reflections on the technium

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” — Alan Kay

Brown Bag at the Movies – Selected technical topics(28)

with 2 comments

For this installment of Brown Bag at the Movies we will be viewing (abstract below):

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The Secrets of James Dyson, Inventor Extraordinaire

“James Dyson, Inventor & Chief Engineer of Dyson, in conversation with Shoshana Berger, Development Editor of WIRED.


James Dyson <> <>
“A graduate of London’s Royal College of Art, James Dyson was drawn to engineering principles from an early age. The company he founded in 1993 creates products’ like bagless vacuum cleaners, bladeless fans, and high-speed hand dryers—that work in completely new ways. Dyson now employs 3,600 people and has sales of over $1.5 billion. James Dyson, whose first invention was a high-speed landing craft, describes his process as “Edisonian.” In 1979, during a visit to a local sawmill, he noticed how large cyclones removed sawdust from the air. Frustrated with his vacuum cleaner’s habit of losing suction as the bag filled, he went home and rigged it with a crude cardboard cyclone. Over 5,000 prototypes later, the Dyson DCO1 vacuum cleaner was launched and became a sensation. Today, Dyson is the market leader in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. James Dyson continues to work alongside his team of engineers and scientists, developing new technologies to solve everyday problems.



FUTURE CANDIDATES  /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\


Spirit and Opportunity: Roving Mars’ Landscape

“For more than eight years, scientists have been doing fieldwork on Mars, the first overland investigation of another planet. Working through programmed robotic laboratories, called the Mars Exploration Rovers, they have a virtual experience of being on Mars. The Spirit and Opportunity teams have driven over 25 miles, taken thousands of photographs, analyzed the chemistry of the terrain, and inspected rocks by grinding them and taking microscopic images. How does working remotely through a robotic laboratory change the nature of field science? How does it change the scientists? A cognitive scientist with privileged access to mission operations, Clancey explains that the “robotic geologists” are not the rovers, but the scientists who have imaginatively projected themselves into the body of the machine.


William J. Clancey
“Dr. William J. Clancey is Chief Scientist for Human-Centered Computing at NASA Ames Research Center, Computational Sciences Division, where he manages the Work Systems Design & Evaluation Group. He is on leave from the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, Pensacola.

“Clancey’s research includes work practice modeling, distributed multiagent systems, and the ethnography of field science. Projects in his group include participation in MER mission operations, simulation of a day-in-the-life of the ISS, knowledge management for future launch vehicles, and developing flight systems that make automation more transparent.

“Clancey has degrees in Mathematical Sciences (BA, Rice University, 1974) and Computer Science (PhD, Stanford University, 1979). At the Knowledge Systems Laboratory of Stanford University (1974-1987), Clancey developed some of the earliest artificial intelligence programs for explanation, the critiquing method of consultation, tutorial discourse, and student modeling. Prior to joining NASA, he was a founding member of the Institute for Research on Learning (1987-1997) where he co-developed the methods of business anthropology in corporate environments.,


The Fukushima Accident

Presentation at the 20th annual Safety-critical Systems Symposium (SSS ’12) <> by Peter Ladkin, Professor of Computer Networks and Distributed Systems, University of Bielefeld (Germany) <>. Blog: <>


Amory Lovins: A 50-year plan for energy

In this intimate talk filmed at TED’s offices, energy theorist Amory Lovins lays out the steps we must take to end the world’s dependence on oil (before we run out). Some changes are already happening — like lighter-weight cars and smarter trucks — but some require a bigger vision.

 In his new book, “Reinventing Fire,” Amory Lovins shares ingenious ideas to for the next era of energy.


Amory Lovins: Physicist, energy guru <>

In his new book, “Reinventing Fire,” Amory Lovins shares ingenious ideas to for the next era of energy. <>

“Why you should listen to him:

“Amory Lovins was worried (and writing) about energy long before global warming was making the front — or even back — page of newspapers. Since studying at Harvard and Oxford in the 1960s, he’s written dozens of books, and initiated ambitious projects — cofounding the influential, environment-focused Rocky Mountain Institute; prototyping the ultra-efficient Hypercar — to focus the world’s attention on alternative approaches to energy and transportation.

“His critical thinking has driven people around the globe — from world leaders to the average Joe — to think differently about energy and its role in some of our biggest problems: climate change, oil dependency, national security, economic health, and depletion of natural resources.

“Lovins offers solutions as well. His new book and site, Reinventing Fire, offers actionable solutions for four energy-intensive sectors of the economy: transportation, buildings, industry and electricity. Lovins has always focused on solutions that conserve natural resources while also promoting economic growth; Texas Instruments and Wal-Mart are just two of the mega-corporations he has advised on improving energy efficiency.

BOOK: Reinventing Fire


Google Talks About Its Ubuntu Experience

“There was a very interesting session at the Ubuntu Developer Summit by Google developer Thomas Bushnell. He talked about how Ubuntu, its derivatives and Goobuntu (Google’s customized Ubuntu based distro) are used by Google developers. He starts by saying ‘Precise Rocks,’ and that many Google employees use Ubuntu — including managers, software engineers, translators, people who wrote the original Unix, and people who have no clue about Unix. Many developers working on Chrome and Android use Ubuntu. Ubuntu systems at Google are upgraded every LTS release. The entire process of upgrading can take as much as four months, and it is also quite expensive, as one reboot or a small change can cost them as much as a million dollars across the company.” — <>

CEP COMMENT:  Unfortunately lousy audio.

Building Software at Google Scale Tech Talk

Presented by
Michael Barnathan, Software Engineer, Google
Greg Estren, Software Engineer, Google
Pepper Lebeck-Jobe, Software Engineer, Google

“At past Google NYC Tech Talks, we learned about tools that helped Google engineers automate quality testing, so that Google products could be released frequently without extensive manual testing phases or manual invocations of tools like JUnit, WebDriver, or JavaScript Test Driver.
“This talk covers the Google Build System, which Google engineers use to build software from a unified, language-agnostic, continuously integrated code base, quickly and at scale. When a developer initiates a build, the build system automatically computes the minimal number of artifacts that need to be built and determines the optimal strategy for producing them as fast as possible using the resources of many worker machines. On average, each build request triggers thousands of source file compilations, while still completing within seconds.
“At Google, all software components are compiled from source, in a highly parallelized fashion, possibly across thousands of machines dedicated to software compilation. Build artifacts that compose software components are also shared across build requests, such that if a developer builds a component and another developer builds a similar component, the artifacts in common between them are not built twice.
“This talk will discuss in detail how all this “magic” works. More than just a time-saver for our developers, the high performance and unprecedented scale of our build system make possible far-reaching quality goals, such as continuously testing Google’s entire codebase at every revision.
“This talk will be given by three engineers on the build system team.


The Remote Agent Experiment: Debugging Code from 60 Million Miles Away

Presented by Ron Garret <>


“The Remote Agent Experiment (RAX) was an autonomous control system for an unmanned interplanetary spacecraft called New Millennium Deep Space 1 (DS1). In May, 1999, control of the DS1 spacecraft, a $150-million asset, was handed over to the Remote Agent software for three days. It was the first — and, to date, the last — time that an interplanetary spacecraft has been under fully autonomous control. RAX was a resounding technological success, but a political disaster. Instead of paving the way for future autonomous missions, RAX is the reason that NASA has not flown an autonomous mission since. This talk is about the lessons learned from an ambitious but ultimately failed attempt to introduce technological change into a large, bureaucratic organization, the limitations of static code analysis, and the unique challenges of debugging code when the round-trip ping time is 45 minutes.

“Slides available at

“Dr. Ron Garret is a software engineer turned entrepreneur and angel investor. He has co-founded three startups and invested in a dozen others. In a previous life he was an AI and robotics researcher at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab where he led the development of one of the four major components of the Remote Agent. In 2000 he went to work for what was at the time an obscure little Silicon Valley startup called Google, where he was the lead engineer on the first release of AdWords, and the author of the Google Translation Console. He is currently working on launching a new startup company.


SeriousGames@Google: Playing Surgery – A Laparoscopy Game for Surgeons on the Nintendo Wii

Presented by Henk ten Cate Hoedemaker, Tim Laning, and Jetse Goris.

“Laparascopic (or keyhole) surgery is challenging for surgeons and can be dangerous for patients. The surgeons who perform these procedures need ongoing training and hands on practice. The University Medical Centers of Groningen and Leeuwarden in the Netherlands have teamed up with game developer Grendel Games <> to produce a unique solution. Instead of using expensive, traditional simulators to teach their doctors the motor skills needed for laparoscopic surgery, they have developed a full Nintendo Wii game with customized controls that imitate a surgeon’s instruments… but in a non-medical context.

“What makes this game unique is the choice to make a virtual game world that offers an immersive storyline, exciting puzzles and pleasing visuals, around the control scheme and motor skills of laparoscopic surgery. This deliberate change of context is unique for a medical serious game.

“At the 2010 Game Developers Conference (GDC), the first prototype of this game was presented. Forbes crowned it “one of the ten games that can change the world.” The 2010 presentation is one of the most viewed serious games videos in the GDC vault.

“Project team members Henk ten Cate Hoedemaker, Tim Laning and Jetse Goris will describe their development process and demo the new version of the game and Wii controllers. Time permitting, local/live attendees will be able test out the redesigned controllers and game.


H.O. ten Cate Hoedemaker MD
“Henk ten Cate Hoedemaker is a gastrointestinal surgeon at the University Medical Center of Groningen (UMCG) in the Netherlands. His specialities include colorectal surgery, abdominal wall surgery and laparoscopy. In 1999, he won best instructor award at UMCG where he has taught many surgical and laparoscopic courses. Since 2000, he has been medical director of the Wenckebach Institute Skills Center at UMCG <>. He is also inventor of the C-seal colon stent. <>

Tim Laning
“Tim Laning is CEO and co-founder of the 
award winning Dutch serious medical game company Grendel Games ( Grendel Games builds games focused on physical and mental rehabilitation, surgical and medical training for medical education universities, hospitals and rehabilitation institutes. Grendel Games is one of the first companies to partner with medical training hospitals to develop a laparoscopic surgery training game
 to be released on Nintendo consoles in 2013.

 Laning helped found Gameship (the largest serious game development media lab in the Netherlands) and founded the annual serious game jam G-Ameland in 2007. < and>

Jetse Goris MSc
“Jetse Goris is an educational consultant and researcher at the University Medical Center of Groningen (UMCG) in the Netherlands. Jetse is currently conducting research to validate the efficacy of a Nintendo Wii laparoscopy game he helped design with UMC Gronigen/Leeuwarden and Grendel Games. Jetse is passionate about using and building innovative technologies to enhance medical teacher and student learning and performance.



Written by Chuck Petras

December 2, 2012 at 10:17

2 Responses

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