Friday, September 28, 2007

more software >> more options >> learn less

I have thought a lot about the post I made about powerpoint a couple of days ago and realised that I am finding myself going backward in the use and application of software. a few years ago the functional skill of pupils reaching the end of KS3 was pretty good, in that they would know what was need to present information in a clear and concise way whether through the use of words or images.
there software knowledge was easily measurable and obvious.
I have just spent the morning teaching macromedia (well adobe now) fireworks, and the results to the untrained eye look pretty good, but the problem is the student don't really know why they are doing what they do.

it could be argued that it doesn't matter (if it looks right it is right) but I think it does, with every new piece of software and upgrade the thought process becomes less and the software create the answers for you so you don't have to think.
I have even go to the lengths of getting pupils to draw out how they want their finished work to look on paper before they touch a computer then they have to make the computer do what they want it to do, it makes it harder but the end result is better.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

surfing again >> contests

not that long ago I was on the very beaches that are now the centre for the worlds finest surfers competing in the world pro tour.
it is easy to forget now back in cornwall where we have a bit of swell due this weekend and a few of our own contests that the best competition surfers in the world are not that far away in France. have a look at the quicksilver web site if you visit the site in the day time you might even get to watch some of the last stages.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

powerpoint >> I have started using it again

I expect anyone who knows me will be very surprised that I have started using powerpoint as both something to teach as well as a tool for teaching (not that much).
for the last 3 or 4 years I have been getting new year 7 pupils to create presentations (& e-portfolio's) using dreamweaver and flash. this year however I went back to what I was doing a few years ago and to my surprise the level of pupil application knowledge was more limited than previous years.
I think that it is from using social networking sites like myspace, bebo, and the like as very little user input is required (templates are the norm). very few pupils even consider layout except if there is a wizard for them. I don't have a big problem with these sites as if nothing else the have broken down the fear factor of computer use with the under 18's.
going back to powerpoint has actually made pupils consider how to construct/design a good presentation as well as making sure that content is the most important thing of all.

poor content can never be dressed up to produce anything worthwhile what ever software application you use. one thing hasn't changed I really have a problem with custom animation I hate it, it doesn't make things better!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

indulgence >> the editors

I make no apology for my indulgence with this post. I have made rather too many trips to hospital in the last few months and more visits to come in the next weeks.

anyway for a while now I have found the music of the editors so good. (perhaps it's a little reminiscent of quality very early 80's stuff but that is a meant as praise) but this song especially becomes real when you arrive to park at the hospital only to see people standing in a tiny shelter in the rain all for a cigarette. not that I am saying people shouldn't have choices but simply the knowledge to make them.

enough, just enjoy the music (and the video) the editors are permanently on my mp3 player and on the car CD at the moment. I can really recommend their new album.

Monday, September 24, 2007

lo-fi creative >> surprisingly rare

it is not unusual for me to get email from people of of the blue as it were (I get loads everyday), especially as I run a the surf forecast and information web site surf98, we are in our tenth year online so the user base is reasonably big as well as loyal.
as I was checking through my email today for some reason a mail form anna at lo-fi creative caught my attention probably because the email mentioned design and surfing in the same sentence that is surprisingly rare!

even though I was kind of busy (trying to explain business practice and agenda writing to a very restless bunch of students) I thought I would have a look. I emailed back to say that a passion for surfing and design can only be a good thing.

I was so pleased that when I got some time to check the site I liked it and straight away decided to write this piece.

I have never met anna & they are not paying me to put this up. the first impression is enough for me to to get them on dgthekneelo, even perhaps put them on surf98 with a link through to the t-shirts you never know?

Friday, September 21, 2007

understanding in education >> accepting in education

I have just been trying to explain 'branding' to a group of year 9 students. they seemed to understand, but so much of their understanding in simply accepting. I showed the cadburys diary milk ad, to illustrate the way a brand can be sold using for want of a better word a 'gimmick' (a gorilla playing the drums) to be fair I have never been a fan of phil collins but I do like the advert, more to the point I like the idea of the advert.

the first time I watched it I was a little bemused & I liked that feeling. the group of students are not in the slightest bemused as they are so used to visual and audio flooding that they simply accepted it, never even trying to understand.

the advert works with a young audience as one student pointed out that after seeing the advert noticed that diary milk was on offer 2 for 1 at the local morrisons store. so her and her mum went out and bought some. so diary milk sales are increasing as are sales/downloads for phil collins. so a successful ad campaign.

I suppose they don't need to understand, & perhaps acceptance without question is simply part of their lives, I am just glad that it is not part of mine.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

half pipe >> in my garden

when I first started skateboarding in the early 70's as a teenager I never for one moment thought that now in my 40's that I would still be wanting to skate, I have even asked by son if he can source me some bits for a new skateboard!
of course my recreation/lifestyle of choice is surfing but skating is close, really because it is not so reliant on the weather. (though skateboarding in the rain isn't much fun).

I always said to myself when I get a house I will build a half pipe in the garden. I have a house but no half pipe. apart from the price I am sure my neighbours wouldn't like it, it would be a magnet for skaters to break into and skate at all times of the night so it isn't going to happen.

however some people have done it. the pictures below are of half pipes built in gardens one in scarborough, north yorkshire and one in brighton, sussex. I say good luck to them I wish I had the courage to do it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

candyjar >> & I don't want an iphone

I was having a look round cyber-land when I came across this blog dave ward (candy jar). as you may know I work a lot with adobe illustrator and to a much lesser extent adobe photoshop with the work I do with students and the web design work I do for educational stuff. the blog has got some pretty good help and information on both illustrator and photoshop short cuts, so could be very useful for some.

I am currently working on another major web re-design where some of the work can only be done on illustrator (well I cannot find anything that is better) but the strange thing is that all the work for is being done is on pc (well on a reasonably powerful pc laptop).
it does all the things I need I would prefer to use a macbook pro but it is not the cost but simply that the network at work is microsoft driven (oh well) so to use a mac would be difficult.

so I am not at all anti mac (or apple) but having said that I don't want an iphone, having found a phone that suits me just fine. so I will be staying with the blackberry I have on orange.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

japan >> wave pool

and I thought the local breaks on the north coast (that I try to avoid) were crowded but this video is just plan silly.
have a look and see what you think.
probably more dangerous though people peeing in the pool but it would be a lifeguarding nightmare!

Monday, September 17, 2007

dufy j. >> dufy r.

the swatch of fabric above is a design by raoul dufy the more famous older brother of the lesser known artist jean dufy. raoul is not really that well known as a fabric designer but he produced some fantastic textile designs as well as the paintings we all know.
must have been a very competitive, and productive artistic family.
I just love the idea that two members of the same family can be so successful in a competitive world. raoul work (and the way he used colour in textiles) has been special in my life and that is simple the reason I have posted this today. nothing wrong with a bit of indulgence.

Friday, September 14, 2007

beauty of technology >> architecture

I had a few moments today when I had the chance to just play on the internet for a while so I looked at the pentagram blog, which led me to the glass house. which then led me on to looking at arts & architecture.

I have always thought that I was a architect that never happened probably because I was never quite ready to try or because the lure of the textile/fashion world in the 80's was too strong but it never happened.

however for a long time I have referred in my design work as far as thinking and imagery to architecture especial from the 40's to the 60's. I am sure for some of you this is nothing new but to be able to simply open a .pdf file and have in front of me drawings from a magazine in this case (arts & architecture) as I have included below. It is still a novelty to me.

even though I spend all my working time on front of a screen so often I can't see the most obvious things any way I thought I would share some of it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

lego >> films >> youtube

I have often checked stuff that the students I teach as well as what my own children look at on the internet as well as how they use it. it is for many reasons not just the obvious (their security).
I often get ideas for new ways of teaching ICT in the classroom, I nearly always find that the younger they are the more intuitive they are. perhaps it is because they are not being scared to try stuff without thinking things might go wrong with the 'expensive machine'.

the other day I was amazed to find that my normally busy, happy, sporty, easily distracted 9 year old was sitting silently at my computer totally absorbed. I had to see what was so good, he was watching lego films on youtube.
the good thing after I had managed to get him away from the computer he continued to play with his own lego even having a go at making his own films with improvised sets. I don't get cross now when I tread (barefoot it really hurts) on his lego all over the front room floor early in the morning. I am pleased with the creativity and the thinking behind making new stuff from created stuff.

obviously this film is not one of his but it I like it, give it a chance its really quite good.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

negative > positive > residuals

this is some of what I have been doing today. thought you would be interested!? I have been looking at the residuals from the exam result from the students I taught last academic year.the image below is not the actual data as that is confidential but a simple illustration.'

The term "residual" defines the fraction of variability which cannot be explained by a given model. Residuals should be inspected carefully when establishing models, since they give valuable hints on the fulfillment of model assumptions.'
Residuals are calculated by subtracting the model estimates from the actual data. The figure below shows the model and the data on the left, and the residuals on the right.
it is interesting honest!
I found out by doing a girl / boy split, that the girls did less well gaining high grades but were more consistent against expectations. whereas the boys consistently achieved above their target. on the whole results were good, but does this now mean I have to re-consider how I teach girls?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

silly signs

secret bunker?had to include this from the silly signs blog run by graham based in south africa. he has many more signs posted. some are really very amusing some perhaps are maybe a bit hard to believe but worth a look if you have a minute.

Monday, September 10, 2007

free runnning >> parkour

just watched on local TV that the worries about tombstoning (jumping in to the sea from harbour wall or cliffs) have now started to include the free runners in the local areas of the south west.
I absolutely agree that all safety must be considered and informed choices made, tombstoning kills & injures people every year in the south west of england.
but some of these free runners are pushing themselves successfully to met dangerous challenges. properly managed (to not damage any people or property, etc.) free running/parkour could/should be something to be proud of.
I remember the same things being said of skateboarding 30 years ago and surfing before that and I am sure the same was said of rock-climbing and mountaineering, but these seem to have been accepted into the main stream and are probably just as dangerous.

Friday, September 07, 2007

rugby world cup >> france

the rugby world cup starts tonight so I had to mention it. I have always liked rugby, my 9 year old plays for the local team down here, (properly because I am to old, too slow, too fat, and too injured to play any more) but he seems to like it, so I will continue to encourage him as long as he enjoys it.
with so many global events having a marketing and promotion strategy that leaves some of my students asking me why is so bad (london 2012 & the osaka world athletics, for example). at least I can say that I really genuinely like the logo.
shame I cant say the same about the england shirt it reminds me of the crystal place football shirt from the early 70's. but on current form and I hope I am wrong we won't be seeing england progressing to far.the organising committee logo is another good one, I even like the style of the map of all the stadiums being used. taken from the official web site. there must be something wrong I am normally more grumpy than this!

I will be watching the opening tonight in the hope that argentina do well against france, (though I secretly would like france to win the whole thing!)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

tent >> paper >> birkenstocks

it has been a difficult day not a bad day but a difficult one, so thought that I would be even more selfish than usual and post a picture taken whilst away that I like. it wasn't posed, more tripped over but easily could have been.
containing three current design favourites of mine. the tent a '1967 -2007 summer of love' special edition (I couldn't get a web link), le figaro (or as my 9 year old son said, it must have been the place the guardian got its ideas from), & a pair of birkenstocks yes predictable but so much nicer than the awful crocs footwear fashion that seems to have hit this summer especially in here cornwall.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

ticket to ride >> record attempt

Ticket to Ride a World record breaking wave in England? (written by will hayler)

With the sun shining and the summer surf trying, all was about to change on Polzeath beach on Sunday 2 September. Ticket to Ride ‘Worldwide Surfing Adventures’ working alongside Surf Up Surf school “the UK’s leading surf school” set about the final preparations to bring home a World Surfing Record to English Shores by breaking the world record for the most amount of surfers riding the same wave at the same time.

England has always had a record breaking history, however this record attempt was different, not only because of its nature but also because the same attempt would be taking place in 7 other countries across the world as part of an event called Earthwave ‘the global surfing challenge.’

“Nothing like this has ever been done before in England, and we are really pleased to bring surfing in England onto a world stage” said Linley Lewis (Co founder of Ticket to Ride).

Even with Mother Nature not in full support English spirits were reassuringly high; after all a world record attempt in surfing happening in England was something to get excited about. As the clouds rolled across the skyline, a sure sign that Summer, as we’ve tried to call it, was now swiftly departing. Final instructions were given and out they went to take it on.

With over 120 surfers taking part, money was raised to aid Surfers Against Sewage for their research into how global warming is affecting the environment and ultimately the waves we ride, it was clear that this day would be producing winners all the way through even if surfing conditions would make the world record officially standing at 43 hard beat.

Waves were ridden, cheers were loud, the question is, did we take the record? Having watched the video footage through, the finest attempt came on the lucky third wave, carrying 31 triumphant surfers all the way to beach.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

man bags >> & the uk

I seem to always be looking for the ultimate bag some thing that I can walk around shopping with, use for work and be able fit a laptop in. I have good duffs bag (below), as well as go to the beach with.

as you can imagine I have loads of different bags, messenger bags, rucksacks with 2 straps and with one strap.
but I also want a 'man bag' just to carry a phone and stuff (car keys, wallet, that sort of thing).
in mainland europe it is not unusual for men to have handbag style bags that accommodate all the stuff you need to go out with, the same bag in the uk seems to make me look incredibly camp! perhaps it's just me!!

anyway I found a great bag today made by eastpak smaller than a messenger bag but big enough to hold 'lots of stuff'. I wonder how long I will use it for?

Monday, September 03, 2007

independent >> skate stuff

I was in the city today and with a very small amount of time decided to quickly check a shop that very occasionally has clothes that I really like.
I was looking for work/smart trousers which I was pleased and lucky to find, but more than that I found a t-shirt. not much I know but it was an 'independent' t-shirt from the santa cruz, based company. I had to buy it as it brought back many happy days skateboarding I even spoke to gabes (my son) on the phone and told him about it. he skates all day every day if he can and he was excited about it too!

maybe it is a bit sad to like stuff like this but the way company's like independent, vans & bones have marketed their product to a world wide often difficult audience over the last 20-25 years plus I think has been fantastic. after all they are selling what is for many people just a toy, and merchandise around it!!