Sheepdog Trials

I have been interested in chaos for a long time. I like swarms – they are chaotic. Each individual in a swarm has a very simple set of rules to follow but overall, the swarm seems to move in a coordinated fashion. As such, I wanted to provide a simple and visual explanation of swarm behaviour that was accessible for people to interact with – MIT’s Scratch seemed the ideal platform then. So by not following what I preach (i.e. plan then code), I decided to mess about and produced a silly game in Scratch. Sadly, there is no swarm behaviour either! Here’s the game – let me know in the comments, if you were able to complete it in less than 70 moves. ControlsYou control the dog (green blob). Click somewhere on the stage to have the dog move there. It will repel sheep (purple) blobs. You can repel sheep more by clicking on the dog and have it bark. Each click counts as a move. The objective is to round all the sheep up into the pen (brown square) in as few moves as possible.

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Message into Space

I run an after-school code club, which is attended by pupils from a few different year groups. I am impressed by what a team of four girls have achieved (aged 11-13). They’ve written code in Python that will run on a Raspberry Pi in the International Space Station (ISS) next year. It sends a message to the astronauts and gives a reading from the temperature sensor. They were limited to a 30 second run-time and the video below shows an emulator of the final output. That’s amazing! They get a certificate showing exactly where the ISS will be in orbit when the code runs. Next year we’ll be getting a physical device to program and actually send into space! We’ll be able to hold something that will actually go into orbit! If you are interested in doing this project, it’s called the Mission Zero.

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Micro:Bit Code Sample

The Micro:bit website is an awesome place to start learning to code. You can create your own programs such as a digital compass through to mini-games. I’ve included an example here. It’s very simple and the Micro:bit has a lot more capabilities that can be used (compass, radio, bluetooth, accelerometer etc.)

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Making Sense of Apple’s Strategy

Written in response to the article ‘Apple iThrone’ (Jan 29th 2015) in The Economist. The ‘Four Schools’ of Strategy Whittington (2002) proposed four categories of strategy: Classical, Evolutionary, Processual and Systemic. With roots from the Enlightenment and a ‘Scientific Method’ approach, the Classical school is a systematic top-down approach whereby rational strategy formulation, performed by senior managers, is then later performed to maximise profits. The implementation is closely monitored to ensure objectives are reached and sufficient resources available and utilised. The Classical school depends on the “rational economic man” and assumes that people are all motivated uniformly toward profitability. The approach inherently separates the formulation of strategy (by a small few) from the implementation (by the many) and with the goal of long-term planning, does not consider that strategy can emerge from trial and error nor must adapt to a dynamic environment. Whittington describes the Evolutionary perspective where markets determine, in Darwinian fashion, which companies will survive i.e. continue to maximise profitability. As markets determine the strategies companies must adopt, this downplays the value of managers as strategists to concentrating on efficiency e.g. cost control. Similar to Darwin’s Natural Selection, the perspective relies on a diversity of companies/products from which[…]

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