Monday, November 24, 2014

Bogus Journal Accepts Profanity-Laced Anti-Spam Paper

My colleague Mark Wilson brought this to my attention. Like all academics my inbox always receives conference and journal calls for papers, some of which are bogus and are just a way of scamming naive researchers from some money. You can read one academic's response to this practice in this blog article.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Robot Servants Are Going to Make Your Life Easy...

...Then They’ll Ruin It.

Well that's the opinion of Evan Selinger in a recent article for Wired. JIBO, the "world's first family robot" is heralding an age where robots or digital personal assistants anticipate our needs and perhaps even start making decisions for us. That's where Selinger believes the danger lies. Watch the JIBO promotional video below and make up your mind.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Imitation Game

It's not often that Hollywood makes a movie about the "Father of Computer Science;" but, on November 14th, The Imitation Game about British Mathematician Alan Turing, opens in the US and Europe.  Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley the film has already won awards at seven film festivals and is tipped for next year's Oscars. Watch the official trailer below. Sadly, the movie doesn't open in New Zealand until January 2015.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Do you remember Teletext?

Do you remember Teletext? Do you still remember some of the page numbers of your favourite information. If so then you'll be interested in this Guardian Witness project: Teletext memories: your stories and experiences. Some of this blog's younger readers probably don't even know what Teletext is. Think of it like the Web on your TV before the Web existed. 
Ceefax (in the UK) succumbed to the digital switchover nearly two years ago, but the world’s first teletext service is still remembered fondly by the slightly older TV generation. For 38 years it provided vital information to passionate current affairs readers and sports fans alike. 
TVNZ's teletext service closed at midday on April 2nd 2013.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Techvana - the New Zealand Computer Museum is now open!

We have a new computer museum! The  project to create the Techvana  computer museum in Auckland is making good progress. The museum has occupied its premises at 105 Cook Street, Auckland and for the near future is open from 12 to 5 on weekends. Visitors are most welcome.
The museum is built around the collection of Mark and Katie Barlow – much of their collection is on display. Many of the computers and game-machines are in working order and may be tried-out.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon

Well that's what Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has just warned us of in a lengthy talk to MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics department’s Centennial Symposium. Here's a quote: "I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I were to guess like what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful with the artificial intelligence. Increasingly scientists think there should be some regulatory oversight maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish. With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like yeah he’s sure he can control the demon. Didn’t work out."
   By coincidence yesterday whilst watching a doco called Los Angeles Plays Itself I noted a comment in the film: "Robots won't be sexy and dangerous, they'll be boring and efficient - and take our jobs" that rather chimes with Musk's thoughts.
You can watch his entire talk below.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Unveiling of Display on “Computer Graphics in 1984”

You may have missed this and have you haven't visited our Computer History Displays recently then perhaps you should return. On 25th August our Computer Science Department inaugurated the latest addition to its Computer History Displays - the new display in the 5th-floor lobby being devoted to computers & graphics. The main items in the new display are Computer Aided Design machines preserved by our Engineering Faculty, - a Tektronix 40xx terminal, an IBM 5080 CAD display and its replacement, an IBM RS6000, and a large plotter. The display was unveiled by Professor Gordon Mallinson from the Department of Mechanical Engineering. 
   Although most of the equipment is for CAD, the display panel draws on the fact that the 5080 was installed in 1984 to highlight that year as being a turning point in computing history, as it saw the introduction of graphical computer interfaces with the Apple Macintosh. This was the first time that a WIMPs system (Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointer) was available to the general public, although “clunky” by today’s standards. This was also the beginning of user-defined fonts, leading to the plethora of brilliant designs available today, such as the font McCahon by Luke Wood of Canterbury University: