Monday, August 29, 2016

Where Robot Cars (Robocars) Can Really Take Us

I've been blogging from time to time about driverless cars or autonomous vehicles for some years now. Brad Templeton it seems devotes his entire life to the subject, with an excellent website and blog on the subject of "robocars" - highly recommended if you are interested in this topic. Incidentally, I've put a deposit down on a Tesla 3 and looking forward to trying out it s autopilot on NZ roads. I'm expecting delivery in 2018.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

New BBC documentary about Ada Lovelace

The BBC have just released an excellent new documentary about the Victorian computer pioneer and visionary Ada Lovelace called: Calculating Ada: the Countess of Computing. It's available on YouTube and the BBC's iPlayer.



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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Happy birthday World Wide Web!

The WWW is 25 years old! The first web page at CERN, created by the web's inventor Tim Berners-Lee went online 25 years ago. That means that for many of this blog's younger readers you can't imagine a world without the web. Trust me, it was a very diff erent place. The Telegraph newspaper has published a good history of the development of the web.

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Seymour Papert, 88, Dies

The New York Times reports that: "Seymour Papert, a visionary educator and mathematician who well before the advent of the personal computer foresaw children using computers as instruments for learning and enhancing creativity, died on Sunday at his home in Blue Hill, Me. He was 88. His death was announced by the Logo Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization that he co-founded. His wife, the Russia scholar and author Suzanne Massie, said the cause was complications of a series of kidney and bladder infections." Logo was one of the first computer languages I learned and I fondly remember watching that turtle draw it's way across the screen.
Thanks to my colleague, Mark Wilson, for noticing this.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

actigaze - control your computer with your eyes

Two CS department lecturers, Gerald Weber and Christof Lutteroth, feature in an interview for the BBC technology programme Click. The interview concerns their new actigaze
technology and is broadcast on the BBC World Service.
The podcast link is here.




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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Using Minecraft to build more intelligent technology

AI researchers are always keen to have new playgrounds to develop their ideas in. To this end, Microsoft has announced Project Malmo "a platform developed by Katja Hofmann and her colleagues in Microsoft's Cambridge, UK, lab ... Project Malmo allows computer scientists to use the world of Minecraft as a testing ground for conducting research designed to improve artificial intelligence." The Microsoft blog recently reported on the aims of the project and it looks interesting.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Totalisator Counter in Context

Bob Doran continues his discoveries into totalisators on NZ, writing: Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision is New Zealand's moving image and sound archive. Recently they put online an amateur movie made of the 1940 Manawatu Hunt races at Awapuni in Palmerston North, called "Racing at Awapuni".  This is worth viewing for a peek into the fashions and way-of-life in New Zealand 75 years ago.
However, for us it gives a fascinating glimpse of an operating totalisator, the special purpose machines designed to count bets at race courses. We have a display on the second floor with some totalisator remnants of this era, and also a detailed exposition on totalisators and their history. In our display, we have one large counter from Awapuni that was saved from scrap. It was used to show the grand total of all bets on all horses. Although used up until the 1970s, this device was from the 1920s, retained when the old totalisator of  "Racing at Awapuni" was replaced with a modern machine in the late 1940s.

"Racing in Awapuni" shows us where our counter was located back in the 1920s. It was placed behind the rectangular window just below the top of the "tote house" as shown in this still from the movie. It also shows us that the 1920s  Awapuni tote was win-bet-only and could handle races with up to 24 horses.
Thanks to Brian Carpenter for a "heads up" about this film and to Nga Taonga for making it available on-line.

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