Showing posts from March, 2010

If the foodies can do it?

Cooking lunch today I was listening to the ‘food programme’ on BBC Radio 4 (see apparently podcasts are available). Those who know me, know my fascination with unique food. But this blog entry is not about my gastronomic interests, instead the main gist of the radio programme discussing the use of social media in the promotion of artisan foods. Wow! Listening to educators struggle and ‘not get it’, we have the foodies already out there Tweeting and Facebooking, building communities of followers, enthusiasts and interest groups to promote their wares as well as form a community of interest. Time to learn from a chef me thinks. Andrew Smith Follow me on Twitter: @teraknor

Regulation may encourage darknets

Following on from an earlier blog entry and a news story gaining momentum in the UK Twittersphere A thought wandered into my mind (this is occasionally allowed) ... “in an edge connected system, how could any government police the additional of underground dark nets?” There are many who have the skill and resource to accommodate this, in turn there are many who will willingly turn a blind eye. There are others capable of tapping into systems to make the connection and many systems with suitable weaknesses to allow this. So, this then begs the question, there must already be some out there (speculation has been that this has been the case for some time). It also raises the issue, that a legislative thump from the UK government will encourage more illicit activity and will move from mere file sharing onto other unsavoury activities. What are your thoughts? Andrew Smith Follow me on Twitter: @teraknor

Who thinks we can deliver a course via Twitter

Having played with Twitter for at least a year, I have slowly formed the notion that it could be a means by which academic centres of many flavours, disciplines and levels could enhance the delivery of their teaching and therefore assist learning. Without giving away the initiative, I have more than one idea and the motivation in seeing how it may be accomplished. Now for the clinch, I am looking for partners in crime, self motivated, able to generate new ideas and open to new ways of thinking. If you are interested, you will work out how to encourage me.

Ventilation of ones private spleen ....

Being a bit “mutton jeff”, also known as deaf or hard of hearing; brings many entertaining challenges. To set the record straight: I don’t suffer from hearing loss, you can’t lose something you never had Yes, I can hear you, but not always It does have a scientific name, apparently its unilateral sensorineural hearing loss (not that I personally agree with the last part of the title) Noisy environments are very difficult I do struggle with some accents if you are quiet or not clear in your speech, I am NOT a racist white man, I simply cannot hear you Phone calls are often hard work Bluetooth headsets, forget it, they don’t work for me No I cannot lip read Yes I do get tinnitus, for me it’s a high pitch squeal and it is an agonizing thirty seconds. Stereo headphones are a nightmare With age and natural loss of hearing, it is slowly getting worse - I am already losing upper frequency range. I just love it when someone approaches me on my deaf side and speaks to me, especi

Climbing the Ranks #Linux #T155

For various valid administrative reasons the bureaucracy at my University, delayed the inclusion of “T155 Linux: an introduction” onto our courses and qualifications system (the public website) on the 25th of January 2010. Only 13 weeks before the course starts. With many courses enjoying at least a six month lead on promotion and recruitment, panic stations (mental image of flashing lights and sirens). Now, with, 6 weeks to go, we have over 200 students, having pulled all the stops to recruit students. Question : is it the presence of the Open University Answer : it could be, but that would rely on customers finding the course by accident Question : did a mass mailing help Answer : most likely, it at least was a way of preaching to the converted Question : now you are beginning to rank (13th) in a Google search for ‘Linux course’ ( ) Answer : we cannot say, with only seven weeks, sinc

From Academy Student to Cisco Systems Engineer

Sitting in a pub, near the heart of one of England's oldest Cities, St Albans is named after the first martyr to Christendom in the days of the roman occupation of all that is south of Hadrian's Wall. Jason Smith (no relation) currently works for Cisco Systems in the UK as a Systems Engineer; his current area of technical expertise is Unified Computing Systems. As a student, he was with the academy programme in the 'early days' remembering version 1 of the course and the change to version 2. Why did you choose to study ICT? Following in my father's footsteps, my interest was always around computers and what I could accomplish with them. Whilst my father works in a technical role, it is considerably different from what I have done since leaving university. I did originally start A level's [in the UK, if you school grades are good, you have the choice of taking A{dvanced} level, academic qualifications] , unfortunately at the school near by childhood hom

Government gone mad

By no means a current news story in the UK, I feel inclined to share this in the bloggersphere as a cautionary tale of the shape of things to come as well as a statement on when government and politicians don’t get it. File sharing, piracy and illegal downloads is an issue, one is not going to comment on the rights or wrongs, but instead on current government policy (see ). Being passed in the UK House of Lords (has some equivalence to an upper house in other legislative assemblies), there is some cunning on the part of the personalities involved as the House of Commons has limited time and space for any new legislation due to the expected election this year. Based on a three strikes and you are out principle, the law has not considered: How easy it is for someone with technical expertise to masquerade as another The open availability of pay as you go internet, especially in the 3G domain Therefore, who are the criminals in th

Newspeak .... not ingsoc

In a soon to be regular theme to my blog, I will share corporate hype, jargon and general bluff, taken from different official sources. The following is a extract from a document circulated at a meeting I am currently attending ... Foster and recognise focused innovation to improve the quality and efficiency of the Faculty’s core activities, models of operating and processes, using a norm-driven approach where appropriate So consider the following questions: What is appropriate, therefore more importantly what is inappropriate What is focussed innovation? How would the focussed innovation improve quality and efficiency How can innovation be constrained in this way What is the norm, if so, would this not stifle innovation If you understand this ‘jargon riddled’ statement, please share, otherwise shake your head in despair. Andrew Smith Follow me on Twitter: @teraknor

The truth had to come out ...

Having designed and delivered many courses in my time, a recent conversation recalled a time past when heresy of heresies I used to : Teach networking to the programmers And, programming to the networkers United in their distain, each cohort would complain at why they were being made to learn these ‘irrelevant’ subjects as part of their year one, semester one studies. For years my answer was always the same, based on truth it would go: Programmers: how are you going to make good hackers, unless you understand networking? Networkers: how on earth are you able to defend your network, unless you understand how programmers think? As two separate courses, they seldom met, so the deceit could continue. Seeing en masse realisation, each cohort would cease their complaints and work hard at the subject. Some of the programmers would grasp the networking with gusto, and likewise some of the networkers would grasp programming. Ensuring they had multi-disciplinary skills, beyond the bo

Another Pithy Quote

Looking at a website with some quotes on the general subject of security to seed a future blog entry, I encountered:     The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty, Winston Churchill If it is relevant or not does not matter. Apply it as you may prefer. Andrew Smith Follow me on Twitter: @teraknor

In a state of connected bliss!

Ok, many of my blog posts often wander into avenues before returning to common themes, that is who I am. Being almost the same personal age as the internet, one has had almost continuous access to computer technology for over 28 years. Therefore living the ‘connected’ lifestyle has been a evolutionary process still remembering when ones day did not require the checking of the email on awakening, to see what has come in overnight from around the world. Yet for the generation of today, it is part of live, so why the commentary? Now being able to access the internet from a wealth of technologies, my students, colleagues, professional contacts, friends and family can connect with me, wherever, whenever and however. I can share experiences, ideas and facts using a range of platforms, including blog, email, facebook, twitter and more. Students for me are less affected by my travels, previously working in a face-2-face teaching environment, the impact of my travels was noticeable. Now

Your Human Rights

Whilst on my travels I tend to pop back to England via the internet, every morning to see what is happening in the world. The BBC are running this article ... I will leave the point of view to you, currently I have none, but quote with interest: “Countries such as Finland and Estonia have already ruled that [Internet] access is a human right for their citizens.“ For a medium that is at least 40 years old and has only been freely available for less than 15 of these years. The impact has been considerable in enabling expression, free speech and international communication. Whilst it has become the source of additional issues in protecting our children as well as our computer. It has enabled many to share their views valid or otherwise in an environment that is ‘open to all’. Now we can obtain the internet on our phones, netbooks, laptops, home computers, televisions and microwave ovens (yes, there was an internet enabled micr

Best of both worlds

Currently at the IARIA InfoSys 2010, listening to an interesting keynote presentation on Artificial Intelligence and Intrusion Detection systems, my mind wandered to the Cisco Academy in this area. Whilst the teaching in CCNP ISCW and CCNA Security is not ground breaking it: Is the result of considerable work in this field and a reflection of current practice Has the potential to inform the staring point for many research projects Spotting anomalies in network traffic is the art of intrusion detection, with tactics using more subtle stealth tactics, looking for methods to define the anomalies in traffic throughput that could indicate an attack. Without taking too much time to explain the detail, the AI used is based on a simplified model of genetic patterns in the genome of different populations. By spotting the change in pattern, you can identify a potential ‘dominant’ gene. Therefore in networking, using the potential to look for change enables the potential detection of an int

An irresistable quote

Every day, man is making bigger and better fool-proof things, and every day, nature is making bigger and better fools. So far, I think nature is winning. Albert Einstein

Can we educators be too paranoid?

Globe trotting at the moment, sitting on the balcony of my hotel room looking out to to Caribbean (yes this is a brag). I have just been chatting via skype to an old friend. To protect both the innocent and guilty in this case, the conversation provoked some considerable thought around the following question. Can educators be too paranoid about social media? From the gist of the conversation the immediate conclusion would be yes. The challenge faced by the soul in question was how to deliver a programme on social media / web 2.0 in an environment that blocked every possible resource in the name of ‘Child Protection’ in spite of the fact the majority are over 16 and in the case of the course in question, over 18. I am a vociferous advocate of ‘child protection’ but to remain sane I also champion ‘common sense’. Social media and web 2.0 technologies are a way of life for the all generations especially our youth. Blocking something they already have access to on their phones and at

How many blogs can a blogger blog?

Whilst this post is not a parody of the Dylan classic, one asks the retrospective (not rhetorical) question, how many blogs can a blogger blog, before one is called a blogger of note. Not particularly interested in quantity, notoriety or fame, after a period of blogging last year for the Cisco Learning Research Collaborative, I became a convert (in part) to the impact of the blog as a communication format. Having a way to share your thoughts with many, encourages reflection and consideration, taking the time to think about what I am writing and ensuring that what I am writing is what I believe and what I mean (well at least what I think I mean). Feedback is essential, the challenge as well as the agreement, the different voice with their own informed view on your thoughts is often more personally rewarding than the original thought shared. Now having been asked to contribute to two key blogs and maintaining my own, I have to think how I may save on effort and ensure I have plen

The "Art of War" an Interview with a former Cisco Academy Student working in the Banking Sector

Whilst I currently work at the Open University in the UK, in a previous incarnation I used to work at Barnfield College, in Luton, England. Barnfield is a further education college (comparable to a technical college / polytechnic). At Barnfield I managed the Cisco Regional Academy and had the privilege of teaching countless [i] students on the CCNA and CCNP amongst other courses. Many of the students have benefited from the Cisco Academy experience, enjoying successful careers in the networking and systems support industry. This blog is an informal Interview with Fred Mpala, one of the many former students who has in the seven years since leaving full time education has forged a successful career in the "security" side of networking and telecommunications (in spite of my efforts to the contrary he says). Currently working in the City of London, Fred is a senior information security officer [ii] of an international bank, overseeing the management of their infrastructure secu

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? is a Latin phrase taken from the Roman poet Juvenal, normally translated as, "Who will guard the guards themselves?" It is usually said A "who watches the watchmen?". Often the art of managing system security is not in how powerful your system is, how elaborate your defence and mighty the weapons you use (in countermeasures). Instead, it tends to be reliant on the trustworthy state of those protecting your system. No one is perfect, nor is anyone incorruptible, the most reliable of colleagues will make mistakes, some may not care. In managing the security of any system you have a conundrum ... Do I continually vet my workforce personally and professionally and create a culture of fear and distrust Or Do I create a culture of collaboration, where all decisions are peered and reviewed, therefore reducing errors and encouraging innovative solutions to given issues. Ok, so its a no brainer, get the ‘custodes custodiet ipsos c