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David Sherlock's Blog

Installing R scripting Extension in Knime

Setting up R for use in Knime is pretty easy, the biggest issue is usually forgetting to install the Rserve package, or not realising that you need additional tools to compile Rserve from Source as Knime suggests you do, chances are you are getting the error: ERROR: configuration failed for package ‘Rserve’ .  First, you need to install R. Just head over to the CRAN repository and click download. When installing remember the install location You then need to install the install the Knime R Statisitics Integration packages, just open KNIME, goto help-> install new software. Select the analytics-platform repository and search for r stat and install. See the below image. Set up R in Knime, by going to file->preferences->knime->r and set the path, like in the image below Installing Rserve This is the bit that that seems to trip most people. The issue is that there is no binary…

Extracting data from fandom

I have not had much time to ‘techy things’ due to writing up a thesis, finding myself this week with a few hours on a train try something new. I decided , wanted to look at some data tools and techniques that had been on my radar for a little while. I began by poking about some stuff on my list that began with K: Kaggle, Knime and Keras. Being honest, I found looking through examples of getting into these technologies very uninspiring and boring; I’m not currently sure if I am ‘burnt out’ with technology or if I am ‘burnt out’ with examples that don’t interest me. Trying to find something interesting to do I looked back on some of the things I had played with previously. I have found that the most interesting data is on Wikipedia, and have been fond of using DBpedia to extract interesting datasets.…

Models

A few years ago I worked on the website for a department that specialised in data standards. The majority of the website had been coded before I had taken up the job, it was written in PHP and did all sorts of clever things for the time, it aggregated blogs, took event bookings, stored project information. I owe a lot to the original author of the website, he was a brilliant coder, but a bit of an eccentric. He coded it up himself – it was MVC, used templates and the such and followed all kinds of great practice. On the other hand, it did not use an established PHP framework such as codeignitor or the like. It was great for me because I got a really good insight in to how these things worked, and the developer was a relaxed kind of guy who’d let me break things and…

Pre rendered backgrounds and outsourcing processing power

My notes from a round table meeting about social media strategy in the University turned into this. These are my own experiences before all the comments tell me about 7th Guest and Myst or the fact Commodore did CD based stuff well before Sony. In 1997 the Sony PlayStation was already 2 years old in the UK and CDs, the format that PlayStation games came on, were getting on for 15 years. Even though the PlayStation wasn’t the first CD based console and CDs themselves were older than I was at the time, I sat down, popped in a game and finally really ‘got’ why CDs were so amazing. Up until 1997 I had ‘gamed’ on Commodore products, mostly the C64 and Amiga, many of these games had 3D characters and environments. I liked these early 3D games but was not particularly wowed by them and will readily admit they…

The blog posts I didn’t write in 2017

My laptop is full of text documents for blog posts I started writing on the train and didn’t finish because I chickened out or didn’t have enough time. Instead of the ‘new year, new me’ post I’m going to do a quick run through of the posts where I couldn’t quite make myself coherant enough to justify a click of the publish button. 1. Self-pleasure in eLearning: A post about how eLearning blogs are a form of self-pleasure for the authors. How blogs such as my own are not much more than an exercise in making us feel good about ourselves and how social media sharing culture can add to it. I wrote a little about how disagreements can be a good thing and how we should get better at disagreeing with one another. Didn’t post because: Became too vulgar. 2. Open assessment? A look at openstax and pondering what…

Out on the road today

I have been writing a lot about ‘openness’ recently. I am struggling with what it means to be an open academic and while my posts are confusing they help me think and even more importantly I get feedback and comments. I think one of the main things I end up talking about with people who have read my posts is that delivery is just as important as content. I am currently at an academic event at a University in the UK. There is security personal everywhere, not ‘beefed up’ for the event, it is always like this. The University itself is nowhere important, both in the league tables and in terms of physical location. The security, which could easily be replaced by automated swipe machine, isn’t there to make us feel secure, we don’t exactly feel threated out here in Nowhere Important, it is there to make us think we…

write more code

I am really unhappy with this post, I don’t think it describes what I wanted to get across. It took me two long train journeys to write, I’m fed up of it and don’t want to write anymore. In the spirit of ‘open’, whatever that may be, here it. I’ll go with a D+, at least I handed it in. Recently I have been thinking about the push of getting people to code, I have been thinking about it because the HE institution I am based in really seems to struggle with technology. The most painful aspect of the struggle are difficult conversations around what the technology can and can’t do. Frustration comes from users of technology who can’t get it to do what they want, frustration comes from the coders who either aren’t given clear messages about what to or are told to do something that is near impossible.…

It’s good that everyone is talking about loot crates

I’ve written quite a bit on here about how oppressive I find the techniques and progression systems in computer games – particularly, but not restricted to those found in ‘free-to-play’ games. Last year I wrote about the a Call of Duty game, a £50 game which among other purchases lets players buy random awards to improve their chances in competitive play. There are lots of oppressive systems at play to get gamers to part with extra cash in the Call of Duty games, but what worried me when I was writing the original blog was that while the game was an 18 – the series is known for being very popular with gamers much younger than that.  A particular concern of mine was that the series is rated 18 because of the violent content and parents often think that their children can handle it since it is ‘only a game’,…

The designers and the mechanics

I am quite interested in issues of automation and the issues that face us when tasks in for workforce are replaced with robots or A.I. In a way, I kind of think that as a society, we’ve messed up when this is a problem. There are two big themes in much of the writing around automisation that really intrigue me. The first is that automation of tasks by machines makes humans more mechanical. The second is automisation creates a divide between ‘designers’ and the mechanical. Both of these themes revolve around the same argument, and while I’m still reading lots of interesting and conflicting opinions on the subject, Varoufakois in his letters to his daughter, seems to nail it down to a few steps: A huge technical change occurs that allows expensive humans to be moved out of the production line, without having to pay them the cost of production…

Be more open

Recently I have been struggling with being told to be “Open”. The blog I am hoping to post this on used to be very popular and I would write every week. In that period, I used to write under a daft name to hide the fact is was me who was writing it, I’m not sure if that effected how open I was being, but I used to feel that it meant that spelling mistakes or poorly though out ideas where not mine, but belonged to my character. Around five years ago it became quite clear that I was going to lose my job, and the advice from colleagues/job centers/careers staff was ‘to be more open’. In a panic, and wanting to have something to show to potential employers, I changed all my online profiles from my characters handles of Paddytherabbit to my real name. Since changing from Paddy to…

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