ED209 – Week 11 in progress

I’m still plodding through week 11 on Disturbed and Disturbing Behaviour. It’s taken several readings, plus two or three nights attempting to put some notes together, to turn it into something that makes sense to me. Judging by the activity on the FirstClass forums, I don’t think I’m the only one that’s finding the reading tough going at the moment. It’s somehow not quite as satisfying as the way in which DSE212 was presented. The chapters seem much more dense and many of them (like this one) don’t seem to have a logical structure to their narrative. They name drop academics and their research, without explaining the wider context. An example from book 2, chapter 2:

Many studies have suggested that disturbed/disturbing behaviour … can be related to difficulties in the relationship with their mothers … (Murray and Stein, 1991; Garver, 1997; Wakschlag and Hans, 1999; Halligan et al, 2004).

I’d much rather see one or two studies explained, than having four name-dropped without proper context. This isn’t the worst example on the course of this tendency – just the most recent that’s irritated me.

On balance however, it’s still an enjoyable and mind-stretching (mind-bending?) experience.

Now, if only the results of TMA01 would appear, I might finally figure out if I’m on the right track! It sounds like the OU have been having some difficulties with the eTMA system according to my tutor. If it’s anything like as poor (from the tutor’s side) as, say, the user experience provided to us humble students by the fOCUS II CD, then I understand why there are problems …

Reflections on The Damned United

I went to see the Damned United yesterday lunchtime, in a cinema in Derby. There were fewer than 20 of us in the auditorium (perhaps the later showings are better attended), but nonetheless, we were treated to a glorious trip down memory lane – albeit quite a few of the memories are obviously fictional (Clough begging Taylor to forgive him at the end of the film – I don’t think so!)

The interviews Clough gave to Austin Mitchell on Yorkshire Television bracket the film(*), and as the originals  are still available in the archives, they provide an anchor in reality for the story being told. The mixing of archive footage with the film is skillfully done and you leave feeling that the real villain of the piece was Don Revie, wonderfully played by that bloke off Star Trek.

It doesn’t bear much resemblance to David Peace’s novel, and the Clough we see here is far more sympathetically treated  than the portrayal in the book. But it’s still a fictional portrayal.

For people like me who were growing up in Derby around the time of Clough and Taylor’s exploits, it was great to see the Rams rising up the table to become champions of England. I doubt strongly that I’ll ever see that again in my lifetime, even with Nigel in charge!

And for a film set around football, it’s definitely not a film about football. Nostalgic, certainly, but it’s the relationships between the characters and how they develop that grips you from the beginning of the film to the end, where Clough is shown at Forest, ultimately successful, with Revie cast out into the outer darkness.

(*) The Calendar interview, “Goodbye Mr. Clough” was at the time of writing available on the itv.com website, though it appeared that you’d need to use Internet Explorer or Silverlight to view it. The people that run the site clearly don’t recognise that about 25% of the world doesn’t run the Windows/IE combination on their home computers. Whoever the itv.com webteam are, they need to go and read Jacob Nielsen’s books and articles on web usability; this one, paragraph 6, would be a good starting point.

ED209 – Week 10

I’ve just about finished week 10 now, with only the media kit left to do. That’s this evening’s task, after I’ve watched the first episode of The Apprentice, recorded from last night.

There’s a bit of local interest in this series, as there’s a contestant with a connection to Derby. However, if the comments on the Evening Telegraph’s website are anything to go by, he doesn’t seem to be garnering much local support. Personally, I wish him all the best; I can’t imagine it’s an easy process to go through. We all love Surrallan’s sidekicks in our house, especially the faces that Margaret pulls.

Back to week 10 – Parenting and Attachment. Of all of the chapters on the course so far, this is the closest in style and in content to those on DSE212. Most of the concepts felt pretty familiar, especially as one of the exam questions I answered on DSE212 was on attachment.

I found myself wanting more evidence that a type D (disorganised) SST attachment style really did exist, rather than simply being a convenient peg some researchers or policy wonks have invented to hang suggestions that it might indicate abusive or neglectful parents. And as fascinating and fruitful attachment theory is, I can’t help think that an SST that takes place over a few minutes won’t really show up all the complexities and changeability of an infant’s relationship with its parents.

The SST seems to be a pretty blunt instrument, and surely a more qualitative approach to research in this area would generate richer and more interesting data. Perhaps there will be something of that ilk later on in the course.

Mothering Sunday

A relaxing day – mostly!

It started off with me taking a photograph of the elephant in the corner of the room:

The elephant in the corner of the room
The elephant in the corner of the room

He’s not mine, but he keeps me company while I’m trying to write Open University notes and TMAs. I was simply playing with a new digital camera I brought back with me off my trip to New York a couple of weeks ago and at 7am this morning he was the only willing model I could find.

It was off to church with the rest of the family next, collecting my mother on the way. Followed by a fab Sunday lunch at Zest, probably the best restaurant in Derby at the moment.

I then took Emily out driving, so she can hopefully get through her test at the third time of asking in a few weeks. That was relaxing, until we nearly hit a bus, but disaster was averted at the last moment (my apologies to the driver and his non-existent passengers … we all have to learn, sometime!)

No sign of TMA1 being returned from my tutor yet (again, another reason it’s been a relaxing day), but I have managed to finish off the first half of TMA2 this evening.

Having 200 words for a definition seems like a lot, particularly when the first question is something like  ‘what does a correlation coefficient of 0.7 mean’, but when you try to explain it in the context of the course material the words get eaten up very quickly. I scrapped in just under with 194 words for that one and found the others equally challenging to squeeze in under the bar.

I’ve also started to work on the first chapter of book 2, on parenting and attachment, and have found the  notes I made for DSE212 on Lifespan Development a couple of years ago very useful to look back over.

Looks like it’s going to be a busy week at work – trips to Tewkesbury, Swansea, London, Warrington and Bracknell are all in the diary.

TMA2 and book 2 will be coming with me, but the elephant will be staying at home.

So farewell then, Sun Microsystems?

I was intrigued to hear the news today that IBM is rumoured to be in talks to take over Sun Microsystems. In one form or another, culminating in working for them for a short time last year, Sun has been a constant presence throughout my professional career. One of my very first tasks at PAFEC was to upgrade the port of our DOGS CAD system on SunOS 1.6 running on a Sun2 workstation(*). I also remember getting our first SparcStation 1, which ultimately signalled victory in the war between Sun and Apollo, with Apollo falling into the arms of Hewlett Packard in 1989. More recently of course, the Sun Software AG DIS has been remarkably successful for both Software AG and Sun in helping us to win business around the Government Gateway.

Regardless of whether the takeover happens, I wish all of my former colleagues at Sun all the best for the future. Sun has played, and continues to play a unique role with respect to innovation in the computer industry and it’s vital for the health of the sector that this continues, regardless of the ultimate owner.

(*) The Sun2 workstation in this picture is on the left. The right hand workstation is an ICL PERQ and, if I’m not very much mistaken, the black workstation in the middle is the ill-fated British designed and built Whitechapel MG-1. Getting a pen plotter driver to work on the MG-1 was the very first task I did for PAFEC after graduating from University in 1985!

ED209 – Week 8

Week 8, on first relationships, has been much more enjoyable than week 7, which was a huge relief. I was particularly struck by Klein’s object-relations theory from the realm of psychoanalytic theory and the conclusions she draws. The idea that a very young baby doesn’t experience whole objects, but instead regards them as part-objects is fascinating. Klein argues that the same object is experienced as a number of part-objects, some of which are ‘good’ (a nipple that gives milk) and some of which are ‘bad’ (a nipple that doesn’t give milk.) She contends that it is only later in the baby’s development (around 4 months of age) that they are able to put ‘wholly good’ part objects together with ‘wholly bad’ ones and realise that they are, in fact, the same object. It is this internal conflict/recognition which causes the baby to experience a ‘sense of loss’ for the first time – the ‘depressive position’. This experience forms the foundation for good relationships later on because we are able to deal with the idea that people are a mixture of ‘good’ and ‘bad’.

It’s fairly easy to criticise this on the basis of ‘where is the empirical evidence to support that this is what is really happening’ and others working in the psychoanalytic tradition (Stern) also criticises some of her assertions, for example, arguing that the ‘splitting’ of objects into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ parts is too complex a process for a very young infant to achieve.

After the dry tedium of chapter 6, this has been much more fun to think about.

This is the final week on book 1 (so only 3 more to go, plus the methods book and focus II and Safari and videos and audio …!)  Next is TMA2, which I’ve started to make some notes on already. And, joy of joys, it’s not an essay question!

TMA01 – Submitted!

Having finished off a draft of my first TMA a couple of weeks ago, it’s only been this evening that I’ve felt happy enough (strong enough?) to pick it up and make a few final revisions. I’m particularly pleased that I’ve changed one paragraph in the essay that just seemed to hang there, without it being connected into the rest of the argument I was trying to make. Having tried to get it right a couple of weeks ago and failing dismally, I think I managed to achieve the effect I wanted in about 20 minutes this evening! The tip that tutors give you about writing an essay, putting it aside for a few days, reviewing it and then submitting it seems to work well for me.

I still struggle with essays, partly I think because what’s needed for PR and journalistic purposes in some aspects of what I do at work is very different. In that case, what’s needed are a number of paragraphs that can stand alone from each other, so that a journalist can choose what to use/ what not to use in their articles. However, at least I have the assistance of an excellent agency at work; no-one has that luxury when writing essays on OU courses!

Differently to DSE212 (at least when I took it in 2007) is that all of the assignments are submitted using the OU’s eTMA system. Which, theoretically at any rate, would have given me until 23:59:59 on the 13th to send my essay in, rather than having to allow a couple of days for the Royal Mail to jump up and down on the envelope, bend it, and send it by Aberdeen and Penzance before arriving at my tutor’s house before the deadline. Well, I never did lose a TMA in the post, but a few people I met at summer school last year had had that kind of experience. But what eTMA does introduce to the process is the uncontrollable urge to log in to the OU website 27 times a day to see if your tutor has marked it. Technology is great at helping me find new ways of wasting my time …

ED209 – Week 7 – Yuk!

Please, please please … say that the chapter on ‘origins of development’ in book 1 is the last one like it on the course. It’s probably the most mind-numbingly dull part of an OU course text I’ve ever read. My notes probably reflect my impatience with it as well. I thought I understood most of this stuff before I started reading it and I’m now no longer sure that I do. Tedious, dry, boring. But mostly tedious.

Still, next week looks more interesting. I couldn’t resist skipping forwards a bit, particularly when the course forums were all a-buzz with talk of the ‘naughty’ word on page 271.

The remainder of this week will consist of a few more tweaks to TMA 1 and setting up various reminders to make sure I remember to submit it before the cut-off date on March 13th.

My twenty books meme

Thinking logically about the last post, it doesn’t really say that much about how widely (or otherwise) I’m read and what my real tastes are. There’s not that many science fiction or humorous books on either list, for example. So below (in no particular order,but grouping the same author together as it reflects my bookshelves) are 20 books I have, love and have probably read lots of times that aren’t on either of the ‘top 100’ lists from the previous post.

1. [x+] A Girl in the Head, J.G. Farrell
2. [x+] The Siege of Krishnapur, J.G. Farrell
3. [x+] The Singapore Grip, J.G. Farrell
4. [x+] Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis
5. [x+] Take a Girl Like You, Kingsley Amis
6. [x+] Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
7. [x+] The Rituals of Infinity, Michael Moorcock
8. [x+] Drop the Dead Donkey 2000, Andy Hamilton and Alistair Beaton
9. [x+] A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson
10. [x+] Down Under, Bill Bryson
11. [x+] 2001 A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke
12. [x+] A Fall of Moondust, Arthur C. Clarke
13. [x+] Red Shift, Alan Garner
14. [x+] High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
15. [x+] Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby
16. [x+] The Benn Diaries, Tony Benn
17. [x+] Brainstorms, Daniel Dennett
18. [x+] Earthsearch, James Follett
19. [x+] The Death of Grass, John Christopher
20. [x+] The Damned United, David Peace

100%! Can anyone else claim the same list?

100 books meme

Apparently the BBC(#) thinks most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here.

1) Look at the list and put an ‘x’ before those you have read.
2) Add a ‘+’ to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.
4) Tally your total.

How many have you read? Only 11/100 for me …

1. [ ] – The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. [ ] – Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. [ ] – His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. [x+ ] – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. [ ] – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. [ ] – To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. [ x] – Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. [x+ ] – Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. [ x] – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. [ ] – Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. [ x] – Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. [ ] – Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. [ ] – Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. [ ] – Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. [ ] – The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. [ ] – The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. [ ] – Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. [ ] – Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. [ x] – Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. [ ] – War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. [ ] – Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. [ ] – Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling
23. [ ] – Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. [ ] – Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. [ ] – The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. [ ] – Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. [ ] – Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. [ ] – A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. [ ] – The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. [ ] – Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. [ ] – The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. [ ] – One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. [ ] – The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. [ ] – David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. [ ] – Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. [ ] – Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. [ ] – A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. [ ] – Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. [ ] – Dune, Frank Herbert
40. [ ] – Emma, Jane Austen
41. [ ] – Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. [x ] – Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. [ ] – The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. [ ] – The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. [ ] – Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. [x+ ] – Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. [ ] – A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. [ ] – Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. [ ] – Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. [ ] – The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. [ ] – The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. [ ] – Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. [ ] – The Stand, Stephen King
54. [ ] – Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. [ ] – A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. [ ] – The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. [ ] – Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. [ ] – Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. [ ] – Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. [ ] – Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. [ ] – Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. [ ] – Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. [ ] – A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. [ ] – The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. [ ] – Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. [ ] – The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. [ ] – The Magus, John Fowles
68. [ ] – Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. [ ] – Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. [x+ ] – Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. [ ] – Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. [ ] – The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. [ ] – Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. [ ] – Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. [x ] – Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
76. [ ] – The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. [ ] – The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. [ ] – Ulysses, James Joyce
79. [ ] – Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. [ ] – Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. [ ] – The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. [ ] – I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. [ ] – Holes, Louis Sachar
84. [ ] – Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. [ ] – The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. [ ] – Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. [ x] – Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. [ ] – Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. [ ] – Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. [ ] – On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. [ ] – The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. [ ] – The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. [ ] – The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. [ ] – The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. [ ] – Katherine, Anya Seton
96. [ ] – Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. [ ] – Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. [ ] – Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. [ ] – The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. [ ] – Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

(#) … or do they? Here’s another one that claims to be a BBC list too – lots of controversy about both, by the looks of things. I do slightly better on this version – 18/100

1. [ ] Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2. [ ] The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3. [ ] Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4. [ ] Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5. [ ] To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6. [x]The Bible
7. [ ] Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8. [x+] Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9. [ ] His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10. [ ] Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11. [ ] Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12. [ ] Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13. [x] Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14. [ ] Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. [ ] Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16. [] The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17. [ ] Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18. [ ] Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19. [ ] The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20. [ ] Middlemarch – George Eliot
21. [ ] Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22. [ ] The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23. [ ] Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24. [ ] War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25. [x+] The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26. [ ] Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27. [ ] Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. [ ] Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29. [ ] Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30. [ ] The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31. [ ] Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32. [ ] David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33. [x] Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34. [ ] Emma – Jane Austen
35. [ ] Persuasion – Jane Austen
36. [x] The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37. [ ] The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38. [x] Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39. [ ] Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40. [x] Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41. [x+] Animal Farm – George Orwell
42. [x] The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43. [ ] One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. [ ] A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45. [ ] The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46. [ ] Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47. [ ] Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48. [ ] The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49. [x+] Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50. [ ] Atonement – Ian McEwan
51. [x+] Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52. [ ] Dune – Frank Herbert
53. [ ] Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54. [ ] Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55. [ ] A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56. [ ] The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. [ ] A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58. [x] Brave New World – Aldous Huley
59. [x+] The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60. [ ] Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. [ ] Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62. [ ] Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63. [ ] The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64. [ ] The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65. [ ] Count of Monte Cristo – Aleandre Dumas
66. [ ] On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67. [ ] Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68. [x] Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69. [ ] Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70. [ ] Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71. [ ] Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72. [x] Dracula – Bram Stoker
73. [ ] The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. [x+] Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75. [ ] Ulysses – James Joyce
76. [ ] The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77. [ ] Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78. [ ] Germinal – Emile Zola
79. [ ] Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80. [ ] Possession – AS Byatt
81. [ ] A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82. [ ] Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83. [ ] The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84. [ ] The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85. [ ] Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86. [ ] A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87. [ ] Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88. [ ] The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89. [ ] Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. [ ] The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91. [ ] Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92. [ ] The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Eupery
93. [ ] The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94. [x] Watership Down – Richard Adams
95. [ ] A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96. [ ] A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97. [ ] The Three Musketeers – Aleandre Dumas
98. [ ] Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99. [ ] Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100. [ ] Les Miserables – Victor Hugo