Wednesday, October 29, 2008

OU (MW): Processing - A Bug!

Yesterday I downloaded and installed Processing.  I then started going through the "Getting Started" page of the web site and everything seemed to be going ok.  That is until I went to save same code.  It just would not save.  Every time I tried, the IDE kept responding with the message "Save Canceled".


I had a look around the web site and found that this is a known bug and was reported on the 27.Oct.08.

This morning I discovered the exact nature of the bug.  If when saving a new sketch you accept the default supplied filename (i.e. sketch_081029a) the save will be cancelled.  The work around is to overwrite the filename given in the "File name:" field, of the "Save sketch folder as..." dialogue box, with a filename of your choice.

Monday, October 27, 2008

M450: Course result available on...

Saw this on my StudentHome page yesterday...


OU (MW): Up the garden path

Simon K. left an interesting comment on my previous posting "OU: Mass Writing", and after re-reading the posting I realised that I might have mislead people with what I have written.  Prof. Ince in his blog gives a better description of what the book is about.

The book writing project involves OU students, and anyone else who wants to volunteer, writing a book about the Java-based computer-art system known as Processing.

Once completed the book might be considered for use within a course, and if accepted for publication by a conventional publisher...

the royalties will go to the student hardship fund or any other charitable fund in the Open University

Thursday, October 23, 2008

OU: Mass Writing

Received an e-mail this morning from a Professor Ince, the Head of Computing dept. at the OU, asking if I would like to collaborate on a book about Computer Art.  Sounds grander than it probably is.  The department actually is looking for 85 volunteers, with each volunteer completing a section comprising of 2,500 words and a computer program.  I have decided to volunteer as it looks as though it could be fun.

For further details take a look at page 5 of the Autumn issue of Sesame.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Somebody with to much time on their hands

I know these are old but they are still entertaining...

The OU has caught a cold

It is not only county and borough councils that have been caught out by the collapse of several Icelandic banks.  It now appears that a number of UK universities have also caught a cold, including the Open University.

The Open University said it had invested £6.5m in UK subsidiaries with the Icelandic banks.

"The funds at risk with these two banks, although significant, represent less than 4% of the university's cash holdings and 1.5% of the university's expenditure budget this year.

"There is no threat to the university's operations and staff and suppliers will be paid as normal," said vice-chancellor Professor Brenda Gourley.

This really begs the question "What was so special about these banks to entice so many high profile depositors?"

ref: BBC News

Friday, October 17, 2008

M366: In conversation with... a computer program

ref:  BBC News

Stuck for someone to talk to? Elbot is a computer program pretending to be a person. And this week it won a prize for coming closest to fooling people into thinking it was human. The BBC's Mark Lobel catches him in a more relaxed moment. 

No computer has ever passed the Turing Test to see if, during text-based conversation, a machine can be indistinguishable from a person. But Elbot just came pretty close.

At the 18th Loebner Prize for artificial intelligence, held at the weekend, this artificial intelligence entity convinced four of the 12 human interrogators he was indistinguishable from them.

If Elbot had convinced one other, it would have passed the magic 30% mark - the threshold set by Britain's most famous code-breaker, Alan Turing, who devised the test back in 1950.

What's more Elbot, the very same version that came so close to passing itself off as a living, breathing, sentient human being (under Turing's rules at least), is online - for anyone to talk to. Let's see if he's feeling chatty. [...]

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

M366: Test explores if robots can think

Reported on the BBC's news web site:

Scientists at the University of Reading tested five machines to see if they could pass themselves off as humans in text-based conversations with people.

The test was devised in 1950 by British Mathematician Alan Turing, who said that if a machine was indistinguishable from a human, then it was "thinking".

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Do you duty!

Keep things safe

Since starting my OU studies one of my primary concerns has been making sure I have adequate backups of all my OU data.  This is especially relevant to the current course being studied and the TMA being worked on.  There can be nothing more frustrating and depressing than loosing a TMA that is 90% complete and having to recreate it from scratch.  Data loss can come in many guises, such as hard disk failure; loosing a memory stick; corrupt file, and with this in mind I always have 3 copies available at any one time.  One on my home PC, one on my laptop and one on my work PC.  This sounds nice and secure but the problem has been in keeping the 3 machines synchronised.

Over the last few years I have tried various methods including manual copying and trials of commercial packages (i.e. Handy Backup).  Well today I have come across an Open Source program, Synkron, that looks as though it will do the job.

It has a number of features, including:

  • Synchronise multiple folders
  • Tabs allow you to have more synchronisations running at once
  • Periodical synchronisations automatically sync your folders in selected intervals
  • Restore files, which were overwritten during the synchronisation
  • Add files and folders to black list to make sure they won't be synchronised in the future
  • Make schedules and backup using multisync
  • Propagate deletions

With multiple supported platforms:

  • Apple Mac OS X (Universal)
  • Microsoft Windows (Installer)
  • Linux/Unix (Source code, RPM, Ubuntu, Archlinux and ALT Linux packages)

The one drawback is the lack of documentation, although there is a support forum.  Even so it is a simple program to use and I would recommend taking a look at it if you are wanting a way of synchronising data.

M366: A cry for help

Having got hold of the course text (blocks 1, 2, 3, 4 & 6), in electronic form, for M366 I have made a start on block 1 only to discover that there are other documents that I need (i.e. Dartmouth.pdf supplied on the course DVD).  So I am wondering if anyone who reads my blog and has already done M366 can let me have copies of the other documents (in electronic form) needed for M366.

Some Interesting Statistics

With Valentino Rossi having recently won his 6th MotoGP championship and Troy Bayliss having won his 3rd WSBK (World Superbike) championship, have come up with some interesting statistics in the form of Bayliss v Rossi v Schumacher.


The first table below shows the most important stats for each competitor, with the second listing their achievements as a percentage. Rossi's stats are for 500cc/MotoGP only (does not include his 125 or 250 seasons and championships):

  races wins podiums poles titles *
Troy Balyiss 150 50 92 25 3
Valentino Rossi 148 70 113 41 6
Michael Schumacher 248 91 154 68 7

    wins podiums poles titles *
Troy Balyiss   33.3% 61.3% 16.7% 60.0%
Valentino Rossi   47.3% 76.4% 27.7% 66.7%
Michael Schumacher   36.7% 62.1% 27.4% 50.0%

* only full racing seasons were included for the title percentage (Bayliss missed three rounds of the 2000 season, whilst Schumacher missed part of both the 1991 and 1999 seasons).