Sunday, 30 December 2007

The Harry Potter Personality Quiz

Which Harry Potter character has the same personality type as you? This test is based on the principles of the Myers-Briggs Personality Typing system. The result of this quiz will tell you not only you personality type but also which major character in Harry Potter has the same personality type, according to the test deviser’s evaluation of the characters.
Via Stephen’s Lighthouse 5 December

Apparently, I’m like Rubeus Hagrid! And I so wanted to be Professor McGonagall…

Sunday, 23 December 2007

How does Santa get up and down those chimneys?

There is interesting physics involved in this problem! And you can read about it here.
Thanks to the American Society of Physics and SCI Tech Library.

Saturday, 22 December 2007


Yes, that Rudolph -- the one at the front of the team who is guiding the sleigh through the foggy Christmas Eve.

Among the interesting scientific websites recommended for this time of year I really enjoyed this one.

You might want to ponder the genetics of Rudolph and his red nose.

Thanks to SCI News

Monday, 17 December 2007

Finding the right strategy

from by Neon Kelly 13 December
The government-backed Technology Strategy Board wants to play a vital role in the development of innovation in the UK. Research and development investment is central to innovation, economic growth and the UK's knowledge economy holding its own in the face of global competition.... >
Read the full article

I'm really uncertain about the juxtaposition of "innovation" and "government" let alone "vital role". After a 22-year career in the civil service and a further 15 years in small business I remain to be convinced that government is capable of innovating and governing at one and the same time.

10 more interesting things -- from 13 December

1 Communities and citizenship: exploring 20th century London resources
from Intute's Social Sciences Politics gateway
"The site includes a searchable database of the images which all have associated text setting them in their context. This section contains materials relating to immigration to London and the lives of London's migrant and ethnic minority communities. ... Copyright and technical information is provided on the website." Stunning stuff whether you are a social sciences student or simply interested in the social history of the last century through which readers have, of course, spent more time living through than this one!
2 Compact Oxford English Dictionary
from Intute's Social Science Research Tools and Methods gateway
"This is part of the site maintained by Oxford University Press. It provides free access to an online searchable version of the compact Oxford English dictionary. This contains over 145,000 words, phrases, and definitions of common English language words. Information on the edition of the dictionary and copyright can be viewed on the website."
3 Friday fun
from Intute's Science, Engineering & Technology Blog by Anne
This week we look at the star of Bethlehem which led the wise men (or Magi) in their search for the the newborn Messiah. But what was this star and how did it lead the wise men? Opinions vary and various theories have been suggested. Links are provided to three different sites which provide insight into some of the different ideas about "the star".
4 Video: Spain Restoring The Alhambra
from National Geographic
Spain is embarking on an ambitious project to restore the Alhambra palace complex, a gem of Islamic and Renaissance architecture.
5 Marvellous to Behold: Miracles in Medieval Manuscripts
from British Library Press Releases
What is a miracle? Why have people for millennia believed in the power of the divine to intervene in human affairs? How has the wonder-working God of Abraham shaped the traditions of Jews, Christians and Muslims?
6 US gov't to British court: We can kidnap Brits, it's legal
from Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
The US has told Britain that it is legal under US law to kidnap British citizens from the UK (indeed, anyone from anywhere) if they are suspected of crimes in the USA -- and that this can be done instead of using formal extradition procedures.
Link (via Warren Ellis)
Unbelievable but true!
7 Knowledge in 60 Seconds
from Open Culture by Dan Colman
This morning Boing Boing highlighted a video that figures into a larger video collection that deserves some attention. The 60 Second Lecture Series is hosted by the University of Pennsylvania (aka Penn) and features prominent faculty members giving snappy, one minute lectures on topics of their own choice. The full collection can be found here. (Note: these videos work in Real Player).
8 History of religion in 90 seconds
from Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
Maps of War has a library of 90-second Flash videos that show expansion and contraction of empires and religions over the centuries. The history of religion is a good one to start with. How has the geography of religion evolved over the centuries, and where has it sparked wars? Our map gives us a brief history of the world's most well-known religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. Selected periods of inter-religious bloodshed are also highlighted. Want to see 5,000 years of religion in 90 seconds? Ready, Set, Go! Link
(Thanks, Rodney!)
9 Puzzle: three-way pistol duel
from Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
You're a cowboy, and get involved in a three way pistol duel with two other cowboys. You are a poor shot, with an accuracy of only 33%. The other two cowboys shoot with accuracies of 50% and 100%, respectively. The rules of the duel are one shot per cowboy per round. The shooting order is from worst shooter to best shooter, so you get to shoot first, the 50% guy goes second, and the 100% guy goes third, then repeat. If a cowboy is shot he's out for good, and his turn is skipped. Where or who should you shoot first?
10 John Milton's On Time
from 3quarksdaily by Robin Varghese

Fly envious Time, till thou run out thy race,
Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,
Whose speed is but the heavy Plummets pace;
And glut thy self with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more then what is false and vain,
And meerly mortal dross;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain.

It continues at Harper's.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Is virtual a virtue in scholarship?

Sheila Webber was interviewed by Daniel Griffin about information literacy a little while back, and the article has just appeared in Information World Review. Sheila originally said that the IWR article, which includes some quotes from Andy Powell of Eduserv, was not available online.
Added on 14 December -- "thanks to Andy and John for pointing out that the text of the article is reproduced in What PC".

Friday, 14 December 2007

Privacy alert: Cookie variants can be used to skirt blockers, anti-spyware tools

Although questions about Facebook's Beacon service have raised the ire of privacy advocates this week, little-known third-party, subdomain cookies could be tracking online user activity, too.
Thanks to ComputerWorld

The Information Literacy Cookbook: Ingredients, recipes and tips for success

I like Webology. Reading it brings to my attention things that many of the other journals don't and in full text without any hassle. I do not like that I have to remember to check for new issues -- or note from other sources -- since there appears to be no alerting or feed system.

That said I bring you a review by Hamid R Jamali in Volume 4 Number 3 September 2007 of The Information Literacy Cookbook by Jane Secker, Debbi Boden and Gwyneth Price (Eds.). Published by Chandos Publishing, Chandos House, 5 & 6 Steadys Lane, Stanton Harcourt, Oxford, OX29 5RL, UK. 2007, XIV, 162 p.,
Paperback, ISBN 1-84334-225-1 £39.95; Hardback ISBN 1-84334-226-X £57.00.

Jamali writes: A search in the Library of Congress’s catalogue for English books with "information literacy" in the title published between 2000 and 2007 results in more than 90 records. Information literacy has attracted a remarkable amount of attention during the last decade and much has been published by different groups including academics, librarians and information professionals and for various audience groups such as students, academics, information professionals and so on. So is there a need for a new book in this area? The difference between the book The Information Literacy Cookbook edited by Secker, Boden and Price and much of the existing work is that, as the editors stated, it is "written by practitioners for practitioners". All of the editors and authors of this collective work are information professionals and librarians who have the experience of working in different sectors of the library world. Their aim is to ‘create something that would be of day-to-day use by practitioners". Each of the chapters deals with a different information environment from school libraries to further education institutions. Therefore, each chapter could be read on its own meaning that this kind of book is not one that has to be read from cover to cover. The Information Literacy Cookbook does not try to introduce information literacy or to teach end-users how to improve their information literacy skills. The audience is information professionals and practitioners and therefore the readers are expected to have sufficient background knowledge on information literacy (although the editors do provide some background information in the introductory chapter and point the readers to resources for further information).
Copyright © 2007, Hamid R Jamali

Just as soon as I'm well enough to travel I'll try reading this in the British Library.

Covering the whole of the UK, is a site totally dedicated to science jobs.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Rail Recruiter

Rail Recruiter is a dedicated rail recruitment web site for UK rail jobs.

A more focused approach to recruitment that ensures total anonymity for candidates and a highly targeted selection process for recruiters, is unique.

I'm not sure about "unique" but it is certainly unusual, rare and any other synonym for "nearly unique" that you can think of.
One of the biggest issues for executives and professionals in researching the job market is that their current employer will find out too soon. A look around at what might be available is simply that -- it is not necessarily saying "I'm dissatisfied with what I've got" but could well be saying "The more I look at possible openings the more I like where I am". Guaranteed anonymity during the preliminary process is essential and this is what offers.

All UK government websites must be WCAG AA compliant

Brian Kelly at UK Web Focus (13 October) explains why he believes, along with a number of other experts in the field, that the requirement to comply with the WCAG Guidelines is inappropriate.

The UK Government has published a Public consultation on Delivering Inclusive Websites document (TG102). This document (available in MS Word and PDF formats) states that all government Web sites must comply with the WCAG AA guidelines by December 2008. And failure to comply will result in the withdrawal of the domain. Great, you may think. At last the Government is doing something positive for people with disabilities. I would disagree - I think this is a flawed approach for several reasons.

A well-thought-out argument that makes sense. Please read and comment back to Brian if appropriate.

Killing botnets

Botnets, networks of compromised computers, are here to stay. Sadly, the Storm is just one of many active botnets today. According to Dr. Jose Nazario of Arbor Networks, "We currently track about 1,800 live botnets a day. The bulk of those come up and go down within a day." As for how many machines are infected, he couldn't estimate. Is there are any hope that we might someday kill off botnets entirely? Read more

Thanks to CNet

Progress in synthetic classification: towards unique definition of concepts

Gnoli, Claudio (2007)
In Proceedings Information access for the global community: an international seminar on the Universal Decimal Classification Extensions and corrections to the UDC, 29, The Hague.
Full text available as PDF
The evolution of bibliographic classification schemes, from the end of the 19th century to our time, shows a trend of increasing possibilities to combine concepts in a classmark. While the early schemes, like DDC and LCC, were largely enumerative, more and more synthetic devices have appeared with common auxiliaries, facets, and phase relationships. The last editions of UDC and the UDC-derived FATKS project follow this evolution, by introducing more specific phase relationships and more common auxiliaries, like those for general properties and processes. This agrees with Farradane's principle that each concept should have a place of unique definition, instead of being re-notated in each context where it occurs. This evolution appears to be unfinished, as even in most synthetic schemes many concepts have a different notation according to the disciplinary main classes where they occur. To overcome this limitation, main classes should be defined in terms of phenomena rather than disciplines: the Integrative Level Classification (ILC) research project is currently exploring this possibility. Examples with UDC, FATKS, and ILC notations are discussed.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Home safe and well

And , no morphine cloud! I survived through the whole "after the operation" period with just the epidural topped up with paracetamol and codeine.
I can now walk so much better than I could before I went in to the hospital that I have to be VERY careful not to overdo things. I'm not officially back at work for another four weeks but when "the office" (or one of them) is only a step from the dining room and I can work all day in my nightwear and dressing-gown it's difficult to keep from doing something.
The plan is to work through the incoming mail and posts etc and then catch up with the drafts making them into substantive posts.
I don't think that anyone is overly bothered about much between now and Christmas anyway -- and rest assured that if it's urgent I will tell you about it.

PS: I've just heard that Dawn was taken in to emergency intensive care at 5am this morning following some kind of allergic collapse. No more details available as yet. If you can then prayer would be welcome by this devout Christian and her family, if prayer is not your "thing" then just send lots of good wishes over the air-waves.
Thank you.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007


Forgot to admit that I have not cleared all my "waiting in the drafts folder" items but I'm now falling asleep over the keyboard so they will simply have to stay in the cupboard for a week (or so)!

10 interesting things I've read since 22 November

I have, of course, read a lot more than 10 interesting things in nearly two weeks -- and I've only got nine in here.

I had thirty-six hours notice that there is, hopefully, actually going to be a bed available for me in the hospital so it's in at 10am on Wednesday, operated on Thursday morning and get back to something like normality sometime the following Monday. The intervening period will be spent so full of morphine that I'll be on cloud nine!

Anyway -- the bizarre, the interesting and the thought-provoking (I hope).

  1. Webcam cheddar fetches £1,145 on eBay from VNUNET.COM by Ian Williams
    Wedginald, the cheddar cheese watched by millions over the Internet, has been auctioned off for BBC Children in Need.

  2. Speed penalty point plan attacked - BBC News from Inner Temple Library by Sally “Plans to increase penalty points for speeding motorists could ‘criminalise’ a large section of the UK’s workforce, driving instructors have warned.” Full story
    My immediate reaction to this? Unprintable! If you break the law then you deserve the punishment. And if the rats who race over the humps down our tiny street could be caught I'd be more than happy to do worse to them than "criminalise" them.

  3. Law won't help Darling's data victims
    The law is impotent when your data is carelessly lost or discarded by government or companies, discovers Stewart Mitchell of PCPro
    I don't understand why the data victims belong to the Chancellor nor do I understand why there is no recompense in law for damage done -- except, I suppose, that the damage hasn't actually happened as yet and could be a long way down the line for some people.

  4. Friday fun from Science, Engineering & Technology Blog by Anne
    Did you know that Intute has a collection of interactive science quizzes? Check them out! They range from fun topics such as dinosaurs and chocolate through to more educational content such as mineralogy and the periodic table. Top quiz scores are posted on the site.

  5. The importance of art 35,000 years old discovered in the Swabian Jura. Originating some 15,000 years before the cave paintings of Southern France. Aside from the beauty this shows the importance of representational art in human evolution. You can read the article here, and Dave Snowden found it thanks to Thinking Meat.

  6. The Wednesday Word Wise Roundup from Word Wise by Dan Santow
    "Not too long ago – don’t ask why – I was trying to think of what that little indentation between one’s nose and one’s upper lip is called. Not only didn’t I know its name, I had no idea how to even start a search for it (Google “little indentation between one’s nose and one’s upper lip”?). Then I read about the Visual Dictionary Online at Lifehacker and within about six seconds learned it’s called a philtrum (“small cutaneous depression extending from the lower part of the nose to the upper lip”). The Visual Dictionary Online, from Merriam-Webster, is illustration-based and as Lifehacker points out, it can help you “find the name of a whatsit.” It's also a load of fun to surf through."

  7. Dan continues: "I’ve been ranting and raving for years about the use and misuse of the word “unique,” and a few weeks ago The Wall Street Journal’s online Style & Substance column weighed in (happily, on my side, even if that wasn’t its intention). According to the Journal: “Talent Scouts For Cirque du Soleil Walk a Tightrope: Ms. Giasson’s Tiny Acrobat Just Might Be Too Unique,” said the headline, resurrecting the perennial conundrum of whether there are degrees of uniqueness. The short answer, as we said ominously in May, is “not on our watch.” Because unique uniquely means one of a kind, we should say such things are too rare or too unusual. Then there is the issue of “unique” users aka “unique” visitors, an imprecise but often quoted measurement of the number of individual visitors to Web sites. When we use the term, we should use quotation marks around unique to indicate it’s an industry term that uses unique in a unique way."

  8. The English do poetry says Morgan Meis at 3 Quarks Daily
    Here are two opening lines:
    “Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,”
    “Lord, the Roman hycinths are blooming in bowls and”
    The first is from Walter Raleigh’s The Passionate Man’s Pilgrimage, the second from T.S. Eliot’s A Song for Simeon.
    The American play jazz, the French write essays, the Germans compose music -- the English? They do poetry.
  9. Purge This from Kids Lit Get ready to be a little ticked off. Or a lot, if you are like me. Publishers in the UK are censoring children's books not for sexual content or violence, but for real evil. Brace yourself. Ready? They are protecting your children from (gasp) sharp objects and walking alone - IN BOOKS. Yup. So, no child in Britain will be exposed to the horror of sharp sticks, fire-breathing dragons, perching on ladders, or heating elements glowing red. Well, thank goodness that someone is protecting my children! I mean, silly mother that I am, I might have read them books about dragons, swords, painting the stars on ladders, or any number of things. Now let's understand what the real enemy is here: IMAGINATION! GASP!Wouldn't want those kids to start thinking, dreaming, learning! Just turn the TV back on. They won't see anything bad there. It's the books that are dangerous. You could lose an eye!
  10. Well that's going to have to wait until I get out of "that tha 'orspital" when I've been "done". I didn't think I was doing too badly -- got the printed ADSET Members' Update finished, PDF and Word versions created and sent; wrote a business newsletter for my colleague Leonora at The Accounting Bureau and all this with only thirty-six hours warning that there was, in fact, a bed booked for me!

Friday, 23 November 2007

Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names

There is only one word for this resource and that is WOW -- written in LARGE bold letters. Go and look at it for yourself -- it's fantastic.

Thank you to ResourceShelf for bringing this to my attention -- and sorry I've been hanging on to it for so long!

Thursday, 22 November 2007


This is actually a portal to a large number of online job sites. I found the search to be a bit naff -- "information manager" in Kettering came up with Kettering jobs OK but only those with "information" and "manager" in the title or description. E.g. R&D Manager ... for further information contact ... and the list of categories did not include anything about information except IT.

However, it's no worse than many others and better than a lot in terms of range of jobs and locations. If you're looking for librarianship or professional information work then I guess you really should be using a specialist website.

Are tests biased?

Yes, of course they are. No matter how hard an examiner, whether a person or an organisation, tries to be unbiased there will always be some bias.
Scott H Young provides a useful Study Tip at which starts off by saying that "Life isn’t fair. Why should tests be?" He then goes on to provide detailed information about:
  • Testing Bias -- what is it?
  • What to Look Out For
    Memorization versus understanding
    Narrow versus broad
    Agreement versus quality
    Know the difference
    Average versus extreme
    Hinting versus tricking
  • How to Find a Testing Bias by:
    Looking at past tests and course outlines
    Talking to past students
    Asking your professor (tutor/lecturer)
  • Don’t Obsess About Testing Bias, But Don’t Ignore It
Scott Young is a university student who writes about productivity, habits and self-improvement. Scott has been featured on the Be Happy Dammit! Show.

The related posts are also useful so do please read them and share with students / learners of whatever age.

and now I'm back

I got "chucked out" by the hospital because all the Intensive Care beds were occupied by victims of the 'flu epidemic that I didn't know was raging in this area.

Apparently I could be back at very short notice in a week or so but it will be a Wednesday in to prepare for operation on Thursday.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

10 interesting things I've read since 18 November

... which is when I posted my last "10 interesting things" and actually it's only nine since I will be going in to the hospital in about an hour to prepare for a bypass operation tomorrow!

Back with you in a week (I hope)
  1. Dead Sea Scrolls digitisation to be led by King's College London Karl Flinders,

  2. The Centre for Computing in the Humanities at King's College London is leading a team to digitise the Dead Sea Scrolls (Wikipedia).

  3. Arts & Letters Daily (17 Nov 2007)
    There is only one right way to see historical truth, says an official at a Chinese think tank. "There is a pool of clear water and there's no need to stir up this water"... more

  4. Children Need a Playground Like THIS to Foster Creativity from LifeDev by glen
    OH man… does this take me back. Back to a day where playgrounds consisted of things that could easily injure like weathered wood with giant splinters, ample slides, and hardly ANY of that sterile plastic.

  5. Restart the clocks of Britain! from Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
    The Stopped Clocks campaign aims to get Britain's public clocks running and on time again. Many handsome old public clocks are visible from the streets of London, but it often seems that these grand old timepieces are dead and rusted, ground to a halt years in the past.

  6. KABACLIP Contact Lens Case from Cool Tools
    This simple little carrier hugs a bottle of contact lens solution, so the two are always together and easy to find at the bottom of your pack

  7. Animal Farm from Cognitive Edge
    Paternalism has always worried me, especially when it is exercised with the power of the state.
    You really need to read this to appreciate where Dave Snowden is coming from!!

  8. Another nail in the coffin of semantic analysis from Cognitive Edge
    Nice little test site here ... I tested out a couple of the key blogs I read every day.
  9. Eight philosophers contributed to this issue of the UNESCO Courier, focusing on the role of philosophy today. Different approaches, varied concerns, but one certainty: philosophy can’t stay in its ivory tower. It provides a weapon against dogma and manipulation. And, to cite one of Jostein Gaarder’s ideas, philosophers have a cosmic responsibility. (More)
  10. This is where I have to give up for lack of time!

Sunday, 18 November 2007

The EU and Open Access

from Information Research
Thanks, as usual, to Peter Suber for drawing attention to the documents and minutes of an EU meeting on open access. It seems that no general point of access to the files exist, since Peter gives links to each, and I (Tom Wilson at Information Research) have searched the European site without success.However, the point I want to make (and I begin to seem like a rusty record) relates to the so-called 'green' and 'gold' routes to open access. One of the points arising out of the discussions and reported in the minutes is:

Read Tom's post here

10 interesting things I've read since 10 November

There I was, sitting in my office, when I saw something I thought might interest you -- share it! Just press two keys and it's done. OH NO -- that's not the way it should be from now on. I said only yesterday that I would put the interesting stuff into a weekly post called, interestingly enough, "Interesting stuff I've read this week". That means that I do not, definitely DO NOT, simply click on the "share it " button. I copy and paste with proper links and a commentary if required.

  1. Write a Brilliant Pantomime With Billy & Wolfy from Librarians' Internet Index: New This Week A lighthearted description (with "comments" from William Shakespeare and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) of "how to write [English] pantomime scripts covering, basic rules, choosing the story, shaping the pantomime, shaping individual scenes, use of music, and writing and producing for children." Also includes an overview of this form of "Christmas entertainment based on a fairy tale," and three scripts. From a pantomime script author.
  2. The Cult of Non-Judgmentalism: a book review by Rebecca Bynum from Arts & Letters Daily
    "I know that I am prejudiced on this matter," Mark Twain wrote, "but I would be ashamed of myself if I were not."
    Prejudice has its uses. In Praise of Prejudice: The Necessity of Preconceived Ideas by Theodore Dalrymple (Brief Encounters Press 129 pp. $20.00 US) I'm not sure that I'd ever read the whole book -- probably a bit "heavy" for me -- but the review really made me think hard about where society is going, and has gone.
  3. Re-reading Albert Hirschman from Dani Rodrik's weblog by Dani Rodrik
    Dani tells us that he has been "spending some time with the great man's writings" in preparation for a lecture in his honour. I had to go and look up this "great man" in Wikipedia to discover that he's a German-born American economist who is now 92 years old.
    Post-lecture UPDATE here
  4. 101 gadgets that changed the world from Popgadget via CrunchGear
    Did you know that Velcro was invented by Swiss inventor George de Mestral after he became disgusted with removing cocklebur seeds from his jacket and decided to investigate the reason for its stickiness? Or that the first digital camera was invented way back in 1965 by Kodak engineer Steve Sasson and it resembled a toaster?
  5. Remembrance in Second Life from Intute Blog by Alun Edwards who attended at the Cenotaph on Second Life, built by the Royal British Legion on that virtual world.
  6. Mondegreen from Coffee Klatch by pfitz
    According to Wikipedia, “a mondegreen is the mishearing (usually accidental) of a phrase as a homophone or near-homophone in such a way that it acquires a new meaning.”
  7. Sunday Poem from 3quarksdaily by Abbas Raza Via NoUtopia
    Social Security by Terrence Winch
    This made me weep it's so beautiful and so sad.
  8. Emergency Times from Intute Social Sciences Politics Gateway
    A well known independent blog created by students and political activists to provide grassroots coverage of the state of emergency and political crisis in Pakistan in 2007. It includes blog postings, photographic images and video clips of student protests against the military rule of General Musharraf and discussion of the position of Benazir Bhutto. It also seeks to reveal human rights abuses and the suppression of the press from the perspective of local citizens.
  9. Video: "Lawn Mower" Dinosaur Debuts from National Geographic
    Lawn mower to the ferns of Africa, the 500-toothed Nigersaurus was unlike any other. A reconstruction is on display at National Geographic in Washington.
  10. More notes from the Konstanz conference from Information Literacy by Sheila Webber
    This is another post about the Konstanz (Germany) Workshop on Information Literacy (KWIL), which ran 8-9 November. KWIL was focusing in particular on information literacy for higher degree students (Masters or Doctoral) and the website is at

Friday, 16 November 2007


I was talking to a colleague at a business breakfast yesterday about blogging and small business websites -- thanks Tracy you're a star -- and she pointed out that I did not have a link from this blog to the business information one. Nor is there a link the other way. So if you just happen to find one or the other you won't know that I maintain two blogs.
I need to work out how to make the URL in the blog headline into a proper link but at least the information is there now.

While we're here why not go and visit Tracy's demo website where she shows you that a business website does not have to be all-singing, all-dancing nor does it have to cost oodles of money (£250 well spent would be my judgement).

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

The best news yet

Headless chickens have nothing on me today -- got the "please come in" letter this morning for Wednesday of next week. The time allocation from now on is very tight. Mr E doesn't drive and I won't be allowed to for three months so I'll need to make sure that the heavy shopping like dog food and seed for the birds is in at least for the first few weeks. I've got a business breakfast tomorrow and then a couple of errands to do for my colleague from The Accounting Bureau (currently on her honeymoon). I'll be going to London on Saturday to do the research for the November issue of ADSET Members' Update, trying very hard not to work on Sunday (washing and ironing isn't work, is it?) and on Tuesday I've booked to go to Amsterdam for the day. That seems to leave me with Friday and Monday for the office work, reading and writing blogs and newsletters and ... write out one hundred times "I must not use this post as a to-do list".

An Appraisal of the Utility of a Chocolate Teapot

Thank you, thank you, thank you -- both to Phil Bradley for finding this "article" in the first place and to the "researchers" at PLOKTA online for publishing it (in May 2001) -- I haven't laughed so much in a very long time.

How useful IS a chocolate teapot? This paper explains all.....

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

More good news

and this time I reckon that it's really good news -- on the personal front. I had my pre-surgical assessment yesterday including ECG and lung function tests and passed, if not with flying colours at least well enough to be told "Yes, you can come in and have your bypass operation done". The only possible put-offs now to my being in on 6th or 13th December are if I'm an MRSA carrier or if there's a blockage on the Intensive Care Unit bed which I'll need for a day or maybe two. Unfortunately the latter is quite likely as Kettering gets its fair share of accidents from the A14 road and it's nearly Christmas and there's icy mornings but a Thursday should be alright. Another hurdle passed on the way to what I'm assured will be full recovery of movement once the graft settles down.

For my non-UK readers the A14 road crosses from the East coast of England (the port of Felixstowe) to the main motorways going North through the Midlands (the M1 and M6). It's a dual carriageway with only two lanes on either side, is quite hilly (for us) and is always busy with a lot of heavy lorries (trucks) and accidents are frequent!

Friday, 9 November 2007

Best of the non-work stuff in brief

Confession time -- some of this stuff comes from months ago!

I am, at long last, trying to clear out my "starred" items and find that a number of them are things that I want to share rather than just look at in more depth for myself.

"Never make promises that you can't keep -- or even think that there's a chance you may not be able to keep." My mother was fond of chastising me with that saying when, as a small child, I would say "But Mum, I promise ...". She was right -- as mothers tend to be so I'll simply promise that I will try to bring you a selection of "the non-work stuff that I've enjoyed this week" every week.

Some of you will. of course, be aware that I've cheated from time to time and simply clicked the "share" button rather than putting the link into a "proper" post. No more laziness -- shared items will, from now on, be for those work-related things that require no comment from me. OK?

To start as I mean to go some posts from Arts and Letters Daily

Jorge Luis Borges knew the risks of perfect memory. He wrote of a man paralyzed by it. Google's memory is perfect... more

The brain is the final pathway of all action. You can’t do much without a brain, which is why decapitation tends to lower IQ... [Well, it would, wouldn't it?] more

Mesopotamian scribes began 5,000 years ago to catalogue their clay tablets with a reference system. So Google gets this idea... more

With utter lack of self-awareness, but also great clarity, V.S. Naipaul shows us a world with its prejudices... more

Cissy Pascal was sexy, witty, and confident: all the young Raymond Chandler could want in an older woman... more To argue against rock 'n' roll is now as quaint as arguing for the divine right of kings. But 20 years ago, when Allan Bloom first railed against it... more

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Good news

At least I think it's good news.
I've got a date for a pre-surgical assessment prior to having Aorto Bifemoral Surgery (that's a bypass of the lower aorta). It's 12 November so I expect to be in for the op within three weeks. It's a seven-day stay and the first three days I'll be flat on my back but should be back to blogging as soon as I get home.
No, please don't make any comments about optimism -- I had something similar (not quite as drastic) done a couple of years ago and was back at the computer within two hours of getting home!
I do know, however, that I'm going to get very tired very quickly so you can probably count on lots of shared items and not much comment. (I didn't hear someone say "nothing new then", did I?)
I have also prepared myself for the severe depression that hit me last time -- forewarned is forearmed so my mother used to tell me -- my friendly medic will have to up the dosage!

Friday, 2 November 2007

Who do they think they are?

from IWR Blog by dgriffin
Today’s Guardian reports that family historians (both professional and amateur) have raised concerns over the lack access being given to paper-based archives. The report says, “There will never again be public access to the paper records”.

This report raises a problem for family historians but a lack of paper records is not only creating difficulties for this group of people. Have you ever tried to get hold of a government leaflet on ... [fill in your chosen subject here] only to discover that "it's online at ...". You want it to give to a client (customer, friend or whomever) and it would be good to be able to do this as part of a "pack" of information which the other person can take away and study at his/her leisure. Oops, printer gone down, PDF doesn't print, it's so colourful that I can't afford to do it etc etc. Ridiculous!

And if I want to look at how the same leaflet has changed over time and need to rely on someone printing out the new "online only" information and preserving it in the right sequence.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

A framework of anti-phishing measures aimed at protecting the online consumer's identity

This is an "interest rather than work" article that I found in The Electronic Library (Volume: 25 Issue: 5 Page: 517 - 533) by Rika Butler (University of Stellenbosch, Republic of South Africa)
The purpose of this paper is to aim to educate the Internet consumer, who may be a potential phishing victim, and to suggest a framework of anti-phishing measures, following the staggering increase in the number of recent phishing attacks. Phishing describes a method of online identity theft, in which phishers typically pose as legitimate organisations when sending deceptive e-mail messages to internet users. When they respond to such e-mails, victims are lured to malicious web sites, where they are duped into disclosing their personal details. In this way, phishers are able to commit identity theft, with possibly devastating consequences for the victim.
After a literature review of the available sources, the phishing threat is investigated by analysing the modus operandi of phishers and the basic components of a typical phishing scheme. A possible solution for the phishing problem is examined.
Phishers continually target the weakest link in the security chain, namely consumers, in their attacks. Educating the online consumer about phishing, as well as the implementation and proper application of anti-phishing measures, are critical steps in protecting the identities of online consumers against e-mail phishing attacks.
This article proposes measures that Internet consumers can take to ward off phishing attacks, as well as remedial actions that they can take after falling victim to such an attack. By implementing these measures online, consumers can minimise the risk of becoming victims of successful phishing attacks, as well as remedy the negative effects of any past disclosure of

Article Type: Literature review
DOI: 10.1108/02640470710829514
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Deloitte comments on plans to scrap degree classifications

from Deloitte UK headlines by
The proposal to introduce a Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR), and possibly phase out degree classifications would make assessing graduate candidates more difficult, according to Deloitte, the UK's largest private sector graduate employer.

I am fed up, sick to the back teeth, any other phrase that you can think of (including unprintable, unrepeatable-in-polite-company ones) with this government mucking about with qualifications. The more things change the less easy it is for employers, as the spokeperson from Deloitte makes clear, to differentiate between different candidates.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

EVENT - Demand-led Approach to Skills

The Institute for Employment Studies (IES) will hold its annual Employment Policy Conference on 6 November 2007, examining the recommendations of the Leitch Review one year on, and discussing how they can be implemented. Speakers include Mike Campbell, Director of Development at the Sector Skills Development Agency; and the conference will culminate with a keynote address from David Lammy, the Minister for Skills.

More ...

Monday, 15 October 2007

I don't believe it!

I have nothing waiting in my drafts folder.

I started to think "wonderful", "great" and other such congratulatory words when I realised that I was so far behind on the reading of other people's blogs that I hadn't been putting anything into the drafts folder! And I don't normally write, as do many others, on original themes.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

EVENT: Free Software as a Social Innovation

London, 2nd November 2007

Free Software is a unique social innovation that promotes an empowered, sustainable and inclusive information society through its freedoms of use, studying, modification and redistribution. Popular Free Software applications include the Firefox web browser, the Wordpress blog engine and the Juice podcast receiver. Free Software Foundation Europe and M6-IT would like to invite you to a one-day event at The Hub in London on the 2nd of November. The event will help people learn more about Free Software and provide opportunities for hands-on experience with the technology. It's organised as part of the work in the STACS project.
Spaces are limited and people with little or no experience of Free Software and those who can help spread awareness of Free Software in their field or geographical area will be prioritised. A contribution towards travel and accommodation expenses may be available.
Applications for places must be received by 19 October, and the selected attendees will be contacted by the 22nd of October.

More information:

Via Demos Greenhouse 4 October

Can I have a pat on the back?

Congratulations are in order -- I've caught up with all the "held in draft" posts.

Brickbat -- I've still got over 1,000 posts in my reader to get through and will probably find more that I should have put into drafts on the way.

And, of course, when the pressure is on the inclination is to skip over things that I would have picked up when more relaxed!

Recruitment not retention the problem for older workers

Older workers still encounter difficulties entering the workforce, though they are increasingly retained in organisations across the country, according to new research.
The People Bulletin from AP Information Services

Hobbies indicate cultural fit of candidates

59% of employers claim that life outside work gives a clear indication of whether or not a person might fit well with a company's culture, but one third of candidates do not list hobbies on their CV.
The People Bulletin from AP Information Services

Privacy Library

ResourceShelf is one of favourite sources for telling me about things I might otherwise miss, and my least favourite in that it's a pain to read through! Anything that's worse gets ditched regardless of the usefulness of the content.

A lot of what I pick up I keep in my "personal interest" file (e.g. lists of art galleries and cultural heritage sites) and don't blog about. Much of the content is, as I think I've said before but probably not in this blog, is very US-centric and on issues such as copyright and privacy the law is so different that it's not of interest to readers in the UK. But, and that should be a BIG BOLD BUT, the Privacy Library originated in the US and is definitely not US-centric.

ResourceShelf says:

This apparently went live in May, but we just spotted it.
"Morrison & Foerster is pleased to announce the launch of its Privacy Library. This free resource provides links to privacy laws, regulations, reports, multilateral agreements, and government authorities for more than 90 countries around the world. The website provides companies with an essential tool to help them navigate the privacy labyrinth."
Source: Morrison & Foerster LLP (a global law partnership)

I would like to route you directly into the UK page but you must sign the disclaimer notice before you can access the information. Start here
Note: on my ADSL connection it was a bit slow to load but it's worth the wait!

Saturday, 6 October 2007

LSC's Business Cycle

Only of interest to readers in England -- but still important

Since 2003/04 [academic year August-July], the LSC has run an annual cycle of business which seamlessly rolls from one academic year to the next. The cycle synchronises our policy development, planning, procuring and challenging performance process to ensure we are all pulling in the same direction and working together to strengthen our impact at the front line. Challenging performance will be an ongoing process throughout the year with formal reviews held during the spring and autumn.

View the Business Cycle Model or Download the Business Cycle Word document
For enquiries about the business cycle please contact:
Dean Williams on 024 7682 3342
Rebecca Loveday on 024 7682 3450

Country Codes - essential country data on tap

Country Codes is a collection of useful country information gathered together in a free downloadable and searchable database. Top level domains, longitude and latitude of cities, dialing codes, timezones, IP numbers per geography and so on for over 250 countries. The program provides checkboxes, that allow you to copy all or just selected information to the clipboard. In addition, it provides a handy link for each country that launches your browser with detailed information from the CIA World Fact Book and from the Wikipedia website.
Posted by Red (Red Ferret Journal) in freeware

Friday, 5 October 2007

Malware boom puts pressure on second-tier AV labs

Computer World said yesterday (4 October) that: "A jaw-dropping 185-percent increase in new malware variants over the second half of 2006 has increased the pressure on antivirus labs to find and contain the onslaught."
Full article
"Jaw-dropping" is the right phrase -- please keep your AV program(s) up to date (I have three different ones on my home computer since the free ones are slightly less robust than a paid-for one).
I would personally recommend the commercial version of AVG and can put you in touch with a third-party reseller in Northampton if you would like this. (Connection is that I am a continuing satisfied customer of Solve-IT Computer Solutions.)

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Coping with violence

This came from School Library Journal so it was bound to be US-biased but I looked at the links provided and thought these were sufficiently generic to be of interest to UK readers.
Safe Youth
Teachers, school administrators, and parents looking for ideas on how to discuss school violence with kids, as well as students researching this important social issue will all find lots to read and think about here.
Stop Bullying Now
No one likes a bully. If you’d like to launch programming on stopping this menace then this website is a “must see”. The 12 animated cartoon webisodes cover various instances of bullying and how kids can correctly respond to each. The programs can be downloaded as podcasts. Kids can also download the Stop Bullying Now song as a ringtone on their mobile phone and play twelve cool online games. Created by: The Health Resources and Services Administration, Washington DC Teachers and home-schooling parents see also Education World.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Tax Credit TakeUp Resource Pack

This pack was originally developed for Citizen's Advice but now, funded by HMRC, has been made available to all advisers.

It is available from Citizen's Advice or from RightsNet

Sunday, 23 September 2007

How to do just about everything

This is, in my opinion, one of the most useful websites I have come across. It's not an "ask a question" service which some might find a bit limiting but it is free (with lots of, fairly discrete, ads) and in my use of it I have never been let down. Wonderful to browse although I provide a word of warning: "this could turn into a stupendous time-waster".
Menu approach includes items in different places. Choose from any of the following.

Do not blame me for your wasted time!!

Wikis in plain English

via LibrarianInBlack by Sarah Houghton-Jan on 19 June
I have no idea why I kept this in draft for so long but ...
This has been posted about to death, but being late to the game, I figure better late than never. So, if you haven't seen the Wikis in Plain English video yet, go do so. It's from Common Craft, the same people who did RSS in Plain English, which I just used today in a library staff class about Library 2.0. Whoopee!

View details of a potential employer in academia has, according to news, launched a new service whereby job applicants have an opportunity to visualise what life might be like working for a potential employer through videos of employers. This service will
help job seekers determine what it would feel like to work for the employer, whether they would fit in and what the people and atmosphere are like. Viewers can picture themselves in the job, mixing with colleagues and working in that environment. With an increasing number of employers using new technology including search engines to vet candidates, employer videos will add a new dimension for job seekers who want to research their employer of choice.
The University of Warwick is leading the way as the first employer to use the new service, which features staff from across the University describing working life there. The video provides information on working at the University including staff and students, its location, leisure and cultural attractions. already has videos for other universities in production including Nottingham University and Keele University.
My opinion: a user-friendly site, easy to navigate, accessible and a wide range of jobs from the higher education arena. But I couldn't find the videos on University of Warwick jobs!

GW Micro's Voice Sense: PDA for the blind

Indiana-based company GW Micro has developed a new type of PDA designed specifically for the blind and sight-impaired, called the Voice Sense. The assistant runs a modified version of Windows CE and features a vocal guidance system, a full function PIM, web browser, MP3 player, Daisy talking book player, FM radio tuner and MSN Messenger -- all accessible through its Perkins-style Braille keyboard. The device has a 540MHz PXA270 processor, 1GB of RAM, and also boasts 802.11b/g, USB 2.0, audio in and out jacks, SD and CF card support, and runs 12 hours on a full charge.

Information about this "gadget" first appeared in July but it's taken me a bit while to find a link to the product rather than a review of it. I read about it originally on Engadget but I didn't want to expose you to the comments. Yes, I know you're a discerning audience etc etc but I don't want to provide links to things which really aren't "politically correct" in my opinion such as querying why blind people would want a PDA in the first place. That comment received a robust rebuttal from a blind person who said: "I suppose you think I shouldn't be using the web either?" but there were other comments that were "vocabulary challenged". (If you can't find any better words to use than obscenities then you shouldn't be writing on the web -- again my opinion!)

It isn't cheap at $1,895 but it looks really good and would replace a large number of other gadgets thereby saving space and wight whilst moving around.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Jobs in the not-for-profit sector

I made a conscious decision a while back that all the jobs sites would go into shared items so that you could decide for yourself whether this or that resource would be useful to you. My, probably quite cursory, glance at it would only look at technical aspects such as the interface and not at the usefulness of the content.
I find it interesting that we will all endure a less than perfect technical experience if it leads to appropriate information.
I've reversed my decision about shared items in the case of NFP JOBS since there is no blog to share with you.
Please access the latest newsletter from Michael Webb, NFP JOBS editor. Subscription (which is free) is at

Monday, 17 September 2007

Visa predicts cash's downfall -- Echo Boomers don't use cash

Well, Visa would say that -- there's no profit to a credit card company if we start using cash again!
It wasn't that which caught my eye, however. It was the use of the phrase "Echo Boomers". So I emailed Dawn and said:
OK so I understand "baby boomers" (although as defined I'm a couple of years too old to be one) but "echo boomers" have no resonance in my brain!!

Dawn to me a week later:
It’s a new one on me too, Boss. According to World Wide Words Echo Boomers are children born between the late 1970s and early 1990s. They’re mostly the children of baby boomers – hence the name – and have been stereotyped as “ethnically diverse children of the computer age”. They are “the first generation to claim the computer as birthright”. You live and learn.
Me to all readers:
If children of Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1956) had children in the 1980s (plus a few years either side) then there's something a bit weird in the population statistics but so be it. At least we now what the phrase means (I think).

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Ariadne Summer 2007 issue

Includes articles on repositories, Open Access, web archiving, and more.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

No apologies ...

... for putting two Sheldon Comic strips into the shared items on this blog. I know that humour is a very personal thing and you may not find these funny at all but for the first time in a long time I sat at the computer and laughed!
If you're reading this through a feed reader (most people do) then I suggest that you sign up to the feed for the shared items as well since this contains items that I don't feel moved to write about or comment on such as:
  • Sheldon Comic -- but only when something really grabs me
  • 3QuarksDaily which is a real "thinker" of a blog with an extremely eclectic list of topics
  • OnRec providing information about recruitment / vacancy sites. Many of these I personally find a bit "hypey" but if you're in job finding agencies then you could find them useful so I'll continue to share as appropriate.
  • Storm warnings -- as in malware and other immediacy things which are not going to wait until I get around to making a comment (and besides which if CNet or Heise Security News says it's so then I have no need to comment).

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Phishing tool constructs new sites in two seconds

It is frightening, not to say terrifying -- particularly when you put this together with reports that nearly half of all people using email are not certain that they would recognise a "phishing" email. This annoys me since every bank makes it clear that asking for personal information via email is something that is never done.
Easy-peasy-sleazy: a new piece of PHP code making the malware rounds can install
a phishing site on a compromised server in about two minutes.

Read the full story at Computer World

Monday, 27 August 2007

Where was I?

Once again I've let myself and you down -- but I refuse to be down-hearted about it. "New Year" resolutions start here and now.

Back to the drawing board with the ACEG Conference -- or, more particularly, about the people and resources that I thought were interesting and/or useful which were not part of the Conference programme. These items are not in any hierarchical order -- just as the reminder piece of paper, catalogue or CD comes "out of the box".

It's a small world, isn't it? I was talking about blogging, this writing of posts to a weblog, and about the general interest starting to be shown in reading blogs when I was asked about getting training in setting it up, mentioned a name (Phil Bradley) and got "oh, we know him".

careercomp@nion notebook
At first glance £7.99 seems like a lot of money for a 60-page A5 book (booklet?) but when you open it you realise, quite quickly, that Alison Dixon and Hilary Nickell have produced an extremely useful notebook which can be used, as a stand-alone career planning and preparation tool, by any motivated person. I tried to find a review of it on the web but failed miserably -- and the only third-party reseller that mentions it is Trotman and that is only on the Master Excel file (looks as though it's Trotman's internal document designed to produce an order form). I'm certainly not the right person to try to review it so I'll prompt Hilary to get it to a number of places so that someone else can do it.

Personal Development Curriculum provides "complete curriculum materials for careers, citizenship, enterprise, PSHE and work-related learning". Since I've never been a teacher and never worked in a school or college I will not attempt to evaluate the resources but the people at the exhibition stand were very friendly. You can access all the information you need at the link above and all resources are available on a 14-day trial. If PDC Education is not a name you recognise then perhaps you will know these people better as Gapwork Limited (name no longer shown at Companies House but the website, or at least Google's cache of it, is very easy to find).

Better Practice: a guide to delivering effective career learning 11-19 provides "practical help on leading, managing and delivering effective careers education". The document is available at and

The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust provides an "Equal Opportunities Interactive Resource" which shows the benefits and challenges of pursing a different career oath to the norm. "It confronts the fears and aspirations of young people who wish to enter the sectors of: construction, early years, engineering, health, manufacturing, and social care".
"This dynamic new DVD has been sent to schools, additional free copies are available from the eshop."

I guess that I had better not let this post go without mentioning organisations that you must, surely, already know about such as:

  • HERO: helping your students track down the facts on higher education
  • Aimhigher information was provided by the local, West Midlands, Aimhigher organisation and leaflets provided pointed to West Midlands resources. I do know that these vary from region to region but you are probably in touch with your local representative for programmes such as "Learning Pathways" and "Get Up and Go". Nice bags available!
  • Careers Europe is the UK National Resource Centre for International Careers Information. It provides resources to Careers services, Connexions services and other information and advisory services throughout the UK. You can access information about the organisation's role as a Business Language Champion here and about the Gap Year Resource Pack here.
  • skillset: the Sector Skills Council for the audio visual industries has what is, in my opinion, one of the best sectoral-based careers information centres -- it was certainly the first of the newly-formed Sector Skills Councils to take up the challenge of providing careers information < >.
  • Prospects Education Resources had their usual informative stand with a wide range of resources on display -- and reminders that e-Learning Credits can, and indeed probably should, be used to purchase a wide range of multimedia resources including CEG and PSHE software such as the Real game (£350 for a 3-year site licence) and FastTomato (£365 for a 1-year site licence).
  • Trotman were also providing lots of resources to look at but I failed to pick up their catalogue and after the long interval I can't remember whether any particular resource was being promoted over others.

Friday, 10 August 2007

ACEG Conference feed-back continued (at long last)

This must be longest-running saga ever. Most of the blogs I read (and I'm well behind on that as well) seem to report on things like this instantaneously. I wait until I get home, mull things over, let domestic and other issues interfere with writing and then ... it's a month or more later and there's no point!

Except that there is since I remember that I stopped having researched information about "Dialogical" and "Career Identities" and there's still three Keynotes to go.

Keynote 4: Careers education in the new curriculum Gary Forrest, QCA
Not really my scene at all and I hesitate to comment on something that I don't really understand.

Keynote 5: Influencing school and college senior managers John Dunford, ASCL (which is, I think, the Association of School and College Leaders)
This session may have presented new information and issues to the delegates but I found that it was, for me, a fairly standard session on influencing techniques with regard to ensuring that careers education and guidance rises higher up the agenda in educational establishments. A "good idea" that has been pursued for some years with some improvement in the position (but by no means enough for some [many?] people).

Keynote 6: Assessing the impact of careers work Deirdre Hughes, CeGS (Centre for Guidance Studies)
Ah, now we're on to something. If guidance practitioners are to influence school and college leaders, if the place of careers education in the curriculum is to be assured, if UK PLC is to ultimately have the workforce that it needs then the impact of the work that is currently taking place has to be assessed. Deirdre emphasised that the "of course it does" answer to "does careers education and guidance make a difference?" must be backed up by evidence; clear evidence that is used by practitioners to make the point. Practitioners must assess and understand more fully the changes that have taken place in education, in learning and in lifestyle. She said that the aim of her talk was to set out four points.
  • Create a national shared vision
  • Agree common language
  • Inspire people to manage their lives, learning and work effectively
  • Generate evidence on impact
She achieved her aim -- for me at least.

You'll get part 3 of the saga (what went on outside the main conference -- no, not that sort of "going on") tomorrow and then it's back to the usual miscellany of information.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Reporting the interval

Where has the time gone?

Monday 30 July: Apart from racing round like an idiot following phone call from the hospital as reported in my last post finding someone to take me in, collect me afterwards (Mr E does not drive) I managed to:
  • sort the mail (the snail variety);
  • set up a means for both ADSET and The Accounting Bureau (I was supposedly "minding the shop" for a colleague while she was on holiday) at least had their phones answered;
  • deal with URGENT email; and
  • mark up press releases, newspaper reports and other sundry items for Dawn to deal with to get them into the July Members' Update.
Tuesday 31 July: Cleared the office ready to start in a new place tomorrow -- but that can't happen! At least all the furniture got moved at the weekend thanks to Ken and the boys so I then went to the "new" office and got one of our computers set up and connected to the Internet. Into hospital to prepare for minor op the following day -- only to discover that I could have had another day at home as I'm on the afternoon list!

Wednesday 1 August: Newspapers seem to be full of "don't get ill today" because it is the day that all the new junior doctors start. My arm still knows about the oh-so-young woman who tried to find a vein!! To theatre at 3pm back at 4:20 and had to lie still, on my back, for four hours. Fortunately for me, if not for the three others in the small ward, I slept for most of it (and, apparently, snored VERY loudly).

Thursday 2 August: Home for lunch feeling a bit wobbly but otherwise OK.

Friday / Saturday / Sunday: Compile Members' Update from the files sent by Dawn and those I've gathered for myself. This task usually takes me two days however, with appropriate breaks, I still hadn't finished by Monday morning. This could, of course, have been something to do with the fact that two desks needed to be re-assembled which took Mr E rather longer than he said (it's a man) and I was required to drive him there and back!

Monday: A whole week gone by; Update not finished to go to the proof-reader and I have to go to the new office (which is much nicer than the old one) because this is the first time that Leonora (her of The Accounting Bureau) has seen it. Got lots of work done BUT we didn't finish until well after 7pm.

Tuesday: Persuaded a friend to drive at-long-last-finished Update to the proof-reader as I travelled to London to care for house and cats for my daughter.

Wednesday: Morning working through my Google Reader (more than 3,000 to at least glance at and mark the actions -- star to go back and read, email to myself if it's for the next Update or for the business news I do for Leonora, share with this blog (through shared items) those things that I don't want to comment on but do want you to see, copy link to here for those things I want to comment on in some way (save a draft and then write up properly later in the day -- which day? -- track record on this is not good).
Afternoon at the DWP library at the Adelphi -- it's great being there as it's the last bastion of information about former colleagues in what became the DfES and then disappeared. I did also do a lot of serious reading.

Thursday: That's today and I'm sitting in my daughter's house in London writing this and then I'm going to spend the rest of the day at the British Library before setting off for home on the 10pm train. There's little chance that I'll finish the ACEG Conference feedback before tomorrow afternoon -- and I am determined to do that before tackling any of the "saved as draft" links I've got.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Association for Careers Education and Guidance

The Annual Conference of the Association took place at the beginning fo this month (July 2007) and I'm ashamed to say that I've only just got around to writing about it! Too late? Yes, in one sense it is but in another I can exonerate myself -- none of the information I acquired is actually time critical.
I thought that I could cheat a bit (no, a lot if possible) by linking to ACEG's website -- where I hoped to find at least the plenary session slides loaded if not more. No such luck -- al the conference page has is a photograph of the organiser, Sylvia Thompson, and a note to say that the Conference report will be in the October edition of the Association's journal. Back to the slog of having to think!
As an exhibitor I could attend the Keynote sessions, of which there were five, and, of course, the exhibition itself.
  • Keynote 1: A local model for collaborative working on 14-19 provision Steve Stewart, CEO of Connexions Coventry and Warwickshire
    This session was primarily of interest to organisations looking to work in partnership or improve present collaborative working arrangements (which is not me). The style of presentation was good and included many anecdotes and examples from the sometimes complex situation in Coventry and Warwickshire.
  • Keynote 2: Policy and Progress in 14-19 Reform Elaine Hendry who until 28 June was with the DfES
    I didn't get to hear much of this but hearing comments from delegates afterwards I gathered that the presentation didn't include a great deal that was new but did consolidate current thinking. Unfortunate that the speaker is likely to be moving on to pastures new.
  • Keynote 3: Career identity and the dialogical learning process Frans Meijers
    At this point I have to admit to a modicum of oversleeping -- I missed most of this talk which was, I am told, extremely interesting. This being so I thought I'd better do some invetigating. In 1998, in the International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling (Volume 20 Noumber 3), I found a paper on "The development of a career identity" by one Frans Meijers at the University of Leiden.
    Abstract: In modern society individuals are becoming responsible for their own
    work allocation. In order to overcome an increasing social and work-related
    insecurity, they not only have to acquire specific career skills but also a
    so-called "career identity". A career identity is a structure of meanings in
    which the individual links his own motiviation, interests and competencies with
    acceptable career roles. In the article the concept of meaning is explored and
    further elaborated as a social learning process. The article concludes with
    some remarks about the need for a strong learning environment.
    Next I found a 2002 paper "Career Policy for the Contemporary World: Dictat or Stimulant?" -- Frans Meijers is by now an "Education and Career-Learning Consultant" in the Netherlands writing for the Career-Learning Network.You can read the whole article here. [PDF 13pp with some really good references]
    So, that covers identity and establishes Frans Meijers in context but what is "dialogical"? Apparently it is to do with dialogue so that the presentation that I missed was about identity and helps pupils to establish a career identity through talking about it in a learning context.

At this point, folks, I have to go again. I have been summoned to attend at the local hospital for a minor operation (two nights inside maximum) at very short notice (like can you come in tomorrow?) and need to sort out lots of things. I will, I really will, get this finished before moving on to anything new for you.

You didn't motivate me!

OK, so you didn't send me any ideas on self-motivation or how to kick my own backside. It therefore follows that I have to fall back on inner resources -- albeit somewhat later than I should. So be it. I refuse to give in again. It's Sunday morning, the sun is shining, Kettering is not flooded although we did have rain in the night, garden (earth-covered postage stamp) is full of colour and scent, immediate family (as in husband and dog) is well, and I've just received my second cup of tea of the day. Just naming a few blessings -- how are your blessings this morning?

What have I been up to? Moving the office, that's what. Not only that but, after 16 years of the same telephone number, ADSET has a new phone number which is effective from 1 August. Some readers will know that I've been sharing office space with Leonora Clarke of The Accounting Bureau (UK) Ltd. Some 18 months ago Leonora moved, with new partner (domestic), to Hemel Hempstead and has realised that leaving the general administration of her business in Kettering was "not a good idea". She's now going to be sharing my much smaller space in The Business Exchange although I will still retain my home office as well. Reason for phone number change? The Business Exchange is a Grade II listed building and no new telephone lines can be put in -- tenants have to use the internal telephone system.

New number 01536 526424 (mobile is still 0779 627 3792)
Postal address will remain as Britannia House for a while.

Friday, 20 July 2007

I'm just going on a blogging holiday

Actually, I'm just back from a self-imposed break in writing in this blog but I couldn't resist the title.

The break from writing wasn't intentional, honest. I am finding that it is very easy to read through the 200+ (actually nearer 300) feeds in my reader and:
  1. note those that I want to write about by copying the link to a new post and saving as a draft (which you don't get to see) either here or in the Business Information Blog;
  2. click the appropriate button if I want to share something I've read without writing about it -- this takes a second and requires little effort on my part (lazy cow that I am);
  3. email the link to
    - Dawn (Taylor) for inclusion in Members' Update,
    - my husband Martin who does all the IT maintenance work around here (just so he doesn't miss out on anything to do with data security although he has quite a lot of technical "stuff" in his own reader), or, maybe,
    - friends so that I share a particularly relevant "funny", book review or gadget; or
    - myself so that I can add something to my "how to" file; or
  4. read and discard -- further action not required.

So, I've got things that are appropriate for writing about, either in draft from my reader or because I've been to an event and need to tell you about it, and the list is getting longer not shorter. A kick up the pants is what my mother would tell me was needed but since she is now long gone I have to try to kick myself -- or rather, in the language of today, provide self-motivation! Any ideas on how to do that would be good!

Friday, 13 July 2007

New titles for July from The Policy Press in which you may have an interest include:

London voices, London lives by Peter Hall, asks what kind of a place London is in the early 21st century, and how does it differs significantly - economically, socially, culturally, in quality of life - from other parts of urban Britain? In this book, Londoners provide their own answers to these questions in their own voices.
In Coming to care, Julia Brannen, June Statham, Ann Mooney and Michaela Brockmann provide fascinating insights into the factors that influence why people enter and leave care work, their motivations, understandings and experiences of their work and intersection of it with their family lives.
Offenders in focus, by Kathryn Farrow, Gill Kelly and Bernadette Wilkinson, draws on research and integrates this with practitioner experience, creating fresh, research-based "practice wisdom" for engaging effectively with offenders.
Securing an urban renaissance, edited by Rowland Atkinson and Gesa Helms, provides focused discussions from a range of scholars who examine policy connections that can be traced between social, urban and crime policy and the wider processes of regeneration in British towns and cities.
Social Policy Review 19, edited by Karen Clarke, Tony Maltby and Patricia Kennett, provides students, academics and all those interested in welfare issues with critical analyses of progress and change in areas of major interest during the past year.
Care, community and citizenship, edited by Susan Balloch and Michael Hill, focuses on the relationship between social care, community and citizenship, linking them in a way relevant to both policy and practice.
The future for older workers, edited by Wendy Loretto, Sarah Vickerstaff and Philip J White, deals directly and exclusively with the issue of older workers, bringing together up-to-the minute research findings by many of the leading researchers and writers in the field.
Disadvantaged by where you live?, edited by Ian Smith, Eileen Lepine and Marilyn Taylor, offers a major contribution to academic debates on the neighbourhood both as a sphere of governance and as a point of public service delivery under New Labour since 1997.

Links are to the publisher's catalogue which has pricing details, ISBN, and full description together with links to the online shop for purchase if required.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Science

Resistance to certain scientific ideas derives in large part from assumptions and biases that can be demonstrated experimentally in young children and that may persist into adulthood. In particular, both adults and children resist acquiring scientific information that clashes with common-sense intuitions about the physical and psychological domains. Additionally, when learning information from other people, both adults and children are sensitive to the trustworthiness of the source of that information. Resistance to science, then, is particularly exaggerated in societies where nonscientific ideologies have the advantages of being both grounded in common sense and transmitted by trustworthy sources.

Read the Full Text of this article by Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg (Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, CT) with grateful thanks to The Edge which is one of my favourite reads (by which I mean not necessarily having any direct relevance to work, business management, careers information or self development).

Office ergonomics

So, you're stuck in this grotty office (why?) which doesn't help you to be productive and you don't know what to do about it (again I could ask why? but won't). Feng shui? That's perhaps a bit New Agey for some -- and besides the boss might not like it if you start talking about the negative flow of thought across the building.

How about something more scientific? Ergonomics is a science and, in my opinion, an art but let me go and "Google Define" the word and see what I get. OK -- that gave me far more information than I needed so I'll just choose a few examples:
  • The applied science of equipment design intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort. Link
  • The science of designing the job to fit the worker, rather than physically forcing the worker’s body to fit the job. Link
  • Ergonomics is sometimes used synonymously with human factors and is probably the title of choice in Europe. One sub-domain of human factors (sometimes referred to as ergonomics) deals more with the physical attributes of human and less with the cognitive attributes. An ergonomist typically has extensive knowledge of human performance, biomechanics, and anthropometrics. Link
  • Ergonomics (from Greek ergon work and nomoi natural laws) is the study of optimizing the interface between human beings, and the designed objects and environments they interact with. Link
I liked the final one best (Wikipedia) and found that many of the links were to suppliers of e.g. office furniture, machinery etc who used the word ergonomics to prove that their equipment was better than someone else's.

However, I'm concerned today with you -- and that less than well-designed office that you are sitting in.

Which brings me back to where I started -- with a video about office ergonomics. I've been wondering what to do about this video I found a while back from the Kearney-Abrams Learning Library. Speaking personally I found the style a bit boring and skipped several of the frames BUT the message is good even if the medium of presentation is ....

and it's FREE

Monday, 9 July 2007

Step Into the NHS

The NHS is about much more than doctors and nurses. There are over 350 different careers available in the NHS, and not all of them involve working directly with patients, but are equally as important, such as IT analysts, auditors, scientists, and even gardeners and chaplains.

Step into the NHS has been designed specifically to engage with 14-19-year-olds, stimulating them to think about ways in which their talents and skills can have a positive impact on the future of the NHS. Young people are given a real insight into what goes on inside the NHS with case studies and short films from real staff, including Wildlife, which follows a young healthcare scientist through the hospital where she works and Ramp, a view of A&E through an injured skateboarder's eyes. There is also an interactive career mapper that will take users to the five careers that suit their interests and an opportunity to receive ongoing, personalised communication from the NHS Careers Team that will support them in their future decision making.