Skip to main content

Plan 28 is gathering steam

Last month I promised that I would be able to make announcements about the state of Plan 28 in July. I'm pleased to announce that Plan 28 is going ahead. Doron and I have been working in our spare time on the project and today I am able to say that:

1. The Computer Conservation Society (who have been involved in many historical computer reconstructions in the UK) have accepted the construction of the Analytical Engine into their portfolio of projects. The CCS will provide expert advice and assistance to Plan 28 if/when needed.

2. A board of trustees has been found for the Plan 28 charity and the paperwork prepared for submission of Plan 28 to the Charity Commission for registration as a charity in the UK. The specific charitable purposes of Plan 28 are:
The advancement of education, in particular in the fields of science and the history of science, through the construction of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine; and the advancement of science, in particular through: research in the fields of computer science, engineering and mathematics; and the raising of public awareness of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine and related developments.
Once the Charity Commission has responded a bank account will be opened.

3. We expect work to begin on the project in earnest in October with the research project to decipher Charles Babbage's notebooks. This will likely take one to two years and be led by Doron. Only once these have been examined will a clearer picture of the details of the Analytical Engine emerge. We plan to publish these results in appropriate academic journals.

4. We are in active discussions at a very senior level with The Science Museum about their participation. We expect the terms of Plan 28 and The Science Museum's cooperation to be announced in September or October once details have been ironed out and the summer holiday period has been passed.


Popular posts from this blog

Your last name contains invalid characters

My last name is "Graham-Cumming". But here's a typical form response when I enter it: Does the web site have any idea how rude it is to claim that my last name contains invalid characters? Clearly not. What they actually meant is: our web site will not accept that hyphen in your last name. But do they say that? No, of course not. They decide to shove in my face the claim that there's something wrong with my name. There's nothing wrong with my name, just as there's nothing wrong with someone whose first name is Jean-Marie, or someone whose last name is O'Reilly. What is wrong is that way this is being handled. If the system can't cope with non-letters and spaces it needs to say that. How about the following error message: Our system is unable to process last names that contain non-letters, please replace them with spaces. Don't blame me for having a last name that your system doesn't like, whose fault is that? Saying "Your

All the symmetrical watch faces (and code to generate them)

If you ever look at pictures of clocks and watches in advertising they are set to roughly 10:10 which is meant to be the most attractive (smiling!) position for the hands . They are actually set to 10:09.14 if the hands are truly symmetrical. CC BY 2.0 image by Shinji I wanted to know what all the possible symmetrical watch faces are and so I wrote some code using Processing. Here's the output (there's one watch face missing, 00:00 or 12:00, because it's very boring): The key to writing this is to figure out the relationship between the hour and minute hands when the watch face is symmetrical. In an hour the minute hand moves through 360° and the hour hand moves through 30° (12 hours are shown on the watch face and 360/12 = 30). The core loop inside the program is this:   for (int h = 0; h <= 12; h++) {     float m = (360-30*float(h))*2/13;     int s = round(60*(m-floor(m)));     int col = h%6;     int row = floor(h/6);     draw_clock((r+f)*(2*col+1), (r+f)*(row*2+1),

The Elevator Button Problem

User interface design is hard. It's hard because people perceive apparently simple things very differently. For example, take a look at this interface to an elevator: From flickr Now imagine the following situation. You are on the third floor of this building and you wish to go to the tenth. The elevator is on the fifth floor and there's an indicator that tells you where it is. Which button do you press? Most people probably say: "press up" since they want to go up. Not long ago I watched someone do the opposite and questioned them about their behavior. They said: "well the elevator is on the fifth floor and I am on the third, so I want it to come down to me". Much can be learnt about the design of user interfaces by considering this, apparently, simple interface. If you think about the elevator button problem you'll find that something so simple has hidden depths. How do people learn about elevator calling? What's the right amount of