Thursday, 13 June 2019

let them not eat cake

This is a few months old, but hasn’t gone the least bit stale:
The only thing we do know is that the people who have been pressing hardest for Brexit are obsessed with cakes. The former Foreign Secretary was convinced in public that we could “have our cake and eat it”. John Redwood, the perfectly normal former Welsh Secretary, talked about making our own cakes instead of helping other countries with their cakes. And UKIP is full of fruitcakes.

So I have decided to explain the Brexit process through the medium of cakes.

(h/t to Danny Yee)

Sunday, 9 June 2019

time to go home

The view from the breakfast bar on the 25th floor, just before I check out to catch the airport bus.

Goodbye, Tokyo!  I had a great time.  An excellent conference, interesting new experiences, lovely people, and a marvellous city.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

boat and dinner

The conference outing and dinner was combined as a boat tour.

Prior to embarkation, we get a good view of the Tokyo Skytree.

As we turn back at the mid-point, we see we are not the only boat on the river.
The view of the Skytree on disembarking.

Monday, 3 June 2019

DIY dinner

Guessing what a menu item might be from a small, interestingly cropped photo, and an ambiguous English translation, can lead to unexpected meals.

a tad undercooked?

The staff helpfully showed us how to cook it all.  And it was very good!

Sunday, 2 June 2019

view from a skyscraper

I’ve arived in Tokyo, after a 12 hour flight, ready for the Unconventional Computation conference starting tomorrow.

Rather than the traditional “view from a hotel window”, I was recommended the “view from a nearby skyscraper”.  So this is the view from the (free) Observation deck in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, on the 45th floor, over Tokyo on a slightly hazy Sunday afternoon.

There are other skyscrapers around here

There is also greenery.  My hotel is the mere 25-storey white block in the centre, the one with the loads of teeny square windows.

One of the many raised roadways.  We have Spaghetti Junction, but Tokyo must be Noodle City!
(Relatively small) tower blocks receding to infinity.  Is this Trantor?

Later on, we went down past the famously huge Shinjuku station (which we will have to navigate tomorrow!) to find a place for dinner: there were plenty to choose from.

A warm Sunday evening in downtown Shinjuku

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

don’t read before flying

Read the whole thing.  It makes for terrifying reading, if only because it’s going to happen again, and again, and again...

How the Boeing 737 Max Disaster Looks to a Software Developer

So Boeing produced a dynamically unstable airframe, the 737 Max. That is big strike No. 1. Boeing then tried to mask the 737’s dynamic instability with a software system. Big strike No. 2. Finally, the software relied on systems known for their propensity to fail (angle-of-attack indicators) and did not appear to include even rudimentary provisions to cross-check the outputs of the angle-of-attack sensor against other sensors, or even the other angle-of-attack sensor. Big strike No. 3.

I believe the relative ease—not to mention the lack of tangible cost—of software updates has created a cultural laziness within the software engineering community. Moreover, because more and more of the hardware that we create is monitored and controlled by software, that cultural laziness is now creeping into hardware engineering—like building airliners. Less thought is now given to getting a design correct and simple up front because it’s so easy to fix what you didn’t get right later.

It is likely that MCAS, originally added in the spirit of increasing safety, has now killed more people than it could have ever saved. It doesn’t need to be “fixed” with more complexity, more software. It needs to be removed altogether.