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Showing posts from August, 2015

How to do a hog roast when there is no space for a Hog on a spit or in a pit ...

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Many who read this blog, may not not be aware that my wife and I are both foodies and enjoy entertaining. So much so, that it has influenced our offspring, as our son is a chef, working with an up and coming team.

Anyhow - quick and easy hog roast for the ordinary person - where many of us in the UK lack the barbeque experience and probably resources to put a whole Pig on a spit.

Equipment needed:

Sharp long bladed knife - the best for the job is a pastry/carving knife plus a ordinary kitchen fork.OvenBarbecue (gas powered is better, as you need the temperature control)Water, bowl and basting brush
Stage Zero - invite people and set a date
You will need to know how many are coming and make best guess on quantity accordingly. Stage one - source your meat
Pork belly is the best, if you have a local butcher, which is always far better than a supermarket - wander in and impress them by ordering a significant quantity of large pork bellies. Each should be around the size of a sheet of A3 p…

The dynamo effect of blog article writing ...

A quick observation for momentary consideration - as an avid blogger I do keep a track of how many hits I get per article - which articles persist and overall readership trends. The more I blog in a given time period the greater the dynamic momentum gained in readership over time.

It is obvious - but one that I have noted seems to elude others.

I do deliberately space my articles - I also consider with care the time they are released. If I have many things to share, I will space each entry out. Making sure there are different articles for different days. Unless the matter is current and needs to go out at the soonest opportunity.

The point is that if you want to maintain a readership you must apply some level of dynamo effect. Proving this, I have pre-written a set of articles that have been scheduled for a two week vacation this August. The net result is that this has been one of my better months when it comes to readership.


St Mary Mead Principle ...

I was trying to explain to my son the other day the concept, that is the "St Mary Mead Principle". Introduced by Agatha Christie as the home of Miss Marple. It often served in her books as well as when televised as her ultimate deus ex machina.

The principle is quite interesting - she often sees the solution to the crime by comparing all the evidence to a situation in her village. Often observing and comparing the petty minor ruminations of village life to the more complex siltation at hand.

I call it the "St Mary Mead Principle", I am sure it has many other names. What is interesting is that it can be used in multiple situations and often with great effect. Often experience of events in education can be translated to corporate life and vice versa. Anything that describes the reactions and responses of individuals in tense situations - translates from one situation to many others.

Because it was observed somewhere entirely unrelated, does little to diminish the re…

Mailing List Pedantry ...

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Having had years of practice at becoming a #1 pedant there are times when the pedantry of others reaches levels I have yet to aspire.

I do use mailing lists, partly to get the internet to come to me, partly to see what is going on in some specific domains. You get a mixture of sensible and inane posts - yet occasionally something someone posts captures the imagination of the pedants.

Currently my fave is a debate regarding the differences between asynchronous and synchronous when replicating the class room experience. While tempted to add my pedantic pennyworth into the fray, the community is doing such a great job, I only need to sit back and marvel.

In a similar vein, my university now has two social media channels for staff - the sheer excitement a couple of threads have engendered make me realise why I never engaged with the such like in the past. Our new VC has introduced this and in some respects encouraged it, so the masses have all flocked to join in and discover the pedantic…

Ethically sourcing your quotes ...

I love quotes - it befits the kind of nerd that I am.
I always have a quotation for everything - it saves original thinking. Dorothy L. Sayers Yet, each quote gives me something to hang a thought upon. One of my favourites is ...
Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another. Ambrose Bierce My twitter feed is a mixture of sourced quotes and personal witticisms, some merging without source or form. Each time I work on the next batch, I take the old list, strike those I dislike and add more. 
What quotes do you recall and prefer to share?

Do not fear revisiting old ideas ...

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I am currently working on a project which will hopefully revive an old idea - the rationale is that it worked then and should still work. The only reason the previous project was discontinued was an outcome in a change in funding for the size/shape of programme.

Sometimes, in teaching the skillset remains for some considerable time. Even in the fast moving world of computer technology there are some base skills that remain. After all they are kind of essential.

I think that there are times where we are so obsessed with the churn of new developments - sitting back and reviving the old idea isn't such a bad thing to do. Think about your field, especially if you are in education. What old faves could benefit from revival and reach a new audience?


Statistically speaking ...

A few weeks ago - someone shared with me a publicly available spreadsheet showing apprenticeship figures and other statistical data. Having to read it with speed and decipher during a phone conversation took a little mental effort - I am sure my brain demanded an apology at the time.

Thinking back to the data and back to the conversation - the data was presented in a format that gave volume not trend. Lets throw big numbers at the plebeian masses and see if they spot the differences in participating population. As these figures are often large and trend over many years. As each government modifies their reporting and the way the data appears - statistically speaking - it is a bloody nightmare to get any ideal notion of what is actually happening.




Are you an occasional Geek?

Are you an occasional Geek, are you a nerd, or is your backbone weak? Could you be classed as a nerd, is the idea absurd, do you like the word? Have are obsessed with one thing, could you do Trek or that Dr Who thing? Do you know too much about one subject, one hobby and lots of facts, are you aware of the history behind manufacturing tin tacks?
Occasional Geek, Occasional Nerd, I do like the people, I do like the words.

Top Tips for doing Top Tips ...

Lists and top tips are the bane of my existence. If you have some advice, write it. It may break down into a list if needed, you could offer hints and tips if they are worth it. But the chances are, if you think so, many others will not.
Yet so many of these format pages prevail on the Interweb and Social Media alike.
When I am researching topics for teaching, technology or research - I often encounter these on my world wide webby travels. Seldom finding any to have any unique value - worse I start spotting that one site is a rip off of another and bait for adverts and/or malware.
So to sully my reputation and demonstrate hypocrisy - here are my top tips for dealing with top tips based Internet output: Ignore them - try other sources and see if they are more applicablePay attention to point one in this list

The impact of knowing your ... Peda, Andra, Heuta ... gogies ...

Often I hear the process of teaching and learning described in my world in pedagogical terms. Which is odd, as the "peda" part of the word refers to children. Working in a University and dealing with adults across a wide age range. Typical thinking focusses on Andragogical terms, where the learning mode of adults differs from that of children (but not entirely).
Heutagogy seems to be a popular term at the moment, it is appearing in multiple forums (or I am simply noticing it for the first time). The Heuta part, refers to self paced, self managed learning - often in the context of the discussions I am observing via MOOCs (massively open online courses).
In my view, biased and misinformed that it is ... while there have been books, we have been Heutagogical learners. Somewhere in every topic, discipline and domain there is a point where the individual learner moves from teacher centred to self centred learning. 
Moreover, as adults and children we all move seamlessly between …

When your offspring grow up ...

Do you remember Pokemon or Buzz Lightyear, getting the interactive Barney the Dinosaur etc. Tracey Beaker, Star Wars and much more. When your children grow up, suddenly you discover that you do not know what the latest fads and fetishes of the little people.

What is the current thing to do, programme to watch, craze to endure?

Klingon ...

Now for a little summer fun ... the following is a direct translation of a well know song into Klingon using the Bing Translator - can you name that tune?

yIn real? ghu'vam Qu'vetlh fantasy? caught neH landslide. pagh nargh vo' reality.
mInDu' poSmoH. bejtaHvIS chal je legh. neH vIvup loDHom pagh sympathy Sumqu', ngeD Ha' Ha', ngeD. loQ jen, loQ 'eS anyway doesn't qar Hap SuS SuS, jIHvaD.
loD ghoQ mama, yoH, gun against nachDaq lan. chu'wI' DaqaSmoH, DaH Heghpu'. mama, neH tagh yIn. 'ach DaH SIbI' 'oH woD Hoch jIH.
mama, ooh. vIchel vay' SoH jach qej. vaj mIwwIj wItI'nISmo' jatlhqa' porghvetlh wa'leS. qeng, qeng Men qar Hap pagh.
tlhoy paS Ha' poH ngeH shivers pIp vI'ogh. 'oy' poH porgh 'e'. DaH bImej, SenwI' rIlwI' je, SIbI' chaw'a'. gotta Hoch 'em je qab vIt bImej.
mama, ooh (anyway jatlh 'Iv SuS). Hegh vIneHbe'. not boghpu' jIH qabDaj rut vIneH.
loQ silhouetto loD legh sc…

Milk Mayhem .... Evasive Organic retailer ...

In the epitome of pseudo middle class chic, we get the weekly organic vegetable box delivery from a well known specialist company in the South East of England. One could wax lyrical about perceived benefits etc, but I know that the cynical readership of this blog will merely tut and shake their heads.

However, in light of the current coverage regarding a fair price for Milk from the Dairy Farmers. My Wife has been doing some considerable research. She did manage to find a local milkman who delivers, but found out that they source a brand that is notoriously unfair to farmers.

So, having our weekly organic box of veggie joy. She approached the organic retailer and asked them the question - how much do you give the farmer. Using their chat forum, provided on their website. We have discovered that they do not want to answer this question. Priced at £2.20 for two litres, you kinda hoped that the milk is obtained from Cows used to considerable comfort and farmers chuffed with a sensible d…

Milk Mayhem?

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My wife and I are by no means experts in milk production - we know a little of the process and am sure that it will involve Cows somewhere in the experience. To this end, we are both amused and concerned regarded some of the debate regarding the cost of milk and what is being paid to farmers.

So there are no frivolous comments ...
We think all farmers should be paid a fair price. What tickles us, in a cynical manner, is that a well known supermarket is offering a new range at ten pence per litre more, which will be passed onto the farmer. After a little research, we discovered that our preferred supermarket (you know, the one that gives away the free coffee), and a couple of others are already paying this figure without any pomp or ceremony.

So, coming this autumn, well known value supermarket chain will be offering a separate range of milk that will give their customers the choice to pay the farmer the same price at least three other supermarkets are already paying.
Now this is the …

The Challenge of coming clean after a cyber attack ...

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I often have both sympathy and respect for any organisation that comes clean after a cyber attack - Carphone Warehouse in my view is in no way any different. While it has been reported that the attack in this instance was discovered on Wednesday and reported yesterday (Saturday), opinion is that the compromise could have happened at least two weeks beforehand. The challenge for any cyber security professional is keeping your perimeter and outwardly facing services secure in a rapidly ever changing landscape. Where cyber criminals are often using different, interesting and elaborate methods to gain access. The defence that worked last time, won't always work again, it's a tough call. Reading between the lines (as one can only guess what has taken place), someone or some system finally spotted unusual behaviour on the system. Transactionally or in terms of server logs and traffic behaviour. The most ubiquitous form of attack is slow and patient - not pulling the whole resource,…

Revenge of the Click Bait ...

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Revenge of the click bait, coming to cinemas near you - follow the thrills, intrigue and horrors as one lonely social media fan avoids all the trash thrown at them on the Interweb.
There I times when I see another quiz, image asking me to count triangles and Internet hoax regurgitated by another social media friend - I am tempted to ... do something that cannot be legally expressed via social media.

Stop it, please stop it. I do judge you according to your posts. If I assume that you are supposed to be an intelligent capable person with some sense of reason and capable of adult perspective - then sadly my ‘shall I boot em off’ score increases. I am aware that some souls, young and old, inexperienced in the ways of the Internetty thing and learning to be selective can be forgiven (and are).

To help everyone and maybe one day reduce the amount of tosh on social media - I would like to announce ...The Social Media Razor if it looks like twaddle, then it probably is, so don’t share that …

All the world needs is another security expert - and I am one of them! ...

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I do not know how you get your news, via telegraph, smoke signals or the sound of distant drums. I have long formed the habit of using social media as a tool to harvest 'what is current' from the interweb. With this comes many pros - as I am often more up to date than those relying on traditional channels. But there are many cons as I have to curate the twaddle that comes from souls I have selectedover the years and then rejected based on their output. Before you say it - I am sure that there are plenty who view my own musings as mere piffle - not that I am particularly worried what others think. Yet, over time, in my jaundiced way I have started notionally categorising the articles I read into a collection of generic categories.  Scaremongers - fools who jump on people's misunderstanding of security and technology in general, add a dash of their own carefully acquired ignorance and then set about to cause mayhem.  Flatulists - the promoters of a given product suite; technol…

Man Plans ... God Laughs ...

An old Jewish proverb - Man Plans ... God Laughs ...

I have deep felt sympathy for schools and colleges - no matter what they plan, something will change, it always changes, with the change principally beyond their control.

Be it a change in funding, policy or qualification content. In my field, a change in technology, demand or expectation.

For example -
I have not taught Flash for some considerable time, it has been unfashionable for some time now - best leave it alone.  Or, regulations (or the perception of regulations) that now stop much needed internationally recognised industry certifications from being included in national recognised qualifications.  Policy change, means that courses once popular and still in demand no longer fit a preferred funding demographic. While they plan, does God Laugh?