Can you tell when whose talking to who?

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Within one Slack Channel, multiple different conversations might overlap with each other. Whilst it’s normally simple for a human reader to pull them apart this is non-trivial for a computer to do. This places an obstacle in the path of automatically analyzing text that comes from Slack. In this article, I detail some existing methods, some of my own proposed extensions, and a discussion of the results achieved with both.

A technique for solving this problem in the context of Internet Relay Chat (IRC) dialogues was proposed by Elsner and Charniak in their 2008 paper “You talking to me? A…

5 members of the LBGT community who have made major contributions to Computing

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The LGBT community has made and continues to make great contributions to Computing. However, these are often overlooked due to prejudice or closetedness. This pride month I wanted to highlight the work of a few important figures in the field that you might not have heard of might have not known were queer.

Alan Turing

Was bad software engineering responsible for gaming’s latest disaster

A glitch in Cyberpunk 2077

Video Games are still sold in dedicated brick-and-mortar stores, their production often looks more similar to a film, and developers eschew some best practices from the rest of software engineering. However, game developers do make software; software worth $165B in worldwide revenue [1]. Whilst industry reviewers often discuss products in terms of narrative, play-ability, and design, we as developers could learn something by thinking about the successes and failures in the gaming industry through the lens of software development. Fortunately 2020provided a spectacular example of the latter.

A Failure

On December 10th, 2020 Polish Games DeveloperCD Projekt Red (CDPR) released Cyberpunk 2077…

What’s going to stop you from making the most of the Microservices architecture

Photo by Omar Flores on Unsplash

Gone are the days of the monolithic application! Microservices are today’s architecture of choice. Instead of one big app, a network of independently deployable small services works together to provide functionality. The promise is that this will increase developer productivity, but what are the pitfalls and problems of following a Microservices approach?

One aspect of Microservices people often gets wrong is the dividing of responsibilities between services. “Micro” often leads people to think about the number of lines of code, classes, or functions whereas the division between services should actually be along conceptual lines. Microservices should do 1 thing; the…

How much has changed in 40 years?

A customer of my dad recently gave him this copy of ‘Computer Weekly’ from 1976. Knowing that I was studying for a computing degree he thought I might find it interesting to see what the field was like over 40 years ago. Some digging revealed that ‘Computer Weekly’ was a print newspaper that ran from 1966 to 2011. It was available for free to anyone who worked with computers as well as being sold in a small number of shops.

The Top Story on November 11, 1979, was about IBM and ICL (International Computers Limited) competing to provide processors for…

Is there any reason to not work in the cloud?

Photo by Rafael Garcin on Unsplash

Cloud computing is incredibly and increasingly popular. Tech giants Google, Amazon, and Microsoft all offer cloud services to both millions of individual users and large companies like Netflix, Linkedin, and Twitch. The cloud market is worth an estimated $321 Billion and it shows no sign of slowing down. This begs the question, should your new project be cloud-native?

Someone else’s computer?

‘Cloud’ and ‘Cloud-Native’ are not the same thing. There’s an oft remarked joke that there’s no such thing as the cloud, ‘it’s just someone else’s computer’. It’s true that you can use the cloud like this but you won’t reap all the…

Sometimes just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

NFTs are making a big splash in the tech world. Most of the hubbub has been about the sale of digital art. However, while researching an article I wrote on how NFTs work, I found loads of more ‘out-there’ uses for the tech.

Exchanged at a wedding

Two employees of the Cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase exchanged NFTs at their wedding ceremony. The couple minted two tokens called ‘Tabaat’, the Hebrew word for ‘ring’, and commissioned a symbolic animation to the NFT. Only two tokens have been minted and no more can be made. The exchange is immortalized on the blockchain for anyone to see.

6 book recommendations that deal with themes of right and wrong in computing and software engineering.

The Software and Hardware I learned about during my degree is inside prison-sentence recommendation algorithms, self-guided missiles, and self-driving cars and yet very little time was devoted to discussing ethics. Instead, I explored right and wrong in my field through some extra-curricular reading. Here is a selection of books of some of the books I enjoyed:

Hello World by Hannah Fry

‘Hello World’ is an accessible introduction to the use of algorithms, AI, and Machine Learning in the real world. Fry shows how these powerful tools can be used for both good and evil, how they can replace humans, and, crucially, the situations where human…

How I used Python to quickly built an interactive and stylish dashboard to analyze who says what in the original Star Wars Trilogy

Streamlit is a python library used to quickly build interactive dashboards for the web. The gallery of dashboards on the Streamlit website shows them being used for science communication, data analysis, and displaying machine learning models in action. I opted for a less serious topic to teach myself how to use the library. I found a dataset of all the dialogue in the original trilogy of Star Wars films and decided to build a dashboard exploring who says what and how.

Dialogue from Episode 4 organized in a simple file

If you want to jump ahead and see what the…

A digital collage that’s worth $70 million (apparently)

Tech and Art aren’t fields that intersect very often but a technology called NFTs have made a big splash in both recently. The auction of several pieces of digital art, as well as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s first tweet, have been widely reported. Many see NFTs as a win-win for digital artists who struggle to get compensation for their work and wealthy millennials who want to collect a part of the digital milieu. However, there have also been concerns raised about how sensible all this money flying around is as well as the hidden impact on the climate caused by…

Joe Rackham

Computing Student & Tech Lover

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