Friday, November 30, 2012

Two more Statistics videos

This week I have added two new videos to my YouTube Channel - these are based on the Chi-Square Test and the ANOVA test.

Chi-Square Tests (often referred to as Goodness of Fit) are used to compare the difference between expected and observed results. In the video below I outline this using dice. Each dice has six sides, so if it is a fair dice I would expect each number to show up 100 times if I rolled the dice 600 times - this is the expected value. When I actually conduct the experiment, and roll the dice 600 times, I count the observed results and use Chi-Square to compare if there is a significant difference between the observed and the expected data.

The second video is about Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). This is typically used to compare the means of three or more groups. ANOVA analyses variance between the different groups of data, and within each sample Excel needs the "Analysis Toolpak" which is a suite of statistics tools. In this case it will generate an ANOVA table and an F statistic with which we can test for significance using F-distribution tables.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How To... Calculate Student's t-Statistic in Excel 2010

Part of my Business Data Analysis (Statistics) class is to cover Student's t-Test. This is a test to figure out if there is a difference statistically between two samples. Excel has the "Analysis Toolpak" Add-In that can do the donkey work for you, though curiously it is not available by default and must be switched on. It took me a while to get the video right for this as there are quite a few different ways of doing the same thing.

In the video below I compare the means of two samples and determine that there is a difference statistically between them. The video was recorded using Snagit.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Why Kevin Myers is wrong about the Niall Mellon Township Trust

First - a declaration. I am married to the wonderful Roma who this year volunteered for the third year in a row for the Niall Mellon Township Trust building blitz. I have not done so myself. I don't know nor have never met Niall Mellon or Kevin Myers.

Niall Mellon and President of South Africa Jacob Zuma.
Image source: Niall Mellon Township Trust Flickr page.
I read Kevin Myers' article, "We're addicted to house building, but why indulge it in South Africa?" in yesterday's Irish Independent, and have come to the conclusion that he is talking through his arse. Myers rejects the idea that it is a good thing for hundreds of Irish people to go to South Africa and build houses for people who live in the township slums. Over 100,000 people have been housed by the NMTT, all who would still be living in cardboard huts if Myers had his way. 

The NMTT is a charity which raises money through its volunteers, but Myers rubbishes this (and shows off his prose writing skills at the same time), when he thunders "Just about all the grisly, patronising pieties that have bedevilled Irish life down the years are embodied in the Niall Mellon Trust" because of Ireland's "frenzied addiction" to building. He wonders why Africans can't build houses themselves (they haven't got the money Kevin), insults President Zuma by referring to his penis (not much NM can do about this), curiously refers to the number of white farmers and their wives "butchered in their homes" (NM not responsible for this either), and the number of unemployed people in the RSA (again, not much NM can do about this).

Kevin Myers is a bitter and grumpy old man, who clearly gets annoyed when other people try to do some good. He clearly was stuck for something to rant about yesterday and thought why not have a go at Niall Mellon. Myers should read the Parable of the Good Samaritan and see if he recognises himself in either of the first two people to pass the beaten traveller.

Judging by the comments on the article, a lot of NMTT volunteers disagree with Myers as well, one writes "unlike most of you begrudgers in Ireland sitting on your back sides doing nothing Niall Mellon actually did something which has proved extremely successful". Well said!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Graduation at NCI

Yesterday was Graduation Day at the National College of Ireland at the Convention Centre Dublin (CCD) and it was great to see former students dressed up in all their finery and academic gowns. The CCD is a super location for the ceremony which can be a bit stiff at times with all the Latin and formality, but it is one of my favourite occasions of the academic year.

Image source: gradireland.
Graduation comes at the end of a long road for most students. It is a proud day for all graduates as they accept their scrolls in front of their families. All have worked hard to get their degrees and diplomas, and to reach the end of this particular road on their life's journey. I wish all my former students the very best of luck with the rest of their lives, I am glad to report that almost all students I met yesterday had found jobs or were in postgraduate study.

Graduation Day is also a proud day too for all the staff of NCI. Seeing our students graduate makes me feel that the work we do is worthwhile, and that we live up to our Mission Statement:

To change lives through education.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Study - "Students prefer good lectures over the latest technology in class"

Now here's a report that I'm not sure I agree with: Léo Charbonneau, writing for the Canadian University Affairs website states that in a survey of "15,000 Quebec university students shows they’re “old school” when it comes to teaching technology". The full research study by Venkatesh and Fusaro is only available in French, so I can't delve into the detail.

A packed lecture theatre in Singapore.
Image source: Yahoo! Singapore News.
Charbonneau's article tells us that students "want to listen to a professor who’s engaging, who’s intellectually stimulating and who delivers the content to them". Lecturers on the other hand think that their students "feel more positive about their classroom learning experience if there are more interactive, discussion-oriented activities". This creates a dilemma as students and lecturer's perceptions are not the same on what the best way to learn is.

Most lecturers in the survey reported using some kind of technology in the classroom (presentation software being the most popular). I too use a lot of technology in the classroom - in fact when our network goes down or Moodle is unavailable, I am quite often stuck for what to do in the class. I feel students almost expect some kind of technology use in my classes, and I will not be dropping it in response to the above survey.

Of course there is a difference between "good lectures" and bad ones. I remember some excellent lecturers from my College days who did not need technology to make them better. As for some of the poorer lecturers that I've had - give me technology first any day!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Visit to Google Offices, Dublin

Yesterday evening I attended and event for NCI postgraduate students at the Google Docks building in Barrow St. It was a very interesting evening that was well attended by over 100 NCI graduate students. We were given ppresentations on how Google search works, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), AdSense, and AdWords. All very informative and delivered by people actually working on each project for Google, we were not given a sales pitch. It was nice to see that one presenter is an ex-student of NCI, while two otheres are current students. Surprisingly (to me), none of the five presenters was Irish.

Image source: Wikipedia.

I have heard a lot about the Google offices and they certainly are colourful and cool. It was 6.30 when I arrived and a lot of Googlers were leaving work for the day, I was stuck by the diversity of the (mostly young) employees as they were leaving - I'm certain this is a great place to work. I wished I was about 25 years younger so that I could have blended in a bit better.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Panis Angelicus

No - I have not gone mad and suddenly become a Latin scholar. Panis Angelicus (Bread of Angels) is one of the best known hymns/songs in Latin and our Church Choir performed this for the first time today. I was a bit nervous as there was just two men in today and though both of us are basses, we had to sing as tenors for part of the hymn. It's difficult to reach the high notes, but we managed to belt out a few lines, and we were pleased with our efforts. Quite how it sounded to the rest of the people in the church I do not know.

Count John McCormack was one of Ireland's most famous tenors during the 20th century, and he was particularly known for singing Panis Angelicus at the 1932 Eucharistic Congress held in Dublin. Below is a YouTube video with photos of him singing this song (there is about a minute lead in before the singing begins) - this is how it should be done:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I like Twitter, but....

Every morning while I am having a cup of tea and still trying to wake up I do three things on my iPad: I check personal email, the Irish Independent front page, and Twitter. I see what all the early risers in Ireland, such as @topgold and @brianmlucey are up too. I also listen to @morningireland on the radio, and like to see what is happening around the world with @storyful. 

Image Source:
However, I am not a very active person on Twitter. All my blog posts automatically go out on Twitter (Facebook and Linkedin too), so this creates at least some activity. Occasionally I re-tweet what others say. I also do not have Twitter on at work - it is quite addictive and very distracting.

There are many Twitter statistics available and I was interested to fine out that I am the 36,973,895th registered Twitter user out of a total (as I write) of 637.4 million Twitter users. This makes me on Twitter longer than 94.20% of all other Twitter users! This information is from

I have seen how some educators, such as Jane Hart, use Twitter for educational purposes and I would certainly like to explore some possibilities with this tool. Students also follow me and I (mostly) follow them back. There may be endless possibilities for using Twitter in third-level education, but its flaw is that to do this you also can't help seeing tweets from the likes of @stephenfry, @DustinOfficial, and @RossOCK!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Office 2013 - First Thoughts

I have just heard about Microsoft Office 2013 (I think this is the same as Office 365?) and checked out the video below to find out some more about the next generation of office tools. I use Office 2010 at work and Office 2007 at home - so I'd like to upgrade to 2013 if I can. The general theme seems to be to make "things" easier to do. I like that idea, because sometimes easy things are made difficult when there is no need to do so. I'll keep an eye on this and hope to get Office 2013 soonest.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2,000 Subscribers to Learn with Dr Eugene O'Loughlin YouTube Channel

Yesterday afternoon, my YouTube channel recorded a new landmark when Odeisk from Algeria brought the number of subscribers to the channel to 2,000. Once again I am astonished and humbled by this number of people who want to watch my educational videos, and I thank each and every one of the 2,000 people from all over the world who I hope get some value from the channel.

As I've mentioned before on this blog in relation to the views figure, 2,000 subscribers is way more than the number of students that I have taught here at the National College of Ireland since I joined the Faculty. This is a nice way to reach beyond the classroom in to the world outside NCI.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Roma in South Africa - @IrishTownship

Roma is with the Niall Mellon Township Trust's 2012 building blitz in Capetown, South Africa. It is her third occasion to volunteer and as you can see in the photo below she has already got into the swing of things! Yesterday she was helping out with roofing and ceilings - I must find some jobs like this for her when she gets home. More Grey Team photos on Facebook here.

You can see on the T-shirts some evidence of the great work that the Niall Mellon Township Trust has being doing - over 100,000 people housed in the 10 years since the Trust started its work. This is the last year the Trust is working in South Africa, next year I believe there is a plan to change to building schools in Kenya. 

Way to go Roma!!!

Careful with that Nail Gun, Roma!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Blood Donor Awards - @Giveblood_ie

On Friday evening Roma and I attended the Irish Blood Transfusion Service Awards ceremony at the Northbrook Crowne Plaza hotel in Santry where I received a gold drop to mark 50 blood donations. In all there were 166 people receiving this award - a process that took quite some time. We had a nice meal and got to meet some other donors from around the Dublin area. I look forward to the 100 donor ceremony in a few years time.

Yesterday I went down to see Mum and Dad in Ballingate and I thought it would be a nice idea to get a photo of myself with my Dad Joe and my brother Joe - both of whom have gold drops as well. Dad told me that he started to donate when his own father (PJ) got ill with leukaemia and needed many transfusions. The transfusions kept him alive for a lot longer than he would have done without them. Dad felt that he should "give something back" and kept up the blood donations for many years. He introduced both my brother and myself to donating blood.
You too can donate blood - visit for details. New donors are always made very welcome by the Transfusion Service staff. There is no longer a free bottle of stout, but you can get a nice cuppa and a delicious scone (plus some free pencils!!!).

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Obama Wins!

Congratulations to US President Barack Obama on his re-election victory today. I'm sure that most Irish people are pleased that he won, given that he is "one of us" from Moneygall!

Image source:
I watched the early results come in, but when I saw the exit polls for Florida, Ohio, and Virginia shading it towards Obama I felt that he had done enough to win and went to sleep. I was interested to see that the exit polls were a very good match for the actual outcomes (something we talked about when discussing sampling in Statistics class today).

Perhaps the most telling comment I heard of TV news this morning was an analyst on FOX News saying that Romney "ran out of white people to vote for him". The Republican Party must dump the Tea Party and right wing policies if they are to win back the middle ground. If Sarah Palin or Rick Santorum had been the Republican cancidate, Obama would have won by a land-slide. The next election in 2016 will be interesting as there will be no incumbent President. The choice of candidates will be important - the search is on for an African American woman with  Latino blood!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

America Chooses

Today is Election Day in the United States of America, when voters choose their President for the next four years. I have been following the campaign closely and am fascinated by how close the race is. I am also fascinated about how just a few so-called swing states will decide who wins the election.

Image source: Business Insider.
There is no doubt that if I was an American and had a vote that I would cast it in favour President Obama. While he has had a lot of difficulties with the economy, I feel that he is better for America, and the world, that he continue. My sense of Romney is that he talks tough, but that when/if he gets to the White House that he will find it impossible to create 12 million jobs and to do something about Iran's nuclear capabilities. I think Obama is less likely to plunge the world into the threat of nuclear hostilities by doing something stupid like attacking Iran.

A real feature of the campaign has been the negative advertising - both sides producing vicious tales of indecision and lies about their opponent. I'm not sure that I would like to see that in Irish elections, but it would make for a more interesting campaign. Expect to see respect and humility from both men once the outcome is decided.

Flaws and all - this is democracy at work. Obama proved in 2008 that you do not have to be rich to win the Presidency. Romney may be about to prove that money can't buy the Presidency. Whatever happens, who the next President will be is rightly decided by the people. 

Good luck to all Americans today, and that whoever you choose will be the inspiring President that not only America, but the World needs.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Hopify Obama and Me

Figma is a Facebook app that allows you to add your photo to the famous Hope-style photo of President Barack Obama. It's simple and fun to use - it's a great app to cut out background and is very ingenious in how it works. So I thought I'd publish the results of my "work"! Needless to say if I was American I'd be an Obama supporter...

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Some Good Advice from James Caan about Job Interviews

Looking for work and taking part in interviews is one of the toughest things I've ever had to do. I don't think I ever felt 100% happy with my performance and in many ways I didn't see too much difference between the last two successful job interviews I had (here in NCI in 2003, and in CBT Systems/SmartForce in 1989), and other interviews where I did not get the job. In my time I have been the interviewer on many occasions and have seen people perform great in the interview, as well as others who were dreadful.

James Caan (not the actor!) offers some tips and advice on job interviews, especially to graduates - I wish I had his advice when I finished College, I might be Professor of Zoology in a University by now? In the video below, Caan gives us "Two killer questions to close the deal on a job offer", and some other advice. 

His videos are a must for any graduate seeking employment.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Monkstown Pharmacy - 21 Years in Business

Congratulations to Roma and all the girls at Monkstown Pharmacy on reaching 21 years in business today. It seems like only yesterday when Roma told me she wanted to take over King's Chemist on Oliver Plunkett Road in Dún Laoghaire. She has built this into a great community pharmacy serving the people of Monkstown Farm and beyond. There are cup cakes and other goodies available in the Pharmacy today to help celebrate the occasion.

Roma looking good this morning outside Monkstown Pharmacy.
(How did that bike get in the photo?)