Thursday, February 19, 2009

Probabilistic Network Library

The Intel Probabilistic Network Library was a project originally developed by Kevin Murphy and then translated from Matlab into C++ by the Information Technologies Laboratory. This library has not really been supported since 2004 but has an interesting high level wrapper library to its underlying functionality. For those looking to use a Bayesian network library, maybe look at SMILE.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dark Orange Choc Mousse

This recipe originally states it serves 4, I happen to disagree, after splitting it into 4 you would go into a sugar coma. A better estimate would be 8-10 servings (I'm assuming its being served after a meal).

300g dark chocolate
30g butter
2 eggs, separated
30ml sugar
45ml orange liqueur (or Van der Hum or Grand Marnier)
250ml cream

  • Break up the slab of chocolate and melt it in the liqueur in a bowl over hot water
  • Add butter in small blocks, stirring until it has melted
  • Beat the sugar and egg yolks until pale and light. Reserve egg whites
  • Beat in the melted chocolate and butter, then leave to cool
  • Whip the egg whites to stiff peak stage. Be careful not to overbeat
  • Whip the cream until stiff
  • Fold the egg whites and cream into the chocolate mixture
  • Pour into an attractive bowl and chill for several hours before serving
Garnish with crystalised orange / candied orange peel / orange segments. For the super indulgent, drizzle with orange liqueur (or ginger/orange liqueur mix)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concert: Jonny Cooper Orchestra

The Jonny Cooper Orchestra entertained audiences at Kirstenbosch with a mixture of the old favourites from Glen Miller and Frank Sinatra and added a few Proudly South African compositions to the list. I looove big band music and was pleasantly surprised to see so many other people under the age of 40. I even spotted a couple jiving to one song.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Salsa @ Deluxe

For those who love to salsa or are keen to learn, beginner and improver classes at Deluxe on Long Street is ideal. Its a mixture of ages and levels of competency and has a wonderful vibe. Classes are R40, 8-9.30pm on Thursdays and you can stay for social dancing afterwards to put into practice what you just learnt.

Sadly from next week I cannot make it to classes due to UCT Ballroom lessons, but I will hopefully pop in occasionally to social dance (if silver lessons don't kill me). See everyone on the dancefloor!

In other news, if anyone is keen to start ballroom and latin, UCT Ballroom has free beginner lessons for the next two weeks for everyone to come try, 5-6pm Tuesday and Thursday.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Elephants Eye

Early mornings on campus are beautiful in summer. I don't normally get to see the sun rises through the trees at my office but today my friends dragged me on a hike to Elephants Eye, leaving UCT at 6.30am.

The hike leaves from Silvermine Reserve (entrance R15 per adult) and took us roughly 40 minutes to cover the walk through spiderwebs, fynbos and rockery. The view on the hike was stunning, especially the orange glow off the sea from the sunlight and veld fires. The view from Elephants Eye encompasses Muizenburg and towards Somerset West, well worth the short trek.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Plaza 09

Plaza week so far has been frantic and hot. The weather has gone through its typical CT pms and had rain on monday morning, howling gale today, boiling sun and overcast. Welcome to UCT Upper Campus microclimate :)

Signups are steadily increasing though convincing students how have never danced before that R320 for a year is cheap is quite a mission. For the foreigners, that is roughly $35 a year for which you can get a minimum of 4 hours a week of classes.

We did a demo yesterday on plaza in a mixture of shiny dresses and tshirts and jeans, to show the variety of levels and dances we do. Dancing on cement is never pleasant, turns are an absolute killer and if you are bare foot as some tried, you can shred the skin very easily. But overall it was fun.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Fire bad, tree pretty

As most people know, I have been pushing myself (with the help of a supervisor) to meet some pretty hard deadlines. By yesterday afternoon my brain took a holiday and went back to low-level thinking 'Fire bad, tree pretty'.

I also realised that saying 'fire bad, tree pretty' at the moment is rather bad given the number of fires within the Western Cape. They even closed the N1 last night because of a veld fire causing zero visibility.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Battle of the Supervisors

To all those with two supervisors, I am beginning to understand the potential headaches. I have been adopted by the new lecturer in CSAG, Babatunde Abiodun, a veritable workhorse who really really works his students. This contrasts with my actual supervisor Bruce Hewitson, who lets students design their own work program. While I like deadlines, it is going to interesting to balance the two.

My first conflict of interest is my chapter 1 structure. I have been diligently working away at a outline designed last week only to have it changed this morning into a more philosophical introduction into the topic.

If I can balance the two styles I think I will end up with a very comprehensive thesis. Here is to hoping.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Adventures in LaTeX

I have spent the last couple weeks starting to write my thesis. This is normally fairly easy in Word, just start typing and format later. In LaTeX its the other way around. Format first and then write, you'll save yourself loads of time and headaches at the end. I last used LaTeX for my honours thesis and have mostly forgotten the commands.

Andrew nobly pointed out a thesis template from UCLA that is very handy but not terribly well documented. I have eventually got set up and realised that the reference formatting in the text is somewhat bizarre. I have now switched back to abbrv until I find out what the UCT standard is. You will also need to add the amsmath and graphicx packages

A really helpful resource is Andy Robert's LaTeX Starter Guide which contains nearly everything you'll need to do maths, tables, figures and formatting. It even includes a comprehensive list of symbols so people like Raoul don't have to search all day for the infinity symbol :P

Editor-wise I am writing in TexShop, a Mac program and using BibDesk to store my Bibtex references. If you're in Windows I'm told that MiKTeX is very nice including a file structure sidebar and JabRef for reference editing. For those of you who break out in hives at the thought of learning a new markup language, try LyX, I've heard wonderful feedback about it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pro20 Cricket

I haven't attended a domestic cricket match in years which I rectified this weekend. Watching the Cape Cobras beat the Titans was a fun-filled afternoon and relatively cheap at R30 for a grass seat. I don't normally enjoy watching 5 day tests live as the TV provides a much better perspective but with Pro20 the constant action means you never miss out or have time to get bored.