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!

SLE2010 – Doctoral Symposium

During the 3rd week of October, I was in Eindhoven, Netherlands for the Doctoral Symposium at the 3rd International Conference for Software Language Engineering. I have to say I have been slightly nervous for the last week or so, mostly as this is my first paper submitted anywhere and I’m nervous I will look some sort of fool. Anyhow, over the next few days I will just reporting on what I’ve been seeing about and who I’ve met and spoken to.

Lets get started with the symposium. Firstly in the morning 10 of the 13 people accepted were chosen to give presentations on their work. Unsurprisingly I am not one of the picked, as well I haven’t even had my proposal approved yet, and I haven’t really made any contribution yet!

The level of the submissions was in my mind exceptional, though I feel that perhaps my paper was not totally fitted to the conference as a lot of the research was in the region of programming abstract grammers (I definitely learnt something new while I was there).

Anyhow, later that afternoon I received my mentoring session by two well known field leaders. The feedback I got mostly relates to the stage I am in, and therefore I need to drill down more in my topic, as currently it is too broad. With this in mind, the main thing I can do for now is read!

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!

iPhone Game – LyricalGenius

Months ago I spoke briefly about a new iPhone/iPod touch game that I was starting to develop for Mammoth Graphics, well recently (a week or so ago) the work was finished, but I hadn’t had time to really sit down and blog about it. The game is called LyricalGenius and is a game targeted at people that want a general quiz game about song lyrics. Obviously the aim of the game is that for each level there is a target of correct answers the player needs to get, and if you get too many wrong, then tough luck! Development of this game has really enabled me to build on my experiences with the development of the Tour de France application which I blogged about summer last year.

The game is now in the hands of mammoth, who are in the process of final testing and adding more questions (as song lyrics need approval from Sony Records) and hopefully will see it up on app store very soon, so if you fancy a new game, give it ago!

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!