Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Youth Music

Many of the problems of today's society may be down to the fact that modern kids tv programs don't have decent theme songs. The songs we carry through life enter our heads from an early age. I'm not talking about the actual program, but the music.


My childhood "The Flashing Blades"; "The Banana Splits".

Current childhood "Spongebob", "Watch my Chops".

Simplistic, maybe, but what happy sounds do you retreat to when life gets hectic? It might explain the recent popularity of The Hoosiers.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Bloggers' Roundup nr 2

Michael's been thinking about adding photographs to his blog, as well as where about in the world looks like a good holiday spot.

Catherine has been sketching, Hugo has been dabbling with colour, film and cooking.

Nelson noted Lewis Hamilton's lap time. Luke did some homework, and wrote a good report about the recent legal actions. Michael went to see Saw IV. I look forward to the continuing adventures of Nevil.

I promised Farrakh a mention, as he solved a problem with getting logged into Google Reader - you can change the email address to a Hotmail account, or a correct College email address if it was originally mistyped.

Small Print

If your blog is missing from your tutor's blogroll, please contact them with the updated url.

Those mentioned above can feel free to carry the award below on your blog.

This listing is purely subjective, and is solely the responsibility of Duncan.

As technology advances, more and more employers look at your online presence to back up your job applications. If you decide to write short, rude words in your blog, an employer will not think much of you. If you don't care about your online presence, why should a potential technology employer. Use your blogs to project the image that you choose - if you choose to be a numpty, that is what the world will see. Leave numptydom behind, and look to the future instead, to your future. Watch the first 6 minutes of this report from BBC's Click.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Underage Voting

From the BBC News:

Proposals to lower the voting age to 16 have been unanimously backed at the SNP annual conference.

Can someone give me a reasonable argument why 16-18 year olds should have the vote? Without the cry of "no taxation without representation", because by that argument any under-16 who buys a sweet should have the vote too.

Come on, who's of that age group? Leave comments on WHY you want the power to vote for government? Why do you think it is important? If you don't want the vote, why not?

Only 400 Scottish Wildcats

I caught up with last night's "Landward", and was captivated by the article about the near-extinction of the Scottish wildcat. You can catch the programme online here.

Amongst a variety of people being interviewed was Peter Cairns of the Tooth & Claw project

In 2004, a team of scientists attached to WildCRU (Wildlife Conservation Research Unit) and the National Museums of Scotland estimated that as few as 400 wildcats remained. A previously quoted population of around 5,000 is now believed to be attributable to feral domestic cats or hybrid mixes of domestic and wildcat.

Further information and some more stunning photographs at the Scottish Wildcat Association (or Trust)

Click here to visit the Scottish Wildcat Trust website

You can see some wildcats in captivity at the Highland Wildlife Park in Kincraig. Link

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Blog Comments

I've just noticed a wee addition to Blogger's Comment options - under the Word Verification (if you use one) is a check box where you can Email follow-up comments to ...

Huzzah. No more excuses for not re-visiting comments that you have left elsewhere. This'll hit services like coComments.

Genius of Photography

BBC4 - one of the Freeview channels - starts a new series tonight called the "Genius of Photography". I have a Freeview box but the BBC transmitter fails to send a signal to my region, so I don't receive BBC4. I hope that they rebroadcast the series on terrestrial, as it looks quite good. The BBC fails to say if the show is also being transmitted over their "on demand" system.

Links: BBC4. Magazine.

Exponential Times

Nice YouTube clip that Julz found on the advances in technology. The movie is called "Did You Know 2.0" and is by xplanevisualthinking

"We live in exponential times." I like that. The human brain has the capacity to make leaps and connections that a computer cannot. Computers have no imagination. Have you?

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

October Sun


A few of us were going to meet up today to go through packs ready for the looming HMIe inspection. As we're on holiday, i took in the dSLR and went snapping through all the windows i could squeeze the 350d under and up. Hit or miss, but i've both ND filters on, so that is x8. Looks like i needed it. Shooting in RAW. This placeholder will be replaced later, after unwork.





Sunday, 21 October 2007

Blogging Manners

In College, students who leave derogatory comments can be processed through breaking the Student's Code of Conduct. Out in the Real World, it is more serious, and sometimes the police have to get involved. The New York Times wrote:
Tim O’Reilly, a conference promoter and book publisher who is credited with coining the term Web 2.0, began working with Jimmy Wales, creator of the communal online encyclopedia Wikipedia, to create a set of guidelines to shape online discussion and debate. (source)
The article concluded that:

Robert Scoble, a popular technology blogger who stopped blogging for a week in solidarity with Kathy Sierra after her ordeal became public, says the proposed rules “make me feel uncomfortable.” He adds, “As a writer, it makes me feel like I live in Iran.”

Mr. O’Reilly said the guidelines were not about censorship. “That is one of the mistakes a lot of people make — believing that uncensored speech is the most free, when in fact, managed civil dialogue is actually the freer speech,” he said. “Free speech is enhanced by civility.”


I have to agree with O'Reilly, and say that there is nothing wrong with being civil. If I don't like something, I can describe what I don't like about it without leaving a comment like the one left on YouTube in response to the WebProNews article.


The Blogger's Code of Conduct wiki, where you can read about the suggestions: link.

Tim O'Reilly's articles: Call for a Blogger's Code of Conduct, Draft Blogger's Code of Conduct, or the more recent: Code of Conduct: Lessons Learned So Far

There are some interesting discussions on freedom of speech, and issues like Constructive Anonymity vs. Drive-by Anonymity.

From my point of view, swearing in public (e.g. blogs) shows a lack of community spirit. I can swear like the trooper I once, but not in front of students, management or members of the public. Not because I can't but because it reflects badly on me. Swearing has its place in society (i.e. when expression extremes of emotion), but the everyday use of swearing shows what little people think of each other (i.e. society) and what poor communicators they are. We are all better than that, or can strive to be better than that.

Read this, and see how few times Mr Douglass swears. Do you think that your life is harder than his was? Thankfully, very few people reading this can truthfully answer "yes". If you do answer "yes", please make sure that you have all the support that pastoral guidance can offer you.

Blogger: Add Profile Image

I was recently asked how I got a photograph to appear in my comments. You just have to make sure that your Blogger Profile has an image of you in it (on a stylish representation of yourself).

In Blogger, click on Dashboard. On the right-hand side, click the Edit Profile link.


In amongst the profile settings, find the Photograph section.


Now, you'll need to paste in the link to an image. If you have an image in your photo-hosting (eg Flickr, Zooomr, etc) that you want to use, paste in the static URL in to the Photo URL text box. The image will be shrunk down to a small size. Sadly, Blogger does not allow you to copy/paste images which are held in Blogger. Seems an oversight by Blogger.

Finally, Save Profile and enjoy.

To make sure that comments have images show in your own blog, go to Customise/Settings/Comments and make sure that Show profile images on comments? is set to Yes.

Finally, Save Settings and others can enjoy too.

Student Profilez

Students: How is technology and the online world helping your career? Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? How is what you are doing now helping you towards that goal? Have your aims and interests changed since starting your education, e.g. since leaving school or going from Int2 to HNC?

Write your own profile and drop me a link to it. Remember to keep real world personal information out of your online work - don't write something you'll regret later.

There is a great range of jobs listed at, down to the detail of case studies.

RW Profile: Julz

Julia Parra writes that:

I am fortunate and grateful to be taking part in a transformative experience at Pepperdine University working on an Ed.D in Educational Technology. I spend my days working at New Mexico State University as a project coordinator and online instructor and I taught middle-school for four years. My expertise lies in distance learning, K12 professional development, higher education faculty development, social computing, and emergent technologies. I am helping to develop a new online teaching and learning certificate at NMSU and I’m still a proud RETAzen providing resources, community, and professional development for teachers in New Mexico.

She has a variety of online presences:

I like her style.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Gone West, Life is Peaceful Here

In Ullapool early to catch the sunrise.






Ullapool - quiet at that time in the morning.





The ferry can be seen closing the distance.



I found these levers onboard. I wonder if it plays a sea-shanty too?


Point, on Lewis, comes into view.


Sgoth: a traditional Hebridean sailboat in Stornoway harbour. (multimedia)



All at Sea

October in the Minch

My hiking gear is just so toasty that i can sit outside watching the interplay of light and sea. I saw one guy earlier reviewing his photos on his laptop. I'd rather be outdoors admiring nature. Sunshine on water. Wave crests. Clouds. Shoreline coming into view dappled with light. Right, seen Nature, now i'm off for a cuppa.

Photoplus Canon edition

I read the pilot edition of this magazine and liked it. The first edition is out and i bought it at Tescos 24hr before setting off their alarm and waiting for someone to come and see what in my bag had triggered the alarm. No-one came, so i waved the bag through the sensor sweep a few more times until a lass came to see what was happening.

I am now on page 12 of the magazine and have picked up 3 tips to follow up. Not a bad ratio. I may subscribe.

Friday, 19 October 2007

See Dick Blog

I added the words into a class exercise, so then had to make up the graphic. If you are not familiar with the old kids learn-to-read books, there are a pile of them here. For copyright reasons, I decided not to use the original characters, but used clipart instead.


Thursday, 18 October 2007

Creative writing exercise


Well, we got through 9 students today in the creative writing exercise "The Braemar Witch Project", before running out of time. Was fun had? Was it a novel use of the blogs? Will we do it again?

I'll certainly be emailing the N4OG's Comms staff to see if they can give pointers before we try another one.

I am impressed that everyone has a working "next" button in their part of the story. Benefits of working with HTML in the same block as blogging, perhaps?

The Braemar Witch Project: A Hallowe'en Tale.

Introduction (Duncan)

Part 1 (Michael)

Part 2 (Amber)

Part 3 (Marianne)

Part 4 (Farrakh)

Part 5 (Dean)

Part 6 (Darren)

Part 7 (Craig)

Part 8 (John)

Prep for Physio

First appointment with Physio tomorrow. I am to take shorts (I only have one pair as I don't like showing off my legs) and a t-shirt. But which one?

Chris Claremont's "Wolverine"? Snick, snick. Might give the wrong signals.

My "Keep on trekkin' (life is good)", just back from cleaner's, so is too clean to use as it'll just need washed again.

My old Harvard one is the opposite, too much wear & tear. Same with my old RGU or Theakston ones.

My Blue Sun/Firefly t-shirt is too often worn, and shows it.

Something dark, to cover the sweat-stains brought on by being un-hill-fit now. In the end, I decided on the "Talk nerdy to me" (

At least I don't have the same choices for shoes.

The Braemar Witch Project: Introduction

It was a sunny evening as the minibus left the group at the car park at the end of the road. My bag was under my seat, so I didn't have to wait for the packs to be unloaded like the rest.

Linn of Dee

Shouting back to the others: "I'm off for a wander", I headed up the clear path before realising that no-one else was ready, and that no-one else was in sight. The trees seemed to crowd in over my head.


Blogging en route

On way to class at the Foyer. I like my job.

Anti-Social Networking

The Law is not blind:

An teenager who set up a website urging school pupils to "kick the hell" out of a teacher has been fined £700.

Neil Cameron, 17, from Daviot, Aberdeenshire, made offensive remarks about Meldrum Academy's depute head Alan Horberry on the Bebo site.

Full story from BBC News.

More criminal news from the world of the Web can be found at - warning: it may give you nightmares, but is that a bad thing?

Cold enough for snow

It is the second-last workday of Summer time. It is also nose-tinglingly cold. Some of the clouds in the east had the appearance of carrying snow. Which would be nice.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

NUS Blog

Just tracked down this blog from the National University of Singapore. The source is "Narrative and Play In Interactive Media (UAR 2205)" - here is a description of their unit:

This module will look at interactive media from the perspective of narrative and play. Through hands-on experience playing, critiquing, and designing interactive systems, this module will explore how these two potentially contradictory concepts can be employed within interactive media to create meaningful and engaging experiences. Issues addressed will include: traditional and contemporary theories of narrative and storytelling; hypertext, intertextuality and non-linear narrative; interactivity and play; and recent theoretical developments in the area of game studies. Note that no experience with computer programming is required for this module.

I can imagine a collective "fit?" being sighed at that. But they are blogging! Here's Pooi Yean Lee's blog entry for September 10th. The reason I was looking was because this week's exercise is in collaborative writing, which aims to use potentially contradictory concepts (i.e. drawing names from a hat) within interactive media (i.e. blogs) to create meaningful and engaging experiences (i.e. ah - now this is where the laziness of some students will be met by the headlong rush of ILP7 reality).

Here is the start of a story from Nelson's class. Read his post, and then click next to move to the next part of the story. See how far the class got. See students blog. Blog, students, blog.

Hey, Chief, any chance of cross-assessing with Singapore?? :)

As a university, they have more blogs here, which look like they are all hosted on their own server. On the UAR 2205 module, there are more blogs listed on the right-hand-side under "news" (link).

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Good news, ra

Alexander McCall Smith's book, The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, is being filmed by Anthony Minghella from a script he co-wrote with Richard Curtis.

It stars Jill Scott as Mma Ramotswe, Lucian Msamati as Mr J. L. B. Matekoni and Anika Noni Rose as Mma Makutsi. Cast list.

The film will air on the BBC during Christmas 2007.

I feel the urge for a cup of red bush tea.


Trivia: This is the first motion picture filmed entirely in Botswana.

The film's producers have signed a 10 year lease for the area at the foot of Kgale Hill, Gaborone, where they have built the fictional shopping centre where Precious Ramotswe opens her storefront detective agency.


Links to the book author's site:

Jupiter 2

It was 10 years ago today that the Jupiter 2 was lost in space. Who could forget where they were when they first heard the words:

"As of this moment, the spacecraft [Jupiter 2] has crossed the limits of our galaxy. It is presumed to be hopelessly lost in space."

Will we ever find out what happened to those intrepid Robinsons, and their pilot, Major West.

In related news, since launch day, NASA has been unable to track down a missing scientist. With the violence of take off, there is the possibility that Dr Smith was incinerated by the launch jets, leaving no trace of his body. Friends described him as being "erratic, but harmless".

News footage

Further information

Monday, 15 October 2007

Digital Photo Exercise


I just fancied trying one of the exercises from Digital Photo magazine to make something Autumnal. With the shops selling Christmas stuff under "seasonal", I need some on-screen reminder that the season is still Autumn, and not Winter.

Unless you are south of the Equator, in South Africa, for example. With the addition of a reader from there, that means this blog has picked up at least one reader from each of the non-ice-covered continents. ClustrMap

Action Day: Environmental Issues

One of the main environmental issues that affects me directly is the destruction of the wild places in the UK. I may be viewed as selfish, but I don't see why massive pylons should be driven through scenery like this:

Allt Garbh

Alternatives arrangements can usually be found, whether skirting national parks, or underground, or via sea lines. These may be expensive in the first place, but if power companies were made to incorporate aesthetic losses in to their calculations, then the scales may balance differently.

We all need places to escape to, and Scotland employs a lot of people in the tourist industry. What happens to the local economy when tourists stop coming to see the like of this?

Loch Cluanie sunset

Blog Action Day 2007

Today is Blog Action Day, and the theme this year is the environment.

If you have a blog and want to join in, all you have to do is use today to post something related to the environment, in whatever way, shape, or form you prefer. You can pick an environmental issue that has meaning for you and let everyone know why it's important. Source: Blogger Buzz, Blog Action Day.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Skill: Finding a Wild Camping Pitch

The exercise was to teach someone a skill that they might not have. The scenario is that you are hiking somewhere, and are looking to pitch your tent.

Map skills: you should have planned the pitch as part of your route-planning. Somewhere sheltered, within reach of water (unless you are willing to carry it in), not on marshy ground, you might even have to consider midges and other insects (e.g. low lying, stagnant water, no breeze).

A wild camp must comply with the law of the land. If you light fires where you shouldn't, cause damage, etc, then you are no longer wild camping, and open yourself up to legal action. Scotland has an excellent Access Code, and hikers worldwide are envious of us here.

This pitch at Lochan Odhar to the north of the Braeriach, was quite rocky. I dropped my rucksack and wandered around with my walking poles to find a suitable site.

Day 1 campsite at Lochan Odhar

I also want a good view from the door, which is normally over my left shoulder as I'm lying down, with my feet into the wind.

Walking over the ground, I can use the poles to prod the ground, also to measure out approximate areas (2 poles long, 1 pole wide) if there's any doubt. Finally, I can lock the poles together with loops and leave them in the ground to mark where I've decided to camp while I go back and get my rucksack. In this area, I found only 2 suitable pitches, and chose the one nearest my rucksack.

All plans have failings, and finding a hidden projection beneath the tent can mean you have to move. I've done that, and it's better than chancing a torn groundsheet. Other items to watch for are sharp heather branches and cones from conifers.

Key points: using available shelter.


Consider your supply of water.

Campsite at Loch nan Eun

Leave no trace.

Lochan nan Doirbeag

Relax and enjoy the view. Makes it all worth it.

Sunset on Ben Hope

Essentials: knowledge of outdoors navigation, knowledge of weather forecast, knowledge of own ability; suitable kit, gear and mental ability to survive off the beaten track. Recommended reading: "The Backpacker's Handbook" by Chris Townsend.

Sunday Dee Light

Catching the late afternoon light through the window, I wondered if I could get to the River Dee before the sun set below the Grampian hills. Nipping across town, I was too late. I wandered up along the Dee, scoping out snaps that I wanted to take when the light was right.

Just as I was going to give up, the sun re-appeared, shining through the trees, glinting off the water for a few minutes. Composing the picture I wanted to capture, drawing with light, there was nothing else that I could do. A kindly dog-walker told me where a heron was hunting.



Bloggers' Roundup nr 1

NOG classes

Dean has a couple of lessons for Halo3 players: collecting skulls, and killing scarabs.

Vet gamer, Jimbo, opens his survival training school.

Away from the virtual world, Jordan shows us the first skateboard trick he learnt, an ollie. While Swales starts his learn something new series.


Some good blogging "do's and don't" from Clark - do make the blog interesting, and don't post any offensive materials to someone's blog. I like the one Luke added about keeping comments understandable (pwning Halo oldbies in the process?)


In Other News

Amber: I got in a fight with a huge dog and guess what the dog won!!

Jason is conducting a poll on whether you think he'll pass his driving test on Tuesday.

Kari has some cute pictures on her blog. Whilst others in Chrissie's class find out what happens if you can't remember your password, or put the wrong email address in when setting up blogger.

The most thought-provoking blog post this week has got to be John's. And the funniest post has got to be Kelly's. The most stylish seen this week is Becca's blog.

The HNC students have been doing a variety of work in Photoshop (N3CL-A) and with Audacity (N3CC-E; Nuno wins for best recording, Phill second). Samples have been appearing in my blog, and are listed the blogroll. Blogging above and beyond the call of duty: Hugo, Catherine, Paul, Scott.



I've been planning to introduce the Bloggers' Roundup since first hearing that we were running a course in blogging this teaching year. Darren Christie does the roundups for the UK hiking community, and I've stolen his idea (thanks, Darren).


Small Print

If your blog is missing from your tutor's blogroll, please contact them with the updated url.

Those mentioned above, feel free to carry the award below on your blog, download the size that best fits.


This listing is purely subjective, and is solely the responsibility of Duncan. I may not play Halo, but I totally pwn blogging at AbCol. Go out and prove me wrong, n00bs - it is your career, your future, not mine.

Sunrise from Nigg

Missed the crowning by 5 minutes, but hope other shots useful.


Location map of this exotic location.










Afterglow - back to car, warmth, processing (horizon straightening and removal of some sneaky dust particles), rest is as the camera saw the sunrise via the polarising filter.