Day 15 – Pinterest (by )

Ice Tunnel

It is day 15 of Advent and so I painted an Ice Tunnel - well actually I painted it like a fortnight ago but I am putting it up now :) Yes I was behind, yes I have back blogged!

I kind of got obsessed with this colour scheme.

Also I found an interesting article on what happens if you try and live by Pinterest for a week - Pinterest is an image sharing platform. I discovered it existed as people where putting my photos on there and my friend saw some cakes I'd made and nagged me (still have not blogged nor pinned the cakes).

I was a bit sad to see that there is a Pinterest stereotype - Mummy Blogger, White middle class housewife etc... and some people have found it depressing as they are not crafty enough :( I'm kind of sad that I now know this. I also have a horrible feeling that this is me and yet not me. I know tattoos and nail art where on there as I like those things and occassionally look them up! I still don't know what the hell a Mason jar is and I write craft tutorials :/

I use pinterest mainly to gather inspiration for me and other writers and to discover potential artists for book covers or to post my own images or find science peeps etc.. I would not have gotten through her experiment! Well not unless someone was sponsoring me anyway!

Anyway this is my Pinterest, for those who are interested.

Day 8 – Ice Castle and Santa (by )

Ice Castle and Santa

This is day 8's painting :)

Jean has discovered that she can use the concept of Father Christmas to cajole her little sister into helping with bedroom tidying - they still end up arguing.

Goal-based artificial intelligence for home automation (and maybe piloting a network of autonomous killbots) (by )

For a while, I've been mulling the idea of writing zmiku, a daemon that can be programmed to automatically control various kinds of systems. My application is home automation, and maybe automating the management of servers (restarting and failing over services, dealing with overload situations, gracefully handling disks being full, that sort of thing); but it occurs to me that the same basic problem also applies to controlling autonomous robots such as space probes, industrial processes, and that sort of thing. A good solution to all these problems in one would be quite useful!

You might say that this is a non-problem; normally, people would just write programs from scratch to control these kinds of things, sitting in a loop reading inputs and updating state variables and choosing what output actions to generate, but the complexity of the resulting program tends to increase rapidly as the problem complexity rises.

Rather than traditional programming languages, a better notation for such a reactive system is a state machine. The Wikipedia articles on a UML state machine diagram gives a good introduction to one version of this notation, including some discussion of ways to extend the most basic version in ways that increase its expressiveness and modularity.

I'd like to base zmiku on a textual version of the UML statecharts, but today I've had a horrible stomach ache, so been unable to do much more than lie around and think about stuff, and what my mind settled on was the interesting question of how to integrate state machines with goal-based programming, which is also useful for controlling complex systems. In a goal-based system, various goals are known to the system, each with a priority; for instance, a flying robot may have a destination demanded by the user, which the navigation system tries to fly the robot towards; but a collision-avoidance system may sometimes override the navigation system when it detect that a collision will result otherwise, with a higher-priority goal for the steering system. And when the collision has been avoided, that goal will disappear, and the earlier goal of getting to the destination will take over once more. And if the robot's batteries are running low, then flying towards a charging place (or a place where the solar panels are in sunlight) might be a higher priority than the user's chosen destination, but not a higher priority than avoiding collisions. And so on.

So I came up with a model for integrating the two, using the "scoreboard" model from artificial intelligence; giving a system a shared global state between a number of concurrent subsystems. And this blog post is the result of me writing up my scribbled notes. I'm still in a lot of stomach pain, so I'm afraid it's going to be a bit rambly :-)

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Day 7 – The Snow Dragon (by )

Snow Dragon

This is day 7 of Advent - The Snow Dragon - I am desperately trying to write a story for this little dude as well - of course that story has ended up as a Horace the House Dragon Story which is not right for this picture so there will have to be another story at some point!

Al is now down with the man flu we've been suffering :(

Day 6 – Snowman and a Song (by )

The Snowman's Walk

It is day 6 of Advent and so here is my water colour - say hello to Mr Snowman. Alaric likes this one though I kind of don't!

And to keep with the chill of winter, here is Jean's song In The Winters Heart.

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