Data for Good ?


A short post to share the slides I used during my talk at the 4th PyData London Meetup. Organized by Ian Oszvald, co-Taarifian Florian Rathgeber, and others, its always a full house with a friendly crowd.

Given the limited time I had to put something together I think the talk was well received and triggered lots of good feedback and conversations in the pub afterwards. Hopefully I managed to ‘turn’ a few attendees 🙂

Aside: There has been a lot happening on my end the last couple months and its been tough (but exciting!) keeping up with it all. My digital prescense has been lagging behind somewhat but slowly getting there.



#bigoldn: London Big-O Algorithms Group

ImageIf you think there is more to the world than “functional cloud based self learning big data analytic enterprise visualization dashboards” please read on.

Those that follow me on twitter will have noticed I have recently  taken over the organization of the London Big-O Algorithms meetup. Originally founded by Zack almost (almost a year ago) it fell quiet after the first meetup as things came up and Zack eventually moved to better weather in California. I was a strong supporter of the project from the beginning and when sent all members an email saying the group was in danger of deletion I decided to put my money where my mouth was and took over organization.

The aim of the group is to focus on the fundamental algorithms & datastructures that developers rely on every day to make things efficient, fast, and scalable. These are things that will come up in every decent job interview and its easy to forget them in day to day work or the buzzword of the week. Any application goes, be it computational fluid dynamics or high frequency trading. Just as long as the focus is on the underlying algorithms & datastructures and it is delivered in an engaging, accessible way.

Skillsmatter have been kind enough to host us and Im happy to announce we have 2 great speakers lined up for our first meetup titled Lockless Tables, NegaMax, and Numerical Optimization in Machine Learning.

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We RHoKed it!

As those following my Twitter stream will have noticed, the past weekend saw the very first Random Hacks of Kindness event in Southampton. RHoK is a worldwide event that happens twice a year and it was the first time this was ever held in this part of the UK. This time around we were also the only event in the UK.  Since I only got the green light to go ahead from HQ in San Francisco just over two weeks before the actual event there was some madness getting it organized. But, as I predicted, it was awesome.

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#RHoKSoton is going to rock!

In 30 minutes we have the #RHoKSoton pre-RHoK Event social gathering in a nearby pub. Tomorrow morning we will join 30 worldwide locations and 3000+ participants to work on a number of challenging problems for the good of humanity and the environment. This is the first time RHoK is organized in this part of the UK and we are the only event in the UK this round!

Its been a lot of work getting this organized and not everything will be perfect, but all I can say is….


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Solving Boggle with Python

I attended my first Python Dojo in London last night and have to say it was great fun.  As I’ve said before these kinds of events are great to get to know people and learn something new.

The challenge settled on for last night was to solve a Boggle puzzle. For those not familiar with the game, the idea is that you get an n-by-n grid of letters and you have to form as many words as you can by ‘snaking’ through the grid.  Every grid cell may only be used once for a word.  For example, this is how you would form the word MURALS, starting from M:

Everybody got about an hour to hack on a solution after which each team presented their code to the rest.  It was interesting to see the diversity of style and solution. There was a team that used 5 or 6 classes in their solution with extra facilities for caching, ours was more straightforward & procedural, while another did the proper thing and used a Trie.

Since our code did not quite work yet I finished it on the train home and then took some time this morning to clean it up.  For kicks I also used python’s multiprocessing module to have a version that would solve large grids in paralllel.

I pushed the code to github and, while nothing fancy or super optimized, it should do the job.  As always, patches & improvements are welcome 🙂

Props to @ntoll and @tjguk for organizing the event and hopefully I can make the next one as well.


Going to Interactivism




My idea was selected and I will be attending the Interactivsm event in London this weekend!

Google and FutureGov have launched a rapid fire call for ideas to make the web accessible for older generations. The top ideas will take part in a two day open source hack weekend in June which will bring together the best student developers, Googlers, designers and other social innovators to hack a better web that overcomes the barriers that stand in the way of older people accessing the web.



SULSA Flies!

We designed and built the Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft (SULSA) specially for an upcoming New Scientist publication.  Printed (by 3T)  in just three pieces and assembled without any nuts, bolts, screws or cable ties it is a testimony to what can be achieved with rapid prototyping today.  It is our smallest and most nimble aircraft yet and flew beautifully.

Looking forward to the article.