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Showing posts from 2015

FFS it is the season of the mindless lists (again) ...

Without fail - once the seasonal silliness of chrismastide wains, we get to endure:

News items that compile the best/worst of the year pastLists, more bloody effing lists of stuff that they wish to foist upon our already fact addled brains.
Top #5, #10, #25, or #100 dull things that have happen in the year whatever that you never gave a flip about then and less so now. I am aware that our collective memories have now been reduced to a thimble sized consciousness. Where the news media machines rely on either lists, retrospectives or natural disasters to fill their otherwise void hype machines.

What has been the list that has tickled you most - would you compile your own? Even better, should we introduce a top ten list of annual lists.

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By the way this is my last entry for 2015. More coming in 2016.

Being in many social media places at the same time ...

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The above image is by no means definitive - it does however describe how I link some of my social media inputs to multiple outputs. I am always wary to respond when asked about my impact as the measures are multiple.

In effect I have three inputs (hootsuite, blog and twitter), yet there are eight outputs (blog, google+, twitter, LinkedIN, Facebook, Tumblr, WordPress, Medium). Each has their own affordances, each reaches different communities of interest.

It isn't difficult being in these multiple places, some of the work is accomplished by TwitterFeed - for some it is also done via IFTTT as well as the specific integration resources available on a couple of platforms.

In doing this, I can easily multiply my outputs by virtue of a single input. Something that should make sense for any social media savvy academic.


Getting upset about new words ...

Lets tweet a selfie with an emoji sticker?
Did this make sense to you, yes/no/CGAF*?
Every year at this time of the year we have naval gazing churnalisim regurgitating the news and events of the last twelve months - ranking, rating and debating.

Its boring - in the same vein the analysis always moves to words that have entered our collective vocabulary. A couple years ago, tantrums were had over selfie, now it seems that emoji will enjoy a similar spotlight.

Grumpy arses get excited that language is on the decline and others are excited at this new addition. Language evolves, it is natural otherwise we will be caught in lost times. Consider:
artigrapher - a lost word for a grammar expertfallaciloquence - a form of lying and deceitful communication - maleolent - wiffy, stinky a bit of a pong You could still use the above, others may consider you a bit of a ponce. For those of us in our adulthood, what words made sense in our youth that you would no longer use (or abuse).



*CGAF means - …

An ode to the Electric Spout ...

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I hear the song of the electric spout, the rumble of its thunder. It twinkles out its own fairy dust, casting all asunder. Its green hue, too many, too few, everyone will begin to wonder. Have you eaten the electric spout, is there a mumble from down under.

Dear Interweb, thank you for saving me from the shops ...

Interweb, I cannot thank you enough - after clearing a large portion of my garage yesterday from the oversized packages. Also having added a fair old whack to global warming via the carbon emissions of various white vans. I have been saved from many hours mindless drudge - having to visit those temples of mammon, also known as shops.

Using the comfort of my own tech, I have been avoiding this experience from years. From the early days of Tesco Online to Amazon Prime amongst others. Either getting it delivered to home as well as being ordered for collection from a couple of retailers.
This now seems to be the experience for the entire Family Smith - with some having a little more of a casual browse than others. Having gotten into the habit of doing most of our shopping by November - with a trickle over December - this is the way that it should be.
Thank you Interweb, a happy shopping hater I can be.




Christmas social media rhyme ...

Two years ago I experimented with planning some Christmas Day posts on Facebook ... for 2015, I decided to try out Twitter. The bonus is that it also links to other social media platforms.

The prose is corny, however it does fit the 140 characters.

08:30
Its Christmas morning in the Smith household
Not a single turkey in sight
Whilst one fowl breathes easy
Five others take fright
09:30
Soon it will be time for breakfast
Our first set of seasonal treats
Stockings filled to brim
Have we hidden the Amazon receipts?
11:30
Church service done, birth of Christ celebrated
Children having wild fun ...
Today isn't only a pagan time
Christmas is for everyone
12:05
Time to open the main gifts
Joy of having all the family with us
Even if it is for two days
12:55
Lunch time soon, friends will arrive
A mince pie welcome
John and Yoko playing in the kitchen
Sharing and welcome is what Christmas becomes
16;00
Stuffed like a bird
Maybe a little absurd
Dr Who and Call the Midwife a must,
All hopes of diet, bust!!!
19:00

Silent night - @OUStudents might ...

Last weekend, I sent my usual Christmas message to my tutor groups. The gist is similar for each group:Take a break - you need itI know you are going to study, just take a break anyway While we (the module teams) do factor in a break from study for our students, as a result of experience, common sense and fair practice. Deep down, we know that for many of our students in the madness leading up to Christmas - the next ten days is the space they need to catch up.
So - take care OUStudents everywhere - while it is silent night for many, I am guessed that you will still be burning the OUStudent candle at both ends.
One does salute you.

Setting up my @Raspberry_Pi #Zero ...

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I was one of the lucky souls to get a Raspberry Pi Zero on the day they hit the market. Sadly the joys of work and life meant that I did not have any time until nearer Christmas to open it up and set it up. Partly driven by a need to complete some university work around a new Linux course - where I believe it would be worthwhile to add a byline on all things Pi and also for my own technical satisfaction.

First, it is worth getting the kit from PiHut - the preloaded SD card and adapters made life easier.

You must make sure that you have -

A micro-USB power sourceA MicroHDMI to HDMI adapterA HDMI cableA male microUSB to female USB AdapterA USB hub (I used a powered version)KeyboardMouseMicroSD cardWiFi Dongle (optional but essential)
Setting up was part doddle, part ask the audience.

Once all the bits are plugged in, it boots up and gives you a choice of installing either Raspbian or the OpenELEC media centre. It was a no brainer - I checked that Raspbian box and went off into happy geek…

Would you dare call a meeting? ...

If you want to waste time, call a meeting. If you are desperate to waste even more time form a committee. Probably two of the most unproductive processes ever created by organisations in the pursuit of administration.
Don’t get me wrong - I don’t actually dislike meetings … I hate them as often they turn into a time wasting affair where the greatest generator of hot air successfully consumes the greatest amount of time.
Then some I hear saying - I recall you calling a meeting for X? Indeed and how often do I call meetings - as seldom as possible and normally to get a load of crap out of the way. With all of this in mind, I have decided that we should have some principles by anyone dense enough to want a meeting: If you call a face-to-face meeting, your department/organisation should foot the bill - to the tune of £1.00 per minute of the meeting per person attending. If it's online, a conference call or something inanely similar - the rate drops to £0.99 as you are in all likelihood s…

Santa must exist - the Null Hypothesis says so ...

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Scientific thought is a wonderful thing and the continual argument discussion and debate in the scientific community does allow us to throw out some interesting philosophical conundrums.

Does Santa exist ... yes or no. While conventional wisdom is that Santa existence resides firmly in the minds of most good children under the age of ten. As well as Hollywood, Coca-Cola and many other retailers. There is also a conventional wisdom, often held by ageing overweight gentlemen with white beards, seasonally forced by society to dress in a silly costume. Their premise is that Santa is a figment of our cultural imagination loosely based on a Christian saint.

Enter the Null Hypothesis ...
The null hypothesis is a hypothesis which the researcher tries to disprove, reject or nullify. The 'null' often refers to the common view of something, while the alternative hypothesis is what the researcher really thinks is the cause of a phenomenon. Source -- https://explorable.com/null-hypothesis …

The Smith 2015 Christmas Message ...

Well what can we tell you about 2015 - it has been an interesting year, the kind of interesting where there were many ups, downs, milestones accomplished and "what the fuck's" taking place.

If you are a little adverse to the occasional sweary entry - best go and Google some fluffy kittens.

We put out Christmas message posts in 20122013, cynical in 2014 and here again in 2015.

So, what has happened and what can we post - if you are a fan of Bloody Professionals. You will have learned that our daughter Victoria has moved to her own flat. This has been both a positive experience and an endurance of some utter Muppets. Very much a journey where we are collectively learning how to handle a new wave of care professionals and all the support services she needs. However, we are beginning to see who are the 'adults' as well as the 'children' amongst these so called professionals.

Our son Jeremy handed in his notice and left his last position on Christmas Eve, 2…

Facebook wall posts, privacy settings and the Birthday dilemma ...

I do not allow posting by anyone to my wall - even my mum. Not that there is anything wrong with what my mother is likely to post. The practical fact is, as facebook users we can either set wall posts to 'only me' or 'friends'. It would be nice if there was a simple way to create a trusted 'wall posters' group.

Early on in my facebook experiences I found that people who I call friends, enjoy their company and personal association are not necessarily trustworthy when it came to managing the sanctity of my social media presence.

Although I am robust, willing to push many social media frayed edges - there are places I will not go, yet they can happily plonk stuff on my wall for others to see. Your ethics and mine are not always the same - no matter what you may think.

Then comes my Birthday - when Facebook tells everyone that I am a year older. There was a time, when this was not the case. I have checked, you can easily edit settings to stop everyone from seeing …

Modern Times: You know it is your birthday when ...

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How could I forget my birthday or the same for my loved ones, however we are now in modern times, how could I forget my birthday when:

I wake up to different facebook messages wishing me a happy birthday, prompting me to turn back on posting on my wall.I find different spam in my inbox from companies I have used, wishing me happy birthday ... really?My smart phone notifications tells me ... you guessed it, today is my Birthday. I am now glad that I lied to Twitter.

Great time at #SocMedHE15 by @SocMedHE- bring on more

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For the uninitiated, SocMedHE is a Social Media Conference run by Sheffield Hallam you can read more here. Having managed to get a paper in on Periscope I have to share my views on this conference.
Opening with a great keynote by EricStoller the tone from the outset was ideas, opportunity and innovation in social media. With such a packed schedule, getting around to all of them in one day was nigh impossible. They managed to cram the content of at least two days into this short space.
Personally finding the workshop on Google+ Communities, work on different student communities using facebook and twitter as well as the thundercloud sessions (or was it thunderclap?). I came away from many interesting conversations some new ideas and potential 'professional' friends.
My only critique is the timing, Friday before the Christmas break along with the notion that the event could have been better spread. However, horses=courses and the event was incredibly efficient.
So, to the chaps …

Email Grenade and within 36 hours payment comes ...

We have the privilege of having Cisco experts willing to work with us at very reasonable rates and support struggling academies. Helping them with their expertise as well as ensure in many cases that they are able to get back on their feet and operate as functional members of the Cisco community.

The model agreed, means that they do not charge much, settling on a reasonable annual remuneration. Sadly chasing a couple of educational centres since September meant that one soul was getting to give support for no return.

Fed up and getting a request yesterday for some additional help - followed by a little research on the email conversations that had taken place. I decided with my consultant partners agreement to send a little ... email grenade.

Within a few hours, you could hear the tighten sphincters as the imminent promise of disconnection from our ASC and a simple explanation of the impact focussed their mind.

Suddenly and within 36 hours of the original email, three months and 17 da…

Exam board roulette ...

A long time ago in a life long since gone, I used to interview prospective full time students for different further education courses I managed. Apart from the typical aspirational discussions - there was always a slot to look at predicted or actual grades acquired.

You would get some flim flam from some candidates, trying to big up their prospects - others were realistic about the grades they have and their desire to progress. You would see a typical range of results - typical awarding bodies and nothing unusual.

Winding the clock forward - 7.5 years and a conversation with some friends in the current shambles known as further education. A new, interesting and disturbing picture emerges from a local school culture that is playing exam board roulette.

This is how the game is played.
Student X is entered early for English in Exam Board A ... they get grade C.Student X is entered for English in Exam Board B ... they get grade B. Bonus, game on, result for school and youngster on both oc…

Technological nostalgia, isn't quite like what it used to be ...

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What technology of today do you think will become the nostalgia of tomorrow? As technological futurologist's happily pundit away at tomorrows tech. There are current technical must haves that will eventually become must nots?

How are you doing with your CD-ROM? Can you recall IPX/SPX and even remember what it is. Are you using a Modem (they are still around and in common use) and what about mice - the mass neutering of many years ago rendering them without their little balls.

Some hold onto legacy technology for its dear sake, others let it die. Sometimes it continues to serve an invaluable purpose - long forgotten and replaced in the minds eye of the masses.

What do you recall, what do you still need to teach, what is on its way out and what should remain?


Turning the UK networking skills clock back 15 years ...

@GeoffreyPetty we are also seeing areas where govt decisions are now turning back skills clock to 15 years ago — Andrew Smith (@teraknor) December 16, 2015 During a short twitter conversation today, a dreadful realisation occurred. By indirect action, policy and process, the current UK government have placed us on a precipice where IT practitioner skills such as network engineering could see the skills clock turned back almost fifteen years to a state akin to the time between 1999 and 2003. When many of us were fighting to get vendor skills incorporated in national education.

The irony was, back then the UK was ahead of the game, globally lauded by many for solving the problem, Shame that it is turning into such a mucking fess.

Setting them IRQ's and other long lost computer maintenance pleasures ...

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Who remembers memorising those pesky IRQ's (interrupt requests) - either within the operating system of via pinouts on the device using a jumper and a pair of tweezers.

Via some dark art, lots of fiddling and maybe a pair of tweezers was involved. We would faff around trying to get the operating system to use the new device we added to the motherboard.

With the majority of IRQ's reserved, we would scrabble around using 10, 11 for our network cards and/or sound devices - long before USB and on board devices rendered this issue defunct.

I recall having to teach students the IRQ architecture and helping them resolve IRQ conflicts. Now - all gone. As the march of technological advancement has moved forward.

Great experience doing a Twitter/Periscope chat for @A_L_T via #altchat ...

That was fun and it is an experience worth repeating. Today, pushing the boundaries of social media a micron forward I conducted a twitter chat using #Periscope. For the technologically naive, periscope, owned by Twitter is a social media live video streaming app which can be used on iPhones and Android devices alike.

The focus of my twitter chat was to share my work on teaching by twitter (see below), a personal paradigm where one leaks content onto different social media platforms in sync with taught content.

Teaching by twitter ... a view on mLearning from Andrew Smith
In recent months I have extended this by using Pericope to reach a live audience, teaching micro topics of no more than ten minutes in length. Kicking off at 10:55 for an 11:00 start, the conversation soon took on a life of its own.
LIVE on #Periscope: Using #periscope to teach via social media #oucisco#altchathttps://t.co/cWwcym2Tio — OpenUniversity Cisco (@OUCisco) December 9, 2015 Rather than replying to tweets v…

Can Christmas tree lights really play havoc with your Wi-Fi?

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http://son.nasa.gov/tass/content/electrospectrum.htm
Ofcom, the UK’s independent telephony regulator, has just released a Wi-Fi checker app for your smart phone. At the same time, it warned in its press release that your Christmas tree fairy lights could affect the quality of your Wi-Fi connection.

Before the terrible jokes start and we all declare that this is a fit of “Bah Humbug!” from the telephone regulator, the warning is correct – your fairy lights could indeed be a Wi-Fi downer. But then so could many other devices. Ultimately, it is a matter of how much of a problem they actually cause.
The science behind the warning The whole press release describes how microwave ovens, fluorescent lights and other devices could also play havoc with your wireless connection.

Casting your minds back to science at school, you may recall your teacher describing the electromagnetic spectrum. The electromagnetic spectrum covers radio waves, microwaves, visible light and radiation. It is around us …

Speaking at @SocMedHE ...

#SocMedHE15 teaser Periscope into the world of Social Media Education for Cisco Network Engineers @OUCiscopic.twitter.com/rKdpWltnjv — @SocMedHE (@SocMedHE) December 3, 2015

Black Friday! Dear UK stop it!! ...

Some traditions are best kept where they belong ... Black Friday is definitely one of them. In the UK, we do not have Thanksgiving. This belongs to the USA, your forefathers earned it, you deserve it, enjoy it.

As Thanksgiving is always the last Thursday of November, the immediately following Friday is a spare holiday taken by many. Over time it evolved into the first shopping day of the Christmas season - as families with spare time sought to utilise their time and retailers captured this opportunity.

So why do we have it in the UK?

In all honesty I am clueless, I have to ask why? We have enough retail opportunities without importing a disconnected experience from the US of A. Please, UK retailers as well as international retailers who reside in the UK. Stop IT!!! There are plenty of opportunities to make money - Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Can't be arsed Tuesday are your inventions. I am sure that some may find these useful but for the rest of the population, we want to shop…

Gentle Reminders, make me want to ...

Have you ever had a gentle reminder - those two words make the hair on the back of my neck bristle as I suppress the urge to throttle the source of this passive aggressive nonsense.

If I haven't yet submitted the thing on the day that the thing is due - I could suck it up and bear the grind of getting such an email. But a mass email - in which I am included, gently reminding some smart, capable very busy people five days ahead of a deadline does niggle.

It is as if I do not already think that the document needed is a process based process that serves little purpose except to exact some notion of administrative mind numbness.

Instead of clicking heels and getting on with it - even though it was my plan to do it in advance of the deadline. I dragged the item to a lower priority on my to do list and started writing this blog article instead.

Terrorist Outrage >> Media Reaction >> CyberSecurity Knee Jerk ...

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As soon as any network security, cyber security or technology expert writes in the wake of any atrocity there is a temptation to overstate a view in the hope that your opinion may be the fact that turns out to be true.

A week later, it may appear that the terrorists may have been more low tech than anticipated - which does beg other questions about surveillance. However this is not the point I wish to raise.

It is too easy to write an opinion article and join in the media reaction to what is clearly a major tragedy. Even media analysts admit that the western bias of many news organs miss out on the fact that there are other attacks taking place around the world, especially in the middle east. There is no single source, this is a multi-faceted issue, with multiple individuals, each with their own ideologies and capabilities.

While surveillance is an interesting tool and via open media channels information can be harvested - the sheer volume of data encrypted and unencrypted does not m…

Dealing with complaints ...

Having worked in education for almost 20 years - one has become used to the fascinating array of complaints that head my way.

Before someone reads this blog article and gets all self righteous. In among these complaints are valid concerns which I have upheld, supported and managed. Yet sadly these are not as common as you may wish to believe. Often complaints about different educational issues in my experience come when the customer aka student has a mistaken view of what they have experienced.
Common complaints include: My tutor has marked this question too harshly - I deserve at least X extra marks. When we investigate, we often find the opposite. The tutor was generous in spite of the best efforts of the student. When we offer to give them the correct marks, they are suddenly keen to keep their original mark awarded.Exam question X is wrong - it should be Y. Irrespective of the fact that exam papers are checked by different parties before they get in front of the student. My person…

Trusting the exam is about trusting the questions and not worrying about the student ...

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There is an academic nirvana in the world of distance education. We would love to avoid the tradition of face-to-face proctored examinations. Yet because of our notion of trust, we worry that every student is going to cheat.

If you had the opportunity you would cheat and I am sure that I would too, While we can become very moral, righteous and somewhat indignant. We are all capable of subterfuge if the stakes are high enough and the risk of being caught sufficiently low enough that we are willing to consider the risk.

We impose all manner of checks and balances and strive to create the perfect assessment that would reflect the students cleverness. But what if we stopped and took another approach ...

Could we create an assessment where we no longer care how the student does it - the fact they have done the assessment offers sufficient authenticity. What are the elements of trust - is it time, potential for plagiarism (copying from others) and having a surrogate pretending to be you an…

The Cowardice of 'tweets are my own' ...

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Are you someone who puts on their account - Tweets are my own - or words to the same effect. If this is you, then shame on you, please stop this cowardice. If they are not your own, who is tweeting them? Putting Internet elves and other mythical entities aside. 
Then lets face some facts ... you are a grown up - if you are under eighteen it is not as if you would admit to writing. Tweets are my Mums!


Hiding in plain sight - so are you worried about the new UK surveillance bill?

I will never give anti cyber security advice - if someone wishes to subvert a system or hide from surveillance. They will accomplish this without my help. However there are many that wonder how this may be accomplished.

You often get rhetoric that only guilty people have something to hide - to put this diplomatically, this is uttered by idiots that cannot see beyond their own proboscis. In a society that is increasingly given to surveillance - its not the state looking for the naughty people that worries me, as these intentions have a modicum of integrity. Its when the surveillance may eventually become an unchecked abuse used to regulate the population.

Scaremongering, maybe, concern that some dystopian Orwellian nightmare may become fact. A realistic possibility - even the Mayor of London (Boris Johnson) is declaring that this must be a job for the judiciary not government ministers.

If you wish to hide in plain sight - it is not difficult. Lets assume you have legitimately sourced…

Comparing @OUCisco to @OUCyberSec

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Some of you who follow me (and therefore this blog) may be aware that I curate two distinct twitter accounts @OUCisco and @OUCyberSec. Each attracts an entirely different community with some level of technical crossover.

@OUCisco reaches out to Cisco Networking geeks and students primarily set at CCNA level there are some more advanced outputs during the summer. The twitter account and its other related social media profiles runs in sync with T216 an Open University Cisco CCNA module. It is designed to work with the October to June study calendar of our students - knowingly knowing that there are many others out there who also study the same programme in parallel.

@OUCyberSec runs in sync with our FutureLearn Introduction to CyberSecurity MOOC. It runs for eight weeks around four times a year. Like our @OUCisco offering, the outputs are designed to follow the set study of the module aware that there are many out there interested in the broad topic of CyberSecurity.

At the time of wri…

How smart are you if you have a smart TV?

A conversation with a friendly cyber security expert in the merchant banking sector gave me some food for thought. How smart are you if you have a smart TV? Personally having avoided televisual technology for some considerable time - Mrs Teraknor and I have aquired a couple of ordinary lower specification televisions. Mine acts as a monitor and screen for a games console (which Son of Teraknor often hogs when home raiding our fridge), the other is connected to a couple of well known external WebTV technologies.

What many of you are blissfully unaware of is the reality that these Smart TVs are glorified low end computers - generally a stripped down Linux distribution with a nice graphical interface for navigation, YouTube and various television streaming services.

They still have a full TCP/IP stack (the bit that makes your TV interact with your home network and the Internet). The problem is that these are now being used as crude botnet zombies for DDOS attacks. In plainer english, ha…

Told to write lists ...

I have top ten tips for most top ten tip writers ....Stop it!Stop it!!Stop it!!!Stop it!!!!Stop it!!!!!Stop it!!!!!!Stop it!!!!!!!Stop it!!!!!!!!Stop it!!!!!!!!!Stop it!!!!!!!!!! Apparently lists are the done thing - such was the advice I was given recently. Thinking the quality of the blah I write and the need for some form of considered content. I was a little bemused. 

Lets face it - @CiscoNetAcad is a mind expanding drug ...

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Forget the nasty weed or a chemical high - the experience is short lived. Don't bother with Beer, Spirits or Wine - there are many geeks out there that will tell you that Cisco is the best mind expanding drug there is.

Taking the CCNA (Cisco Certified Networking Associate) is a step into the unknown and a step way beyond all that you thought you could do. You think you know networking - then give this a try. It makes and breaks and has made grown men (and of course women) cry.

Fact after fact, technology galore - making networks talk it is a case of more upon more. By the time you have completed Introduction to Networks - your synapses are fused, what seems like hell is only the start of your head being abused.

As you discover each new technology and manage to get it to work - it does become obsessive as you internetwork. If you do not understand this - ask a Cisco geek or give it a try. It has made careers for many, it is worth it, do not be shy.


Are we getting our password advice wrong? ...

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There is a popular idea that passwords are words; single words, words we can remember. Convention is that they must not be too easy. No associations with the family cat, mother in law or a love long lost. Once we have the word that we can remember, we are encouraged to mess around with it. Website password strength checkers ensure that we add Capitals, num8ers and punctuati_n. For many mortals, like you and I it can be a mega mare.

If you have one preferred word - and we know that you do. You will try out different combinations to make it work.

Your favourite password, like taramasalata can be adapted to:
Taramas_lat4
taraMasa1at_
t@ramAsalat4
... and many other combinations exist - but tell me and think for yourself, is this easy to remember?

We are all, after all creatures of habit. Furthermore we know that many souls will pick a word then simply add digits. This is an easy workaround to the demand from corporate systems security experts that we must frequently change our passwords.

N…

First Social Media analysis of "Teaching by Twitter" with @OUCisco & @CiscoNetAcad ...

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I have been collating analytic data from twitter and Facebook, regarding the impact of the +Open University Cisco social media 'teaching by twitter' endeavour. The results from the last fourteen months are interesting.
The raw data can be seen as ...
MonthTweetsimpressionsvisitsmentions 1 (Sept 14)367251171282112137001543431092400094294851140020523515614200376456147155009740711815400394328125134004314798616100490261072139005634811108347007681011244961184

Experts use internet routers to protect web from Angler malware's lures ...

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Delays from The Conversation meant that this article took ages to be published - not good really.

It may not be a household name like Microsoft, Apple or Sony, but Cisco Systems is almost the same size. Cisco is the world’s largest supplier of networking equipment such as routers and switches which plug together the various networks that make up the internet. This puts them in the position of being able to use the enormous distribution of their equipment to disable a major ongoing malware attack, Angler.

The Angler exploit kit is software used by hackers to breach and take control of computer systems, known as a tool kit. There have been many such kits over the years, for example in the 1990s the notorious Back Orifice (a pun on Microsoft Backoffice) offered hackers easy to use tools to remotely control Windows computers. Angler is one of the most advanced and widespread today.

Creating a tool kit and distributing it freely on the internet provides expert tools to wannabe hackers – k…

Social Media Gender Participation in @OUCisco

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This is a call for expert opinion - regarding gender participation both in Network Engineering and Social Media.

The above diagram - gleaned from our @OUCisco Facebook Page shows gender and age distribution for the current community. The age distribution is unsurprising and describes the typical Open University Student community. However, the gender participation - notably female is actually lower on our module and within the wider Cisco Academy. This is a domain that has always had unsatisfactory participation.

So my request for some gender participation expertise:

Does the above figure make sense - are we lower, higher or normative for network engineering?What is the typical female participation within social media for science/technology topics?




The utter cheek ...

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Sometimes you have to admire the chutzpah of others - sometimes they take it too far. A former student with whom I am still connected on LinkedIN made contact. Knowing the soul of old and curious that they felt that I should call them - I pursued the matter.



It did not take long - within a couple of hours they were back online.


Having years of teaching experience, there is a knack to telling someone what they need without telling them. Already sensing a piss take - I had to play along.

Lo and behold - really what utter rollocks - and it would seem that this soul has forgotten that I also never suffered fools gladly. Let them hang and let them look - if they want my time I do offer consultancy as do some of my other ex colleagues from the education establishment frequented by this soul. I hope they offer them a much better deal than I was able to offer.



A corporate desire to invent in house systems ...

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I am sure there are many great reasons to reinvent the wheel - after all it can come in so many colours. The shape is the same, the purpose is also the same - yet we can apply the wheel in many different contexts.

Yet it is often in our nature to reinvent the same. Large corporations are expert at doing this - as if not doing so is a sign of collective weakness.

One area that often gives me wry amusement is when corporate wheel wrights decide to replicate something external and free (or low cost) and in the general category of social media. Yet make it all corporate, internal, proprietary and invariably cumbersome. Suddenly all of the integration is gone and the original purpose marred by limited horizons and a idea that they are more than capable of creating a sufficient system.




A plea from an academic, dear student please do not break the rubric ...

There is a perpetual myth that makes academics from our module team sad. Not the one about Unicorns running the Internet - instead it is the insistence of some students that it is okay to break the rubric on the examination - as it is an excellent spread betting technique to guarantee good results.

Please - STOP IT!!!

Tantrum over and here is the informed explanation - firstly if you do not know what a rubric is, it is the rule/guide of the examination paper. We have two sections, Part A, you have to answer all questions. Part B, answer two from the three questions.

So Part A, is straight forward - Part B, you MUST do as asked.

Part B, is worth 40 marks (40%), each question is worth 20 marks. We estimate that you have 35 minutes per question. If you answer all three, you now drop that to 23 minutes. Worse is that often students who answer all three invariable get worse marks per question.

Part of the myth declares that our examinations office will pick out the best two of three - in fact i…