Category: Sci/Tech

Don’t fund your online business with advertising (It’ll only make everyone hate you) (by )

I first got online in 1994 or so, and the Internet was a very different place to how it is now. It was like a busy marketplace - thousands of FTP servers, things you could telnet to, email addresses, Usenet groups, IRC channels, gophers, MUDs and, increasingly, Web sites. Directories like DMOZ and Yahoo!, as well as FAQs for relevant newsgroups and mailing lists, were how I found things. It was cheap to set up servers and run services on them, so lots of people did. Companies and universities got leased lines to provide Internet access to their folks, and ran servers to provide their presence to the Internet; while individuals got dialup Internet access, and basic email/Web hosting capability from their ISPs; or for the nerdier amongst us, wrangled or paid for "colocation", getting somebody with a leased line to let you put your computer on a shelf somewhere, hooked up to their power and network.

It was pretty chaotic, but it worked. Internet usage exploded in that period, but the rate of technological advancement wasn't that fast (relatively speaking). All the technologies we used - TCP/IP itself, DNS, Email, Usenet, IRC, the Web - were built around some documents describing how the system worked (usually in the form of RFCs). Most of these technologies were implemented in two parts: the client that somebody ran on their computer to interact with it, and the server that somebody ran on a big permanently-Internet-connected computer with a fixed IP address and a nice hostname. For instance, with the Web, the client is your Web browser, and the servers are the computers that actually hold all the web pages; your web browser talks over the Internet to the server responsible for the page you want, gets it, and then shows it to you. Because the client and the server talk to each other using the protocol defined in the documents, there would often be several clients and several servers available, written by different people and aimed at various different kinds of users - and they would largely work together. Read more »

Creative Industries and Science Barriers for Dyslexics (by )

This is the twitter thread I wrote this morning - I realised that I should probably blog about this as well.

As a #dyslexic creative & especially writer I use editors & proof readers for print/publications etc... but when it comes to form filling for projects I often do not find out about them with enough time to organise that & so have to send with only me editing - this looses me work.

A couple of times recently I've been turned down because of this only for them to see my work elsewhere and come back to me and say they do want me after all. Also if they've heard of me word of mouth there is no prob along with informal email convos #dyslexia

If I have informal email convos with people I tend to get the work - it is only when I am presented with great big long forms & not much time that an issue arises - sadly a lot of the work I do has this as the accepted route in even though it's not relevant to the work #Dyslexia

Of course I probably shouldn't be complaining as I do actually have a load of jobs lined up but not sure if I would have ever been able to establish myself in this world of from filling if social media hadn't made me visible in an informal way in the first place #dyslexia

So that was the thread - and it is something I have feared for a long time - it had not escaped my notice that I tended to get jobs I didn't have to fill forms in to initially get (I might have to fill forms in later on for pay and insurance etc but that was kind of after I 'd already got the job). Applications for funding, projects and events where I have to fill in forms... never got acceptances. Ah you say but you know that's wrong because I have presented at things where I needed to apply that way... yes but I had someone else either fill the form in whilst I told them my ideas or there was plenty of time and I filled it in and then sent it off to various people to be corrected.

It could be argued that this is the case for everyone filling these forms in ie Arts Council Funding is notorious for being hard to chase and the amount of form filling needed, but... for me form filling is not just a nuisance or a bit of hard work - it is exhausting and humiliating as I know I can't get it right - it doesn't matter how many times I spell check - something is going to leak through. So what am I to do if I come across a really cool thing I want to be involved in and there is like half a day before the dead line - really what am I supposed to do? There is not time to get it edited, it's going to take me all that time to write the damn thing. This leaves me with a scenario of I try anyway and will get rejected because of spelling or mucked up sentences in which case I've wasted half a day/whole day that I could have been using to do other things - other work/creative things... or I don't try.

I'm not very good at giving up or not trying - I am a little bit stubborn.

I had been trying to convince myself that everyone gets rejections all the time from this process - it is after all a filter to try and reduce the numbers of people they have to actually look at. But.... both the arts and science worlds are looking for creative innovative people and both areas rely heavily on this form filling malarky.... meaning they are effectively screening out the dyslexics and all the associated creativity and innovation that comes with them.

Next question - how do I know it's the dyslexia and not just shoddy ideas? Well a) if I have conversations, people see my work or its and informal email chain I get the work... if I have to fill forms in then I don't. b) If someone else fills the forms in for me - I get the work. and c) I've been told by several people I need to think about how I do the form filling thing in - I appreciate their honesty.

Which leads me back to the thing of what do I do? Art and Science Communication are not the most stable or well paid of industries and you need to be juggling a bazillion different jobs, possible job threads on various communication platforms including social media, emails/letters, meetings, events, the dreaded networking and still having time to design/make/deliver workshops, oh and don't forget to invoice and do your taxes - so there has been a lot of job chasing. If you stop then you end up with dead periods of time and they can play havoc with your cash flow and if you are not careful you can end up with the overworked under paid thing which always sucks. (See the book Success ...and How to Avoid it )

I personally have gone with the idea that I will fill the forms in anyway because I just need to keep trying and... quiet often what happens is people will then see me doing something else and they remember my application (probably because the spelling was so dire and they couldn't believe someone thought that was an ok thing to submit or that they were genially impressed with my ideas or a combination) and they call me into the project later on or when someone calls in sick, fails to deliver.... I am BACK UP girl - this is nice and it isn't exactly like I am currently short on work... but you have to keep juggling it all or it crashes down around you.

I am the reliable safe option and probably count as nice to steal Neil Gaiman idea form Make Good Art . To be honest I am also a bit sick of being the back up person because it makes me feel like I am not valued for the actual talents or work I do but purely because I will turn up when I say I will and also because it means I am often not in the event programme or they forget my name for the end credits or people just assume I can pull them out of tangled situation they have gotten themselves in when I might already be busy. Of course I am at the stage of being able to be grumpy about such things and to even CHOOSE what work I do.

But... this is kind of because I am already established - I am established because I happened to be on social media and blogging and able to afford a camera at the right time - that I bypassed the first phase of form filling and went straight to the being seen and asked to do stuff. That is currently a lot harder to do... and I have been in positions where I haven't been able to or have access to the resources that would allow this type of success and it sucks and I can't help thinking that if I was starting out now I would be some what screwed and join the ranks upon ranks of others who can't make due to the stupid barriers that are put in your way that don't even have any relevance to the job you are going to be doing!

Incidentally the reason I have not pursued my dream of PhD is similar - just too many accessibility issues surrounding multiple issues and being a parent.

Brexit Breaking (by )

Brexit breaking, where was the plan?
If we were going to leave it had to be quick and decisive
now we're in a muddle of no mans land -
sinking in economic quick sand.
Companies slinking or merely clinging,
some just blinking out of existence

The economic news of the last few weeks has not been brilliant - with companies in administration and large ones at that - caused by the weakness of the pound since Brexit and yeah they've blamed the pound not Brexit and the idea of Brexit itself is not the issue - the issue is that this country had no plan, and has stalled and fannied about and that indecision is causing harm. Financial stuff hates uncertainty and that is exactly what we have.

Now the third largest company is relocating to Rotterdam after 100 years in London and I can only see more of this happening until we have nothing. So I wrote a poem - it didn't start out as a poem - it was a Facebook update to accompany this mornings news but it became a poem.

Ruins and Rain (by )

As part of Mothers Day Alaric took me for a walk around the ruins of St Oswald's Priory here in Gloucester - I realised that I had not explored it properly and he decided that that needed to change - in general I like exploring old buildings and plan to do it a bit more this year including more Cuddly Histories as well as the science. This was only part of our walk which also included the industrial run down bits but I've separated them out for now. These photos are not meant to be academic though I really do want to study them more as being a geologist I kind of want to know the full story of each and every stone!

If you want to know more about the history then go here (actually the lovely website I was going to link to seems to have disappeared so I will try and do a write up on the blog at some point), also this year is really important for the Priory and there are going to be all sorts of things happening in and around it this summer due to one of the founders Aethelflaed!

Serious check this woman out - warrior queen and all sorts!

Now to the photos - I am putting them up here as I know several people want to use them for art projects (me included), you are welcome to use them to draw from - if you use the actual photos this is fine for non profit works (though please still credit me) but could you please talk to me for anything else. 🙂

You can see larger version of the photos by just clicking on them - there will also be a prose-poem type thing at some point but for now this is the photo dump for us artists to be getting on with 🙂

St Mary's Gloucester (I think) The ruins of St Oswalds Priory Looking through the window St Oswalds Priory Remnants of rooms Gloucester History Wood in stone St Oswalds Priory Gloucester Structures in Stone St Oswalds Priory Clouds Through Stone Gloucester History Buildings within buildings St Oswalds Priory Gloucester Nature reclaiming ruins Gloucester Shapes in the stone St Oswalds Priory Striations in the stone St Oswalds Priory History and Geology Gloucester Roots of like on the decay of ages St Oswalds Gloucester Hidden features St Oswalds Priory Some arches are older than others St Oswalds Patterns and shapes St Oswalds Priory Accidental crenulation St Oswalds Priory Blocks and shapes St Oswolds An arch that was St Oswalds Priory Two ages envisioned St Oswalds Layers of History Gloucester Looking along the ruins St Oswalds Gloucester Regal Ruins St Oswalds Priory Which window is which St Oswalds Priory The angle of ruin St Oswalds Priory Tower through the window St Oswalds Priory Tree through ancient window St Oswalds Priory Alaric examining the stones St Oswalds Priory Gloucester A Little Nook St Oswalds Priory Shapes and Hidden Ages Amongst the Stones St Oswalds Priory Structures within and without St Oswalds Priory Colour and shape History Gloucester A view down the stones Gloucester St Oswalds Priory Shape and Space St Oswalds Priory Stone and structure St Oswalds Priory Ruins through the arch St Oswalds Priory The dark and the light Gloucester Through the arch more arches can be seen St Oswalds Ruins Gloucester St Oswalds Priory Brick and Stone Gloucester History Life's struggle Gloucester St Oswalds Priory St Oswalds through the Gate Graves shape curve and angle St Oswalds Priory Branch and Ruin St Oswalds Priory The Wall and the Branch St Oswalds Fragments of self eaten by time St Oswalds Priory Stone and shape and weathering St Oswalds Priory Shapes cut from stone St Oswalds Pillars and supports St Oswalds Priory Gloucester Rocks and rocks and different rocks St Oswalds Priory

p.s. it kept raining hence the title!

Form more images to draw from you can look through the archive on this blog or check out some of the stuff on my photo and images blog, or look at my Flickr.

A Struggle A Head (by )

Last night we had our worst parents evening yet... it was pretty much as we expected. Mary is lovely, bright, mischievous and struggling except in maths. She loves outdoor learning and has brilliant comprehension levels when things are read out to her.

The school have her as a focus kid for reading but due to cut backs and things they no longer have the teaching assistants and can't give her anymore without depriving the other kids. We are reading with her at home though I don't think the school actually believes that. We've had to stop Jean pointing out what books she was reading at the same age - our not so small little bookworm is struggling with just how different her sister is to her.

Mary also throws her books at me and gets in a rage and informs me that she has no homework and hides her spelling sheets.

She is 7 yrs old and the gap between her and her peers is starting to widen - this is where the self confidence drop could happen and it has taken us ages to get her settled in school because she is a high energy bouncy child. Also stupid bloody SATS is coming and the emphasis on exams and results and testing testing testing is there and it makes me so angry (with the system not the school).

Mary is often giving up her playtime to read - she gets distressed when I tell her at home that she should play in the garden why it is light before homework because she feels the pressure of it but again she is miss bounce so she needs to get ride of all that physical fizz in order to sit and focus. Neither me nor the teacher think giving up playtime is good as it's soul destroying - I was that child sat inside yearning to play.

I look at some of her work and I can't work out what is needed - I don't know what an imperative is... I have a degree from one of the best universities in THE WORLD. Does she really need to know that now? Wouldn't just getting her writing clearly and coherently be best? The curriculum is stifling.

Again the teacher suggested we do bedtime reading with her were we read to her but we already do that - or rather Al does that - due to the head injury I couldn't and so I tend to tell her stories. It's not every night because sometimes it gets too late but it is most nights.

I don't know how to help - she won't sit down to do the booklets like Jean did, she is not a bookworm though she is thirsty for knowledge though she has come to like books in a way that she hasn't before recently - I set up the indoor "fire circle" for stories and had some spoken/improvised and some read out stories over Christmas and we go to the library once a month to fortnightly where she spends ages with the picture books (yes the ones for toddlers). Sometimes she reads them to us, sometimes she makes stories up from the pictures - I was still doing this at 10 yrs of age - I couldn't read properly until I was 12 and already in secondary school and the social implications of that are... not nice.

But I am at a loss as to what to do? Teacher friends and family - suggests are appreciated.

Her teacher suggested that we get up earlier and doo reading then - but we are a) not morning people any of us and b) we already get up at 6 and Al is often struggling with tiredness so to be honest I think earlier mornings would probably make it unsafe for him to drive - Mary often has to have a run around before school and goes to breakfast club not for breakfast but so she can be brighter and more with it at school.

She has never been able to drink or eat cow milk so it's not like I can cut that out and I know that is something that often improves things for kids in her situation.

In her written work both numerical and letter based there are reversals and transportations and not just in one axis - there are Ps where there should be ds and her numbers are often mirror images.

I've asked the school to look into dyslexia - I have dyslexia, ADHD and dyspraxia where the dyslexia is extremely bad. She is still considered a bit young for the tests and things as dyslexic tendencies are thought to only become properly differentiated from general childhood learning mistakes etc... after 8 years of age - I am worried that the damage will already be done if we wait until 8. The school are being very supportive including Mary's odd take on clothing she will and will not wear :/

I debated about blogging this - but part of the problem with these situations is that they get hidden - I know people worry that it could harm a Childs future employability if this sort of thing is shared but really that comes down to something that needs to be drastically changed in our society. If just the suggestion that someone might have had learning difficulties is enough to stop them getting a job then this country really needs to look at itself. And if she does have dyslexia then hopefully she can be supported through the education system - though with the current government I am doubtful of how long there will be support for.

The biggest problem for kids with learning difficulties like this is the confidence crash - this is something I really really hope to avoid but she is in many ways a very shy child anyway. Being dyslexic myself I find it really hard to help her - I can't tell her how to spell a lot of things and we end up looking things up in the dictionary. I have already introduced Scrabble which was a big thing for me with spelling and we are still using the board that my nan gave me. She loves the game - I think she might actually have won the last family game - destroying Al's theory that I always win it. I've given her my little spell check machine that my cousin Ivan gave me when I was doing my GCSE's to help - it has some spelling games and things on it too. But again these are things I have already done - what else is there?

On the plus side she spent her last round of pocket money on an actual chapter book which she has been "reading" in bed - it's a sparkly kitten type book and is actually quiet thick - there are some pictures in it at the beginnings of chapters and things. I hope that the love and want of books will work the same magic on her as it did for me - she is a very clever little engineer and loves puzzles and designing and drawing and is always winning things for her ballet.

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