Since September, Charlotte and I have lived about a minutes walk from the UK Computer Museum (which also seems to go by the name Centre for Computing History), but we’d never actually gone inside.
Today after my flying lesson we went to have a quick look. Whilst it made me feel old to see things I remember from childhood in a museum, such as a PlayStation; a Dreamcast and an Acorn PC, I really enjoyed the hour or so we spent there.
There were a few exhibits, including: the history of ARM, military computers and the history of Sinclair. The best thing about the museum was that you were encouraged to touch, and play with, any machine that was turned on. I hadn’t played on a BBC Micro before, but had heard a lot about them from lecturers and other techies from the era they were made. It was fun to figure out the classic GOTO 10 infinite loop, which you can see in the image above I put to good use informing the public of Charlotte’s lameness.
One of the nice things the Museum has is a classroom to get children interested in Computing. Its the kind of thing I know I would have enjoyed as a kid.
I recommend anyone who reads this blog to go to the museum if you’re in the Cambridge area, you’d probably enjoy it.
Between studying hard for my masters degree — and applying for jobs for when it ends — I have managed to find some time to set up a new website called CSBlogs.com
People who have been reading this blog for a few years will have seen HullCompSciBlogs.com mentioned a few times, for those that haven’t it was a service which aggregated all of the blog feeds of computer science students at the University of Hull.
John Van Rij did a great job of keeping that service online, but unfortunately doesn’t have time to maintain it anymore. Since the service went down I have grown to miss it — I guess I didn’t realise how much enjoyment I get from seeing how well everyone is doing from back in Hull — current students, alumni and even lecturers.
In order to resolve this problem I set up CSBlogs.com with the aim of getting all of the Hull Computer Science bloggers and others from around the country onboard.
The project is entirely open source, under the MIT license, and can be forked, modified and improved by the community on Github.
The website itself is hosted on Microsoft Azure and utilises CloudFlare to provide security, analytics and a global content delivery network. Node.js is used as the backend programming language and the MongoDB NoSQL database is used for persistent data storage. Nodes packages are used extensively, including Express.js for routing, Handlebars for data-binding to the front end and LESS-Middleware to improve CSS development.
Complicated acronyms aside I have worked hard to make setting up a local development environment and contributing source as easy as possible for beginners via the instructions I have written on the homepage of the Github repository. I would really recommend any 1st or 2nd year students give it a go — open source development looks great on your CV! And if you need any help contact me as per the instructions.
We are currently in the process of setting up all of the required frameworks and technologies and writing guides for how to get involved (this has actually been one of the more challenging and interesting parts of the project so far) and hope to have a working minimum viable product in the next week.
At this point I would like to thank Charlotte Godley, Alex Pringle & Rob Crocombe for their extensive help in getting the project to where it is now. Charlotte has taken on a role of project management, Alex has developed a rudimentary database controller and Rob has been working on implementing less.js support and developing a theme for the site.
I will keep the blog updated with progress on the project.
Writing has become a bit of a UoH Computer Scientist past time recently with many more people joining the ranks of bloggers.
We’re frequently reminded how important it is to be “building the brand”, a phrase which refers to making yourself an attractive employee to potential future employers, because at the end of the day the outcome of higher education should be a better job.
A blog is a good way to show people that you’re passionate and knowledgeable about your subject and allows for feedback in the way of comments, allowing you to improve your communications.
Setting up a blog is pretty simple and can be cheap or free depending on how advanced your needs are. You can use a free blog on wordpress.com, or you can install and set your own up for free on Freeside, the universities open source server rack, this gives you more customizability and options but will require you to buy your own domain name to make it easy to get to.
Due to the sudden influx of bloggers it could have become a bit difficult to keep track of all the updates. In an effort to solve this problem my friend John set up HullCompSciBlogs.com which aggregates all of the blogs of University of Hull Computer Science Students into one place, including updates from my friends Nick, James, Charlotte, Christophe and John Himself as well as my flatmate and good friend Rob. You can of course also see my posts 🙂
So, head on over to HCSB and read some cool stuff!