Wednesday, November 18, 2009

All Jammed up

Following my usual trend of only blogging when I travel and have some pictures I need to post, here's some photos from my last trip to the Googleplex for Google Code Jam. I was somewhat off form, but still managed to make 10th. If you want to see some seriously scary problems, take a look at the site. There is also an article about it here, including a video showing some of my ugly mug.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Photos from Bulgaria

I'm back in England. The contest was great fun and I'm going to miss the Bulgarian warmth and sunshine.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How not to be seen

Don't turn up.

That seems to be the view of most of the people I've talked to about the IOI planned excursion to the Black Sea. It apparently involves 4-6 hours on a bus. Each way. Not including the time you spend waiting around at the beginning until everyone gets on the bus. And leaving at 6am. When the time comes, I for one won't be found wanting. I won't be found at all, since I will be sleeping the sleep of the just, or possible just very tired.

Apart from the attempt to inflict long periods of time on buses (which in my case normally consists of periods of boredom interspersed by vomiting), things have been going pretty well here - in fact far smoother than usual. The SA team also did pretty respectably on the first day, and the second day is finishing in a few minutes. I haven't been on any of the excursions so far (being on the scientific committee seems to involve lots of work, but it's all been fun), but I plan to take myself off to the old town tomorrow (hopefully with some other leaders to make it more fun).

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Bulgaria, land of enormous hotel rooms

It's blog time again! As usual, it's because I'm travelling - this time to IOI again, in Bulgaria. Haven't been here long, but so far I've been blown away by the size of the hotel room. More news when I've actually been out and about more.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fording the... ox?

So, now that Tim is living in Oxford, I had a sufficiently good excuse to go and visit, and so I did so last weekend. The weather was rubbish, the company was good, and the town is quite pretty, in a more spread-out way than Cambridge. We went to see the science museum (which had lots of surveying stuff), and otherwise just wandered around the place. Um, not sure what else to add to that really.

Monday, May 04, 2009

We came second!

I don't have photos to post yet, but there are more details and pictures at

Sunday, May 03, 2009

And the contest was... was... I still don't know!

There were technical problems (a fair number of them) during the contest, so the closing ceremony is only at 12. And since the scoreboard was one of the casualties, we still don't know how we did. But talking to one or two other teams, it sounds like we did reasonably well. Details to follow.

Also, I have now been awake well over 24 hours, with more to come. If you feel yourself going a bit squiggly and turning into a 6-foot chicken, do not be alarmed - I am merely hallucinating.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Hungry in Hungary

I'm sitting in Budapest, in preparation for a 24-hour programming contest. And lunch on the plane was a small ham sandwich, so I'm feeling peckish. Um, I don't really have much to add to that for the moment - more news once we've actually done the contest and done some touristy stuff. Tonight we're just going to crash and get a good night's sleep.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Don't let it snow...

... I want my flight to leave on time. So yes, life has been exciting, since yesterday England suffered about 10cm of snow, which apparently is the most in almost 20 years. So needless to say, they're totally unequipped for it, and large parts of the transport network including Heathrow ground to a halt. Fortunately, today had no snow that I've noticed and bright (if anemic) sunshine, so it looks like I'll be catching my flight in spite of the 3.5-hour journey from my house to Heathrow (normally it would be around 2.5).

This seems like it's going to be the things-falling-apart trip. Apart from the transport system, I opened my suitcase up to put my warm things in it just before checkin, and when I came to lock it up again I found that my lock had turned into a collection of bits on the floor. All very educational, but not much fun right before flying into Joburg airport which is notorious for baggage theft. So, any luggage thieves reading this: there is nothing valuable in my luggage. I promise. Don't bother.

Then after that, my watch started falling apart as I was checking in. Fortunately the pin didn't fall out and I was able to stick it back together.

Let's hope nothing else falls apart, like the plane, or my presentation on Friday.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The smallest park in the world

I've just got back from Portland, Oregon, from a business trip. I knew absolutely nothing about it before leaving, and I started with assumption of a typical American sprawl with end-to-end freeways and strip-malls. In fact the central part where I was a very pleasant surprise - good sidewalks, very short blocks, a river with a nice green bit next to it to walk along, etc.

It also features the smallest park in the world (Mill Ends park), which I thought was suitably amusing:

I only had one morning of free time (the rest of it being spent in the hotel eating too much food and trying not to get sucked into pointless arguments). Apart from the park, I went to Powell's book store, which is as large as the park is small. Just the SF/F section was about the size of a small public library, and I discovered a lot of books I'd never heard of, and bought a few for an insanely low price.