St Andrews ‘best Scots University’

According to the Scotsman, St Andrews is the ‘best Scots University’. St Andrews is placed 4th in the UK behind Oxford, Cambridge and the LSE in the latest Complete University Guide.

My own School Computer Science is 4th in the guide, behind Cambridge, Imperial and Oxford. Likewise the Science Schools of Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Geography also came 4th, with Geology 5th, Psychology 6th, Maths 7th.

The Arts School also did well English, Philosophy, Politics (IR?) 4th, and History 5th.All the St Andrews results are found here,

Hot NEWS – Office available for ipad & Android!

Today Microsoft have announced Office for the iPad. This was earlier than expected even although it was much trailed. Powerpoint, Word and Excel are free to download from the App Store. You need an Office 365 subscription to edit documents but can all read standard Word, Powerpoint and Excel documents.

Has hell frozen over?


Higgs would not find his boson in today’s ‘publish or perish’ research culture

The Grauniad reports that “in today’s climate of harsh realities and impact-obsessed purse-string holders, Higgs would have been unlikely to receive any funding to conduct his research – for he was something of a maverick who worked alone in an unfashionable area of speculative theoretical physics”.

A sad reflection on the reattach culture in which we live.


Higgs hadron 011

Year of code – PR fiasco or vital mission?



Year of code


Year of code – PR fiasco? The BBC asked the question here. As a Computer Scientist I have to say that I have found the focus on coding a strange one. What about information and its encoding representation and organisation. Surely those skills (which are also an integral part of Computer Science)  might be more useful to the young than being able to spin a sprite on a screen on a Raspberry Pi? What about the understanding of where information lives – on local disks, the Internet etc. Are these not loire skills which would benefit young learners in today’s information rich society.

Having said that, an understanding of computation thinking will be of benefit to young learners. However, as I said above that is not the same as being able to move a sprite around a screen to eat mushrooms or avoid monsters. The examples in the linked Google page link computation and the curriculum – as championed in Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence. Mind you the examples are all in Python :(




$115 Million on iPads

 The Los Angeles Board of Education has voted to continue its efforts to provide every student and teacher in the L.A. Unified school district with a computer by approving a new $115-million proposal to distribute iPads to 38 more campuses. 

Makes one think about approaches to technology to support L & T in the UK at all levels (primary, secondary, FE and HE).

Read more here –

New paid BBC iPlayer service.

Quote from:

A New BBC Paid Streaming Video Service Takes A Page Out Of The iTunes Playbook
Cult of Mac – Given its tremendous success over the past 12 years, it’s easy to forget that the whole iTunes concept was once a risky proposition people weren’t sure would succeed.

Well, leap forward to the present day, and even the UK’s much-lauded BBC is taking its plays from Apple’s playbook — by announcing that it is rethinking (or at least augmenting) its classic flat license fee by borrowing from the iTunes/Netflix model and charging users £5 ($8.25) to download their favorite programs.”

I am sure we the Uk license and taxpayers have paid for these programs already. Another good BBC trick – sell us something we already own (like the boxed sets mentioned in the article). Will the availability of BBC programs on iPlayer reduce even further I wonder? We already cannot view the programs we have missed on holiday thanks to the amazing “available for x days trick”. Thank god for PVRs is all I say.

Cool calculator for ipad

I have played a bit with calculator for the iPad which allows you to write calculations with your fingers and then have them turn into real equations, like this:


I have just seen this app called Tydlig however, which combines free style calculations and graphing into something resembling a spreadsheet: