Computer Science University

To-Do Lists – An Incredibly Useful Cross-Platform App

My time management skills are practically non-existent, and so I picked up an awful lot from Randy Pausch’s lecture.  Nothing more so though than the benefits of a ‘To Do’ list.

I knew that I needed to find a really good service that would sync between all my devices and was super easy to use.  Over the last week, I’ve tried quite a few and read many reviews, and I think I have found the best one for the job.

Wunderlist is a free service by ’6wunderkinder’, and is managed by a 10-strong team in Berlin.  Their software syncs ‘To Do’ lists between iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows and OS X, which covers pretty much everything.  In addition, when you open the app you are taken straight to the view showing your current list of jobs and at the top is the box to enter a new job.  Could it be any simpler?

You can download it for iPhone here,
iPad here,
Android here,
Windows here
and OS X here.

I hope you find it as useful as I have!


Computer Science University

What do I want to get out of 3/4/5/6 Years at University?

Why did I want to come to University?  What do I hope to get out of it?  Apart from in my interview, nobody asked me that and yet it seems like such an important question.  I’m going to write my own thoughts here from what I have researched (from questioning my flat mates to reading some of the more sensible discussions on ‘The Student Room’ forums), but if you are going to read them and take something from it, I suggest you stop and try and answer the question yourself before carrying on.

I could relate to almost everything Randy Pausch said we shouldn’t be doing in his lecture on Time Management, which meant I found it extremely useful.  But the point that most stood out to me was that you should think of your time as money.  Taking a 3 year degree as an example, you spend £42,000+ on Tuition, Accommodation and Living.  But an average (after tax) income over 3 years (based on 2010-2011) is £41,130 (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, 2012) for someone in our age bracket.  That is an £83,000 difference in the value of your estate, come the end of 3 years, and that’s a lot of money for a piece of paper saying “I can work hard and I know how to solve problems and how to conduct research”.  But how many people come here just for that bit of paper?

Like many of us, I spent 12 years teaching myself about computers because I was fascinated and it was the only way to learn about them.  The idea of ‘officially’ studying computers and programming sounded so great I didn’t even consider anything else.  And so what I want to get out of these years is a really deep understanding of computing, specifically programming and architectures.  What else though?

The social and maturity aspect is important as well.  To quote the Oxford English Dictionary, University is “a high-level educational institution in which students study for degrees and academic research is done”.  Doesn’t that seem to be missing something?  From talking to numerous flat mates and fellow CS students, the reoccurring theme (other than pursuit of knowledge) is socialising and networking.  I’ve found, especially over the last 3 weeks, that various societies and sports clubs have the perfect atmosphere to help me grow socially and build team skills.

Our years at University are probably when we most mature as Adults, both socially and academically.  For many of us, it’s the first time we have lived completely independently, and it’s a perfect intermediary stage between living at home and leaving home.  Since our SKIL tutorial, I’ve begun to realize how important Time Management is, and it’s things like this that we can first master at University.

To summarise then, we are gaining knowledge of our subject, we are finally in an environment where we can learn about a subject of our choice, we pickup social skills and self-management tools and we mature into Adult’s.  What more could you ask for?

If you think I missed a key point, or if you decided University was the choice for you for a different reason, I welcome a discussion in the comments section.


Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. (2012, 2). Distribution of median and mean income and tax by age range and gender, 2009-10 . Retrieved 11 3, 2012, from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs:


Computer Science University

Could AI Limit the Effect of 100% of ‘Bugs’?

The problems that we heard about in the Plenary were mostly caused by software, whether it was due to the programmer or the executor.  A human brain with the capacity to think many times quicker and not make mistakes would theoretically be able to spot these mistakes or variables being sent within the software and stop them.  Is it possible to replicate this function in software?

What we would require is an intermediate stage ran at the end of all methods or when a variable is sent that used human intelligence to establish if something is behaving as would be expected.

A simpler implementation of a computer’s intelligence is tested by the Turing test.  Either by the end of this year, or early next year, it looks as if we will have computers that can successfully complete the Turing test, indicating we will be able to build intelligent computers (assuming we agree with the principles of the test).

So if this intelligence was to become more advanced, surely we could teach the computer what we would expect as throughput and output of computer programs?  If so, we would have a device (effectively a ‘supercharged’ human brain) capable of detecting a program that’s going to cause problems.

There are limits however – this idea would only prevent unexpected variables being passed to the wrong devices (such as the CD/Gear incident with the Jaguar Cars).

In 1963, Turing proved that no such program could ever exist with the functionality of detecting if a program will run into a loop (and crash), stopping it (called the ‘Halting Problem’, more information on this is here).

So, science has limits in the ways it can improve the reliability of computing – it’s never going to solve all our problems (crashing), but as technology progresses, intelligent machines should be able to prevent an increasing amount of erroneous input.