In my old car on Skye
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.

Year of code – PR fiasco or vital mission?

February 13th, 2014 No comments



Year of code


Year of code – PR fiasco? The BBC asked the question here. As a Computer Scientist I have to say that I have found the focus on coding a strange one. What about information and its encoding representation and organisation. Surely those skills (which are also an integral part of Computer Science)  might be more useful to the young than being able to spin a sprite on a screen on a Raspberry Pi? What about the understanding of where information lives – on local disks, the Internet etc. Are these not loire skills which would benefit young learners in today’s information rich society.

Having said that, an understanding of computation thinking will be of benefit to young learners. However, as I said above that is not the same as being able to move a sprite around a screen to eat mushrooms or avoid monsters. The examples in the linked Google page link computation and the curriculum – as championed in Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence. Mind you the examples are all in Python :(




Categories: Hardware & Software, Software Tags:

$115 Million on iPads

January 17th, 2014 No comments

 The Los Angeles Board of Education has voted to continue its efforts to provide every student and teacher in the L.A. Unified school district with a computer by approving a new $115-million proposal to distribute iPads to 38 more campuses. 

Makes one think about approaches to technology to support L & T in the UK at all levels (primary, secondary, FE and HE).

Read more here –

Categories: Hardware & Software, iPad, Software Tags:

Cool wifi memory card for cameras

January 8th, 2014 No comments

Here is a cool sd card with built in wifi for automatically sending photos from your camera to pc or mac. Might also be able to use as a backup device for mobile devices.


More info here –

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New paid BBC iPlayer service.

December 30th, 2013 No comments

Quote from:

A New BBC Paid Streaming Video Service Takes A Page Out Of The iTunes Playbook
Cult of Mac – Given its tremendous success over the past 12 years, it’s easy to forget that the whole iTunes concept was once a risky proposition people weren’t sure would succeed.

Well, leap forward to the present day, and even the UK’s much-lauded BBC is taking its plays from Apple’s playbook — by announcing that it is rethinking (or at least augmenting) its classic flat license fee by borrowing from the iTunes/Netflix model and charging users £5 ($8.25) to download their favorite programs.”

I am sure we the Uk license and taxpayers have paid for these programs already. Another good BBC trick – sell us something we already own (like the boxed sets mentioned in the article). Will the availability of BBC programs on iPlayer reduce even further I wonder? We already cannot view the programs we have missed on holiday thanks to the amazing “available for x days trick”. Thank god for PVRs is all I say.

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Cool calculator for ipad

December 29th, 2013 No comments

I have played a bit with calculator for the iPad which allows you to write calculations with your fingers and then have them turn into real equations, like this:


I have just seen this app called Tydlig however, which combines free style calculations and graphing into something resembling a spreadsheet:


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A new cool thing (for Christmas)

December 12th, 2013 No comments

dekke have created a very cool new iPad stand which hold the iPad up using “nanofoam—laden with thousands of microscopic air pockets” (science bit over;)














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Digitising Scotland

November 22nd, 2013 No comments


The Digitising Scotland project, funded by ESRC grant ES/K00574X/1 will digitise the 24 million Scottish vital events record images (births, marriages and deaths) since 1855. This will allow research access to individual-level information on some 18 million individuals – a large proportion of those who have lived in Scotland since 1855. At the moment these records are kept as indexed images accessible from Scotland’s People, but this means that to extract data for research projects a researcher must first search for an individual record by name, and then manually transcribe the information they need themselves (eg cause of death, occupation, etc). This has made any large-scale research project impossible – a situation that the Digitising Scotland project will change.

More information at the new web site:

Categories: Cloud Computing, Research, Software Tags:

Volunteers Needed…

November 7th, 2013 No comments



















The Personal Genome project is looking for 100000 volunteers to have their DNA sequenced.

You can sign up here:

BBC Article about the project here:

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Tim Berners Lee Speaks Out

November 7th, 2013 No comments

Quote – “Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the computer scientist who created the world wide web, has called for a “full and frank public debate” over internetsurveillance by the National Security Agency and its British counterpart,GCHQ, warning that the system of checks and balances to oversee the agencies has failed.”

Life of Doug Englebart – inventor of the mouse and hypermedia pioneer

July 9th, 2013 No comments

On December 9, 1968, Dr. Douglas C. Engelbart and the Augmentation Research Center (ARC) at Stanford Research Institute staged a 90-minute public multimedia demonstration which presaged many of the technologies we use today – from personal computing to social networking. It was the world debut of personal and interactive computing: for the first time, the public saw a computer mouse, used to demonstrate a networked computer system which featured hypertext linking and composing with real-time text editing, multiple windows with flexible view control, knowledge management, shared-screen teleconferencing, and more.

 All can be found here –

Thanks to Andy (you know who you are:)


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