Tag Archives: wired

A highly statistically significant correlation exists between stork populations and human birth rates across Europe – Weeknote #85 – 16th October 2020

I have been working on some internal documents this week which has taken up quite some time.

I read David Kernohan’s piece, What is it about small areas with large numbers of Covid-19 cases? On Wonkhe.

A glance at the Wonkhe dashboards would suggest this is a reasonable conclusion to draw – there are no Mid-level Super Output Areas (MSOA) in England with more than 100 Covid-19 cases in the last 7 days that have less than 2,000 students in residence. As you have probably come to expect, things are a bit more complicated than that.

David points out that blaming students for the rise in covid-19 isn’t just not helpful, but also isn’t accurate.

Universities were suffering again from negative press, saying they shouldn’t have opened. However they weren’t given much choice and on top of that in the most recent restrictions, even at the highest tier, universities are expected to remain open. What does open mean anymore? When we had the full lockdown back in March, yes students were sent home, however universities remained open, their campus may have been shut down, but research was still happening, teaching was going ahead and many students were learning.

Universities can remain open, but doesn’t mean the campus has to be open. Maybe the government should have listened to the advice from their own SAGE scientists who said three weeks ago that “all university and college teaching to be online unless face-to-face teaching is absolutely essential.” If that advice had been followed maybe, many of those covid-19 infection hotspots could have been avoided.

What we do know is that many universities are moving to online delivery curriculum models and for many students self isolation is part of the student experience.

There was substantial press coverage about feeding the isolated students as well.

Universities are facing anger from students over conditions some have faced while self-isolating in campus accommodation. Students have criticised the cost and quality of food provided to them by universities while in isolation. Undergraduates say food parcels have often been filled with “junk”, meaning they have had to request fresh fruit and vegetables from parents.

By the end of the week we were starting to see concern not just about returning home for Christmas, but also if students would return in January.

Apple announced their new iPhone, didn’t watch the announcement and though it would be nice, I don’t think I will be getting one.

Wired published a somewhat sensational article on, as they said, Universities are using surveillance software to spy on students.

Screwed over by the A-levels algorithm, new university students are being hit by another kind of techno dystopia. Locked in their accommodation – some with no means of escape – students are now being monitored, with tracking software keeping tabs on what lectures they attend, what reading materials they download and what books they take out of the library.

Libraries have always taken note of who takes what books out of the library, that was an essential part of the system, so you know what’s been taken out and by whom, so you can track it down if necessary.

Of course analytics means that if you start analysing that data you can start to discover new insights, on how people are using books from the library. Throw in more data and you can start to discover what the story is with different cohorts and subjects.

As with any data collection and analysis there are issues and I sent this missive to a mailing list in response to a question on this issue.

A highly statistically significant correlation exists between stork populations and human birth rates across Europe.

One of the challenges with interpretation of data is that it is a difficult thing to do. You can look at data and have a view, which may not actually be true. When I was working on the Jisc Digital Capability project, one of the core issues that I discussed with colleagues in universities was data capability, having an understanding of what the data was telling them, what was the narrative behind the data. Data is only part of the story. Though talking about analytics the implications of data from VLE systems is just as relevant, so would recommend looking at the Jisc code of practice on analytics.

On Thursday evening Twitter stopped working for me… well what was I going to do now!

Earlier in the day we had a meeting with the Data and Analytics directorate to hear about their future plans.

My top tweet this week was this one.

What should we do, what can we do? – Weeknote #66 – 5th June 2020

So after a lovely week off, taking a break from work including a lovely cycle ride to Brean, I was back in the office on Monday, well not quite back in our office, more back at my office at home. So it was back to Zoom calls, Teams meetings and a never ending stream of e-mails.

My week started off with a huge disappointment, I lost the old Twitter…

Back in August 2019 I wrote a blog post about how to use Chrome or Firefox extensions to use the “old” Twitter web interface instead of the new Twitter interface. Alas, as of the 1st June, changes at Twitter has meant these extensions no longer work and you are now forced to use the new Twitter! When you attempt to use them you get an error message.

I really don’t like the “new” web interface, it will take some time getting use to it, might have to stick to using the iOS app instead.

broken iPhone
Image by InspiredImages from Pixabay

Most of Monday I was in an all day management meeting, which as it was all via Zoom, was quite exhausting. We did a session using Miro though, which I am finding quite a useful tool for collaborating and as a stimulus for discussion. At the moment most of the usage is replicating the use of physical post-it notes. I wonder how else it can be used.

The virtual nature of the meeting meant that those other aspects you would have with a physical meeting were lost. None of those ad hoc conversations as you went for coffee, or catching up over lunch. We only had a forty minute late lunch break, fine if lunch is provided, more challenging if you not only need to make lunch for yourself, but also for others…

Some lessons to be learned there!

Monday was also the day that schools (which had been open for the children of key workers and vulnerable children already) were supposed to re-open for reception, years one and six. However in North Somerset with the covid-19 related closure of the local hospital in Weston-super-Mare, this meant that the “re-opening” was cancelled at the last minute, with some parents only been informed on Sunday night! Since then the plan is to go for re-opening on the 8thJune, now that the covid-19 problem at the hospital has been resolved. Continue reading What should we do, what can we do? – Weeknote #66 – 5th June 2020

Project – iPad App of the Week

Project – iPad App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone and iPad Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive.

This week’s App is Project Magazine.

A revolutionary multimedia magazine built specially for your iPad – packed with international culture, entertainment, design, business and travel. And nuclear weapons. Oh, and Jeff Bridges.

Free and then £1.79 per issue

I have reviewed magazines in this series before and consider that though a PDF virtual copy of a magazine on the iPad isn’t really taking advantage of the potential of the iPad, there are some publishers though who are seeing that a magazine on the iPad can be more than a digital version of the paper edition.

With Project, Virgin Digital Publishing are even avoiding a paper edition and only publishing on the iPad. The magazine has might be expected video, audio and interactive diagrams.

There are (like WIRED) quite a few adverts.

The interface is not simple and there is quite a detailed help screen explaining how to navigate through the magazine.

For me this is one of the weaknesses of the iPad, unlike a Windows PC or a Mac running OS X, there isn’t a coherent user interface guide for iPad apps. So magazines like WIRED or Project use different navigation and buttons for moving around the magazine to different articles. Though Apple provides quite detailed  iOS Human Interface Guidelines app developers and publishers aren’t really recognising the user need for a consistent interface, especially with magazines. Comics on the other hand, most comic publishers are now using the GuidedView Technology from Comixology. This allows different comic publishers to use the same user interface for reading comics on the iPad. Hopefully something similar will emerge not just for magazines but also for e-books.

So what of the content of Project?

Well it reminded me of WIRED with a bit of Empire thrown in and a broadsheet weekend newspaper. There aren’t a huge number of articles, but is only £1.79.

I did enjoy reading it, and found some articles of interest.

The key will be though, will I buy the next issue?

Hmmm, not so sure.

The Google Netbook

I have always been quite pleased with my Google Nexus One, so when I heard about the Google Netbook, the Cr-48 I was quite intrigued.

Unlike the Nexus One, the Cr-48 runs the Chrome OS and not Android. Google have been quite clear, as far as they are concerned, Android is for handheld devices and Chrome is for laptops or netbooks.

Of course the CR-48 is not a consumer device, but a test machine to demonstrate how Chrome will work. Which probably accounts for the “catchy” name.

This is not a powerful machine, it has a single USB port, video out, wifi, 3G. It has a (relatively) large 12.1” screen. It is also quite heavy!

According to WIRED:

While scrolling web pages, playing some web-based games and watching videos from YouTube and the Onion, I noticed some jerkiness and skipping. Flash Player is pre-installed (and presumably sandboxed) but watching Flash videos is a bit of a sucky experience, especially in full-screen mode.

This is certainly my experience with underpowered netbooks in the past, I have found the video experience very poor. One thing I do say about the iPad is that the video experience is very good.

WIRED do say though:

But everything at least works as advertised, and it’s still totally usable.

The key behind Chrome OS is that it is a browser based OS with all the apps you use and main storage in the cloud. Hence connectivity is a key issue. Can see this not been an issue in an institution with good wifi coverage, obviously more of an issue when using such a device outside, on a train or other area without good connectivity.

If the price is right then these devices will be something that institutions might want to consider for using with learners, possibly providing learners with their own device for use in lessons, in the library and at home.

At the moment more often than not, institutions will provide computers in suites, rooms and in the library. This requires a fair bit of infrastructure and support. By providing devices to learners, this negates the need for a large number of computer rooms (some specialist rooms will still to be needed) and also allow learners to use the device when and wherever the learner is. The institution then becomes more of a service provider, delivering an infrastucture that allows learners wireless internet access (and possibly printing). The institutional VLE, Web 2.0 services and communication tools will allow the learner to access learning when they want to, rather than when the institution says they can.

Providing devices to learners costs money, cheap netbooks have been a possibility in the past, but the linux underpowered 7” devices we have seen in the past haven’t really proved that popular with learners. As soon as you make the devices bigger and add Windows, you also add a large price tag too. Will a Chrome powered netbook be the next evolutionary stage of the netbook? Will this be a device that changes the IT culture of educational institutions? Or will it be merely something that geeks like, but no one else uses?

Unfortunately I will probably never see, let alone use the Cr-48 as the pilot programme for the US only. Ah well…

WIRED Magazine – iPad App of the Week

WIRED Magazine – iPad App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone and iPad Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive. Though called iPhone App of the Week, most of these apps will work on the iPod touch or the iPad, some will be iPad only apps.

This week’s App is WIRED Magazine.

Free with each episode costing £2.39

I know, I know, I can hear you saying, “haven’t you done this one before?”

Well yes I have.

I reviewed the Wired app when it first came out and at the time I did wonder if I would buy any more issues…

Well here we are four months later and yes you can ask what’s happening with Wired now.

Well the first thing that was changed was changing the app from a app that was a whole magazine to an app that allows you to purchase and download individual issues within a single app.

This means that you have a single icon on your iPad for Wired rather than an icon for each issue. What was annoying was that I had to re-download issue one again!  The size of each issue has dropped, the first issue was something like 500MB, newer issues are about 250MB. Still big and something that you wouldn’t want to download using 3G. So you can see why I was initially annoyed with the change in app format.

So have things changed?

Firstly I have bought more issues, that is something that I think is quite telling in terms of how I feel about the app.

So yes I am buying further issues.

Though I am reading the magazine, I am not seeing huge leaps in the interface or sophisticated exciting ways of engaging with the content.

It has to be said that the content is more interactive and engaging than the content on the web. I don’t think this is a feature of the iPad or the iPad interface, more that publishes aren’t really using the web in a similar way. Most magazine articles I see on the web are just text versions of the printed article. Occasionally I see links and embedded video, but more often it is just text.

Though what I am seeing with Wired is more of the same type of engaging and interesting content, that I don’t see on the Wired website. The content is the US version of Wired, no UK version available.

I am pleased to see that each issue on the iPad is cheaper than the paper version (though I know that is not the case with all iPad magazines).

So based on my experience of using the Wired App over the last four months, I am still buying issues of Wired, I am still reading Wired.

I am still impressed and enjoying the reading experience. In many ways it was a similar experience to reading WIRED magazine, but the enhancements did add to the experience.

This is though, still very much old media trying to use new tools to sell a traditional old media type experience.

I would recommend it, if the type of content you find in Wired is your cup of tea.

WIRED Magazine – iPad App of the Week

WIRED Magazine – iPad App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone Apps available. This series will also now cover Apps for the iPad. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive. Though called iPhone App of the Week, most of these apps will work on the iPod touch or the iPad, some will be iPad only apps.

This week’s App is WIRED Magazine.

Download WIRED and be the first to experience this groundbreaking magazine with exclusive iPad content. Go behind the scenes of Pixar’s Toy Story 3. Spin our interactive Mars map to see the human impact on the Red Planet. Hang out in the recording studio with Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor. See the greatest special effects in modern film—all in one reel. It’s the WIRED vision of how technology is changing the world—and it’s only on the iPad.

WIRED: It’s a look into the future of science, culture, business, and entertainment. Get connected. Get WIRED.


Certainly this App for the iPad (and this is an iPad only App) has been making the news.

So what did I think?

Back in January I posted a YouTube video showing how a magazine could work on a tablet type device. This was before Apple announced the iPad.

Here we are in June and I have now managed to get my hands on something similar, WIRED Magazine for the iPad.

Now I do buy WIRED magazine now and again, usually if I am going to fly or take a Cross Country Voyager train, somewhere with no connectivity or not allowed to or easy to use a laptop.

I enjoy reading the articles and much of the tech is not computer tech but very specialist and geeky tech.

I was slightly hesitant about spending £2.99 on what is basically an online magazine, I like many others, am very accustomed to free online content. I did however want to try out this App (magazine) as it was going to be indicative of what was possible for the iPad in terms of providing content.

I did write a week or so back about problems people had had with academic text books on the Kindle.

This is a lesson that educational publishers need to recognise when publishing content to platforms like the Kindle and the iPad. Though novels are linear and as a result eBook formats can “work” like a printed book, educational books are used differently and as a result eBook versions need to work differently. Students need to be able to move around quickly, annotate and bookmark.

I have also talked about how e-Books could make a big difference to learning.

e-Books are not about replacing books, in the same way that online news sites don’t totally replace physical newspapers, or YouTube replaces TV.

Likewise e-Book Readers don’t replace computers; what both e-Books and e-Book Readers do is allow reading to happen at a time and place to suit the reader.

So I think I had quite high expectations about WIRED Magazine and was looking forward to reading it on the iPad.

First impressions were quite favourable with the pages looking wonderful on the iPad screen.

I did like the use of animated and interactive graphics in certain articles. These really made it easy to see what the diagram was trying to demonstrate.

I also liked the use of video, this did enhance many of the articles. I liked the one used for the ILM Turns 35 article which showed clips from many of the films ILM has created effects for.

With both of these I am sure this is because they were “new” and “shiny” I did miss a few of them, well I wasn’t looking for them. The same can be said for some of the images that could be swapped about.

It was useful that the App remembered where you had go to and you could (using a movie type scrubber) move quickly between different areas of the magazine.

The text was easy to read and many of the articles were quite interesting.

There were though issues with some aspects.

I didn’t like the navigation, sometimes you had to swipe left and right to move between pages and sometimes up and down to access more of an article. It wasn’t always clear where you would be going next. Having said that, the App was quite good at moving between portait and landscape mode.

My main issue was the quantity of advertising. Yes I know it’s a magazine, but two adverts between each page of content! I paid £2.99 for this App and it’s also advertising supported. A very few adverts had interactivity, others were just typical magazine adverts. Note that they were all US based so most were not relevant.

Upon reflection I was quite impressed and enjoyed the reading experience. In many ways it was a similar experience to reading WIRED magazine, but the enhancements did add to the experience.

This is still very much old media trying to use new tools to sell a traditional old media type experience.

Was it worth £2.99? This I am less sure about. Though this issue of WIRED sold well, it will be interesting to see if the next issue sells just as well.

Update: link changed to reflect current offering in App Store.

What do you use your computer for?

Last week Apple released a new version of their Mac Pro with the eight core model available from £2,499 which if you add a few options as I did can be as expensive as £8,259!!! This would be one fast machine, with 16GB of RAM, 4TB of raw storage and two 30″ screens!

So if you were going to buy one what would you use it for? Such a beasty would be perfect for graphic manipulation, video editing, video encoding.

Hold on.

How often do you do that?

Not that often?

Wouldn’t an iMac be a better choice? You can get a 20″ iMac for £949.


Do you do any video or audio editing? Do you manipulate images much on your computer?

What do you use your computer for?

A bit of word processing, checking e-mail, Twitter, Facebook and Jaiku…

A simple netbook would probably be the answer, spending £199 rather than £8000!

Of course I am not alone thinking like this, Wired has a wonderful article on the rise of the netbook.

The Wired article reminds us:

When Asustek launched the Eee PC in fall 2007, it sold out the entire 350,000-unit inventory in a few months. Eee PCs weren’t bought by people in poor countries but by middle-class consumers in western Europe and the US, people who wanted a second laptop to carry in a handbag for peeking at YouTube or Facebook wherever they were. Soon the major PC brands—Dell, HP, Lenovo—were scrambling to catch up.

The article goes on…

Most of the time, we do almost nothing. Our most common tasks—email, Web surfing, watching streamed videos—require very little processing power. Only a few people, like graphic designers and hardcore gamers, actually need heavy-duty hardware.

At the end of the day most of us, most of our learners do not need a powerful computer, we need something that allows us to do word processing (or blogging), e-mail, social networking, watching a web video, and general web surfing.

Though I suspect most e-learning people have a netbook as their second (or third) computer.

What do you use your computer for?

Thanks to Andy Black for blogging about the Wired article.

Last November we recorded a podcast on the impact of the Asus EeePC and other netbooks and you might want to listen to that.

Photo source.

So are we seeing the death throes of blogging?

So is blogging dead, is it no more?

Will Facebook, Twitter, Jaiku mean that people will no longer blog.

A Wired article says

Thinking about launching your own blog? Here’s some friendly advice: Don’t. And if you’ve already got one, pull the plug.

Following on from the article in Wired on the death of blogging, there has been much discussion on Twitter about the article and the subsequent piece on the Today programme on Radio 4 and Rory Cellan-Jones’ blog entry.

So here I am blogging about the death of blogging?

What do you think?

Personally I think that Facebook, Twitter, Jaiku and other services have in many ways supplanted and replaced the personal blog, you know the kind that talk about family gatherings, taking the dog for a walk, going to the pub, what I did on my holiday kind of thing.

Where I think there is still room for blogging is the more in-depth articles, technical, reflective, opinion pieces.

In the same way that radio did not kill newspapers, and television did not kill radio, and the internet did not kill television. Blogging will not be killed by Twitter, Twitter won’t kill blogging in the same way it won’t kill e-mail or instant messaging.

It’s just another tool that allows you to communicate and learn in ways in which it isn’t possible via blogging and e-mail.

I see e-mail as one to one communication, blogging as one to many, whilst Twitter and Jaiku is much more a many to many form of communication.

I still read newspapers, I still listen to the Today programme on Radio 4, I watch BBC News on the TV, I look at the websites of traditional broadcast media for news, I read and subscribe to blogs, and I also find out about news via Twitter.

Twitter is just an additional tool or medium in which to communicate, share, collaborate and learn. Twitter hasn’t killed blogging it’s just another way of doing things.

What do you think?