In my old car on Skye
I am a Professor of Computer Science and systems researcher at St Andrews University.
My research interests include: cloud computing, distributed systems, operating systems, file systems, persistent systems, ubiquitous systems, object-oriented middleware, p2p systems, programming languages, sensornets, component deployment.
I enjoy sailing, diving, keep milawi cichlids and growing hoyas.
We bought some new Cichlids for the School Tank on Wednesday. Following the demise of our local cichlid Supplier (Ultimate Aquatics in Cupar) we have bought these on-line from http://www.tonysafricancichlids.co.uk/. This was highly successful – we purchased 15 fish on Wednesday at 11:50 and they were delivered 24 hours later by a Courier. So far we can highly recommend this service.
The fish we bought were:
(all photos from http://www.tonysafricancichlids.co.uk/page45.html)
Here is a photo of me helping Graham make the fish welcome in their new home.
Photo by Aaron Quigley who no doubt has tweeted about this event if you like that sort of thing :)
The lack of any privacy in Facebook has been well documented. To address this issue, Ben Birt has developed PeerBook. It is based on an underlying Chord system and stores multiple replicas of encrypted Facebook style pages on peers within a network. You can only read or edit pages if you have the appropriate cryptographic keys – you cannot necessarily read data that is stored on your own machine. This architecture gives a scalable, decentralised alternative to Facebook.
Ben graduated yesterday from St Andrews. Here is a photo of us in the quad.
Ben Birt and Al Dearle
The full text of the press release about Peerbook may be found here. The Peerbook Web pages are here.
For the last week we have had a group of American visitors to Madras High School St Andrews from Upper Arlington Ohio. On Thursday a ceilidh was held for them in the School. A video of the event can be found on the you tube here.
On the 2nd of March I gave a seminar with Cloudsoft Corp on Distributed Mediation. Alasdair Hodge gave a demo of an exchange running under CDM reacting to various loads. The slides from this talk may be found here in pdf, and here in powerpoint.
The animations of mediation and mediation change events are here and here respectively.
Google App Engine allows a Web based application to be quickly deployed on the Web. This short video demonstrates how an application can be developed & deployed in a few minutes using Python – it is really quite incredible. Of course once the app is deployed, in can be transparently scaled out across multiple servers. An overview of this technology may be found here.
If like me you are a Mac user and need to open Windows lnk files that contain links to shared volumes and web pages you might like this free program: WinShortcutter. It allows you to double click a windows link file on a Mac. Very handy.
Craig Paul has won the Scottish Real Time Systems Award for his project entitled NaviSim. The aim of NaviSim is to provide a tool for teaching beginners to sail. The final system simulates a standard Laser dingy and provides visual feedback on what the dingy is doing in response to user input from both the keyboard and (if you have the hardware) a tiller and main sheet.
See more information at this earlier post.
Our B2Evolution Blog installation is getting a bit creaky. Spurred on by the desire to create some blogs for interacting with the students (such as our CS1002 Blog) have created a WordPress Mu site on blogs.cs.st-andrews.ac.uk on which this page now rests. I have attempted to use various scripts written in weird languages to port my old Blog entries to the WordPress installation. In the end it was easier to do it by hand. How you ask – well I used LiveWriter on a Windows box. Why you ask – aren’t you a Machead now. Indeed I am but the Blog software on the Mac is a long way behind LiveWriter which is pretty slick. Anyhow, it only took a couple of hours to move my Blog and here we are up and running on WordPress Mu. If only I could get rid of the stray backslash in the Blog title! Onward forward.
Following success of my student Angus MacDonald in the YSE competition a few years ago (see here), another of my students’ Craig Paul has been nominated as a finalist in the 2009 competition.
Craig has created a simulator (called NaviSim) for teaching people how to sail. Details of the project can be found here. The NaviSim Dinghy Sailing Simulator is a senior honours project that builds an accurate representation of a small sailing boat in Java.
The motivation for the project was that although sailing is one of Britain’s oldest and most successful sports, there are a number of problems faced by newcomers:
People cannot afford to buy a boat and equipment to go sailing,
Sailing courses are very expensive, and one course is not sufficient to learn to sail; consequently people do not get more involved by buying a boat, as they feel they cannot sail well enough, but cannot learn to sail better as they cannot afford it
Britain has notoriously unpredictable wind, unlike many other countries with predictable seasonal winds; Britain may have 35knots one day, and 0 knots the next.
Whilst a sailing simulator will not offer to teach everything there is to know about sailing, it can help to teach the basics to those interested in learning more.
The simulator provides the learner with a safe learning environment and provides multiple views (3D and 2D) of a dingy along with visual feedback of the dinghy’s performance. The system may be controlled with a sheet and a tiller connected to USB inputs via a mechanism built by our technicians Davie Lethem and Jim Park.
Here are some photos of Principal Louise Richardson using the NaviSim system.
Note the tiller and sheet in this photo -
Here is a photo from Graduation 2009 kindly sent to me by Bob Douglas from the Dundee Courier.
Pictured left to right are: myself, Craig Paul, Paul McKay, Davie Clark, David Ironside, Andrew Phillips Colin Allison and Kevin Hammond
full sized version is here