VSJ – Feb 2005 – Work in Progress

This month, we’re previewing the Annual Symposium (see Notice Board). As usual, the speakers are experts in their fields and their chosen topics fascinating and current, as you’ll see from the résumés below. Trinity House is a beautiful venue, as the photograph suggests, but it isn’t huge. So make your reservations fast!

The Radiate Theory: Peter Green

“Technology driving the business, well that’s a bit like the tail wagging the dog!” This type of thinking is out of date. The smart company will accept that there is a bit of wagging at both ends, with some business aspects driving technology and also technology driving the business model. The Radiate Theory is based on the radical view that if technology allows us to model the business in a better way then that’s what we should be doing. The principle of this strategy is to maximise the use of technology by defining how it can improve the business as a holistic entity, not just add improvements to the sponsoring or requesting business unit. One of the results from utilising the theory is that it changes the company’s view of technical managers to business managers and promotes the use of technology as a business-modelling tool.

Peter Green BA, FIAP, MIScT, Dip Man, Dip Hp graduated in computing and electronics, followed by four years of management study. He has spent his career within the newspaper industry and has been at the forefront of developing systems and standards for publishing. Currently I.T. Director at a national newspaper, he has had similar roles at the International Herald Tribune, Press Holdings and was formerly Software Development Manager at Associated Newspapers. He has worked on various world-wide committees and with universities to introduce technical standards into the publishing industry. He has also completed consultancy roles at newspaper groups in China, the Middle East and the former Yugoslavia.

Look – no wires! : Philip McLauchlan

Allan Jaenicke and I founded Imagineer Systems Ltd four years ago with the aim of building innovative products based around computer vision technology. We released our first product, Mokey, in 2001. The main application of Mokey is “wire and rig removal”, involving 2D tracking of backgrounds in order to paint out foreground objects. More recently we have used our core 2D tracking technology to create Monet, a new product designed for “element replacement” tasks. With Monet you can insert images into TV screens, change the background of an image sequence, or replace one logo with another. It brings together a unique set of tools for handling difficult tracking situations, camera distortion, curved surfaces, shadows and highlights, with the aim of achieving the illusion that the resulting images look as natural as possible. In my seminar I shall cover some of the history of the company and summarise the algorithms and software we have developed.

Philip McLauchlan is a co-founder of Imagineer Systems. He obtained a BA in Mathematics from Cambridge, a MSc in Computer Science at Edinburgh and then a PhD in Computer Vision at Sheffield. He has since done post-doctoral work at Sheffield, Oxford, and the University of California at Berkeley.  He returned to England in the late 90s and held a Foundation Lectureship at the University of Surrey. His research work has been in the areas of computer vision and mobile robotics.

The Open Source Jungle: Seb Bacon

Open Source Software (OSS) offers an attractively simple promise for computer users: high quality software that is free of licence costs and restrictions on how you can use it. However, the domain can be hard for the uninitiated to untangle. Outside the movement, business interests spend vast amounts of money to discredit what they see as a threat. Within the movement, different priorities provide competing definitions and interpretations.

Seb will explain the movement and its detractors by examining its historical roots and the current business and political environment in which OSS has to operate, including the current software patent debate. Finally he hopes to summarise the benefits and risks associated with Open Source and its various proprietary models.

Seb Bacon is Technical Director of Jamkit, a leading supplier of Internet solutions to the charity and public sectors. Jamkit was founded in 2000 to bring to smaller markets benefits traditionally provided only by multi-million pound software. All its solutions are FLOSS-based and are targeted particularly at advocacy and information-based organisations. Clients include Breast Cancer Care, Moorfields Eye Hospital, the Home Office and Lastminute.com. Seb is a fervent advocate of Open Source for the charity sector and in government. He is a trustee of the London Advice Services Alliance, and a co-founder of both the ‘Social Software’ and ‘ZopeUK’ advocacy associations. Seb has played an active role in the development of the Open Source application server, Zope.

Email – a risk worth taking? : Steven Jenkins

This topic – and speaker – were scheduled for last year’s Symposium but unfortunately, Steven had to cancel owing to illness. Many delegates had been particularly keen to hear him speak, so he’s kindly agreed to try again this year.

It is not generally appreciated, certainly by the mass of non-technical users, that emails can be compromised from both inside and outside the originator’s office. They are so insecure as to be virtually public and the consequences can be costly. Steven will explain how basic spying software works and the range of measures that can be taken to defend against it from quite simple precautions to high-level encryption.

Steven Jenkins has been with SafeMessage, a company specialising in email security, since 1999.

NBIC – even bigger that IT? : Henry Nash

Henry believes we are on the threshold of a revolution more amazing than anything we’ve seen so far. Moore’s Law may have driven the IT revolution and given us more computing power in our pockets than there is in a Space Shuttle, but that’s nothing to what it might do for the Life Sciences. Already it has enabled us to decode the human genome, decades before predictions of its completion. Combine that with breakthroughs in Nanotechnology and an increasing understanding of neuro- and cognitive sciences and you get ‘NBIC’ (Nanotech + Biotech + IT + Cognitive Science). Will this be an even bigger revolution than IT itself? Are the results of this integration still decades away or should we all be blowing the dust of our biology books and re-training?

Henry Nash, FIAP is one of the UK’s most accomplished entrepreneurs. He has built four

companies, all of which produced ground-breaking products. His companies have earned both The Queen’s Award for Technology and The Queen’s Award for Export. His technical expertise spans simulation systems, databases, communications, nano-technology and bioinformatics. He has operated in Europe, Asia and the USA and is an advisor to start-up companies through all phases of their growth.

Introduction to Agile Software: Sean Hanly
Sean will explain what Agile software development is and how it is currently developing within the software community. Based on a real user story from a current Exoftware development project, Sean will describe an entire cycle, from initial presentation, estimation, scheduling, delivery of acceptance tests and implementation through to Test Driven Development. He will demonstrate Agile implemented to its fullest extent.
Sean Hanly is Head of Agile Services at Exoftware. He is a prolific speaker and writer on Agile topics and it is largely through his vision that Exoftware has become a centre for excellence in Europe. Sean has been instrumental in the development of the Irish and UK Agile Special Interest Groups and the Agile Alliance Europe Group. He has worked with the DSDM Consortium to bring XP and Agile together and is spearheading the move to write an open source automated acceptance-testing framework for the software community at large.
[Interesting project or development? Let us know at eo@iap.org.uk!]

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