Long-Term Unemployment and Job Prospects

Tue Apr 16, 2013 by brett

There is a very scary article on the Atlantic about how you essentially become shunned by employers after 6 months of unemployment. It is about an experiment by Rand Ghayad of Northeastern University. He applied for 600 job openings using fake resumes, within which he varied 3 factors - how long the applicant had been out of work, how often they had switched jobs, and how much experience they have. What he found is that how long you’ve been out of work is the most important thing that employers look at. People prefer to hire someone with no experience, than someone that has been out of a job for more than 6 months. Scary stuff.

Reflections on Google Code Jam

Tue Apr 16, 2013 by brett

Last weekend I competed in the qualification round of Google Code Jam. I went into it cold (i.e. not having read any of the previous problem sets), and found it a little harder than I expected. The first 2 questions were easy. The last 2 were easy in principle, but I found my implementation didn’t scale well to the large data sets, given the limits involved. I still got well over the required score to get me into the next round.

My take-aways from the process are as follows:

  • Develop some scripts/templates to automate the fairly manual parts of solving each problem. I spent some time writing file parsing code. I should just use pre-built functions for this (even fscanf). Have my Makefile pre-built.

  • Think more about the limits when I build the algorithm. How will the algorithm scale with more data?

  • The last problem was a combinatrics problem. Read more about the different algorithms for solving these kinds of problems.

  • I found it interesting that all the top entries were coded in C++. That is also what I am using, which is nice.

I really enjoyed the experience, and am looking forward to the next round!

Bug with streaming audio to Apple TV

Sat Feb 2, 2013 by brett

So it appears that there is a occasionally a problem in streaming music to the Apple TV from the Mac. The symptom is that you can see the “Audio TV” device in your Sound -> Output window, but every time you try to select it, the selection reverts to the “Internal Speakers” line.

The easiest way to reset this, is to go up to the menu bar at the top of the screen and switch off your Wifi Network, leave it off for a second, then switch it back on. When you reconnect to your wifi network you should be able to select the “Apple TV” device in your Sound/Output pane in the System Preferences.

Reflections on 2012

Sat Jan 19, 2013 by brett

Well, it’s been ages since I posted last. Not terribly good, seeing as one of my New Year’s resolution was to write a lot more. To be fair, I have actually been writing. Just not on my blog.

Reflections on 2012

2012 was a pretty good year for Helen and I. Probably the highlight of the year was going over to the Emmy Awards in New York. Helen was one of the people nominated for an award for her work on a TV documentary episode with Adam Savage “Curiosity - Can you live forever?”. We had an absolute blast in New York.

At the beginning of the year, Helen and I were working on our own game - BeeKeeper”. We spent about 3 months getting BeeKeeper ready and submitted it to the AppStore towards the end of April. In June we went over to the US, firstly to New York to go to our friends’ Giulia and Steve’s wedding, and then we flew over to San Francisco and went to the Apple Developer’s conference.

In 2012, Helen’s Mum got sick in Australia, and Helen had to fly to Sydney to move her Mum into a retirement home. Her Mum seems much happier now as she has a lot more company.

I got tickets to Azealia Banks for Helen’s birthday, and we saw her at a great little club in Brighton called “Concorde 2”. The club is on the beachfront and has 2 big spaces - one for the performance and a bar area. We stayed at a boutique hotel in Brighton for the night, which was lovely as well.

I did some work for HSBC, on their CVA VaR Credit Risk System - basically working on the What-If analysis component. My part of the project has hopefully been finished off successfully, and I’ve been helping out by working on the other parts of the What-If system.

Our Christmas was nice and relaxed. Helen cooked a goose, and we spent the day at home in our flat eating and drinking. We watched some Firefly re-runs on Netflix. New Years Eve was more lively, and we went out partying on both the 30th and 31st until the wee hours.

Restarting Fitbit on the Mac

Sun Nov 4, 2012 by brett

I seem to have a problem with my Fitbit Ultra and my Mac Air running OS/X 10.8. What happens is the fitbit daemon doesn’t seem to work properly if I suspend the notebook by closing the lid. After awakening, my Fitbit profile never seems to update with the latest data from the device. A solution to this problem is to restart the fitbit daemon. You can use launchctl to stop and restart the daemon, which should mean that your data then gets transferred from the device properly.

`I seem to have a problem with my Fitbit Ultra and my Mac Air running OS/X 10.8. What happens is the fitbit daemon doesn’t seem to work properly if I suspend the notebook by closing the lid. After awakening, my Fitbit profile never seems to update with the latest data from the device. A solution to this problem is to restart the fitbit daemon. You can use launchctl to stop and restart the daemon, which should mean that your data then gets transferred from the device properly.

`

A Do-It-Yourself Book Scanner

Sun Oct 21, 2012 by brett

I found an instructable for a DIY book scanner. There seems to be a thriving online community based around building DIY book scanners as well. I have a lot of books I’d like to scan into electronic format. There’s a startup called One Dollar Scan that will scan your books for a dollar. Unfortunately it’s based in the US. It would cost me a fortune to send my books over there to be scanned. A DIY book scanner sounds like the ideal solution for me.

True Skin - Sci-Fi Short Film

Sat Oct 20, 2012 by brett

A nice little transhumanist sci-fi short film with a Blade Runner feel:

TRUE SKIN from H1 on Vimeo.

My Evolving Media Setup

Fri Oct 5, 2012 by brett

My media centre for the past 7 years has been a Mac Mini with an external hard disk. I’ve been playing music through iTunes and either watching movies from DVDs I’ve ripped to the hard-drive, or renting movies from iTunes. I’ve decided that this setup is antediluvian.

I am slowly moving to a media setup for the 21st century. I’ve decided that everything needs to be stored on the cloud. No local storage. This means I use Spotify for music and Netflix for movies/tv. I also don’t want to have to go over to a computer in order to search for movies or music. I want to be able to search for media on my iPad and stream it to the TV/stereo.

In order to accomplish this, I’ve bought an Apple TV. This is connected to my TV via HDMI, and will shortly be connected to my stereo (once the Optical Digital to Stereo converter arrives). I set it up last night, and everything seems to be working well.

Working on the iPad

Thu Sep 13, 2012 by brett

For the last month I’ve been doing a contract at Canary Wharf for HSBC. In an effort to minimise the amount of stuff I carry, I’ve just been taking my iPad into work with me. I’ve really missed having my home emacs environment available.

Last night I was thinking about this and I decided to get a bluetooth keyboard I could leave at the office. I can ssh from my iPad to one of my Amazon cloud instances, and have an emacs / development environment set up there. Consequently I bought a Cerulian Technology Mini Wireless Keyboard. It was really easy to connect to my iPad, but the keyboard is quite cramped to type on. The tab key especially is miniscule, so not great for Python coding. It’s still the first few hours of use, but I’ll keep using this and see how well it works over the long term.

20120913-130357.jpg

Hacking the EZ430 Chronos Watch on the Mac

Mon Jan 23, 2012 by brett

Today my TI EZ430 Chronos Watch arrived, and I spent a little bit of time hacking it on my MacBook Air. It turns out that even though the documentation seems to require either a Windows machine or a Linux box, you can communicate with the watch from the Mac by modifying the serial port information in the TCL source. I learnt this from a Google Groups post, and I’ve copied the modified TCL source onto my Github account.

I then tried compiling the OpenChronos source code to build some custom firmware. In order to build the firmware, I had to install the following Mac Ports:

  1. sudo port install msp430-gcc
  2. sudo port install msp430-binutils (actually is probably installed with msp430-gcc)
  3. sudo port install msp430-gdb
  4. sudo port install msp430-libc

I then did a msp430-gcc -print-search-dirs to find out where msp430-gcc include files were. For me they install to the /opt/local/msp430/include/ directory. Following the Readme for OpenChronos, I did a sudo cp gcc/intrinsics.h /opt/local/msp430/include/.

When I tried compiling OpenChronos, the build failed with lots of warnings and quite a few errors. This is because OpenChronos was built using the older msp430-gcc4 project. I fixed the compiler warnings/errors and built an image. I copied the generated build/eZChronos.txt file over to my Chronos-Control-Center directory, and uploaded the image to my watch. Everything seemed to work OK, and the watch is currently running my newly compiled custom firmware!

My modified OpenChronos source is available from GitHub.