Showing posts from February, 2012

Consolation ....

A quick thought over a cup of coffee. Handing over our daughter this morning was a painless process. On the walk back to the reception we were chatting to a member of the transition team.Normal polite enquiries etc, polite short summary of why we are with them for our daughters assessment etc. Discussing the shared knowledge that the local authority is playing coy, feckless and hard to get.With this they shared ...."yes, often I find we are spending more time consoling parents, these days"Sadly we are not in isolation.

Read the criterion ....

Via various means I get the distinction of having to arbitrate when a centre asks what a specific criterion means. For a given unit within either the level two or level three qualifications.

Often this means :
They are trying to play me off against their standards verifiers (one of my team)There is internal debate [which I appreciate]Sometimes its a genuine (i do not know) question [which I also appreciate]Or, they are trying to play off an internal verifier against the awarding body Sometimes its quite inspirational, it shows they are thinking, questioning, innovating and challenging the conventional wisdom. More often its trying to buck the system to their own ends.

When they spit the question out, what is never appreciated is that once the arbitration is issued, that is considered the definitive answer by the awarding body. In a Machiavellian way, having enjoyed the transition from poacher extraordinaire to the gamekeeper that managers the other gamekeepers. I have occasionally see…

Emotional or what ...

Someone tried to tell me off, via email for my views on Pascal.

Working up a rant and getting into quite a lather, if I was the emotional type, I could have taken it personally. So happy to reply, I suggested that instead of emailing me personally, they might like to try using the public forum of either this blog or the closed community forum we are both part of, and where i started this thread.

They did not seem to like this, declaring my original comments at derogatory.

Um, nope, i asked a question? One that prompted those with an emotional agenda to react, probably because i challenged a notion that what they may be doing, may not be the best thing for their students.

My response was along these lines, funny, they don't seem to have presented a considered response, either via email [tut tut], this blog, twitter, facebook or the community forum. Like the many others, who fall into a range of camps and broadly disagree/agree with my views.

Debate I like, but don't take it pe…

So, what do you think about simulation ...

Ok, this is not a scientific study, the audience participation is likely to be from a self selecting group etc. So lets call this a poll amongst friends, followers and like minded.

A question that is structural to my research is ...
Do you think simulation can replace real hardware, when teaching networking? To remain fair, I am not going to share my opinion as it is biased and please don't try and answer this to please me (as I really don't know who will be answering and if you know me, you will know that it won't).

Please take a look at the top left of this blog and based on your personal opinion, answer either yes or no.
You do not have to be an expert, or an academic or even a teccie, everyone's opinion in this context counts.

The opinions below are valid view points, but must not contribute to your own independent decision, please complete the question before reading these.


The curse of the lemon farmers ...

I do like the proverb ...
"If life gives you lemons, make lemonade" It does sum me up, it has the element of cynic and pragmatism all rolled into one.

Something I often encounter is teachers/lecturers/academics/idiots who complain about the situation they are in, the rules they have to work under and how they cannot do what they want. Some of my faves amongst the hand wringing drivel includes:
We don't have timeWe are not allowedBut, I would get into troubleIt does not say that i canManagement wont support it  Maybe successful teaching requires an attitude, at least I think so. If you want to have fun, teach the right subjects, just go and do it, don't ask permission. There have been times in my career that i have encountered friction as the ideas don't gel with those around me, but when the results say otherwise, then who cares.

Yes the current educational environment is tough, funny, but this is the case in many sectors, either be wimpish or take ownership. I…

The Pascal debate ...

Last night I deliberately started a debate on a ‘teachers of programming’ forum to gauge response. As expected those who were ‘interested’ in sticking to their ideas responded.
I asked the question …
I am of the view that Pascal is best kept in the past, where anyone who says that they are still teaching current programming skills using this language, worries me.
Am I being unreasonable?
The response was defensive and encouraged those who feel that it is something they must teach to self-acknowledge this fact.
My concerns regarding Pascal stem from many positions:
Old technology, being taught now …. If this were current in any way I would have less of an issue. It concerns me that some still teach C, but its structure is such that it does help programmers learn something that many systems use. But Pascal’s verbose structure is from a time gone, so why?
Is it being used in anger? There is a place for scratch and greenfoot in getting students to reach the concepts in a visual form. So, modern…

Looking towards a very busy week ...

Every so often a week now comes where you have to wear multiple mental hats.Having packed my bag, I am soon going to head off to a hotel for a 'revalidation' at a University, whose foundation degree programme covers a partnership with three further education colleges within their county boundary.I will be sitting as the independent external on this panel, to help them assure that this process is fair, has suitable rigour and academic level (as well as industrial relevance).Having a pretty decent set of edu-flannel detectors it will be interesting to see what both the university and their partner institutions come up with. Having sat at both ends of this equation more than once, locally, nationally and internationally, i am still amused by the assumptions made by those meeting externals for the first time.Should be fun, I hope.

Its not all success ...

Over the years I have lost count of the enumerable I have taught, so many become lost to memory. When you reach/teach near on 150+ different souls a year full time, let alone the many others part time. Their faces, names really do become a blur unless you are exceptional, entertaining, a challenge or normally more than one of these.
Yesterday, a former student recognized me at a local train station. I must admit, it took a moment to recall the former student. Partly because of time passing, partly because he was not the same vital soul I recall. Formerly being a very bright, gifted sixteen year old, who could easily have become a programmer. Now it is clear they are nothing of the sort.
There are some students who I am still in contact with, some already leaders in their respective fields, others motivated success stories, this soul is clearly none of these.
It was a shame it was such a short conversation, in such a public place, I could see that he needed more than an exchange of niceti…

Educational nihilism ...

You know that moment, when someone says something that catches your attention, it is doomed to stick in your mind and enter a continual maelstrom of mental churn.
This was no negative comment, more a freely given observation.
Now if they are reading this, and chances are, they may be …. ‘hello’.
The observation was on anarchistic qualities. For them, it was entirely in one context, for me, I don’t disagree, but it has started this chain of thoughts.
“In education are there educational anarchists?”
Some home educators have laid claim to this idea, but what of the teachers, the educationalists, and the professionals?
In my professional realm, I often deal with rule-based environments. But innovation, lateral thinking and creative academic development is both lauded and lambasted in equal measure. Depending on who you ask and what notions you are challenging today.
Having often adjusted the interpretation of rules for many over the years and solving what others would have considered impossible…

Bring back the polytechnics ....

Ahhhh but they are; with the University Technology Colleges ...

In 20 years, people have forgotten the land rush of polytechnics wanting to be renamed as universities. The snobbery is still there, in everything is a name, but when there is funding, we do like to align ourselves to whatever current/new idea is out there.

I have listened to three different further/higher education consortium proudly boast about their UTC, I am all for the vocational development and think that this concept is a fantastic revamp of an old idea. It is not the first, as some of you will recall COVE's and foundation degrees, lets hope it does not lose the plot or political will as the others have done.

It seems only like .... yesterday ....

Had a real chuckle today, listening to some educators share what great new plans their centre is going to embark upon with a new development.Ah hem i said.That sounds great, but ....This was all being done in the 90's.So, for fun i asked them a few questions.After listening, said ....So, many wheels are being reinvented, have you considered x,y,z .... you could see that the sudden realisation that what they are lauding as great, ain't so.I am sure they will plough on regardless.

Its a mindset ....

You cannot can it, capture it, replicate it, it has to be a mindset.

Whilst I have many reservations about the inspection culture imposed on our education system in the UK. What I do see, is those who are successful, getting the good or outstanding grades is their can do attitude.
You may hear the spiel from the senior leadership, but my aural effluent filters seem to be holding up. Chatting to the teachers/lecturers you get a different view, be it their zeal, enthusiasm or expectancy.
Now, some just have it, others thrive in a culture that supports and encourages it. Where risk is not an issue, ideas are endorsed and independent thinkers given the space to expand.
If there is a culture of control and criticism, fear of what may be said or done, no encouragement offered, then sadly nothing thrives and the educational establishment enters a slow decline.

Prejudice ...

Its a great word isn't it, you only have to mention it and those listen become more attentive.

In the world of networking there is always a friction between simulation and 'real kit', for many reasons too time consuming to fill into this blog (today anyway).

So, are you a networker, if you are not, don't turn away, this may still be a question for you.

What do you think is the best way to learn a complex routing protocol?

By simulation
On real networking equipment

Think about it before you respond, and share in a couple of words why you believe what you do.

Tech support fail ....

Son returns home, "Dad my phone earphone jack is not working", "I have tried other headphones".
As phone is under warranty, one calls the providers helpdesk.
Can we check the firmware version of your phone?*
Ok? You have to play along as anything that screws the call centre script often means that help desk becomes unhelpful desk support.
One gives operator firmware version number, ahhhh replied the operator, its not the current version, it was updated last November, see if you can update it, we will email you the link to the manufacturers website.
After ten minutes of pfaffing around on the HTC site, no updates, nothing for the model of phone, and phone saying I am a happy updated very current chappy thank you very much.
I look at the email sent, the current version the provider says is 2.10, we have 2.13 ….. sigh.
Back on the phone, provider is has now organized phone collection and return, to repair said issue.
*If you are panicking at this point, after seeing some tec…

If you suffer from misotramontanism, then read this ...

Life is always full of unknowns, and for those of you who otherwise did not know, misotramontanism is the hatred of the unknown.

So, now that you know this, have you unwittingly overcome a latent fear.

Have fun ;-)

How to use social media to RUIN your career :

Make sure that your Facebook photos include something that could not be shown to your god-fearing grandmother, and to make sure it must be in your public timeline for everyone to see (and share). A university photo is not good enough as everyone can claim youthful exuberance, ensure that its current and within the lifetime of your recent professional experience.
For professions such as road sweeper, you may find that no one is worried unless its highly immoral/illegal, whereas if you are a primary school teacher the most minor ribald picture will cause indignation in some media ghettoes.
Tweet something that can cause a sensation in the national media, make sure that its been retweeted by 1000’s of others. No matter how silly it may have been, they do like making an example of this. Words like ‘blow’, ‘up’ and ‘riot’ seem to get a rapid response, it does have a points system, so getting all three in the same sentence hits the jackpot.
Make socially unacceptable comments on blogs, where o…

Using mobiles in a classroom ...

Today  I had the wonderful privilege of speaking to a centre in Cambridgeshire. After years of educational establishments oppressing the use of mobile phones in class. They have taken the brave and wise decision to encourage their students to use their phones and all the attached tools they now come with to aide their learning.

Before your brain has a meltdown, inducing emotional incontinence. They set a simple rule that is entirely reasonable.

When the teacher says they can. So, the disruptive element is not there, the encouragement is, allowing these digitally aware souls to use the tools they understand (and are often better than the school can offer).

Don't you wish others could see the same?

Empty words ....

Sitting on the moon, thinking am I a spoon,Rhyming out of tune, twiddling with a spoon, Whilst thinking, am I on the moon?Chickens on the moon, am I sounding like a loon,Could you make a tune, with a couple of spoons,If you are a loon, and you think about the moon?
Can it be too soon, can you hear the same tune, Little fish swim soon, can they come to the moon,But would they sit on a spoon, to travel to the moon?

A (big) question for @mweller @psychemedia and @AJCann .... and anyone else for that matter

Watching an amusing banter evolve from three people i follow on twitter (all at different times, yet there they all are).
Who would they bequeath their blog etc to as a result of their departure from this mortal coil.
Now, comes the interesting question, as often is the case blogs, our social media presence and our twitter memes are all effectively on space and resources owned by others. If I was to pop my clogs without leaving these in any last will and testament, therefore leaving @teraknor for example in testate, who would be able to claim ownership of this from my interiors.
Not that i think my teenage offspring are particularly interested in dads twitter, but lets pretend that over this they give a considerable damn and are willing to fight for it.
Who would get it, could they even make a claim for something that is clearly part of my living (future past tense) identity.
Answers on a 140 character postcard please.

Sorry @pyschemedia, accidentally pressed 'delete' on you…

Why you should become a fan of @waycyber @LiteratureLou @EmsyGalvin and their #speakeasy ...

Well that really was fun, and some of you in facebook land were joining in without realising what was happening in MK.

Speakeasy is a small but perfectly formed group of souls, all writers, all creative, all enthusiastic and talented as well (so would they have me as a member?)

Yesterday evening in the midst of my scheduled tweets, I had the privilege of sharing with a group of writers in Milton Keynes about some of my adventures with social media. Unlike these souls, I write in a more technical capacity, text books, content for my university and the occasional academic paper.

Through varied confluences of procedural nonsense, in 2010 I was presented with the scary prospect of trying to find 300 students in less than 12 weeks, and apparently they cant be plucked out of the air. Overcoming an emotional moment, gripping onto my loins, it was a case of get moving, get moving quick and use every tool at my disposal including social media.
With this in mind, last night explored the journey…

Two friends chatting about a Linux issue ...

A friend has just sent me a copy of their SMS conversation with another friend regarding Asterix (its a voice over internet protocol system) and running it on Linux. For teccies and non-teccies alike its hilarious, names have been removed (and some very naughty words)
Friend 1F***ing poxy pile of bol**** Linux. Nobody bothered telling me that /tmp folder clears itself every so often !Friend 2Thats why its called the /tmp folder, tmp = temporary.
Microsoft users would never think of that.
What did you put in it?Friend 1All my asterisk menu voice files that have been working happily for about 2 weeks until all the c**ts deleted themselves

Lets say that quite a few geeks are creasing themselves up with laughter.

Job titles I would like ....

After a slightly witty twitter banter with @willwoods (one day we will have a word for this type of exchange), i realised that there are a whole range of job titles that are missing from any self respecting organisation. I am willing to bet that you will get candidates queuing for these roles, looking for the kudos, CV fodder and less interested in the remuneration.
Accepted you might not get the right candidate, but thats what recruitment companies are for, so with this in mind, job titles i fancy: Sith Lord and HR DirectorDirector of Misdirection (PR)Master of the universeNinja SupervisorDark Lord of Quality AssurancePayroll clerk and back handers supervisorCertified Pirate and Cut-throat CateringCharacter AssassinWhat job title do you fancy ...
Currently mine is "Chief BullShit Deflector"