Summer in Slovakia so far

Hey guys, just thought I would talk about what I have been upto while in Slovakia, as I’m about halfway through my trip.
Well, firstly happy to report I’m having a great time here. First week/10 days was spent at Katkas parents house which was nice, we went mushroom picking and a little sight seeing in the town. Other activites include going to a rodeo (like in America) and taking her dogs for walks in the local fields. Also saw Anna for abit which was nice.
In other news, a paper I wrote for the doctoral symposium at SLE2010 got accepted which I’m happy about. Just have to now revise the piece ready for final submission September 17th. The symposium is being held in Eindhoven, Netherlands and will give me a chance to talk to some very experienced researchers to help get some direction and tips which is great and something to look forward to!
Other than that currently I have been doing a few different bits and pieces which includes some android development (a little app I hope to openssource to add to a openssource project called phpsysinfo) and playing with aspectJ. For those that don’t know what aspectJ is, well it is a java implementation allowing the programmer to use aspect oriented programming, a technique that allows you to crosscut program aspects and concerns which can help increase the modularity of a program. When I have something worth putting up I will.
Anyhow, until next time!

Ready for summer

I would like to firstly start by apologising for the extended silence, as I have been very busy, involved in many different activities and procrastinating like normal. Baring this in mind, I thought that perhaps the beginning of summer holidays (for most of us) may be an appropriate time for such an update.

I guess it is probably good to start on an academic front. Right….Well since March I completed the compulsory PGCert in Research, which I completed with merit. The main purpose of the course is to prepare you for research with the main assignments consisting of literature reviews and a PhD project proposal. With the feedback I receive back, I hope to adjust and polish my PhD proposal ready for the university research council this fall.

To help try and get feedback from the wider community of experts, I’ve submitted for two doctoral symposiums. The first is at Models ’10, which I’m not overly confident about as I found out rather last minute ending in a slightly rushed piece. The second is at SLE (Software Language Engineering) ’10, which I am more confident about as I had more time to add more content and polish the paper.If I am lucky enough to attend one/both symposiums I will put up the paper (aslong as I’m not breaching some sort of copyright issue).

Other work that I’ve been upto lately also include setting a new server we bought for our research group! This server is a beast, touting two quad core Xeon processor and 64 GB of ram! My current task is start consolidating some of our existing servers into this machine using virtualisation. By the use of virtualisation, you can run many “virtual machines” which work almost as independent machines. This has many benefits including much better equipment (processing, memory and storage) utilisation and lower cost of ownership and running.

Now non-work related stuff, my life has been slightly up and down. Recently, my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I’m happy to say that currently she has undergone a big operation to hopefully remove the tumour and any tissue which it may directly spread to, and hope she is lucky enough for it to have not spread to other parts of her body. This information though wont get to us for a few weeks. I do thank people (family and close friends) for the support and lovely messages

Hope in a week I will update you on more development stuff that I’ve been involved in

Until next time!

Dev8D 2010

Last month I attended for the second year running the JISC supported Dev8D event in central London. For this year because of my change to a PhD, I had a bit more freedom to when I could attend so I decided to go two days this year instead of just one, concentrating on Thursday and Friday. What I found amazing, was how much the event had grown since last year! I’ve haven’t seen so many people like myself in ages, was really nice.

On Thursday I chose to attend the expert lighting talks in the morning with the Cloud Workshop in the afternoon.

Picture of Cloud Computing Workshop at Dev 8 D 2010

Cloud Computing Workshop

In the exper talks there a few talks in particular that stood out to me, firstly the talk about genetic programming, secondly the talk about web security which I took notice of some of the tips they suggested!

Arduino Workshops – Friday

These workshops were by far the coolest thing I’ve done in a good while! I attended two workshops, one for beginners in the morning and a more advanced workshop for the afternoon. In the morning we got a talk about the hardware and how to do very basic programs like getting a single LED to flash and also using a speaker to make very sounds, with one group able to program their arduino to make the Simpsons theme song!

Below are some of the things I worked on in the advanced workshop, including multiplexing LEDs and driving a motor using the arduino

Overall I had a great time, and look forward to next year. Hoping there to be more Arduino workshops.

New year, new start, new experiences

Hi guys,

been a while I know but I have been rather busy with loads of different things. Firstly I realise its slightly late but still wish everyone a happy new year! Currently I have been carrying on with the LyricalGenius iPhone game which I hope to finish within a week or so. When the game is complete I will post screenshots of the application, and hope anyone with a iPod Touch/iPhone will give it ago and support it!

Other than the game, I’m starting my PhD officially this Monday which I am quite excited about, and sadly have a poster I need to get together ready for an annual PhD Conference, which should be quite interesting. I have also a paper I’m trying to start writing, well when i have five minutes that is.

For this paper I’m hoping to write a workshop paper proposing the use of mobile Domain Specific Language as as way of creating almost platform independent applications. Though this paper won’t be appropriate for a conference as I’m merely proposing something, I still think it will be a good starting point for my career in academia.

Because I’m looking at writing this paper with Tony Clark, he said for me to write using LaTex, which so I read could be a very good way of writing my PhD thesis. Because of the markup quality of LaTex, the thesis will be able to be tracked using normal SCM technologies e.g. CVS, SVN, or my personal favourite Git. With the use of SCM, different versions of the document can be stored and differences between different versions can be compared, which should be very useful.

Other than work, I’m also to Slovakia for 6 days from next Friday, which I am extremely looking forward to. This trip isn’t work related but more time to met and spend time with a very special person. I’m looking forward to seeing Bratislava, Vienna in Austria and over all having a great time!

Anyhow, will update you soon!

Android and iPhone progress

Hey guys! This will most likely be my last entry before the new year, which I’m looking forward to. One hopes next year will bring some great new experiences and hopefully a new start in some aspects of my life, though not forgetting to hopefully have more success in my professional life either! I think this year has been full of drama in some aspect, some sad moments but also a new opportunity to take my career to the next level.

Moving on, yes my mobile development seems to be coming along ok. Currently I am in process of designing the data model of the iPhone game, and also have started building the interfaces which is exciting to see come together. I will obviously have alot to do over the christmas holidays with it, but I guess it will keep my mind active in that sense. As more development happens and I have screenshots to show, I will post them.

As for the android development, like I said in a post not long ago I was planning to development a music catalog and mobile app, well I have artist data being stored, and also album names being stored (though I get the occasional unhandled exception, that I need to look into). I need to look into being able to get a album artist, as different songs may have different artists (Say if there was a colaborative song). I am currently thinking to get the album artist from the artist folder it is stored in, as I dont think there is way of accessing the album artist ID tag using the library I have. For the android side of it, currently I have a SAX XML Parser running, and just displaying everything in a console-like program. For the moment I am programming the logic and fetching of data, the representation layer of my app will be sorted last. Im thinking to have a search page that terms can be searched across artist and album…

Android app screenshot showing parsed artist data

Android app screenshot showing parsed artist data

Only issue that I am currently having is there seems to be an issue with either “/” or “&” in the XML when it comes to parsing, which I will need to sort out before I continue, though I think I’ve made a good start considering the limited time I have to put to this project.

Anyhow, will update you when I have to talk, or show.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Back to iPhone Development

Hey Guys! Sorry it’s been a while but I’ve had a rather eventful month, particularly the loss of family member. Saying that I have been busy continueing to bring the Mobsventures Knowledge Connect project to a state where my involvment can begin to end. This is good news for me, as I’m now beginning a two month project back at Mammoth Graphics, to which I am very happy about being how nice of a company it is. I am going to be working on a game set at a teenage auidence, and will give more details about the project when I get more into it and have work to show, which feedback would be great for you guys!
Other than that, earlier this week I had a bad experience with CVS. I use Git at home for my SCM solution but at work we have a CVS server which I have been advised to use in the past. Cutting the story short alot of my work become unusable for some unknown reason to which I ended up working 24 hours on the trott to try and recover the state of the system. From now on I will only use Git, bit more hardcore because of lack of graphical tools, but in my experience worth it.

From a more academic sense, I’ve now started the PhD. I’ve had a brief meeting with my two supervisors Prof. Tony Clark and Dr. Samia Oussena, which I’m pleased and grateful to be working with. Now I have to begin doing a literature study and start building a framework for use on the PhD with Anna Kocurova, a fellow PhD student working under the same supervisors. Also I have started trying to get  seminars running in the School of Computing for lecturers and fellow researcher to share research and knowledge, to which I have to get the ball rolling by me giving the first one! When I complete my slides I will make them available online for anyone interested.

Erm, until next time!

Elgg development and other activities

Hey guys, only got a few more weeks of Elgg development at least for the foreseeable future anyhow, to which to I have mixed feelings about. Seems like everytime you begin to get used to and fully in your stride with something its time to change, which is a shame but equally help keeps my work and life interesting.

As of what I’ve been working on, erm.. Well I’ve been continuing with the work on the videos plugin, which for the moment is almost ahead of previous expectations. Currently I have videos uploading and being able to be played, sound’s simple but it’s not quite. I’m in the process of being able to link the videos with the opportunities on the site, but need to be told how they are to be match, or I may just implement some sort of assumption. Also been working on some cool stuff with a piece of software called GATE (General Architecture for Text Engineering), which is intending on being used to ‘mine’ the text and help find offensive words/phrases. I have been working with a fellow colleague Dr. Ying Zhang, who is in the field of text/data mining to help set up GATE for our particular context, which is now working (at least for the moment).

A very small program has been written to use the backend of the software, getting strings of text that will eventually be sent from Elgg. I’m hoping to integrate it all from this Monday, with some re-engineering of how Elgg deals with any type of entered text, sending everything to GATE first for checking, if something isn’t allowed an error message will be sent to the user. Other than that I have to try and prepare Elgg to be able to integrate with BT’s MOSAIC, which I’m unsure of my ability to complete that in time. After the project, if I have time I am planning to try and generalise the video plugin so it will work with other Elgg installations and release it on the Elgg Development site under GPL open source licence.

From December I’m then starting the iPhone game with Mammoth Graphics at Ealing Studios, which I’m actually getting quite excited about. I hope the guys have started preparing the material that I need to get started and hopefully will have a version of the game implemented for February. I just have concerns about my pay as I’m having to come off general payroll and go back to hourly slips (which is really annoying). As long as I’m not being paid less than I will be getting from my PhD bursary then I don’t mind, as I guess an agreement has been made for me to spend time on my PhD during this project giving me almost an extra 2 months for it.

At home, I’ve been working on a little project of my own. I have a lot of music and when I go to music stores I’ve found several times I can’t remember if I have a CD already. So to solve this problem I am developing two applications:

  1. A backend file crawler, that trails through my music library and automatically indexes the artist, album and songs in a database, for which a PHP set of APi’s are being written to search and retrieve this data and relay it using XML.
  2. Because I have an Android based smart phone, I’m developing a app to get these details and help facilitate easy searching of what media I have already.

The backend app is already beginning to work, though have run into a few issues already that I will need to look into. The first issue being the speed, perhaps the speed of the crawler is going to be slower as I am not testing on the machine that will be run on and the crawling is being done over a network. Other reason I think is that I need to turn it into a threaded app, and allow more songs to be sorted concurrently. This will be something I implement last as to me efficiency and speed is something you look to once everything is working. The second issue is how to deal with multiple combinations of artists, as some song aren’t made with only one artist, leaving you will potentially copies of artists and combinations of artist which may affect search results if you only type in the one of the artists. This something I will need to look into more as this project progresses. Hopefully once the backend is complete (or as complete as I feel is necessary) work on the android app will commence which I look forward to completing as the app I think will be useful by myself and my step dad as we both have the same phone.

Anyhow, until next time chums

Close to beginning the PhD

Hi guys! Lately I’ve been working on the mobsventures Slenky project still, which is progressing as expected. I’m beginning to work on a Videos module for Elgg which will hopefully be able to integrate with the British Telecom MOSAIC Platform. This I think will be a difficult task, but hey if it was easy to do, why do it?

Anyhow for the minute I’m aiming to get the Elgg part of it working hopefully within the next few weeks. The plan is to be able to simulate what MOSAIC will do and get it working to our assumption, as I’ve yet to receive an APi document from them, which as you could imagine doesn’t help me out much…

Though over than that, I’m nearly closer to beginning my PhD, which I’m really having mixed feels about, mostly excitement but also feeling nervous about my ability to complete it in the typical 3 year time scale which I have funding for. Probably when I start doing the PhD I will be blogging more about my findings, readings and any discussion in the area that I eventually chose to take. I do suspect that the area that I will be focusing on will be Domain Specific Modeling Languages and accessibility with the visual impaired and/or deaf. I’ve already started talking with my preliminary supervisor Prof. Tony Clark about the direction I could take and about supervising my MSc project which I will have to undertake next year (part time, concurrently). For my MSc project Tony suggested I look into working with DSLs in the context of web and accessibility which could be a good start for looking into mobile accessibility for the PhD.

Anyhow for my Research Methods lessons I have a critical review of a research paper which I have to complete for next friday, which I will be reviewing:

Karsai, G., Krahn, H., Pinkernell, C., Rumpe, B., Schindler, M., Völkel, S. (2009) ‘Design Guidelines for Domain Specific Languages’, The 9th OOPSLA Workshop on Domain-Specific Modeling, Orlando Florida, USA 25-26 October 2009

So for now at least just need to start doing some background reading on the area, then probably a good start to research on the credentials of the authors. Anyhow until next time!

Current Activities – Opportunity matching and mammoths

Hey guys! Been quite busy lately with this and that. Currently as you know I’ve been working with Mobsventures on their Slenky branded social networking system. This has been going better than it was, partly because of my learning curve with Elgg has excellerated lately.

Anyhow I’ve been working on opportunity matching on the platform that I’m now just polishing up for a littel demo and presentation I have to make this Tuesday for the client. I’m currently wuite happy with whats been implemented but like I said there are some parts that need polishing before I’ll be happy to display it to anyone other than my superior. Currently I have implemented different types of users (Client, User and Admin) which obviously have different functionality. The Client can add opportunties which can be diactivated and activated (not shown and shown). This opportunties can then are shown in the “All Opportunities” section for the user. The user can then choose to add these opportunities to their favourites for easy retrieval.

The nifty thing I think is that I created a kinda “smart” search. This gets all opportunities and matches based on the following in the following order:

  1. Same borough and on a category found in a favourite.
  2. Same borough.
  3. Category found in a favourite.

Tomorrow I’m hoping add a category hierachy system for the admin to control the different pre defined categories. Previding this can be done I’ll be ready for the presentation on Tuesday. If not, Monday night will be a very long one.


Update on Poesia Issue

Been on holiday, but kept myself in touch with the office with emails and such. Anyhow, managed to communicate with the project leader of Poesia and find out that the issue I was getting with Poesia not compiling had been sorted in one of many patchsets, though evidently no-one had uploaded a newer tar. Because of this I checkouted directly from the projects CVS and got the most current code. Though now the error I was getting is gone, I am now getting a different error that I think could be related to a gcc upgrade, though my superior has delegated the job of the filter on a fellow colleague which may try and look for another tool, I may see if i can sort the problem by removing the most current gcc and installing a legacy version in my spare time, if I can be bothered….

Other than that, I now have to see some one new about a project that is expected to get the all clear soon, which will be extending on what I did for Mammoth Graphics. Only issue is I’ve been told to share my code, which I’d prefer not to.