hauling of the gear we got in, and managed - against all predictions - to get a great pitch in the family camping area by the entrance.
Although we were a little apprehensive to start with - we all had a wonderful time. We spent most of our weekend in The Kidz Field - which is a huge area full of children's activities. The girls had a ball. This was pretty much their dream location - rides, slides, music, craft activities, all-day entertainment on the stage (including Andy from CBeebies!). Mateja and I could relax and let the girls enjoy themselves.
We did get to see some music (although if you really want to hear lots, then you can't really go with children): Lady GaGa; The Ting Tings; Kasabian; Bruce Springsteen; White Lies; Status Quo. Unfortunately we did miss some acts that we were VERY keen to hear: Blur; Lily Allen; Little Boots (the girls' current favourite - we listened to "Meddle" around 10 times on the way down). But all in all, we returned home on Sunday night, tired, dirty but happy.
Here are some snaps:
Time to put the wellies on!
Did we forget anything? :-)
Let's go find the festival!
Waiting for Lady GaGa in the mud!
A tiny fraction of the tents (we had no idea what 140,000 people in tents looks like).
Andy from CBeebies with enthralled children at his feet:
The wonderful Kidz Field:
Making music with the drums:
The pyramid stage (Kasabian):
The coolest girls watching White Lies:
A perfect day - tutus and balloons:
We made it back to the car!
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Had I not been alone, I would have probably gone to A&E to have it checked, but Mateja was singing at Southwark Cathedral and didn't get back until 11:30. I could have gone then, but I decided to watch an episode of Grey's Anatomy instead :-)
The next morning, as it was still bleeding a little, I decided to go to the GP surgery. I took Hana to school, picked up my bike from its repair, and then cycled in. The nurse had a look. She called in the doctor. She had a look. She decided that it needed a stitch or two, as even though it's currently covered by hair "...how can I put this delicately? Maybe your hairline won't always stay where it is"!
I was send off for a coffee whilst the doctor cleared some of her list, and I then returned and had two neat stitches put in. This year's colour for stitches is blue; the doctor said "...so we don't miss any when we take them out". Nice. So I'm now a little punky for a week.
Friday, 19 June 2009
Thursday, 18 June 2009
This is a good thing in my opinion, although I wish the wottles came with a drinking spout rather than a simple lid. You can buy more attractive wottles from amazon.
Friday, 12 June 2009
In fact it was so low key, I looked up from my screen-ful of F# code and saw in the reception area, Andrew opening the front door for Bill to come in. I managed to pick up my phone and snap Bill meeting our directors and Maggie (the office manager, and real boss of the building!).
Monday, 8 June 2009
Thursday, 4 June 2009
Even better is that Microsoft Research Cambridge has contributed to this project! For the past year, Jamie Shotton and his colleagues have been working hard upstairs on a "Top Secret Project" (most people in the lab didn't know what it was). It turns out it was the vision system at the heart of Natal. Way cool, Jamie.
Given the current climate of researchers being laid off, it's wonderful to see Microsoft demonstrating what having researchers can do for you.
PS: Here's the announcement at E3.
Wednesday, 27 May 2009
The best quote (from "Birdman"):
Times are hard. Ain't nobody rockin it like that no more.
Couldn't have put it better myself.
Friday, 22 May 2009
Imagine my excitement when I discover that ABC are planning a remake. There's a trailer here. Looking forward to this coming to the UK :-)
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
Monday, 18 May 2009
I like The Portland, in particular its shabby chic decor. Mike and I looked around at one point: there were about a dozen people in the pub. The pub has rather nice oak panelling - around a hundred years old. Most people were watching football, but a couple of guys were reading The Observer, and the chap next to us was reading a novel by Ernest Hemingway (IIRC "The Fifth Column and The First 49 Stories"). It's very Cambridge to get beer, live football, Hemingway, current affairs, and oak panelling all in your local pub!
After the game, we went for another Great British Experience: A rather good curry :-)
Friday, 15 May 2009
[Update: There are some nice pictures highlighting some of the expenses claims that various MPs have made. Boy, and I thought Microsoft was a good employer - clearly Westminster was the place to get real perks!]
Friday, 8 May 2009
Thursday, 7 May 2009
The Donmar has also recently announced its 2009-2010 season (here in pdf). It's an amazing list - no wonder James is so busy, he's put together a fantastic programme. The fuss in the press has been about Rachel Weisz but I'm particularly excited by A Dolls House (Scully!) and also the world premiere of "Red" (about Mark Rothko and starring Alfred Molina).
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
Her thesis work is very impressive, so it wasn't a particularly hard decision for the thesis committee:-) She'll be working on a final version of the dissertation over the next few months, so I'll post a link when it's available.
Well done, Susanna!
Friday, 1 May 2009
Tuesday, 28 April 2009
First, search for Lily Allen, and then click on her name. You now get the overview/top hits/albums page. Top of the album listing is the latest "It's not me, it's you" (but this is the censored version). To the right of the this is a little downarrow symbol. Click on this and you'll get two versions of the album. The second one (here) is the uncensored version (you can see as track 8 is listed as "Fuck You" instead of "F**k You"). I don't know how one would know the difference if none of the track names were deemed offensive.
Anyhow, I repeat that spotify is Way Cool.
Monday, 27 April 2009
Sunday, 26 April 2009
It was a fantastic day in London, warm and sunny, and very exciting with all the runners and supporters. After high-fives with Lucy we walked to St Paul's Cathedral, which impressed the girls. We sat on the front steps in the sunshine drinking lattes and smoothies. Moments like this are what makes London so great!
We then walked to the Barbican to meet up with Lucy, David and other friends/family/supporters. Lucy looked incredibly relaxed and we all munched on pizzas of varying degrees of well-done-ness and drank champagne before we ran off to catch our train back to the sticks.
Well done Lucy!
Saturday, 25 April 2009
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Friday, 17 April 2009
Anyone with a small daughter will know about these things. They are small, hollow plastic cylinders in a variety of colours. You place them on pegboards to form a design and then iron them (not forgetting to cover them first with special ironing paper (unlike my friend Andrew!)). This causes the beads to melt sufficiently to bond to their neighbours and, hey presto, you've made a picture. Take a look:
Hana and I made this beauty just before leaving for the deserts of Arizona. It drove me mad! The beads are tiny - perfect for six year-old fingers but a friggin' nightmare for an adult. Plus there are 29*29=841 pieces in there! No child can do this many, so I was left with hundreds to do whilst Hana lay in bed sleeping. Plus, there's never quite enough space on the peg board, so when you get to the end, inserting one in the middle pops out 20 around the edges, and vice versa...arghh...Which sadist devised this stuff?!!
Thursday, 16 April 2009
Yep, that's me behind the wheel of an RV :-) Here's a picture of the girls just after we collected the RV.
Friday, 27 March 2009
[Note that it's a Dell, and hence running Windows :-)]
Thursday, 26 March 2009
Last Saturday I turned 28 (in hex). Mateja said that we were going to have a nice family dinner at Cotto to celebrate. But she was lying! Before dinner we went to CB2 for a "quick drink", and in the private room upstairs were forty or so friends waiting to surprise me!!!
I had a wonderful evening! Lots of fun - drinks, Salsa lessons, dancing [thanks to a great "Gavin" playlist by DJ Matt] and an astonishing PC cake.
Thanks to everyone for coming and making a very special evening for me. I'll upload some pictures later. Extra special thanks and love to Mateja who did everything in secret whilst being incredibly busy with lots of other stuff [I wondered why she wasn't coming to bed until 2am some nights...] I'm a lucky hubby :-)
Friday, 20 March 2009
PS: Please spare me the "Chrome/Safari/... is a better browser" comments! I'm just saying IE8 is better than IE7; you can use whichever browser you like.
Saturday, 14 March 2009
Luckily, a little while ago we had a mailing list discussion at work about places to eat and drink in Seattle. I followed Anton's suggestion and tried an espresso at Seattle Coffee Works. This is an authentic indy coffee shop that actually roasts its own coffee. The barrista actually tasted the coffee and rejected the first batch, so he brewed another one for me. It really was a wonderful espresso with proper crema.
I also followed up Don's suggestion and had lunch at Maximilien. This is a real find - right in the market but with a spectacular view over the bay. Luckily it had just stopped raining when I arrived, and whilst I sipped a rather nice local draught beer, the sun came out. It was really beautiful setting for a delicious lunch. Rather amazingly, given the location, it wasn't at all busy. A great find.
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Monday, 9 March 2009
My flight over gave me my first experience of the new terminal five at Heathrow. The terminal itself is very nice. The early problems seem to have disappeared. It was amazingly easy to check in - loads to self-service check-in machines; and a number of fast bag-drop stalls, none of which had a queue of more than one person. Very fast. The queue for security was less slick. That probably took 30mins or so, mainly standing in line. I wish these places could be consistent about whether the laptops have to come out of the bag, and whether they want your shoes off or not. There was a big delay because of this.
The woman behind me had a much worse time: she had a baby in a sling, a bag, a laptop, and baby stuff. The staff didn't seem at all interested in helping her or (here's a radical thought) letting here skip the queue. I had to help her, and even then she got flustered and dropped one of the bottles of milk. Poor woman. To be fair to the staff, I did see them be very efficient and helpful to a woman in a wheelchair, but I don't understand why they can't be more proactive with women travelling alone with tiny babies...
The terminal is very nice - lots of glass and very bright inside. There's a rather excessive amount of shops, but that aside it was very pleasant to sit by the glass, drink a capuccino and chat to my friend Richard on the phone.
The less impressive part was boarding. I was assigned an "A" gate, which is in the main section (not involving a shuttle train). I thought that meant we'd be in one of the planes waiting nearby. But no. We got on a bus and then drove for slightly more than five minutes to the plane. The bus stopped and we then had to queue on the stairs to board the plane. The stairs were uncovered, so we all got cold and wet doing so. Quite who thought that this is a 21st Century way to get on to a plane should be given a slap. Seems to me that they forgot this part of the experience. Why aren't there spurs of the terminal to reach the planes, and then covered walkways on to the plane? Doh!
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
I realized that this is actually the longest I've ever stayed in one job! There are a number of reasons for this, but it is certainly the case that I'm *very* happy at MSRC. It's a fantastic place to work, with great support from management and inspiring colleagues to work with, e.g. I have Sir Tony Hoare in the office next to me, and Luca Cardelli - the author of the very first research paper I read when I was an undergraduate at Imperial - is my manager!
Thursday, 26 February 2009
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
Here's my brother with Michael Grandage and Anne McNulty holding some of their awards :-)
Twelfth Night is the only Shakespeare play I know back-to-front; as it was the one I did for O level. It's an interesting play - at one level it's an out-and-out comedy with mistaken identity, gender swapping, drunkeness and sex. But at another, everyone is really rather cruel, shallow and opportunistic.
The Donmar production is very spartan: I think I only saw a couple of props (a couch and a wind-breaker). Everything else is left to the physicality of the actors. This is very smart as it emphasizes both the comedy and the cruelty in the play. The set is very organic - rugged wooden floorboards sticking out into the front row, and intense lighting suggesting both the sunlight of a coastal city and (at a higher level) drawing you to the cruelty amongst the comedy.
The direction and acting is first rate: Derek Jacobi is clearly revelling in his interpretation of Malvolio. His reading of the fake letter from Olivia is worth the ticket by itself. Ron Cook and Guy Henry as Toby Belch and Andrew Aguecheek are a great physical comedy team. Indira Varma is wonderfully cast: stunning beautiful and she draws a nice parallel between Olivia and a 20s "flapper".
But for me, the star of the show is Victoria Hamilton as Viola. Hers is the most complex of characters, but she makes it entirely believable. Viola's internal turmoil is beautifully done: clear but not over done. The homo-erotic tension between Viola and Orsino is fantastic. For me, she commanded the stage whenever she was on. Super.
[I also enjoyed talking with James afterwards about the only bit of the play I don't quite understand: the relationship between Sebastian and the Sea Captain. Bisexuality or accident?]
Monday, 16 February 2009
Thursday, 12 February 2009
Watch it for yourself and see what you think.