crhodes is currently certified at Master level.

Name: Christophe Rhodes
Member since: 2001-05-03 06:41:31
Last Login: 2014-04-25 07:18:49

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Homepage: http://www.doc.gold.ac.uk/~mas01cr/

Notes:

Notes here and here.

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Physicist, Musician, Common Lisp programmer. Move along, there's nothing to see.

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els2015 it happened

Oh boy.

It turns out that organizing a conference is a lot of work. Who’d have thought? And it’s a lot of work even after accounting for the benefits of an institutional Conference Services division, who managed things that only crossed my mind very late: signage, extra supplies for college catering outlets – the kinds of things that are almost unnoticeable if they’re present, but whose absence would cause real problems. Thanks to Julian Padget, who ran the programme, and Didier Verna, who handled backend-financials and the website; but even after all that there were still a good number of things I didn’t manage to delegate – visa invitation letters, requests for sponsorship, printing proceedings, attempting to find a last-minute solution for recording talks after being reminded of it on the Internet somewhere... I’m sure there is more (e.g. overly-restrictive campus WiFi, blocking outbound ssh and TLS-enabled IMAP) but it’s beginning to fade into a bit of a blur. (An enormous “thank you” to Richard Lewis for stepping in to handle recording the talks as best he could at very short notice).

And the badges! People said nice things about the badges on twitter, but... I used largely the same code for the ILC held in Cambridge in 2007, and the comment passed back to me then was that while the badges were clearly going to become collectors’ items, they failed in the primary purpose of a badge at a technical conference, which is to give to the introvert with poor facial recognition some kind of clue who they are talking to: the font size for the name was too small. Inevitably, I got round to doing the badges at the last minute, and between finding the code to generate PDFs of badges (I’d lost my local copy, but the Internet had one), finding a supplier for double-sided sheets of 10 85x54mm business cards, and fighting with the office printer (which insisted it had run out of toner) the thought of modifying the code beyond the strictly necessary didn’t cross my mind. Since I asked for feedback in the closing session, it was completely fair for a couple of delegates to say that the badges could have been better in this respect, so in partial mitigation I offer a slightly cleaned-up and adjusted version of the badge code with the same basic design but larger names: here you go (sample output). (Another obvious improvement suggested to me at dinner on Tuesday: print a list of delegate names and affiliations and pin it up on a wall somewhere).

My experience of the conference is likely to be atypical – being the responsible adult, I did have to stay awake at all times, and do some of the necessary behind-the-scenes stuff while the event was going on. But I did get to participate; I listened to most of most of the talks, with particular highlights for me being Breanndán Ó Nualláin’s talk about a DSL for graph algorithms, Martin Cracauer’s dense and technical discussion of conservative garbage collection, and the demo session on Tuesday afternoon: three distinct demos in three different areas, each both well-delivered and with exciting content. Those highlights were merely the stand-out moments for me; the rest of the programme was pretty good, too, and it looked like there were some good conversations happening in the breaks, over lunch, and at the banquet on Monday evening. We ended up with 90 registrations all told, with people travelling in from 18 other countries; the delegate with the shortest distance to travel lived 500m from Goldsmiths; the furthest came from 9500km away.

The proceedings are now available for free download from the conference website; some speakers have begun putting up their talk materials, and in the next few weeks we’ll try to collect as much of that as we can, along with getting release permissions from the speakers to edit and publish the video recordings. At some point there will be a financial reckoning, too; Goldsmiths has delivered a number of services on trust, while ELSAA has collected registration fees in order to pay for those services – one of my next actions is to figure out the bureaucracy to enable these two organizations to talk to each other. Of course, Goldsmiths charges in pounds, while ELSAA collected fees in euros, and there’s also the small matter of cross-border sales tax to wrap my head around... it’s exciting being a currency speculator!

In summary, things went well – at least judging by the things people said to my face. I’m not quite going to say “A+ would organize again”, because it is a lot of work – but organizing it once is fine, and a price worth paying to help sustain and to contribute to the communication between multiple different Lisp communities. It would be nice to do some Lisp programming myself some day: some of the stuff that you can do with it is apparently quite neat!

Syndicated 2015-04-23 10:47:10 from notes

20 Mar 2015 (updated 20 Mar 2015 at 18:13 UTC) »

els2015 is nearly here

This year, I have had the dubious pleasure of being the Local Organizer for the European Lisp Symposium 2015, which is now exactly one month away; in 31 days, hordes of people will be descending on South East London New Cross Gate to listen to presentations, give lightning talks and engage in general discussions about all things Lisp – the programme isn’t quite finalized, but expect Racket, Clojure, elisp and Common Lisp to be represented, as well as more... minority interests, such as C++.

Registration is open! In fact, for the next nine days (until 29th March) the registration fee is set at the absurdly low price of €120 (€60 for students) for two days of talks, tutorials, demos, coffee, pastries, biscuits, convivial discussion and a conference dinner. I look forward to welcoming old and new friends alike to Goldsmiths.

Syndicated 2015-03-20 17:04:33 (Updated 2015-03-20 17:32:13) from notes

tmus research programmer position

The AHRC-funded research project that I am a part of, Transforming Musicology, is recruiting a developer for a short-term contract, primarily to work with me on database systems for multimedia (primarily audio) content. The goal for that primary part of the contract is to take some existing work on audio feature extraction and probabilistic nearest-neighbour search indexing, and to develop a means for specialist users (e.g. musicologists, librarians, archivists, musicians) to access the functionality without needing to be experts in the database domain. This of course will involve thinking about user interfaces, but also about distributed computation, separation of data and query location, and so on.

The funding is for six months of programmer time. I would have no objection to someone working for six months in a concentrated block of time; I would also have no objection to stretching the funding out over a longer period of calendar time: it might well provide more time for reflection and a better outcome in the end. I would expect the development activities to be exploratory as well as derived from a specification; to span between the systems and the interface layer; to be somewhat polyglot (we have a C++ library, bindings in Python, Common Lisp and Haskell, and prototype Javascript and Emacs front-ends – no applicant is required to be fluent in all of these!)

There are some potentially fun opportunities during the course of the contract, not least working with the rest of the Transforming Musicology team. The post is based at Goldsmiths, and locally we have some people working on Systems for Early Music, on Musicology and Social Networking, and on Musical Memory; the Goldsmiths contribution is part of a wider effort, with partners based at Oxford working on Wagnerian Leitmotif and on a Semantic Infrastructure, at Queen Mary working on mid-level representations of music, and in Lancaster coordinating multiple smaller projects. As well as these opportunities for collaboration, there are a number of events coming up: firstly, the team would hope to have a significant presence at the conference of the International Society for Music Information Retrieval, which will be held in Málaga in October. We don’t yet know what we will be submitting there (let alone what will be accepted!) but there should be an opportunity to travel there, all being well. In July we’ll be participating in the Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School, leading a week-long programme of workshops and lectures on digital methods for musicology. Also, in November of 2014, we also participated in the AHRC’s “Being Human” festival, with a crazy effort to monitor participants’ physiological responses to Wagner opera; there’s every possibility that we will be invited to contribute to a similar event this year. And there are other, similar projects in London with whom we have friendly relations, not least the Digital Music Lab project at City University and the EU-funded PRAISE project at Goldsmiths.

Sound interesting? Want to apply? There’s a more formal job advert on the project site, while the “person specification” and other application-related materials is with Goldsmiths HR. The closing date for applications is the 27th March; we’d hope to interview shortly after that, and to have the developer working with us from some time in May or June. Please apply!

Syndicated 2015-03-16 11:47:14 from notes

ref2014 data update

Does anyone still care about REF2014? Apart from agonizing about what it will mean in the new assignments of quality-related funding for institutions, obviously.

Among the various surprising things I have had to do this term (as in “surprise! You have to do this”) was to participate in the Winter graduation ceremony: reading out the names of graduands. It was fun; the tiniest bit stressful, because I hadn’t ever managed to attend a ceremony – but since everyone was there to celebrate, most of the pressure was off; I think I managed to doff my hat at the required times and not to trip over my gown while processing. Part of the ceremony is a valedictory speech from the Warden (vice-Chancellor equivalent), and it was perhaps inevitable that part of that was a section congratulating our soon-to-be alumni on belonging to an institution with high-quality research, or possibly “research intensity”.

That reminded me to take another look at the contextual data published by the Higher Education Statistics Authority; part of the “research intensity” calculation involves an estimate of the number of staff who were eligible to participate in the REF. It is only an estimate, not for any fundamental reason but because the employment data and the research submissions were collected by two different agencies; the data quality is not great, resulting probably in about equal measure from database schema mismatches (working out which REF2014 “Unit of Assessment” a given member of departmental staff belongs to) and human error. The good news is that at least the human error can be corrected later; there are now four Universities who have submitted corrected employment numbers to HESA, subtracting off a large number of research assistants (fixed-term contract researchers) from their list of REF-eligible staff – which naturally tends to bump up their measured research intensity.

New corrections mean new spreadsheets, new slightly-different data layouts, and new ingestion code; I suffer so you don’t have to. I’ve made a new version of my ref2014 R package containing the REF2014 results and contextual data; I’ve also put the source of the package up on github in case anyone wants to criticize (or learn from, I guess) my packaging.

Syndicated 2015-03-10 13:36:30 from notes

a year in review

A brief retrospective, partly brought to you by grep:

  • CATS credits earnt: 30 (15 + 7.5 + 7.5) at level 7
  • crosswords solved: >=40
  • words blogged: 75k
  • words blogged, excluding crosswords: 50k
  • SBCL releases made: 12 (latest today!)
  • functioning ARM boards sitting on my desk: 3 (number doing anything actually useful, beyond SBCL builds: 0 so far, working on it)
  • emacs packages worked on: 2 (iplayer squeeze)
  • public engagement events co-organized: 1
  • ontological inconsistencies resolved: 1
  • R packages made: 1 (University PR departments offended: not enough)

Blogging’s been a broad success; slightly tailed off of late, what with

  • Crawl Dungeon Sprint wins: 2 (The Pits, Thunderdome: both GrFi)

so there’s an obvious New Year’s Resolution right there.

Happy New Year!

Syndicated 2014-12-31 22:27:37 from notes

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