My friend Cate Huston has written a post about tech conferences, and the thorny question of who pays for speakers to attend. You can find it here: Uncomfortable Conversations About Money. I was going to write a comment on it, but then realised I had a bit more to say, so here’s a post instead. I’ve only spoken at a couple of “mainstream” tech conferences, and they’ve either been local (so travel wasn’t an issue) or they’ve paid my travel. Which is nice. It is also a very unusual experience for me — very very rarely do academic computing conferences pay your travel, fee, orRead More →

One of the great things about the REF is the way every one’s a winner. Well, not everyone. But there are three different categories of stuff being measured, and two obvious choices of modifier. The things being “measured” are: Outputs: these are the actual papers Impact: this is a measure of how an institution’s research has impacted outside the academy Environment: this is a nebulous bucket containing completed PhD students, grants won, and softness of toilet paper. Or something And the obvious modifiers are number of people submitted (this gives us “power”, and is used as a multiplier) and proportion of “world class” (4*) research.Read More →

The Research “Excellence” “Framework” is how university departments are judged on their research. It’s more than that though. It determines our funding, and it is effectively the only way that an institution can influence how much money it gets from the central funding agencies. This is in part due to the fact that under the new 9k fees regime, student-related funding pretty much all comes from students. If we get better at teaching, we might be able to get more money as that might reflect itself in better student satisfaction scores which might lead to higher recruitment, which might lead to more money… but theRead More →

I’m really pleased to be teaching computer vision this year. It’s the subject I research in, it’s what my PhD is in, and it’s my favourite part of computing. Challenging, mathematical, and very very visual. The previous lecturer (Fred Labrosse) is on sabbatical this year, and it’s great to take over from someone as good as Fred; the materials (blackboard, reading lists, slides) are all very thorough. So all I need to do is to update them to my style, shuffle the syllabus a bit, think about assessment, and make fancy videos demonstrating the algorithms we’ll be covering.

Inspired by an infographic showing that all of the current education ministers went to private schools, I have just spent 10 mins on Wikipedia investigating the Higher Education experiences of the current department for education: Nicky Morgan is 41, so didn’t pay uni fees for her Jurisprudence degree from Oxford. Nick Boles is 48, so didn’t pay uni fees for his PPE degree from Oxford. Nick Gibb is 53, so didn’t pay uni fees for his Law degree from Durham. Lord Nash is 65, so didn’t pay uni fees for his Law degree from Oxford. David Laws is 48, so didn’t pay uni fees forRead More →

In the last four weeks I’ve been to Gregynog Hall 3 times. Luckily for me it’s a beautiful place – a stately home in the middle of Powys, with superb gardens, and really nice cake. The first visit was with our first year students, who we take there every year for a team building weekend. The second visit was with our second year students who’re going out on industrial year. And the final visit was Monday and Tuesday of this week for a staff awayday. Here’s a picture of dawn mist over the fields in the grounds: I think it’s great that we take theRead More →

This summer, Amanda Clare and I won a small grant for teaching development. The idea was to use the stuff I teach (HTML5, JavaScript) to help students learn the stuff Amanda teaches (Mathematical concepts for computer scientists). We won just under £2k from the Aberystwyth University Learning and Teaching Enhancement fund, and we spent most of it on employing Mike Sheldon, a recent Aberystywth PhD graduate. I can thoroughly recommend working with Mike – he’s not only a good coder but he’s really quick at understanding problems, and imaginative at coming up with solutions. If we manage to get funding to extend the site, I’dRead More →