Citizen sensing with Arduino

Introducing some notes on low-power Arduino programming.

In 2013 I did a summer project on using the Arduino as a platform for "citizen sensing". This rapidly became an exploration of how to create hardware and software that can do sensing while operating in a very low-power regime, such as one would need for an environmental sensor.

There were several results from this project -- one of which wasn't an actual solution to the motivating problem I'd come up with. However, it did generate a lot of notes about low-power Arduino programming, both for hardware and software, and a software library that embodies some of them

I recently decommissioned the web site I was using to host this content, so I've ported it onto my main blog as a collection of research and development notes in case it's still of interest to anyone.

Carpe Diem: Seizing the Day in a Distracted World

Roman Alexander Krznaric

A cultural history of seizing the day and how the idea has been co-opted by a range of special interests until it can be used as a description for almost any practice or commodity. Krznaric has a historian's eye for contradictions and re-purposings, but also manages to draw out a number of practices that might be helpful to readers seeking to make space in their lives. (My favourite is to imagine dying, going to a dinner party in the afterlife, and meeting alternative you's who took different decisions at critical points in your life. Which ones might you envy? Which would you pity? And how do the answers to these questions illuminate how you might want to make future life choices?) Altogether a good antidote to the commercialisation of carpe diem.

Finished on Thu, 10 May 2018 13:59:58 -0700.   Rating 4/5.

The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda's Road to 9/11

Lawrence Wright


A narrative history of the rise of Al Qaeda and the consequences for the world.

I read this book after I'd seen the recent television drama based on it. They cover substantially different ground, with the book rooted firmly in the origins and history of the group rather than in the few years preceding 9/11. It focuses quite intensively on Ayman al Zawahiri, whose struggle against the Egyptian government led to his eventual exile in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden, by contrast is – if not quite a bit player – then certainly a peripheral and rather transparent figure whose commitment to revolution arrives very late and in a surprisingly hesitant fashion – but is then absolutely decisive in both the tactics and strategy of the fight against the US and its allies. Altogether a fascinating cast of characters,

Finished on Thu, 10 May 2018 13:55:34 -0700.   Rating 5/5.

The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis

Elaine Morgan


Discussions of human origins invariably rest on rather shaky foundations. The fossil record – such as it is – has huge gaps, isn't a random sample of the fauna, and only preserves the gross features of anatomy evident in bones. So it's hardly surprising that a range of theories have been proposed to explain the division between apes and humans.

The aquatic ape hypothesis is one such. It has some supporting evidence – or, rather, it isn't definitively contradicted by the evidence that there is. In this it falls into the common evidential trap of turning a lack of evidence against into prima facie evidence for: the classic pseudoscience bait-and-switch.

It's possible to pose the theory at several strengths. The strongest, that hominids went through an aquatic phase long enough to give rise to evolutionary adaptations that haven't been wholly lost, seems unsupported; the weakest, that hominids spent time near water and waded in order to access rich food supplies, seems unobjectionable.I'm unconvinced there's much else to it, or indeed that there ever could be given the limitations of the evidence available.

Finished on Thu, 10 May 2018 13:49:03 -0700.   Rating 1/5.

Abandoned Places: 60 stories of places where time stopped

Richard Happer


A tour of some of the most atmospheric abandoned and semi-abandoned places in the world, ranging from ancient cities, through colonial-era hill hotels, to Communist showpieces and disaster sites. All accompanied by fascinating descriptions and wonderful photography.

Finished on Thu, 10 May 2018 13:38:58 -0700.   Rating 5/5.

Call for papers: 3rd Workshop on Engineering Collective Adaptive Systems (eCAS 2018)

Come and join us in Trento for eCAS.



3rd Workshop on Engineering Collective Adaptive Systems – eCAS 2018 In conjunction with FAS* 2018

September 7th, 2018 Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK) & University of Trento - Trento, Italy

Web site:


Modern software systems are becoming more and more collective, composed of many distributed and heterogeneous entities. These systems operate under continuous perturbations making manual adjustments infeasible. For a collective system to be resilient, its adaptation must also be collective, in the sense that multiple entities must adapt in a way that addresses critical runtime conditions while preserving the benefits of the collaborative interdependencies. Decision-making in such systems is distributed and possibly highly dispersed, and interaction between the entities may lead to the emergence of unexpected phenomena.

In such systems, a new approach for adaptation is needed to allow (i) multiple entities to collectively adapt with (ii) negotiations to decide which collective changes are best. Collective adaptation also raises a second important challenge: which parts of the system (things, services, people) should be engaged in an adaptation? This is not trivial, since multiple solutions to the same problem may be generated at different levels. The challenge here is to understand these levels and create mechanisms to decide the right scope for an adaptation for a given problem.

This workshop solicits papers that address new methodologies, theories and principles that can be used in order to develop a better understanding of the fundamental factors underpinning the operation of such systems, so that we can better design, build, and analyze them, as well as case studies and applications showing such approaches in action. Interdisciplinary work is particularly welcomed.

Suggested Topics (but not limited to):

  • Novel theories relating to operating principles of CAS
  • Novel design principles for building CAS systems
  • Insights into the short and long-term adaptation of CAS systems
  • Insights into emergent properties of CAS
  • Insights into general properties of large scale, distributed CAS
  • Decision-making approaches in CAS
  • Methodologies for studying, analyzing, and building CAS
  • Frameworks for analyzing or developing CAS case studies
  • Languages, platforms, APIs and other tools for CAS
  • Scenarios, case studies, and experience reports of CAS in different contexts (e.g., Smart Mobility, Smart Energy/Smart Grid, Smart Buildings, traffic management, emergency response, etc.)


The workshop is expected to attract participants from many disciplines, including Autonomic Computing, Biology, Game Theory, Evolutionary Computing, Network Science, Self-Organizing Systems, Pervasive Computing, and to be of interest to anyone working with the domain of large-scale self-adaptive systems. In addition, the European Commission has funded seven scientific projects and a Coordination Action in this area, with projects starting at the beginning of 2013. Thus, the workshop provides a natural base for the projects to meet and share ideas, even if it is in no way limited to this audience, and is likely to have broad appeal to a wide range of researchers. Potential audience members might work in application areas relating to large-scale distributed systems, or may come from any of the many disciplines that can provide insights into the operation and design of such systems.


  • Abstract submission: June 4, 2018
  • Workshop paper submission: June 11, 2018
  • Workshop paper notification: July 9, 2018
  • Camera-Ready Version: July 15, 2018
  • Workshop: September 3, 2018


The length of a workshop paper may not exceed 6 pages including references and follow the IEEE Computer Society Press proceedings style guide.

All papers should be submitted in PDF format. You can submit the paper through EasyChair using this link:

By submitting a paper, the authors confirm that in case of acceptance, at least one author will attend the workshop to present the work.

Papers will be peer reviewed on the basis of originality, readability, relevance to themes, soundness, and overall quality. Workshop proceedings will be published on IEEE Xplore in parallel with the main conference proceedings.



  • Jacob Beal, Raytheon BBN Technologies, USA
  • Giacomo Cabri, University of Modena And Reggio Emilia, Italy
  • Nicola Capodieci, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy
  • Emma Hart, Edinburgh Napier University, U.K
  • Jane Hillston, University of Edinburgh, U.K
  • Mirko Viroli, University of Bologna, Italy


  • Gerrit Anders, Augsburg University
  • Franco Bagnoli, Università di Firenze
  • Ezio Bartocci, TU Wien
  • Luca Bortolussi, University of Trieste
  • Johann Bourcier, IRISA/INRIA-Universite de Rennes 1
  • Javier Camara, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Siobhan Clarke, Trinity College Dublin
  • Daniel Coore, University of the West Indies
  • Ferruccio Damiani, Dipartimento di Informatica, Università di Torino
  • Rocco De Nicola, IMT - School for Advanced Studies Lucca
  • Giovanna Di Marzo Serugendo, University of Geneva
  • Schahram Dustdar, TU Wien
  • Jane Hillston, University of Edinburgh
  • Paola Inverardi, University of L’Aquila
  • Eva Kühn, TU Wien
  • Peter Lewis, Aston University
  • Nicolas Markey, LSV, CNRS & ENS Cachan
  • Annapaola Marconi, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Trento
  • Hernan Melgratti -- University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Monjur Mourshed, Cardiff University, UK
  • Mirco Musolesi, University College London
  • Carlo Pinciroli, École Polytechnique de Montreal
  • Alexander Schiendorfer, University Augsburg
  • Bradley Schmerl, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Antoine Spicher, LACL University Paris Est Creteil
  • Katia Sycara, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Christof Teuscher, Portland State University
  • Mirko Viroli, Università di Bologna
  • Martin Wirsing, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen


All attendees at the workshop must register for SASO through the conference website:

Norse Mythology

Neil Gaiman


A re-telling of some of the core Norse legends by a master of science fiction. Gaiman's drawn heavily on Norse mythology in his "Sandman" series, especially in Season of Mists. But he does a fantastic job of rendering the stories in prose too, with a carefully chosen selection and a voice that's perfectly pitched: not trying to be modern, but not being self-consciously archaic or imitative either. In many ways the only shame is that it's too little taken from such a large body of possible tales.

Finished on Wed, 28 Mar 2018 10:21:26 -0700.   Rating 5/5.