Website of the month, May 2014…

The website of the month for May 2014 is the Music Timeline by Google’s Big Picture and Music Intelligence research groups, which has an interesting visualisation of the current popularity different genres of music from each of the last 64 years. You can drill down into sub-genres and artists – for example, here you can see the popularity of various film scorers. Classical music is notably excluded, as the date normally associated with it is the date of its composition, not its recording.

An interesting related website (also by Google’s Big Picture research group) is Digital Attack Map, which has a live visualisation of DDoS attacks from around the world.

Cambridge Computing at 75, revisited…

If you were interested in my previous posts about the 75th anniversary of the University of Cambridge’s Computer Lab (and celebratory publications, lectures and other events), you might be interested to know that much of this content is now available online.

The Computer Lab and University Computing Service

Currently, the Computer Lab occupies the West Cambridge Site’s William Gates Building (right) and the University Computing Service recently relocated to the Roger Needham Building (left).

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Website of the month, August 2013…

To celebrate the summer, the website of the month for August 2013 is TIKI Brand – a cool website that sells trendy-looking outdoor torches, lamps and candles to help you create “paradise in your backyard”.

I’d also like to highlight The Centre for Computing History, which has been previously mentioned on this blog. Apparently the necessary funding for a move to Cambridge was acquired and it opened near Cambridge Retail Park and The Beehive Centre on Saturday (the 27th of July).

The Centre for Computing History

The Centre for Computing History

The centre contains an interesting range of computers, some of which you will not have seen for many years and others you may not have seen in person at all! There are also many games consoles and most of the machines seem to be in good working order and powered on for you to have fun with or re-acquaint yourself with. A number of displays give plenty of information, from a brief history of Acorn, Amstrad and Sinclair to amusing famous quotes about computers from their early days. Tickets are half price until later in the year while they get all of the displays fully up and running, but there was already plenty there to do on Saturday.

75 years of Cambridge Computing…

Today the 75th anniversary of the University of Cambridge’s Computer Lab is being celebrated. Among other events at the WGB today, the commemorative book that I previously talked about (detailing the first 75 years of Cambridge Computing) is due to be launched at 15:30. Also notable are the testimonials by Bill Gates, Eric Schmidt and Paul Jacobs, congratulating the lab on this unusually historic milestone for the discipline and industry.

Interrupting programmers…

I don’t often post much directly about computer science for a number of reasons – such posts tend to be particularly involved and are scientific in nature.1 It’s also good practice to avoid anything related to confidential knowledge I possess. I have repeatedly attempted to write a post about LocaMsg (and, indeed, related subsequent projects such as Chirp) but such posts seem endless with my considerable knowledge of the area, and I suspend work on them2.

Finally I have something to share of interest to people who write software or work with those who do. Programmer Interrupted is a brief and academic meta Computer Science blog post about how programmers work, how they anticipate and recover from interruptions and types of memory that become heavily burdened during programming (as well as aids for memory recovery after an interruption). I find the post particularly interesting though, as implied by the “Future” section, there’s a good deal more research that should be done in the area. I was amused to find that I’ve developed (or, more likely, inadvertently picked up) the memory-aid techniques detailed. I can’t help but wonder if it makes economic sense for the larger programmer-heavy organisations to invest in their own private research to increase the productivity of their staff.

  1. Unlike my music posts, for example, where I stick to opinions and relating pieces of music rather than dissecting them more scientifically. []
  2. However, hopefully you’ll have noticed that I did recently seize the opportunity provided by interesting new features in the HTC One to briefly talk about LocaMsg. []

The Infinite Jukebox…

Know the music you like too well? Able to anticipate its every twist and turn? The Infinite Jukebox can help you – it lets you upload your own music before analysing it, looking for similar points in the music. When you get it to play, your music will seamlessly switch between those points, extending the music you uploaded into a fresh and infinitely long piece of music. Also provided by the clever and free service is a handy visualisation of the music and points between which The Infinite Jukebox thinks it can switch. I’ve found that while the switches are not completely seamless with some types of music, it works quite well – check it out1!

  1. The links are to Infinite Jukebox versions of The Final Countdown, Moonlight Sonata and Palm Tree Escape – I don’t know how long they’ll stay available for. The twists it does on the themes in Palm Tree Escape are particularly cool! []

Cambridge Computing…

Did you know that there’s a computing museum in Haverhill, run by The Centre for Computing History? No? Neither did I until recently. Indeed, it’s apparently only viewable by appointment. However, a move to its ‘natural home’, Cambridge, is afoot. Funding is needed to support such a move. If you are unsure about donating money to support this cause, have a read of this brochure about the museum’s history and vision. I was amused to learn that they supplied computers for The IT Crowd.

If you were interested in the computing museum, you might also be interested in this book due to be published in April 2013: “Cambridge Computing: The First 75 Years”. Home to one of the universities that has contributed significantly to computer science (indeed, it had the world’s first taught cause in it) and at the heart of the Silicon Fen, the history of computing in Cambridge is good background and, increasingly, cultural knowledge for both computer scientists and people with an interest in technology.

On a related note, an Alan Turing version of Monopoly was recently launched. The modified version that inspired this, which Turing himself played, seems to have consisted entirely of places in Cambridge.

Finally, I leave you with news that there’s some pretty cool stuff going on over at Google’s Chrome Web Lab. Each experiment is accompanied by a short and simple video about some of the computer science behind it as well as a video about the specific current technologies and techniques to implement the experiment. Below are some examples of the former videos:

Weblab: Universal Orchestra – How it works

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