purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Sunday: Last week ended in Stoke-on-Trent playing Cthulhu (thankfully not into the small hours, but certainly quite late). After a large-ish breakfast we returned to Manchester where I went on a long run and attempted to catch up with my to-do list.

Monday: After my morning run my foot suddenly started hurting - same leg where I pulled a calf muscle a few weeks ago. At the time I was unsure of diagnosis, though I now think I've acquired a mild form of plantar faciitis which afflicts the ligament running along the base of the foot and is a bugbear for runners. Since I wasn't actually planning to run again until Saturday I just left well alone and got on with life which mostly involved failing to write a lecture on Machine Ethics.

Tuesday: Tuesday involved driving to Liverpool in order to deposit miscellaneous lego robot equipment. There was a fair amount of walking up and down stairs, not to mention walking from the university to the nearest street which doesn't have Residents' Only parking. My foot was feeling better, but was still quite painful.

I saw several project students all of whom were well on track for their "bench inspections" next week (my weaker students have become conspicuous by their absence. I'm trying to convince myself this is not my problem). I also discovered that the lecture on Machine Ethics I was trying to write was actually a lecture on Verifying Ethical Autonomous Systems, this actually make life a lot easier.

Wednesday: Flew to Bergen where I was to deliver my freshly written lecture to Matryoshka's Machine Ethics students. The university had booked me into a very nice hotel with complimentary brownies available. I met up with Matryoshka once I arrived and, after a little confusion, in which I stood outside her department texting that I couldn't find it, we went out for dinner.

Thursday: I gave my lecture - well two 45 minute lectures and then left Matryoshka trying to organise her students into project groups. Matryoshka gave me a draft paper on verifying properties of filter bubbles on social media, so I amused myself trying to figure out how to actually do this.

Friday: Matryoshka showed me around Bergen. The weather in Bergen is, I gather, mostly like the weather in Manchester, so we trudged through torrential rain to view various Hanseatic warehouses. We had lunch in a fish restaurant which had been recommended but found it rather disappointing. Then we went up the funicular railway to the top of the hill. As we ascended it started to snow. By the time we got to the top my foot was also complaining. Fortunately Matryoshka had pain killers on her person, so we stopped for coffee and muffins in a souvenir shop while they took effect and then went for a very short walk, admired the views we couldn't see because of the thick cloud cover, and the suddenly archetypal Scandinavian scenery we could see (snow covered paths through coniferous forest). Both of us had extremely cold and wet feet by this point.

We returned to Matryoshka's office where I managed to dry my shoes and socks in front of her heater while we discussed modelling filter bubbles as biological processes (mostly because the tool I was looking at had fairly well defined techniques for modelling biological processes). It seems at least plausible that the opinions on social media platforms could be viewed as biological processes so Matryoshka is going to look to see if this can be justified (beyond it's a cute idea) while I'm going to look at the nitty gritty of building a model.

Then I caught the Flybussen to the airport and came home. By this time the sun was shining brightly, the snow had all melted and Bergen was looking extremely pretty and not at all damp and cold. There will be a Bergen picspam in due course.

Saturday: I spent a lot of yesterday reading up on plantar fasciitis. There are plenty of symptoms I don't have but the pain in my foot has localised to the classic location for the complaint - though when under the influence of ibuprofen its now more a weird slight itch than a pain. Recommendations seemed to be anti-inflamataries (B. recommends continuing to take these for at least a week after I'm pain free), stretching of both calf muscle and plantar ligament, and not running in old shoes. I bought new running shoes a couple of months back, but they exacerbated a bunion I have and so I'd regretfully given them to Barnardos.

So far I've always purchased running shoes on a "cheap pair from Decathlon" basis but if I was going to have trouble with my feet it seemed like it might be time to get a more expensive pair from a specialised running place that did gait analysis. Googling gait analysis rather suggested it was a pointless exercise as done in running shops but B. persuaded me that even if it was pseudo-science I would probably still get a better pair of shoes from a place that offered the service. I was having a bit of a self-confidence crisis by this point - partly because I was anxious about buying an expensive pair of shoes that I might end up not using and giving to charity - so B kindly drove me to a running shop and stood around looking supportive while the (I presume) Saturday Girl analysed my gait ("looks all right") and very diffidently offered me some shoes which I purchased (they cost at least twice as much as any shoes I've had previously so I do hope they don't do terrible things to the bunion). I also set up a revised and much reduced training schedule for the half marathon at the end of May, based on various online offerings all of which involved far less running than I had been doing (B. is unaccountably smug about this for some reason). So we'll see how it all goes.

Since I was in a specialist running shop and spending silly money on trainers, I also spent £10 on a "pediroller", a kind of stiff foam roller for massaging the underside of the foot. I'm very pleased with this. It's a very pleasant sensation, though I've no idea if its actually doing any good, but it's quite tempting just to sit at my desk rolling my foot backwards and forwards on it all the time.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Sunday: Normal Sunday stuff, running, housework, watched second episode of Class.

Monday: Resident's Association AGM, characterised by a lack of enthusiasm for a litter rota.

Tuesday: Spent a lot of time trouble-shooting a student's Raspberry Pi Camera connection (only to discover I was repeating work he had done, but which his English wasn't really sufficient to explain to me). In the end I told him to buy a second camera which seems to have fixed the issue.

Wednesday: School "Networking" meeting. I think this was supposed to allow Electrical Engineers and Computer Scientists to get to know each other, but was characterised primarily by Computer Scientists complaining about the way research funds are allocated internally.

Thursday: Actually managed to spend a good chunk of the day actually doing research - or at least programming integrating a Prolog based planner into our system.

Friday: Experimental Words - the Poets meet Scientists event. This went better than I had feared (I had been fairly gloomy about it at some points in the preceding weeks) and we had a very indulgent audience, which helped. That said, I'd say there was (possibly inevitably) a distinct air of the amateur about it.

Saturday: Only 2s off my personal best in the Park Run. I think I can safely say I have now regained the form I had at the start of the summer. We went to Dr. Strange in the afternoon, which we enjoyed, then I dashed to Piccadilly Station to meet [livejournal.com profile] rain_sleet_snow for coffee as she passed through on her way to a halloween party. In the evening we made yet another attempt on the Eldritch Horror board game. This ended with a general agreement that the difficulty of the game is set a bit higher than we enjoy - discussion of appropriate "house rules" that would make it easier ensued, because we like the basic format of the game.
purplecat: (lego robots)
Sunday: 16k run (thought I might work slowly up to half marathon distance and see how I feel about it). Usual household chores and catching up. Sausage Casserole for supper (may the various packet sauce companies never stop making Sausage Casserole packet sauce!)

Monday: Gave a talk at work (a re-run of my TAROS talk), seemed to go OK. Read project specifications from some of my students.

Tuesday: Wrote up a quick guide to software engineering for my project students in the hopes that their project plans would become more realistic as a result. Had some rather frustrating conversations with them in the afternoon. E.g.

Me: Why did you add all this complicated stuff into your project plan?
Student: Because it says the robot should explore the room in the project description.
Me: I'm sure it doesn't, let's take a look.
* We look at the project description. I read it out to the student. Including the bit about finding and displaying Mars surface data in a 3D simulator *
Student (panicked): But I don't know anything about 3D simulators!
Me: But it says in the project description "student must be familiar with 3D simulators"
Student: I didn't read that bit

Bear in mind that the project description is only 3 paragraphs long, I wasn't expecting him to have read and understood 10 pages of fine print. I've no idea what project he thought he'd chosen. I keep telling myself that, with 8 students, there was always a high chance that one would be at the lower end of the bell curve and I shouldn't invest too much time and energy in trying to rescue him. As B. has pointed out, there's a reason why I was so happy to give up teaching when I stopped being a lecturer. I'm definitely going to have to work on keeping my stress levels down, even with the fairly minimal amount of teaching that comes with the new post.

Wednesday: Went to a briefing meeting for an "Inreach" project in which I will mentor a bunch of undergraduates producing an activity for a University "Science Jamboree". Actually got some work that might pass for research done!

Thursday: Drove to work in order to collect the "robot table" that I use for some events. Problem project student emailed asking for a meeting because he couldn't get his Raspberry Pi onto the university Wifi network. Although I did actually have time I figured I could waste quite a lot of it on a day ear-marked for research doing this for him, so emailed back to say I wasn't available and he should familiarise him with running his Raspberry Pi powered robot directly, rather than over the network (was terribly proud of myself). B's older brother was at home when I arrived, though he left before my sister turned up to stay the night (she was speaking at a conference in Manchester).

Friday: Went out for lunch with B. We tried the new(ish) restaurant at the Whitworth which had been much trumpeted when it opened (indeed last time we tried to go there for lunch we couldn't get in). It was something of a disappointment the starter arrived after the main course (though B. thinks this was because we messed up when ordering) and my burger was burnt (B. tried to persuade me it was artistically char-grilled, but I'm fairly sure it was burnt). Conference call in the afternoon with the IEEE committee that's trying to come up with guidelines on the ethics of artificial intelligence and personal data.

Saturday: Spent the day at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry running a Lego Rover stand as part of International Day of the Girl. The plan was that groups of Brownies and Girl Guides would go around various stands to experience structured activities. Initially this was pretty chaotic with random children turning up and leaving, but by about midday they had sorted themselves out and a small group would, indeed, come to the stand to be lead through what was going on. I also talked to a fair few members of the general public and some people from Computing At School North West who seemed interested in the idea of adopting the Lego Rover activity as something primary schools might use, so all in all a useful (if tiring) day.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Sunday: Left Oxford fairly early to be back in Manchester by lunch time and thus able to complete some chores.

Monday: Prepared Journal version of our COIN paper, sent an email with questions to co-authors (none of them have replied!)

Tuesday: EEE have specific lab time timetabled in for their final year project students. Since I don't have a office suitable for meetings I told my students I'd be there with equipment which I duly doled out. I then proceeded to be clueless in the face of questions and forms but I'm feeling fairly unrepentant about this since I've spent a fair amount of time asking EEE for information on how they run projects and not received much in reply. I can see its a bit distressing for the students but, frankly, if they give the department poor feedback as a result that will probably be far more effective than me complaining. Went to a networking event by the Liverpool Women in Science and Engineering organisation after work (partly because they've been very good at publicising my stuff) and was surprised to find it actually useful for networking.

Wednesday: Violin Lesson. Dental Appointment. Got some details of Lego Rover stuff sorted in between.

Thursday: Finally got an email from EEE with details about project deliverables. Spent the morning composing a long email to my students with suggestions for how they should complete the first deliverable and giving them deadlines for getting drafts to me if they want comments. Spent the afternoon grappling with a draft thing (I can't really describe it as a poem) from the poet with which I have been matched for Experimental Words trying to at least inject something into it that is related to what I actually do. Went home and drank more wine than I should have.

Friday: I do not recommend running 10k while hungover. Nevertheless went out for lunch with B. and got a small amount of work done.

Saturday: Went to park run and actually met someone with whom I've only interacted via Strava (he cycled past me once). Cleaned the bathroom. Did miscellaneous admin related to the school (forms for a school trip (including ordering an EHIC card), misc stuff related to Speech Night, made G. sign their honesty policy ("but I signed this last year")). Fixed lights to my bicycle. Cooked Pasta with Roast Vegetable Sauce from Two Fat Vegetarians for supper. Watched Pacific Rim.
purplecat: (lego robots)
Sunday: Ran in the Great North 10K with [livejournal.com profile] kargicq (will write up in due course!). Had a very pleasant lunch in the garden with his family before heading back to Manchester.

Monday: B. left for Texas early in the morning, while I headed to work arriving just in time for a morning of meetings.

Tuesday: Spent the day tying up various public engagement loose ends.

Wednesday: Two back to back Dangerous Science workshops sessions on "Programming AI" aimed at (I think) 17 year-olds which I'd got roped into running via a complicated sequence of events. The first was a bit dicey so I skipped lunch in order to regig the material. The second session went well. I then spent a hurried hour printing out leaflets and re-writing a brief for publicity material before getting to the railway station only to discover my train had been cancelled and the next train to Manchester only had two carriages so I was standing as far as Birchwood. I was fairly out-of-it by the time I got home, fortunately supper was planned to be pizza which has the virtue of being fairly mindless to prepare.

Thursday: More public engagement loose ends, plus reading things for the thing I'm doing tomorrow (apologies for the vagueness but a) I signed an NDA and b) the organisation involved seems to want everyone to believe they are one step behind the step they are actually at).

Friday: Read more of the things. Last day of school for G who was delighted to discover that nearly all her friends will be in her class next year. So delighted she recorded herself squeaking for joy on her phone as she walked home. She was less delighted with the sentence "She appears to enjoy Physical Education" that appeared in her report and spent some time complaining about it before conceding that Rounders and Netball were probably all right.

Saturday: Spent all day at the Daresbury Open Week Family Day with the Lego Rovers. 9,000 people had registered and I had over 250 at the Lego Rover stand. Daresbury supplied several volunteers to help me and I was impressed with the way they picked up the essentials of the activity and were able to communicate them to kids after minimal (and in one case non-existent) briefings. Unsuprisingly I had once again planned pizza for supper, though at least this time I had known I would be exhausted when I got back since I was going to be there for 10 hours with only a half hour break for lunch.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Monday: Attended poorly attended meeting of the Robotics and Autonomous Systems group. Made particular note of the non-attendance of the group member who was instrumental in organising the meeting. Met with minion who is producing documentation for the Lego Rovers Android app. Realised I should try to get the app website live before entering a public engagement competition that TPTB want me to enter.

Tuesday: Attended a surprisingly poor talk from an experienced academic.

Wednesday: Made post-Cheltenham inspired changes to Lego Rovers Android app. Emailed screenshots to minion. Went to lunch with B.

Thursday: Met with marketing about creating a banner for the Lego Rovers and was pleasantly impressed with them. Attended an extremely interesting talk from Mykel Kochenderfer on how POMDPs (a jargon term I introduce here entirely because I like the way it trips off the tongue when pronounced pom-dee-pee (as it generally is)) are forming the basis of new mid-air collision avoidance software in aircraft. Voted. Went to bed after the Newcastle count was in because I figured I could see which way this was going and wanted to do some work on Friday. B waited up until the London votes started coming in, somehow kidding himself that these meant Remain would win.

Friday: Despite getting plenty of sleep, completely failed to do any work. Walked with G to the hairdressers for us both to get a hair-cut during which she explained (without apparent irony) how much she likes the weather in Manchester.

Saturday: Volunteered at Parkrun and enjoyed watching a very enthusiastic first timer crossing the line in great excitement after 45 minutes of running. G. went to a sleepover, so I made brownies and we watched Deadpool. B thought G should watch it, I think G would find it embarrassing and would disapprove of the swearing.

Sunday: B. away to a thesis defence in Barcelona, though there was a nasty moment at the airport, I gather, where it looked like they couldn't find him on the system and he eventually had to pay an extra 15 euros over the phone to the plane company.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Got back from Cheltenham Science Festival around 10pm on Sunday having been let out early because of flooding (or at least damping) of the tent floor.

Monday: Wrote an assembly for Key Stage 3 (on working in Computing and Robotics, with a sub-message of suggested subjects to take at GCSE, and a subliminal message about how women can program too (I had resisted the request to provide an assembly about "encouraging girls into computing")). Submitted a paper.

Tuesday: Just delivered Key Stage 3 Assembly (no thanks to the closure of the Mancunion Way, resulting in a certain amount of frantic emailing while in stationary traffic). Attended departmental Away Day and so had the pleasure of hearing a colleague hypothesise that maybe girls don't take Computer Science because computing jobs have a reputation for being hard work and involving long hours. Bit my tongue, but did flag it quietly to a few people higher up the hierarchy than myself.

Wednesday: Decided the department could live without my presence at the 9am meeting with the Vice-Chancellor. Just as well since my bike gears broke as I left the house and I had to take the bus.

Thursday: Awarded myself a day off. Went out for lunch with B. Jo Cox was murdered.

Friday: Went to a meeting at Daresbury Labs on Vehicle platooning, and also met with the team running their Open Day on the 9th July. Spent the afternoon filling in a form in order to enter a public engagement competition.

Saturday: Did passably in the Park Run, washed things, tidied things, ordered picture frames, researched Bikability lessons, attempted to do some programming but got no further than fixing the bugs caused by a code merge.

Sunday: First of G's birthday parties (the one for school friends) - two of said friends invited over for games playing and making a film as part of an English Homework.

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