Showing posts from December, 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.


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

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

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 ...

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.

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

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 ...

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 ...

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 -- …

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 ...

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

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 ...

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 ...

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#altchat — OpenUniversity Cisco (@OUCisco) December 9, 2015 Rather than replying to tweets v…

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

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 — @SocMedHE (@SocMedHE) December 3, 2015