Category: education

Apr 16 2012

Long Time Gone From SoozNooz

Having been away from my blog for so long, I hardly know where to start again. I have not been idle. I just haven’t been recording it here.

For one thing, I’ve been furnishing a new apartment in Tangiers, Morocco, just 100m from the beach one way and 500m from the railway station in the other direction. You can sip tea in bed in the mornings gazing out over the Mediterranean. You can also rent it from me for a relaxing break. See the photos.

As well as  making a considerable investment, I also had a great adventure, travelling overland through France and Spain to Tangier arriving finally at the new Port-Méditerranée 30 km east of the city. Which is when the fun began with Customs. I was fortunate to be travelling with my Moroccan friend, Aziz, who was able to contact his friend in charge. The chief gave orders that we could be allowed through with household goods. Otherwise we could have been detained all weekend.

We were not the only travellers. Decrepit vans were piled high with the sort of stuff that people in UK take to recycling centres. Once cleared through Customs, they would be travelling south through Morocco to The Sahara, selling the goods on the way. I have a poor photo. If I can get the webhost to allow me to change permissions on my folders, I might even be able to upload it for you.

We were delayed originally because we had brought photo canvases which I had made. The Customs officials had been alerted to the theft of a painting from The Louvre in Paris only the day before, so we became suspects. I was mortified when Customs men began flinging them on the ground at the back of the van, and ventured to put them back carefully into their packaging. Aziz was alarmed, as he said my actions would be regarded as suspect.

After leaving Leicester at 8pm on a Wednesday evening, we arrived finally at the villa in Ksar Sghrir at midnight on the Friday. Sleep? What was that? A few snatched hours in the front of the 4×4 in garage lay-bys at irregular intervals.

Other than Morocco, I have been busy studying again with the Open University. I took the new Geology course and got a distinction. ‘So I should!’ exclaimed my husband, being a Geology graduate in the first place. However, it did teach me the new way of looking at Sedimentology, so was well worth it.

The following year, I took U101, Design and Design Thinking. I’ve never thought of myself as a designer, but discovered that I do it all the time. I’m not sure I feel particularly compatible with people who call themselves designers though.

It’s the short, ten week courses, that have been real eye-openers. I took T189 Digital Photography late in 2010, which has opened up new routes and interests via photography. Thus I have been recording what’s been happening to me through my camera rather than through writing. See the evidence on Flickr.  I also did well on the partner course T150 Digital Audio.

More to describe another time. In the meantime, I shall have to harangue my webhost about ftp permissions on my directories.

Dec 29 2008

$100 computer arrives in Brazil

The $100 laptop computer has been launched in Brazil. Read more about this at Global Voices Online.

Global Voices Online summarises the reactions to the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative in Brazil, from various bloggers in the country, and provides translations into English from the Portuguese.

Naturally, reactions vary from those who think it's WOW, to those who, understandably in my view, suggest that more investment in teachers might better meet the objective of improving educational attainment, to those who believe the money might have been better spent in combating poverty and providing food and water.

And then of course, who will the laptops go to? One blogger queried this after supposing that the launch machines would be given to President Lula's grandsons.

The $100 laptop uses a different hardware configuration from that which we are used to, and also a different browser, called OLPC, after the name of the initiative. Watch the YouTube demo of OLPC in action.

Also see this article entitled Clever kit to benefit the poor in London's Financial Times.

Update on January 5th 2008: An article in The Economist reveals that the OLPC laptop is clumsy, cumbersome to use, and crashes frequently. It’s more likely to deter kids than encourage them. The Economist says that this has been largely due to “the hubris, arrogance and occasional self-righteousness of OLPC workers. They treated all criticism as enemy fire to be deflected and quashed rather than considered and possibly taken on board. Overcoming this will be essential if the project is to succeed past its first release.”

All is not doom and gloom however. Laptops are getting cheaper and there are other options. At least the OLPC initiative has pioneered a trail.

This item was first published on 4th December 2006.

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