Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Summer time, and the blogging ain't easy

Now that the days are long and the weather is sometimes pleasant, I'm spending much less time reading blogs and no time at all writing mine.  Life seems to be full of better things to do.  I guess I'll get back into it in the Autumn!

Happy Birthday to me!

It was my birthday on Sunday (42 years on the planet).  As usual, I was asked what I wanted.  Usually I reply with an unintelligible mumble or a request for socks, but this year I decided to shoot for the stars.  I replied "a 12 string electric-acoustic guitar please!"

Much to my astonishment, this is exactly what I got!

guitar

Huge thanks to Libby and Fergus.  You can see a bigger picture of my lovely new Yamaha APX700 12 string here.  I've had an old Yamaha FG 180 6 string acoustic for 25 years and it has never let me down, so I like Yamaha guitars :)

After a while noodling with the new 12 string, I found myself playing around with finger picking, something I've never got into before.  It sounded fabulous, so I'm now working on a tab I downloaded of a song called "in the evening" in open d tuning. Yee hah varmint.  I think I may have to get into check shirts and start calling myself Bobby-Jay.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

More Microsoft FUD.. sigh!

So, Microsoft is now claiming that Open Source software and Linux infringe 253 of their patents. But it isn't saying which ones [UPDATE - it has described some broad areas, but not named specific patents]! Here in Europe we fortunately don't generally allow software patents (thanks to a spirited campaign in which I am proud to have taken part). In the US, however, surreal patents exist like Amazon having a patent on "1-click purchasing". Complete lunacy, but true.

Microsoft knows that it can't really pursue Open Source projects for patent infringements - mainly because it is itself infringing many patents owned by Open-Source-friendly companies like Novell and IBM (or at least we guess that it is - hard to be sure when the source code is a secret!).

Remember the bit in Austin Powers when Dr Evil, exasperated at the fact that all his evil plots have already taken place whilst he was frozen, says "sod it, let's do what we always do: steal a nuclear warhead and hold the world to ransom"? Can't you picture a similar scene at Microsoft, when it was made clear to the executives that taking Open Source to court for patent infringement was a non-starter? "Sod it, let's do what we always do: issue some vague and unsubstantiated threats and spread some fear, uncertainty and doubt."

The Open Source community has responded, by and large, with a sigh and a shrug of the shoulders, but Linus Torvalds has commented, and so too has Jonathan Schwartz from Sun in his blog.

This whole things saddens me, because you can be sure that at least some people will have been fooled by this latest move from Microsoft. Some people will have read the news reports and will now believe that Open Source is really stealing something that belongs to Microsoft. Open Source is a remarkable ray of hope in our cynical, market-driven times, and it deserves better. Please don't fall for Microsoft's big lie.

Scotedublogs misuse

I'm afraid that someone in South Korea is labouring under the misapprehension that putting encoded email messages into the tags of blogs at scotedublogs.org.uk will make something happen.  It doesn't make anything happen, apart from wiping the existing tags for the blog, and causing me to send an abuse report to the isp of said South Korean.

I've put some code in place to catch nonsense tags, and am going to restore the tags from a backup of the database, but it might be worth checking the record for your blog to see if the tags are looking OK.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Just The Facts About Online Youth Victimization

There's an interesting video here of this US conference about online teen victimization.  I haven't watched it all, but 43 minutes in there's an interesting dialogue about the importance or otherwise of remaining anonymous online.

Outdoor Maths

Today and tomorrow, the S1 cohort at North Berwick High School are all spending a couple of hours in groups working outdoors on some mathematical problem solving activities.  Today's sessions all went really well - thank to Liz Brookes for organizing the activities, and making it out to North Berwick despite car problems!  Liz took some photos, so hopefully I'll have something to post here tomorrow.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Revolution OS

Whilst we are still waiting for another installment of "Open Source for Beginners", check out Revolution OS - a great documentary about Open Source.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Open Source for Beginners - while you're waiting...

Part 3 of this series is taking me a long time to publish.  I've written 4 different drafts already, but can't quite get it right.  Meantime, imagine a day without Open Source...

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Tim O'Reilly Interview on Education and Web2.0

This interview is full of great, thought provoking stuff.  You'll need to listen yourself, but I particularly liked his response to a question about spending on technology in education.  He says something like "spending on educational technology is a bad idea [with some exceptions]... if there's one thing you could to do to make better experiences in education it's smaller class sizes -  more interaction with passionate adults who have time and ability to focus on kids."

Bad news for learning hubs?

Via Slashdot I spotted this  New York Times article: Seeing No Progress, Some Schools Drop Laptops. Not very cheery reading for the Learning Hubs team.

Or maybe it's just another reminder that "spray and pray" doesn't work.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Sailing

Last Friday I took a sailing dinghy out for the first time.  It was a pretty hairy experience, involving 4 capsizes.

Today I was out in a Laser, and I sailed single-handed around Craigleith (a wee island in the Firth of Forth).  I loved it - and we saw puffins and a couple of seal pups on our journey.  I should say that I was guided all the way around and back by Jane Robertson - thanks Jane!

As Jane said, we live in an amazing part of the world.