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Showing posts from January, 2015

Online Cyber Security Discussion

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As we kick off the next presentation of the Introduction to Cyber Security MOOC, I took part in an online discussion on the topic with Cory Doctorow and Andrew Smith on Twitter.  This was my first time leading one of these "Ask Me Anything" sessions, which was hosted by FutureLearn as part of a new initiative called #FutureLearnAsks.  Although at times I struggled to keep up with the speed of the conversation, it was a lot of fun to engage with a diverse group of people to talk about this important topic.

The discussion was seeded by a number of questions, ranging from "Is the state justified to monitor personal digital and telecommunications in the name of security?" to "What one tip would you give to people to better protect their cyber security?"  One key lesson learned about asking open ended questions like this was that if the answer is always going to start with "It depends ...", having a useful discussion on a platform like Twitter is goi…

Programming to 'Make Sparks Fly'?

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This year's Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, titled "Sparks will Fly" were all about 'hacking' everyday objects to make them part of the Internet of Everything.  Presented by Prof. Danielle George from University of Manchester, they were a great showcase of how engineers tackle challenging problems by extending the capabilities of technologies like the light bulb, the telephone and the motor.

Across the three lectures, the audience got to take part in building systems that used internet connected lights to play Tetris on a London skyscraper, to holographic communications and a robotic orchestra.  Through this process, we understood how to build solutions to complex problems by:

decomposing them into simpler sub-problems;identifying technologies that could help us solve the sub-problems, using techniques like abstraction and analogical reasoning;building prototypes to test our hypotheses about these technologies could be extended to solve each sub-problem; a…