Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Blue is the new black

It appears that I am thicker than even I thought. The other night, whilst getting the girls ready for bed, I managed to slip down some stairs, falling into the bathroom and landing with my head on the side of the changing table. It was pretty dramatic - a fair amount of blood, which the girls kindly wiped off me whist I lay on the floor. I expected to start feeling faint and pass out, but nothing much happened, so whilst holding a towel to my head I finished getting the girls ready for bed, read them a story, tidied up the bathroom and went downstairs.

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 " 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 " 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

Congratulations Viktor!

In November 2007, Peter O'Hearn and I examined Viktor Vafeiadis' PhD thesis. Reading this dissertation closely, I was blown away with quite how brilliant it was. (Peter was similarly impressed.) It is thus particularly pleasing to see that the ACM SIGPLAN have announced it as a winner of its 2008 Doctoral Dissertation Award. [The first, and only, non-US winner!] Congratulations Viktor!

Thursday, 18 June 2009


Microsoft is famous for providing "free soda" for its employees. In Redmond, the soda fridges are huge and carry exciting drinks that you either never or rarely see in the UK. (I'm quite partial to Diet Cherry Coke!) Our fridges in Cambridge are not quite so exciting, and moreover the most popular drink by FAR is bottled water. Unfortunately this large consumption of small bottles of water has quite a big environmental hit. We do have glasses and a drinking water dispenser, but I seemed to be the only person who used this. The environmental hit has been a source of concern for our Green Committee.

This week's Big News is that we are deprecating the water bottles! We have upgraded our drinking water dispensers and staff have been issued with "Wottles". Here's mine:

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

Dear chairman

Yesterday we had a visit from our chairman - Bill Gates. It was low-key visit; he arrived after lunch, was shown some demos (including one from my colleagues Satnam and Byron), and then he gave the lab a brief talk about what he's up to (ridding the world of malaria) and some thoughts about Microsoft (MSR is very important to the future of Microsoft - hurrah).

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!).

Living in the clouds

Here's a problem with cloud computing: atmospherics!

Monday, 8 June 2009

Arizona in an RV

Unfortunately it feels like a long time ago, but we still think often of our wonderful trip around Arizona in an RV. Mateja has now made a more lengthy travel-log, which is here.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Project Natal

Microsoft has recently announced Project Natal, which is an extension to your XBox that provides controller-free control! It's unbelievably cool - take a look. [Basically, you get a Wii-like experience but you don't need to hold any controllers!]

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.