Archive for May, 2006

New Scientist Jobs

Got my copy of New Scientist in the post today, and was interested to see a comprehensive pull-out on applying for jobs for people doing sciency type degrees (Physics, Chemistry, Computing etc. etc.) Its got some good advice on tweaking your CV, covering letters and other such handy bits. Theres also some intersting ideas for what to ask of your university careers service; I always wondered if they could be asked for any info that was actually helpful, and now I know.

Amazingly they actually suggest quite a few things that I had already begun to set in motion; things like applying for multiple positions at once, circulating your CV, keeping it updated even if you don’t need/intend to submit it anywhere, and keep a copy on your personal website – I knew that empty CV page would have a use one day!

Its also got some rather interesting stats as to where people who study science type degrees end up. Happily for me there seems to be plenty of opertunities to get into IT, but the number of people who head into finance type things really astounded me – its well over 20%. Still I guess that means that one day banks will open longer if we’ve got all those graduates going into the business 😉

Good luck to all currently in the process of taking finals and applying for positions and congratualtions to those who have landed jobs already.

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Anti spam in operation

Due to being recently bombarded with an insane quantity of comment spam to my blog postings, which gives me more comment moderation to do and takes some of the joy out of getting comments, I have now installed a number of anti-spam measures.

All comments classed as trackbacks now require that the site they are from links to me (essentially what a correct track back should be anyway). All comments posted are scanned for common spam traits against a large central database, and as if all that wasn’t enough, you have to enter a little code from an image when you post a comment now to prove you are not a robot. Hopefully this lot will keep all the nice comments that I enjoy reading and automatically can the spam. Only time will tell though.

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Exam went well

Had my computer systems exam today, and it went rather well so I was pretty pleased. Had a few drinks with some folks from computing to celebrate (although some told me afterwards they thought they had failed, so I guess it was less of celebration for them). Still got 4 exams left, but I’m chomping though them at a reasonable rate and feeling ok about it all so that can only be a good thing.

I also narrowly avoided a second soaking today – I arrived home and the heavens opened within 5 minutes! It was nasty stuff too; I had to close my window because somehow droplets were falling down, turning right, and coming up and into my room. They said getting water to go against gravity had required laboratory conditions in new scientist, but I’ve just seen it done with no special labs and no expenditure 😉

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Soaked

While my first exam went pretty well today, the reception from the weather I recieved when I left the exam room was less than desirable. It rained hard and into my face all the way home. Suffice it to say that I was very wet when I got home and needed a complete change of clothes, right down to my t-shirt despite having been wearing a coat and a jumper. Amazingly the contents of my bag (notes etc.) remained dry and so revision remained possible. Still, I think the only way I could have got any wetter was by jumping in a pool.

Got my next exam tomorrow morning at 9am – wish me luck 🙂

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Worrying step in Leeds lecturer strike

It would seem that the punches on both sides of the table are getting bigger and that the talking is getting less, all of course at the expense of students who risk not getting exam marks, or worse not graduating. A recent BBC news article details how the university have decided to cut the pay of lecturers who continue to refuse to mark work by 30%. What this means for all involved at this stage is unclear, but it does mean that the trouble is set to continue.

It almost certainly spells more hot air from both sides and a greater worry amongst students. The university wants to be seen as taking action, but considering the unionised nature of the dispute, I fail to see how this kind of action is going to help in any way at all. The whole point of the strike is low pay, and yet here the univeristy are cutting pay rather than attempting to remedy the situation. Surely a cleaverer method would have been to try and settle the dispute as an institution, not get bad press and make it worse as an institution.

Oh well, I just hope I can still take my exam tomorrow and indeed the ones I have for the next couple of weeks. Neither lecturers or the VC would want to come face to face with me if it transpired I couldn’t take them thats for sure. Sort it out guys – your students are losing patience.

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British values to be taught in schools

In the papers today it emerged that “British Values” are to be taught in secondary schools. You can read an article on the subject here. What shocked me most about all of this, is how they simply think the answer is to teach these kind of things in school. While school is useful for things academic in nature such as English Literature or Biology, one has to think carefully about whether dispensing “core British values” this way is the best way forward. After all, when is the last time you saw a book in the library on “Being British”?

Where should these values be taught then if not in schools? Well, thats the point, they shouldn’t be “taught” at all, certainly not in bite sized, school bell defined, hour long chunks anyway. Being a part of the country you live in, understanding its core values and living by them is something you should grow up being exposed to. If we are having to teach our children these things, then something has gone wrong.

Values are just that, something people live by and are acutely aware of when they refer to their own country. They are also defined by society as a whole, what people consider to important, like freedom, justice, respect for others etc. etc. I won’t go into a long list, but the point is, these things should be inbuilt in a child’s upbringing. You can’t just suddenly give a child values in school, they are built up over time and have to be re-enforced by what they see around them. By teaching British values in school we are effectively saying that children do not have the values at this stage that society holds most dear, and this spells trouble. Then again, I guess it would explain some of the shocking behaviour we see in young children on the high street today; not having any core values would explain a lot wouldn’t it.

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BBC puts wrong man on air

The BBC News 24 team put the wrong man on the air to talk about an IT Court case between Apple Core (the record company) and Apple computers. While this isn’t particularly big news, further amusement is derived from the shocked look on the guy’s face in the interview here and the fact he was only supposed to be going for a job interview (you can see a subsiquent interview with the “wrong guy” and the real guy on the phone on this link). Just shows you have to be careful when visiting the BBC; you may end up on live tv not knowing what to say and with no auto-cue 😉

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Text Book Wrong

I don’t think there can be anything more annoying in the life of a student than to end up wasting 30 minutes of revison time because the text book is simply WRONG. I’m in the library at the moment, and just had to post about this in my revison break because it was hacking me off so much. Still revision for my computer systems module is all wrapped up now, so I guess thats something to be pleased about.

Speaking of the library, its packed in here. I only just got access to this terminal; it was the last free one in the room. You can tell exams are just around the corner, as every other Sunday I have been in the library it seems most students don’t ventue out of bed and I’ve had the place to myself. Its so full in fact that even the quiet study areas are noisy simply because of the number of people moving in seats and rustling papers. Thank God for Enya on the MP3 player.

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Exams Approaching

Its not long now I am reminded by the timetable above my desk, what with my first exam on Wednesday this coming week its all getting rather close. Still, I’ve done bucket loads of work, and as Alan said online last night, just got to keep it up and I’ll soon be out the other side with (hopefully) some good grades and the prospect of great jazz just around the corner 🙂

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North Sea Jazz Festival

I was browsing around the internet the other day and stumbled accross the website for the North Sea Jazz festival, this year being held in Rotterdam for the first time as opposed to the Hague. It didn’t take long for me to decide I really wanted to go! A breakdown of the lineup is as follows:-

Friday 14th July: Herbie Hancock Quintet, Al Jarreau, Jason Moran Trio
Saturday 15th July: Van Morisson, Tracy Chapman, Madeline Peyroux, Tower of Power,
Sunday 16th July: Chris Botti, Dizzy Gillespie TM All Star Bigband, Paul Weller

Some absolutely amazing artists and groups there, and all in one place too, its just too much for me to resist. The setting also looks to be really good fun as well, its the festival’s first time in Rotterdam. For full info you can see the website here. James really wants to go as well, so we are currently working out a plan for travel and accomodation, and make our preparations to enjoy one of the greatest jazz festivals of the year! I’ll keep everyone posted 😀

UPDATE: Tickets for the event have now been reserved and flights have been booked – I’m definitely going to the festival!

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