The Red Lines Page

January 1, 2018

What do you think of it so far…?

Filed under: Technology,writing — Peter A @ 10:41 pm

Here is a super story, in three blog articles, about how BBC Research & Development has been working with Queen Mary University, London in an inventive recovery of a once-lost Morecambe & Wise TV episode.MandW

It’s full of interesting stuff about how TV used to work, changes in broadcast expectations of viewer behaviour, international broadcast relations, video and film technology, chemistry, physics, and software engineering.

There is an answer to that

I encountered the story first because of my interest in the Doctor Who connection with the “missing episodes” saga. But there’s plenty else to admire here about about how the BBC and QMU identified and overcame technical challenges never solved before.

  1. You Can’t See the Join!
  2. Lasers and X-rays
  3. All the Pictures. Not Necessarily in the Right Order.



Hello folks

There is plenty more to admire in the BBC’s R&D work, if you’re interested. There’s  Artificial Intelligence, 5G Broadcast (it’s not just “another G”), object-based media, scalable and lightweight live video production over IP, Data Science research, improving ways of sharing archives on social media with speech-to-text tech, conversational interfaces, and loads more

Often it’s in partnership with universities, designed to advance broadcast technologies and models in an open way, and shared in regular white papers.

It certainly makes me proud of the BBC’s collaborative and open approach to advancing TV tech for everyone.

July 12, 2014

Hursley FM competition

Filed under: Audios,interview,Technology,Warship,writing — Peter A @ 9:24 pm

We have a winner! I will contact them shortly.

The Red Lines Page

Script for WarshipAfter months of negotiation with my agent, I agreed terms with http://hursleyfm.comfor a podcast interview. Oh, all right then, they e-mailed me at work last Wednesday, and I said yes straight away.

On Friday, I made my way to their studio (spoilers: an office in Hursley D Block) and had a lovely chat with Dr Adrian, Jonny Mac, and Mr Jezzalinko. We discussed technology, my work at IBM, and my various bits of genre writing over the years. And, yes, they really are called that.

Hursley FM microphoneHursley FM is a podcast and community about technology, inspired by the people at the biggest software development laboratory in Europe. By a happy coincidence, it’s somewhere I’ve worked for nearly twenty years.

As you can see from my photo, the studio looks exactly like the podcast illustration.

It’s rare that my various worlds coincide like this. So to acknowledge that, and also encourage people to…

View original post 139 more words

July 15, 2010

Big fat geek wedding

Filed under: Technology — Peter A @ 9:48 pm

Modern geek love appears to be a USB wedding ring. Mashable reports that the fiancée of Microsoft Game Studios Software Development Engineer Ray Arifiant has bought him a custom-made ring to celebrate their pending nuptuals and “for a lifetime of memories”.

How times change. I got married quite a while ago, and all I could offer my fiancée was a 5¼-inch floppy.

April 1, 2010


Filed under: April Fool,Technology — Peter A @ 12:10 am

OASIS DITA Technical Committee will today approve an interim renaming of the XML-DITA standard. “Following a successful court case brought by a fundamentalist religious group in the U.S.,” said Susan Denim of the committee, “we are obliged to accept a revision to the Darwin Information Typing Architecture nomenclature. We’ve been instructed that DITA cannot be said to have evolved in a Darwinian way. We’re frustrated, obviously, but the court ruling clearly directs us to accept that the standard is the product of intelligent design.”

“It’s obvious,” reported the plaintiff, a delighted Rev. Josie Watt-Ardeed. “XML is not an undirected series of actions, and therefore cannot uncouple itself from a creationist process. The entire terminology of the so-called XML-DITA points to a teleological argument for the existence of a central creator. I mean, it’s not called ‘single source’ for nothing. The whole Darwin thing is clearly a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. And I’m not talking about a filetype:xml clause, do you know what I’m saying?”

Not all former-DITA specialists are so phlegmatic. An unnamed high-placed IBMer wrote on a personal blog: “This wasn’t the kind of constraint I was expecting. This ruling tears apart my whole conceptual data model. If you ask me, the output is PDF — Pretty D*mn Foolish.” He was subsequently obliged to withdraw this remark for the use of an unresolved reference.

OASIS are now frantically drafting a workable alternative, expected to be published by the end of this year and formalised by 2015. The initial draft is “Architecture-proof Relationship Indication Language”, or “ApRIL (1st)“.

April 1st p.m. updated to add:  Check out some others on TechCrunch.

March 25, 2010

No Lovelace lost

Filed under: IBM,Technology — Peter A @ 12:01 am

As I type this, it’s still Ada Lovelace Day. I intended to write more, but alas have time only to say this: computing and IT companies want to hire more women. IBM UK (where I work) want to see substantially more women applicants for their hundreds of graduate trainee vacancies.File:Ada lovelace.jpg

While I don’t represent the company on this blog, I’m happy to point people to a recruitment site that talks about what it’s like to work in the IBM UK Ideas Lab. The hope is that many more modern-day Ada Lovelaces will apply — not favouritism, just encouragement.

(Men can apply too!)

It’s also worth noting that these vacancies are for a training scheme. So while applicants, men or women, may have a computing or IT degree, they do not have to — a good degree in any discipline is acceptable.

I have blogged a bit more about this on eightbar.

Ideally, I would have blogged about the achievements of a woman in technology and science. So I’m going to cheat and post a link to a blog by Laura Cowen, who is herself a splendid example of a woman in The Ideas Lab, but who has also helpfully linked to blogs by women who inpired her: Laura Czajkowski and Ana Nelson.

Pass it on!

Edited to add: I pressed “save” at one-minute-past-Lovelace! Tsk!

January 1, 2010

Keynote slides

Filed under: ISTC,Technology,writing — Peter A @ 11:22 pm

My keynote to the TCUK Conference (first discussed here) went well in 2009. In response to those who asked me to share the slides, here they are. They were designed to be illustrative during my talk, so you won’t get the whole story just from these slides. You literally had to be there.

The keynote was referenced in:

April 5, 2009

Brought on?

Filed under: press,Technology,twitter — Peter A @ 2:30 pm

 The Daily Mail lauds the actions of the good folk of Broughton, Buckinghamshire. Annoyed that the Google Street View camera was legally photographing their homes, the villagers took action against the driver of the car. Or to put it in the words of the Daily Mail‘s correspondent, “a respectable, bespectacled 43-year-old real estate executive” rounded up “a couple of housewives, a nurse, a Tory councillor and an energy consultant” to ensure that a car driver was “trapped for an hour and a half in the village”. More unkindly and inaccurately, The Times describes them as a “village mob”.

The Mail works itself up into an indignant sweat about the “computer giant’s insidious invasion of all our privacies”. I think they’re trying to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted. Possibly a stable door on one of the charming barn conversions you’re likely to find in villages like Broughton. The villagers are upset because a camera ten feet high is more intrusive than an ordinary passer-by with a camera. But navigational information is already available from Multimap’s aerial and bird’s eye views of Broughton. Zoom in and try for yourself. A human chain’s not going to prevent that. Nor are brave villagers linking arms going to stop those helicopter shots that photographers like to take indiscriminately and then sell to villagers all round the UK.  Who authorised BlueSky to take these images of Broughton?

broughton, bucksThe Mail picked up the story from the Milton Keynes Citizen, which ran a front-page article about the human chain. The Mail even published a photo of the Google employee and his car. Unlike the Citizen, or indeed Google Street View for that matter, the Mail chose not to blur the number plate of the man’s car. And unlike Google Street View, the Mail didn’t blur the man’s face in their photo, either.

Mind you, the Mail can’t quite decide where Broughton is. On Saturday it was Buckinghamshire. On Sunday, they said it was the one in Cambridgeshire. Just to add to the confusion, the Sunday article included an aerial photo of the village in Buckinghamshire. On the Mail‘s website, the photo also invites you to “Enlarge”.

Perhaps that irony has escaped the Daily Mail. And the outraged villagers of Broughton seemed happy enough to pose for a press photographer.The Mail has now helpfully published three pieces about Broughton — all accompanied by photographs of the village, with the more detailed ones available on the web. The latest article regales us with the news that Broughton has “now become the focus of national attention” (possibly as a result of newspaper articles, you have to suppose) and that “Street View enthusiasts from across the UK” intend to “descend on the village to snap their own perfectly legal photographs”. Articles have appeared all round the world — including Norway, Turkey, Pakistan, and Ireland.

The villagers have not brought this on themselves. But the press, in a froth of indignation about this “invasion of privacy”, have exacerbated the problem. The Mail would have us believe that Google Street View is an “encyclopaedia for the burgling fraternity” provided by “Snooper Command”. “If our houses are plastered all over Google,” said the ringleader of the stoppage, Paul Jacobs, “it’s an invitation for more criminals to strike.” On the other hand, a local councillor explained that there had been five burglaries in ten weeks before the Google man appeared, and she seemed to attribute them to Broughton’s thirty-fold population growth since the opening of a nearby housing estate “in recent months”.

But if the number of burglaries now increases, and especially if that happens before any images appear on Street View, it won’t be the good people of Broughton, nor will it be Google, who are to blame.

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