Archive for Computing

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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Scale Invariant Feature Transform

Recently I’ve been experimenting with the Scale Invariant Feature Transform (SIFT) algorithm. I began by downloading the open SIFT implementation for Matlab and then used it to gain an understanding of how the algorithm worked.

Since first using the implementation I have been able to demonstrate how to find objects that have previously been seen by the system in a completely new image, and have also managed to make use of the SIFT algorithm in a more generic fashion by applying it to one of my coursework tasks – to find faces and cars in a set of images.

The power and potential in this algorithm becomes immediately apparent after using it on test image for an hour or so and indeed my reading since first use of it in Matlab indicates to me that the use of this algorithm in the kind of task I am researching is highly recommended by a number of academics. I certainly intend to use my findings here as an important component in my interim project report.

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Welcome to the project blog of Reading Roadsigns. I wanted a place where I could quickly pen my thoughts about my project and share my findings with the world when I hit upon something I feel is worthy of a mention. I hope that though this site I can keep myself focused on the project by feeling I need to have something to say about what I’m doing and also by receiving input on my work in progress from the community at large.

I welcome any and all comments on my work and if you have something more substantial to say I encourage you to drop me an e-mail.

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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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Careers Fair

On Monday and Tuesday this week the university are holding a careers fair. This is the first point in my university life where I really feel like attending such an event, not to mention feeling that it would significantly benefit me, what with being in my third year and all. Only problem is I have a solid day of lectures on both of the days.

This is just sods law at its best really. I mean of the 2 days they hold a huge fair I can’t go to a single hour of the 8 on offer in total. Luckily the major players in IT do visit the school of computing specifically, but its really not that brilliant that I have to miss out on meeting representatives from companies that won’t. If it had been any other year I’d probably have missed the lectures, attended the fair and caught up on the work later but being third year I really don’t wish to do this, nor do I think it would be advisable.

What I’d like to know is which person in the careers service organises these events without checking to make sure that the majority of third years can make at least an hour of the proceedings. Assuming they don’t miss lectures, I can’t name a single computing student who can go to any of the fair, and that makes a fairly large number of people missing out which one would imagine the careers service should endeavour to avoid.

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Two Tier Internet

There has been a lot of talk lately in the news about the potential for the implementation of a two tier internet, that is to say a global collection of networks in which some traffic is given priority over others, not necessarily for reasons of efficiency but for those of financial incentive – those that can afford to pay can prioritise their internet traffic or take advantage of less restrictive access to the content of others.

This is something I wanted to muse over a little before committing thoughts to my blog because it is something close to my heart. Having given it some thought though it is actually a less savoury prospect than I had ever imagined and I was never in favour of a two tier internet in the first place.

At present the internet is a place in which content is indiscriminately accessible to all; something I publish is available to a user in, say, Australia as readily as it is to someone who lives up my street. Likewise someone on a cheap ISP can also access my published content in exactly the same way as someone on a more expensive provider.

Two Tier Internet means that for the first time some publishers will be able to dictate which “class” of consumer will be able to access their content and what is worse even if the publisher intends to allow everyone equal access the ISP could be equally restrictive if it took their fancy. My internet might not be the same as your internet and this means that whole areas of the internet could be completely invisible to you without you even knowing it. Sure, you might be able to hit IP addresses but they would time out as if there was no machine responding if they weren’t on your tier.

I cannot stress enough how damaging this will be to the whole ethos of the internet. Tim Berners Lee (creator of the world wide web in case you didn’t know) said himself that the connections we use to share data should be freely accessible to all and that the whole way in which the internet works relies on us all being on one network in which we all have the potential to be equal players. If the very creator of the web intended us to have one internet and believes it would be damaging to split it up, why should legislators who have no technical knowledge have the right to say it shouldn’t be that way? Quite simply they are taking the piss.

I’m not going to jump on a high horse about the quality of the content I have to distribute to the world, especially since some of it is probably pretty crap in the eyes of some who might come across it, but I sure as hell don’t want to see someone else deciding who should see it or not based on who is lining their pockets. I put it online because I want everyone in the world with a connection to be able to read, listen to, watch or download it as they wish. If a day comes when I can no longer do that, the one place on earth where we are all still truly free, the internet, really will be dead and the world will be a much darker place.

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Exam Congratulations

I wish to congratulate everyone who has successfully passed resit examinations this year in Leeds School of Computing. You’ve worked hard and deserve to be back in the best department in the university! Bring on freshers week 😀

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Computing Ball

Last night was the School of Computing end of year ball and it was a superb night enjoyed by all. Huge thanks to CompSoc for organising the event, it was very well run.

A group of us started off the evening in style by getting a limo to the venue and then we had champagne and wine on arrival with a live acoustic music set which was very enjoyable. Dinner was well planned and the food really rather tasty. Its always difficult to cater for such a large group and they did it brilliantly. Dinner discussion was, for the mostpart, kept away from computers and the school in general which was a relief for many I think although the odd comment about techie things did crop up largely due to me – whoops! I also got the chance to scare some physics students about the complexity of their second year of study which was rather amusing (the ball was a combined affair with the physics and nursing departments of the university).

The rest of the evening was centered around a rather cheesy disco, a well stocked bar and a casino. I hit the blackjack tables and did rather poorly so it was a good job we got free chips to start us off! After we had all blown our chips and the tables had closed for the evening we moved into the disco and danced around insanely to some brilliant 80s and 90s dance nostalgia. Priceless photo award of the evening goes to Matt who led a rather large conga around the hall for a good 5 minutes or so!

All in all it was a superb evening and well deserved break at the end of the year for all the hard work we have been craking on with of late. As ever I had my camera at the ready and you can see a whole load of photos from the night in my gallery

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SoC staff read my blog

I was pleased to hear in the DEC-10 computer lab yesterday that some of the staff in the School of Computing read my blog. This is not just good in a sense that I have more readers but because so much of my life revolves around the school its nice to know yet another group of people inside of it take an interest in what I have to say. Its also a further example of how much interaction there is between staff and students here, and is something that I feel has a real benefit in it for everyone in the school.

Now that I know I have staff readership though I may well write a little bit more about the school and computing as a field of study. Suggestions on article topics in comments please 🙂

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Health & Safety rules must die

I heard the other day that the next scheduled install fest (where school of computing students can bring their PCs along to the school of computing of an evening and have Linux installed on their systems and find out more about the operating system from those who use it every day) was going to be cancelled due to health and safety reasons.

This made me furious and I’m going to tell you why. Our whole lives are seemingly decided by authority, not for the purposes of law enforcement, national security or public health but because we “might cause ourselves harm”. My point is a very simple one, shouldn’t that kind of decision be up to us? If I put my fingers in a university plug socket and get a shock is it the university’s fault for having plug sockets? Of course not, its mine, for being a prat and sticking my fingers in there in the first place. This means that I should be allowed to use plug sockets because its my fault if anything bad happens.

Why then do we have rules that prevent us from doing something as simple as plugging in an electrical device with the reason cited that the organisation responsible for the existance of the plug socket is held reposnsible for anything that happens to me while using it?

I feel like we have been living in a nanny state for too long. Stupid health and safety rules need to be abolised as do the laws about organisational and individual responsibility to others that cause those rules to have a reason for exising. Whats wrong with us? Can’t we use our own brains anymore? The answer is yes, we can, its just someone is telling us we can’t. Its time for them to be given a kick out the door – permanently.

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