Vintage or Tawny? Middleware 2011

This week I was lucky enough to take a trip to the Middleware 2011 Conference in Lisbon, Portugal. The first two days were for the various workshops with the final three days for the main conference. As I landed late that evening, I just checked into the hotel and met Anna for dinner. The hotel I stayed in was the VIP Inn Berna, which so happens to be just across the road from an old bull fighting arena. Overall I have no complains about the hotel, but it was slightly basic, and I wish Internet was included.

M-MPAC Workshop

On the first day, there were a number of workshops to which I attended the PhD symposium in the morning and the M-MPAC workshop (to present a paper) in the afternoon. There were a number of interesting work published at this workshop, though one I wasn’t so sure about, as it was obvious they had not tested their concept on an actual device as they lead me to believe. It’s really this that I dislike in research where if someone claims something works on a mobile device I expect to have been tested on one, not assume it will work, as with mobile devices there are lots of different hardware and software constraints (some deliberate, some not) that can make the concept limiting or in some cases void.

When it came to presenting, I have to admit it was the most nervous presentation I’ve given, not sure exactly why as the paper had been accepted, but I was apprehensive about what the reaction/questions to the paper will be. At the end of the presentation, no quick questions were asked.

At the end of the workshop there was a panel section where all attendees sat in a circle to ask questions about the work presented. One question in particular that interested me was  brought up by David Evans from Cambridge University for the general discussion of all which was the notion of trust, and how can you ensure that context data/information is actually true or honest? Particularly if your context is based on what people submit to a service, it can be misused by different businesses to gain some unfair advantage.

For the presentation slides go to:

The Main Conference

The main conference began really the night before it started (if that makes sense?) where there was an organised dinner and few drinks for everyone to meet and socialize. I just continued to the mingle with some of the PhD students, and meet some of the conference delegates.

Most of the focus of the conference was on large datacenters, interoperability, data, and network efficiency. Particular some of the more interesting I found were on a filesystem for Virtual machine image storage for cloud computing systems, a middleware for managing software and hardware modules, and scaling micro blogging services.

At the end of the first day there were poster presentations, where Anna presented her poster and answered questions while delegates walked around. I spoke with a student researching into a context aware middleware for ambient intelligence, as it looked broadly the same as our ContextEngine. The student said that nothing had really been implemented yet and he only has an architecture diagram, to which I suggested he reads our paper and maybe there is room for extension or collaboration. During the poster session there was also roasted chestnuts with some local drink which was made from wine and fruit juice, which was a nice touch to the poster sessions.

Other research at the poster sessions that interested me was a poster on a way of streaming video to mobile devices using telephone masks and ad-hoc networks as a way of lowering the amount of load on the phone masks. This method broadly works on a similar method to Skype, whereby some nodes end up being like super nodes which others connect to, forming a connection chain, instead of each node needing a direct connection to the source.

Social Event

The social event was set at the Oceanario de Lisbon (Lisbon Aquarium). Currently there is an exhibit on different species of turtles, which was really interesting. We were given a tour guide who showed us different turtle species, what they eat etc. I managed to see a couple of them in the tanks, but most I think were out of sight sadly.

After a quick whip around the exhibit, we then went on to wine tasting which was great. I got to try local white, red, and some port. Until that night I never knew there were different styles of port, and I have to say I prefer tawny style port to vintage.

Sightseeing and Exploring

When it came to exploring the local surroundings, I spent two afternoons to try and at least see some of the city. First time round, Anna and I walked all the way from our hotels to the city center, taking photos of different sights on the way. We then progressed up the hill towards the Castelo Sao Jorge to see the castle.

View from Castelo Sao Jorge

View from Castelo Sao Jorge

The Castle was a fantastic place to visit and I would strongly recommend anyone visiting the area to put that on your list! The views from the castle are breathtaking, which are also 360 degrees. The castle itself was an interesting spectacle with history going back to the 12th century. There was in the castle an indoor view of the city, with the use of a hole in the ceiling and something else (perhaps a mirror?) projected a view of the city onto a large bowl like structure, which I found extraordinary.

On the last day of my stay in Lisbon, because Anna and I had checked out of our hotels we decided it would be best to not walk about with all our luggage so we hopped on a tour bus which took us from the city center round the coast line eastwards and round back  seeing the shipping ports, some convents, the first train station in Portugal, the Expo building, some of the newer developments and the parliament building. Overall a good decision, before going to the airport to return home.

Overall I had a fantastic time at the Middleware conference, met some great people, and are very thankful to those that organised and made the conference happen. I do think Lisbon is a very interesting place with lots to see, and would recommend anyone thinking of visiting Portugal to at least take a trip into the city.

DevXS 2011


On the 11th November, I went to the JISC event DevXS. As I am a fan of the Dev8D events held every February, and this event is for undergrad and postgrad students I thought it would be a great chance to meet some very talented computer science students from all over the country.

This event was set to cover the whole weekend, and instead of a focus on teaching sessions like Dev8D, it focused purely on competitions in which teams are given 24 hours to implement their projects in a ‘code marathon’.

Friday Night

As there were a few of us going from UWL, I decided rather than travel to Lincoln alone, I’d go with one of my colleagues, which like me wanted to explore some of Lincoln during the day before the evening event registrations. Have to say I was fascinated with the Cathedral, Castle and Roman remains. I think that after the brief look I got, I would like to go back to explore more of the city.

After some exploring, Malte and I went to registration and then went on to get the hotel keys for the hotel room. The evening was then filled with food, socialising and drinking. The organisers created a game called bingo, which required the person to meet people and see if the statements contained in their grid fitted that person and then get a signature. Once all the grid statements were signed you shouted “bingo”, got a badge and got another drink ticket. This proved a very good way of getting everyone to talk and get to know everyone. After the food and drink, me and another of my colleagues went into Lincoln town to experience the nightlife.


Have to say I was rather hungover for the morning, but still ready to get going on one of the competitions. Because there were only 4 of us from my institution we decided to form a team named Team UWL. We decided to try and do a bluetooth system for distribution location based information and events, as part of the Freshers App competition. During the day they had an array of sweets and drink which was good, and we got a good lunch. In the course of the day there were several keynotes, but to be perfectly honest other than the magic show in the evening, I’m unsure how many people really were listening to them.

The Venue

What I found amazing was the amount of people still working hard at 2am, the atmosphere was great, and proved a great way of getting help and support from lots of people. I found also the tip to use f.lux given in the midnight keynote to be fantastic. My team managed to keep programming until about 02:30.


In a somewhat funny way, the organisers put “Wham – Wake me up before you go-go” on the speakers to wake us up. There was a great breakfast, and a final rush to try and get everything working and finished in time. If you view our git repo featured in the last post you will see the amount of activity increasing closer to the noon deadline.

We then had to pitch the idea of our work to the whole hall, as a way of the everyone including the judges to see our projects explained, in 60 seconds or less. This was a great way of hearing and in some cases seeing some of the fantastic work done by everyone. Sadly my team had trouble getting both parts of the system to work together but we have agreed it would be great to continue the work.

Overall I had a fantastic weekend, met some great people and now looking forward to Dev8D 2012.

Anyone interesting in knowing more about the event, go to

End of 2010

So this year is finally drawing to a close, and I can’t help but think and reflect on what has been an overall good year, great in some aspects, not so in others. Firstly I think back to myself talking and finally meeting in February someone who really has stolen my heart. I really do hope that she looks after it and feel next year will be even better than this year.

This year has had some downs, firstly on an academic level. I started my PhD in February, which was a very exciting time. The problem I faced and still am slightly caught up in is the feeling of being lost, where it extremely difficult to know the path which you should take. Secondly during the Summer my mother was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer which was a real shock to the system, which I’m happy to see her treatment go to plan and hope she will enter remission soon and get some normality back to her life.

This year has been also great on the academic level also. I was lucky enough to author and attend the Doctoral Symposium at Software Language Engineering (SLE 2010) in Eindhoven which was a great experience. I feel meeting other PhD students was invaluable as it put alot of my worries to ease. I was then lucky enough to have my MobDSL paper accepted at NESEA’10 in China. This was a truly amazing experience, to see Asia and the culture.

I’ve found this year to be life changing for another reason, which I give thanks to my love for her support in me coming home to the Church of England. I started going to church in October, and now I am hopeful of getting my confirmation this coming February 2011. I honestly believe I received my calling and have never felt better. I hope overtime I will get closer to my God and let the light into my life.

Overall, this year I feel has been one of the most important years of my life.

I wish you all a Happy New Year, and hope your new year is filled with love and peace.

Chinese harmony – NESEA’10

Accepting Best Paper Award

Accepting DATIC's Best Paper Award

Hey guys, just blogging to talk about my trip to the lovely city of Suzhou in The Peoples Republic of China. Firstly, I strongly think if there is somewhere you must visit before you die, China is the place!

I arrived in Shanghai early Tuesday morning (November 23), to an awaiting driver. We had to drive 2 1/2 hours to get to Suzhou from Shanghai. I must say, that I have never seen since a large city as Shanghai! Even Suzhou, which on Google Maps looks like a fairly small area is truly huge.

Once I arrived at the Conference Center, I went for a walk around the Higher Education Park  to try and get my bearings really. The follow day I visited the main city of Suzhou and walked from many of the parks and also visited the Humble Administrators Garden.

The first day of the conference went well, I presented our paper MobDSL (see publications) and click here to see the presentation slides. Other presentations interested me, especially the paper by Kevin Lee on using Amazon Web Services with sensor networks. I think there is a true case where processing scalability can really be needed when a unusual amount of data requires analysis.

Towards the evening, we went to the Kempinski Hotel for the banquet and free flowing beer. I must say, in China you really know what you are eating! Because of my issue with eating meat from the bone, I ended up taking a liking the the different vegetarian food and Tofu dishes. Later we headed down the in-house German style brewery for free flowing beer. This seemed rather unusual at first, particularly as the Chinese waitresses were wearing the stereotype Austrian waitress type of dress, which on the small framed Chinese was rather amusing, though 10/10 for effort and service!

The second day was shorter than the first as it was really only half a day, one of the presentations couldn’t go ahead because the author was sick and there were technical difficulties in doing it via VoIP and online presentation tools. The conference was close and best paper awards were given. I was lucky enough to win Best paper for the DATIC’s Workshop, which I was far from being prepared for accepting it.

My final day then consisted of seeing as much Chinese culture as was humanly possible as I was flying home early Sunday morning. I managed to go and see Tiger Hill and Master of the Nets Garden.

Recently I’ve been invited on the Technical Program Committee for NESEA’11, which will be great to get involved with.

Overall, I had a truly amazing time. I met many great people that I hope to stay in contact with, and really have seen that Asia is somewhere that I really need to explore and experience.

Until next time!

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!

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

The beginning of something…I just don’t know what…

Welcome to my blog. I am attempting to use this blog as a way conveying some of my thoughts and feeling about loads of things. God I don’t know where to start really… Ok here goes, my name is Dean, I’m a Computing University graduate now working for the University I studied at. I’m taking my Masters Degree and do hope to move onto a Ph.D afterwards. I enjoying programming a lot as I find it as a way to be creative and help solve a problem. Current on the project I working on in work I have done web programming by customising and new functionality to a open-source social networking framework named Elgg. I have also started iPhone development this week, this development will involve designing and creating a native application that bring together the previous work done by other members of the team.

That’s the work side of me out, now the more social/personal side. Well I’m single, to which I find difficulty in finding some one that truly understands me. I was with one girl for 3 3/4 years which was ended November 2007 by her. I found it very difficult to get over it, and still feel kind of scared by it, perhaps I’m not fully over it (highly likely) I don’t know. I did see one girl for about a month last year starting from valentines day, which I did enjoy my time, but we did feel that though we had a good time the direction we both wanted to go in didn’t match. Then in September I met a new girl that was amazing, we got very well and did have a quite well matched, in a nutshell that ended. I feel that I was equally to blame for this, but I do think that I did take my fair share of drama and stuff. Though we wasn’t serious we were still seeing each other until the second week of January, to which since I haven’t see her at all. I still speak and I did have plans to see a movie with her and good friend tomorrow but that got blow off for a certain new person in her life (that was quick…?). Now though I am seeing the film with just the good friend which should be good. I do hope I meet some one, though I do keep that I don’t right off people I have dated before so if one of those become a viable option to be with then perhaps that may happen.

That’s the relationship side of me out. Social I think I’m quite a laid back type of person. I do have a large serious part to me, but then I think that is important to keep myself on track. I do though enjoy letting my hair down and enjoying myself. This mostly involves friends, perhaps going to a pub for a drink, club to get drunk and dance or go and see a film at a cinema. Though I haven’t been clubbing for a while because of my situation, usually the club i go to mostly is Mayhem in Southend-On-Sea on a Monday Night. If you go, look out for a guy in a red visor. I wear this visor as way of being different as you find people wear all the same type of clothes, have similar haircuts etc. and i just wanted to be different. I also find that wearing the visor recognise you more because of this.

This is probably where I’m going to leave you to start with. I will try and blog as often as I can (daily) to which I will talk more about myself and random thoughts of mine.