philmophlegm: (Ben Folds)
Since this doesn't happen very often, I thought I'd record it here. Now that I'm getting older (44), maybe I will get ill more often, but I think this is my first illness of 2016 which isn't bad.

Anyway, I've had some weird fluey thing. I gave it to bunn too, who had very similar (but not quite identical) symptoms. Today was my first day back doing proper work since last Wednesday, which was good because I had the last lecture of the term for my MBA students, a joint lecture with the head of the Business School. He'd had it too. As had two of the four students. As had the small daughter of one of the others. The remaining student spent the entire lecture breathing through her handkerchief.

The key symptom for me has been complete lack of energy, for days on end. That and weight loss. I've lost ten pounds in five days. That can't be healthy. And in fact it wasn't.

Feeling much better now. I had a productive day of work which means that I'm pretty much on top of my dmbsf bttpdjbuft work but way, way behind on where I want to be in terms of Shop on the Borderlands admin. And have barely started Christmas shopping. And we don't have any decorations up. Not to mention overdue housework etc.
philmophlegm: (Google Partners)
"This ad was disapproved because "Recreational drugs, services & related equipment". I've heard cannabis referred to as "skunk", but I don't think I'm aware of an illegal narcotic called "whippet"...

"Adopt an Older Whippet Older whippets looking for forever homes here!"

philmophlegm: (D&D Basic)

I have a new business. It's called The Shop on the Borderlands and it's an online retailer of used / secondhand / classic / old / out-of-print roleplaying games. Please have a look around, and if you know any roleplayers point them at it. We're also on Facebook and Twitter (@ShopBorderlands), so like and follow the shop too if you're interested.
philmophlegm: (Tamar Bridges)
Yesterday I had a meeting with a teacher from a local school* about the possibility of us doing some skills courses for pupils there - presentation skills, leadership, teambuilding, interview skills, making an impact - that sort of thing.

One of the ideas he threw at me at the end of the meeting (I think he thought of it there and then) was courses for parents, specifically parents of 'G&Ts'. In education-speak, G&Ts are Gifted & Talented children - gifted academically or talented musically, artistically or athletically. This teacher is Head of G&T at his school and he wondered if parents of G&T children would benefit from some advice on how to be the best parents they could to a G&T child.

There's plenty of this sort of advice on the internet. But since many of the people reading this were probably G&T children, I would be interested in hearing what did or didn't work for you. What did your parents do to help you? Did it work? Or was it counter-productive? I would be especially interested if, like me, you were G&T (I was G, I'm definitely not remotely T) but your parents weren't (mine have two O-levels between them). I'd also be interested in hearing from teachers and academics dealing with G&T students. And finally, I'd be interested in hearing the experiences of any parents who have G&T children.

* Non-selective state secondary. This one in fact.
philmophlegm: (The Chick's in the Mail)
Can anyone suggest some examples of women who are probably quite introverted (or at least quiet), who have good presentation skills?

(Ideally, supply links to YouTube clips!)

Context: I gave a presentation skills course yesterday, and used some examples of different styles of presentation, and - and this hadn't occurred to me before a female participant pointed it out - all my examples were male. This particular participant self-desctribed herself as an introvert, so I'd like to find some good presentation models for her. The best we could come up with on the day were Hilary Clinton, Fiona Bruce and Teresa May.
philmophlegm: (Wrexham club shield)
The Elfish Gene, Mark Barrowcliffe

I have somewhat mixed views on this. It's an autobiographical account of growing up and choosing to be a role-player rather than being cool. It's well written, and funny in places, almost endearing in others*. It's the sort of book that you'd probably end up liking if you read a chapter and think to yourself "Yes, that's exactly how it was!". On that basis, it scores points by being British (and not yet another jocks versus nerds American high school tale), but it loses some points with me because the author is quite a few years older than me. (Old enough to have been around and role-playing within a few years of the birth of the hobby). The biggest problem though is the central premise of the book, summed up in the book's subtitle "Coventry, 1976. For a brief, blazing summer, twelve-year-old Mark Barrowcliffe had the chance to be normal. He blew it." While I don't doubt that this is a true recollection of the author's school days, it didn't remind me of mine. In particular, despite what all the stereotypes (and this book) say, RPGs were just as much for the cool boys in my school. And because that is a large part of the author's story, it meant that I couldn't identify with him as much as I was expecting to.

* There are other parts of the book where the author comes across as a sociopathic git. It is possible that the problems he had were not so much because he played D&D but because he was somewhat unlikeable. He's now quite a successful fantasy author, writing as M.D. Lachlan.

The Big Short, Michael Lewis

An account of how and why the credit crunch happened. You'd think this would be dull. Not a bit. I stayed up into the early hours of the morning reading this. Couldn't put it down. Impeccable research and I can't fault his economic analysis. What sets this apart from other books on the subject is the way the author uses vignettes of the key players (individual credit ratings analysts, hedge fund managers, insurance traders etc) to tell the story. Brilliant writing and you'll learn a lot, even if you think you know the full story. (Hmmm, telling a complicated factual story using vignettes of important individuals. I've read another book that used that technique. [ profile] kargicq, you might be on to something...)

Moneyball, Michael Lewis

Same author. This time the subject is baseball statistics, which again sounds like a difficult subject to make exciting. Once again he does it. The story centres on the Oakland Athletics, a team that managed a lot of success in the 1990s despite having a player salary budget a fraction of the bigger clubs. How? Lewis explains how the Athletics' general manager looked at baseball statistics differently to assemble a team of cheap but effective players. Probably of narrower interest to a non-baseball audience, but still a very well-written book. (The film, starring Brad Pitt, is also very good.) It offered some inspiration to this online marketing consultant, and in fact I gave the spare copy of it that I owned to a participant in an online marketing workshop we ran earlier this year.

Inverting the Pyramid, Jonathan Wilson

A book about the development of tactics and formations in association football. I suspect that something like 90% of the people who bought this book play Football Manager. And I further suspect that more than half of those read the book and decided to try implementing some of the classic formations of great football teams in their current campaigns. I certainly did. (I had particular success using the 1970 Brazil formation with my Manchester City side, less success with the 1974 Dutch formation.) It's very pleasing to me that perhaps world football's first important formation, the 2-3-5, which lasted for decades in Britain, was invented by Wrexham AFC (see userpic). If you play Football Manager, you will get a lot out of this book. Other football fans, the sort who don't really care about tactics, won't. That simple.
philmophlegm: (orbit)
One of the advantages of working for yourself is that you get to choose your own PC. In fact, not just choose but build.

Another advantage is that this PC doesn't need to be a boring colour like black or white or beige - it can be ORANGE!

Read more (with lots of pics)... )
philmophlegm: (Fiend Folio)

The dogs playing D&D poster

The NFL probably wants a team in London.

1st edition AD&D combat can be straightforward, with this handy eight page flowchart!

Correlating Doctor Who preferences with voting intentions. I love living in a country where someone thinks this is worth doing.

Some unfortunate publishing layouts.

Forget the console launches at E3; the PC is the top gaming platform for the next couple of years.

World's oldest human dies.

Here's the new holder of the title.

Javapocalypse. "It's a virus!"

Domino-toppling, but with books.

Pet Shop Boys less racist than Stephen Hawking.

The Spirit Level is bollocks. (But you knew that already.)

Schools probably aren't the right institutions to be giving careers advice. (Mine certainly wasn't.)

Siberian bear-hunting armour from the 1800s.

Did you know that you can see the food hygiene ratings of all UK restaurants online?

Does anyone else think that the "Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame" possibly isn't up to much if they've only just got around to adding J.R.R. Tolkien (in the same class as David Bowie!)?

Richard 'I am Legend' Matheson has died.

Mick Aston has died, but not before slagging off Time Team's producers.

Four changes to English so subtle we hardly notice they're happening.

My old school has gone downhill. Mind you, it was 1,600 pupils in five years when I was there; merging it with another school surely wasn't clever.

David A. Trampier - the forgotten AD&D artist.

Brazilian amateur football match: Referee sends player off. Player refuses to go. Player and referee fight. Referee pulls a knife. Referee stabs player. To death. Player's friends and relatives rush onto pitch. Player's friends and relatives stone referee. To death. Player's friends and relatives decapitate referee's corpse.

philmophlegm: (Cantona)

"Deck the Halls with Macro Follies" - "The greatest collection of economic holiday hits ever assembled!"

Client feedback to marketing agencies as posters. (Much better than it sounds.)

Sir Patrick Moore had some financial difficulties in the last few years of his life. So Brian May bought his house for him. (Please, please, please BBC, don’t give The Sky at Night to that wanker from Manchester with the bad dress sense and the creepy lips. Give it to Chris Lintott and Brian May. Queen, not D*Ream.)

Famous movie scenes in Lego. (I think The Godfather is the best.)

ESPN presenter argues that Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III isn't "really" black because he has a white fiancee and he's a Republican. (For this, he has been suspended for 30 days by ESPN. This is the same punishment they gave to a basketball commentator (whose wife is Asian-American) who asked “Is there a chink in his armour?” about a Chinese basketball player. The former behaviour seems much worse to me.)

Gerard Depardieu moves to Belgium and farts in the general direction of President Hollande.

Bradley Wiggins is, without doubt, the coolest man on the planet right now. And a random security guard might be second.

Football management - what they apparently _do_ teach you at Harvard Business School.

The Doha climate change talks failed. That doesn't matter since they would have had a trivial effect anyway. What matters far more is the Doha trade talks.

I wonder at what point the Labour Party website will remove this page...

Famous British eugenicists. (Including Marie Stopes, who disinherited her son for marrying a short-sighted woman.)

Strong contender for worst album cover of all time. On the other hand, it does feature a cat.

Spot the hidden Dalek!

If video games were realistic.

philmophlegm: (MX-5)
This BBC website article me when I saw it a while back. Or at least, not the article so much but the examples of "good design" in the accompanying photographs.



Read more... )

So that's a bunch of ugly, hard, uncomfortable plastic chairs and a stupidly expensive, noisy and uncomfortable plane. Is this really "good design"?

No, of course it isn't. Design should be about function - how well it does its job. What is the job of a chair? Surely it's something that is a) comfortable to sit on and b) looks good (in that order). Go into any branch of DFS and you'll find lots of better-designed chairs than the plastic crap in the first photo.

And what of Concorde? Well, yes, it's a good-looking aircraft in the way that the Boeing 747 isn't. The two iconic aircraft first flew within a month of each other. The comparison does not serve Concorde well. Ignoring other factors, and letting the market assess which is the "better" design, reveals that just twenty Concordes were ever sold. To date, Boeing has sold 1,448 747s. The 747 is a great design, Concorde isn't. It might be a good-looking engineering achievement, but it was designed to be the next step in aviation. And even its most devoted supporters have to accept that because it was noisy and above all expensive (flight costs per passenger per mile three times those of the 747 and unit costs, despite government subsidies, of about the same for a plane that could carry more than five times as many passengers in less cramped conditions), it failed.


philmophlegm: (Default)

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