Examples and Considerations of Big Data Information Systems harnessing Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

A coursework / assignment that I’ve set for university students studying computing is to write a report that discusses the need for Information Systems in the modern world. The theme in question being: Big Data Information Systems harnessing Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

The report should provide some background / context to the topic, explore the various components and architecture of the Information System, the associated Software Life cycle, the Tools / Technologies / Methodologies to hand and on through to Deployment.

The following is a list of some areas / systems they could consider. Do you have any other interesting examples that you could add in the comments section of a Big Data Information System that makes use of ML & AI tools / techniques?

Formula 1 Real-time Telemetry Data AnalysisMRI Image Analysis
NASA James Webb Space TelescopeEarthquake Early Warning Systems
BOINCHuman Genome Project
Search for Extra Terrestrial IntelligenceLive Face Identification System
Amazon AlexaUncovering the Past with LIDAR
Google AssistantSmart City, Real-time Traffic Analysis
Weather ForecastingMedical Diagnosis
Movie Recommendation SystemsSurface and Subsurface Analysis of Hydrocarbon Potential in the Oil & Gas Industry
Music Recommendation SystemsSentiment Analysis in Social Media
Self Driving VehiclesAutomated Warehouse
Crime PredictionSmart IoT Enabled Retail Shop
Smart Patient Monitoring & Analysis with Bio-medical SensorsCERN Large Hadron Collider
Humanoid Robot (Boston Dynamics)Humanoid Robot (Tesla)

Some of topic areas above may benefit from consideration towards Ethics, Data Protection / GDPR, would such elements also be useful / key things that could/should be given all due consideration in a report exploring Big Data Information Systems. Many interesting considerations can be found in the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (poster) (booklet). Do add your thoughts in the comments section.

Do you have any interesting thoughts on the realm of High Performance Computing (HPC) in the form of C / Fortran MPI operations vs the world of Cloud Computing Services, Graphical Processing Unit (GPU), Tensor Processing Unit (TPC) or Quantum Computing? Again would be interesting to hear your thoughts in the comments section.  

Would Explainable AI be of particular importance, particularly with areas such as Medical Diagnosis? Once again comment below on your insights with regard to the need for Explainable AI?

Kainos AI Camp and Hackathon Birmingham 2019

As was the case last year, Kainos once again ran a two week AI Camp in Birmingham, taking place 9th – 21st September 2019, with around two dozen participants from across half a dozen Universities taking part. The AI Camp was again hosted at BCU Computing. One of the key highlights of the AI Camp occurred in the second week, that being the AWS Deep Racer (online) (online).

The camp was capped off with a Hackathon event at Kaino’s Office in Alpha Tower which required the participants to work in teams to develop and idea making use of AI, implement and present same to a panel of Judges with a number of prizes being awarded. The following tweets below should give you a good sense of what the event was like.

AI Camp 2019 Summary
Kainos AI Camp and Hackathon – Week 2 Summary (online)
Kainos AI Camp and Hackathon – Week 1 Summary (online)

AI Camp 2020 Registration
If you wish to participate in 2020 then you can register your interest (online).

Fundamentals of Success, Life and Academic Performance

The following videos outline some general rules of success and how one can ultimately change the world, through focus, dedication and commitment coupled with giving back to the world / community that has contributed along the way.

Arnold Schwarzenegger – In this video he outlines 5 key Rules of Success. A far more detailed and in-depth interview exploring Vision, Goals, Confidence and Time Management may be seen (online)

One of the key elements mentioned in the video above is to have a clear vision, a destination. Perhaps the following video from Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country, 1991 (IMDB) is a good example, as the Enterprise is asked by a Klingon outpost for its Destination – “What is your Destination, Over”. Even with a warp capable Starship like the Enterprise, without a Heading / Destination one will just drift through space without ever getting anywhere. Many star athletes “begin with the end in mind” to quote Stephen R. Covey and “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, they visualise and see the ultimate goal the wish to achieve.

As with all journeys one must first have a direction of travel, in the case of Samwise and Frodo departing the Shire in The Fellowship of the Ring, 2001 (IMDB), their initial destination was the village of Bree. As with all journeys one must set off by putting one foot in front of the other and embrace the adventure that lies ahead.

Admiral William H. McRaven – highlights 10 key life lessons that are very much centered around how one can change the world by adhering to some basic principles. A more detailed account, along with a 20 minute video may be seen (online).

Many of the above Rules & Life Lessons can be readily applied to Academic study. As Schwarzenegger mentions one has to “work your butt off”. Putting in hard work and focus is essential, however perhaps even more importantly is to focus on working hard at doing the right things. The following video below highlights several key things that the top 10% of students do in stark contrast to the other 90%. Two of the key things that make all the difference is to develop a Schedule / Plan and also to put in the work doing Practice Exams / Homework.

An interesting article in which the speaker in the video above contributes, can be found (online) and is aptly named the “Science of Student Success”.

Just turning up to class for example, isn’t going to guarantee success in coursework / exams. One must put in the work. Its just like having a Gym membership, paying the membership fee, and going to the gym for just a few weeks or on the odd occasion will not produce any results. One must put in the work over and over again, moreover it is important to do the right thing, hence how one works out at the gym with the correct form is also crucial. The real key to building muscle mass is not stopping once you have done 10 reps just like everybody else, the real value comes at the very end by putting in that extra couple of reps. This extra bit of effort is what makes all the difference to making the most of the training session. This is something that Schwarzenegger mentions time and time again in many of his interviews.

Perhaps it is apt quote Colonel John Hannibal Smith from the A-Team – “I love it when a plan comes together”. The videos below depicts Hannibal (George Peppard) from both the TV Show and the more recent move (Liam Neeson) saying the well know line.

Commitment is also a key ingredient, as is well voiced by wise Jedi Master Yoda “Try not, Do or Do not, there is no try” – Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, 1980 (IMDB). Trying to do something half-heartily will not lead to success, if you are going to do something the commit to it 100%. Another very good example of this is from The Karate Kid, 1984 (IMDB), at the point where Mr. Miyagi ask Daniel if he is ready to begin his Karate training. Daniel responds by saying “Yeah, I guess so”. Mr Miyagi in turn outlines a short story about walking on a road, both the left and right sides are safe, but if one walks in the middle, then sooner or later you will get run over. Again it all comes down to Commitment, either you are going to do something and give it 100% or not.

Perhaps one of the most important thing at University, especially in Computing is to treat it like a Gym. Only by working out and learning to tackle new problems can one problem solving skills improve along with their programming ability.

Any other tips for success?
Do you know of any other good strategies useful on the road toward Academic Success?
Have you seen any interesting videos recently about how to focus, do the right thing and ultimately achieve the best results?
What interesting things have you learned from watching the videos above?
What are the most profound / useful things you can take away and action from the above videos?

Kainos AI Camp and Hackathon – Week 2 Summary

This post gives some idea of what the final week of the Kainos AI Camp and Hackathon was like. The start of the second week commenced on Monday morning by reviewing what was explored the following week. A number of people from Kainos also attended in order to capture some interviews and video of the AI Camp in action. Around the middle of the week Kainos’ CTO Tom Gray (online) visited to give a talk about the company followed up by a Q&A session. During the final two days of the week two further tutors took part to explore the world of computer vision.

A day long Hackathon took place on Saturday 15th with teams consisting of two to three people developing some really excellent and interesting ideas. The hackathon concluded with all teams presenting their work to a panel of Judges, with some really great and fun prizes available to the winning teams along with a number of individual prizes as well. The previous day – Friday 14th Sept, the participants spent much of the day thinking of the ideas for the hackathon, getting into teams, and exploring the possible data sets they could use. It was really great to see the amount of in-depth detailed discussion and enthusiasm that electrified the room with creativity. A huge shout out to all the tutors must be given particularly to Chloe (online) and Jake (online) who ran most of the two week event.

The tweets below should help to give you a good sense of what Week 02 was like along with the capstone Hackathon event.

Summary of Week 01 (online).

Social Media Feeds
Kainos (online)
Kainos Academy (online)
Kainos CTO – Tom Gray (online)
AI Camp Tutor – Chloe Thompson (online)
AI Camp Tutor – Jake Young (online)
AI Camp Tutor – Mary-Jane (online)
AI Camp Tutor – Liam Ferris (online)
AI Camp Co-ordination – Don Le (online)
Guest Speaker (Convolution Neural Networks) – Alan Dolhasz (online)
Guest Speaker (AI & the Media) – Kari Lawler (online), Youth4AI (online)
BCU Computing (online)
AI Camp Hashtag (online)

AI Camp Week 02 in Tweets
The following embedded tweets below should give you some sense of what the second week of the AI Camp was like along with the final Hackathon event that took places at Kainos’ Offices located at Alpha Tower (online), Birmingham.

Kainos AI Camp and Hackathon – Week 1 Summary

Over the first two weeks of September 2018 Kainos has been running a AI Camp and Hackathon event (online) hosted at BCU Computing. The AI Camp schedule runs from 09:00 to 17:00 Monday to Friday over the two week period, with a final Hackathon taking place on Saturday 15th Sept at Kainos’ office located in Alpha Tower, Birmingham. Around twenty of those who signed up were selected to participate in the AI Camp and Hackathon. The group consisting mainly of Computer Science / Computer Science and AI undergrad students along with some from Physics as well, spans a number of university institutions across central England.

Just prior to this event another had been held in Belfast during the last two weeks of August with the final Hackathon taking place on Saturday 1st September. That left the tutors running the AI camp with just the Sunday to get packed and fly to Birmingham to get going again first thing on Monday morning with the second instance of the camp.

Social Media Feeds
Kainos (online)
Kainos Academy (online)
AI Camp Tutor – Chloe Thompson (online)
AI Camp Tutor – Jake Young (online)
AI Camp Co-ordination – Don Le (online)
Guest Speaker (Convolution Neural Networks) – Alan Dolhasz (online)
Guest Speaker (AI & the Media) – Kari Lawler (online), Youth4AI (online)
BCU Computing (online)
AI Camp Hashtag (online)

AI Camp Week 01 in Tweets
The following embedded tweets below should give you some sense of what the first week of the AI Camp was like.

University incoming Class Photos – (Examples in Video), an engaging Start?

It seems that quite a number of Universities start off the academic year by organising a class photo for all the new incoming students. A number of such examples can be seen in the videos below.

As can be seen in the video directly below, such group photographs aren’t just limited to the University arena but also spans across the Universe, in particular with this example of the 10 year anniversary group photo of the Marvel Universe.

Marvel Universe 10 year Class Photo

1. Is this a good method of building a sense of community, pride and belonging right from the very start of the University experience?

2. Do many other Universities create incoming class photos?

3. Is it nice to receive a hardcopy print of the photo, or is it better & more environmentally friendly for it to be available online through the likes of Facebook so participants can be tagged, given we are nearing the end of the second decade of the 21st century?

4. Have you seen any institutions outside of the US taking on this form of welcome activity?

5. Have you seen any other interesting forms of welcome activity that generates a sense of community and excitement?

6. What is the smallest & largest gathering you have seen for a University class group photo, 3000, 5000, more?

7. Are such incoming class photos generally taken at the University level for all incoming students, or have you seen any that are at College/Faculty or School/Department level?

8. What was the most fun / interesting incoming class group photo you’ve seen?

Butler University – Class of 2021

Butler University – Class of 2020

Butler University – Class of 2019

Butler University – Class of 2018

Butler University – Class of 2017

University of Chicago – Class of 2019

University of Chicago – Class of 2018

University of Chicago – Class of 2016

University of Connecticut– Class of 2016

Cornell – Class of 2016

Duke University – Class of 2020

Duke University – Class of 2019

Duke University – Class of 2018

Duke University – Class of 2016 (Over 40 minutes duration)

Duke University – Class of 2013

Emory University – Class of 2021

Emory University – Class of 2016

Emory University – Class of 2014 (First ever class photo)

University of Iowa – Class of 2019

University of Iowa – Class of 2015

University of Massachusetts – Class of 2020

Michigan Technological University – Class of 2013

Michigan Technological University – Class of 2012

University of Minnesota – Class of 2020

MSOE – Class of 2018

University of North Texas – Class of 2019

Northwestern University – Class of 2021

Northwestern University – Class of 2020

Northwestern University – Class of 2018

University of Pennsylvania – Class of 2016

University of Pittsburgh – Class of 2021

University of Pittsburgh – Class of 2020

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) – Class of 2018

University of Southern Indiana – Class of 2018

SMU – Class of 2021

SMU – Class of 2020

SMU – Class of 2016

SMU – Class of 2015

University of Texas at Austin – Class of 2021

University of Texas at Austin – Class of 2020

University of Texas at Austin – Class of 2019

University of Texas at Austin – Class of 2018

University of Texas at Austin – Class of 2017

Wesleyan University – Class of 2018

West Point – Class of 2012

BCU Global Game Jam 2018 – Tweet Summary

The 2018 Global Game Jam event took place over the weekend of Friday 26th Jan to Sun 28th Jan. In the case of BCU registrations commenced around 17:00 on the 25th, with the opening ceremony starting at 18:00. The theme for the 2018 event was “Transmission” the previous year was “Waves”.

The event started to finish up around 13:00 on Sunday 28th Jan with the teams uploading their games (online). At 14:00 presentations kicked off, with a number of companies and organisers present to judge and give prizes. The Vice Chancellor also attended for most of this final presentation session along with half a dozen academics from the School of Computing and Digital Technology. After the handing out of a number of prizes, one being to visit Fish in a Bottle (online), the two day event wrapped up around 15:30.

In all over 70 people took part, from universities across the country along with a number of graduates out in industry as well.

The following tweets below, may give you some idea of what the event was like. One can also see a collection of tweets from last years event (online).

I also made a further post during the weekend of the Game Jam – highlighting a good few tweets that depict the use of Tents at these events and Hackathons in general (online). Some large hackathon events have been in tents that would have taken days to construct. Some teams bring tents with them and have in-tent coding going on during the event, while others take more a campfire approach. In the case of one hackathon held in a sports hall, a large portion of same was taken over with tents.

Post-it Note Art in Video

During the summer I spent some time at Google London along with around a dozen other academics from half a dozen universities. One thing in particular that caught everybody’s attention was the displays of Post-it Note Pixel Art adorning the interior windows. As you would expect, many of the mosaics were game characters. It seemed like a really good, fun and collaborative way of brightening up the offices spaces and bringing them to life.

It would seem that this use of Post-it note art has spread from Google London’s office to its Dublin Office as can be seen in the time-lapse videos directly below (posted less than two weeks ago – 15/09/2017), whereby Wonder Woman now adorns some of the windows of Google’s Dublin Office.

Some other offices have also made use of Post-it Notes to make the otherwise plain walls sparkle with excitement and colour. The videos below depict the creation of a murial of several characters such as Iron-man, Wonder Woman and Batman requiring a total of 8024 Post-it notes (online). The work of art was of a temporary nature as they were moving to another office within a few months. The manner in which they removed the artwork was quite unique employing a leaf-blower to prise the post-it’s from the walls.

The video below shows yet another office taking a Star Wars theme to the creation of their Post-it Note murials.

It would seem that this imaginative use of Post-it notes commenced with a simple “Hi” being posted on the window of an advertising agency, with another agency right across the street replying to same (around 2 years ago). This quickly escalated into an all out Post-it note battle (online) as can be seen from the news segments and videos below. The hashtags #postitwars and #canalnotes also began to be bounded around on twitter. If you do some further searching around you will find several other examples of Post-its being used for artistic purposes going back several years previous to this post-it war.

Quite a few other videos may also be found online with companies and individuals adorning their windows and walls with post-it notes.

From the time-lapse video below captured in a sports hall it would seem that post-it note art has been taken to a whole different level in terms of sheer scale.

The following website (online) has some useful tips for creation Post-it note art. From suggesting to use 3M Super Sticky Notes, to measuring your wall space and planning out a grid. On another Note – pun intended – you can find out more about the accidental invention of the glue and inception of the post-it back in the late 1970’s (online).

Overall this form of art seems like a really fun and simple way to liven up an office space or blank wall / window. It could be a really fun and collaborative way of turning whitewashed walls of university computer labs into something exciting, immersive and inspirational for instance.

Visit to the UK’s Biggest Gaming Event – EXG 2017

Last year during University Welcome Week, several bus loads of BCU Computing students along with a number of staff headed off on an adventure to visit Bletchley Park (online). This year The UK’s Biggest Gaming Event EXG 2017 happened to be taking place during welcome week, so several hundred students and staff ventured to the NEC to explore the world of computer games – past, present and future. The photos below should help to give some small sense of what the event was like.

One could find several hundred retro games available to be played – a detailed list available from the Retro Strand (online).

EXG 2017 is running from Thursday 21st to Sunday 24th Sept inclusive, so plenty of opportunities still exist to check out the event and play some games. The 2016 EGX event had over 75,000 people in attendance (online), will this year be even bigger?

Useful Links
EXG Website (online)
EGX Facebook Page (online)
EGX Twitter Feed (online)
EGX on YouTube (online)
EGX on Twitch (online)

EGX 2017

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EGX 2017

This EXG 2017 Trailer on YouTube may also help to give a good sense of the event.

The following embedded videos are of various talks that took place during the opening day – 21st Sept. These talks include Andy Serkis discussing Planet of the Apes, Xbox One X & the Future of Console Technology with Digital Foundry, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Designing The City of Kings, a MMORPG inspired board game with Frank West and How Firaxis saved XCOM from complete disaster with Jake Solomon.

Data Structures – Working with Queues and Games

Queues are really quite a fundamental data structure that all in computing should know. Probably one of the most popular real world examples of a queue in operation is that of a checkout counter in a shop. This is a classical example of First In First Out in operation. The first person to join the queue will be the first to be served at the checkout. All further customers join the back of the queue. Hence is a nice example of enqueue() and dequeue() in operation.

The “Hot Potato” Queue Simulation
Another example that is often used is the “Hot Potato” (online), whereby a person has a “Hot Potato” that gets passed around by “people” in the queue. At each iteration a “person” from will become removed from the queue and placed at the back – therein enqueue(dequeue()). This will occur a certain number of times before the “person” with the “Hot Potato” will be finally removed from the queue. This process continues until just one person remains.

Print Queue
An example more tangibly related to computing is perhaps the “Print Queue”. When a new document is sent for printing it is placed at the end of the queue enqueue(). The process of actually printing off a document will remove it from the queue dequeue(). Under many circumstances this will removed the first print job. However many multi-function printers/photocopiers of today, will present a list of print jobs one screen once you log on, allowing you to select which job or jobs you wish to print. So the example of the “Print Queue” isn’t perhaps the best any more, although even with these multi-function one can often “Select All, Print & Delete” which will print off each job in the “Print Queue” following the standard FIFO ordering.

Waypoints
So what might be a good example of a queue system in operation that would be applicable to students studying Game Development? One nice example is perhaps that of Waypoints, the following (online) link is to an animation that moves an onscreen object towards a location the user has clicked (Waypoint), as the user clicks other locations, these are added to the “Waypoint” queue. When the onscreen object reaches a Waypoint location it is dequeued.

Message Queue
Another nice example is of how to implement a “Message Queue” in a game (online). In this case game avatars can pass messages to one another following a distinct packet/envelope structure, that of: sender, destination, type, data. Therefore instead of having Objects communicating in what could be almost considered as a fully interconnected mesh of messages (just consider what a system sequence diagram for this would be like). All Object / Avatar instances instead communicate with each other through a single queue based messaging system.

Production / Build Queues in Games
One example I considered quite applicable to Game Development students was that of the Production Queue. Many stratagy based games make use of “Production Queues” or “Build Queues” to creating anything from Tanks, and Ships to Aircraft and Experimental Weapons such as the AC1000 from Supreme Commander 2 (online) developed by Gas Powered Games.

The Noah Unit Cannon Experimental (online), is a fixed emplacement that can queue up the production of several types of land units, such as the Rock Head Tank, Titan Assault Bot and the Sharp Shooter Mobile Anti Missile Defense to name but a few.

Simcity Buildit
Simcity Buildit makes very extensive use of Production / Build Queues through the form of Factories that produce basic materials such as Metal, Wood, Plastic, Glass and Electrical Components. These items can take anything from 1 minute for Metal up to 7 hours for Electrical Components to be produced. When fully upgraded these factories have a production queue of 5 units. Materials produced in the Factories can then go on to be used in one or more of the nine Commercial Buildings. The Commercial Buildings take the form of Farmer’s Market, Furniture Store, Hardware Store and Donut Shop to give just a few examples. Details of all the items these factories and buildings can produce can be seen (online) (online). The following videos give some sense of what these building are like.

Given that one can wait almost an entire day to process a full production queue of Beef (11 units) it is very useful to have the opportunity of speeding up the process with “Speedup Tokens” in the form of: Turtle x2, Llama x4 and Cheetah x12. To create “Speedup Tokens” one must either earn them through the “Contest of Mayors” or create them from small pieces by creating “Epic Projects”. These are building that can create a fragment of a “Speedup Token” every 24 hours. The more “Epic Buildings” one has the more fragments are needed to create a “Speedup Token”, however as a starting point one needs 3 fragments for Turtle, 6 for Llama and 9 for Cheetah.

Perhaps tasking Games Development students with creating Production Queues that simulate the creation of Beef, Televisions, Popcorn or Pizza as is the case with Simcity, or Land, Air and Naval units in the case of Supreme Commander is a good way of demonstrating the use and need for queues – particularly in strategy games. Another interesting reason for focusing on Production / Build queues is that especially in the case of Simcity Buildit, many of the items produced are dependent on other items. Therefore quite long chains of production can be formed just to produce the necessary resources to create one “Expensive / Complex” final item.

Parallel Processing / Super-computing
Simcity Buildit provides a really good example of the costs associated with production / processing and relate very well to issues around Parallel Processing / High Performance Computing (HPC) / Super-computing and how jobs can impact one another in the determination of the overall execution time. The classical example of this is the process of making breakfast – many tasks can be done in parallel, though one will be constrained by the cost of the operation that takes the longest. Taking a parallel approach to making “breakfast” can however yield a good deal of cost / time savings over a step by step approach (online).

What other Games use Production Queues?
Do you know of any other games that make heavy use of “Production Queues” / “Build Queues”?

BCU Global Game Jam 20-22 Jan 2017 – Event Summary

Over the weekend of Friday 20th Jan to Sunday 22nd Jan 2017 the Global Game Jam 2017 (online) took place. Tens of thousands took part at locations all around the globe, with Hawaii being the last to kick off. An embargo was in place on the theme until Hawaii had begun, the idea being not to talk about the theme online until Hawaii had joined in the fun. The theme for this year was “waves” which provided quite a deal of scope and direction for idea generation.

One of the locations for the Global Game Jam in the UK was BCU in Birmingham which was organised by Liam Sorta @LiamSorta and Andrew Wilson – Programme Leader for the BSc in Computer Games Technology @BCUGAMESTECH. The event had a great turnout of over 100 people, many from Birmingham, but others from Warwick, Southampton, Newcastle & as far afield as Australia (though had been in the UK since the first semester). It wasn’t just University students either, but also a good few graduates whom work in the games industry. Once the theme for this years jam was announced everybody broke up into teams (a little over 20 in total) and headed to the labs to do a quick brainstorm of ideas and routes to take, before getting down to making those ideas a reality. A large number of the teams made use of the Unity Games Engine, though one or two teams developed their games in Python.

One can see all the games that were uploaded to the Global Game Jam site from Birmingham (online). One of the great things about this is that you can download both the source code and executable, hence can play the game yourself and also learn how it was developed.

The Game that won the BCU “Innovation” prize was produced by a group called “Signal” (online) which was based on one having to navigate around a 3D environment that was pitch dark. One could emit sound waves to help see the outline of the environment & thereby navigate around the environment. This was very much akin to how Daredevil (2003) (IMDB) perceives the world and also similar to how Batman used “sonar” to see his way around a building in the dead of night – The Dark Knight (2008) (IMDB). The winning team for this prize had been selected by myself (online) and Mak Shama (online) having viewed all the presentations on the Sunday afternoon.

Representatives from two companies were also present at the Sunday presentations @VERYGOODFRIEND and @fishinabottle whom also selected teams to win prizes. Zen(x) (online) was particularly creative in developing a unique idea in the form of using a combination of a dozen sine wave calculations to control an onscreen icon, requiring the user to interact when it reached the centre line & therein changing the trajectory of the sine wave. The graphics had very clean lines and very much mirrored the “Zen” concept whereby the user could just relax and enjoy the game. Ooodle Showdown (online) was also another unique game for two players. It featured some very nice graphics and required players to navigate through a sea of characters something akin to a cross between the Marshmallow man from Ghostbusters and the Michelin Man. Each player (blue or red) could send out a sort of sonar wave and would turn the character that colour for a short while. The best thing to probably do is to download and play the game yourself to see how it works.

I had spent a good few hours each day at the game jam. It was really great to see the initial ideas dreamed up on the Friday evening evolve into quite functional games by Saturday and then on to more refined games by the time they needed to be uploaded on the Sunday prior to the afternoons presentations. All in all it was really great to see such a variety of fantastic games grow from an initial idea into a working game in just a matter of 48 hours. The well know phrase “two heads are better than one” certainly holds true whereby the key strengths and talents of teach team member could be harnessed towards one definitive goal and deadline.

Key Web Links
Global Game Jam Site (online)
BCU 2017 Game Uploads (online)
Twitter Hashtag #BCUGGJ17 (online)

Social Media Selection
The following selection of embedded tweets and instagram images from a number of those present during the event should help to give a good sense of what occurred over the 48 hour period.

View this post on Instagram

#bcuggj17 #afishysituation #gamedev

A post shared by Jonny Graney (@jonathancharlesgraney) on

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#bcuggj17 #seewaves

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#bcuggj17 presentations

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#bcuggj17 #allhandsondeck

A post shared by Jonny Graney (@jonathancharlesgraney) on

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#kingbooty #bcuggj17 #gamedev

A post shared by Jonny Graney (@jonathancharlesgraney) on

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#bcuggj17 #oodleshowdown #gamedev

A post shared by Jonny Graney (@jonathancharlesgraney) on

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#bcuggj17 #teammiodsnowstorm #omni amazing game idea!

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#necrodeulists #indiegamedev #gamedev #bcuggj17 #globalgamejam

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#wanishingwaves #bcuggj17 #gamedev

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#globalgamejam #bcuggj17 #indiegamedev #gamedev

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Dawn.

A post shared by Jonny Graney (@jonathancharlesgraney) on

The Carbon Journey Event – What does the Future Hold

At the start of the week a day long event was held focusing on what the future holds for the world in which we live. It was organised by Aston University and Birmingham City University and held at the Genting Arena. As you will see from the images below it was quite an amazing and eye opening event, attended by a large number of staff and students from both universities.

The world of tomorrow is likely to be a good deal warmer than it is today. The degree to which the average world temperature will be warmer will have an enormous impact on the lives of billions. The population of the world continues to grow and by the end of the century could very well reach anything from 9 to 11 billion people. A growing population needs ever more resources thereby growing our carbon footprint. However if we are to combat dramatic climate change then exceeding a 2 degree change from per-industrial times will have very serious consequences for the planet, population, plant and animal life.

Many countries have signed up to limit their carbon footprint, but with current commitments, estimates put the average global temperature increase at a good bit over 3.5 degrees. Anything beyond a 2 degree increase will have drastic results, therefore it is clear that far far greater measures will need to be taken by everybody whom call planet Earth their home.

The event was well timed as just a few days before (27th Oct) it was announced that global wildlife populations had fallen by 58% since 1970 (online). What will the global wildlife population be like by 2050 or 2100 if immediate measures are not put in place to curb this dramatic decline?

A good few tweets were generated throughout the day with the hashtag of #carbonjourney (online). Further details about the event and the days programme can be seen (online).

The images below should give you some sense of what the day was like. As can be seen quite a number of speakers were on stage throughout the day. Painting the a picture of what the world of tomorrow may be like from a number of perspectives.

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

The following video – gives some sense of what the news could be like just 30 or so years from now – in the year 2045.

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Carbon Journey Genting Arena

Looking Back at George Boole’s 200th Birthday Celebrations

Today 2nd November 2016 is the 201st Birthday of Professor George Boole, the first professor of mathematics at University College Cork, known the world over as the “father of the information age”. On this very day last year I had the opportunity to be on campus to witness some events celebrating his 200th birthday. As you can see from the photos below quite a sizable cake decorated with 0’s and 1’s was on display. A number of talks also took place on the day. One of the talks I attended was given by Professor Anant Agarwal from MIT (online) about working in the realm of Digital Systems. Also in the audience was Professor Donald Knuth (online), well known for the multi-volume book “The Art of Computer Programming”, he had given a talk / Q&A session just prior. Hopefully some of the images below will give a sense of what the campus was like this day last year for the 200th Birthday celebrations.

Some time ago I wrote a post going through all the dates on the calendar listing the Key People and Events in Computer Science (online). Another person whom was also born the very same year as George Boole was Ada Lovelace, well known for her work with Charles Babbage on the Analytical Engine and the creation of the first algorithm intended to work on a machine. Its probably safe to say that without the work undertaken by both of these people born in 1815 none of the digital world that has permeated the very fabric of our lives today would exist.

George Boole 200 Years

George Boole 200 Years

George Boole 200 Years

George Boole 200 Years

George Boole 200 Years

George Boole 200 Years

George Boole 200 Years

George Boole 200 Years

George Boole 200 Years

George Boole 200 Years

George Boole 200 Years

George Boole 200 Years

George Boole 200 Years

George Boole 200 Years

George Boole 200 Years

Essential Viewing – Schwarzenegger Interview: Vision, Goals, Confidence and Time Management

In a previous post (Online) I highlighted many of the key points from Randy Pausch’s lectures on “Time Management” and “Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”. The video below is of an interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger that is very much focused on achieving ones vision, time management and the ineffable fear that most people have of public speaking. Many of his comments can not only be applied to bodybuilding but to all facets of life. The video was published in March 2015 and at the time of writing had 1.86 million views. The interview is divided into two segments, commencing with a focus on bodybuilding, then around the half way mark moving on towards having a Vision.

00:25:54 Have a Deadline, the day of the competition he had to be in the best shape possible. Should focus on the diet, training and to not slack off. If he lost because he didn’t schedule the training in the proper way, didn’t have the right frame of mind, or didn’t give everything he would be so angry, so he never wanted to be in that situation.  It  is therefore essential to set a deadline and work towards it (go to).

00:27:29 Have a Specific Plan, if you don’t have a specific plan then you just wonder around. You could have the best ship or plane in the world, but if you haven’t a specific goal of where you want to go and when you want to get there, you will just drift around and never get anywhere. Creating a sense of urgency is therefore very important (go to).

00:28:04 Have a Vision, The most important thing is to have a Vision, have a Goal, because without such one is just drifting around and never end up getting anywhere. People don’t become successful by accident. One has to have a Goal, it can be anything, having a goal motivates. Put pictures of your goal all over your bedroom wall so every day when you go to sleep or wake up one can see the end goal , which acts as a form of motivation. You therefore know exactly what you are after. He looked forward to working-out as every Set and every Rep that he did, because it brought him one step closer to transforming his  Vision/Goal into reality. Have a clear Vision /Goal of what you wish to accomplish (go to).

00:33:50 Have a Training Partner, Have somebody to train with, if you are feeling down then it’s the responsibility of the training partner encourage you (go to).

00:35:01 Lack of Confidence, Confidence builds by making small achievements that build on one another. When you have one little Victory it leads to the next, little Victories add up, which ultimately leads to confidence (go to).

00:37:50 Public Speaking, little Victories again help to build confidence. Speaking in public is the biggest fear factor for people than anything else (go to).

00:40:20 Time Management, Everybody has a problem with time. The day has 24 hours, and one can sleep 6 hours, therefore you have 18 hours remaining to do your work, family, hobbies and to do/learn something new. Therefore out of the 24 hours in the day, don’t waste one single hour, it’s too precious. Don’t say that you don’t have the time to do something, you make the time (go to).

To Conclude
These are all very good points, especially if you are working on something like an Honours / MSc or PhD Research Project. Having a mentor / supervisor that will push you is key towards achieving success. Certainly in academia – time in the most precious commodity, therefore one must carve out the time to do what’s important. Setting clear goals / plans / deadlines and building on little victories is one very good way to build confidence and to ultimately see ones vision transform into reality.

Dare to be Digital 2016 – Examples of Past Video Pitches

Just a few days ago I received an email from the Dare to be Digital (online) Program Manager that Applications for 2016 were open, with a deadline of 13th March 2016. Details of the various key dates, deadlines, eligibility and a link to the application form are available (online).

One can find out about last years teams (online) and see trailers of the completed games hosted on YouTube, that should give you some sense of what the final products are like. The teams who get to develop their games over the summer will also have the opportunity of taking part in Dare Protoplay – the UK’s largest indie games festival (online).

Its a great opportunity for a small team of students to get together and spend several weeks during the summer completely focused on developing a game. It also offers the opportunity to win a number of prizes, including the possibility of winning a BAFTA (online).

One of the key parts of the application process is to submit a link to a video no longer than five minutes that provides a clear overview of the team, the game concept / storyline, unique selling points, visuals and a number of other elements.

Doing a bit of exploration online one will find a large selection of pitches for entry to the Dare to be Digital Competition. A small selection of some past pitches are included below to give you some sense for how various teams have approached the process over the years. You will see some are very much focused on the team members, others focus more heavily on the visuals, project planning and other elements.

Further Links and Info

Competition Website http://www.daretobedigital.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/daretobedigital
Twitter https://twitter.com/daretobedigital
Youtube https://www.youtube.com/user/DareToBeDigital/videos

2015 Video Pitches

Selection of Pitches that took part in Dare to be Digital 2015

Other Pitches submitted towards entry to the 2015 Competition

2014 Video Pitches

Selection of Pitches that took part in Dare to be Digital 2014

Other Pitches submitted towards entry to the 2014 Competition

2013 Video Pitches

Selection of Pitches that took part in Dare to be Digital 2013

Other Pitches submitted towards entry to the 2013 Competition