Sunday, January 18, 2009

It was a sublime soup.

So after twittering my praise of the soup, and being asked for the recipe....

It had the magic ingredient of Nutmeg in it, which looks like an alien egg with the "yet to be Mace" outer red parts eerily spreading round the Nutmeg Seedpod.... I had not realised that Nutmeg and Mace were from the same seed pod! We live and learn.
(This was such a good photo, and as I couldn't find the creative commons sign I have simply linked you to see it on the owners Flickr site)

I asked SHHTD if she could send it to me, she ummed and ahhed, but as I was head down in my Lecture Prep, she relented! While juggling two dogs, AND cooking dinner, she typed out the following sublime Veggie Soup recipe.


25g butter
1 medium onion
225g potatoes peeled and sliced
110g parsnips peeled and sliced
110g carrots peeled and sliced
50g cabbage sliced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ teaspoon dried mixed herbs
freshly grated nutmeg to taste < The secret sauce!!!
1.2 litres vegetable stock
salt and pepper


Small leek chopped into 5 cm strips and fried in 25g butter

Melt butter and fry all veg gently for 10mins in a covered saucepan. Add herbs, nutmeg, parsley and stock and cover and simmer for 30 mins. Liquidise and season to taste. Fry leek in butter until crisp.
Serve hot soup garnished with the leek.

This feels like one I could do! :-)


The bad news was that in the juggling; the milk sauce boiled over and Wilf did what he always does at this stage of his potty training when he is not getting what to him is the required amount of attention. (He finds he always gets attention straight away!!)
And as both dogs and humans agree: Any attention is Good attention!!

So it would have been churlish of me not to wrap a Blog round the recipe and launch it into the Blogosphere....

Back to Lecture Tweaking!! Oh yes, and Course Work Prep
This is not going to be one of those EASY Modules that you can get a pass mark on by simply turning up for the Revision Lecture.... No! Dear reader, I am not being CRUEL!

My attitude is that these are some very capable and motivated young adults with a thirst for learning. I do not want to disappoint them!

The size of the ball shows the amount of time spent on my ULearn site, the higher the ball shows the number of visits to the site. There are a number of students at the end of the graph with no balls, as they spent no time during no visits. My initial analysis is showing that I have some highly motivated students, some reasonably motivated students and some who have not yet woken. However term has not yet started. Starts tomorrow apparently, so I should probably give some of them the benefit of the doubt perhaps they just have the right balance in their work and play life.

Perhaps they will kick into gear during the week just before my lecture.

PS Wish me luck the nerves are starting!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

"Rag and Bone 2.0"

or The Wonders, Pleasures and Frustrations of FreeCycling

The Wonders
Some of you may not be aware of this underground phenomena called FreeCycling, let me explain:

The person with the unwanted "Whatever" puts a notice on a FreeCycle Page in the form
OFFERED: "Whatever", Location this is then emailed to all those subscribing to the page. At this point a slew of emails are sent winging there way to the inbox of the one who just Offered the "Whatever", resulting in an electronic form of the Scrummage, which involves making your email most likely to be selected. Here the risky bit occurs, the Offerer selects the winning email and sends them the address to come and pick up the "Whatever". You have No Idea who you are inviting to your home.

Please think twice, if you're a single lass, before offering unused thongs on FreeCycle!

A real example of ill considered FreeCycle usage was the person I spotted last week who posted "WANTED: Free Shredding of Confidential Waste"!

When the item has been collected one simply posts an update notice:
"TAKEN: "Whatever" and the cycle is complete.

A less effective form of FreeCycling, is the Wanted form: here individuals with the need post WANTED: "Whatever" this requires avid FreeCyclers who have the unwanted Whatever to be checking their email or the FreeCycle page for these WANTED posts and then emailing the individual concerned. Rarely happens from my experience, I am still waiting for those Unwanted Rhubarb Forcers to come my way! OK So I might have tried for something a little rare to start with.

From initial evaluation I expected that the whole cycle would be powered by two basic drives "Need to be Tidy" and "Simple Greed". In fact, the well-kempt, middle class folks that are picking up my "Whatevers" don't feel at all greedy, confusingly they feel Charitable??... I was expecting Steptoe and Son, I got Mrs BOUQUET! For example our theory on the extremely well dressed lady, who came direct from Church, to pick up the Electric Pop Corn Maker, is that she got it for the Youth Group she helps run. So we felt really good about having thrown in the huge, (well I say huge, and it was half empty) jar of unused popcorn.

The fella who came to pick up the uplighter was a Greenie, if ever I've see one! Clearly he came to ensure the re-use of the offending "Whatever". The audible street cry of "Rag and Bone!" of my youth has been replaced by the electronic cry of OFFERED: "Whatever", Location. The Rag and Bone men have been replaced by an altogether more upmarket lot!

So my drive to be organised has opened my eyes to the wonders of a whole new world, a world of Charity and Environmental Re-Use.

The Pleasures

Surprisingly I suspect FreeCycling gives you a warm glow however you participate in it. I used to get my pleasures from putting the "Whatevers" in the bin or taking them to the tip, creating a sense of cathartic freedom that was close to sublime. Imagine that same sense but without the effort, its feels nearly sinfull, but so clearly isn't. They come and take the unwanted "Whatevers" away for you! So actually, the real drive of Freecycling is my Laziness and their sense of Charity and Environmentalism. ((Darn That means it is sinfull, for SLOTH is a Sin!)) Whatever the drives are, the result feels REALLY GOOD and I can see more of my Shed floor than I have in ages! What other unwanted "Whatevers" can I find to offer? SWHTD has spotted an issue, she has warned me that I might start offering things that we want, it won't be long before she demands sign-off on the things that can I offer. I haven't plucked up the courage of offering Designer Handbags quite yet but the thought of it feels SOOO GOOOD! (Whoa... wait a minute, that will make space in the Wardrobe for her to buy more..... BAD IDEA!)

As an aside: I bet Freecycling peaks in January, February, and March as the urge to Spring Clean strikes. I was wrong! Data shows that in Indianapolis the peak months are January and July, and in Guildford August and November, go figure!

The Frustrations
I have tried to claim four "OFFERED:Whatever"s, but experienced an interesting phenomena, what would you call it?... "Quick Grabs" and so I got now-where, which was a little frustrating. Clearly I need some ointment!?. There are clearly FreeCycle Professionals out there that go in FAST and I mean very fast and grab the "Whatever"s at light speed. The Antique Sowing Machine disappeared so quick it made my head spin, and just so you know I was trying I responded 5 Minutes after it was offered.

I have also experienced my first frustration as an Offerer,and that is the "No Show", where the person that had said they would be arriving to pick up the unwanted "Whatever" just doesn't! I suspect that there is another frustration waiting for me out there, which might be driven by the same mechanism as is driving my lack of Rhubarb Forcers. If one offers something that is so esoteric that no-one wants it! How devastating would that be.... Must make a note to only offer things that loads of people will want!!! It would be even worse than the Fridge still sitting on the deck waiting, the morning after the supposed collection date!

Friday, January 09, 2009

George: "Right Vision, Wrong Timeline!"

or.. Excuse Me?! Why are you proposing to waste my money?

When I read the book, the very idea that a video display could be used by the government to track citizens activities seemed like a fictional jump too far. I can remember thinking TV's can't do that!

An early rumour Gloucestershire Government Kite Flying?? I didn't respond then to such a silly idea.

Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt! The security services try and mold our readiness to be monitored wholesale. Don't get me wrong I am ALL for monitoring terrorists, and certainly agree that techniques need to be developed to ensure that we REALLY can.

Over the holidays, I had heard it was a possibility but having spent 30 seconds considering it, I realised that the Government wouldn't be that stupid! Just shows how stupid I was!

For, today Radio 4's Today program reported that the idea was progressing...

So lets take a look at the reason for doing this: "The Security of Citizens outweighs their right to Privacy". Assuming for the time being I accept that premise.

Taking the total emails sent":

Remove all the emails sent from Companies, as it won't be that simple to track down individual terrorists (and we are after terrorists, right?) from that deluge.

Realise that a nefarious individual (read terrorist) will simply move their communications to a place not being monitored, Twitter for example. "D Terrorist

Remove all emails that are sent from domains set up by individuals and then shared with others, just who are the people using the email domain? Good luck with that HMG!

Then add the fun of all the SPAM that needs to be pruned out!
Then realise that the large proportion of free email addresses do not simply connect to individuals.

The result is precious little security for the £12 Billion (one of the rumoured INITIAL costs), a predictable escalation in costs and more importantly in the rapid erosion of Privacy. If I was in the Security Services I'd want the £12 Billion applied more effectively.

If we want to get into the more technical details surrounding the possibility the ISP's will be requested to track the emails from the sending IP addresses; I suspect that the terrorists have heard of VPN. So there goes that idea! All that will be left is George's initial Vision: A Government spying on the daily lives of its normal citizens.


"What's that?"
"You mean you HAVE to because it is an EC Directive?"
"Oh! I see! Forget I said anything!"

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Needless to say someone thought it was very funny!!!

The start of the recent IT Crowd sent SWHTD into mild hysterics, she being so very proud of her total lack of any Social Media skills what-so-ever, and a nigh on phobic desire never to acquire any.

Darn embedding disabled by request

But at least you can watch it here...

at least for now!!! The rest of the program just built on the pain and humiliation.
I really do need to manage this Web 2.0 situation! No-one told me that the Social Media Space had an event horizon!!

Is there a FaceBook Anonymous yet?

Please someone "tweet" me when there is! Doh!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

In the past buying a Mac was a certain delight! (or Apple Loyalty RIP)

Back in the old days, Apple knew how to delight there Customers!
You got all you needed in the box. All the information, all the software, and most importantly all the cables! In short, every new Apple Box was a delight!

Having just purchased a new All Aluminium MacBook Pro, which is certainly a nice product. I was NOT delighted as there were NO CABLES IN THE BOX!

I reached for my trusty Apple Standard FireWire 400 cable to transfer the operating system from the previous device I was using, but no, our friends from Apple have decided to put in an alternate Firewire Connector. Namely the FireWire 800 and then not sell the cable on their website? Reason to be frustrated part 1!

But the REALLY annoying experience was when I went to connect to a projector. Apple have decided to create a special Mac proprietary port called the Mini DisplayPort, and then sell two cables on their website, one for VGA and the other for DVI. None of my prior Apple VGA cables would work! I have just purchased the the new cable with a sense of frustration and disappointment.

Yet another nail in the coffin of my Apple Loyalty.

I wonder if they think that we Apple Customers have an unbreakable bond of loyalty?
For it seems to me that they are continually coming up with ways of testing it!