This summer I will be working at Innaworks, through the CreativeHQ Summer of Code. Innaworks develop tools to help people to create games and other applications for cellphones, in particular ‘mBooster’ which automatically optimises Java programs to make them smaller and faster, and ‘alcheMo’ which automatically converts Java programs to run on BREW phones (which I am told are popular in the US). I will be working on a researching and prototyping a new part far one of their products. Unfortunately I am not allowed to say what exactly I am working on, but it certainly sounds like it will be interesting and challenging work.
I will be continuing a coincidental tradition of Interface presidents working for Innaworks: both Donald Gordon and Chris Andreae have been Interface presidents in the last few years (Donald is also the King of Interface) and now work at Innaworks. I am the current president of Interface.
I start on Monday 19th November.
Last weekend I competed with a team of VUW students in the ICFP programming contest. This is an annual, international contest lasting 72 hours. It is run by a different university each year, so the format tends to vary from year to year. There are no restrictions on team size, programming languages or computing resources.
Our team (called ‘interfacers’, for want of a better name) consisted in the end (after several people did not end up participating for various reasons, and one person who happened to be in the lab joined us) of Andrew Childs (hereafter referred to as lorne), Timothy Goddard, Clinton Scott, Samuel Hegarty, Michael Welsh (yomcat) and me.
This year, it ran from 10:00 pm on Friday 20th July until 10:00 pm on Monday 23th July. The story behind this year’s task was that an alien (of the Funn species) named Endo had been dumped on Earth by an Interstellar Garbage Collector and then hit by a cargo container. Endo was unconscious, and could not survive on Earth in his then-current form. Therefore our help was urgently needed to provide the necessary modifications to his DNA to adapt him to Earth’s environment. Our proposed modifications were to be evaluated by his spaceship Arrow and the proposal most likely to ensure Endo’s survival would be performed by Arrow.
We were given a copy of Endo’s DNA (a 7.2 MiB string of the letters I, C, F and P), and a specification of how Funn DNA works. The DNA works by repeatedly modifying itself through a long series of matching and replacing according to certain rules (which we were given) until it is all consumed, and in the process producing RNA. We were also provided with a specification of how to transform the RNA into a 600×600 px image. We were given a source image (which is produced by running Endo’s DNA as provided), and a target image (which we were to attempt to reproduce by constructing a prefix to be prepended to Endo’s DNA):
Last week, one of VUW’s resident Microsofties (a ‘Microsoft student partner’) spoke at Interface‘s weekly meeting. At the end of the presentation, he gave away a few freebies. I got a rather cool (apart from the Microsoft branding) mini remote-control car. Ironically, when I got home, put batteries into it and tried it, it did not work — the steering worked fine, but it would not go forwards or backwards.
Fortunately, unlike Microsoft’s software products, it did not have a restrictive license agreement to prevent me from fixing it, so I took it apart and got it working.
Interface are running an OpenPGP key-signing party tomorrow (Wednesday 2-5-2007) night, from 6:30 pm. If you want to participate, read follow the instructions on this page before 4:00 pm tomorrow.
Interface are having an installfest on Saturday 10th March from 10:00 am in CO341 at VUW. If you would like to try Linux, come along with your computer and we will help you to install it. For more information and to register your interest, see our installfest page.