Thursday, January 30, 2014

Global Game Jam

This year I participated in the Global Gam Jam. It was a lot of fun. You can check out our game site here. It combined three things I enjoy: traditional music, video games and programming! We were able to build upon some nice open source projects and contribute back. It is still in the early stages so check out the git project as well.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Why Go Open Source?

I've been working on a sideline project for a little while. Its called mentronome. It is about measuring your mental awareness and recording it over time. It includes an interface to the Neurosky Mindwave EEG device (see below).

I've decided to release the source code for the desktop client. I just wanted to record one amazingly obvious and practical reason why this is a good idea: If users (and people are signing up to use the site from all over the world!) have issues with the software, what is the easiest way to support them? Give them the source code so they can troubleshoot it themselves. Never mind the fact that the project is built on a number of great open source technologies: Python, Ruby, Rails to name but a few. The ability to empower users of your software (and possibly feed back improvements they make) is the most compelling argument for open source.

Do keep an eye on the mentronome site. I have some great improvements planned: usage statistics, user badges, mobile clients and support for more EEG headsets. By releasing the client source today, I hope to "give back" to the open source community in my own small way as well as improving the service mentronome provides.

So check it out! The source code is hosted on bitbucket.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Satoshi Nakamoto is Anonymous (or maybe Matz)


Recently came across this great article describing the search for Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous originator of the Bitcoin Network. A number of people are fingered: Gavin Andresen [Here's a great interview of Gavin with Leo Laporte]; some researchers in Trinity College Dublin; the founder of Mt. Gox; and Shinichi Mochizuki, a reclusive mathematical genius.

The argument for Mochizuki has the most plausibility but the evidence is largely circumstantial. Here is an entertaining video of Ted Nelson making the case:


I'm not convinced though. One could make a similar argument that Nakamoto is really Yukihiro Matsumoto, the creator of the Ruby programming language. He is also a Japanese academic with ties to the West and no formal training in economics. Sure, Bitcoin wasn't written in Ruby but that was to cover his tracks. Right?

Joking aside, the best conclusion is that Nakamoto is another manifestation of Anonymous. This group represents the recent phenomenon of masked, technically elite vigilantes out to challenge the corrupt bureaucracy that runs our world.

It would be nice to know who Satoshi Nakamoto really is but the best answer is that he is Anonymous and should remain that way.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Turing's Cathedral


Really it should be called Von Neumann's Cathedral, especially as Turing himself only makes a small appearance. Recommend it for the history of computer science and as a near biography of Von Neumann. Dyson has the occasional unfortunate foray into speculation about the singularity which is mostly fine but occasionally overblown. Overall, a good history of the early days of computers in post-war America. 

For a nice summary of the book (uncredited), check out the summary for this Dyson talk at the LongNow.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lean from the Trenches

I think the best use for this blog is as a place for reviews of software related books I am reading. With that in mind, here's a quick overview of a Pragmatic Programmers book I finished recently:



This book serves as an excellent introduction to Lean and Kanban through a practical report on its implementation on a large software project. Author writes very accessibly and, more importantly, without laying down large axioms from the evidence. Very much: this worked for us, it might work for you. Also, its short and to the point-- like this review!

Friday, December 7, 2012

JK Ensemble Drinking Game!

Here's one for the holiday season. My favourite radio show is The JK Ensemble on RTE LyricFM. I regularly listen to John Kelly's great selection of music, even though I can only hear it over the internet for years. So, for all his fans, I present the JK Ensemble drinking game. Whenever you hear the following, you can take a drink!
  1. John says "Classical Stylee"
  2. Dick Gaughan's version of Ruby Tuesday
  3. Anything by Bartok
  4. That cool Norwegian song Calmly
  5. Igor Stravinsky's Rites of Spring
  6. The infamous Gamelan Lyric Jingle
Any other suggestions? Please add to the comments below.