Ignite Cardiff 

IMG_0323That’s not a plea to set fire to my current place of residence, but the name of a bi-monthly presentation night hosted at a The Glee Club in Cardiff Bay.  The premise is simple. 10 presenters deliver a talk about absolutely anything. But there is, of course, a catch: each presentation lasts no more than 5 minutes and is build around 20 Powerpoint slides timed to last exactly 20 seconds.

Until a colleague mentioned Ignite, I had been aware of neither the presentation style nor concept of events based around them. However, I was aware of – and have used – PechaKucha, of which this is a variation.  I still have no idea what impelled me, but I found myself checking out the website and, on an impulse, applied to be a speaker. I truly believed that I would not be invited to speak, so was delighted when I was.

I abandoned my first presentation. ‘We’re not so Different, you and me’ looked at the many and varied similarities between Wales and Cornwall but my heart wasn’t in the subject so I couldn’t feel enthusiastic about the finished product. I spent many frustrating hours tweaking my slides, but only felt truly happy when I decided to change the subject completely and settled on a theme that I feel more comfortable with: Doctor Who, or more specifically, ‘How Doctor Who Saved me from Becoming an Evil Overlord’.

Having delivered dozens of presentations and addresses over the years I was surprised at how nervous I was. It’s easy to espouse the benefits of student analytics and QR codes to your peers and nerves have never been an issue for me. I enjoy speaking publicly (but, oddly, clam up in public when around anyone I don’t know) and a larger audience doesn’t intimidate me. This time though, I experienced a proper dose of stage fright, as you can see in my very nervy performance:

Though I wasn’t terrible, I certainly couldn’t compete with most of the other presentations I saw that night. But that’s alright. It has made me look at my delivery from the ground up and there’s certainly some stuff to I need to work on (pace, stance, language use and hair style being just a few). And I’ll tell you what: in a year I am going to ask if I can present at a future Ignite event, and if they let me I am going to be a whole lot better.

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Bex’s Brave New World

Greetings from Wales!  I’ve had a rather busy few months, having accepted and started a new role as a Learning Technologist at Cardiff University.  I lived in my native Cornwall for 38 of my 42 years, so moving to Wales has been quite an emotional wrench, but more importantly, has been very exciting too.  So, one week into my new role, I thought it was about time to give myself an ILT ‘audit’, once more dust off thisblog, look at the tools and equipment I own / use and see where I want to go next.  First things first – I think it may be time to upgrade my equipment.

My trusty MacBook is now 7 years old, and though it still works as well as it did on the day I bought it, has never had a virus or any cause for repairs and has lovingly held my entire music collection on iTunes for at least 6 of those 7 years, my thoughts are turning to buying a replacement.  So far, I have managed to narrow this down to one of three devices:

  • 1.       An iMac.  And a full-on model of course, with 27-inch screen, 3.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i5Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz8GB (two 4GB) memory1TB hard drive NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX with 1GB and the apprearance of a well-groomed supermodel from the future, though possibly more beautiful.  However, there are several issues.  An iMac costs a fortune, it uses proprietary software only, some of which can be a real pain in the proverbial to use, the machine cannot be ‘tinkered wi th’ as far as adding extra memory, a better sound / graphics card, etc.  However, on the plus side again, it (probably) wouldn’t go wrong or pick up a virus.  However; vitally, I have a feeling that desktop PCs are going the way of the Dodo, so this could be a very expensive but very beautiful white elephant.
  • 2.       A Windows laptop.  There are some really good, cheaply-priced models out there.  Lenovo (a subsidiary of IBM) are making basic but robust devices at the moment – I saw a £300 model with 1TB memory advertised just last week- and with Windows 8 and Office 365 now up and running and in domstic use – these both being systems that I do need to be familiar with in my role – this is a serious consideration
  • 3.       A ChromeBook.  Now, ChromeBooks fascinate me.  They are completely internet based so have no operating system.  They (apparently) cannot pick up viruses.  They start up in seconds, and everything from storage to software is cloud based.  They’re very cheap too – the cheapest model being £200.  My instinct tells me that this is the way computing is going to go, with everything housed in the cloud and the need for installing software via discs becoming a thing of the past – look at the way console gaming has been moving over several years as an example of this.  And look at Microsoft 365 – a completely cloud-based Office package.  In a seemingly endless time of austerity, these ‘quick and dirty’ machines could end up stealing the proverbial show.

Let’s scrub the iMac.  A beautiful device, but ultimately this could just be a very expensive waste of money.  That narrows it down to the laptop or a ChromeBook.  Or possibly both.  I’ll report back when I have decided…

AMENDUM (May 2013):

I got a Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook.