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.

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.

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.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Not enough people to fill tech jobs

An article in the New Zealand Herald yesterday highlights the critical shortage of IT professionals in the country causing tech companies to have to bring in immigrants to fill their vacancies. Fortunately for us, New Zealand is a popular country to emigrate to. In the longer term, the Government is introducing Digital Technology as a formally integrated subject in the New Zealand curriculum. However, tech company leaders are arguing that this doesn't go far enough as it lumps computing in with metal-work and cooking. They want to see it taught as an academic subject, like history or chemistry, which they argue lead to far fewer direct jobs than computing.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Watch Jupiter's moons orbit the planet

In the weeks leading up to the spacecraft's arrival at Jupiter Monday night (July 4), Juno captured a stunning video of the four Galilean moons — Callisto, Europa, Ganymede and Io — circling the giant planet in a first-of-its-kind view of celestial dynamics. Juno is now safely in orbit and the real science can begin.

Friday, July 1, 2016

You may not need to pay that parking fine!

The Guardian reports that a free online chatbot called DoNotPay has reportedly helped appeal over $4 million in fines. "Dubbed as “the world’s first robot lawyer” by its 19-year-old creator, London-born second-year Stanford University student Joshua Browder, DoNotPay helps users contest parking tickets in an easy to use chat-like interface."