All posts by James Clay

Improve 3G Connectivity

One problem I can foresee for colleges thinking about using 3G technology is the connectivity issues that they may have using multiple 3G devices inside a building.

I noticed this device (mentioned in PCW Magazine) as a potential solution.

Oyster 3G — The home access femtocell

Oyster 3G is the home access femtocell that delivers high-quality 3G spectrum into the home. Because it uses the customer’s broadband it actually adds capacity to your macro network, improving service for everyone in the cell, indoors or out.

Though this technology in theory just makes it easier for 3G devices to connect to a 3G network, I believe you would still be charged your usual 3G data charges.

Nokia N73 mobile phone

I wonder if this or a similar technology could be used to create your own institutional 3G network, so 3G devices could use the JANET connection to connect to the internet via this institutional 3G network rather than pay the data charges.

I suspect though that this would not be possible as the mobile phone operators paid a fortune for the 3G licences and therefore would not want to lose any potential revenue. However I wonder if possible partnerships could be set up? I know that this is what at-Bristol did with Orange with their local mobile phone network.

Nice idea, but why McDonalds!

I read with interest (and disappointment) that a certain fast food company is going to offer free wireless in their restaurants. Now they use the word restaurant to describe their establishments, personally I think that breaks the Trade Descriptions Act!

The Register reports:

Proletarian fryhouse McDonald’s has announced it will offer free Wi-Fi in its 1,200 UK burger outlets by the end of the year. The move will make McDonald’s the country’s largest public hotspot provider, and pits it against Starbucks’ pay-as-you-go T-Mobile service for high street internet supremacy.

Now the thought of free wireless is always something that I love the concept of, for example: Caffe Gusto in Bristol (hasten to add only in some of their branches) has (or had) free wireless and if you popped in for a coffee you might only be in there for fifteen or twenty minutes, but enough time so you can quickly check your e-mail, do a Jaiku presence report, check a few websites and so on…


The problem with something like T-Mobile at Starbucks is that unless you have an account you can only purchase at a minimum a thirty minute slot, or even a full hour. This means you spend probably twice as much as you did on coffee to access the internet, and then you feel like you need to spend the full time in order to get your value for money.

Now the problem I have with that certain place that will offer free wireless is that I don’t like their coffee (is it too hot) and I don’t like their food (way too salty).

Please can other (nice) places start to offer free wireless, I would really appreciate it, please.

Copyright Solutions Workshop

Today I ran a copyright workshop at the RSC SW VLE Forum in Taunton.

An interactive version of the workshop can be found online at the JISC Collections website.

Useful links

UK Intellectual Property – Government-backed home of UK Intellectual Property on the Internet. Resources on Copyright, Designs, Patents and Trade Marks.

CLA – The Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd. The CLA is a non profit-making company that licenses organisations for photocopying and scanning from magazines, books and journals.

NLA – Newspaper Licencing Agency. The NLA operating on behalf of the UK’s national and regional newspapers the NLA licenses organisations to take legal copies of newspaper articles;

Crown Copyright – Guidance on the use of Crown copyright protected materials.

JISC Legal – a free information service offering high quality legal information to further and higher education relating to the use of information and communications technologies.

Creative Commons provides free tools for authors, artists, and educators to mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry.

BBC Review Four Wifi Media Players

The BBC has published a review of four of the top wifi capable media players currently on the market.

The Sony PSP, the Nokia N800, the Archos 605wifi and (of course) the Apple iPod touch.

Gadget lovers are spoilt for choice when it comes to portable media players, with an increasing number offering web access through wi-fi connections. We take a look at four different players – Sony’s PSP Slim, Archos 605wifi, Nokia’s N800 and the Apple iPod touch – and assess their strengths and weaknesses in different categories.

Their winner, well it’s only fair that you check out the article, but it doesn’t surprise me.

RSC South West VLE Forum

I am currently at the RSC SW VLE Forum.

This is a really nice event, in which VLE developers and managers from across the South West get together, not just for chatting but to listen to presentations and now and again workshop activities.

Even though Gloucestershire College is advanced in terms of embedding their VLE into teaching and learning, it is always useful to go because I have found out things that I didn’t know, always learning something new.

Google buys out Jaiku

Those of you who follow me online (or just plain bump into me online) or have read this
blog before will know that I am a fan of micro-blogging and specifically Jaiku.

So I read with interest today that Google has bought out Jaiku.

Exciting news: Google has bought Jaiku today. What does that mean? First and foremost, we’re of course continuing to support our existing users. So fear not: your Jaiku phone, the Web site, IM, SMS, and API will continue to work normally.

Interesting that Google went for Jaiku and not Twitter. Twitter has certainly had a lot more press than Jaiku, maybe it was a price thing, maybe it wasn’t.

What is also interesting is that Google already own a similar service, Dodgeball!

I do feel that micro-blogging has real educational potential, if not for learning, certainly for administration or even marketing.

Alas one of the side effects of this purchase is that…

That said, new user sign-ups have been limited for the time being.


Existing users will still be able to invite their friends 

So if you know me and have been thinking about joining Jaiku, fear not, want an invite let me know.

This is the age of the train….

I wish I was back in 1976…

Sometimes I wish I was Sam in Life on Mars, stranded back in 1976, well I know it was 1973, but what’s three years between friends?


The High Speed Train is now over thirty years old, introduced in 1976, they have been travelling at 125mph across the UK for over three decades (except when I am in a hurry and then there are speed restrictions which means we crawl along at a walking pace).

High Speed Train

First Great Western, now I know on this blog I have thrown a lot at First Great Western, and when I say throw I mean in words via this blog and not literally throw physically at the train as that wouldn’t be very nice (and is probably illegal as well) and is something I wouldn’t do and you shouldn’t either, no matter how many times you find the train going nowhere or really slowly. So where was I, ah yes, so I have whinged and moaned about First Great Western a fair bit, but compared to some other train operators, naming no names, cough Virgin Trains, cough, First Great Western travel for me has on the whole been pretty good. Being a typical consumer, I write when I have something to complain about, not when everything is going well.

Continue reading This is the age of the train….

University students using Macs more

It would appear that the market share of Apple Macs amongst University students is on the rise (well in the US anyway).

According to Macrumors, 40% of Princeton’s students and staff are using Macs compared to 10% just four years ago.

The Princeton University newspaper reports that Princeton’s Mac marketshare has been rising dramatically, with 40 percent of students and faculty currently using a Mac as their personal computer. This number is up from only 10% of Mac users on campus only 4 years ago. And this number could still be growing. This year, the University’s Student Computer Initiative reportedly sold more Macs than PC’s, with 60 percent of students choosing a Mac, up from 45 percent just last year. Students were offered a choice of Dell, IBM and Apple computers.

To be honest this doesn’t surprise me, when you consider that the new Intel Macs can now all run Windows (either through Parallels or Boot Camp for example) then you can get a Mac and still use Windows when you need to.

I do wonder though if this growth is reflected over here in the UK.

In the UK I have noticed at e-learning events with a predominantly HE prescence, I have seen many more Macs then I use to, I can recall when I was the only person with a Mac.

At FE dominated events, there are fewer (if any) Macs about.

So are you using a Mac?

eMentors – students teaching teachers

I see the BBC have a report on what Oaklands College are doing with eMentors.

A college is harnessing the power of students’ technical knowledge to teach their lecturers a thing or two about information technology. The college has appointed 35 “eMentors” to help staff with everything from laptops to interactive whiteboards. The scheme works on the premise that students are more technically adept.

Quite an interesting and innovative approach to getting staff to get familiar with the technology.