Tuesday, 30 September 2008

In support of the freedom of speech of someone with whom I almost completely disagree

via Nosemonkey's EUtopia by nosemonkey on 24 September

Of course, this is no doubt a lot more complicated than it appears at first glance, but nonetheless the apparent attempts to shut down UKIP press spokesman Gawain Towler's long-running England Expects blog are to be heartily condemned. As the man himself says, it is his job - as the spokesman of a party that exists to attack and ridicule the EU - to, erm, attack and ridicule the EU.

Read the full post here

Hazel's comment:
And it's my job to bring you a post which tells you that someone else's job is …

Aw heck, it probably isn't my job but it does sort of fit into the theme for this blog.

Be more purposeful in guiding tertiary education, OECD tells governments

via [OECD] Directorate for Education on 16 September

In today's knowledge-driven global economy, countries need to build on tertiary education to generate innovation, sustain competitiveness and boost economic growth. A new OECD report, Tertiary Education for the Knowledge Society, offers policy recommendations to help meet these goals.

Read the full press release

Hazel's comment:
Have just realised that date above means I have two week's worth of posts in draft. OUCH!

Extention to Deadline for EMA Applications to Ensure No Learner Misses Out

via LSC Corporate news by LSC on 29 September

Read the full news update

Journal of Career Assessment

At the risk of being told off by the directors for giving away information that I should be holding back for members (thereby adding to the membership benefits and hopefully getting more money to support ADSET's work) I have to tell you that there are several articles in the latest (November 2008) issue of the Journal of Career Assessment that I think are worth reading.

Abstracts are freely available at http://jca.sagepub.com/ but you'll have to pay to get the whole article.


Monday, 29 September 2008

Two new semantic engines: Cognition and Eeggi

via CNet's Webware by Rafe Needleman on 18 September

At the most basic level, semantic engines tell you what's synonymous with what. At the advanced end of the spectrum, they know how grammatically similar phrases like "take a seat," "take a stand," and "take a lollipop," mean completely different things. These engines can be used by search products to greatly improve results. Now, it seems, that raw semantic technology is about to become mainstream.

Read more

Hazel's comment:
If you are as interested in the use of language and the possibilities that the semantic Web can bring to information management as I am (that's very, by the way) then you'll enjoy reading Rafe's article.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Overseas students – a guide to bringing your property into the UK

via HMRC News on 15 September

Information for overseas students on bringing their property into the UK.

Normally someone coming into the country may be liable to taxes on goods they bring in however there are reliefs available for students and their personal possessions. By following these rules you may avoid paying these taxes.
Hazel's comment:
The emphasis in the above quote is mine but please, read the NOTE in full and realise that this was published on the website of Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs. How many students coming into this country from overseas are going to read the website of the HMRC? Was it published elsewhere? I can't hand on heart say "no" because until you've read the book from cover to cover without finding the answer then you don't know what's in it – and if you think I'm going to try to read the Internet from end to end think again!
OK, that's me being flippant about information retrieval, but I do sometimes despair about government departments and their publication policy.
Ignorance of the law is no defence in law.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Common Craft

via Creative Commons » CC News by Cameron Parkins on 15 September

Common Craft is a company that makes videos which are "short, simple and focused on making complex ideas easy to understand." These videos range in topic - from Twitter to social bookmarking to electing the US President – and are made using a technique Common Craft calls Paperworks, a whiteboard-and-paper format that “designed to cut out the noise and stick to what matters”.

Common Craft makes its videos available online for businesses to license as educational tools, but also shares the videos widely under a CC BY-NC-ND license. There are definite advantages for businesses in getting the licensed versions, most notably portability and quality.

Outside of this, the CC licensed Common Craft videos have garnered heightened popularity on YouTube and other sharing sites, increasing their name recognition and ubiquity – two factors that have hopefully been instrumental in expanding their growing list of custom-video clients.

Common Craft has a great video posted on its licensing process that explains it all clearly and simply – making it not only informative but also a great example of the production style.

Hazel's comment:
Couldn't have said it better myself so I didn't try. Great post Cameron and thanks for reminding me that I hadn't shared Common Craft with my readers for quite a while. I just love the simplicity of the idea and the visuals stick in your mind (at least they do in mine because I like to see when I'm learning).

Friday, 26 September 2008

Raising education achievement and breaking the cycle of inequality in the Un...

an OECD report via OECD: United Kingdom on 5 September

Globalisation, together with skill-biased technical change, is changing the composition of jobs in advanced economies and raising the level of skills required to do them.

Read the full report (ECO/WKP(2008)41) (PDF 784kb 35pp)

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Policy Press latest

Out of the list I picked these three that might be of interest to you.

Ageing in a consumer society
Ian Rees Jones, Martin Hyde, Christina R. Victor, Richard D. Wiggins, Chris Gilleard and Paul Higgs
PB £24.99 (19.99 with website discount) ISBN 9-781-86134-882-1
HB £65 (52 with website discount) ISBN 9-781-86134-883-8
This book provides a unique critical perspective on the changing nature of later life by examining the engagement of older people with consumer society in Britain since the 1960s.

Religion, spirituality and the social sciences
Edited by Basia Spalek and Alia Imtoual
HB £65 (52 with website discount) ISBN 9-781-84742-041-1
This edited collection brings together an international panel of contributors to explore ways of engaging with issues of religion and spirituality when carrying out social science research.

Calculating a fair market price for care
William Laing
PB £14.95 (11.96 with website discount) ISBN 9-781-84742-315-3
Published in association with Joseph Rowntree Foundation, this new and updated third edition of the best-selling Calculating a fair price for care estimates the potential cost to the public sector of paying fair market fees to a fully modernised care home sector.

Tax Benefit Model Tables

These tax benefit model tables are designed to illustrate the weekly financial circumstances of a selection of hypothetical local authority and private tenants. This publication makes use of the rates and allowances that took effect from April 2008.

Tax Benefit Model Tables: April 2008 (PDF 1.7 Mb (135pp))
Published by Department for Work and Pensions on 24 September 2008

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Turning social networks against users

By Erica Naone in Technology Review 15 September (in email alert 19 September)

Applications built on social networks may be the ideal way to distribute malicious code.
Ever since Facebook opened its doors to third-party applications a year and a half ago, millions of users have employed miniature applications to play games, share movie and song recommendations, and even "zombie-bite" their friends. But as the popularity of third-party applications has grown, computer-security researchers have also begun worrying about ways that social-networking applications could be misused.
The same thing that makes social networking such an effective way to distribute applications – deep access to a user's networks of friends and acquaintances – could perhaps make it an ideal way to distribute malicious code.

Read the full article which has, as all Technology Review items do, loads of external links. I've not checked them all but one can normally assume that Massachusetts Institute of Technology doesn't link to malware (although ads are a different matter).

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Harry Potter and fair use

via Information Literacy Weblog by Sheila Webber on 10 September

This seems a thoughtful reflection on the verdict in the Harry Potter case – in which JK Rowling was seeking to prevent publication of a Harry Potter lexicography. The judge found in her favour. I'm mentioning it here since it is a topical (if complex) example of deciding how much you can and can't copy from one work in order to create a different kind of work – and it highlights the importance of synthesis! Thus it might be a useful example to use with learners.

Jones, P. (2008) The Harry Potter Decision, as text - Updated. 9 September. http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20080909014304275

Link to the post here and look at Sheila's photo of a quidditch arena build in Second Life

10 more items of passing interest (to me!)

Arts & Letters Daily 17 September
Computer screen reading breaks down with dense argument, modernist poetry, long political tracts, and texts that need careful attention and slow reading... more

Arts & Letters Daily 15 September
The more women and men have equal rights and similar jobs, the more their Mars and Venus personalities seem to diverge... more

Drinking Tea Is Healthier than Water
via Gimundo.com on 14 September
Drinking three or more cups of tea a day is even better for you than water, according to new research.

Arts & Letters Daily 8 September
Why are some countries rich, others poor? Why did the Industrial Revolution happen in England? Why is Africa still mired in poverty?... more

Arts & Letters Daily 8 September
Anti-intellectualism, consumerism, iPods and TV, political correctness, postmodern relativism: are they making today's college students the stupidest generation?... part 1 ... part 2

Acupressure wristband: You're getting sleepy
Posted by Leslie Katz
A new wristband by biomedical device company HBI promises to let troubled sleepers skip the Ambien and still get a better night's slumber. The DreamKeeper 400 relies largely on acupressure techniques, stimulating the median nerves on the inside of the wrist through electrostatic pulses and adjustable vibration.
Read more

Giant Buddha Statue Unearthed in Afghanistan
via Latest news from our site on 10 September
Archaeologists in Afghanistan said they discovered a giant Buddha statue near the ruins of the pair of giant Buddhas, which were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. The archaeologists said the newly discovered statue measures 62 feet tall and features the Buddha in a sleeping position.

Music Taste Can Predict Personality
via Gimundo.com on 7 September
In a new study, a researcher found that the type of music you listen to is a great indicator of your personality.

Movie and film location search engines
via Phil Bradley's weblog by philipbradley on 8 September
I wanted to draw attention to a posting over at Alt Search Engines that looks at movie location search engines. There are three that they look at in detail, and these are:
Famous Locations
Movie Locations
Movie Locations Guide
My preference of the three was the first - a wealth of information well put together and thought out.
I also found Reel Streets which lists British film locations, Hollywood Film locations, Information Britain,and Scotland the Movie.
Another way of tracing locations is to search for the name of a film or television series and add location, or go to Google and do a search for where was * filmed? and either leave the asterisk in for a very broad search or replace it with the name of a particular film that interests you.

The Espresso Book Machine
via Creative Commons by Jane Park on 18 September
Thanks to Peter Suber and The Wired Campus for alerting us to the EBM. You can even watch a video of how the machine works.

GoodGuide will save your skin
via Webware.com by Rafe Needleman on 10 September
GoodGuide is a new product recommendation system focused on "safe, healthy, and green products." It will tell you what chemicals are in your toothpaste, or if your socks are made with sweatshop labour.
The company's real value add is in acquiring the data on the products. The packaging of the data into a site is the easy part, but we think they've done a great job at it.
That's it, simple story. Looks like a great product and service. iPhone app coming, and expansion into other areas as well: Food, toys, electronics, adding to the current lineup of 60,000+ personal care and clothing items.

Copyright tool kit (Updated 23/9 @ 19:48)

via Information Literacy Weblog by Sheila Webber on 21 September

Eduserv just launched an online Copyright tool kit. It includes information about copyright (with a UK focus) plus exercises to work through, testing out knowledge. It is aimed at lecturers, librarians, technicians or anyone else involved in the process (i.e. the providers of course material, rather than the learners – though it could also be useful when learners are creating resources in class or for assignments). So, for example, it sets up scenarios of wanting to use different kinds of material (audio, film etc) in the VLE. It is free to all to use.

The website is at http://www.copyrighttoolkit.com/

UPDATE: http://copyrighttoolkit.com/ no www. (thanks to Andy Powell) and it's as good as I thought it would be.

Hazel's comment:
Thank you so much for that, Sheila. Whilst few of my regular readers are, as far as I know, working in or even connected with virtual learning environments this tool will be of value to almost anyone (I hope)!
BUT I couldn't get it to load to check it!

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Danger in celebrity searching

Danger in celebrity searching
via Phil Bradley's weblog by philipbradley on 18 September

Brad Pitt most dangerous search on the web - Active Home
According to McAfee, one of the leading anti virus software companies, there are dangers inherent in searching for information on leading celebrities. This is because malicious websites target their names in an attempt to install malware onto users machines via screensavers, wallpapers and so on. The leading "dangerous" celebrities are:
  • Brad Pitt
  • Beyonce
  • Justin Timberlake
  • Lindsey Lohan
  • Cameron Diaz
  • George Clooney
  • Angelina Jolie

Hazel's comment:
Thanks for that, Phil. Personally I can't imagine either of us searching for information about any of these celebrities and you, dear readers, are, of course, above such things too.

Question: Is your home computer safe from such searches?
Just at the moment my elder grand-daughter would be looking for Daniel Radcliffe, just about anything by, from or about Daniel has this very-nearly-twelve-year-old drooling so she's probably OK.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

How to and where to find answers online

via MakeUseOf.com by Tina on 2 September

Among many other things, the Internet provides us with tons of information. Unfortunately, there is no friendly librarian who knows the ins and outs of the collection, understands just what we're looking for and can guide us. Of course there are search engines, but sometimes a search engine won't do because what we're looking for is too complicated or random or requires the knowledge and experience of an expert.
When searching for answers, there are three basic principles that you should follow to yield great results:

  1. Know what your question is [which is not as simple as saying it].
  2. Know how to ask your question [tips and tricks].
  3. Know where to ask your question [not just search engines but also findables].

Read the full article

Hazel's comment: in addition to the bits above!
Google is the only search engine that Joy mentions
– please remember that there are lots of others and if your search is specific then a resource other than Google may provide a more precise set of resources.
As for "findables" these include Ask.com and Wikipedia but please check out your answers using other sources.

PA Consulting keeps children's database contract

via Computing.co.uk Latest updates by Janie Davies on 12 September

Disgraced firm will continue to work on ContactPoint project
The consulting firm responsible for the loss of personal details on 84,000 prisoners will continue to work on the children's database, sparking fresh concerns about the controversial project.

Read the full article and once again despair. Privacy for your personal information seems to be less of a concern for this government than collecting the information.

Friday, 19 September 2008

ten more items which may be of passing interest to some

Arts & Letters Daily 4 September
Except for issues of cleanliness, sex, and food, the British are just like Yanks. Oh, yes, and then there's language... more

ISR Results 7 September
Simple and secure networked home
Most people will only start to control equipment remotely in their homes when they believe it is simple and safe to do so. A newly developed control system provides personalised answers.

What is an expert?
via 3quarksdaily by Abbas Raza on 4 September
Gregg Ross interviews Harry Collins in American Scientist: As science and technology inform our society, we find ourselves increasingly reliant on experts. But what is an expert? How can we – professionals, policymakers, voters – assess the advice of others whose competence we don't share? And what does this mean for the enterprise of science and for our society in general?
In Rethinking Expertise (University of Chicago Press, 2007), Cardiff University sociologists Harry Collins and Robert Evans consider these questions and offer a framework for exploring their import in science and in society.
More here

Climbing Stairs Reduces Early Death Risk by 15 Percent
via Gimundo.com on 2 September
When offered the choice between a staircase and an elevator, it might be in your best interest to choose the more strenuous option: A recent study discovered that people who regularly take the stairs instead of the elevator can reduce their risk of early death by 15 percent.

The Library: 1901
via Shorpy :: History in HD - Hi-Res Historical Photos by Dave on 7 September
"University of Michigan library reading room, Ann Arbor, 1901". Detroit Publishing Company glass negative, Library of Congress.
View here

Clever as a mule
via Intute: Social Sciences Blog by Ian Hocking on 9 September
Yes, this mule really is called Muffin.
One of the reasons I like science is the occasional exploding of myth. Heavier objects don't fall faster than light objects; dogs don't really understand "Who's that at the door?" and "Fetch m'slippers!" (sorry, Dad); and, now, we discover that mules aren't as dozy as they look.
(Animal Cognition, DOI: 10.1007/s10071-008-0172-1). (And see more on this BBC write-up).
Interested readers might like to check out some resources on animal cognition catalogued by Intute.

Tiny rare snail to recieve protection
via The Scottish Government News Online - Latest on 4 September
Help for the narrow-mouthed whorl snail.

Blog Review 713
via The Adam Smith Institute Blog on 08/09/08
Sigh, another near insane idea being proposed. Yes, now there's a move to ban smoking in private houses. Go sign the petition against this idiocy please.

That Blessed Plot, That Enigmatic Isle
via 3quarksdaily by Azra Raza on 10 September
Christopher Hitchens in The Atlantic Monthly: What is it to be English? I should say for a start that to be English is to be mildly embarrassed by the very concept of "identity".
More here.

Arts & Letters Daily 13 September
The entry of Britain and France into the Greek War of Independence is the first humanitarian intervention. It wasn't the last... more

UK facing up to global economic challenges

via Department for Work And Pensions on 17 September

There are 333,000 more people in employment than a year ago despite global economic challenges, according to new figures released by the Office for National Statistics today.

Read the full press release

Hazel's comment:

"How are you doing today, Britain?"
"I'm fine, thank you for asking," says Britain in typical British fashion gritting her teeth against the pain!

What I really want to know is how many of those 333,000 people that are in employment that weren't a year ago (putting it that way is a travesty of statistics but you know what I mean, I hope) were born in the UK. It seems to me, and it's a gut feeling, that if you tie in the number for people out of work and the number for people in work then you'll get a very different answer today from the answer that you would have got a year ago. It would need a better statistician than I ever was, let alone am, to arrive at the answers. And someone with more time than I've got at present.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Worst set of jobs figures in a decade with "avalanche of redundancies" in prospect

CIPD press release 17 September

The latest set of official labour market figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the worst deterioration in the UK's underlying job situation for at least a decade. The figures confirm forecasts made by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) at the start of the year.

Read the full press release

Soaring student numbers pose funding and quality challenges for universities in OECD countries

via Directorate for Education on 9 September

Education at a Glance 2008 shows that with more and more high-school graduates going on to university, governments face tough decisions on funding and quality standards to ensure that their education systems respond adequately to booming demand for degrees.

Read the full article

Monday, 15 September 2008

Free childcare for 50,000 families

Department for Children, Schools and Families Press Notice 2008/0189 (8 September)

Low income families across the country are to get free childcare so they can access training and return to work, thanks to a new £75million programme announced by the government on 8 September.

The "Free Childcare for Training and Learning for Work" programme will support 50,000 low-income families where one parent is working and the second parent wants to improve their skills so that they can return to work. As well as free childcare, families will receive help from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) to identify and attend training. Workless families who cannot get support from elsewhere will also be eligible.

Read the full press notice

Hazel's comment:
Without going into all the small print, which I haven't seen, I couldn't say whether this new scheme is likely to make a great deal of difference to child poverty which is its aim. I do know that so long as the government defines poverty in relative terms then there will always be poverty. Just because you are in the "below average" category does not make you poor and the sooner that someone manages to come up with a definitive measure the better.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Women are getting beaten up. Again.

via TechRepublic Blogs on 4 September

An ominous new trend is appearing with fewer women being employed outside the home and average hourly pay going down. John M McKee discusses why this is going to cause a severe impact on both genders.

Read the full article

Hazel's comment:
I fail to understand what I was doing to have missed this for ten whole days! Sorry.

Every department to make three year funding the norm for third sector organi...

via Cabinet Office: News Listing 2 September

Charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises all stand to benefit from new guidance published today by the government ensuring every Whitehall department offers three year funding to third sector organisations in all but exceptional cases.

Read the full press release

Hazel's comment:
About time too – if it isn't too late (which of course it is for a lot of advice and guidance organisations).

Information can sometimes be destroyed after being requested under FOI

via OUT-LAW News on 2 September

Public authorities can destroy information after a Freedom of Information request for it has been made, the privacy regulator has said.

BUT ...

See: The guidance (PDF 4pp)

Hazel's comment:
That is a VERY BIG BUT up there as what the Information Commissioner said is that it is not an offence to destroy information which might have been used in answering a request that an authority has received IF, and only if, that material was scheduled to be destroyed under a scheduled management of records procedure.
It would, however, be better to keep the information.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

14-19: Diploma delivery – September 2008

I know that I am sometimes often guilty of loading a whole lot of items into draft and then not getting around to checking the link and adding comment as appropriate but not in this case.

I picked up this in my reader on 9 September – a week after term started in most English schools – from the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

This page on the 14-19 site will help educators as schools begin to deliver diplomas in September. It includes information on teaching, leadership, administration and guidance. It also links to resources on external sites and provides details of which organisations to contact for different queries.

Strategies for staying upbeat in a weak job market

an item in The Career News Volume 8 Issue 35

More and more Americans are being affected by a malady that Randall Hansen calls the "Job Market Blues". Hansen, a nationally recognised career and job-search expert and founder of QuintCareers.com, says that "job-seekers can employ five strategies for staying upbeat and fighting the blues in a weak job market."

Here are his suggestions:

  1. Keep a positive focus While it can be extremely difficult to do, job-seekers must show confidence and a positive attitude when job-hunting.
  2. Surround yourself with support
    Job-seekers should seek the support of family and friends – some of whom may even be able to offer job leads.

  3. Don't be discouraged by what you hear or read
    With all the bad economic news that abounds, it's easy to get caught up in the negativity. Job-seekers should focus on positive aspects, such as programs that offer free-job advice and retraining.

  4. Have a long-term focus, but short-term goals
    Job-seekers who have the most success in finding a new job are those who set daily job-search goals, such as tracking down job leads, applying for jobs, making new network contacts or going on job interviews.

  5. Remember that everything counts
    The job-seeker who gets hired is not always the most qualified but the one who made the best job-hunting effort. Job-seekers should perfect all aspects of job-hunting, including finding job leads, developing strong resumés and covering letters, and polishing interviewing skills.
Abridged: SouthCoastToday.com Springfield, MA

Hazel's comment:
Nothing new there but it is sometimes worth stating the obvious.

EMA letter to college principals - September 2008

The letter, email about which arrived in my inbox this morning, sets out the reasons why EMA has not been paid. Addressed to "college principals" the letter mentions that sixth-form colleges have also been informed. I hope that this includes 11-18 schools where several of my friends from church are struggling to buy necessary books and equipment for their studies.

You will all be aware of the problems we are currently experiencing with the quality of performance from our contractors for the delivery of EMA. This letter summarises the problems and sets out the actions we have in hand to resolve them.

The letter (PDF 3pp) is here

Friday, 12 September 2008

Librarything, Abebooks, Amazon, Shelfari

via infodoodads by Sam on 2 September

Over at TechCrunch, an article points out that Amazon has just purchased Abebooks and Shelfari, which might be problematic for LibraryThing in the near future, because Abebooks owns 40% of Librarything, and Shelfari is a LibraryThing competitor.

This of course has got me thinking about the whole book-centric social networking scene, and wondering where it all might be headed in the near future as giant corporations try to monetize blah blah blah.

Read the full article

Hazel's comment:
Do you have a
LibraryThing account? I do and, whilst I don't make as much use of it as a social network as I could, I'd be very unhappy if it ceased to exist.
Actually I have two accounts. One is my personal library of which consists of fiction, cookery, craft and Christian study. The other, for the purposes of this blog, is the more important since it is ADSET's library. However, finding the time to enter and catalogue all of the reports that I have, first checking that said reports are not available elsewhere, is not as easy as I thought it was going to be.
I will, I promise!
But if when I do I do not want to find that Amazon is picking up on what I already have and saying "more like this? Amazon recommends ..." That, my friends, is a sure way to lose money – fast!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Children's Services Statistical Neighbour Benchmarking Tool - Updated
These statistics provide updated outcome data for 16 and 17 year olds in education or work-based learning for 2005 and fixed term exclusions for...

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

10 more items of trivia or off-topic interest

What good is the Bard to book-shunning boys?
From The Guardian via 3quarksdaily by Azra Raza on 20 August
... Why are we obsessed with "reading" Shakespeare, especially since he wrote, er, plays? As any English undergraduate knows, Shakespeare's plays are meant to be seen on stage, not on the page. So why do commentators rejoice when a teenager reads Shakespeare? Do we really believe that teenagers should be reading scripts, albeit cultural masterpieces?
More here.

via The Adam Smith Institute Blog on 21 August
Quite classic government. The private sector invents some useful new technology, government at various levels ties it all up in red tape making it uneconomic whereupon government decides to subsidise it. Not having the red tape in the first place would of course leave us wondering why we have all those governing us, something which would never do.

Arts & Letters Daily (lost the date!)
Samuel Pepys: intelligent, curious, decent, and diligent, with an abiding interest in music, food, women and the life of the city... more

How con-men make their faces look trustworthy
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder on 20 August
Drake Bennett of the Boston Globe wrote an article on the various ways con men gain their marks' trust, including body language, verbal language, and facial expressions. When deciding who to trust, the research suggests, people use shortcuts. For example, they look at faces. According to recent work by Nikolaas Oosterhof and Alexander Todorov of Princeton's psychology department, we form our first opinions of someone's trustworthiness through a quick physiognomic snapshot. … In reality, of course, cheekbone shape and eyebrow arc have no relationship with honesty.
Judging trustworthiness in the face (via Mind Hacks)

The BPS Research Digest: What kind of a person blogs?
via Intute: Social Sciences Blog by Ian Hocking on 22 August
Good question. Fortunately, our friends at the British Psychological Society Research Digest (a free email) have highlighted this research by Rosanna Guadagno at the University of Alabama, who gave three hundred students a questionnaire about their blogging habits and then asked them to complete the Big Five Personality Inventory (a test of neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, openness to experience, and conscientiousness). What did they find out? I won't spoil it for you; the results are a little surprising.
Elsewhere in the Digest, we learn about the psychological factors behind victim-hood, the commitment strength of volunteers to charity work, and the comparative ease of implanting negative false memories.
Hazel's comment:
Intute is always useful (even when I don't understand what on earth they're talking about like with quantum mechanics) and sometimes, as in this case, very interesting. As well or instead? Doesn't matter!

Strange stuff from a computer recycler
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz on 25 August
The Alameda County Computer Resource Center (ACCRC) is a Berkeley, California-based non-profit group that recycles anything that you can plug into a power outlet. Massive tonnage of insanely strange circuitry goes in and out of that place on a daily basis. To share some of those curiosities with the world, the ACCRC has launched "It Ain't Dead Yet," a blog for showcasing "new and/or unusual pieces of technology, identifying them, and finding their values (historical value/practical use/$ value)." Seen above is a wire recorder (circa 1945-1955) that stores audio by magnetizing a reel of fine wire. The folks at ACCRC plan to convert digital data into audio and store it on a wire reel. Just for kicks. From the description of It Ain't Dead Yet:
It serves the purpose of documenting all the interesting and weird technology that passes through the ACCRC. There will be many pieces of unidentified technology showcased here, so feel free to comment about their values/uses. All of the technology here was donated/recycled to the ACCRC, and once it has been identified and discussed, it will donated to a museum, put to use somehow, or be sold.Webster Chicago Wire Recorder (It Ain't Dead Yet)

Better a bad ballot than no ballot?
via Demos Greenhouse by Faizal Farook on 28 August
Here at Demos we talk a lot about everyday democracy, the idea that people should have their say, not just in elections, but also in the fabric of their day to day lives. But what about everyday democracy for people who don't have any democracy at all? The latest edition of Radio 4's Analysis looks at this question (sort of!), asking how do elections create sustainable democratic cultures in authoritarian or conflict states? What are the problems they face? Is it better to have unfair elections than none at all? If you have 30 minutes to spare I'd recommend having a listen to this thoughtful piece, which has a range of interesting contributors. Alternatively, you can read a transcript here.

Nowhere to run
via The Adam Smith Institute Blog on 22 August
As it's Quote of the Week, the Online Library of Liberty cites Edward Gibbon (pictured) on the dangers, in terms of human freedom, of a unified empire. In a large, unified state, he says, opponents of tyranny have nowhere to escape to. That is – or was – very different from the Europe of Gibbon's day, which was divided into a number of independent countries, giving individuals the chance of going somewhere else if government became too oppressive. "The slave of Imperial despotism, whether he was condemned to drag his gilded chain in Rome and the senate, or to wear out a life of exile on the barren rock of Seriphus, or the frozen banks of the Danube, expected his fate in silent despair. To resist was fatal, and it was impossible to fly. On every side he was encompassed with a vast extent of sea and land, which he could never hope to traverse without being discovered, seized, and restored to his irritated master." – Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776)

Perspective via Demos Greenhouse by Charlie Edwards 27 August
Short video. Makes you think.
And it really does!

Generational survey challenges image of 'surly youth' – but supports 'grumpy old man' tag
via Onrec.com - United Kingdom headlines on 27 August

An economic modelling approach to information security risk management

an article by Rok Bojanca and Borka Jerman-Blažič (Faculty of Economics, Ljubljana University and Jožef Stefan Institute, Slovenia) in International Journal of Business Science and Applied Management Volume 3 Issue 3 (2008)

This paper presents an approach enabling economic modelling of information security risk management in contemporaneous businesses and other organisations. In the world of permanent cyber attacks to ICT systems, risk management is becoming a crucial task for minimisation of the potential risks that can endeavour their operation. The prevention of the heavy losses that may happen due to cyber attacks and other information system failures in an organisation is usually associated with continuous investment in different security measures and purchase of data protection systems. With the rise of the potential risks the investment in security services and data protection is growing and is becoming a serious economic issue to many organisations and enterprises. This paper analyses several approaches enabling assessment of the necessary investment in security technology from the economic point of view. The paper introduces methods for identification of the assets, the threats, the vulnerabilities of the ICT systems and proposes a procedure that enables selection of the optimal investment of the necessary security technology based on the quantification of the values of the protected systems. The possibility of using the approach for an external insurance based on the quantified risk analyses is also provided.

Your Place or Mine? the local economics of migration

via institute for public policy research on 3 September

This working paper is the first from ippr’s Economics of Migration project. The project aims to improve understanding of the economic impacts of migration in the UK, and how policy should respond to that migration in order to maximise its economic benefits, and minimise its costs.


Jobs outlook weakest for nine years

via Financial Times 9 September

The outlook for the UK jobs market is the weakest for almost a decade with employers freezing new recruitment as business confidence plummets.

Read more »

Nothing more I can add, is there?

Monday, 8 September 2008

Q&A: Tom Watson

via .net top stories by .net magazine 1 September

Back in 2003, he was the first MP to start blogging. Now he's Gordon Brown's web Tsar. Tom Watson talks about the failures and successes of the government's online strategy.


Hazel's comment:
This is a really interesting interview with someone who actually seems to know what he's talking about!

Government tenders for £50m child support system

via Computing by Tom Young on 3 September

The government is planning to spend up to £50m on an IT system for the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, the successor to the Child Support Agency.

Read the full article

Hazel's comment:
Please do read and understand that this new system is intended to be a "replacement" for the existing system which after having nearly ten times as much money spent on it still doesn't work properly.
Something doesn't add up, does it?

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Many UK workers think they made the wrong choice in study and career

via Onrec.com - United Kingdom headlines on 1 September

Almost half of all workers in the United Kingdom say that if given the chance, they would have studied something totally different after leaving school, while one in five say they chose the wrong career, according to a new international workplace survey.

Read the full article

No comment.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Permanent placements fell at sharpest rate for eighty-one months in August

via Onrec.com - United Kingdom headlines on 03 September

August's Report on Jobs, from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and KPMG, signalled further weakening of the UK job market.

Full report

You don't need me to comment on this, do you?

A new IT curriculum is essential, says e-Skills

via Computing.co.uk Latest updates by Janie Davies on 27 August

UK IT education must change for young people to choose technology courses and careers, says the sector skills council.
Uninspiring curricula and a negative perception of IT are conspiring to turn students away from the subject and threaten the UK's ability to compete in the global economy, e-Skills UK has warned.

Read the full thought-provoking article

Hazel's comment:
Are we surprised? You might be but I'm not as I've just read an item about teachers not being able to keep up with all the new communication technologies. And not using them in their teaching.

Parents get a lesson on classroom changes

via The Scottish Government News Online - Latest on 24 August

DVD being distributed to parents to help keep them up to speed on school developments [in Scotland].

Read the full news release

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Meeting the challenge of high quality data entry: a free double-entry system

an article by Kimberly A Barchard and Larry A Pace in International Journal of Services and Standards Volume 4 Number 4 (2008)

Data entry errors can be disastrous. In many industries, data entry errors are minimised by paying highly-skilled data entry personnel or by using expensive optical scanning technologies. However, researchers, small businesses, and non-profit organisations cannot afford highly-skilled data entry personnel or the alternative technologies, and instead rely upon minimally trained staff and volunteers for manual data entry. Obtaining accurate data entry is a challenge in these circumstances. Some supervisors do all data entry themselves because they know of no procedures for obtaining accurate data entry from assistants. Others use visual data checking or after-the-fact diagnostic procedures to try to identify unlikely values. None of these approaches is guaranteed to prevent or correct all errors. This paper describes a data entry system that is essentially free, that will take no longer to use than visual checking, and that will virtually eliminate data entry errors.

Hazel's comment:
I want some of that. Oh how I want it! But I can't get it, at least not yet since the article is only available for purchase at the moment. As soon as it's available in the British Library I'll be onto it and will bring you an update!

Guide to Copyright Law - What is protected?

via Bytestart on 3 September

Copyright law is one of the key areas of intellectual property protection. In the United Kingdom, protection applies automatically once the work is created. In this expert legal guide, we step through the different types of work that are protected, and explain the extent of the monopoly granted.

Read the full article

Hazel's comment: I rarely put the same link into both this blog and the one for small business managers but I felt that this was necessary so if you read both "sorry" but you'll get it twice!
It is, however, written from the point of view of the owner of the rights and looks at how you can best protect the asset that you have.
Look at the other point of view for a while and think how you would feel if your rights had been trampled upon!


I've picked up 5+ items about ContactPoint in the last few days so I thought I'd better get it straight in my own mind as to what this "thing" is and what it's designed to do.

According to the Every Child Matters website:
  • ContactPoint will be the quick way for a practitioner to find out who else is working with the same child or young person, making it easier to deliver more coordinated support.

  • It will be a basic online directory, available to authorised staff who need it to do their jobs.

  • It is a key part of the Every Child Matters programme to improve outcomes for children.

The information about ContactPoint, its development and plans for implementation is divided into the following sections:


That's the background, according to the government.
Two issues which appear to be causing concern:
  • Access to the data by person or persons other than those working in Children's Services

    It appears, has been rumoured, has been stated by an unidentified source (take your pick depending on your point of view) that the police services will be able to trawl the database looking for evidence of criminal activity.

    Which is countered by: even if police services have access to the information in the database it will be on a very limited basis and each access will have to be authorised for a specific purpose.

    And: Police access to Contact Point will not threaten the welfare or protection of vulnerable children, according to the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS).
    Read the story by Janie Davies in Computing.
  • Yet more delays in the technology

    ContactPoint children's database hit by delays by Janie Davies in Computing concentrates on the "technical glitches" that emerged during testing.

    ContactPoint child database delayed again from Kable's Government Computing also brings into play the reason why the system was delayed from April 2008 to October (security issues following the HMRC fiasco). It's now going to be January. Maybe.

And this is what's costing us, the British tax payers, £224 million so that the government can have access to personal information about all under-18s in England.

I give up.


Breaking plates

It is not surprising that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has failed to meet its traceability target for vehicle keepers. The government has gradually expanded the use of the numberplate into something like a combined identity and credit card for vehicles. A few years ago, vehicle numbers were used mainly by police patrols and for vehicle excise duty. Then came speed cameras and London congestion charging. Now, with automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR), the police track everyone passing thousands of cameras across the country, and organisations operating car parks can charge for over stayers.

Full story

Hazel's comment:
Another example of function creep obscuring the original intention of the system to the point that the original system no longer works properly!

Privacy regulator criticises misuse of Data Protection Act

via OUT-LAW.com 2 September

Organisations must not use the Data Protection Act as a smokescreen for not giving out information, privacy regulator the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has warned.

Read the full article

No comment needed.

Literacy is the best remedy

It is enough to have finished primary school to multiply by five one’s chances of being informed about HIV and AIDS. As for malaria, which takes a million lives annually, it is particularly deadly among illiterate populations. Literacy and good health are inseparable. This is the theme of International Literacy Day (8 September) and the 2008 UNESCO International Literacy Prizes, on which our latest issue focuses. The introduction is written by Henning Mankell, well-known Swedish author and AIDS activist.


Hazel's comment:
A bit off-topic but I thought that we ought to be aware of International Literacy Day which I admit I had not heard of until I read the UNESCO Courier just now (was about to write "this morning" when I realised that morning it is NOT but I haven't had lunch yet so it still feels like it).

Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) payments delays

press statement via LSC Corporate news by on 3 September

The Learning and Skills Council has confirmed that all eligible students who apply for the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and who may have experienced delays with the processing of their application form will get all the payments for which they are eligible. All payments will be backdated and no-one will miss out.

Hazel's comment:
That's all very well but I can hear the moans from here. If you're in a position to be eligible for EMA then you've been means-tested and you bloomin' well need the money. Not next week or next month when the backlog of applications may have been processed but now.

Omega resources

via Latest Internet resources added to Intute: Science Engineering and Technology on 28 August

This recruitment site includes listings of UK and worldwide job vacancies as well as recruitment services for the oil and gas industry.
Links to relevant training and certification bodies are provided. There is also information on working for the company itself and a list of current vacancies.

Hazel's comment:
Looks good – if only for the world map on the home page. I hadn't realised until I looked at this just how big Kazahkstan is!
I don't know enough about current work in oil and gas to judge the vacancy information but the site exudes and air of "we know what we're talking about".

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

ADHD – behaviour therapy better than drugs

via Mental Health Update by John Gale on 22 August

Parents whose children are diagnosed with ADHD often ask for, or are given, drugs for their children. However, research from the largest ever study into treatments for ADHD has found that behavioural interventions can lead to less use of medication and smaller dosages when it is used. Although medication can dampen down symptoms of ADHD such as restlessness and fidgeting they don't address the impairments caused by ADHD such as a lack of successful interactions with peers, deficits in reading and maths skills and difficult relationships with parents and family members. There is also some doubt over the physical effect of the drugs with some research suggesting that heavy doses over long periods may reduce a child's adult height by two inches.

Find out more about this research

Kids with no qualifications need more help says charity

via WalesOnline - News - Education News on 20 August

While many pupils will celebrate record-breaking achievements in their GCSE results today a number of young people will be leaving the education system with nothing.

Read the full story

NINE INTEREST was the working title - see below

Updated to "Ten trivial interesting things I read recently"

The People History
Find the history of cost of living, prices, events, popular social culture, inventions, technology by year, decade or type from the 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's 70's, 80's, 90's and the new Millennium. Also included are over 2,000 videos related to the year or decade or other sections of the site.
Thanks for this Roddy (
Internet Resources Newsletter)

While a Magician Works, the Mind Does the Tricks via 3quarksdaily by Azra Raza on 12 August
From The New York Times:
A decent backyard magic show is often an exercise in deliberate chaos. Cards whipped through the air. Glasses crashing to the ground. Gasps, hand-waving, loud abracadabras. Something's bound to catch fire, too, if the performer is ambitious enough — or needs cover. "Back in the early days, I always had a little smoke and fire, not only for misdirection but to emphasize that something magic had just happened," said The Great Raguzi, a magician based in Southern California who has performed professionally for more than 35 years, in venues around the world. "But as the magic and magician mature, you see that you don't need the bigger props."

Tortoise hates cats
Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder on 23 July
This aggressive little tortoise is unstoppable in his determination to keep cats off his territory.

Homegrown Evolution blog on the ethics of raising chickens
Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder on 29 July
On his blog, Erik Knutzen, co-author of the terrific self-sufficiency guidebook,
The Urban Homestead, writes about the ethics of raising chickens in the backyard for eggs.
Eric pointed to "
Why I Farm," a Mother Earth News essay by Bryan Welch, with this provocative quote:
I get a lot of laughs watching my animals figure out their lives and I get pretty sad when it's time to kill them. I have a lot more death in my life than I did before. And, ironically, that's part of the reason why I feel like I have a lot more life in my life. That's why I farm." Both Erik's blog post and Welch's essay are worth reading for anyone thinking about raising livestock at home. I'm almost finished with
my backyard chicken coop, so this was especially interesting to me.
An Omnivore's Dilemma (Homegrown Evolution)

Rick Adams shot a video of a man clinging to the hood of a car driven by an intoxicated maniac, and writes about what happened to him as a result of filming the incident.
Arts & Letters Daily 19 Aug 2008
There was huge drop in semicolon use from the 18th through the 19th centuries, from 68.1 per 1000 words to 17.7. And that's just the start of the trouble...

The government's top scientific advisers have warned that the quality of fingerprints from people aged over 75 may be too poor to be used to prove their identity.
Guardian 15 August

Arts & Letters Daily 21 August
The charm of old cookbooks is that while few would seriously cook from Fanny Farmer or Mrs. Beeton, each remains a time capsule of its era. Consider Vincent Price's...
Hazel's comment:
Am I an anomaly? I do use very old cookery books including my grandmother's scrap book (for her marmalade recipe and Christmas cake if nothing else).
Michael Gorbachev in the New York Times via 3quarksdaily by Abbas Raza on 21 August
The acute phase of the crisis provoked by the Georgian forces' assault on Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, is now behind us. But how can one erase from memory the horrifying scenes of the nighttime rocket attack on a peaceful town, the razing of entire city blocks, the deaths of people taking cover in basements, the destruction of ancient monuments and ancestral graves? Russia did not want this crisis. The Russian leadership is in a strong-enough position domestically; it did not need a little victorious war.
More here. [Thanks to Syed Tasnim Raza]

and as a complete contrast please go and read I, Pencil: my family tree as told to Leonard E Read (December 1958)
Hazel's comment:
with sincere apologies to whoever pointed me at this story in the first place – I would attribute if I hadn't been too lazy to pick up the information!

ADSET's Business Info has no corresponding "interest" blogs but you may find it of interest anyway!

Supporting Employers Recruiting and Selecting Mature Aged Persons

via elearningeuropa.info on 19 August

Thus, mature@eu- Supporting Employers Recruiting and Selecting Mature Aged Persons is directly concerned with providing an integrated support package to Business Leaders, Equal Opportunities Representatives, HRM, Trade Union Officers and Workers' Representatives based on open source e-learning environment and a toolbox of collection of innovative training materials. The ICT sector serves as pilot...


Hazel's comment:
I hope you have better luck than I normally do getting into elearningeuropa because this looks as though it could be useful.

Prospects launches Greener Recruitment Fairs

via Onrec.com - United Kingdom headlines on 8/20/08

Employers and graduates can interact without the usual time, travel and resources associated with attending traditional recruitment fairs as prospects.ac.uk launches its 2008 Virtual Fairs.

full article

Hazel's comment:
Actually a question. Where's the Prospects news release, or whatever, that OnRec picked this up from? And why, oh marketing people at Prospects (long-term ADSET member that you are) are you not sending this sort of information direct to me?

I must have been dreaming

– or living on another planet as I've just found another item from 11 August which I should have told you about before.

(DIUS) New framework to put Further Education at heart of local communities
via NDS RSS on 11 August

A new framework document sets out how further education can forge new partnerships to make a stronger contribution to the economic and social health of local communities.

Read the full press release

Oops missed it – driver qualifications

Driver certificate of professional competence (CPC) for the bus and coach industry
A new qualification, The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence, (Driver CPC) will be introduced on September 10 for all professional bus and coach drivers.
With this in mind the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and their partners across the passenger transport sector are encouraging employers, operators, training providers and new and existing bus and coach drivers to prepare for the requirements.
New drivers wishing to enter the industry will be required to take the Driver CPC initial qualification.

Read the full press release

Fastest decline in job vacancies for 7 years

The total number of people out of work rose by 60,000 to 1.67m during the three months to the end of June, with the figures expected to rise in the coming months.

Read more »

Hazel's comment:
Once again the FT is the first source I've read this morning and this headline does not make pleasant reading before I've even had my first cup of coffee!
Guidance practitioners will be needed more than ever as the downturn bites deeper.

You may also be interested in ADSET's Business Information blog

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Google launches internet browser

Google is to release its own Internet browser in what amounts to its most direct attack yet on Microsoft's dominance of PC software.
Read more »

Hazel's comment:
Thus the FT this morning – and, presumably, all the IT press that I normally read but I got to this one first in the "reading pile".
One might wonder whether this will affect Firefox users to any great extent but I suspect that for commercial use Microsoft will hold its own. Too many remote desktop solutions are tied in to "Microsoft for everything" particularly in the small- and medium-sized market.