Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What Will They Think of Next?

Today I was checking out ticket availability on Ticketmaster for tomorrow's football match between the Republic of Ireland and the Czech Republic (turns out I will not be finished work on time to go). Ticketmaster are experimenting with a neat new "Choose your seats with the interactive seat map!" tool which is still in beta. It lets you know what seats are available in each section of the ground so that you can book any of the free seats. Nothing new in this - theatres and cinemas have been doing this for a long time.

Click to enlarge.
Screen capture from Ticketmaster.ie.
But what's really cool is that they have included Facebook. If a Facebook user books a seat (and they agree to allow Ticketmaster to access their information) they will be flagged a Facebook user who has bought a seat - you can see who is sitting near you, or if any of your "friends" are in the ground. In the screen shot to the left I can see that there are 7 Facebook users in block 522. AND - you can see their seat numbers! So you can choose to sit near a "friend" (or not).

Down with this sort of thing!
Image link to feck-yeah-fatherted.tumblr.com.
But do we want "this sort of thing"? This is a clever use of Facebook, and no doubt we will be seeing lots more of it - before you know it there will be Facebook users all over the place. You can't even go to a football match to get away from it now! There's bound to be people "agin' it".

But I'm all for it - great use of technology. I'm not to worried about any privacy issues that might arise - think about it, you'll be at a football match with 40,000 other people. It doesn't get more public than that!

Monday, February 27, 2012

How Will Web Learning Stack Up?

Alan Jacobs, writing in The Atlantic, asks the question: MIT Online vs. Your Local College: How Will Web Learning Stack Up? This is a thoughtful article that poses the question at a time when more and more Colleges and Universities are making their courses available on-line for anyone to view. Excellent classes, but no course fees, and crucially - no certification. Will employers value such education?

Image link to Atomic Robotics.
Is a potential employee, who claims to have completed a free open course at MIT, better/same/worse than a graduate with a parchment representing a degree in their hand? 

Jacobs also questions whether current practice of "universities that have sought an online presence have tended to put their best lecturers online -- the people with the most dynamic personal presences" is wise. Are we going to get the best teachers all the time? If a lecturer or teacher is crap in the classroom, they'll likely be crap on-line too? Will people learn from on-line lectures? The National Training Laboratories in Bethel, Maine, state that average student retention rates for lectures is just 5% after 24 hours. Unless you take notes and revise, you will forget 95% of what you hear! This may be true in the on-line environment too?

However, I do think the day will come when students will be able to take modules from different locations on-line - and get accreditation for it. Imagine a degree programme today with 30 modules all delivered in the same College changing to 30 modules from 30 of the best teachers from the 30 best Universities?

Potentially - 30 people could teach every student in the world, for a computer science degree! Imagine that!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Singing in the Rain - Palace Theatre

Yesterday we brought my sister Kayo to the Palace Theatre in London to see the musical "Singing in the Rain" for her 50th, 40th, 30th, 21st birthday. This was of course made famous by Gene Kelly in the 1952 movie of the same name.

What a show! Fantastic dancing and singing throughout. Highlights were the wonderful ends to both the first act and the show. Real water falling onto the stage made for a wet dancing sequence - the first few rows got splashed. Great performances all around - especially from Adam Cooper as Don Lockwood (the role made famous by Gene Kelly). Kayo loved the evening and it was great for me to see her enjoying the show so much. 

As a flavour for what we saw - check out the following official trailer on YouTube:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Chelsea 3 Bolton Wanderers 0

Saturday in London and what better way to spend the afternoon than going to the pub for a few scoops and then going to a football match with my brother Brian and Chris F. Today I went to see only my second ever Premier League game in England - Chelsea against Bolton at Stamford Bridge. Before the game we had a few beers in a local pub called The Pelican. We had been refused entry to another pub closer to the ground because our match tickets were not for "Home" supporters. Nevertheless we enjoyed our beer in The Pelican before heading up to the game.

First half, which ended 0-0, was a bit boring. Not much happening, and the crowd were also quiet. We were with the Bolton fans - awkward for Brian and Chris who are both Chelsea fans. It's impossible not to take sides at a football match and I was impressed by both Brian and Chris's ability to stay quite each time Chelsea scored in an easy 3-0 win. For a day we were Bolton fans - a place I have never been.

Goals by Luiz, Drogba, and Lampard secured Chelsea's win. A highlight for us was seeing Torres coming on for the last 15 minutes or so during which he did very little. Best for Chelsea were Lampard, Essien, and Drogba. Bolton were outclassed and are surely bound for relegation on this form. 40,999 were at the game, which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


This evening I was quiz-master for Killiney Lions Club who were raising funds for a local school - in total the quiz raised just over €1,000. There were 15 tables, with the winning team scoring a brilliant 92/100 - a group of teachers who clearly found the quiz very easy. The lowest score was 42/100. I thought the quiz might have been a bit hard, but I think it hit the right mix of sport, gossip, history, geography, politics, and news.

Most people found round 2 to be the most difficult - here are the ten questions, see how you get on:

By what name is Great Britain Street in Dublin now known as?
In January 2005 a landmark was reached when a song called "One Night" became the 1,000th song to reach number one in the UK singles chart. Who was the singer?
Which two GAA clubs, one in Kerry and one in Dublin, are named after the same Archbishop?
In which song by The Beatles would you find the following lines?

In a couple of years they have built a home sweet home,
With a couple of kids running in the yard,
Of Desmond and Molly Jones
Name any one of actress Elizabeth Taylor's husbands OTHER THAN Richard Burton.
What part did Irish actor Devon Murray play in the "Harry Potter" series of movies?
How many pieces are there in total on a chequers (draughts) board?
What city is the capital of Peru?
Taraxacum is a large genus of flowering plants - by what common name do we know this better as?
In the human body, where would you find your Pituitary Gland?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My Author Page on Amazon

Today I discovered that book authors can set up their own Profile Pages on Amazon - so I did.

My (only) book - An Introduction to Business Systems Analysis, now has a Visit Amazon's Eugene O'Loughlin Page link to which I've added my photo, a short Bio, and my Twitter (@eoloughlin) feed. 

Interesting that Amazon allows this - of course I had to log on and authenticate that I am the author. This is a good idea in my view as it gives more information to potential buyers about book authors. Personalization of the web takes another step forward!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Over-coming tough times at College

In August 2009, I wrote about climbing a mountain and comparing the experience to life in College in my blog post Climbing a mountain - reflections on Croagh Patrick and going to College. In the post I described how I felt as I climbed the mountain and how I felt when I reached the top - I compared reaching the top to graduation.
An exhausted Eugene on top of
Croagh Patrick, August 2009.
What I really didn't articulate is how tough it can sometimes be to get to the top of the mountain. Nobody tells you that College is easy - if they do, they did not go to College themselves and you would be foolish to listen. Today - many Colleges are approaching half-way through the second semester. This is a tough time - it's still a long way to the end of the year, and it is also a long time since the semester 1 exams which can be forgotten very quickly. In NCI - this week is #4 - still along way to go. It is a particularly tough time for first year students who may be wondering if they made the correct decision to take the course they are on - suddenly, an "easier" course may have been a better choice?

Sure - there are tough times to overcome. A difficult lab, boring lectures, continuous assessment, deadlines, studying - all get in the way of shag week, rag week, and bag week (OK - I invented "bag week"), and a game of pool in the Student's Union (table football was my game).


...that's part of College - the lab that you haven't a clue what's going on, the lecture that is not in a language that you can understand, the class you missed because the bus was intercepted by aliens, the 5,000 word essay that you have to write by 5 o'clock tomorrow, the group project that your team-mates are wondering if you will contribute to, the "My parents know shit" feeling, the Java programme that just won't compile without errors, the file that you saved but can't find again, the calculation in Excel that just won't work 'cos Excel is stupid, the fecking dog that keeps eating your assignments, the fact that your friends in class seem to be breezing through everything, the lecturer who refuses to explain to you what next week's test is about (you missed the class when he/she already did this), the exam hint you missed 'cos you were late for class, the book you want from the library has ten other people in the queue ahead of you to borrow, the "Shit - I'm going to fail" moment, the "WTF was I thinking when I put Computer Science as my #1 CAO selection" moment. Nobody said it would be easy - it's not meant to be.
Image link to Sweet Caroline Blog.

But then there are the good days - you get your assignment in on time, suddenly Excel "understands" what you want to do, at last a Lecturer makes sense, the "Maybe Mom was right after all" moment, the smile and relief on your parents faces when you tell them you have passed your exams, you miss a lab but attendance wasn't taken that day, a lecturer gives you a hint for the exams, a class actually makes sense, the book is available, you understand what's going on, lab work is not so tough, the "maybe I got the CAO selection right" moment, the "WTF - I might pass this year" moment.

Another course or another option might look great right now, certainly easier. But is it the right thing for you? We all have to overcome tough things in life at some stage - just like climbing a mountain, there are easy bits and hard bits. There are no short cuts, and there is no way to the top without hard work.

Don't give up.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"Analytics users: We love you" - YouTube

Over the past couple of weeks, YouTube has been posting messages in the Analytics page about difficulties they are having with the processing of data. I have noticed that they have been up to a week behind in displaying data - they have always been at least a day, sometimes two, behind. This just shows that even YouTube, which has the power of Google behind it, is having difficulty processing the massive amounts of big data that are being accumulated by YouTube on a daily basis.

Here's today's message, and note in the chart the gap in the line for missing data:

Analytics users: We love you. We are just going through a bit of a rough patch. The missing data for the 13th will be restored shortly. It had some irregularities so we temporarily skipped it to get you the rest of your data faster. Thank you for your continued patience.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Interesting Post by George Siemens (@gsiemens)

Most of us know the feeling of not getting a job that we had applied for - especially not nice when you know you could have done the job very well and would have had a lot to offer. In Academia, you cannot hope to get anywhere unless you have a publication record - if another candidate has 100 peer reviewed journal publications, and you have only a handful, you have no chance - no matter how good a teacher you are.

George Siemens.
Image link to Jay Cross blog.
I have been "following" George Siemens for over 10 years - in fact I started when I was still with SmartForce. My first ever Skype call was with him! Last week, George wrote a very personal post Rejected: On being disappointed, sorta. This followed his unsuccessful bid to get a senior academic position in another College - he writes that a reason for his rejection was that his "profile doesn't include sufficient traditional peer-review journal publications". George has not been active in research publications, preferring instead "conference presentations, blogging, open courses, and interactions online" - I regard him as world-class at this. When I grow up I want to be like him!

As NCI is mostly a teaching College, I am not under any pressure to publish research papers in journals or anything else. My modest list of 18 publications (including Conference papers) is located here. I have no research papers in the pipeline, this is because I am not engaged in any research. I have not applied for any research funding for some time, even when I did, I was never successful. Like George Siemens - my focus is on the on-line environment and my two main activities - this blog, and my YouTube channel. These activities actually take up a lot of time, both inside and outside of work. Sadly - output like 800 posts on my blog, and over 800,000 viewers on my educational channel, does not count at all in Academia. I have heard in the past that the average number of readers of academic published papers is 2 (yes TWO). I'm certain that George Siemens has thousands of readers - so I hope he keeps this up rather than start to work on research papers that hardly anyone will read.

I have not applied for a job for some considerable time. In fact recently, I had to dig out my CV so that it could be included in a new programme development document at NCI. I once applied for a Lecturer in Computing position in my alma mater Trinity College. I got the rejection letter within two days of applying - no doubt screened out immediately as not suitable due to a very poor publication record. For the last job I applied for - a management position in an Institute of Technology, I actually made it to the final short list of three. Publications mattered not a jot - I lost out to another (who I know, and is doing a great job) who at the time did not have a PhD. Go figure.

As long as I can hang on to my position in NCI, I will not worry too much about peer-reviewed publications. But this lack of research activity will almost certainly prevent me from getting another academic position in another College where the measure of performance is the number of papers published - not teaching ability.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Dad on RTÉ's Mooney Show

On Thursday last my Dad Joe was a quiz contestant on the RTÉ Radio 1 Mooney Show which was broadcast live from Kilkenny. Before he got to answer the quiz, Derek Mooney and he had some banter during which Dad was persuaded to sing. He obliged with the first line of his favourite song "The Mountains of Mourne", for which he got a deserved great cheer. He was unlucky with some of the questions and didn't win - but he got a nice runners-up prize of a €150 voucher. The full radio show can be heard here, and the section with Dad is about 1 hour and 9 minutes after the start. 

Below I have extracted the 3 minute and 20 second section that features Dad. I did this simply by playing the podcast of the show and recording it (probably illegal) using Audacity through my microphone - hence the slightly poor sound quality. Dad's great sense of humour shines out - enjoy!

Friday, February 17, 2012

I Have a Harley - Come at me Bro!

Just heard about Facebook "meme" and that NCI "has" a meme page. Some funny stuff here - check it out. Perhaps this could take the place of feedback?

Anyway - there is a picture of me (Me Me?) on this Facebook page, I "liked" it earlier this evening. Fame at last?

I enjoy this ripping the piss - I make no secret of the fact that I am a Harley rider and I boast tell my new students about this as part of the introduction to new modules. Perhaps it is an effort to score some "cool" points with my students before I get boring with syllabus content.

Well done to the student who managed to take my Blog photo and paint out the background using transparency to put my mug shot on the image - must have being paying attention at multimedia class! This photo is also hanging in the College Boardroom as it is my "formal" photo for the Governing Body of the College.

I believe that "Come at me bro" is an expression from a TV programme called Jersey Shore - a programme I have never watched.

I genuine "LOL" moment!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Smurfit Business School, and eBay

Today I had the pleasure of being invited to speak at two events outside NCI. The first was at mid-day in the Smurfit Business School where I was invited to speak to a class of MSc students. The purpose was really about eliciting requirements - a key part of what a business analyst does. There were about 25 students in the class and they seemed to enjoy the lecture, and participated well in the tasks I set.

In the afternoon I visited eBay in Blanchardstown to take part in a video conference about business analysis. On-line were folks from Salt Lake City, Delhi, London, Prague, and Zurich - as well as about 15 analysts from eBay and Paypal. The role of the Business Analyst was a central theme to the conference.

Visiting eBay was exciting - they have such fantastic gear for video conferences. Smurfit have Apple TV boxes in their lecture theatres. How the other half lives.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

Public declarations of love are a bit naff - so I'll not do it here. St Valentine's Day (SVD) is named after a saint that nobody knows anything about - except that he was born on February 14th. According to Wikipedia, there were several St Valentines and that is is "uncertain whether the feast of that day celebrates only one saint or more saints of the same name".

Antique valentine's Card.
Image link to Wikipedia.
I think my most memorable SVD was the first one that I bought a card for someone (Roma!) in 1981. I had been preparing her with proclamations that I didn't believe in this shite, it was all invented by Hallmark, and sure it was just a racket to get us to spend money on cards, roses, and chocolates. I also probably felt that it was not a macho thing to do to be spouting declarations of love, though it was most likely that I was just too shy to do it.

My sister (Kayo) persuaded me that I should stop this nonsense and go and get her a card, roses, and go around to her place to give them to her. She was very persuasive and after some thought I went out and bought a card and a single red rose (all I could afford). At that time I had a Honda CD 175 with a carrier box on the back. I put the card in, but the rose wouldn't fit without breaking - so I left it at an angle and placed the lid of the box on top without shutting it fully. Feeling a bit of an eejit I headed off to Roma's flat. When I arrived, to my horror the card was gone - blown out of the partially opened box. The rose was still there. To this day Roma  jokes about the card blown away in the wind - thankfully she didn't dump me on the spot. I also hope that somebody picked up the card from the road and made good use of it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Towards a Future Higher Education Landscape

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) has published some new reports and announcements today that could potentially affect everybody in the higher education sector. The main headlines are that they want institutions to merge and for regional clusters to be set up. While there is no specific mention of the National College of Ireland, it is clear that the future for all third level colleges and universities, including NCI, will be different from what it will be now.

The Economist (1994) takes
a dim view of mergers.
Image link to Educated Nation.
Where does all this leave NCI? Well - the first thing is to respond to the HEA, they have given all colleges six months to come up with a plan. After this they will no doubt implement what they intended to do anyway. They have even gone so far as to suggest what some regional clusters should look like. They are warning that they will not continue to fund Colleges which fail to act. NCI has a unique mission in providing access to education in the city centre of Dublin - but this may not be enough to save us if what the HEA is saying is to be believed. We could end up merged with DCU or DIT, or be forced to go our separate way as a private College without state funding. Who knows? My own sense is that the College will exist for many years to come, but the landscape in which it resides may dramatically change.

From my own point of view, the mention of the word "merger" sends shivers down my spine. I have been though one before - SmartForce and SkillSoft in 2002, and it sucked. What was billed as a large company (SmartForce for whom I worked) taking over a small company (SkillSoft) ended up being the reverse. In 2002 I was a company man who wanted to stay in SmartForce for ever - leaving never entered my mind. But when the SkillSoft "executive team" took time off from their world tour (using a private jet) to speak to the SmartForce staff for 60 seconds in September 2002 - I knew it was time to leave and I did. One asshole person called "Checky" (not real name!) - even had the effrontery to tell us all how much he admired us and how great we were, right before jobs cuts were announced a few minutes later. If there are any ex-SmartForce folks reading this - sorry if I offend, but this was how I saw it. 

Mergers will not be easy - some people are "protected" by the Croke Park agreement (I am not). Closing down campuses and ending courses for efficiency and non-duplication reasons will cause trouble. Unions won't take this lying down, and there are a lot of people already worried for their jobs. Students shouldn't worry as they can be reassured by the last paragraph from the Letter to Presidents on National Strategy from the HEA:

We all share a common objective – a high quality higher education system that puts the interests of students first, meets their needs and the social and economic needs of the country.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A tough time for the Greeks

Though we are moaning a lot in this country about cutbacks, higher taxes, fat-cat salaries, emigration, and anything else we can think of, I'm instead thinking of the Greek people again today as their Parliament debates whether to accept the latest austerity package and bailout terms.

The Greek National Flag
(Image link to Wikipedia)
Much is being made of the role of Germany in the Greek crisis. A Greek newspapers has (unfairly) depicted Angela Merkel as a Nazi - see here for a look at an article and photo from the Washington Post about this. Nasty stuff! Equally, there are probably people in Germany wondering why they are paying to bail out the Greeks.

But it is the ordinary people of Greece who are suffering most in this fiasco. They are being made to pay for the grievous sins of their politicians and bankers - no wonder they are letting their anger out on the streets. I recall my first ever visit to Greece which was in late 2004 after the Athens Olympics and their football team had won the European Championship - they were on top of the world and I'm sure it was a great time to be Greek. While it must be tough to be Greek now, ordinary Greek people must never give up - they are a very resilient people who will rise again.

At Mass today there was a mention of the "Greeks" during the second reading:

Never do anything offensive to anyone - to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God; just as I try to be helpful to everyone at all times, not anxious for my own advantage but for the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved. (1 Corinthians 1O:31-11:1).

Think about it.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

My third iPhone

Got my new iPhone 4S today - it's my third iPhone! I have been looking forward to this for some time. On 22nd September 2008, I got my first one - a freebie from O2 (and of course I blogged about that here).

Apple iPhone 4S.
Image link to HotHardware.com.
I'm looking forward also to use the new features - particularly SIRI. My first effort was to try to write a text message by voice - I said "Text Message" and it played "Across the Universe" by The Beatles. Cool, but wrong! I then tried "Hey Jude" and it started Facetime with my home land line. Next I tried "Reminder - 10 o'clock, John" and it dialled my wife's niece Emma! Either this is a piece of crap or it doesn't understand a Carnew native? Work to do.

It is also a lot faster than the old iPhone 3GS that I have had for the last two years - I'm certain that Solitaire was a lot quicker.

Not much bother setting it up, but it was a bit of a drag waiting 15 minute to get through to O2 to activate the new SIM card that came with the new phone. Should have an on-line option to activate.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Clint Eastwood - always a hero to me

Actor Clint Eastwood has always been a favourite of mine - I even tried to copy him in his cowboy with no name days as I smoked some long thin cigars like he did. I must has seen every film he starred in - Hang 'Em High being my favourite.

Image link to HollywoodYesterday.com.
My favourite Super Bowl ad this year has to be Eastwood's “Halftime in America” ad for Chrysler - it has received a lot of press. Yes - it is easy to see the political overtones. Detroit's auto industry saved by President Obama's bailout, and the fact that Obama is seeking a second term (half time for him). It is definitely "half time" in America, later this year Americans will decide in one of democracy's greatest moments who will be President for the second half.

But I love this ad for Eastwood's voice - there should be a preservation order put on it. There is passion, aggression, toughness, re-assurance, common-sense, and hope in his voice. The script-writer here should write speeches for Obama's re-election.

Judge for yourself:

Monday, February 06, 2012

I haven't a clue if lecturers are doing their jobs, says minister

Barry Duggan writing in yesterday's Sunday Independent reports that Education Minister Ruairi Quinn says I haven't a clue if lecturers are doing their jobs. Well I have a simple answer to that - why doesn't the Minister find out?

Image link to www.ruairiquinn.ie.
Minister Quinn, speaking in the University of Limerick, told students that it was "solely up to them to evaluate those who are paid to educate third-level students and provide feedback on their performances". I don't agree 100% with this. Student evaluation of lecturers is a vital part of performance measurement - but only a part. I have had spectacularly high ratings in the past, only to discover that only a small fraction of the class completed the evaluation survey. If only 5 students out of 50 respond - how useful is this as a measure of performance? (Students who are reading this - make sure you fill out the evaluation forms - we do pay attention!).

So how can the Minister discover if "lecturers are doing their jobs"? First - student feedback should continue to  be included - though I do feel that this should be more regulated and maybe even made compulsory, or only counts if a certain minimum percentage responds. Secondly - I believe (like the minister) that there is a responsibility on third-level College management to find a way to measure performance. The Minister refers to "anecdotal evidence" that would continue "to emerge" unless Colleges implement a "structured alternative". Anecdotal evidence is not enough, and neither is it fair to lecturers - I'm certain that it is not beyond the capabilities of Colleges and the Department of Education to come up with a better way. What I would hate to see would be one College doing one thing and another taking a completely different approach. 

Research carried out by Gabedi Molefe (2010) of the Faculty of Management Sciences, Tshwane University of Technology, in South Africa (paper available here), shows that "a lecturer’s performance can be measured on the basis of seven performance dimensions". These measures (based on Robbins et al, 2007) are:
  1. Knowledge (subject knowledge)
  2. Testing (assessment) procedures
  3. Student-teacher relations
  4. Organisational skills
  5. Communication skills
  6. Subject relevance
  7. Utility of assignments.
Molefe concludes that these dimensions be used as a "guiding framework for development of policies and as an instrument for measuring performance of academic staff at universities". These measures should in turn take account of agreed "goals" and "workload considerations" of lecturers. It's only a suggestion, but maybe Molefe's ideas could form a starting point to satisfy the Ministers needs - otherwise he should lay off lecturers!

Molefe, G.N. (2010). Performance measurement dimensions for lecturers at selected universities: An international perspective. SA Journal of Human Resource Management/SA Tydskrif vir Menslikehulpbronbestuur, 8(1), Art. #243, 13 pages. DOI: 10.4102/sajhrm.v8i1.243

Robbins, S.P., Odendaal, A., & Roodt, G. (2007). Organisational Behaviour – Global and South African Perspective. South Africa: Pearson Education.

Friday, February 03, 2012

The Jennifer Burke Award 2012

The call for nominations for the 2012 Jennifer Burke Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning is now open. The award is in memory of Jennifer Burke who the Irish Learning Technology Community lost in June 2007. I was a finalist last year, but sadly did not win. The award is co-sponsored by DCU and ILTA.

Jennifer Burke.
Image link.
I had great fun doing this last year and would thoroughly recommend that learning and teaching innovators from Ireland should consider nominating themselves or getting a nomination. The award is going from strength to strength and this year the finalists will get to show the learning technology community their innovation at the EdTech Conference which is being held at NUI Maynooth on 31st May/1st June. The call for papers for this conference is being issued in the next week or two.

There is so much innovation going on at all levels of education in Ireland and it is great that it is formerly recognised in memory of Jennifer.

Thursday, February 02, 2012


On Tuesday evening last Roma's hand bag was stolen from our kitchen - we were in the house at the time. We did not discover the theft until Wednesday morning - we had to cancel credit cards, get new keys to the house, new keys to Roma's business and set about getting new keys to Roma's car. At 2.00 on Wednesday morning our house alarm went off - this was before we knew the bag was stolen and thought perhaps it was our new cat that had set the alarm off.

A scumbag.
Image link to the Playing it safe blog.
Last evening the Gardaí called us with the news that they had the handbag - found about two miles away from our house. Nothing but cash stolen. But - we already had our house locks changed, Roma's business locks changed, and just in time prevented the locks on Roma's car being changed. Much expensive inconvenience thanks to the bag snatcher.

The expense has not stopped here. I intend to change the light at the side of the house to one of those sensor type lights, and may also change the gate so that it is more secure and less easy to get past.

Is there anything move suckish that the realization that some scumbag has broken into your house and violated your home? More security vigilance required.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

I wish I could do this - Professor quits Stanford to teach online

Nadine Arendse writes in the IT Web Innovations web site on Professor quits Stanford to teach online. Professor Sebastian Thrun appears to have given up a good position at Stanford to teach on-line at Udacity.com. Udacity is a free online university with a mission to “change the future of education” - now there's a novel thought?

Image link to udacity.com.
Nevertheless - the idea of a university education being provided on-line with the best possible lecturers and content being available is a very appealing idea. Who would not like each module to be delivered by an expert in a particular field who is also an excellent teacher. Better that your average College lecturer (like me)?

According to Arendse, Professor Thrun had an audience of 160,000 for a class on Artificial Intelligence, making use of 2,000 volunteers to translate the class into different languages. As Arendse also states - "Thrun also proudly pointed out that he was teaching more students than all the students of Stanford.

Professor Thrun is a lucky guy who can give up such a prestigious position as a lecturer in Stanford University to do this - I envy him. I'd love to expand my own YouTube channel to do more on-line teaching. The trouble is, I am too scared to give up my own position to do so - Thrun must have some money behind him.

Anyway- I wish this venture well, and I confidently expect that this will be the third-level version of the Khan Academy. Watch out for Udacity!