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February 24, 2008

'I hate Flash ads'

Writing about web page http://arstechnica.com/journals/apple.ars/2008/02/21/adobe-employees-say-they-know-nothing-of-flash-on-iphone

No Flash means fewer ads. This is a very good thing indeed.

Erm, no it doesn’t. I swear these people actually believe that Flash is solely responsible for the existence of advertising on the internet. Listen up: once Silverlight and HTML5 get here, all those animated ads you can currently (and easily) block with FlashBlock are about to get even more annoying. Wait until DHTML ads properly arrive and you have DIVS flinging about about all over the page, and then remember the days when annoying advertisements stayed in their little square boxes. Flash isn’t just web advertising, and web advertising doesn’t need Flash to be annoying.


February 13, 2008

AS3 Yahoo Maps API

Yahoo has just released an Actionscript 3 API for Yahoo Maps:

The all-new Yahoo! Maps component for Flex 3 enables you to add a map to a wide-range of web and desktop applications. Included in the API is support for other Yahoo! APIs including the geocoder, local search and traffic APIs along with an advanced marker and overlay manager to allow you to easily represent data on the map. Using the YahooMap component in your Flash, Flex, Ajax or AIR projects gives you the ability to develop anything from a simple map mash-up to full application utilizing Yahoo! Maps.

Adding maps to your project is as easy as importing the SWC to your Flex project, then adding the YahooMap class:

import com.yahoo.maps.api.YahooMap;  
var yahooMap:YahooMap = new YahooMap("myMap", stage.stageWidth, stage.stageHeight);  

YahooMaps SWC
API Documentation

Flash debug player reinstallation

Writing about Flash player issues from Blogbuilder news

We’re having one or two issues with the 9,0,115,0 version of the Flash Player at the moment, and it reminded me that I was going to post something about re-installing the Flash debug Player. If you are using Flex, updating the Player via the normal mechanism will overwrite your debug player and prompt the compiler to warn you that it can’t connect to the debugger.

There are a couple of ways to fix this – the Flex install has a copy of the player under its /configuration/player directory – just reinstall this version over the existing one. A better solution is to grab the latest debug player from the Adobe Developer site, that way you’ll have the most up to date version.

February 08, 2008

Flex/Cairngorm custom event problem

I came across a problem yesterday where I was using CairngormEventDispatcher to dispatch an event each time a button was clicked. I defined a Cairngorm event instance then triggered it on the click event:

import uk.ac.warwick.recorder.control.StopEvent;
private var myEvent:StopEvent = new StopEvent();
<mx:Button id="stopBtn" label="Stop" 
height="25" width="55" click="CairngormEventDispatcher.getInstance().dispatchEvent(myEvent);"/>

Which seemed to work fine, until I pressed the button again, at which point the debugger threw this exception:

TypeError: Error #1034: Type Coercion failed: cannot convert flash.events::Event@91ce331 to com.adobe.cairngorm.control.CairngormEvent.

The reason for this is that Flash creates an internal clone for an event that has already been dispatched, and importantly the redispatched event is no longer a Cairngorm Event, it’s now just a Plain Old Event. This is true for any custom event in Flex/Flash. One workaround is to generate a new instance of the event type each time it needs to be dispatched, like this:

import uk.ac.warwick.recorder.control.StopEvent;
<mx:Button id="stopBtn" label="Stop" height="25" width="55" click="CairngormEventDispatcher.getInstance().dispatchEvent(new StopEvent());"/>

There are other ways to do this, including overriding the event clone method, but the above solution worked for me.

November 20, 2007

Product Ugly

The release of the Amazon Kindle e-reader thing was a bit of a shock. Not because I wasn’t expecting it, but because for something that apparently took 3 years to develop and was scooped last year, no-one seemed to notice that the aesthetics are somewhat dodgy. It looks like something from the early 80’s – slightly too big and unwieldy, and all those angles seem to act against the kinds of affordance a device like that should be suggesting (“Hold me!”). It might be like the Fat Nano episode of course – in pictures it looked awful but once I’d seen and used one for real all was forgiven, but at the moment the Kindle just looks wrong to me. The keyboard looks difficult to use too – the bottom two rows of keys look difficult to get at with a thumb, even if you were holding the device with one hand while using the other to type. Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s founder) states that the most important thing about reading a book is that the book simply “disappears”, something they tried to emulate with the Kindle, but I’m not feeling it myself.

Actually while I’m at it, I’ll have a moan about the design of the new Sony PlayStationEye camera:

Quite why the microphone needed to be so much bigger, a different shape and plonked on the top of the lens like that is beyond me. Who’s going to want that next to their designer LCD TV? Not me, it’s living in a drawer under mine until I want to use it.

Thank God for Jonathan Ive, that’s all I can say…

October 14, 2007

Developing reflective practice

This entry follows on from my last in which I considered whether I should make blog entries part of the summative assessment for my modules. I have decided to do so.

Thus, in their first module, the EEE students will be awarded up to 17 marks for the number and quality of their use of blogs and forums. A third of in-course marks (10 out of 30) will be awarded for these contributions. Ten percent of the post module assignment (7 out of 70) will be allocated according to the development of their reflective practice using blogs during the post module period of 6 weeks.

Although it is a little early to discuss results, some EEE members are taking up the challenge and some have yet to do so. I know that doing this is a huge leap for many people, but it is possible to restrict the readership to a group of people with whom they are reasonably comfortable to share their reflective thoughts.

I agree with the comment on my last post that there are other ways in which people can develop their reflective practice. However, the blog is surely the best way in which I as a tutor can follow an individual’s development and add value through supportive, constructive comment.

July 25, 2007

Kuler plugin for CS3

Writing about web page http://kuler.adobe.com/

Kuler is a really useful design app that provides colour sets for web and graphic design. You can create colour schemes and post them to the Kuler site for everyone to use and enjoy. It’s great for trying out schemes for a site or application design.

Kuler has been available as an OSX widget for a while and has already been ported to AIR, but now Pixelfumes has made a nifty Kuler CS3 component. The component lets you search and/or browse swatch sets that are updated live; when a set is selected, it’s transferred as a set of swatches straight into your application for you to work with.

Get the Kuler MXP component.

June 22, 2007

Me, BA (Hons) (1st)

You have been awarded the Bachelor of Arts with Honours First Class in Multimedia Computing.

346CS Content Creation in Digital Media
Coursework (Cw) 90
Module Mark (Mm) 90
Grade (Gd) Pass

391IS Information Technology Project (Double)
Coursework (Cw) 90
Module Mark (Mm) 90
Grade (Gd) Pass

Rockin. :-D

May 10, 2007

Learning from KBAM–PMA Research

Thoughts Derive from Journals

Maintenance should not be treated as an extra cost. To me, it is a chance, a chance to differentiate your business from rest of competitors; a chance of quality improvement whilst act as a cost (long term and Cost Of Poor Quality) saver; it could bring profit and competitive advantages. Many authors recognized the value to have a holistic, strategic and proactive maintenance policy that combine different type of approaches to maximum flexibility and reach better cost-effective position. But just understands the issue is not enough, people need to start acting on it. An article that published at 2005 indicates that many businesses had awareness about the importance of maintenance, but the actual spending that committed to maintenance is inadequate.

In my opinions, many companies still can not get rid off the old habit of chase Quick Fix, or Big Move. In here Quick Fix refer to short term solutions that create temporary benefit without thinking about its afterward impact or even ignoring the further development. I use the word ?¡ãBig Move?¡À to represent the solutions such as, buying new machine (capital investment), redundancy (cut out headquarters, middle managers, and workforces) or Business process restructure. The approach of Big Move is flawed, but the main reason is people abuse them. Company tend to use these approaches as the only hope of improvement, and most of time they applied it without strategic view and carefully consideration on its consequence, they just abuse these methods or blindly follow the fashion.

May 09, 2007

Learning from KBAM–PMA Research

Thoughts Derive from Books

There are some interesting points that have been found from the research so far about the Knowledge Based Asset Management (KBAM) essay. As many authors mentioned, the focus of Knowledge Management should be on Knowledge sharing rather then Knowledge creation. In my opinion, the underlying reason is for the best use of knowledge and increase probability to maximum the value of existing knowledge.

For one single entry of knowledge, different people will have different use of that knowledge and therefore, create different value from same thing. With a large collection of the idea for potential application. This knowledge is become valuable asset to the organization.

And also, this single entry of knowledge will bring different clue to different people and create / derive innovative thinking. This knowledge is become valuable lesson learned / experience to individuals (as a personal improvement)

Therefore, the most important thing is not blindly analysis knowledge or collect data, the focus should be sharing, let more people get involved and create an opportunity of contribution and sharing thoughts / ideas. It leads to a proactive team effort that could increase the probability to generate maximum benefit from knowledge.

Organizations should not just create condition for knowledge collection, but also create a culture, company policy and facilities that enable and encourage people (become habit) to sharing their experience / thoughts and with discussion, learning from others and even apply brainstorm or other seminar techniques to best use the existing knowledge and create valuable asset / capital from it.

April 23, 2007

Degree finished

Yesterday (don’t ask) I handed in my final year project, all neatly typed, printed, organised into sections and professionally bound, thus marking the end of my 5-years as a part-time student of Rich Media (multimedia is soooo Nineties). So that’s it, finished, the end. Results in a few weeks apparently.

March 30, 2007

Review of module – KBAM

Improvement to EEE module structure:

During the discussion after the AM&KM approach presentation, we have once again, mentioned the purpose of EEE course and its module structure. Seems this non-lecture style really caused many concerns and confusion to students. Apart from my thoughts that wrote down at previous two blogs, I think EEE provides a true learning opportunity.

I do appreciate the importance of lecture, but to me, learning from lecture = only learning tutor’s own experience on the field. Look at the way of having open topic seminar, mini project, teamwork and practice presentation, EEE = Self-motivated research; willingness to study the topic; sharing and learning colleagues’ knowledge. It leads to improvement of communication skill, active listening skill, better understand of how to deal with people, appreciate other’s knowledge and contribution. To me, knowledge is gained from discussion with colleagues. By sharing and exchange knowledge, we will no long just mastery our own individual-knowledge. Instead, we receives a collection of knowledge and insight from the entire EEE team.

In EEE, teamwork and projects also gives us an experience of project management, and human resource (plus other intangible asset) management. And by study other people’s view, we can gain an insight by raising question such as ‘Why I did not think that way? Why they do not understand me’ These reflective questions also improve our ability of influence people, interchange each other’s view and gain better understanding of psychology.

From my experience and actual observation, after one week of lecture, students could feel ‘Satisfied’ because they covered all the area in lecture notes, regardless to the real amount of knowledge captured, learned and reviewed. But after EEE, we could all feel ‘a bit lost and confused’, having concerns such as ‘Did we covered that area? Is that enough? Are we on the right track?’ In fact we have researched and captured knowledge that covers more then lecture note, curry out thoughtful discuss through the week and exchange knowledge between each other. Done a great job but still not feel right, something missing. One reason could be we are so get used to the traditional ‘duck feeding’ style of learning and Lead by Someone. We just not feel comfortable without instruction. Secondly, the nature of topic is large and wide, cross different aspect of management, philosophy, sociology, culture and people behaviours. There is just no boundary for us to say ‘I covered all’.

For the further improvement to the course structure, it will be really helpful to have extra presentation at first week, rather then just one big project at the end. And my personal favourite – industry talk. It could introduce more reflection and learning. If could find company to talk about real-life practice of KM&AM approach right after our team presentation, it will bring direct impact on our learning progress. Differences could be discovered and studied, we will no long just live in the academic world but to have an insight to real practise.

Review on Seminars

From Thursday Seminar

The topic for today is 9. What is the relationship between Individual and Organizational knowledge? How can they be transformed? Tacit to Explicit and Explicit to Tacit. From the team discussion, we have go through the possible definition of Individual and Organization¡¯s Tacit and Explicit knowledge and build up scenarios that how to transform between those four types of knowledge. For me, the most important gain from this topic is the awareness of in the real organization – how to translate people tacit knowledge into organizational knowledge. Below is a simple summary of thoughts that in form of basic procedures (not all necessary) to achieve it in terms of effective Knowledge Management.

For Organization:
Consider the impact of Leadership and a balanced reward system.

(1)Individual Tacit to Individual Explicit:
Achieved by motivate employee to share tacit knowledge, encourage them to exchange both form of knowledge. Organization should have a health organizational culture that involves tolerance-failure, people empowerment, appreciate people value and respect to employees¡¯ contribution.

(2)Individual Knowledge to Organization Explicit:
Need capture employees¡¯ knowledge, test of understanding and avoid misinterpretation. Encourage people express their suggestion and appreciate its potential value.

(3)Organization Explicit to Individual Knowledge:
Achieved by exchange of knowledge, such as provide access to the collection of knowledge database, better organize and store of database structure.

(4)Organization Explicit to Organization Tacit:
This procedure is take place while collected knowledge is reflected, studied and keep reviewed. Create value for organization and bring insight to other people. All about manage (include create value) of knowledge, and make use to knowledge.

Example of organization tacit knowledge is when a successful leadership is performed in a certain level of the organization, even if that person left the organization, the way of leadership that have been introduced are likely to remain into the organization and act as part of the organization tacit knowledge or culture. And this organization tacit knowledge is the most valuable asset of the company.

Once organization explicit knowledge is translated to tacit knowledge, its value is unlikely to be lost (hard to discover or have an awareness of existence) to other company or studied and copied (only physical and surface could be observed and copied). Consider the unsuccessful examples for external companies try to study and implement Toyota Production System.

For me:
In order to transfer individual tacit knowledge to others, I need to consider the issues of:
Introduce the Win-Win mindset and Find support;
Awareness of SoPK ¨C understands the company as a whole system; Appreciate its value and culture; Understand people philosophy and Variations embedded in the system; Keep learning / reflecting on necessary knowledge.
Ability of influence people, individual¡¯s thoughts and behavior, value and mindset, and organizational culture,

Thoughts about introduction of mark-reward blog reflection:

As we know Dr.Deming says 80% of errors is due to the system, but in terms of attitude and purpose – I believe, 100% due to individual, or human influence (external element do have influence, but once again, depend on individual people how strong their believe holds).

Look at Paul’s approach, I am not saying that is the most perfect one. But we need have an awareness, that is all we have – the current best solution. We suppose to view this mark reward as the short term profit that encourage us to try blog, and we should discover by ourselves that the true benefit lay in the reflection process that curried out on daily basis. And then, we can keep this blog version of reflection without external reward, because we understood its true purpose and embedded benefit.

I admit that, this method is misleading, But I have to say, this is our best shot. Look at six-sigma, method itself did no harm to people, but still, many people now view it as a completely rubbish. Are the tools that stupid? Is the theory really old-fashion? Sure many people fail to implement it, and discovered its limitation and misleading. But ask once again, did the tool failed them or their own quality stopped them?

Consider years ago, people are crazy about six-sigma and rush into it without understanding, for this kind of behaviors, are they in good quality? I treat them more like gambler and unreasoning (blindness) follower rather then thoughtful businessman or don¡¯t even mention the word leader (also leader for himself). I believe many companies apply six-sigma because they heard the ability to cut down cost, if that is all their attitude and purpose, no wonder (not accident) they fail ¨C It is a consequence of their input (mindset, attitued, behavior).

We say people control their own destiny, but we do not say people only control 20% of the destiny. My view is, you go as far as your effort, only your imagination could stop you.

March 29, 2007

Review on Seminars

From Wednesday Seminars

Today¡¯s seminars are much harder to progress then others, the topic itself drag in other complicate issues and create confusion through the session. Apart from the progress, I am actually satisfied with the outcome and learning gained. At the beginning, I could not see any link between Knowledge Based Asset Management and Business excellence, due to lack of the awareness of KBAM, I did not see the point to have it as an EEE module. After the seminar topic on How AM and KM contribute to business excellence, I learn quite a lot and able to ¡®hook¡¯ previous learning to this module. Gained a better insight of how managers deal with issue, how to manager / encourage self-motivation on hard and soft resources. Most importantly, ¡®How to make judgment without discourage employees¡¯

I always have a thought that, ¡®Measurement is the second-best solution (best solution not feasible, just like in Performance Appraisal)¡¯, and ¡®Measurement actually kills¡¯ this could be explained from my view to the implementation of Six-sigma. Six-sigma always emphasized on how much have been saved in the project, cut cost in million dollars become the advertisement of six-sigma. Apart from I do not think it is accurate and wise to say ¡®we saved $11,500.43 in one project¡¯. This advertisement actually misleads people from work toward business excellence to chasing cost cutting. Once the purpose and attitude is change, the result will be different in matter of time. But things is there due to a requirement in market, the six-sigma customer—CEOs and top managers, most of them are driven by short term profit, no wonder every improvement have to shown a figure on financial gain.

After the seminar on How to measure the achievement of AM and KM improvement, especially after the metaphorical explanation using Cp (potential), Cmk (system capability without human involved) and Cpk (current performance, department capability) It really introduced a new way of viewing and solve this issue. This seminar also bring me another meaning of measure: although the accuracy is low, result is poor, the key issue is how people use them.

Disadvantage could be turned into advantages, value could be created, it all up to the way people view, treat and use them.

[View about this Non-lecture style of EEE model: To me, self-discovery on the topic is exciting, meaningful and forever ¨C as part of my own; lecture material only work as long as the exam period goes; but I do miss industry talk, a really good chance to learning the real practice.]

March 27, 2007

Review on Seminars

From Tuesday Seminars:

For the seminar topic:
5. To what extend does it make sense to be environmentally friendly?
I have couple of thoughts for the discussion in seminar session.

1. While average people life in modern society is getting longer then before, how can we say the environment is getting worse? For this case, we need to consider about HOW does this long-living age be achieved? Is it natural cause or modern health care under operations and medicines? In fact, new and mutated disease appeared frequently cross the world, for example, in China, new case of oafish infant appears due to their mum lives in just decorated house while pregnant. From investigation, it is caused by toxics decoration material, such as paint. Environment is not actually getting better, people still got harmed from it. Modern medical technology could only save victim (to certain level) but can not prevent it.

2. Focus on earlier education for next generation? It is actually the most important issues need to be done. It changes the mindset of future customers, business owner and shareholder, and will be the best and most effective approach, in long term. What about now?

3. Let us wait for regulation? Actually, regulation will not be that effective. Strict regulation could only be effective under certain point, people will always figure out way to get around it. In order to increase profit, organization will do anything necessary: play the word game, other alternatives, hides to shadow, and use of corruption. Paper shown electronic cars have been invented more than decade ago, mature technology and good performance, economical and environmental friendly. But where are they now? Or maybe ask, Who killed it? Many evidence shown the true reason is from those big organization of oil company and oil export (large oil reserve) countries, if that is the case, even regulation will not work.

Then if this environment issue is so important, why can we only learn (appreciate the real situation) it from disasters to ourselves (sadly, tragedy happen to others normally can not ‘weak up’ people)? I think one big reason is due to the payback to be either environmental Friendly or Harmful to environment is too long to foreseen, most organization is not driven by long term vision. Another reason is the allowance from competition and market is limited, environmental friendly activities do not have much allowance and bad practice still tolerated. In other word, need call for the awareness of general public—customers.

The current solution learned from this seminar: since environmental issues and CSR is part of business excellence, we have to shown that, the investment made to be environmental friendly will be recovered and maximum the profit as the return to be business excellence. Without significant cost and even a sign of increase profit, business organization will only then slowly react and truely become environmental friendly.

ps, suggestion to next year EEE advertisement: ‘Develop Your Intangible Asset!’

March 26, 2007

Review on Seminars

From Monday Seminars:

Three mind maps from morning seminars are quite helpful, bring a better view to the topics and also highlight several aspects that I didn¡¯t concern at the preparation stage. For the first seminar, my preparation end at the ¡°Exchange of Information¡±, but this is not the whole knowledge management. From the seminar, it reminds me the next stage ¨C need to do something about gained knowledge, not just exchange or capture information and knowledge.

Organization need to effectively transform and manage gained knowledge to generate value. This value is not just in the form of profit / money, it also could be customer loyalty, competitive advantage, create new market etc. Without generating value, the knowledge gained from exchange is meaningless and useless. Successful knowledge management (collection, analysis, recognition and transformation to value) should be the next key issue after exchange knowledge between people inside and outside the organization. Another point is the need to have organic implementation about knowledge management, avoid any sign of quick fix. Seek true improvement from incremental ¨C step by step change and effort.

From those three seminars, it seems the Pre-requirement / Barriers / Required Leadership for effective knowledge management is almost identical to other quality improvement approach, such as EFQM / Lean / Six-Sigma / TQM etc. The reason is quite straight forward, because any kind of business activities (include improvement activities) require human input, involvement, contribution, effort. The critical success factor is the Willingness from people. By achieve this factor, it will bring result such as change in people¡¯s mindset and behaviors, performance beyond expectation. Therefore, be successful in any implementation of business activities.

Thought for Seminar

Preparation about Monday Seminar:

1. What prevent organization from developing knowledge?
2. What are pre-requests of knowledge management?
3. What sort of effective leader is require for effective knowledge management?

For the first topic: from articles and learning from previous EEE module, my first impression is ¡§C there are just so many barriers. Many issues could stop or at least not encouraging knowledge development inside an organization, and each barriers should connected to each other, have interrelationship. In order to get away from this magnifying¡§Cglass view, maybe helpful to think from top: Look at how knowledge could be developed under natural condition.

First, knowledge could be self-developed by one person with great wisdom. But in certain percentage, that person needs previous experience and other knowledge, which means assistance or influence (indirect ?¡ãhelp?¡À) from other people. Secondly, knowledge could be developed by learning and adapt from family, school, sociality, from other people. Therefore, the keyword appears is Sharing. It??s about Exchange of information, any form of information: experience, expertise, thought and knowledge etc.

Then what stops people exchange information to each other in an organization? It could be two major and deeply connected issues:
(1) Physical issue ¡§C Organization structure that not encourage it happen.
(2) People issue ¡§C Organizational culture and people??s mindset not willing to perform / contribute to it.

The physical issue should include sub¡§Cissues about company police, structure and equipment. Involve communication channel; data sharing channel; synergy / re-education establishment and environment; balanced and healthy reward system etc. I would say the people issues are huge in size and much harder to solve compare to the first one. It contains sub¡§Cissues of Leadership, organizational culture and behaviors, people??s mindset. For example, effective and successful leadership; organizational culture; employee relationship and motivation; build cooperate team based organization etc. After sort out the barriers in first topic, the answer toward second and third seminar topic will appear, easier for analysis.

March 22, 2007

Developing reflective practice

Had a conversation today about reflective practice and blogging. As stream leader of the Engineering Enterprise Excellence (EEE) MSc programme I have encouraged the use of blogs as a tool that assists development of reflective practice. One of the key aims of this programme is for the students to achieve deep learning, and reflection is an essential element of this learning process. Why use a blog for this? Why is a blog so much better than a diary? The blog can be used like a diary because you can create private entries. However, the power of this medium occurs when we choose to make our entries public. By making our reflective thoughts public, we engage the social aspects of learning - of inviting others to comment on our thoughts, helping us to build on our ideas and enabling us to become aware of and understand other views. This provides us with a deeper learning experience and with practice this reflective thinking will become ever more natural.

I recognise that some people are nervous about making their thoughts public.  It is very easy to restrict access to your blog to a circle of friends or colleagues in whom you can confide your thoughts. As you develop confidence in the positive nature of the bogging community, you will widen the circle and thus expand the opportunities for development of ideas. Your blog will become a learning log that will enable you to track the development of your thinking during your study year.

For the current EEE module I have incentivised the use of blogs by allocating marks for the number and quality of reflective entries. My hope is that some students will continue to use blogs when the module and assignment is over.  Perhaps next year I should use this approach from the beginning of the course to increase the probability that EEE students become lifelong reflective practitioners.

March 21, 2007

Enriching the learning environment

I have submitted a bid for funding research and development of the EEE MSc learning environment. The idea is to develop a synchronous conference environment. Nothing new in that you might say, telematic conferencing has been available for a long time. True. What is different about this project is to try to recreate the sense of co-location and socialisation that one has in face to face (F2F) meetings. I would like to create the on-line equivalent of allocating students to teams and asking the teams to meet in a syndicate room or the Learning Grid to discuss and plan a mini-project.

I have noticed how EEE students meet as teams at all hours of the day and night, usually in the Learning Grid. I feel that the facilities of the LG are not always needed and indeed, some of the meetings take place in the coffee shop. For the shorter meetings, how much time would be saved if they could hold the meeting without leaving their residence? For students who live off campus the benefits could be huge. Even if you live on campus, the walk from the LG to the residence during poor weather can be challenging.

If as tutor, I would like to meet the students or the students wish to discuss some aspect of their studies with me, virtual meetings become even more attractive. No longer would it be necessary to book a meeting room (usually in short supply). We could just switch on our high definition webcams at the appointed time and let the meeting begin with the contributors located around a table in a meeting room on screen.

Moving on to module syndicate work the tutor could ‘visit’ teams in their syndicate rooms, switching from one room to another as one would do physically. The students would ‘see’ the tutor as he/she ‘entered’ the room. Then of course, the tutor could ask one team to present to the others, promoting the presenting team to a position of prominence on the screen in both position and size so that they could present to the rest of the group. Presentation over, the team could be return to ‘syndicate room’ position and another team prepared to give a presentation.

Such a system would develop to be stateful. That is, similar to programs like MSN Messenger, you would be able to see who is on-line and set up impromptu meetings, much as you can do in Messenger but with full visual semantics to enable the social aspects of learning to enrich the learning environment.

Of course, such a system would be of even greater benefit to students who live far away from the campus, such as our industrial, part-time students, both at home and overseas. I do not envisage that such a system would completely replace F2F contact, no matter how many improvements were made in terms of bandwidth availability etc until perhaps the technology gives us full 3D high-definition…watch this space.

January 18, 2007

Project Work: draggable video concept

Phew. After writing about 4000 words on my project, based on the premise that I could make Flash drag a video feed around the screen, I thought I’d better check it would work as I need it to. And it does. So the next 4000 won’t have to be an explanation of why it didn’t. :-)

January 10, 2007

Current Experience of TeamWork


It all starts from the first day of Financial Accounting and Control System model. Basically, this model is mainly delivered by a very good simulation game. Each group has five members, working together like a company top-management. Set the objectives for the end of year three and work toward it. Involve quick decision making, applying accounting knowledge, connect theory to reality and teamwork – cooperation.

At the beginning, I was planning to be the purchase manager. Because I know I am so bad at trading and make deal, really want to practice it. But after the introduction, it seems that’s not the kind of thing we do in this game. And also Tim asks us to pick some non-expert area in this game, for the purpose of practice and learn from mistake. So, I nominate myself as the commercial manager of the business.

Apart from the purpose to test my knowledge and learn on this role, I also want to know what the most important thing in the business is, from the view of a commercial manager. Because I know, in real-life, people normally treat their area of expertise as the most important thing to business/life. (I.e. consider the example of the kind of decisions made by a CEO who promoted from a financial accountant position). In order to avoid this bias mind, I’d like to view the other side of the “five pound note” (Soliman 2006-PPE, good one, ha-ha, we all miss you:)

Actually this is the teamwork/life philosophy I am thinking about these days. I think:” No matter who you are. There is ALWAYs a chance that the one make mistake is You.”

1. So, think again before any action. This kind situation includes debate between people or any business/life affair. “Is that what he really means?” Did I consider and distort/aggrandize it from my point of view.

2. Be patient, always give people chances to explain, avoid misunderstand, it is a waste of time and energy. If colleagues didn’t show up in time, before you start comment on this, hold on, and think again. Do you know what is really happened here? No? Wait and ask. Assume? Don’t rush to action until discover the truth.

3. Look at yourself, some quick reflection. Did I do/represent any misleading information (literal or physical) to him? Am I the one actually encouraged/not-stop it happen? If from other’s point of view, did I miss something? Did I forget about the “big-picture” and the team goal? etc

4. After you calm down and did not push hard on others. Now we all have a peaceful and clear mind to have a holistic view of the entire event and found out WHY it happened? HOW to deal with it and avoid it in the future? Save the energy on problem-solving not the blame game.

The reason to use the word -chance is to remind myself to always wait and reflect on my self??s behaviors (so hard to remember when get exciting). This really minimize the misunderstand going around me and save my anger and use the energy to find the root of the proplem – work hard – strive for the team goal.

Consider Teamwork
By end of the phase one of FACE model, it was another brilliant teamwork. Joyful and beneficial teamwork. Learned a lot about cooperation in organization and management accounting. From the aspect of delivery the result, our team achieved best results (still room for improvement, as usual). We made that business profitable, health in cash flow, no worry on loan/gearing, become on going concern and valuable company.

WHY? or HOW?
There is only a few common point I can sum up from limited experience of teamwork:

1. All team members have knowledge on the system – the system of simulated business organization, the system of effective teamwork.

2. Knowledge on the required area – accounting, production operation, affects on single decision. Knowledge on how business works as a whole. Knowing the importance of teamwork and the approaches to achieves collaboration -.

3. Philosophy that mentioned above, maybe we get same result without fully realize or understand that philosophy. At the beginning (first team work, PPE) we did that by politeness and be friendly. But that philosophy did save us from non-necessary debate, loss of focus and energy.

4. Each member of the team found a place that fit to him and willing to contribute beyond expectation. This role was not clear or fixed at the beginning, but it emerged and changed.

  • Nelly- our perfect general manager, multi function, generalist. source of solution -> evaluation
  • Helen- ?big-picture? embedded financial manager, source of reference -> experience. oh, plus food provider:) matt and i will really put on some weight…
  • Matt- source of theory ->creation, team’s idea pot, ingenious mathematician…...compare to me.
  • Ray- our firm hand treasurer (he actually grip cash in hand, ha-ha), venturous and precise ->propose big investment and still measure business money in unit of half coin.

None of us can achieve the objectives just by ourselves. In single, we may able to produce at 90%, by in teamwork, we can generate 120% and shown team performance that is a multiplication of our effort.

With above points in the team, I feel we can complete all kind of task. I think even includes task of introduce new members. I believe everyone has potential, but we need to find the right angle to see them shining. But this kind of task cannot be done by single team member, as always, we need team effort. Together we can create an environment that suitable for the transform and fit to our team. By applying knowledge and teamwork philosophy, it allows us to take time and find the truth behind issues. Avoid misleading information that blinds our mind, especially at the beginning.

With more teamwork experience, the pattern of successful / effective teamwork and leadership / management will emerge. There is no dead end in reality, but only one in our mind. Extend our imagination, there is always a chance.

Doable, but difficult.
At least, we know how.

January 01, 2007

Reading Through the New Year

Method or Natural?

Found one really interesting story from the book “Learning to Lead”. The main point of the chapter is: “A core of becoming a leader is the need always to connect your voice and you touch”. It is a story about how to let infant feel the love and care from the parents. In the term of leadership, this is indeed one fundamental aspect – a higher level expression of “influence”.

After knowing the way of influence, the leader needs to understand the proper way of using it. This is why many people call it Art~ no textbook will show when it is not enough or when it is too much. I think we need to make decision by our knowledge, feeling/experience plus situational variables. Hope next year will be the time I find the answer or may be – find more question…

December 11, 2006

Leadership module

Last Friday (8 Dec 06) saw the end of the Leadership and Excellence (LE) module, one of the core modules for the EEE masters degree and an elective module for the 5 students from other streams. This year the three teams comprised a mix of elective and EEE students and from the outset I was pleasantly surprised at how well the elective students adapted to the different learning environment that has been created for the EEE degree. Without the benefit of the induction week and the previous Practices and Principles of Excellence module, the elective students seemed to embrace the lack of lectures, learning through completing mini-projects in groups and discussing topics of interest in seminars. All of this was supported through the use of forums, blogs and most importantly, the Learning Grid.

Everyone was encouraged to take the opportunity to lead a project or exercise and both Graeme and I were once again delighted at the depth of learning that the LE students demonstrated during project presentations and seminars. The two weeks finished with a planning operation for an outward bound exercise, called the Leadership Challenge. It was interesting to see the different approaches of the leaders and their team members. The exercise is effective because everyone forgets that it is an exercise and gets really immersed into achieving the best plan, scoring the most points and thererfore, everyone behaves naturally.

I thoroughly enjoyed this module. It was great to be in the company of the LE students – their energy and enthusiasm was sustained at a high level throughout the module and many of the reflections in the blogs showed a high degree of insight. I feel that they have achieved a huge amount in just two weeks and I hope that this will provide a foundation for their leadership practice when they leave in ten months time. Thanks everyone.

December 06, 2006

Leader or Manager


Develop Leader or Hire Manager?

From a statement in seminar, “Organization needs both leader and manger”, I got some different view about this. First of all, about leader: Leader should have skills combine Management and Leadership, but the combination proportion of these two skills is different from each leader in different position. And also, the detailed skill in both leadership and management will combine in different proportion as well.

For example, leader at top: CEO will require a more percentage leadership . And inside leadership skill, it may require a high percentage of vision / insight skill. CEO’s management skill may have a little less percentage. And inside management skill, it may require a high percentage of mange human resource rather than technology.

For the example of leader at lower level of organization: Leaders are exist in shop floor, that leader may have a higher proportion of management skill then leadership . Inside his management skill, the technology and time management may occupy a bigger percentage. Inside his leadership skill, the influence and inspire skill may have a larger percent than vision skill.

From above example, I am try to demonstrate a possibility to eliminate manger inside an organization, instead, there should be full of leader to filling the position, leader with different skill proportion. With vision, effective influence skill and efficient management skill, leader from different position will able to leading followers toward the goals. (leader know when to lead or follow, leader knowing the shared vision and goals.) Organizations should focus more on employee re-education and training; try to developing leaders within the company.

December 03, 2006

Leader or Dictator

Today’s Thoughts

Thin line between (strong) leader and dictator

First Impression: Strong leader and dictator both have clearly vision and skills of influence people, such as effective communication skill. But there are is a big difference from the feeling of the follows. Leader achieves shared goals with collaboration with followers, work together toward the success. But dictator set order to followers and achieve the “shared goals” by using followers. At the end followers will no longer feel benefits from it; the feeling of “work for” instead of “work with” will destroy the followers’ effort and finally end this leader-follower relationship.

Can this feeling to be used to separate strong leader and dictator? There are certainly many cases that a good leader make decisions that upset the follower, such as tell you to re-do your work or you have to leave the team. That leader surely hurt your feeling, and asks you doing something you don’t want to do. Is that making him a dictator?

One interest example is Paul’s experience, about the only two people he took out from his team in 21 years of military service. The way Paul handle this incident is quite different from my assumption (consider what military normally does :) Although these two guys are really a waste of space, but Paul did not get rid them as soon as the problem occurred. Instead, he still keep working with them until the very end, when there is no choice but remove them from the team.

It actually shown one clearly difference, the attitude. Good leader have an attitude that involve, patience, tolerance, comprehension, and all his/her decisions and actions are made clearly to followers, they know what the leader is doing and why do it, they understand leader made this decision under specified situation and with sufficient reasons. When in the situation such as remove people from the team, leader’s attitude shown clearly to all followers that “this is what I have to do, not wish to do”. Effective and efficient propagate/communicate will minimum the misleading information.

In a business situation, when manager set work for employees, so many manager just don’t want to take some time to think how to communicate with employees. Instead, they pick the easy way, “You do what I say,” it totally destroyed the employee??s motivation, environment of performance beyond expectation, enthusiasm of jobs.