Sunday, April 21, 2019

Fischer Random Chess

Very interesting that The World Fischer Random Chess Championship is now officially recognized by FIDE. My experience with this in the past was that the top players avoided it because it undermines all their standard opening preparation. Wonderful that it is now recognised as the way forward by FIDE and the world chess champion, Magnus Carlsen.

Source: Announces FIDE World Fischer Random Chess Championship

It is also known as Chess960. Chess960 introduces restrictions on the randomization, "preserving the dynamic nature of the game by retaining bishops of opposite colours for each player and the right to castle for both sides".The result is 960 unique possible starting positions. Two of the possible 960 starting positions are shown below.
I don't know when, but I think we are approaching that [the end of chess] very rapidly. I think we need a change in the rules of chess. For example, I think it would be a good idea to shuffle the first row of the pieces by computer ... and this way you will get rid of all the theory. One reason that computers are strong in chess is that they have access to enormous theory [...] I think if you can turn off the computer's book, which I've done when I've played the computer, they are still rather weak, at least at the opening part of the game, so I think this would be a good improvement, and also just for humans. It is much better, I think, because chess is becoming more and more simply memorization, because the power of memorization is so tremendous in chess now. Theory is so advanced, it used to be theory to maybe 10 or 15 moves, 18 moves; now, theory is going to 30 moves, 40 moves. I think I saw one game in Informator, the Yugoslav chess publication, where they give an N [theoretical novelty] to a new move, and I recall this new move was around move 50. [...] I think it is true, we are coming to the end of the history of chess with the present rules, but I don't say we have to do away with the present rules. I mean, people can still play, but I think it's time for those who want to start playing on new rules that I think are better."
— Fischer (September 1, 1992)

Friday, April 19, 2019

Behrouz Boochani

Reading Behrouz Boochani's magnificent book, No Friend But the Mountains makes it very, very clear that the Australian Government has systematically tortured asylum seekers and refugees.

The Immigration Minister who introduced this regime was Scott Morrison (our current PM), who often refused to answer questions about the status of asylum seekers (see here for more detail)

Further reference:
Australian Government must act following damning comments by Former President of Nauru (April 18, 2019)

Nauru mental health situation equivalent to 'victims of torture', Medecins Sans Frontieres says ( 3 Dec 2018)

Australia subjected refugees to crimes against humanity, class actions allege (10 Dec 2018)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

remember space invaders?

I found this on a wall in Brown St, Alice Springs:

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

"justice" 1870's-1930's

The late Paddy Tucker independently stated that he believed Willoberta Jack to have been poisoned. As he explained, from the 1870's-1930's no Aboriginal or person of Aboriginal descent could expect to escape if he or she killed a white person, even though the killing might be in self defence. There were always some white people who would ensure that the Aboriginal person was killed in the name of "justice" and "keeping the niggers in line".
Footnote 5, p. 124 Man from Arltunga: Walter Smith Australian Bushman by RG Kimber
Background information: Willoberta killed Harry Henty in the late 1920s after Henty attempted to shoot Willoberta because Willoberta refused to allow Henty to rape his underage daughter. Willoberta went into hiding for years and when he emerged was found not guilty by reason of self defence. But later on a fella by the name of Jimmy Donu gave Willoberta a bag of flour in which poison was chucked in before the flour was put in.

Monday, April 15, 2019

What is AIME?

Wonderful video's here:

Welcome to AIME


AIME website

I wrote about the book earlier

Sunday, April 14, 2019


Birgitta Jonsdottir: link
Poetician. Advisor in Digital Democracy. Public Speaker. Co-creator & former MP in #Iceland for the Pirate Party, co-editor Collateral Murder, exWikiLeaks
When I was fighting my own legal battle with the US Department of Justice in relation to my WikiLeaks work back in the day, I was advised by the Icelandic state department not to travel to America.

The reason: the US establishment does not forget nor forgive.

We are seeing exactly the same play out today. Even if one could criticise Julian Assange for constantly poking his angry host, I never thought that the Ecuadorian President would actually revoke asylum status of anyone, no matter how annoying the house guest is.

The arrest of Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in the UK is not only deeply disturbing, but will set a very dangerous example and erode further the rights of political asylum seekers.

There is a clear vendetta going on, as seen in the treatment of the other person mentioned in the US indictment against Assange: Chelsea Manning. She has now been in prison for 35 days because she refused to engage in a federal grand jury. They kept her in solitary confinement for 28 days.

The only motivation is cruelty and vendetta. Her treatment before the trial was considered to amount to torture by the UN and Amnesty International.

Requests have been made for Assange not be extradited if he faces a threat to his life, via a variety of execution methods available in the land of the “free”. Hence this ridiculous hacking indictment.

It’s arguably innocent looking – just some hacking stuff – stating that Assange would get five years maximum in prison. By presenting the indictment in this way, those who promised to protect him will keep face and it will make it easier to extradite him without everyone getting motivated to fight it.

After all the defiant and often reckless manoeuvres by Assange towards US authorities, it’s obvious that he will be treated harshly and he will never get a fair and open trial. There is already speculation that the current indictment is just a pretext to get him flown over and then be indicted with various other charges of a more serious nature.

One could argue that this is a pretty good hack by US authorities. Without a doubt, the UK authorities will be happy to get rid of Assange, especially with the country currently paralysed by Brexit.

Anyone who has followed WikiLeaks for as long as I have knows that, if there ever was a time to fight for Assange, it is now.

I made a promise not only to myself but to him as well a long time ago that, if this day ever came, that I would fight against any attempts to bring him to America.

I really hope that everyone, despite what they think of him as a person, can look beyond the personality and understand what is at stake here for the future of journalism, the right to know about wrongdoing of powerful entities, such as humans, or their husks of an authority.

Everyone who cares about what WikiLeaks stood for back in the day – freedom of information, expression and the protection of whistleblowers – have to do everything in their power to stop him being extradited to the US.

Press freedom is under serious attack all over the world. The court case against Assange’s extradition will be one of the world’s most important tests if justice is to prevail for those freedoms and those who are willing to risk everything to shine a light in the dark corners of corruption, power and greed.

Birgitta Jonsdottir collaborated with WikiLeaks in 2009/2010 on various projects such as IMMI and the co-production of Collateral Murder.

my educational computing CV update

In the past couple of years I have renewed my computer ed development, building on a strong commitment earlier in my career.

I’m teaching Year 7 computing at __________. I wrote a course based on the ACARA Digital Technologies criteria but can only deliver it in part due to the limited lesson allocation (one term per class, 2 lessons a week).

For these lesson I’ve focused on computer coding using Scratch 3 and the Creative Computing Curriculum Guide (Scratch 3.0) developed by The Creative Computing Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

I’m continuing to explore new ways of making computer coding accessible to students who previously have been disenfranchised, such as the indigenous and girls, as follows:
  • developed a set of indigenous icons suitable for use in Scratch and have used these successfully in class. On my list of things to do is to develop on screen indigenous art using Turtle Art / Turtle Blocks (Brian Silverman version; Walter Bender version)
  • purchased a Lilypad Arduino Sew Electric Kit which brings together craft, electronic and programming, producing wearable products.
  • purchased a Chibitronics Love to Code kit which uses electronic circuits on paper in a storybook format.
  • continuing my research by reading online PhD theses by Tom Lauwers, Debra Bernstein and Jennifer Cross available through Bird Brain Technologies Research page
  • I've just ordered a Hummingbird bit which from my research is the best robot building tool around at this point
I completed two courses run by the Computer Science Education Research Group at The School of Computer Science, The University of Adelaide (CSER MOOCs). These were:
  • CSER F-6 Digital Technologies: Foundations course
  • Years 7 and 8 Digital Technologies: Next Steps Making Apps course
The latter course utilised MIT App Inventor and using this program I’ve written several apps for my Android phone

I have published one of my apps online (“Arrernte Language”) which improves the learning of an indigenous language (Arrernte) and could be easily modified for any other language. For me, this was a challenging app to build, my friend Paul helped a lot in a collaborative effort.

Following these courses I read more widely and wrote and published “The teaching of coding” (2,100 words) which outlines a creative and productive way to teach coding.

The latest theory and practice advocates active collaboration between students in the learning of programming. This is built into the online Scratch site (especially with the Remix feature). With this in mind I have also explored the Collabrify suite developed by Elliot Soloway and Cathie Norris.

I’ve purchased a Tello drone and explored its functions

I read “Internet on the Outstation” by Ellie Rennie and co about the still unsolved problems of providing Internet to very remote locations in Australia

I explored the possibility of using RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning) to solve the problem of poor Internet access to very remote Australians. It's a portable plug-and-play server which stores educational websites and makes that content available over any local (offline) wireless connection

TANGIBLES and the BBC micro:bit
An important recent development in digital education has been low cost tangible devices with microcontrollers which have a beyond the screen input output functionality. I’ve spent a lot of time with the BBC micro:bit, learning MakeCode and MicroPython and have:
  • written a preliminary course outline
  • run micro:bit workshops for IndigiMOB in three Alice Springs town camps and at the Polly Farmer after school program at Centralian Middle School
  • explored micro:bit extensions into electronics with the Kitronik and Monk Makes kits.


I have:
  • been recognised as a CEGSA (Computing Education Group of South Australia) Leading Light (acknowledging contributions to ICT in Education) in both 2006 and 2007
  • designed courses at Year 11 level which integrate Scratch (Logo) into an ideas-design-evaluate-develop framework
  • run in service sessions in Scratch software for Woodville High School (South Australia) staff and at CEGSA conferences
  • written papers and presented talks at conferences about Logo philosophy and related issues: game making, Seymour Papert's constructionism and Alan Kay's educational philosophy
  • initiated blogs and wikis that evaluated the software on the One Laptop Per Child initiative, which included Scratch and Etoys, another visual drag and drop programming language
  • developed expertise with SNAP, a more high powered reimplementation of Scratch, for upper secondary and University level Computer Science.
  • experience in teaching text based programming languages, in particular, Python

I am an advocate and active user of Open Source software since it is free and often very good. I note the potential of indigenous language dictionaries being incorporated into Libre Office.

I have a long term ongoing interest in the issue of affordable / cheap, reliable computing hardware. I was an active participant in the OLPC (one laptop per child) project and pursue an interest in Raspberry Pi and tablets.

Monday, April 08, 2019

new microbit affordances

Thanks to Gary Stager's blog post (here), I've downloaded
  1. his Scratch cards for the micro:bit, and
  2. Microblocks.
Scratch project cards for the micro:bit enables one to create interdisciplinary projects that connect screen action to the physical world. By pressing the A and B buttons, shaking or tilting the micro:bit you control actions in your Scratch project such as changing colours, costumes, spinning or moving sprites, drawing lines etc. There are more ambitious project ideas on the cards too.

Microblocks. I didn't understand what was useful or new about this from the blurb on their site, since the micro:bit is autonomous. You write the code using MakeCode, view it in the simulator, download it to your micro:bit, unplug your micro:bit and run it off a battery.

But an article by John Maloney in Hello World (here) explained it clearly. The advantage is not autonomy through untethering. With Microblocks you also have live programming directly on the micro:bit. The simulator is no longer necessary.
Unfortunately, most programming systems for microcontrollers aren’t live. They require a compilation and download process that slows experimentation and interrupts the smooth flow of ideas. For example, Microsoft’s MakeCode takes 10-15 seconds to compile and download a program to the BBC micro:bit. While that may not seem like much, after a few dozen cycles, the process can feel tedious.

Tethered systems like Snap4Arduino take a different approach. They run the user’s program on the host computer and treat the microcontroller as a peripheral. While this does provide a compelling live programming experience, the microcontroller must remain tethered to the host computer that is running the program; it isn’t autonomous. This requirement to remain tethered to the host computer makes it cumbersome to embed the microcontroller in an art project, wear it on a hat, or build it into a mobile creature like our robotic rabbit.

MicroBlocks supports both live programming and autonomous operation. Users can see and test code changes immediately, yet their code continues to run when the microcontroller is untethered from the host computer. MicroBlocks gives the user the best of both worlds.

don't believe in science

Best to read the whole thing: Why I Don’t “Believe” in “Science” by Robert Tracinski. I'll quote one section below:
The problem is the word “belief.” Science isn’t about “belief.” It’s about facts, evidence, theories, experiments. You don’t say, “I believe in thermodynamics.” You understand its laws and the evidence for them, or you don’t. “Belief” doesn’t really enter into it.

So as a proper formulation, saying “I understand science” would be a start. “I understand the science on this issue” would be better. That implies that you have engaged in a first-hand study of the specific scientific questions involved in, say, global warming, which would give you the basis to support a conclusion. If you don’t understand the basis for your conclusion and instead have to accept it as a “belief,” then you don’t really know it, and you certainly are in no position to lecture others about how they must believe it, too.

Because science is about evidence, this also means that it carries no “authority.” The motto of the Royal Society is nullius in verba—”on no one’s word”—which is intended to capture the “determination of Fellows to withstand the domination of authority and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment.”

That’s the opposite of what “I believe in science” is intended to convey. “I believe in science” is meant to use the reputation of “science” in general to give authority to one specific scientific claim in particular, shielding it from questioning or skepticism.

“I believe in science” is almost always invoked these days in support of one particular scientific claim: catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. And in support of one particular political solution: massive government regulations to limit or ban fossil fuels.

But these two positions involve a complex series of separate scientific claims—that global temperatures are rising, that humans are primarily responsible, that the results are going to be catastrophic for human life, that rising temperatures can be halted—combined with a series of economic and political propositions. For example: that action to ban fossil fuels would be more efficacious than using the wealth made possibly by fossil fuels to help humans adapt to future climatic changes.

The purpose of the trope is to bypass any meaningful discussion of these separate questions, rolling them all into one package deal–and one political party ticket.

The trick is to make it look as though disagreement on any of these specific questions is equivalent to a rejection of the scientific method and the scientific worldview itself.