Andrea at Uberall

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A couple of months ago, Andrea started her new job at Berlin based startup Uberall. She’s working as a backend developer, as you can see on their company page (and the screen grab to the right).

Funnily enough, Uberall is also a location services company, although in a different way to HERE, where I’m working. Actually, in German “überall” means everywhere. So to continue our bad jokes, I work here and Andrea works everywhere.

I’m really late with this post. Blame it on moving house, buying furniture, and all that.

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I’m in HERE


Firstly, I’m very sorry about the pun in the title, I just couldn’t help myself.

I’ve just finished my second week in my new job. I’m working at HERE, a part of Nokia as a Mobile Application Developer working on an as-yet unreleased iOS app.

The first couple of weeks have been getting to know the code base and getting stuck into fixing bugs in the current build. The rest of the team have all been really great in helping me get up to speed on the code and processes.

I’m sure there’ll more news in the coming weeks.

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MaxMin article preprint

A preprint of my latest article is now available on arXiv:

The article is based on the contents of my PhD thesis (perhaps confusingly, of the same name).

I’ve submitted the same article to a journal (which is the normal way of things), but it will probably take quite a while for it to make it through the academic review process.

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Spring Cat

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It’s all well and good saying I’ve been busy for the last few months, but what have I been doing?

Well, one of the main projects I’ve been working on has just become available today.

Spring Cat is a mobile game that I developed for Bravo Tango Bravo which is now available for iOS and Android.

It’s an endless runner, in which you control the titular Spring Cat, guiding him through a cityscape obstacle course, collecting Kit Koinz and power ups. The original idea came from Josh Schooling, who’s still at school, so that’s a big win for him.

The game was developed in Cocos2d-x, a cross platform C++ game engine, a branch of Cocos2d-iPhone which I used to develop Dambusters a few years ago.

As is perhaps usual for game development, it ended up taking a bit longer than I expected, although we did get Game Center and Play Game Services running for launch. This means that you can compete against your friends (and everyone else) for the best scores and there are also a slew of achievements that you can try to get.

Here are some screen shots:

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You can buy Spring Cat now on the respective mobile app stores:

If you grab a copy for iOS, see if you can beat my high score.

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Things have been a bit quiet here for the last few months. As usual, this has coincided with an especially busy time elsewhere.

So, as the first post on voo-du since February, I’ll stick to the big stuff.

Andrea and I have moved to Berlin.

We arrived yesterday. I’ll be starting a new job on the 15th of June and for the time being Andrea will continue her work for iMath remotely.

That’s it for now. I promise I’ll post more in the next few days and weeks.

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Second-class language

One of my current projects is a mobile game that I’m developing for Pete Schooling of BravoTangoBravo in collaboration with his son Josh.

I won’t get into the details at the moment, but I’m using the Cocos2D-x game engine to build the game.

Cocos2d-x is an interesting beast. It’s a port of the very popular Cocos2d-iPhone (now -Swift) game engine to C++ in an effort to make a multi-platform engine. I’m not sure exactly who runs most of the development work at the moment, but a lot of it is based in China.

This is giving me a novel experience, as a native English speaker, of not necessarily being the target audience. The documentation for Cocos2d-x is pretty scarce – something which is being constantly improved upon – but I get the feeling that if I could read Mandarin, there would be a lot more documentation available. If you look at the showcase of games on their web-site, you’ll see a lot of them in only Mandarin, or made by Chinese companies.

I’m in no way complaining. Firstly, it would be good if online communities understood that English isn’t the be-all and end-all and secondly, the English speaking and bilingual community is doing a fantastic job of bringing a lot of the documentation to English, it’s really getting better all the time.

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In Germany they have the concept of a Doktorvater (or Doktormutter obviously). It translates to “doctor-father” or “doctor-mother” and refers to your Ph.D. thesis advisor. It is quite common for someone to mention that so-and-so was their Doktorvater. In my case, I have two Doktorväter

Of course, the analogy of family can be taken further, if two people share a Doctorvater, then they would be Doctorgeschwestern (doctor-siblings). In fact, you could create an entire doctor-geneology based on who are the descendants of whom.

In the case of mathematics, it’s already been done. You can browse the Mathematics Genealogy Project and see which mathematicians were advisors to which students and who their advisors were and so on.

For a couple of extreme cases, we can see C.-C. Jay Kuo and Manuel Bryennios. C.-C. Jay Kuo has the most students of any advisor in the database, 125 at current count. Manuel Bryennios has the most descendants in the database, with 120,596 but only one registered student from 1315.

My own “line” goes back as far as someone who was an advisor in 1941 in Argentina, Alberto E. Sagastume Berra. I’m the only Stainsby in the database it seems.

As you can see, I’ve got a somewhat sordid family history, where one of my Doktorväter is also my Doktorbruder, but we can skip over that.

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Well that’s the end of that: 2014


This year wasn’t nearly as busy as last year, but I’ve certainly had a lot going on, not least of which was finishing my Ph.D.

At the beginning of this year I finally received my Spanish drivers license, which I’d completed the practical exam for at the end of last year.

I started playing the still unfinished game Starbound and developed my own database of items from the game, StarboundBase. In the process I started to think about what I really enjoyed in work if I was spending my spare time developing a web site, just because I could.

Although Andrea and I didn’t manage as many overseas trips as last year, we did escape to Montserrat for a day and have some great weather for it.


For my birthday, Andrea gave me kitesurfing classes. I had my first class and absolutely loved it, although for reasons that will soon become clear, I’ve had to leave the next class until next year.

At the end of April I began the task that would occupy me for pretty much all of the rest of the year. I started writing my Ph.D. thesis dissertation.

Being the programmer that I am, I created an animation of the writing process over at The Original Takeaway.


In June, Chloe and Ben came to visit and we took a trip south of Barcelona to the Penedés region to visit some wineries. In July Andrea and I spent a night in the Parador in Vic as a treat for my birthday from Thea and Bruce. I suppose that in the end we have done a bit of travelling around Catalunya this year, so I shouldn’t complain.

After many, many revisions, I finished the dissertation and deposited in October, just after Andrea’s 30th birthday. In total it took my about five and a half months to write the dissertation and I was very happy with the result.


For Andrea’s birthday we went to Granada for a weekend and caught up with all her family. It was fantastic for Andrea and a great little break for me as well. Andrea and I went out for her birthday in Barcelona as well and enjoyed lunch at a great little sushi place in Sant Cugat.

On the 3rd of December Soph, the wife of my best friend Mike gave birth to their daughter, Eden Rose. I got lots of updates during the process and it was great to finally see photos of her after the birth. A huge congratulations to all the Popkiss family!


In December I defended my Ph.D. thesis. Bruce, Thea, Evan and Steph all came from Australia to see me, and although I’m not sure they understood anything, it was great to have them there. In fact the whole defence went well, after the first couple of slides I relaxed a bit, and I think my presentation went well. The questions weren’t too tough, and I was able to answer them all. In the end I completed my Ph.D. with a Cum Laude, so I was thrilled with the outcome.

The last four and a bit years have been really incredible, I’ve studied something that I knew almost nothing about at the beginning, and by the end I really felt like I have got a grip on the subject in general and earned my Ph.D. with my knowledge of my specific area.



To celebrate and finish off the year, Andrea and I joined the rest of my family in a trip to Iceland. In short, it was incredible. The best parts of the trip were hiking over a glacier and seeing the Aurora Borealis, something I’d wanted to see ever since reading Phillip Pullman’s series His Dark Materials.


We had a Stainsby-Templeton-Martínez christmas on the 25th in the town of Vík in the south of Iceland. It had been 7 years since Evan and I were both with Thea and Bruce for Christmas, so it was something very special made even more so by having Andrea and Steph there as well.

Now I’m with my other family, in Granada for New Years and Three Kings. And so ends one of my busiest years ever.

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Yesterday I defended my Ph.D.

It all went really well and I had lots of people come along to support me, which was fantastic.

Thea, Bruce, Evan and Steph also all came from Australia (by way of various length routes) as well.

Now it’s time to relax a bit and enjoy the Christmas holidays. Research will continue, but that’s something for next year.

I’ll write a bit more about the defence later on.

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Thesis defence

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Next week I’ll defend my Ph.D. thesis, titled “Triangular bases of integral closures”, and written under the direction of Jesús Montes and Enric Nart.

It will be on Thursday the 11th of December, at 18:00 CET (that’s 6:30pm in Barcelona for those of you not used to 24-hour time).

It’s a public event, so you’re all welcome to attend. In fact, I’d love to see everyone there.

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