Its been a long time coming but here at last you can feel the onset of winter. This morning on the way into work it was cold, misty and there was a just a hint of frost – fantastic! I love sharp mornings.
and so another day begins
Its been a long time coming but here at last you can feel the onset of winter. This morning on the way into work it was cold, misty and there was a just a hint of frost – fantastic! I love sharp mornings.
and so another day begins
For information, the Toyota F1 budget was estimated to be around $300 million. This accounts for about 0.1% of their revenue, hardly a significant amount in the context of the Worlds largest automaker. As a proportion of their losses it amounts to about 6% so a bit more of a cost but now they aren’t able to suggest in any way that they have a racing pedigree, and they wont get any television advertisng – Oh how Honda must be crying in their beer this year – will we say the same about Toyota next year?
Toyota = DULL DULL DULL is that what they want to say?
FI is it Costly – I dont think so
So, the inevitable has happened and Toyota F1 have left the room.
Only this morning I was writing some lecture notes on the subject of cultural transformation and lean and added a slide with Toyota F1 as the subject.
The Toyota F1 team failed to win a single race in 139 attempts (or rather just under 278 given that there are two cars in a team) – pathetic.
Why? why with all the money they spent, having hired designers with a good track record and with half-decent drivers, did they fail so badly?
Where is their long-term commitment? They started in 2001 so that is only 8 years – small beer compared to their much promoted long-term outlook in other aspects of their business. On the same day GM have announced that they won’t sell-off the Opel and Vauxhall operations after all, Toyota follow Honda down the road of surrender (unlike them surely).
Could it be that the Toyota Way just isn’t the way to achieve success in F1? And if so, why did Toyota start down this path in the first place? Could they not see that F1 is a dynamic, innovative and individualistic enterprise. The formula is always changing, from year to year there are changes in what you can and cannot do. Could they not see that their culture is not suited to F1. Were they so naive as to not recognise this at the outset or did they think that their methods were so superior that success was inevitable?
I’m sad that Toyota have succumbed to short-term pressures. This puts into doubt much of what observers say is special about them. I hope that the team get saved because there is a base on which to build. I’m sad that Toyota haven’t been able to learn how to win in F1, I expected more of them. I wonder what is going to happen to Kobayashi who seems a worthy contender.
Having said this, a little part of me is shouting Yes Yes Yes. There is a place still for the enthusiastic amateur, the passionate entreprenuer, the techno/political genius who is prepared to do the whacky thing and make it work. The small guy who just wants to race.
Lastly though I am left with a feeling of disappointment, a feeling of Toyota Blues.
Apparently the University is planning to harmonise something. I don’t know what is being harmonised but think this may be it….
...I think we are all going to be given special discounts on Jaguar motor cars and as a test of this Porters have been allocated ‘S’ class Jaguars to replace their existing vans – good luck to them but I would’ve thought that a more environmentally sensitive solution would be for senior officers to be given vans.
Spotted today on Library Rd today:
Also extremely clever is the finger tracking video.
Can you think of any other applications?, what about tracking for the Robot Football?
I should be writing more! but I am spending my time watching great adverts such as :
Which have you chosen?
Following on from Heather’s comment about the Wii balance board, I have been thinking about additional sensors that could be added, but my thoughts were more along the line of ankle sox with motion sensors so footwork could be added, probably a belt for waist movements and maybe elbow sox for better arm manipulation detection. ( when playing tennis, my son defeats me by doing little flick shots that would not work in real tennis). There has been lots of work in this area though as a simple search will show, see
Nokia has built and tested a fitness game for children using mobile phones but it appears to be poorly reported. Involves group tasks using location detection and group pressure to get “lazy” members to complete the tasks and score group as well as individual points.
(I will add a link)
A local mobile Phone based company Socoto Studios have built a running/jogging game with similar themes, that helps you join up with other runners ( I believe!).
The study concluded that the children burned the same amount of calories while sitting watching TV and when playing a traditional game. However, playing the Jellyfish Jam game on Nicktoons Movin' tripled the calories burned, with the obese children burning 5 times as many calories as they would sitting watching TV.
The most energy intensive of all the activities was playing Dance Dance Revolution, with the obese children burning 6 times as many calories than when sitting still. "Activity-promoting video games have the potential to increase energy expenditure in children to a degree similar to that of traditional playtime," the researchers concluded. "We think that converting seat-based screen time to activity-associated screen time is an essential approach for promoting an active environment that is also fun for children."
Since the study was completed months before Nintendo's Wii console was released, the researchers didn't get a chance to test the effects of its activity-oriented nature. "I haven't had a chance to do some studies with it, but it's something I'd love to have the opportunity to do," Lanningham-Foster said. "The technology there is actually quite similar to some of the technology we use to monitor physical activity in children."
Howvere there has been some none fully scientific study (but pretty good in my opinion). Philadelphia resident Mickey DeLorenzo decided to see if there is anything to the belief that Nintendo's Wii console can help you to lose weight while also being fun to use. He came up with an idea for an experiment while playing the Wii Sports boxing game with his partner. "On the fly, as I was typing my blog posts, I set up a daily regimen and went at it 100 percent," said DeLorenzo
He used the Wii console for 6 weeks, at 30 minutes per day, while not altering his diet in any way or stopping himself from indulging over the holidays. When all was done, he had lost nine pounds. He chronicled his progress on his blog at WiiNintendo.net, which includes before and after pictures.
"Seeing the 'before' and 'after' pictures, I am going to keep doing it. I am going to add some weights to the next round because I don't want to shrink to nothing," said DeLorenzo. He has never dieted or exercised for weightless in his life before this. A fitness Web site already has asked him to help it create "Wii workouts" and he already owns the Internet address WiiWorkout.net, which just links to his blog for now. (from CNN)
One has to wonder that if Nintendo's DS console armed with Brain Training exercises can have such a good effect (a fact that yours truly can vouch for), will Nintendo call up the experts and try to put together a title that aims at giving the gamer a good workout?
So whats the conclusion? It seems to be that the right kind of computer games can help fight obesity. If we accept that the addictive nature of computer games and the difficulty that children have with going out with friends to play means that children will play computer games, we can help with providing some games of the right type.
So if we were designing a game for children 5 to 15 years old to play what would it be, and on what platform?
Well the choice of platform ranges from Interactive DVD to PC's, PS2/3, X BOX, WII as well as the handhelds of which Sony PSP and Nintendo DS seem the most popular. There are also a whole batch of single game custom toys out there that come with a Camera/Processor unit, a reflective controller ( I have the Star Wars (has a light sabre) and the Lord of the Rings (has a orc sword) versions). There is also the option of a Mobile Phone based games, making use of bluetooth capability. ( I was suprised to see that the biggest "game" in the shopping malls of Dubai was a Bluetooth based flirting and dating!)
So what kind of game on any of the main games platforms would contain the right elements? Well one game I have played in real life that made me exercise and seems to contain most of the right elements for conversion to computers is the Legoland Fire Rescue Game. See the (not very good video of it here).
The game is great fun and certainly very exausting. The motions required are fairly simple and thus easy to detect and incorporate. Competition elements are needed but there are a whole range of possibilities.
I am also interested in the the use of facebook/myspace based games. Now that the API's are available an interactive game that schedules single and joint activities with assembled groups (assembled through Facebook). We need to make sure that they could happen at a safe place, and despite what you may think, I think MacDonalds would be a good partner for such a project. These would be based on the geo cacheing/ treasure hunt type formats.
While on the subject of soacial networking sites...... I saw a great blog about how the architecture of Facebook is actually fantastic for for the kind of customer controlled services we may see in the future. For example, the NHS, Google and Microsft are building Electronic Patients medical records systems, ( http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2007/08/google-health-prototype.html)however think about Facebook. Its keeps your records, allows you to control who can see them and to what level of detail, build communities (of Dr's, Nurses, Family) around particular topics etc. This may actually be the general model for customer driven services in the future.
See ( http://rdn-consulting.com/blog/2007/09/12/a-new-model-for-emr-software-facebook/) The following is a short extract from Bobs article.
The first question is how are the requirements for an EMR system solved though the functionality provided by a social network?
As the article points out:
In Facebook’s vision of the Web, you, the user, are in control of your persona.
The same should be said for your personal health information.
Bob makes a good case for Electronic Patient Record via a Facebook type system. It is also interesting to consider it for all user controlled type of services.
Mathematics Dept. I thought you were brainy types. Why then, in seminar room MS.B3.03, is the data lecturn on the left side of the room and the data projector on the right side (a good 10m away)?
It really isn’t rocket science.
Clearly, with our substandard logo, we in the Department of Extremely Clever Things have hitherto been working with, as it were, one arm tied behind our back. (Actually, in the case of Dr. Gottenhimmel it has been with both hands securely fastened behind his back in his “Polish waistcoat” but that is for his own, and his colleagues’ safety). Our lack of recognition on the global stage of Exceptional Thinking can only realistically be attributed to the fact that our corporate logo has not been up to world standards – but we have now addressed this shortcoming.
Thanks to a recent, particularly large and vaguely specified research grant, it has been possible to have our entire Departmental identity refreshed and enlivened – let me remind you of how dire the situation was:
Here is the pitifull excuse of a logo with which we have tried, in the past, to catch the attention of the world’s greatest minds and (let’s be honest) their wallets. Notice the amateur stylings and use of hue; the inexpensive typefaces employed and the resulting lack of impact. No wonder we have struggled to attract the coveted Meadow’s Prize for Exceptional Cleverness back to it’s natural home in our Departmental trophy cabinet, ever since it was lost so unfairly to St. Eggnog’s College, Oxford at the 2004 Droitwich Tanning/Golf Biathalon. I have felt for some time that our rivals have been sniggering up their sleeves in our presence and now it is clear why.
But no more.
Now, they shall have to accept that they are indeed but meagre intellects in comparison, for Warwick Department of Extremely Clever Things is once again able to sport a logo with which it may address the world: behold!
The first thing that we notice is that our consultants have maintained certain themes from the old logo: the words; the use of rainbow colouration; why, even the stylised lightning flash (conveying the immense speed of thought and other psuedo-psychological concepts).
In fact, quite a lot of it is quite similar.
Fortunately however, we have the reassurance of a professional agency and their impressively substantial bill to remind us that whilst it may look like more of the same, it does in fact represent a global rebranding of significance.
It now just remains to sit back and wait for the student applications and funding opportunites to rise to unheard of numbers. (I must remember to buy Miss Pinchpenny a more substantial calculator to handle the larger numbers!)
It only remains to wish all of our colleagues and minions a very pleasent festive season.
With Best Wishes,
Professor Edwin Marmaduke Bambleweeny, (Director, Warwick ECT)
See the guidance notes published by Her Majestry’s Government at
However, I’m not absolutely sure about the number of existing Visa Application Centres (VAC) in China will be providing the biometric scanning. The most recent information I could find was:
So perhaps it wont be quite so bad – it will still be a nightmare though.
Rave of the day are the images of noctilucent clouds that were referred to on the BBC News website today. I chose one as my new desktop wallpaper and its looks pretty neat. I never get tired of just looking at nature.
Rant of the day is really rant of the last few days (well, just one of them if the truth be told – I really am getting to be a grumpy old git). From rumours I’ve heard it seems the government is doing its best to destroy the University system in the UK by making it difficult for overseas students to come here. Now, no doubt they will say that it has something to do with Homeland Security but if so are they over-reacting, has the knee jerked a bit too far? Will we partly secure ourselves from a limited threat whilst at the same time undermining the nation’s place in the World.
Are we cutting off our nose to spite our faceThe gist of what I’ve heard is that:
Back to my original point…Due to chronic underfunding, the University system here in the UK depends on the income generated by overseas students. China is far and away the biggest source of these students. We really have a problem with ‘anti-social’ behaviour from China don’t we? We can really do without them can’t we? Can we? We really don’t need a healthy higher education system (where will provide all these teachers Masters courses that Ed Speaks Balls – his Lakota Sioux name- is on about? China perhaps – ooops thats another rant).
I had an interveiw published recently on the www.emarketservices.com which managed to capture important aspects of what govermnents should be doing to aid SME businesses.
Ask what you can do
_“It is necessary to re-think how your company can expand its business. And that can best be done by not focusing on what your are doing, but on your capabilities,” _says Dr. Jay Bal, Senior Fellow at Warwick Manufacturing Group and Project Leader at West Midlands Collaborative Commerce Marketplace.
“The role of government has traditionally been to build the infrastructure, like ports, roads and harbors, and this task must be expanded to new areas that can link regions and business,” says Jay Bal.
If the companies in a region cannot easily connect to the flow of trade, whether it be on a road, shipping lane, train line or air lane or nowdays on the Information Superhighway that region is doomed to economic stagnation. It is not enough to just have a “road”, it must have a junction that makes it possible to connect direcly to the economic flow. Jay Bal is not just talking about the flow of product, but also to the flow of information.
see the full interview at the site.
Before going I really wasn’t sure that I’d like this animated movie. I remember seeing an animated version of Lord of the Rings years ago and wasn’t impressed, hence my reserve.
Another reason for being uncertain was that I’d also heard the Beowulf story at a proper adult story telling at one of the MAC adult storytelling evenings a few years ago and really enjoyed it. So, I wondered whether this movie would live up to my hopes.
I needn’t have worried, the movie works well – it is after all a bloody good story that has lasted over 1,000 years.
Its a 12A rated film and I wouldn’t recommend that any younger children see it as there is blood and gore in abundance, limbs being ripped off, bodies torn in half, heads chewed, eyes stabbed and a heart ripped pulsing from the chest of a dragon.
Beowulf likes getting his kit off but, like Kenny Everett: “Its all done in the best possible taste” : just as the ‘camera’ scans down his naked body Wiglaf walks into shot and hides the money shot. Beowulf is THE archetypal Alpha Male but also a big show off and the film portrays this well. There is some wenching and bawdy songs are sung.
At only 114 minutes Beowulf is quite short but the advantage is that there aren’t any boring sub-plots or irrelevant diversions.
If you are after laughs then this isn’t for you but if like many you didn’t read English at Oxford and have only really heard of Beowulf as a name then go and see it.
Summary:Action, adventure, myth, blood and no bollocks.
Its all death and destruction today I’m afraid. I’ve just returned home from watching Beowulf and am now writing this entry and rewatching House of Flying Daggers (drinking a bottle of Tsingtao – my favourite Chinese beer – seems appropriate and later I will drink some mead in honour of Beowulf).
I managed to last 3 hours shopping today. Thats a record for me I think but bargains were had. I was after some new jeans and jeans are always a problem for me because I have long but skinny legs. I was after Rush style jeans from Lee but they didn’t have any in Slaters, nor in House of Fraser but I did eventually find some not-half-bad ones in GAP. The plus point of this is that a friend who we met in the shop by chance gave us a 30% off voucher – RESULT!
This wasn’t the end of the bargains, however, as I needed some new shirts and Lewins was just around the corner. What luck! it was Lewins ‘birthday’ and for the small price of an e-mail address they were selling £50 shirts for only £25, ties for 15 and, if you spent over £60, giving away £50 cufflinks – for free! So I saved approximately £135.
3 in 1 outdoor jackets were the last bargain at 20% off RRP. A very snazzy Berghaus Trojan Jacket for me (the liner makes me look like a character from Space 1999) and a North Face for MDW.
Total ‘saving’ for the day=£218.
So this evening… went to see Beowulf for which I have written a short review. Summary: surprisingly good.
Before I post SotD I must go and pour myself a big glass of mead for Beowulf.
We had planned going for a walk yesterday but the weather was miserable so stayed in instead. In the evening went to visit some friends to see their new baby and surprise surprise when we came out it had been snowing like there was no tomorrow, real blizzard conditions – I nearly missed a T junction on the way back it was so thick. Even this morning after overnight rain the snow was deep and crisp and even.
A busy day and one that started with deep frost on the car and fog on the road, Winter is really giving sign of being just around the corner.
I managed to get to grips with some software in preparation for teaching next week but there is still a lot to do. It looks like I will be busy working this weekend.
I went to the library and checked out a book that looked quite promising – at least from its title – but when I got down to scanning it properly realised that is wasn’t very informative. In fact it was downright staid. Rather than being visionary it has nothing to recommend it – anyone with a slight appreciation of the internet could have written it. So don’t waste your time on Roadmap to the e-Factory by Beavers (2001). Instead, have a nice drink (I made a very nice Dry Martini when I got home) curl up on the sofa, close your eyes and think – you will learn more.
Very discomforting news item about the way disabled children in Serbia are treated. You’d have thought they might have learned from the Romanian orphanage stories a few years back. Tried to watch Pan’s Labyrinth but it was too much like hard work after a long day so saw instead the best item on the telly : Hugh Fearnly-Whittingwahtchumie’s Gone Fishing programme and had a bottle of Leffe Brune.
OK! I am a Punjabi (or at least I was born there!) and I love this video!
Driving in to work at this time of year I often see fantastic sunrises. This may not be the most spectular but it is nice all the same. At least I could take it: I usually don’t have my camera on me and only I then get to experience it.
So what is so bad about the iPhone camera?
Ah! Can’t you just smell it? The Autumn leaves lie in golden heaps: a new academic year is underway, a new(ish) VC takes the helm and a fresh set of targets cascade down for us all to aim for.
The University’s Strategic intent of being a globally-recognised top 50 institution by three weeks next Tuesday has certainly prompted me (as head of Europe’s premier Institution for Extremely Clever Thinking) to consider how we may best contribute to the corporate goal.
Firstly, after much deliberation with my highly subservient team of minions, I have written a Strategic Objective-Geared Goal, Year 2015 Statement (SOGGY 2015) for the Department of ECT (obviously this supercedes any previous Mission Statements as they no longer conform to current corporate buzzword standards).
Henceforth; “By 2015, 85% of all internationally-acknowledged Good Ideas will originate from Warwick Dept. of ECT”.
Clearly this will be a challange. I will be calling upon all of my staff to make extra efforts in being clever, over-and-above their current background of Intelligence Quotient mediocrity.
It also has to be acknowledged that such an ambitious target will not be achieved solely by thrashing the incumbent staff to greater efforts.
Not at all. This will require inspired leadership.
To this end, I have unleashed Dr. Tristram Quibble, (freshly recruited from Oxford’s School of Vexatious Conundra) to look into establishing an appropriate definition of The Standard International Good Idea. If he has the calibre of brain that I believe I have paid for, we should find that his work will assist us considerably by making the submissions of rival institutions invalid by definition. A good start by anybody’s standards.
However, other improvements will also need to be made.
We in the Dept. of ECT have already maximised our administrative potential (see below) – it is difficult to see how we could improve in this area as it is already practically impossible to get anything at all done.
This leads us to consider our media profile and how it may be raised. To this end, I have entered Dr. Melrose Pinchwibbly for ITV’s next season of “I’m a Celebrity Academic, Give Me More TV Exposure” after the continued success of Germaine Greer in this field (or jungle, or whatever).
It cannot be avoided however, that if we are going to attract the standard of mind that can help us to reach the giddy heights of international recognition envisaged then there is only one course of action.
We need a New Logo.
Watch this space for exciting developments!
Prof. Edwin Marmaduke Bambleweeny (FRSECT and Capt. Golly Club, retd.)
Director, Warwick Dept. of Extremely Clever Things
Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/wimrc/about/
I sat in on the engineering students Dragons Den presentations last night. Some very good ideas and most were well presented. The only drawback with some was a lack of engineering analysis! of the product/proposal. It was good practice for the IMRC dragons Den presentation that I am doing next week with Professor Smith.
We are going to propose some research around the injection moulding of thin film polymer based circuits integrated into the component.
I have lots of other ideas I would like to present, such as building a library of digital models of humans and creating composite models.
I have always wanted to work on a star wars style speeder bike, maybe it could take over from formula student?
Any other ideas on vehicles from films we would like to have?
By the way! I actually hate Dragons Den the TV show – there are a whole group of programs that are cheap because they delight in ridiculing members of the public. As Thumper said in Bambi ” If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all!”
Talking of which – Gadget Show – I think this is the best program on TV at the moment. Has taken over from TOP GEAR which is far too obviously scripted at the moment. I loved the swiss one wheel pull bike! can I have one please? and the weekly prize for the phone in competition really makes me drool- all the gadgets everybody would like!.
8. I've baked a cake for my friend's wedding in November - just got to do the scary part and ice it!
....and here's the finished result...
It's not perfect but it's very difficult to get perfect icing on a sponge cake (top tier) that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it! :-)
The wedding was last Saturday and she thought the cake was lovely, so I'm pleased I took the risk.
I was reading Lee’s Blog about his new car and the problems from phantom calls by car insurance companies! Not as bad as what happened to me. last year I used confused.com and got a quote for my Ford Escort ( I know its naff! but my other cars a Porsche!).
YES car insurance came up with the best quote, so I paid up. They sent me a renewal, and when I checked (this time with gocompare.com ) I found quite a few quotes $50 to £70 pounds lower, but worst of all was that the YES online quote was over £20 lower than the renewal they had sent me. So I took out an alternative which will be £100 less if they give me the extra £30 refund they have promised.
Anyway a few days after renewal day, I get a set of documentation from YES, and find out that they have charge my credit card. When I ring them up, they claim that when I signed up for insurance the previous year over the web I authorised them to automatically renew.
To get my money back, I have to send them details of my new insurance to prove that I was covered! (which I had to send by special delivery so they could not deny getting it!), then another certificate arrived that they wanted back, and I do not think they have returned my money yet. I know that the AA takes my money very year because I have a direct debit with them! , I did not sign a direct debit with YES but it appears they can take it off my credit card.
I supose I had better talk to Barclaycard.! Beware!