Thought for the Dazed

I've had to give up that Distance Learning course as I was having trouble seeing the teacher.

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Mini-Open Day


We had our first Open Day of the new admissions round today. Just a quiet affair with a few select guests. I was able to show off one of my latest toys (which will get its official debut tomorrow at C4DI) and make sure that I can still remember the introduction presentation. That went fine, although I did make the potentially career damaging mistake of completely forgetting the name of our new head of department. Who was there at the time.


This is our new Head of Department, Ken Hawick, handing over goods to the winner of our Open Day prize draw. There are no prizes at all for guessing what is in the box.

Thanks to those who turned up, hope you had a good journey back.


“Keep with next” with Word

I’ve been in the lab most of today marking First Year projects. One of the things that we ask the students to do is create a user manual for the program that they write. I reckon that the manual works best if it has headings that direct the reader to particular topics. But that can cause problems….


Sometimes the heading can end up at the bottom of the page, like the rather contrived example above. If you want to stop this happening, you can right click on the heading text (in the example above “Getting a copy of the notes”) and choose “Paragraph” from the menu that appears.


Then you can select “Keep with next” for the paragraph and this means that if you have a page break in the wrong place (as above) then the heading will follow the text over the page.

If you are entering program samples, or things that you don’t want to have split over page breaks you can also use the “Keep Lines Together” setting. If you add this behaviour to styles you can get your documents to lay themselves out automatically.


Micro-Talks and Mega-Bash

2013 Poster

We’ve got big plans for the Christmas Bash this year.

We thought it might be fun to do something more than just eat pizza, drink cola and play video games. So we have having some Micro-Talks. Then we are going to eat pizza, drink cola and play video games.

If you have done something shiny recently, contributed to a cool project, met someone influential or found a really neat thing everyone should know about then come and tell us all about it. Each speaker will be allowed 5 minutes, and a maximum of 4 PowerPoint slides, to talk about something or other. After this people can ask questions. The idea is to keep things short, sweet and interesting!

Struggling to think of something to talk about? Why not talk about:

  • An open source project you helped
  • A cool programming language or paradigm you’ve discovered
  • A game you’ve made
  • Anything tech related!

If you’re interested in speaking then please fill out this form telling us your subject:

The fun begins on  Tuesday 17th December at 5:15 in Robert Blackburn Lecture Theatre C (RB-LTC). Thanks to Danny Brown for setting the talks up and getting hold of the bumper haul of swag we are giving away as prizes.

Once the talking is over, the pizza will arrive at around 6:30 and we can eat and head off to play games. We will have all the attractions on the poster above and of course the mega-wordsearch with big prizes that are big.

Tickets go on sale at 2:00 pm on Wednesday 11th December in the Departmental Office.


World of Blur


I woke up today with a head full of plans, schemes and great things to do. Then my glasses fell in half as I put them on.


Of course I was equal to this, eventually. Having turned the house upside down (not literally, that would be really hard to do – especially without my glasses on) and found some less than invisible tape to mend them with, I managed to get back into gear. The metal fitting in the frame has just broken in half. Serves me right for keeping them longer than two years I suppose. The hunt is now on for my older, but rather less broken, ones that I can use while I get these fixed.

I was wondering whether, from a style point of view, I should put tape around the other side for the sake of balance?


Acer W3-810 at a knockdown price


After I buy something technical one of two things usually happens:

  • They stop making it
  • It plummets in price

I think with the Acer W3-810 tablet it might be both of them. Although it has only been out around six months I reckon that there is a refresh due and the price has collapsed accordingly, to a very interesting 179 pounds from PC World. This is stonkingly good value for a full fat Windows 8 tablet. Mine is now my travelling companion of choice. Eminently portable, excellent battery life for watching movies on the go and the ability to run splendid little programs live Live Write so that I can blog about what I see when I get there.

Downsides? Well, the 8.1 inch screen is not optimal if you are the sharing type, as the range of viewing angles is not the best, and the Atom processor and 2G of RAM means that it chugs a bit when running larger programs. I had Photoshop Lightroom on it for a while and the best thing you can say is that it gets there in the end. Mind you, having said that Lightroom can pretty much bring any machine to its knees just by importing a few pictures. I’ve heard of one brave soul running Visual Studio on it. Apparently it is possible, but of course with it being based on the 32 bit x86 architecture you will not be running any Windows Phone emulators any time soon…

If you are in the market for something portable and useful you could get a lot worse. If you think about it, that’s actually less money than a Nexus 7, for a machine that is actually properly productive, with Microsoft Office and the ability to print things out.

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