Apparently today is “Learning at Work Day” organised by the campaign for Learning, as part of Adult Learners’ week. 

On our desks this morning, we found little “quiz sheets” to test our mathematical skills.  These involved such complicated mathematical problems as a join the connected statements question including “Breaks at work in one day = Lunch time plus tea breaks” and “Hours at work in a week = Hours worked per day times days worked per week” and many more questions I would be insulted by if I was taking my year-six SATs again.

This looks to be part of the same sort of government scheme / scam as the woeful business NVQ system whereby instead of teaching you better skills, they work out which skills you already have and give you a certificate accordingly.

Also included on this patronizing piece of bumpf are a few little whistful quotes that have absolutely no bearing on mathematics.  This one in particular stood out:

 “Today, be aware of how you are spending your 1,440 beautiful moments, and spend them wisely.”   -Anon

Is it really that advisable to put something like that on a piece of literature that is being disseminated among office workers? 

Additional Notes:

Adult learning always sounds much more fun than it is.


About a day after I posted my little mini-rant concerning 3D, I found the following article by Roger Ebert concerning the pitfalls of 3D. 

This is something that frustrates me a little, because he wrote this at least a week before I did and now it looks like I’ve just ripped off the argument of a much respected film critic and tried to pass it off as my own mangled and amalgamated opinion.

The very strange thing about the internet and how much content I burn through these days is that I can’t actually guarantee that isn’t the case.  Whereas I didn’t see the specific article (which is very good and worth a read and more succinct and better and superior to my own little post grumble grumble but I suppose he’s been doing it longer than me and hey I’m not being paid to do this and I know you didn’t ask for it either…/end_insecurity.babble) I have read other opinion pieces on the use of 3D technology that have probably taken cues from Roger Ebert.  These have then probably gone on to further shape my initial distrust and dislike of the whole thing, thus moulding it into a near carbon copy of someone elses opinion. 

If this is in fact the case, that’s a little frightening because that means I can very easily be brainwashed in to operating as part of some hive consciousness connected through broadband pipes.  Maybe I’m particularly weak in this way (which is something I have suspected for a long time) or maybe I’m just aware of it where others aren’t?

The alternative is that it’s just coincidence.  It’s not a ground breaking opinion and in fact doesn’t take much to come to similar conclusions.

 Additional Notes

I actually received a tiny bit of criticism from my readership (hello reader!) about my rant in that I really didn’t have anything positive to say.  I will reiterate however that I did thuroughly enjoy Avatar, which I saw in 3D.  I have seen it on DVD as well since and honestly it doesn’t lose much, but Avatar in 3D was very impressive.  I just suspect I would have been just as impressed if I’d seen it in the cinema in 2D instead.

As for why I was impressed by Avatar instead of joining legions of people decrying it as unoriginal and bad science fiction, that is a post for another day.  (Short version:  They’re wrong!  It is original!)




I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that I find lots of content concerning 3D films on the internet lately as it is after all a fairly hot topic that is buzzing around a lot, but I thought I’d share this feature from the BBC website.  

This does a bit more to explain how 3D films are made and gives some other interesting opinion snippets about what some of the professionals in the industry think about it.

Ok, that’s me done on 3D, I promise.  When I talk about Avatar, I will leave the 3D out of it.  If I carried on talking about 3D, I suppose you could say it would detract from the content…

"Coming soon! Something nobody wants and runs the risk of setting the medium of film back many decades!"

I’m not a luddite.  I’m not adverse to new technology.  I’m not opposed to the idea of change.  I’m not so naive as to think that things will always be the way they are and I’m not stupid enough to think that things should always stay the way they are.  I feel I need to qualify this statement before I make the following:  I hate films in 3D.

There are two major concerns that I have with 3D!!!! being incorporated into films:  the all time favourite double act, Time and Money.

Just to give a bit of background, to create a modern 3D effect in film (as opposed to the retro effect which required red/blue glasses), there appear to be two methods.  I’m not a massive film technophile and I’m feeling lazy on the research so this is going to be vague, but essentially the first way is to set up two cameras whilst filming in order to capture a depth of field.  The second way is to take a finished film into post production and separate out different layers and with the assistance of extensive rotoscoping, bring it together to create the depth of field illusion afterwards.*

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I have just seen the vapor trails of an argument concerning the value of fanfic that has flown around a corner of the internet quite recently.

Fan Fiction (Fanfic) is a curious beast. It is summed up nicely by wikipedia as “stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator.” Fanfic stories can be encouraged by the original creators or not but are very rarely accepted as canon.  You get different levels of quality in fanfic and different tones running from that which would be in keeping with the tone of the original piece  to comedic interpretations through to the exploration of… “romantic”…themes.

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This is something that a friend of mine has got us doing which is, in my humble opinion, great.

The rules are simple and the game is played over a long period of time via email. The first player writes two minutes (which is approximately two pages) of script involving two characters. The second player then starts something new with two new characters and writes two minutes of script but has to include the first two characters at some point in the background doing something in character. The third player then does the same but with the second player’s characters. This is repeated until you have run out of players.

We have  just started our game, and it’s highly manageable. Two pages isn’t that much but it is enough time to get an idea across, establish two characters, and get something to happen. More than anything else however, it is fantastic script writing practice.

I’ve had my turn, so maybe I’ll post the results if I get permission.

Additional Notes:

In fact, if you’re on task, you can establish whole films and multi-season TV shows in two minutes. Next time you watch something good on TV or see a decent film, pay careful attention to the first couple of minutes and see just how much they cross off in a short space of time. An example from the top of my head would be Serenity, which as soon as you get to the opening credits with director / producer names materializing on the screen and it starts moving through the ship, they manage to establish the seven major characters, the relationships between them and the situation they’re involved with in well under two minutes. Plus, it’s actually quite funny.