Wulf's Webden

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Friday 9 December 2016
by Wulf
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Forums and Studying

In all the four Open University modules I have undertaken so far, I have found the provided online discussion forums very useful. In some ways, these are better than being part of a face to face tutorial group on a more concentrated course because you can dip in and out, check your facts when you refer back to earlier discussions and take time to construct a reasoned and referenced argument. The last couple of modules (including the TU812 one I am presently studying) have had particularly thriving forums and I am sure this has been helped by frequent encouragements to use them in other parts of the course material.

The downside is that, if you check the forums at the start of your study session, they can easily take up all the available time and distract you from the other coursework you need to get on with. Sometimes though there is some synergy between those two things. I feel that I’m a little further behind than I’d like to be at the moment so I’m making an effort to up my pace a bit; I will feel more comfortable if I have covered all the ground indicated and had time to read more widely before I get to the point when I need to write my next assignment. Tonight though I was pleased to spot an opportunity to answer one of the exercises by copying and pasting a forum post I made yesterday.

If the course was a game of snakes and ladders, that was a little but welcome ladder!

Thursday 8 December 2016
by Wulf
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Speed Dial in Style

I am persisting with my Opera browser experiment. Most things work very well although a few don’t look quite right and I’ve still got the bulk of my bookmarks on Firefox which is now sharing the role of main browser. Firefox sometimes has a tendency to work the CPU quite hard and Opera seems better on that front, particularly in ‘battery saver’ mode.

One of the features of Opera is what they call ‘speed dial’ – effectively a page of large, pretty bookmarks. The trouble was that Opera was assigning the appearance automatically and it wasn’t as clear as I would have liked to distinguish between them. This morning, I did a little searching and turned up the relevant help page. It turns out that, when on a speed dial page, you can click the heart icon and select from a range of choices. There are some quirks – for example some pages automatically redirect to others so it can be hard to pin down the one you want to bookmark. Overall though, it is enough to keep me happy.

Wednesday 7 December 2016
by Wulf
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Paid Up

There are many Christmas traditions. One of them is going out for meals with colleagues and another of them is settling up the bill. Typically, a deposit has been paid but the balance remains so, towards the end of the meal, some has to break out the calculator, figure out how to divvy up the total and then collect and hand over the money. It can be awkward – what if you come up short or end up with an overly generous looking tip – and it also means each person ideally needs to bring enough money in suitably flexible denominations.

Today I joined the admin team from work at the Black Boy in Headington and, as well as excellent company and a decent meal, experienced a novel way of dealing with things – new to me, at least. We simply had to visit the till as we left and pay up the portion the pub had worked out (simply the balance plus a 10% gratuity), crossing our names off the list once done. I didn’t even have to use the money I’d got out last night apart from a small amount for the drink I’d bought on arrival as I could do it all – contactless – with my card.

Not everything about the future is good but this is one innovation I’m in favour of. It makes for a much fairer system, especially if some people want to pick from outside the set menu. Most people seemed to be using the contactless option, which is quick and easy. For a large party, it works very well, especially when some people need to slip off early while others want to stay and chat. Thumbs up.

Monday 5 December 2016
by Wulf
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BB Who?

The following video is worth watching with the sound on, otherwise you’ll miss the point:

You probably also need to know that the late BB King was a master of soulful blues playing while Yngwie Malmsteen, who you’ll hear, likes to go at a somewhat faster tempo. The anonymous compiler of this YouTube video (and many more doing similarly far-fetched mashups) goes by the moniker of Amazing Rare Footage.

Hats off for the video editing because, if you don’t know your guitarists, you’d probably be convinced that the big guy in the blue coat shreds like crazy!

Sunday 4 December 2016
by Wulf
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You can call me Al

Or anyone else. If you’ve tried to reach me by mobile, I’m finally back on the network. I don’t think I’ve got all the messages that were left for me during the week though so, if I haven’t replied, please try again.

It did take a lot longer than I expected. On Friday I called up as, the previous Friday I’d been told to expect my replacement SIM within 4-5 working days. That isn’t just me being impatient – now that mobile phones are often used as a second authentication factor for things like bank transactions, they have become much more valuable as it isn’t just the small amount of credit the chip holds that is potentially at risk. I was told it was due to arrive by 8pm that evening; it didn’t but finally dropped through the letter box yesterday morning.

Then it was a matter of getting it working. I was unclear if it had been pre-activated – it worked enough for me to set a SIM PIN but didn’t let me on the network. I waited a bit and then tried the activation link via the operator’s website and waited some more. Several hours later, I gave the phone another reboot and finally it sprang into life. Now I’m up and running again and, so far, still very impressed with the IMO Q phone, even if less so with the network.

Saturday 3 December 2016
by Wulf
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Dinner Done

Phew! An early Christmas dinner for seven sorted. Slow roasted leg of lamb cooked on celery with roast potatoes and parsnips, mashed celeriac, boiled carrots, steamed cabbage. Oh, and those pickled plums I made earlier this year. I want to make a lot more of those next year.

Time to rest!