1999 - 2000 Programme

Programme Summary

Date Event
6 Sep 1999 Visit to ABACUS Virtual Environment Laboratory, Strathclyde University
1 Nov 1999 Software and the Law
17 Nov 1999 The Glasgow Branch Annual Student Bash
6 Dec 1999 The Ubiquitous Chip
24 Jan 2000 The Y2K Experience Forum
7 Feb 2000 Distance Learning on the Net - the Open University Experience
6 Mar 2000 Speech Recognition
3 Apr 2000 Multimedia Workshop in Glasgow Caledonian University
15 May 2000 BCS Glasgow Branch AGM 2000

Programme Detail

Visit to ABACUS Virtual Environment Laboratory, Strathclyde University

Date Monday 6 September 1999
Convenor Donald Bell
Speaker Malcolm Lindsay

A technological first for Scotland, the laboratory is a world class facility designed for both commercial and research applications.

A full complement of members from the BCS Glasgow Branch, were treated to a full field of vision filled by a high resolution computer generated image, projected on to a 5m diameter, 2m high curved screen. The sensation is similar to a virtual reality helmet but with far better resolution.

We were taken on a tour of a virtual city, first driving along the roads and then flying over and round the suburban landscape. The sense of reality was chilling.

Later we visited Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Grand Central Station in New York, something which is not now possible in real reality as the building has been replaced. The term virtual heritage has been coined.

We left the land and explored sunken ships before travelling from beyond the Moon's orbit down to below the Matterhorn and back up to the stars.

My thanks to Donald Bell for organising this most interesting visit and especially to Malcolm Lindsay, the Director of the Laboratory for his tour and explanations.

Iain R. White ~ Chairman

Visit the Virtual Environment Laboratory website.


Software and the Law

Date Monday 1st November 1999
Speaker Peter Scott of Caledonain University

Peter Scott is a regular performer on the Conference circuit and has published quite extensively on Law & Technology. He fascinated and entertained this Glasgow audience while illustrating that failure to have a Legal Action Plan could be fatal to computer dependent commercial interests when the true impact of the Millenium Bug is known.

The talk was accompanied by a full handout outlining legal remedies which may be available in the most likely scenarios.

  • What happens if the free software, claimed to update systems to full compliance standard, fails.
  • What happens if "Millenium Compliant" software crashes on the day?
  • What happens if the problem is caused by lack of in house documentation?
  • What happens if the contractor called in has got it wrong?
  • Who, in short, can be sued, and why!

The need to identify the players and assess the reparation potential was proved to be even more important than the pure substantive law of "ex contractu" or "ex delictu" liability. The law was presented as a working tool by this experienced "sharp end" practitioner who understands well the need to make the law both interesting and intelligible to a lay audience.


The Glasgow Branch Annual Student Bash

Date 17 November 1999
Convenor Martine McFarlane ~ SYPG representative

The branch invited computing students from Universities and Colleges in the neighbouring areas to meet the committee members, sample the hospitality, and hear of the benefits on offer to them.

The event received responses from students from a wide variety of different backgrounds, and the commitee judged the event as being successful, particularly since there was a great deal of competition from a little known ;-) football match (Scotland v England Euro 2000)

The event was somewhat informal and Ian White, the chair of the Glasgow Branch, told the students of the multitude of membership benefits and explained a little about the Glasgow Branch, while Duncan Smeed explained the benefits of the CENG distinction. The committee members spoke to each student and happily answered any questions or queries asked of them. Leaflets, CDs and application forms were distributed to those in attendance.

Students were invited to come and join in future events organised by the Glasgow Branch.


The Ubiquitous Chip

Date 6th December 1999
Convenor Robert McLeod
Speaker Duncan Smeed
Cariacature of Duncan Smeed

The BCS Glasgow Christmas Lecture, given by Duncan Smeed of Strathclyde University, was a light-hearted presentation on the wierd and wonderful products and applications that the 'Ubiquitiuos Chip' has been used for in Christmas's past and may be used for in Christmas's future.

Amongst the exhibits used to illustrate the talk was the very first Dragon 32, one of the most successful UK home computers of the early-80's and one which Duncan had a hand in designing. The only heckling during the meeting was provided by one of the exhibits ...

Graduate Furby ... a cheeky little Furby.

For more information please visit Duncan's website where you can find all of the topics covered in the lecture as well as a plethora of interesting links.


The Y2K Experience Forum

Date Monday 24th January 2000
Convenor Donald Bell
Speaker Brian Ward
Y2K panel

From left to right: Chris Morrow, Helen Watt, Brian Ward and David MacFarlane

Brian Ward is an expert in "fixing" the Y2K bug and he introduced this meeting with his own presentation on the millennium bug phenomenon as he experienced it over the last 18 months.

The panel, comprising representatives from the business, education and political sectors, then instigated a discussion as to whether Y2K was overhyped, under-reported or we got it just right. Panel members were Chris Morrow (ITNTO - IT National Training Organisation), Helen Watt (Glasgow University) and David MacFarlane (Y2K advisor).

Contributions and questions from the floor resulted in a lively and informed debate.

Brian intends to e-mail a summary of the evening's discussions to the government ministers responsible for ecommerce.


Date Monday 7th February 2000
Convenor Alan Crombie
Speaker Martin Weller (The Open University)


  • T171 - You, your computer and the net
  • T171 - The worlds largest online education
  • T171 - the why, what and how

Martin Weller is the Course Chair on the Open University's new foundation level course "T171 - You, your computer and the Net".

Martin presented a fascinating introduction to "T171 You, your computer and the Net" - the Open University's first large scale online course. Piloted in 1999 it is being presented to over 8500 students in 2000. The talk looked at the reasons for developing the course, the structure of the course and how it has been implemented within the existing organisational structure."

There was a great deal of interest from the floor with questions ranging from "How do you detect plagiarism in this environment?" to "What benefits can this course offer to my disabled clients?"

Read about T171 on the Open University Website.This site contains a short demo which will give you an idea of the course content.


Speech Recognition

Date Monday 6th March 2000
Convenor Duncan Smeed
Speaker Ms Emmeline Johnston (IBM Speech Recognition Group, Staines)

"Throw away your keyboard - let's talk!"

IBM ViaVoice - the award winning desktop dictation solution.

Emmeline gave an excellent marvellous presentation followed by a demonstration on effective use of ViaVoice. She sees the most important issue for Speech Recognition being that it needs to be seen as a way of demonstrably changing the way in which people work and use their keyboards - as a way of exploiting the most natural interface to technology - our voices.

An impromptu question-and-answer session sprang up in the middle of the demonstration but that didn't leave the meeting lost for words at the end of the night.

Bio Notes Emmeline Johnston is responsible for the promotion of IBM speech products to corporate customers and on-line promotions as well as holding responsibility for the UK Speech Business Partner programme.

Emmeline gained a BSc from Birmingham University and joined IBM in 1988 as a Systems Engineer in the AS/400 division. Since then she has had five years in marketing working with the IBM decision support, office and workgroup software products. After a two year assignment to Lotus Development, as part of the Lotus Business Partner team, she joined the IBM Speech Team in January 1998 and has now taken over the lead sales role for Speech with responsibility for both the Desktop and Telephony based products.


Multimedia Workshop in Glasgow Caledonian University

Date Monday 3rd April 2000
Convenor Willie McKee and Harry Driver

"What do you do with yours?" (Your computer, that is!)

Visitors to our hands-on Multimedia Workshop in Glasgow Caledonian University found out about some of the exciting things that you can do with a computer when it is not churning out correspondence, accounts and databases.

A series of workstations were available with demonstrations of

  • Sound
    • Hilarious results were achieved when Harry and Willie created a musical duet recording using Media Station and CoolEdit software demonstrated by Martine.
    • At the Cubase station, a technician from the Department of Engineering showed how music can be composed, edited and played using a simple keyboard in conjunction with the software. keyboard
  • Images
    • Helen demonstrated the uses of a scanner
    • Digital photographs of the participants were taken and integrated into a website which Donald created on the night
  • Video
    • Video footage from a camcorder was captured as computer data
    • Alan had two different cameras on two different machines connected by the LAN and was running NetMeeting which allows video conferencing and the sharing of applications such as a whiteboard, word processors and more. This simulated Internet video conferencing.

Our thanks go to the Department of Engineering at Glasgow Caledonian University who put their facilities at our disposal for the evening.


BCS Glasgow Branch AGM 2000

Date Monday 15th May 2000