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David Sherlock's Blog

The non-technical technocratic elite

The anger in this post is targeted primarily at myself but fuelled by finding out some of the best people that could examin my thesis are apparently not experts because they don’t hold a PhD. Understanding technology My PhD thesis, now thankfully nearing its completion, casts a large net in its literature review stage. One of the recurring phrases I found in my review, was ‘the technocratic elite’. I find it a fascinating phrase because there are so many philosophers using the term (or something comparable) from about the 30s onwards. At first, I thought it was amazing how the things that they were discussing could be applied to today’s society. Nowadays when we talk about the technocratic elite, we have a lot to think about, the FAANG might come to mind first, but perhaps we also think of our governments and maybe even unions like the EU. Whatever we…

Exam Results

I am struggling to write my thesis conclusions, so I wrote something semi-related to help: I’m confused about the exam results and all this talk of magic algorithms. There are a lot of experts saying it is ‘bad’. What exactly is the thing that we are talking about that is ‘bad’? What are we actually talking about. I’m not saying something isn’t ‘bad’; something is very bad. But what is it? Data Genesis 1 In the beginning, we created the statistical model and human interactions. And both of these things were without digital form. So, we said ‘let there be programming languages’, and we encoded the statistical methods in them and saw they were good. We said ‘let there be data’, and we encoded the human interactions in that, and we said it was good. We said “let the statistical models be applied to the data”, and we could use…

Unity: Taking the correct resolution screenshots for Appstore connect

Taking the correct size of app image for Apples App Store Connect is a pain when using Unity. There are some pretty good tools for creating simulation iPhones and iPads in OS X, but Unity requires you to build the project with slightly different settings – and due to a bug in Unity it does not always work. I resort to taking pictures within Unity itself, at first I used an asset to take the pictures for me, the issue was the asset seemed to take multiple screenshots of the correct size for the app store. The problem I had was that the assets only seemed to use the camera objects to take pictures, and I have lots of overlays. To be able to take the pictures during playtesting is easy. Just create a script with an if statement on an otherwise empty game object, check if a button is…

WTF is Learning Technology?

One of my job titles is Lector in Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL). I struggle with this title, I don’t think I’ve ever actually been told what TEL is, I assume it is similar, or the same as wider HE community would call a “Learning Technologist”, but I don’t know what that is either.  Increasingly I struggle when talking to staff in similarly named roles, it doesn’t feel like we are talking about the same thing. I get aggerated in conversations with them – both with those who really don’t get what I am saying (because I don’t feel we are talking about the same thing?) and those that do (because I finally have an outlet to whine about the former?). In a previous life at another University, I felt I had a good grasp of what TEL/LT was, in fact, for quite a while, if somebody has asked: “what is…

Installing R scripting Extension in Knime

Setting up R for use in Knime is pretty easy, the biggest issue is usually forgetting to install the Rserve package, or not realising that you need additional tools to compile Rserve from Source as Knime suggests you do, chances are you are getting the error: ERROR: configuration failed for package ‘Rserve’ .  First, you need to install R. Just head over to the CRAN repository and click download. When installing remember the install location You then need to install the install the Knime R Statisitics Integration packages, just open KNIME, goto help-> install new software. Select the analytics-platform repository and search for r stat and install. See the below image. Set up R in Knime, by going to file->preferences->knime->r and set the path, like in the image below Installing Rserve This is the bit that that seems to trip most people. The issue is that there is no binary…

Extracting data from fandom

I have not had much time to ‘techy things’ due to writing up a thesis, finding myself this week with a few hours on a train try something new. I decided , wanted to look at some data tools and techniques that had been on my radar for a little while. I began by poking about some stuff on my list that began with K: Kaggle, Knime and Keras. Being honest, I found looking through examples of getting into these technologies very uninspiring and boring; I’m not currently sure if I am ‘burnt out’ with technology or if I am ‘burnt out’ with examples that don’t interest me. Trying to find something interesting to do I looked back on some of the things I had played with previously. I have found that the most interesting data is on Wikipedia, and have been fond of using DBpedia to extract interesting datasets.…

Models

A few years ago I worked on the website for a department that specialised in data standards. The majority of the website had been coded before I had taken up the job, it was written in PHP and did all sorts of clever things for the time, it aggregated blogs, took event bookings, stored project information. I owe a lot to the original author of the website, he was a brilliant coder, but a bit of an eccentric. He coded it up himself – it was MVC, used templates and the such and followed all kinds of great practice. On the other hand, it did not use an established PHP framework such as codeignitor or the like. It was great for me because I got a really good insight in to how these things worked, and the developer was a relaxed kind of guy who’d let me break things and…

Pre rendered backgrounds and outsourcing processing power

My notes from a round table meeting about social media strategy in the University turned into this. These are my own experiences before all the comments tell me about 7th Guest and Myst or the fact Commodore did CD based stuff well before Sony. In 1997 the Sony PlayStation was already 2 years old in the UK and CDs, the format that PlayStation games came on, were getting on for 15 years. Even though the PlayStation wasn’t the first CD based console and CDs themselves were older than I was at the time, I sat down, popped in a game and finally really ‘got’ why CDs were so amazing. Up until 1997 I had ‘gamed’ on Commodore products, mostly the C64 and Amiga, many of these games had 3D characters and environments. I liked these early 3D games but was not particularly wowed by them and will readily admit they…

The blog posts I didn’t write in 2017

My laptop is full of text documents for blog posts I started writing on the train and didn’t finish because I chickened out or didn’t have enough time. Instead of the ‘new year, new me’ post I’m going to do a quick run through of the posts where I couldn’t quite make myself coherant enough to justify a click of the publish button. 1. Self-pleasure in eLearning: A post about how eLearning blogs are a form of self-pleasure for the authors. How blogs such as my own are not much more than an exercise in making us feel good about ourselves and how social media sharing culture can add to it. I wrote a little about how disagreements can be a good thing and how we should get better at disagreeing with one another. Didn’t post because: Became too vulgar. 2. Open assessment? A look at openstax and pondering what…

Out on the road today

I have been writing a lot about ‘openness’ recently. I am struggling with what it means to be an open academic and while my posts are confusing they help me think and even more importantly I get feedback and comments. I think one of the main things I end up talking about with people who have read my posts is that delivery is just as important as content. I am currently at an academic event at a University in the UK. There is security personal everywhere, not ‘beefed up’ for the event, it is always like this. The University itself is nowhere important, both in the league tables and in terms of physical location. The security, which could easily be replaced by automated swipe machine, isn’t there to make us feel secure, we don’t exactly feel threated out here in Nowhere Important, it is there to make us think we…

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