Archive for March, 2007

Blue Fusion

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

Today was a day off to be a ‘school host’ for Blue Fusion – IBM Hursley’s annual week-long Science Fair for Year 11 (15/16 year old) school pupils. The aim is to promote the benefits of science, technology and engineering to a younger audience. We invite local schools to come to the Hursley Park labs and compete in a variety of activities. The activites are designed and developed by teams at Hursley, focusing on balancing education with entertainment.

As a school host, I got to show the students and teachers from one school around today. It’s been too long since I last got to spend a day at work doing something ‘fluffy’ like this. I really like Blue Fusion – it’s a unique chance for us to try and encourage and enthuse what could be the next generation of scientists and engineers.

I haven’t had much to do with it leading up to the event this year, but I know from my involvement in previous years how much work is involved in getting it all ready. Hundreds of school children, ten guest speakers (some from outside IBM), and ten original hands-on educational activities. It’s an exciting challenge, and a satisfying extension to the ‘day job’.

Google applications

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

I got an email from a guy at Google a couple of weeks ago. He said that he had come across my CV online and asked if I’d consider opportunities at Google. I’m not really looking to leave IBM, but I was curious to hear more about Google and figured that I had nothing to lose by finding out more. It led to me having a quick chat on the phone with him and a ‘mini-interview’. So I thought people might be interested to know what this included.


RE: When you write to local politicians…

Monday, March 12th, 2007

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was impressed with the response I got to my ranty email about one of the more annoying local traditions – having your car wing mirrors broken off on a Friday night.

A quick update – I was surprised to get a posh looking letter on House of Commons headed paper today. It was a letter from my MP enclosing copies of letters written to the Chief Executive of my local council and the Chief Inspector of the local police, and promising to let me know when he gets replies.

Eek. People really shouldn’t take my rants so seriously.


I sign up to too many websites

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

Bad news – my trusty ThinkPad T40 finally gave up the ghost last week and died. Good news – it meant I’ve got a shiny new ThinkPad T60 – the novelty of having a fingerprint scanner to use instead of a password to logon still hasn’t lost it’s appeal.

I’ve been setting it up the way I like it this evening, and one thing that I’ve noticed since losing my saved Firefox passwords is how many different online profiles I’ve got. I’m thinking that perhaps I sign up to too many online gimmicks. 🙂

With that in mind, I thought I’d quickly list the ones I realised I was missing first. You’ve probably heard of most of them, but maybe there’ll be one or two that you haven’t.


Files on linux can get fragmented

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

I vaguely remember someone telling me ages ago that Linux distros don’t come with a Disk Defragmentation utility (like Windows does) because files on Linux don’t get fragmented.

For some reason, I didn’t really challenge that very much at the time, and it’s remained at the back of my mind as a bit of an assumption. One of the things I’ve learned on my Linux course this week is that this isn’t true.


Red Hat exams are secret!

Monday, March 5th, 2007

Today was day 1 of my Red Hat Linux System Administration course – a week long chance to cram for my Red Hat Certified Technician exam on Friday.

What I didn’t realise was that I have to sign a non-disclosure agreement before I take the exam – preventing me from revealing any details about what the exam is like.

Spoilsports – that ruins my idea for Friday’s post. 😉

Being reassured when you donate to charity

Sunday, March 4th, 2007

Last month saw the launch of the Fundraising Standards Board – the new “self-regulatory” body for fundraising in the UK. It comes with a groovy logo (a blue tick with “FSB”) which charities can use to reassure people donating money that they are nice fluffy types.

From their website:

…we will handle public complaints about how our members … raise money as well as offering the public a “mark of reassurance” to look for when giving to charities in the future…

…membership is voluntary… and [involves agreeing to] a strict set of codes and a Fundraising Promise committing them to treat the public with respect, fairness, honesty and clarity in all their money raising activities…. [and] an independent, robust and transparent complaints process…

[This is] an independent body you can go to if you are unhappy about how a charity raises money.


“MV” or “Millennium Volunteers”

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

I’ve talked before about Millennium Volunteers, wondering what will happen to it and whether the new organisation V will keep it going as it is.

They are obviously wondering themselves, and have published the outcome of some research carried out last December into the Millennium Volunteers “brand”. The intention is to help inform decisions made about what to do with MV going forward. It makes for interesting reading.

On the one hand there was:

Strong preference from young people to refer to “Millennium Volunteers” rather than the acronym “MV”.

However, on the other hand, there were comments about changing “Millennium Volunteers”:

because “millennium” is seen as outdated and the use of the word “volunteering” puts young people off

For lots more statistics about the perceptions of MV, the benefits it brings, and thoughts on how the value of volunteer efforts can be measured, have a look at the summary of their findings which can be downloaded in PDF form from

I guess the jury is still out on the future of MV.