Archive for Computing

SoC Gossip Closure

While a very useful site for Leeds School of Computing students when I was engaged there, SoC Gossip has now fallen into a state where it is no longer updated and thus is of little or no use to current or even past students.

I and others enjoyed blogging about our time in the school on a dedicated site, especially the academic postings from our final year projects but now that we have left and are no longer actively contributing and no others have stepped up and asked if they can do so, I think the time has come to close the site to the public.

I of course extend my thanks to those who have contributed to the site in the past and would also like to offer any current student of the school the opportunity to take over the site if they wish to maintain a SoC blog – please get in touch with me.

If no one steps up to the plate in the next couple of weeks however, I will be closing the site and allowing the domain to lapse. This will prevent new students from finding the site and thinking it’s something that will be updated while they are studying at the school.

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Degree Classification

1st

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Final Year Project Results

I collected my final year project result today. The project was based on the reading and recognition of roadsigns, for those of you who have forgotten (apologies for the lack of updates on the roadsigns blog).

I’m pleased to announce that I got a grade of 71 which equates to a first.

Obviously I’m very pleased with this result and it really has made the hard work worthwhile. It was far from a trivial project and presented some interesting challenges and learning experiences, but I feel the work will stand me in good stead for the future.

All this means that I’m now a mere two weeks away from getting my final degree grade and completing my time as a student of Leeds University School of Computing. Time certainly does fly.

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Nick Rickrolled

It was Nick’s last lecture, it was the last SY32 lecture, it was our last lecture. We had to do something to make the event memorable and fun. We plotted and schemed a little bit and decided that we would Rickroll Nick during the lecture. Chris and I arrived 30 minutes early and setup a laptop computer and speakers under the lectern and concealed them with an old poster we found lying about. We had previously configured a scheduled task on the laptop that we configured to play “Never Going to Give You Up” at half past the hour.

Once everything was setup and the lecture theatre once again appeared normal we left, went to grabbed a coffee for 10 minutes and then came to the lecture like normal. Everything was going as it always does and then blam, 30 minutes in, the song started playing. Stunned silence for all of about 2 seconds, then a surprised look from Nick and hugh peals of laughter from the audience. It was priceless.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Nick for being a great lecturer and personal tutor throughout my time at the School of Computing and say that quite simply, life wouldn’t have been the same in the school without him. He will doubtless be greatly missed by all students who are staying on.

Nick wrote about what it was like to be Rickrolled on his blog

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Programming and sex

As I was browsing my news feeds this morning I stumbled accross a blog post that someone had linked to. Its a rather amusing article about which programming language gets you the most sex. If you’re a programmer I’m sure this will make you chuckle.

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PHP $this

Recently an upgrade on my hosting server has been conducted, making a change from predominantly PHP4 (PHP5 available but not widely used) to predominantly PHP5 (PHP4 available but infrequently used). This has been prompted by the announcement by PHP developers that support for PHP4 will be discontinued at the end of the year.

I didn’t think there would be any issues with the migration as I have long been coding in a PHP5 compatible way, however after the move Halifax Online suffered a few issues. After much investigation I discovered that this was due to some deprecated code use within some functions in a party application which had been added to the site. This was easily fixed, but the issue its self is rather interesting.

It is common practice to store ephemeral data in loops and pass this data along to other loops or functions. While the actual variable name doesn’t matter so long as it is consistent, it makes sense to name it something which indicates that the data is for use only in situ and is ephemeral. The developer of the problematic application had used a variable named $this to perform this action.

Name wise this makes a lot of sense because it indicates quite clearly that the content of the variable is ephemeral and for use only in situ, especially with respect to functions. The problem is that $this is somewhat reserved under PHP5 and so while can be read from under ordinary circumstances, cannot be written to. This is because in an object orientated environment it is used to represent the current object in which a piece of code resides, and so changing it within this context has no meaning; changing attributes of it makes sense, but changing the whole thing (as the code was effectively doing by assigning it a value) is impossible. Can I demolish and rebuild my house while still inside it?

I just thought I’d share this little gem with folk who are trying to make their applications PHP5 compatible before the end of the year. It took me quite a while to find because I was looking primarily for deprecated function use, not variable use.

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Ecstatic

I looked up my AI module marks this morning on SIS and found I had achieved 84% in the coursework. I had worked very hard on this piece because it fed into my final year project and so was delighted to have gained such a high mark. Upon reading news I noticed that the module leader had posted the highest and lowest marks and the corresponding average. The highest mark was 84%, the same as mine! This has given me a completely elated feeling, and it just goes to show that hard work and diligence really does pay off :)

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Linux Install Fest

On Friday 30th November, the School of Computing plays host to the CompSoc Linux install fest – a chance for new users of Linux to get a copy of the operating system on their own machine so they can use it at home and further their learning and enjoyment of the OS.

The event takes place at 2pm and goes on until the School closes at just after 5pm. During that time we hope to offer a full range of opportunities for attendees.

  • Have a Linux distribution of your choice installed on your machine
  • Dual boot setup with Windows will be supported
  • Talks on secure computing and Linux basics from staff and students
  • Linux experts available to answer all your Linux orientated questions
  • Demonstrations of a range of Linux and KDE/Gnome window manager features

There will of course be the usual trip to the pub after the event, and I’m hoping line up of things we are offering is going to persuade many people its worth coming along and giving Linux a try.

I’m proud to be doing my bit to spread the use of open source software and am looking forward to showing people that it really is easy to install and use Linux. Every since the day I first used Linux I’ve never looked back.

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Reading Roadsigns

Recently I decided that it would be a good idea to not only keep a paper journal of my thoughts on my final year project and a BibTeX file of my academic reading but also to blog about my progress on the project. I find that writing things down by hand is all well and good but a lot of the things I read to do with the project are online (downloaded from the web of knowledge etc.) and it would be nice for people to comment on my findings when I make them.

I therefore present to all, Reading Roadsigns, the blog for my final year project which is all about researching and implementing a method of reading and recognising roadsigns in a static image. If you are interested in computer vision or are working on an object detection or recognition project, please add the blog feed to your RSS reader.

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Poor Attendance

Attendance in advanced graphics on Thursday was particularly poor, in fact a mere 16 students turned up. This may well be due to the fact that some had spent all night previously completing coursework, but really thats not much of an excuse. Advanced graphics at the school of computing is one of the hardest modules you can take in the third year and I wouldn’t want to be missing any lectures, certainly not on a whim anyway.

Its amazing how much you can miss in just one lecture. On the few occasions I have had to legitimately miss a lecture its taken me nearly twice the duration of the missed lecture to catch up on all the work and in a pressured environment like the third year of a degree course I can’t understand how anyone has the time to perform such a catch up. I’d like to suggest that the simply don’t, in which case more fool them come exam time when they’re scratching their heads.

On the plus side if not many people attend then those that do get more interaction with the lecturer when it comes to asking questions and such which is clearly beneficial. It was certainly true that on Thursday those who attended managed to get a lot of our questions answered. Perhaps I actually like there being less people in the room.

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