Showing posts from 2012

RTFI ... WTF ...

What is up with a sub-section of our species, incapable of engaging with with world wide interweb, they have to ask obvious questions that take little effort to employ google or another search engine.
It's not difficult, I have probably blogged on this before. Type some clever words into a search engine, analyse the results. If that does not work try some other clever words, you never know the answer may magically appear.
Yet, there are those who will waste their time asking the question and often are unhappy with the response they get. As if our checking the answer for them would present a better more palatable result. 
So, Read The Frigging Internet, form your own view, come up with your own ideas and then GET a GRIP.

That internet based sense of smugness ...

Boasting is seldom a flattering talent, so lets say that I am personally impressed at how the blog is developing.
Rather than go for headline statistics, I prefer steady growth ...
At the start of this year, discussing simulation, Teraknor leapt from a quiet chatter to an interesting peak. Whilst it has dropped to some lower periods (when I have posted less).

The figures show that the trend whilst spiky is moving upwards.

So, it has been nice that whilst it is quieting down over the christmas period, we have enjoyed an increase in numbers for this month. Some of the conversation has been around student discipline, which has obviously attracted interest from many.

Endorse me ...

I would consider myself to be a social media layman, someone who dabbles, more often observes and considers what is worth pursuit or not.

This post could express an infinity of ideas, but as time is short and interest less so. Lets explore the notion of endorsement on LinkedIn. Unlike the 'recommendations' tool where you have to attempt to write something, pithy, punchy and coherent. Whereas with an endorsement, you simply have to agree that a word matches something that others could also agree is a personal and professional match.
So lets take a look at my current endorsements ...

Nothing unusual in the top ranking, to be fair, I am being endorsed for my work on bringing Linux into the modules at the OU, my technical skill is average at best. What makes me chuckle is that on the subjective view of one soul another has agreed that I have skills in the discipline of Windows.
Um, nope I don't, I have probably a power user and given any inclination I could teach myself how t…


Under stone, beneath heath, deep in the sodden ground. Turning earth, giving worth, humblest serpent brown. Eyeless monster of the deep, when do you sleep? Every the pleasure of birds, toddlers and boys … what are you?

Building a simulated internet ... one bit at a time ...

My how Christmas erodes those neurons and worse how a little time away from the tech addles minds even worse. Today has been a the first steps on a delayed path to the (re)creation of a simulated internet. Unlike early instances, this has to hold up to the aggregated assault of at least 1000 different connections.

Fun eh ... having built one side of the bargain, I as yet have to build the other transatlantic (more Pacific) core and work on the clients and how they may connect.

I think I have come up with an addressing methodology that would make sense and scale allowing for at least 255 core switches each hosting around 250 connections.

There are more (many more) refinements and plenty of opportunities to drag forth forgotten networking skills and put more time into troubleshooting the networks I create.

An internet of food ...

There are many things that the internet was not designed for, yet as a sentient species we have taken a system designed at a time of paranoia and ensured that it hosts pictures of the food we eat.

Nice isn't it ...

Equip someone with mobile data connectivity  a phone more powerful than many computers of the generation that spawned the internet, add a reasonable camera and some on board software and hey presto we have an internet of food.

Must go and take another picture of dinner ...

Merry Christmas emails ...

In my usual fit of humbug, I feel that it is worth sharing another cynics viewpoint.

Email has been around for some considerable time, but with the real explosion of Internet from the early 90's onwards. There has been a paradigm shift, which has evolved over the last ten years (or thereabouts)

Now the festive season is upon me, I endure two kinds of mass mailings.

The festive greetings from corporate non entities who succumb to the idea that this must be the right thing to do. When you get one from a CyberSecurity specialist, you know that the season is not the time to be jolly.Then the sales, o lord the sale, will the sales sod off. Every retailler I have mistakenly exchanged virtual cash with in the last three to five years takes the time to pollute my inbox with their prospective wares. To either party .... please, do piss off and leave my respective inboxes alone. I will come and find you if I need you, you don't need to impose some seasonal sensibility on me or your 1000…

What a great word Monger is and how we use it so little ...

Ok, you know what a fishmonger is, we are all aware of the ironmonger. There have been warmongers amongst many other mongers I am sure.

Etymologically based in Greco/Latin and meaning a dealer of ... something or other. What could you be ... after all what is an educator.

Are you a brainmonger or knowledgemonger, in this current culture you could be a qualificationmonger or certmonger.

For my professional background of computing and related disciplines, I could be considered as a networkmonger but once a codemonger.

Everyday jobs could take on new meanings, a quick trip to the hairmonger, popping out to the coffeemonger, having your legal matters resolved by a lawmonger.

Ok, maybe the last one was a bit silly, but you get my point.

I do like the notion that I may be a brainmonger in the field of internetworkmongery, it has a nice long winded ring about it.

What monger are you?

Bus Journey ... Blog ...

Simon D, I know that you read my blog, now stop, think and consider this.

You have a smart phone, you have a shiny iPad thingy. Why can't you start your own blog?

You shared that you can't write one, really, why not, everyone has something in them if you think otherwise I may set Brocklebank Senior on you.

Like anything, it comes with practice, the more you practice writing, the better you will become. I have many 1000's of words behind me as a text book author but still practice my discipline. Often through my blogs and some of the material I create for work.

Imaginative and creative writing is not a given gift, it is one that is acquired. Sometimes you will write something that is really amusing, other times, who cares if it is not your best.

Taking one of your posts ....
Like a prison transport ferrying the dammed, crushed into inhumane seats unfit for an infant let alone an adult. We churned our way through the streets of Bletchley. Each pothole and speed hump pressing…

Hey hey, its the last minute rush before Christmas ...

And I do not mean the Christmas shopping experience.

If you have never noticed this, then you are either unemployed, not in need of employment or too lazy to read your emails.

Over the last week, it is as if everyone is trying to discharge all their pending items (onto you), in that pre-Christmas seasonal desire to ensure that you endure the festive season with the foreboding that come January you too will have 'things to do'.

My problem is, if it sits on my 'to do' list for too long, i tend to delete items based on the giving a damn theory. If nobody else is giving a damn and not asking me for something, then surely it was not important in the first place.

The net result, with the cumulative effect of the Christmas break, stuff will rise to the ignore pile quicker due to the volume of disinterest imposed by 1.5 weeks off.

I am sure there is a salutatory expereince in this somewhere.

Government Targets ...

Wow found this on YouTube, a Monkey Dust parody of Glengarry Glen Ross ...

Eiree how this has become the reality in so many educational establishments.

Another Christmas (bah Humbug!!) message from the Smiths …

The Smith family Christmas blog entry.
Rather than sending a letter to all, which we feel is becoming somewhat cliché and means that we have to bother remembering who we are posting what to.
We (well I actually) have resorted to writing a Christmas blog entry and sharing it with the world. As this blog links to my twitter and facebook feeds and can be shared by other family members then we are reaching the majority of those whom we care about.
If you missed the last post from 2011, it can be found at it gives all our reasons for not doing Christmas cards and preferring social media.
Naturally if you believe that I (we) are humbugs, that’s nice, I am sure those of you who actually know us. Know that we care little about such views.
In reality and in our modern connected and conversely disconnected world, if you have followed either Teraknor or Bloody Professionals, you have a pretty decent idea of wha…

Social Media Experts need not apply ...

Do you know; I think that I may (not really) becoming a social media expert.

Not through vanity or grace, nor expertise, just relative experience. Often I hear the same old drivel in some conversations on the topic. Souls desperate to get a social media presence, but want it now.

Hint : it takes time.

It does not come overnight, if you already have a following, namely you are a publicly known individual or entity. You stand a chance. Otherwise you need to work on it.

Now wondering if I should start a small campaign and see what the results are.

Arguing with idiots ...

After over 4.5 years at OU it is the first time that I have had to apply the following axiom …  "Don't argue with idiots, they will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience".

Discretion prevents me from sharing too much, fortunately they do not work in my faculty. Yet seem oblivious to the impact that they may have on the final product being shipped out to students.

Fortunately we have an outstanding curriculum manager who has the patience of the sanctified. Otherwise it would have been soooo tempting to pop along and tear the muppet in question a new one.

Fiddling the books ...

Not for the first time I get the impression that there are some colleges out there trying to squeeze the hours on some full time programmes.

Naturally I mean less than the expected number of hours in the funding agreement.

I cannot prove anything, so cannot make any accusations. Yet somehow, in their desperation I feel that some centres are delivering their qualifications to less than the funded number of hours.

Is this fraud?

Twelve Days of Christmas ...

Stolen from another feed and tidied up for Christmas and public consumption.
On the 12th day of Christmas Facebook gave to me:
12 loonies I’m blocking 11 friends just watching 10 silly topics trending 9 whiners whining (again) 8 friends a bitching 7 stalkers stalking 6 event invites awaiting 5 drama queens … 4 farmville requests 3 photo tags 2 annoying pokes And a creep that comments on everything

Invitation to connect on LinkedIn ...

I have decided to leave this as a personal salutary lesson on email security ... If you don't get it, don't worry.
From Andrew Smith Lecturer in Networking at Open University Luton, United Kingdom I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

- Andrew Confirm that you know Andrew You are receiving Invitation to Connect emails. Unsubscribe © 2012, LinkedIn Corporation. 2029 Stierlin Ct. Mountain View, CA 94043, USA

Blast from the past ...

Recently I had a brief glimpse in the future and the clock is being turned back. Not weeks, not months, nor years, but to a previous millennia.
It would seem as if, the times are a changing; it is if 1997 did not happen?
Now the competition is to guess … what is coming back as a core subject (albeit in another name) from a time now unknown, unless you were teaching this subject in the 90’s.

Zombiecratic unnovation ....

When you are in a position of knowing that the system that is supposed to support you has less backbone than a quivering Squid, solving problems become a matter of wit and guile.
Having considered some of the solutions one has resorted to, in the accomplishment of ‘problem solving’ and ‘opportunity seeking’ would possibly put grey hairs on some less determined souls.
I have formed the opinion that large organizations are generally directionless beasts. The CEO may lead, but the assembled mass beneath them often lurches along unaware of the motivation.
Worse, is when the leadership demands ‘entrepreneurship’, ‘innovation’ and ‘new business’. Now having been in the position of finding it and seeing the culture fuck with it, I have to wonder if that is what was actually wanted.
In some respects, if it is being asked for, it is almost the opposite of what is actually wanted (or understood).
If an organization asks for innovation, does it want it? If innovation is at the heart of its culture, …

Simulated Internet ...

You may (or may not) have seen some of my past mutterings on the concept of creating a simulated internet, as some technical tomfoolery is coming together. From January 2013 work will begin on the community and platform to support this.

If you are interested please do get in touch, tweet me or email, they are easy to find on the slides.

Is inspection reducing the quality of our education system ...

Listening to the news this morning and the announcement that Ofsted are now 'measuring' local education authorities and their provision of provision (yep that is a valid term). In spite of a world where they have considerably less influence than twenty or so years ago.

I could rant on about the political subterfuge taking place, I could also offer an opinion on the validity of inspections as a tool for quality.

Yet with this world of hitting teachers and schools with a stick, I cannot see anywhere that shows me how we measure the impact this culture is having on the quality of our nations education.

My question, one for teachers from all backgrounds ...

Is the quality culture of inspection quality measures, affecting the quality of what you teach?
Are the overt measures making some subjects too risky? I hear of technical professional topics in my field being avoided, as the league table + inspection culture renders them toxic as educators are frightened of getting any result …

When all others are losing their head about you ...

... you may not have entirely grasped the severity of the situation?

Packet Tracer on a Mac ... over 200 community participants and rising ...

Before you get excited, no Cisco will not be releasing a version of Packet Tracer on a Mac in the near future. The pervasive nature of Windows and Linux and the cost of Macs against the other technologies makes this an unattractive proposition.

After some initial work with virtual machines, it was soon clear that the 'ideal' solution involved the use of WINE bottlers.

At this point if you are not geeky and wondering what I am on about, may I suggest google, its a great tool.

Having used PlayOnMac and WineSkin, I am impressed with the number of community participants that have joined the effort to check, test, tweak, share and mutter about the installation of Packet Tracer on a Mac.

With Snow Leopard, Lion and Mountain Lion in common usage there is some finer tweaks occasionally needed. I have already beta tested PT6.0 and am pleased to report that it works in context.

If you have not installed Packet Tracer on a Mac, please come to…

Getting students to behave ...

Today, searching my drive for a completely unrelated file I came across the powerpoint below, a blast from my past days in further education.

At the time, as someone on a senior lectureship grade, part of my role was to support staff development within our team. One of the recurring topics was student discipline.

A select few who know me from then will recall that students seldom misbehaved twice in my presence, learning from their first experience.

When you think about it, most of it is common sense, at least you would think so.

Presentation at Towcester ...

For those interested in Social Media ::: enjoy

Holiday ...

Recently my wife and I went on a last minute package holiday to Spain, so impressed were we with the experience I posted a review on Tripadvisor, which goes ...

If lunatic asylum is your preferred vacation choice, then as a recent bewildered visitor I wouldn't hesitate in heartily recommending our hotel we century visited.

The prospect of relative quiet promised by the holiday company and supported by their use of trip advisor, only makes our experience the more amusing, in the sardonic sense naturally.

Starting on the positives, it is a well maintained hotel, it has everything you need. If you are on an all-inclusive package, the food is reasonable (not gourmet but reasonable none the less) and the bar flows from 10am until silly o'clock if liquid refreshment is your passion.

Once you become used to the assault of the noise level, as my wife and I are. You may enjoy your stay. We found that headphones work a treat.

Coming in November, we avoided families with noisy children …

Competitive edge ... @worldskillsuk

I have spent the last two days judging competitors in the IT Security challenge at the Skills Show. Everyone else competing in the Cisco Networking Microsoft Technician and IT Support disciplines were going for Gold, Silver or Bronze.

For the four competitors I had the privilege of co-judging it is a different story, they are competing for selection to become the nations only representative at World Skills next July. For these souls, they don't only have to survive this selection, they will be 'selected' as two from the four so that the remaining two have to compete again in March to be the 'one' who goes forward this summer.

You cannot avoid being aware of the Olympics ... in a similar vein, World Skills has been running competitions every two years since 1948 and having over 50 nations involved, it is the skills olympics.

Here apprentices, college students, junior employees, undergraduates all compete to show who is the best of the best against a worldwide pante…
Today's random thought, well maybe not so random and chances are that it is not much of a thought. Nevertheless, have you ever appreciated that any establishment that puts the word quality or gourmet in front of their business title or use these terms to describe their fare are more often not the best quality and definitely not gourmet.

Think about it?

If a hotel is called "quality hotel", is it? I doubt it, if anything it tends to be the opposite.

When you are in a new city looking for somewhere to eat, does the term gourmet endear you to the belief that it w ill be your best ever culinary experience. Chances are this wont be the case, unless you are someone that thinks you can comparatively grade different fast food chains.

So, how does this link to my views on education?

As someone who often blogs on the quality of education in our nation, I leave you with a sobering thought. We don't use gourmet, we avoid overt use of the word quality. Yet often we hear phrases like …

Homo lepto dermis arise ....

Have you ever encountered the human sub genus ... homo lepto dermis.

Or the terminally thin skinned.

Those who take slight at the merest challenge to their intellect or moral code irrespective of the reality in front of their eyes.

A self obsessed group, above dragging their knuckles but not quite at the level of self determined independent thought.

Stuck in an evolutional cul-de-sac they are unlikely to die out, principally because they are too stubborn.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Call centres without resorting to Tourette's ...

Do you wonder sometimes if some call centre operatives have agreed to the surgical removal of their frontal lobes. Over the last week I have needed to speak to my bank and mobile phone provider on more than one occasion, nothing particular to report in this respect, but the levels of dimwittery have ranged from 10 to 11 on a ten point scale.

Once you get into their heads by careful repetition the basis of your call; surviving the regurgitated security questions, they seem to suddenly adopt the persona of having been the all seeing oracle able to answer your mortal request.

I have three contracts with the same phone provider; they called my daughter whilst at college in spite of the fact that we have told them not to contact this number. The frigmarole in getting this into their heads was pure entertainment.

"You were uncontactable sir", um did you try the other number?
"That did not work either", um we both have full bars and have had other calls such as our daughter t…

24x7x52 navel gazing ...

No news used to be good news, now no news equates to a continuum of navel gazing media atrocity. Often offending my eyes, ears and intellect, not that I feel that I am able to claim much of the latter.

Before I get some dimwit posting an inane comment that I will only have to sarcastically retort; I do not dislike the news. I detest the need for the news and media machine to churn and churn it does:

Once something breaks; they seem to need to get every angle on something that can only be served once. Recently with Hurricane Sandy, there was a whole churn on what if the meteorologists got it wrong; they didn't, then this thread went quiet.

Now we have churn on the election, the electoral impact of the storm, the marathon, the power lines, the aftermath and the situation of the residents of New York. How the americans are coping, not coping, should cope, could cope with a different system, would cope better if they changed or not or ... shit I lost the plot.

The impact of the storm…

For the Simulacrum ...

A simulacrum is an imprecise copy of the real; often inferior often limited by the notion of our mind and how we fabricate the artifact in question.

To simulate is to mimic, as simulacrum is the object created from that mimicry itself.

So, why is Andrew babbling on about simulacrums or simulation? As my research is narrowing towards the idea, that there must be acceptance points in the field of networking for simulation as a transparent means of learning a skill.

The difference between the two and the notion of the quality of the simulacrum becomes important (to me at least). As we (that is mankind) are becoming more refined in our mimicry of the real, there are levels of simulacrum accepted when we complete different tasks.

Do you know if you are connecting to a web server or one that is running on a perfect simulacrum? The baroque music you hear, is it as heard on the instruments of the time or has our modern interpretation created a simulacrum of the original. Is our notion of a c…

The infinite indifference engine ...

If you are a geek (like me), you will know of Babbages difference engine.

Great idea, never worked until over 100 years later, we had the precision engineering to 'make it so'.

Meanwhile back in the now and the real world of education, I have come to know and love another less worthy concept.

The infinite indifference engine; powered by apathy it has many homes in many walks of life. Through the shrugged shoulders, jobsworth mentality of the zombiecrat sect. Somehow I see this in my professional world as well as in the other more personal domain regarding the care of our daughter.

As an all pervasive force, it sucks the life out of everything it touches, in some Douglas Adams mode, the more it grows, the more red tape is generated, the more procedural an organisation becomes.

Self fulfilling and self powered.

Maybe we need some form of measure to undersand the power (or potential) or any infinite indifference engine running in a corporation near you.

Funding Fun Fun Fun (not) ...

Last week I presented a 25 minute session on the current 'state' of funding in the UK (well England, Wales and NI to be precise).

Putting it in brief terms, it is all change and for less cash.

Sorta cheers you up, warms the cockles of your heart, alas.

Dingbat ...

If music be the food of love, then play on, but if you like the Prodigy and Firestarter then keep playing (it louder).

Within a year of joining the world of education, a colleague I had started with had moved on to a college in the west country (and to be never heard of again). Their replacement was an interesting soul, very good at the gab; but a bit rubbish at matching this with any content.

As an educator; you get 'non teaching time'; to prepare lessons, manage student support, mark work and  do all the exciting admin that comes with the profession. For one academic year motor mouth and I shared the same admin time in an otherwise deserted staff room.

Soon tiring of his meaningless chatter; I soon resorted to playing Firestarter (it was not too long after Fat of the Land was released). Numpty would enter staff room, I would play firestarter, numpty started some marking, I played firestarter. If bored, I played it.

Eventually chatterbox started going to the library to work,…

Avoid or evade ...

At one time in an old job for an organisation I worked for; there was a systemic rout of the 'H:' (or home) drives of any staff/students, smart to the winds of change, one promptly removed MP3's of some of my fave music.
There are times in class when you want the students to focus, either on set work or practical exercises, over the years I found that some of my less eclectic music aided the harmony. Music doth quell the savage beast (and student).
Solving this took little imagination; reasonably adept at web design and at the time quite comfortable with flash app development. I found a flash based MP3 player, that worked off of an XML file pointing to MP3's anywhere on the net. So, with some tweaks, UI adjustments and changes to the code. It was not long before I had a formidable collection on music on one of my websites (no longer there I hasten to add). 
The result was; Andrew could still listen to music at his leisure and students pleasure, whilst the other staff/…

Nothing new here ...

I doubt that we were the first; not by a long shot, i would guess that stimulated by the harmonic resonance of the Cisco Academy programme we may have been ahead of the pack.

What am I chuntering on about you wonder; it is the preponderance of papers cited in journals and conferences on the creation of 'labs for teaching networking'. I look at each and see the Widgets Network of c2003 to c2006 created by a team of four Cisco Instructors at my old academy. I think that this was a collective intellect and had an equal 25% input from each participant.

Nothing imaginative; nothing special yet so many dish out the same papers on the matter.

Maybe you think that there is an element of the green eyed, fortunately I have ploughed a different furrow and have some papers which fall into a more rarified domain. Instead it is the concern that out there are so many sharing the notion of good practice when (lets face it), it is not any new practice at all.

Accurate ... not yet ...

In a world of information; we seem to be obsessed with facts but seldom question their accuracy. Then chances are we have always (as a species) been like this, just not at such a pace or volume.

Fact : there have been six James Bonds on screen
Fact : there have been seven James Bonds on screen
Fact : there have been eight James Bonds on screen

Check it out; all are true, all are quoted, most will think its six, some know its seven, how many can put a finger on number eight? In fact there is an opportunity to be pedantic and say there were nine (and not include the one who did a radio play).

Obviously this is a currently correct fact, it will eventually change.

So facts are easy, you can search the web for anything, but tend to rest at the first fact you find. This is the case in print; in media and in education. As the argument is plausible and the recipient of the fact possibly unaware, you have the luxury of perpetrating an error.

Now for the thought, how do you cope with the cogni…

And the money tree has a leaner crop...

Recently I the pleasure of speaking at the CompTIA EMEA conference on the current state of funding in England and its effect on the delivery of IT (as in Computing) education.

The tale is not good; there is less money and with less money there will be less time to teach many of the larger programmes. With vendor (commercial) certifications there is always an extra cost; just to get the certification to the student as well as te cost of skills (in the educator) and the resources (used to teach).

So .... not good is it.

A college principal recently shared with me and interesting view on this matter; in a world where money is reducing and demand for quality is on the increase. They enjoyed the irony that sixth forms were finally in the same financial boat as further education colleges.

Think about it; now after almost twenty years of A levels getting a better rate of funding; the student centred funding model means that an extended BTEC has the same rate as 3x A Levels.

Less for the col…

Two little words ...

Was at a meeting recently for an organisation other than my own.

Most of the meeting was procedural; matter of fact and 'getting on with it'.

Then the matter of the organisational mission statement came up, it will please you to know that it comes in three parts ...

The vision statementA mission statementAnd a 'values and norms' statement
I have never been a particular fan of these articles; often wondering if the organisation actually adheres to these statements. Leaving them as mere mumbo jumbo to be muttered by a compliance Shamen at the start of some inner sanctum meetings.

Yet this meeting wasted considerable time on rehashing TWO words of this statement.

It would be inappropriate to share the ones I heard, but take the time to go out there and have a look for these vision statements. They are all variations on a theme and they all say NOTHING.

So with this in mind, I have wondered what my 'vision statement' should be.
Andrew Smith transforms the community …

If music is the food of love, then play on … @The_Globe ...

Whilst still very happy in ones ignorance of Shakespeare, our second outing was undoubtedly equally as impressive as our first experience.
Shirley and I promised ourselves some time ago that we would attempt to try all the cultural stuff that we other otherwise never bothered ourselves with. In many ways, when it comes to the ‘arts’ we willingly admit to being lacking.
So, in a tweet does one decide where our second outing descends?
Being a bit of a Fry fan boy, seeing a tweet months ago on his part as Malvolio in the Twelfth Night at the Globe no less spurred me into action. Planning into the future is always an interesting challenge, work logistics, child logistics, and the weather in October. So with all that in mind, one booked the ‘better view’ and ‘covered’ seats.
Anyway we got there, intact and open minded.
The Globe is a very interesting theatre; it does create an intimacy with the stage (and therefore the cast) something many typical theatres lack. If you are looking for opu…

Setting a challenge ...

In my early days exploring network security from a teaching perspective, a colleague and I were interested in an application that could do a 'man in the middle' attack. Another member of our department was very interested in what we were up to and bravely made the statement ... you can't get the data from my computer it won't happen.

Rag to bull, challenge issued.

It did not take too much effort, based on the tools around at the time (which are still very useful), we managed to work out what his firewall was and deduct how it was behaving. With this information, we set up one of our computers to capture everything from an IP address range (we knew how the college addressing scheme worked, so could work out with little effort where their machine was most likely to be), and simply waited.

Within 20 minutes we had harvested a considerable collection of data, which was dumped to a text file.

Our colleague had been in the staff room all this time, with glee we beckoned the…

Downside up ...

If you are a windows user, you may (or likely may not) know that if you press ctrl+arrow (in any direction), it will rotate the display.

To be honest, I can't remember when this was introduced, but like many windows shortcuts, it took some considerable time before it became a 'known fact'.

Now, one hapless colleague in our computing department was not respected for their technical ability. Often wandering around in a daze, they were better known for their disappearing acts rather than their teaching.

At one point, before flatscreen monitors, a colleague and I had managed to acquire 21 inch CRT monitors for our desks (long story, but in 1999 they were impressive). Jealous, this colleague would often ask us to source one for their use.

Eventually we became fed up, mainly as they hogged desk space and we changed to some nicer monitors with inbuilt speakers. To say that we were technologically superficial, is a fair statement.

So, I let the hapless colleague have my old monit…

You know when you have been ...

A little while ago, I shared a couple of interesting stories regarding some of my students. There are more to come, one story at a time. Amongst my many years of teaching, I have encountered many amusing colleagues, the sort who you cannot resist 'setting up' as they so often walk around with both feet place firmly in their oral cavity.

Going way back I was given a mentor on my first day of teaching, the notion is quite laudable, have an experienced lecturer guide the newbie in the ways of the organisation. After about two months, I had 'sacked' them from their role, quickly recognising who in the team actually knew what they were talking about and had more about them than this numpty.

Over the following two/three years, they did not improve, fortunately they were on the whole easy to manage (for this please read ignore) and they were on their way. Maybe with a little subconscious encouragement from me ...

For contractual historical reasons, they were on a different c…

Simulated prejudice ...

Interesting conversation today, hearing good news about the slow (but steady) progress of a project they are working on.

As is per the norm of our fortnightly chat, we wandered quickly into the realms of simulation. This time discussing some agreed personal perceptions of prejudice.

Acceptance of an experience gained by simulation raises many interesting cultural questions, we could build a magnificent artefact, more complex than any 'real' teaching environment could offer. Yet, cultural dismissal of anyone having learnt via this medium raises interesting questions.

In many 'practice based' domains, you are your skills, a chef is really not much use unless they have made the mistakes in the kitchen. You cannot simulate this, not yet, not likely and in reality there is little inclination to even bother.

For a complex network environment, if you are able to overcome the cost and infrastructure security issues. Then it is very reasonable to have an array of networking ki…

Cunning bar steward ...

At the moment, I have as yet not come to any fully formed opinion about the state of changes to secondary education in England, and the impact that this will have on our upcoming generations.
Some parts of the notion I agree with, but the approach to the problem, fills me with considerable reservations. From a tactical perspective, you can see that Gove and his cronies are not daft, timing is everything and politically this has been the result of considerable planning.
I sincerely doubt that they are fools; I suggest they have been aiming for the Ebacc for some considerable time. Once they removed the attraction of the vocational alternative, downgrading it in league table terms, adding rigor (in their political terms, not mine). Then the way was clear for any changes to the GCSE, having nothing available for schools to jump to if they felt a little emotional.
Over the last ten years, too many schools did use vocational qualifications to bolster their league table position, diminishing …

Damaging words ...

Speaking to a compatriot from another university, I heard dismal words today about the shenanigans of a national 'apprenticeship' provider within the IT sector. After completing a six month stint as an 'apprentice' (which is a joke in itself). The poor souls caught up in this scheme are being told that their vocational qualification meets the requirements for degree entry.

It would be ok, if they were having a proper apprenticeship (with an employer for 12 to 18 months at least) and using a recognized technical certificate. But from what I understand, the qualification they are using may be at Level 3, but lacks the necessary UCAS points.

Now some reading this would think "well did't the apprentice know this", this you would think is the case. Instead, with this collection of souls who all came to the university at different times during clearing shared the same story.

The chief executive told me during a presentation that my qualification would get me i…

Master Chef Cliche Generator ...

For someone who has the occasional creative moment in the kitchen and quite an open minded foodie, it may surprise you to discover that I seldom watch 'chef' programmes.

Some are good, some I learn from, some are more entertainment than education, but some annoy me.

One that definitely annoys is the current incarnation of MasterChef, it's car crash tv that meets a fly on the wall cliche generator.

I do appreciate the challenge and talent of some of the competitors, but come on, can we avoid the formalistic approach to presentation. I now hate the word passionate with a passion (irony intended), I enjoy putting on a good meal, but I tend to be more passionate about other things (grown ups will understand).

Can the presenters avoid using a rostrum of phrases; say something different or even be um 'interesting' and show us some of their experience when judging the competitors.

We don't actually see how any of the dishes are created, instead seeing the idea, the e…

Framework fantasies ...

Every time I hear words like framework or mapping, I am sure that a kitten somewhere endures a horrible demise. In a world desperate for many things, on the list of the last thing we ever need is another framework or the opportunity to map framework X to framework Y.

But we must do this, mustn't we?

After all, how could an industry cope if there is not the right framework, how could students stand it if their studies are mapped inappropriately.

Yet, somehow, by some miracle it happens, employees get employed and companies progress. Whilst there are always challenges, they seem to 'cope'. Without a friggin framework or mapped process in sight.

But education, now we must map every effing framework to death, if it isn't mapped, then the world falls out of our ears.

Why is this, do we like making work for ourselves, is there some inherent insecurity within the education profession. Like a medical support, we must live for each framework, let it constrain what we do then t…

Pseudo Net

Having a pseudo (as in false) network to develop learning on may have interesting connotations for learning in my field.

I have explored this idea in different forms a few times yet still wonder about the engagement gained by a student in such an experience.

In constructivist terms my thoughts continually visit the zone of proximal development and think about how this may exist in a distributed environment.

Easter Eggs ...

One little pleasure when writing is the opportunity to hide little 'Easter Eggs' in your work. The sort that will miss the eagle eye of editors. Some, you know they know, but know that they don't particularly care.

Getting the children in is not particularly difficult, the most recent book has a picture of both children in a web conference.

In other books is interesting programming code, sci-fi characters and unusual information contained within text fields of screen grabs.

Take a peek, do search, some are more banal than others but with an estimated 1/2 Million words in print over thirteen texts since 2003, it does make life occasionally more interesting.

Wild Thing ... you make my heart sing ...

If you are a foodie, or at least think you are a foodie. If you are sociable, or at least can act like you are. The supper club could be the thing for you. Last night, based on the recommendation of a fellow blogger. We took the plunge and attended the Wild Thing Supper Club in Milton Keynes.

What fun.

At three levels this is a great experience which I must highly commend.
First the food, wow, hmmmm, yum, excellent, tasty, divine and all the metaphors you can summon. For this experience, Ray is an excellent creative cook/chef and his family fantastic hosts. The menu can be found here it speaks for itself. So much, that we would seriously consider returning.

Second, the company, imagine the entertainment of going and meeting people. A scary prospect we relish, around the table we were a party of eight souls. Different backgrounds, but all very interested  in food, yet all having experiences and ideas of what we enjoy. You want to meet different people and eat out, you will not find any…

Discrimination ...

Listening to a radio comedy show at the moment, discussing the current cases of religious discrimination taking place in the European courts.

Being an experienced cynic and most likely having a very liberal view of faith. Some of the issues at hand tend to be subjects that present me with personal concern.

Wearing a cross, fish or any emblem is a personal choice, but in making these choices you also make a declaration. As a football supporter takes a risk wearing their team colours on opposition turf, is this not the same of anyone of any faith.

If you want to make your declaration, you are making this in front of those for as well as against.

So, when you are challenged, when there is opposition, should you be surprised?

You may think that in this country, we are free to be 'Christian', but we seem to forget that we have also fought for the freedoms of others to be free to be 'not Christian'. We want these liberties, but suddenly become very emotional when others exp…