Saturday, 29 September 2007


Sad news. I just found Zach Braff's blog and read the words "We are currently shooting episode 6 of the final season of Scrubs" ' ' Aaargh.

I'm watching the re-runs at tea-time on freeview, and tonight they did the M*A*S*H trick of having a psychologist interview the main cast about their issues. There's so much imagination and enthusiasm shown in that show. Scrubs clip. M*A*S*H clip.

I wonder if the cast will re-unite for a computer advert? Sans Alda.

Onward to Glory

With reference to the blogging unit, I was asked by a colleague "what next?". here's my answer:

What next - perhaps an investigation into what it was like to be an immigrant arriving in Britain? You chose the time (eg Windrush, or modern). There's reports from Canada of the "Metagama" passengers, emigrating from Scotland and the difficulties they had.

O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.

In truth, the SQA have sent me the official work, so I'll have to channel the classes in to cover that. As blogs are about empathy as well as communication, they are open to a wide range of uses. For example, blogging as a famous historical character, or about unfolding historical events.

With the wonders of hindsight, we forget that even famous people were young once, and that major events didn't happen overnight but unfolded over time. Think of the famous diarists, Anne Frank, Samuel Pepys, Frederick Douglass - people can empathise with some of the mundane events in their lives, and sympathise with some of the extra-ordinary (and horrific) events that they were forced to experience. As a blogger, connecting with just one person who doesn't know you allows you to class yourself as a citizen of the Web. People need to see that others can empathise with their stories, no matter where in the world the readership comes from. Web 2.0 is about the human connections, not the technology. Humanity has always striven to communicate more effectively. Blogs allow many technologies to be brought together in one place - so if anyone finds blogging boring, it is merely a reflection of the individual.

Friday, 28 September 2007


There's a display of Millais' work in the Tate in London. He was a 19th Century British painter, one of the pre-Raphaelites. I wasn't aware that he painted landscapes in his later life, and Scottish landscapes at that.

What got me thinking was a comment on Newsnight Review of "pushing the Victorian colonialism to one side" and then looking at the paintings.

Link to the exhibition.
Link to Wikipedia article.

Can you really view art out of context of the politics of the day? Do the politics behind this work matter, or does the message carry across the years even after the original conflict has ended? If it doesn't matter for one piece, can politics matter for other works, especially if they are non-political works.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Blogs in the News: Ko Htike

Ko Htike has been collecting information about what has been going on in Burma recently. His blog has turned into an impromptu news agency (said the introduction to an interview with him on BBC News 24)

Sunday, 23 September 2007

With Great Cameras Comes Great Responsibilities

UK Photographers Rights Guide. Although written in 2004, and noting that you accept that the authors have no responsibility for the advice given (i.e. if you get into trouble, hire an expert).

There is an American version from 2006 (pdf link), dealing more with how to deal with harassment and security guards making up the law as they go.

Bear in mind that the law is constantly changing, and that many police have an "attitude test" - be a pratt, and you'll be treated like one. Know your rights, know your responsibilities and don't be afraid to say that "actually, I'm on public land, and the law says ... ", all in a professional manner, as you note their badge number.

Note that Aberdeen College is not a public building, and that photographing people without their consent is not allowed. Under-16s, and some other people, need to have permission granted by their parents/guardians as well.

No Rights, Just T&C

You have no rights on the Internet. Just a series of Terms & Conditions that you blindly accept. There is no freedom of speech unless you have your own server and don't have to worry about an ISP. You have nothing.

This was shown today by the closing of a UK blog host after receiving lawyer's letters. Under UK law, no crime had been committed. Under UK law, no legal authority had requested that the site(s) be closed down.

It’s extraordinary, but true, and even though we live in a image democracy where freedom of speech is a right we can enjoy, that freedom does not extend to your blog if you upset a rich and powerful person.
That is the gist of Iain Dale’s unbelievable post outlining the shutting down of Tim Ireland’s Bloggerhead’s site, as well as Craig Murray’s, former Ambassador to Uzbekhistan.
They both spoke out against the Russian/Uzbekh billionaire, Alisher Usmanov, (pictured) who is trying to buy Arsenal FC. Lawyers letters followed which led to the webhost pulling the plug.

Outrageous shutting down of British blogs

Link to More4 News clip (interview starts about 60 seconds in). Nothing at the time of posting on the BBC news, their technology pages merely saying that we should "fight cyberbullies" - oh, that's in schools, not in the real world. So, the BBC isn't being ironic.

As news items change rapidly, I'll add a caveat that this information is what is known to me at the time of posting. (link to my legal representative)

Drum Castle again

After a mate saw the photos, and the weather forecast was better than expected, I had no problems taking another run out to Drum Castle on Sunday. Being NTS, I get in free.

I think I got some more dramatic shots than yesterday. I was on the tower roof when some snipers clambered up, and started taking potshots at folk below.
Fraser's Dragoones

Fraser's Dragoones

Fraser's Dragoones

Fraser's Dragoones

Fraser's Dragoones

And some College students were there with their film gear. They were well-behaved, and the re-enactors looked like they were helping them out. The same unit had been involved with filming scenes for the new Culloden visitors' centre. One hand-held unit even joined in a charge. I'll need to track down the edited product.
film students

film students

film students

Drum Castle

I'm getting into a bad habit of going to places for photo-opportunities. At least it gets me out of town. Went to see some 17th Century re-enactors at Drum Castle near Banchory. It was a nice castle too.


Friday, 21 September 2007

Trouble on the Farm

A former student of mine appeared in tonight's episode of Emmerdale. I felt like a geek photographing the screen, but it's the most active I've been all day.
Mike Mitchell (left)
Mike Mitchell (left) as trainer to the bare-knuckle fighter suggests: "You and him, take a walk"
Mike Mitchell
Flashing his pearlies, Mike swaggers up to the hero and tell him that "it's time".

After that there was some scenes during the illegal fight, and his name appears on the credits.

Don't be a Bully

With the launch of an awareness campaign, online bullying is in the news. Like any form of bullying, this will not be, and can never be, tolerated. Although we staff read our students blogs and highlight problems, please do contact us if you feel that someone's comments or posts hurt you.

As a blogger, don't feel that you have to explain yourself to anyone who's abusive or libellous comments that have been left on your blog. Tell your tutor, who can collect evidence, before deleting the comment. All our computers have IP addresses, and access logs kept. Nothing is anonymous.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said:

"Sadly, bullying is a negative feature of any society and will only be countered by strong action against bullies and a bullying culture.
"We would encourage all partners in the world of education to play a part in stamping out wanton actions that negatively affect the lives of others.
"Many schools harness the student voice, through student councils and other means, to counter bullying in the most effective way, because students are closer to the lives of their peers."
Cyberbullying - laugh at it, and you're part of it.

If you encounter any other forms of cyberbullying, especially those that use racism, religious hate, homophobia or threats of actual violence, tell your parents, a teacher or – if you think that the content is illegal – the police.
Additional links:
Are you a bully? Are you being bullied?
BBC: Fight cyber bullies, schools told
BBC: Cyber bullying - don't blame the web

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Good Night, And Good Luck

I found this clip on YouTube. I hadn't really noticed the relevance of the lines:
...if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost.

This instrument can teach, it can illuminate, and yes it can inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is nothing but wires and lights in a box.
Although about television, it is equally relevant to the Internet. A full copy of Edward Murrow's speech can be found here.

People could post videos of skateboard tricks on YouTube, teaching people not only how to get more from their skateboard, but to show non-boarders what you can do and how skilled you are. Instead, there's cats on tables, and babies bopping to a backing track. Gosh.

You could illuminate people about the difficulties of life in the modern world, or show people that although you're spelling isn't too great, that you are a good bassplayer. You can also show off your work to potential employers, maybe that your spelling has improved, that you've learnt new skills, and that you're reliable.

Or you can switch off and miss the opportunity ... oh look, a cat on a table. And by the time you're done watching that, the world has moved on, and you've fallen behind.

Good night, and good luck.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Lesson Learnt

Me looking worried/thoughtful - my standard appearance when things aren't working the way they should.

If you have issues with Blogger, you might find the Help files useful. They even have a forum where you can ask the experts questions. So the worried/thoughtful face rarely appears when I'm blogging. Honest.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Winter Gardens

Spent Saturday afternoon in Duthie Park's Winter Gardens. I need more practice to get the dSLR's colour balance correct. Changing ISO and white balance settings, and trying different aperture sizes. I feel too self-conscious using the tripod when people are around.

Some type of flower.

A fish blowing bubbles.

Trying to capture a water-droplet on the flower.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Friday with N3CL-A

We took some old images, and removed damage from them, and then took some new images and aged them. Class looked intent on the work in hand - it is a useful skill to have, as people can make money at it, or help preserve and restore your own family history.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Brave New World

As people come to terms with the idea of Web 2.0, across in the USA, courses like "JMC163: New Media in Journalism" are being run at San Jose State University (syllabus). They have speakers like Robert Scoble and Steve Sergeant of The Wildebeat.

The class blog led me to "The Cluetrain Manifesto". This 95-point may illuminate people as to the link between social networking and changes in eCommerce:

Networked markets are beginning to self-organize faster than the companies that have traditionally served them. Thanks to the web, markets are becoming better informed, smarter, and more demanding of qualities missing from most business organizations.
Like it or not, the world is changing. Comments on blogs, podcasts or forums are being hyperlinked to. We can make a difference. We can be heard. Organisations can have a conversation with customers instead of broadcasting en masse. Perhaps some form of democracy may arise. Some organisations in Canada are doing this, using new media for social communication.
A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark. ("Annie Hall")
Robert Scoble's current blog.
JMC163 podcasts are on right sidebar. Volume a bit low. 90 minutes and 40 minutes. Warning: some mild swearing.
YouTube videos with, by, and about, Robert Scoble.
Web 2.0 Expo: The Social Media Revolution - YouTube videos by MDOEF - from April 2007

Blog Misuse

On a visit round the blogs, I noticed one student giving advice on attempting to bypass our college security. Here's the comment I posted - in summary - nothing you do in College on a computer is anonymous, everything is tracked against your student account.

Well done. There were students excluded last year for using sites like these. It should make for a smaller class.

If you read the college policy, we have security in place to block misuse. Attempts to bypass our security can lead to viruses, etc coming into the college. Having been warned of it, and if you still do this, you may find yourself in breach of the Computer Misuse Act.

Woah, not only excluded, but a chance of a criminal record. Not what you came to college to get, eh? If you want music, go and buy it. Your logins are recorded, and the sites you access are recorded by the college system.

As this is your professional blog, I STRONGLY recommend that you delete the blog entry.

You will find that others in the College are looking at your blogs, and passing on hacks and the like on your professional blogs will drop you in trouble. In extreme, you may find that your blog is closed down by Blogger for being inappropriate.

Remember that this is your professional blog, something that you can show to potential employers.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Logo News (E Group)

I commented on the posts that folk had added to their blog. I think some people have their blogs set to moderate comments before they appear. Sensible idea.

What I'd like to do is get the 'winning' cards printed off over the weekend in time for Monday's class. If you could send me through a full-size version of the business card (maybe having taken my comments into account), I'll get them printed on card and trimmed to size.

Some people's cards look good, but weren't chosen by the client (maybe some of the elements in the design were). If you want to see how it would have looked in reality, again, just send me a copy through. The JPGs on Blogger are usually too pixelated for such fine detail.

See if you can guess the song I was humming after work? Answer. Did you guess correctly?

Google Reader

Spent a wee while adding student blogs to Used the 'manage subscription' facilty to organise students into their classes. Any new posts get shown on the screen right away.

I'll make it easier to see people's new work.

Google Reader doesn't show comments, but a facility in CoComment allows you to track comments and link them back into Google Reader (or other RSS readers)

TechFest 7-24th Sept

TechFest is up an running in Aberdeen. This technology showcase has enough to interest all Computing & IT students. For example - a tour of NorthSound studio or Shell's Virtual Reality Centre, or even round RGU's Forensic Labs. Other events include building your own 3D worlds; renewable energy; how protecting the environment helps animals too; lenses and light.

Bookings can be made online.


Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Image Cropping

Image cropping, in extremis.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Absentee Landlord

I've been off ill since 5pm last Monday. Nothing to do with work, and I won't go into the gory details of 4-6 days of side-clasping agony. I'm on painkillers and have a walking stick in the base room for when they wear off.

Thanks to all my colleagues who covered my classes for me. Hopefully no-one's learning process was interrupted by my absence. A few students had updated their blogs in my absence, but most had other things on their mind, so I'll postpone the planned bloggers round-up. In the mean-time, here are some blogs that I liked the look of, or were trying to do something different. I'll make this more formal when there's more to see across the classes.

From the HNC Multimedia A group

From the HNC Computing E group