If brains were dynamite, you might just have enough to blow your nose.

Archive for the category “Education”

Badly Worded

Just now, my local authority (Central Bedfordshire council) tweeted this, which is hilariously badly-worded…


I replied, asking them if they meant that it was an event for underage drinking/drinkers, or if they meant it to be an event informing about (and/or preventing/reducing) underage drinking – as it certainly looked like the former.

In fairness, they then responded, and removed the original tweet.

But still, it made me laugh, picky and pedantic bastard that I am.



They then replaced that tweet with this one…


It really isn’t a good day for Central Beds’ social-media team. But it’s a very funny one for me…


School Internet Tracking

Interesting to see today that there are new proposals to monitor the internet usage of all school pupils, ‘to prevent radicalisation’. (Because yeah, of course that’ll work)

It’s interesting to me, because I’d thought that was in place already – certainly at least twenty years ago, Research Machines did a whole internet-monitoring and dubious-link-blocking system, and I’d kind-of assumed that was the de-facto standard for schools even now. Apparently not.

It was certainly one of the strangest temp/contract jobs I’ve ever had – I worked for RM for three months, and the job description was to spend that time finding dodgy sites, so they could be added to the blacklist, and RM’s firewalls would then block those sites from being seen.   So yes, the job was basically to look for porn. It was a challenge, honest. *cough* (Having looked, RM do still do ‘online safety’ stuff for schools, so I wonder why it’s not the standard. Maybe they’re priced themselves out of the market, or there’s just more companies that do it, and their market-share has shrunk. I dunno)

However, I don’t think it’ll be easy to do anything that will block the access now. There are too many routes – and any vaguely tech-savvy child will be able to go outside the school-enforced network on their own devices etc. Sure, you can lock a school-owned device (computer, iPad etc.) to the school network – but you can’t do the same for their own devices. On those, there’s always public wi-fi, and even ‘just’ the usual 3G/4G connection. And whatever internet access is available at home, and anywhere else.

Also, as with so much of this ‘monitoring’ crap, I’m sure it’ll only be of use once something has happened. There’s nothing that can proactively monitor these things, or flag up significant warnings beforehand. All the monitoring can do is provide a record, to say “This is what they looked at before they did something that brought them to our attention”, in true “locking the stable-door once the horse has bolted” style. As usual.

Job Envy

It’s not often that I get envious of someone else’s job – but over the last month there’s been one man on TV whose life I could envy deeply. That man is Giles Clark, a tiger expert based at the Australia Zoo in Queensland. (Which is the one founded by Steve Irwin, which explains a lot)

He’s been the subject – well, the human subject, at least – of the BBC series “Tigers about the House”, where he raised two Sumatran tiger cubs by hand in his own house.

The Australia Zoo’s tigers are all fully acclimatised to having humans around – which allows them to go for walks with their keepers and so on, as well as lots of enrichment and stimulus that simply doesn’t happen in most zoos around the world. It’s been quite a spectacular thing to see – particularly the tigers leaping into their huge pool (tigers love to swim) with the cameras right there with them – and yeah, decidedly envious.

Additionally, because they’re so acclimatised to people, it means the Zoo can also offer “Up-close experiences” with the tigers (and other animals) for a fee. All the money made from those experiences – as well as photo-opportunities and the like – goes towards tiger conservation projects, and the series included Clark’s trips out to Sumatra to see those projects as well, and be involved with them.

I’m not a great fan of zoos in general – I don’t like seeing animals in cages, regardless of the size of those cages – but recognise that they now have a massive use in keeping certain species from extinction. But if there’s got to be zoos, I’d far rather they were like this, providing so much more than just “animals in enclosures”.

But yes, definitely envious of that kind of job. It’s one of the very few times where I look and think “If I’d could go back now and re-do secondary school etc., knowing what I do now, that’s the kind of work I’d aim for”

For information:

Attention To Detail

While filling in my postal vote last night, I noticed this on the paperwork…


The red dot is added by me, just to highlight the error.

But really, how can I be assured that my local authority is capable of anything efficient when they can’t even get things right on a bloody envelope?

Displaying Ignorance

In my current workplace, there are a couple of people who seem to be almost proud of their general ignorance – which drives me crackers.

I don’t care if you don’t know something – even if it’s something simple – but don’t wear it as a badge of pride, for fuck’s sake. We’re an IT company, you should know at least how to Google stuff and find out – rather than broadcasting round the office that you don’t know (as per one recent example) what a mouth ulcer is.

The only thing that drives me more mental is when these people – so happy to show that they don’t know shit – then feel the need to talk bollocks about something other people in the office are discussing, even though they so blatantly know fuck-all about it. It’s funny in a way (and sad in many more) when they start spouting stuff that (again) a simple Google or Wikipedia page will tell you is wrong.

I don’t get why anyone would want to broadcast how little they know about something/anything. Sure, I will always say “I don’t know”, when I don’t, but that is usually followed with ” but I’ll find out”.  I know, I’m an info-geek, I want to know about stuff, and I know lots about a whole range of useless shit. I know that, and accept it about myself.

I realise other people aren’t like that, and I get it. What I don’t get is why, if you don’t know something, you don’t look it up online – in an IT company, don’t forget – rather than making yourself look/sound like a total ballbag to everyone in the company.

Changing Qualifications

It’s been announced today that OfQual has announced the finalised changes to GCSEs from 2015, with first exams in 2017. The changes will initially be for English language, English literature, and Maths – others will be announced later.

The key changes are :

  • Grading by numbers 9-1 rather than by the current letters A*-G
  • No more modular courses, instead full exams taken at the end of two years
  • Controlled assessments (coursework done under exam conditions) will be scrapped for most subjects

I think most of these are good, but the one that makes my brain bleed is about the changes to grading. I don’t care about it being numbers or letters, but why change the order of them? Until now, for decades, A has been the highest mark. Why would it now change to 9? That’s just counter-intuitive. When you think of ‘the best’, it’s usually “Number One” to be the best, not “Number Nine”.

Employers are used to that grading system, with A being the best. Changing that round is – I suspect – likely to cause more confusion than any other part of this revamped assessment.


One of the better explanations I’ve seen for using apostrophes and abbreviations. (And I didn’t write this originally, honest)

How to use apostrophes

Maybe if it were taught like this in schools, people would remember it better.

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