Personal and Professional Interests
Computing & Electronics
I am interested in the optimization of algorithms for their
use on computers and in particular on parallel, distributed systems.
This is mostly about the use of locality of information, i.e. caching
and asynchronous communication.
I was raised on the 6502 microprocessor
as was found in Commodore PETs, the VIC-20 and the C-64. It is interesting
to note that retrocomputing
is pretty big these days and that some people
have gone to great efforts to reconstruct old processors or even entire home computers on FPGAs.
Programming interests include Fortran (90/95/200x) and HPF, optimization tools and techniques,
static analysis and anything and everything to do with high performance computing (HPC), clusters etc.
Have used such exotic beasts as the Meiko Computing Surface (with Transputers and i860s) and
a variety of Cray's including YMP, J90 and T3D. These days it's all generic, commodity CPU based kit
and mostly AMD Opteron at that.
I have removed all the documents on my old computer / electronics projects as they
are redundant these days.
Intellectual Property Issues
Along with many others, I am concerned about the patents system being abused or manipulated to
give unreasonable protection to ideas which are not novel or would be
obvious to those practised in the relevant art.
There are also ongoing attempts in Europe to extend the patents system to
algorithms and business ideas which have not previously been protected
- because society does not benefit from giving them monopoly protection.
By creating open standards in all areas of life, costs can be reduced
through economies of scale and by avoidance of vendor lock-in. It runs
contrary to all logic to employ standards which are secret or liable
to unseen manipulation. Open standards should be embraced and
all proprietary standards eliminated not just in the software world but
in all areas of technical, scientific and medical work.
Open standards are much more important than open source.
Open source is type of software licensing scheme, nothing more, nothing less.
It does not imply 'community development'. What it does do however is give
control back to the user of the software - assuming they can do something
with the source or can find someone who can. In giving the control back
to the user, they are protected from the risks of unsupported, orphaned software
arising through the likes of bankruptcy or takeover.
Reading Kernel Traffic is a good
way of keeping up with Linux kernel developments without having to read the
developers mailing list every day.
Unfortunately, citizens of the UK do not have access to a fair voting system
for general elections. Instead their votes are distorted by the biased
system known as 'first-past-the-post'. The net result is that governments
with very little mandate can be put in a position of power and that
views of sizable sections of the population can go unrepresented.
I support the
Electoral Reform Society
in its campaign for the introduction of proportional representation by
the single transferrable vote ( PR-STV).
Another threat to democracy in the UK (and elsewhere) is the likely introduction
of DRE and remote 'multi-channel' electronic voting. I have written a small
comment on the risks of electronic voting and
contributed to the
Irish Citizens for Trustworthy E-Voting.
My personal preference is for paper ballots to be counted by electronic
means. This is a fail safe system and is easily checked.
I'm a great fan of science.
The biggest enviromental threat is over-population. No matter what steps are taken to reduce
the environmental impact of human activity, or reduce the consumption of resources, they will
always be offset by population growth. There appears to be very little will in the
Western world to tackle the problem although there are some dedicated pressure groups like
the Optimum Population Trust and
Aside from the immediate concerns about resources, wouldn't it be great to live on
a planet with significantly fewer people ? If anything, the value of an individual
increases when there are fewer of them - as the post-plague era's of the past have
shown. Reductions in the population have done more for emancipation than
any political movement!
Support the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
The opinions expressed on these pages are my own opinion and
are not necessarily those of my employer or anyone else. This
page is always under construction and so there are risks of
spelling mistakes, broken links and gibberish.
This page is always under construction.