The Damned United

I’ve just come across the trailer for the film of David Peace’s book “The Damned United”, which was the most memorable book I read last summer. While the portrayal of Brian Clough in the book (and presumably in the film too) has provoked criticism in Derby, I’m certainly looking forward to seeing it, because if nothing else the book was a well written piece of fiction. Or fact. Or faction perhaps?

Clearing out the attic

A couple of years ago, before I got embroiled in the madness that is OU study, I rescued a Compukit UK101 off ebay for about £60 and painstakingly found the parts and re-learnt soldering to make it work properly again. I came across it in the attic again a couple of days ago and when I get a few moments, I’m going to see if it still works.

Three photographs of mine (taken after it had been restored) are below:

My UK 101, complete with 1970's Black and White Television

My UK 101, complete with 1970’s Black and White Television

Inside my UK 101 - the TV modulator and smoothing capacitor in the top right hand corner are 2007 replacements, along with some of the 2114 RAM chips below them

Inside my UK 101 – the TV modulator and smoothing capacitor in the top right hand corner are 2007 replacements, along with some of the 2114 RAM chips below them

The UK101 Character Set

The UK101 Character Set

ED209 – Week 5

I must say that I’m enjoying getting back to reading the course books after a frustrating couple of weeks struggling with TMA01. I’m still not very happy with my essay, but I’ve decided to put it aside for the next few days as there are still a couple of weeks or more to go before the deadline.

Chapter 4 is on early cognitive development and seems to start exploring this from the viewpoint of Piaget and then providing evidence to support or contradict his conclusions. It’s not the easiest chapter to read, but distilling it down into a set of notes based on each idea and the evidence that supports or contradicts it seems to work quite well. It’s one of those chapters that you hope a ‘how far does’ or a ‘to what extent’ question appears on the exam paper as there’s plenty of material to construct an answer from.

Last night I listened to the ‘Mind Changers’ audio band on Piaget and if nothing else, I now understand why the idea of sandpits, big sinks and letting children get on with playing as part of education that I experienced in the 70’s must have been such a shock to my parents who were brought up when rote learning was practiced in schools. Piaget comes across in the programme as being a rather isolated figure and quite sad in some ways. The undoubted insights he had into child development could have been much more quickly developed if perhaps he hadn’t had this obstinate streak of wanting to prove his initial ideas were completely right by demanding his assistants produce more and more data to support them and ignoring data that didn’t support these ideas. A genius, certainly, and comforting (to me!) to know that even he had flaws.

Notes here.

Garages – they just aren't, anymore

I needed some de-icer for our cars this afternoon and was too late to get to Asda before it shut. No problem, there’s a garage just down the road. With a shop. I could have bought a whole range of groceries, sweets, chocolate, valentine’s day cards (what kind of person buys valentine’s day cards from a petrol station?), cuddly toys … but no de-icer. In fact, the only car related stuff was half a shelf of oil and the type of air fresheners only taxi drivers would buy. So I tried the next garage – and a similar story. Probably three times the floor area of the other shop, fresh coffee on sale, vegetables, nappies, more valentine cards … and the same paltry half shelf of oil and a bottle of de-ionised water. No de-icer. “We don’t stock it pet”, the cashier said, “no call for it. Asda sell it cheaper than we can”. Sigh.

Sleepless in Madrid

I’ve had an enjoyable couple of days in Madrid with work and hopefully, a productive one too. My flight back is at 0630, which means I need to leave the hotel in Tres Cantos at about 0430 to be sure of catching it. Guess what – I can’t get to sleep! Too worried about missing it I think.

Update: 6 February, 4.10pm

I didn’t miss the flight – but it didn’t land at Stansted! We were on final approach with about 5 minutes to go before landing and the runway was shut due to snow and ice. It’s been a frustrating day travelling back from Gatwick instead. Full credit to Ryanair – they managed to get everyone onto buses and away from Gatwick back to Stansted within an hour of landing. Shame about the A14 once I’d picked my car up though – but the snowmen along the side of the dual carriageway were a sign that I could have been stuck there a lot longer.

Madrid and TMA1

Weather permitting, I’m off to Madrid in the morning for a couple of days to work with my colleagues at Software AG in Spain. While the weather seems not too bad here at the moment, it looks as if Madrid might be in for some snow over the next couple of days, so I’m hoping that it all works out somehow as I need to be back in time to finish off the first draft of my TMA before my tutorial on Saturday morning. Well, I don’t need to be – it’s just that I want to keep up with the schedule I’ve set myself. The essay doesn’t have to be in until the second week of March.

I’ve gone for the first option – writing an essay on how far social and cultural influences are recognised in theories of child development. I’d forgotten how painful I find essay writing – I seem to go through six or seven attempts before I get something I’m happy with and it’s taken me all week to get a not very good half essay so far. Maybe Madrid will inspire me – and if not, perhaps the tutorial on Saturday will!

More Credit Crunch Silliness

As of now, the DET website reports 374 hits on “credit crunch” through its search engine. This is up from 361 since the time I wrote my last post just a couple of days ago.

Today the credit crunch is good news for Forbidden Planet, who say its responsible for causing rising sales of comic books on the basis of – well – no evidence whatsoever.  A nice piece of free advertising on the back of sloppy journalists – well done to the manager, Simon Heldreich.

However, its bad news for Janet Jackson – who says that the nasty old crunch is responsible for her having to call off her tour of Japan in February. So, obviously nothing to do with poor marketing, inflated ticket prices or perhaps no-one being terribly interested in going to see her perform. Maybe someone ought to let Eric Clapton know – he’s putting extra dates on in Japan in February!

Spinning the Credit Crunch

The Derby Evening Telegraph website reported today that Severn Trent were warning their shareholders that revenues could be up to £25m lower because people and businesses were using less water “due to the credit crunch“. It seems to me that just about every piece of news is currently being linked back to the credit crunch, regardless of justification. Perhaps its because PR departments have realised that the best way of getting a journalist’s attention at the moment is to spin the story around the credit crunch, even if it’s not strictly justified. Anyway, a quick search of the DET website reveals that apparently:

The credit crunch is bad news for Folio Hotels – but at the same time good news for the management buyout team; good news for  lucky DET voucher winners – a credit crunch giveaway at Tesco; the cause of poor car maintenance according to MOTEK garage; more people wanting to become fork lift truck drivers and this year’s reason not to reward councillors properly for the work they do.

While there’s definitely tough times out there, it seems that pinning everything onto the credit crunch regardless of what it is and how tenuous the link is very much in fashion. I’m almost becoming nostalgic for the time when all good or bad news in the press credited its cause to rising house prices/rising oil prices/the inexorable rise of the Chinese economy …

The credit crunch – a boon to sloppy journalism everywhere.

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