Moving to Saluda Medical

Today I’m starting in a new role as Systems Engineering team lead at Saluda Medical – a medical device startup company. We’re working on a new technology for closed loop control for spinal cord stimulation that will target the treatment of Chronic Neuropathic Pain.  This is a great group of people and a technology with huge potential.  Saluda Medical is a spin-out from NICTA, where I’ve been working for the past ten years.  I wasn’t part of the Implant Systems team before they spun out, but I was cheering loudly from the side-lines, so I’m very excited to be part of the team now.

NICTA’s been a fantastic place to do world-leading research, and to think about how that can lead to international impact and ultimately benefit Australia.  I’m happy I’ll still retain an association with NICTA – mostly to help close out some PhD student supervision but also to finish off a few pieces of research collaboration.

It’s sort of ironic that the very week my first philosophy of engineering paper was published was the same week I started the move back to industry!  But it’s all about engineering.

Philosophy of Engineering

What is engineering? Sometimes people think engineering is just the same as science, but in a new paper on the philosophy of engineering (preprint here), I argue why that’s not the case. Engineering is similar, but different to Science, and its epistemological issues are also similar but different.

I got into this question because of problems in assurance for software engineering and formal methods that are essentially philosophical problems. But having work available on the philosophy of engineering available should also help with perennial questions like “Is Software Engineering a field of engineering?” and “Is Computer Science a science?”.

Heritage Lager Again

Wow – more than a year between homebrews, again. I’ve almost depleted my stores, which gives you some idea of how much I’ve been drinking and socialising over the past couple of years (not much of either). I find old homebrew basically gets better with age, but maybe I’m pushing it with some of the 2 year-old beer. Anyway, again (but not by design) I’m doing a Cooper’s Heritage Lager, but this time with a Cooper’s Light Malt tin as the adjunct. O.G. is around 1.042.

Heritage Lager

Almost a whole year since my last brew (which has worked out great, BTW).  Inspired by a colleague’s homebrew at Friday afternoon drinks, I’ve dragged a kit off the shelf to start another brew.  This time it’s a Cooper’s Heritage Lager, with 600g Dextrose and 400g Maltodextrin.  Nothing fancy.  O.G. is somewhere around 1.042 to 1.044.

What Software Engineers Should Know

Software Engineering would be a more mature discipline if we had spent more time reading What Engineers Know and How They Know It: Analytical Studies from Aeronautical History rather than A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction.

I was an Apple Mac kid

Don was an Apple II kid, and he credits Apple with helping him dive so deep and so early into writing software.  I never had an Apple II, but I got a taste of that kind of experience with the Vic-20 at home, and the BBC computer room at school.

But then, we upgraded our home computer to the Apple Mac.  My experience on the Apple Mac was exactly opposite to Don’s on the Apple II.

The Mac was the start (well, after Lisa) of Apple’s focus on the creativity of the users of computers, rather than on the creativity of software developers.  The Mac had amazing useability and rich interactive applications, but there was no out-of-the-box development environment.  Even when years later I did get the MPW, there was a killer learning curve to create simple apps that conformed to Apple’s strict UI guidelines.  Hypercard (especially Hypertalk) was ahead of its time and did encourage bespoke coding creativity, but then Apple ditched it.

Apple’s success is due to their user and customer focus, but ever since the Apple Mac they’ve been mostly hostile to developers.


Mandarin and Coriander Wheat Beer

Something to do with all the mandarins from our tree – a Hoegaarden-inspired mandarin-and-coriander wheat beer.  Cooper’s wheat beer kit, light dry malt, peels from 6 mandarins, and 2.5 tblsp coriander seed.  (All a guess – let’s see how it turns out.)  O.G. is 1.040.

Congratulations Marek and Innoboard Team!

Marek Kowalkiewicz from the SAP Research in Brisbane just last week won the international “Demo Jam” competition in the SAP TechEd event in LA, for the “Innoboard” software.  Innoboard is an augmented reality technology, which lets distributed teams interactively share whiteboards that mix projected images and physical sticky post-it notes.  All using the low-cost iphone camera and an ordinary projector.  Cool demo!  The idea at the end of taking streamed information out of the interactive session and using that to drive other workflow software (Jira in this case) is also cool, and just hints at the huge potential of ideas like this.

The Innoboard team found its first industry trial partner through the Future Logistics Living Lab, which is run by NICTA, SAP, and Fraunhofer IESE, and has around twenty (and growing) industry & research participants.  (Fraunhofer’s involvement is through the Fraunhofer Project Centre in Transport and Logistics at NICTA).  Industry trials for Innoboard are continuing, in a use-case for distributed logistics operations planning.  The Future Logistics Living Lab is also hosting a demo instance of Innoboard, and setting it up in the lab has helped contribute to ironing out some of the use & set-up issues in the early prototypes.


Is Informatics a Science?

Robin Milner gave a presentation “Is Informatics a Science?” at a conference at ENS, 10 December 2007, where he discussed the challenge of better understanding relationships between models in computer science – how they “explain” (specify, refine, implement, abstract, realise) each other. I don’t believe he captured these thoughts in a journal or conference paper, but the ENS presentation follows an earlier similar 2006 presentation (for which there is a transcript) on “Scientific Foundation for Global Computing” .

An audio recording of the ENS presentation exists.  I’ve created a PDF transcript of that recording.  However, I don’t have the slides that Robin presented – I’d be interested to have a copy if anyone could send me one.

Windows 7 Deletes all my Shortcuts

Stuff has started mysteriously disappearing from my desktop.  I had installed Fences, so thought that was the culprit, and uninstalled it.  But the problem keeps happening, and it turns out that Windows 7 is causing my pain.

Windows runs a weekly maintenance task that deletes all your shortcuts if it thinks you have more than four “broken” ones.  Bad!  The problem is exacerbated my Windows being mistaken about what’s a “broken” file.  It’s counting all my shortcuts coming from an “always online” shared network drive, even though none of them are really broken.  System maintenance task can clean stuff out of temp all it likes, maybe even delete old log files, but stay away from messing with my desktop!

MSFT offers two solutions: don’t have more than four shortcuts on your desktop (ummm, no), or turn off all system mainteance (ummm, no).  The best solution I’ve found is to hack the Windows 7 maintenance scripts to stop them mis-counting files.  Doing this felt like being a Linux user used to feel like.  I guess I should be grateful that I can hack these files – I was a little surprised to be able to.