Software and research: the Institute's Blog

Weaving the STRANDS of autonomous robotics

From left to right: Bruno Lacerda, Chris Burbridge and robot Bob.By Nick Hawes, Senior Lecturer in Intelligent Robotics at the School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham.

This article is part of our series: a day in the software life, in which we ask researchers from all disciplines to discuss the tools that make their research possible.

There is a great deal of excitement surrounding the use of robots in a variety of industries, from security and care to logistics and manufacturing.

These are not the robots of the past, who were static automatons confined to cages and empty factory floors, but interactive robots working alongside humans in everyday environments. However, to create robots that can cope in the real world in all its dynamic, unpredictable glory we must create systems which are wholly, or at least partially, autonomous.

MicroPasts - funding the future of archaeology

By Adi Keinan-Schoonbaert, Research Associate, UCL Institute of Archaeology, and Daniel Pett, ICT Advisor, British Museum.

This article is part of our series: a day in the software life, in which we ask researchers from all disciplines to discuss the tools that make their research possible.

With the archaeology, heritage and museum sectors suffering from substantial budget cuts in recent years, there has been a need to find creative ways to generate income and keep our heads above water. Online crowdfunding is a relatively new way to raise funds for archaeological and heritage related projects. It can create a space where archaeologists, historians, heritage specialists, volunteer archaeological societies and other interested members of the public can join forces to conduct high quality research projects that are of interest to all.

Building a firm foundation for solid mechanics software

By Gillian Law, TechLiterate, talking with Lee Margetts, University of Manchester.

This article is part of our series: Breaking Software Barriers, in which Gillian Law investigates how our Research Software Group has helped projects improve their research software. If you would like help with your software, let us know.

Software development for research into solid mechanics, particularly in High Performance Computing, has fallen behind other research areas such as fluid dynamics and chemistry, argues Lee Margetts, head of Synthetic Environments and Systems Simulation at the University of Manchester Aerospace Research Institute. It's time for some collaborative development to create some quality, shared code, he says.

Cartooning the First World War

By Rhianydd Biebrach, Project Officer for Cartooning the First World War at Cardiff University.

This article is part of our series: a day in the software life, in which we ask researchers from all disciplines to discuss the tools that make their research possible.

Cartoons are probably not the most obvious source material for the history of the First World War, but in the approximately 1,350 political cartoons drawn by Joseph Morewood Staniforth that appeared in The Western Mail and the News of the World throughout the conflict, we have a fascinating record of how those events were consumed daily at the nation’s breakfast tables.

This chronicle of the war is replete with clever caricatures of individuals such as Herbert Henry Asquith, David Lloyd George and the Kaiser, as well as Britannia, John Bull, and Staniforth’s own invention, the stout and matronly Dame Wales, in her traditional Welsh costume.

Want help solving your IP problems?

By Shoaib Sufi, Community Leader.

Issues around IP are the cause of some of the most contentious and persistent problems that affect researchers. Who owns IP? How do you license it? Can you share information with collaborators? Who can help you understand IP issues at your university? The Institute’s Intellectual Property (IP), copyright, licensing and commercialisation workshop (IPCLC) will be held on 11 December 2014 in Oxford at the Oxford e-Research Centre from 10.00 to 17.00. It’s free to attend.

A good understanding of IP, Copyright, Licensing and Commercialisation is an invaluable tool for anyone embarking on a research career. It can help you prepare your work so that the majority of IP-related problems are solved before they arise, and if you do run into problems, a grounding in IP can help you resolve problems before they become serious.

The first Science Paper hackathon: how did it go?

By Derek Groen, Research Associate at University College London.

This September, Joanna Lewis and I organised a Paper Hackathon event in Flore, Northamptonshire, with support from both the Software Sustainability Institute and 2020 Science.

Our highly ambitious goal was to write a scientific draft paper over the course of two and a half days within a highly informal setting. Did we manage to accomplish that? In many of the projects we did!

What’s behind the Green Door? Making homes more energy efficient

By Elaine Massung, Research Assistant, and Dan Schien, Research Associate, at the University of Bristol,

This article is part of our series: a day in the software life, in which we ask researchers from all disciplines to discuss the tools that make their research possible.

The threat of climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions has gained the attention of many scientists and programmers working in the field of sustainability and human-computer interaction (HCI).

One area in particular that has received close scrutiny is domestic energy reduction, where smart meters and ambient displays have been developed to increase awareness of energy waste, and sensors are deployed to automatically control a home’s energy expenditure. Yet missing from these developments is the fabric of the building itself.

Meeting 26 of the elite: Fellows 2015 selection day

By Shoaib Sufi, Community Manager.

On 10 November, we met 26 researchers who had been shortlisted for the Institute’s Fellowships 2015.

Crock-shock – using CT data to explore extinct crocodyliforms

3D models of the aquatic crocodyliform Pelagosaurus typus. By Felipe Montefeltro, postdoctoral researcher at São Paulo State University, Brazil.

This article is part of our series: a day in the software life, in which we ask researchers from all disciplines to discuss the tools that make their research possible.

The application of computer-based technologies was once largely constrained by the high price of both hardware and software. In the past decade, the price of both has fallen to a much more affordable level. Now, computer-based methods are available for a greater number of palaeontologists.

This is particularly true of X-ray computed tomography (CT) which has profoundly changed how we study fossils. I study the internal structure of fossil crocodile skulls based on CT data and use it to search for clues as to how they lived.

Software Carpentry face-to-face Instructors Training at TGAC

By Aleksandra Pawlik, Training Leader.

The second Software Carpentry face-to-face Instructors Training took place on 22-23 October in Norwich at The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC). The course was taught by Greg Wilson, the founder of Software Carpentry and Bill Mills, the Mozilla Science Lab Community Manager. Over the next two days, 39 people learnt how to be better teachers.

The face-to-face Instructors Training is a much more intense and compact version of the course which Greg has been running online since 2012. Over the course of 48 hours, including the discussions over dinner at the end of Day One, we covered a number of topics about approaches, methods and challenges in teaching. Just like during the Software Carpentry workshops, the Instructors Training was very much hands-on.