Tag Archives: university

Students. Gatherings.

I often have lunch in my local university chaplaincy building. It has a small cafe which does baked potatoes plus filling, toasties, that sort of stuff, but at sensible prices. The entrance to it is through a rather narrow staircase. As I was going in recently a large crowd were just leaving (after a lunchtime service) so I backed out of the way to let then through. Not one of them bothered to say ‘thanks’ or even just give some nod of acknowledgement as they passed. Ummm… Interesting. All, of course, ‘good Christians’.
We had a small Gathering here in Glasgow last Saturday. Depends a bit on how you define ‘small’, something between 20 and 25 local YouTubers just chilling out for the afternoon and evening. First a visit to a Dr Who exhibition, then a do-nothing time in Glasgow Botanic Gardens, and once the evening arrived retire to the Starbucks inside Borders bookshop. For about one third of them, their first Gathering ever, and they all seemed to enjoy themselves.
Busy time in work (university). Student projects all approaching deadlines, so am in demand, to help them on their way. Really does highlight those who make the effort, and those who just expect things to be done for them! One or two really nice projects coming to a ‘working’ condition. A couple of wireless remote-controlled submersibles, a small two cylinder two-stroke engine, designed, engineered and constructed from scratch, a baby hovercraft… it’s nice to see these reach finishing stages.
But for those finishing, in two weeks time they will be gone. This phase of life about to end. They’ve spent the last 5 years together as a group; studying, socialising, eating, drinking, (sleeping?) with each other, having come in as teenagers, leaving as adults. Very shortly they will be together for the very last time – never again to be as a group. Such is life.

January exams, and a Sheffield Gathering

New Year’s come and gone, some good BlogTV stuff over that period. And now it’s the middle of exam time at Uni. Whoever had the ‘bright idea’ of having exams at the start of January should have their bollocks crushed between two bricks! Why not start the Uni term / semester a couple of weeks earlier and then hold the exams before Christmas, even if they are not marked till January?
Of course, with the students concentrating on exam stuff they’re not bothering me with prokect work. This does mean I have no excuse now for not getting on with all those tasks that I hate doing but have managed to delay and delay. Oh Shit, never mind.
Another Gathering attended in January, down in Sheffield. Well attended with a few well known YouTubers, which was nice. A bit too cold and wet, but then it is the middle of winter, so what in the fu*k do you expect!!! However I think everyone enjoyed themselves. Sheffield may be very nice as an open-planned city centre, but it does mean that there are very few covered places that a large crowd can go to and not be in the way, or upsetting security staff. Not a problem being stuck outside when it’s warm, but not when it’s cold, wet and rather windy. But still had a good time 🙂

Week 3

O.K., so we’re only into week 3, but by the end of this week we’ll be 1/4 the way through the semester already. Funny really, each time I mention this to the students, and then ask them ‘what have you learnt in this first quarter’, they all turn round and find some quite novel ways of expressing themselves back to me.
One or two are (at last) starting to think about their projects, I hope they get their fingers out soon, or we’ll have the usual thing of everyone turning up towards the end, wanting everything engineered and made up for them, all at the same time!
Anyway, by the end of next week it’ll be 1/3 of the semester gone! Oh well, exams before you know it!

Semester start.

Well, Uni’s started again, and the place is full of the usual crowd of lost souls wandering around (cluttering up the corridors) trying to find their lecture rooms and the like.
The computer labs have filled up. Not much study mind you, but lots of on-line games and catching up on YouTube and BeBo. There’s always one ‘silly game’ which becomes the favourite for that year – by this time next week it should become apparent what it’ll be.
I guess I’ll have to admit that it’s kind of nice to see some familiar faces around, and find out their marks from the previous year’s projects, especially those that I was involved in.

I’ve found I can split the students into three distinct groups:-

A minority group who really should not be here. The amount of effort they put in is minimal, and expect everything to be done for them. They’re usually easily spotted – when they hit a problem they don’t understand, their reaction is to say something like “…but we haven’t been taught that…” No, or little effort to discover or to find out, just expect everything to be handed to them. Sorry, this is not a school with ‘teachers’, but a university where you are expected to get off you arse and do some research.
They also very rarely bother to say ‘thank-you’ when people help them. Most will get through the course and get their degree, but…. Oh well.

A majority middle group of good guys and girls who get on and get their stuff done. Generally an O.K. group to work with. They’ll get through their courses, probably with mixed marks – though usually in the mid to high area, and end up with some nice jobs. Good for them.

Then a final minority group who really do make the effort. They are usually, but not necessarily the brightest, but really do knuckle down and when they hit a problem they don’t understand, their reaction is to go and investigate it and sort it out themselves. When they do ask for assistance they usually want to know how to solve the problem, so they can then go and do it themselves, rather than just to be given the answer. This crowd, I must admit, is really good to work with, and from whom I learn lots. The sad thing is that they will end up with the same overall type of qualification as those who really made bugger-all effort, but got through the system. Such is life.


Thought I would try something a bit different. Uni has not yet restarted, but the students’ union Games Room bar is starting to fill up again – especially on a Tuesday. Guys and girls are heading back into the city getting accommodation sorted out, quite a few of the local colleges have restarted, and those guys use the place too. So I thought I’d take up my lap-top (never go far without it) and a small USB webcam, and see if I could go live from there via my stressedtechnician BlogTV account.
First tried networking by using the local wireless set-up, but the university firewall blocked enough of the channels used by BlogTV to stop it working. So plugged my phone to the lap-top and used that to go onto the internet.
Pleasantly surprised as to how well it worked. My phone typically downloads at around 1 Mbps and uploads at around 330Kbps. Watching the data feed, upload speeds to BlogTV varied from say 80Kbps when there was no movement or change in the picture, to around 250Kbps when there was a large amount of activity.
Kept it going for about 20 minutes. Somehow managed to get 6 viewers, which surprised me considering this was done unannounced or anything like that. One commented that they thought the place looked very sterile, rather like their school cafeteria! Mind you, they were getting a very restricted view. Might give it a try again next Tuesday, probably between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.
But it did show to me the flexibility of mobile internet stuff.
(Mind you, if I’m going to wave a webcam at half-pissed students wanting to show off, I’d better keep a finger near the Kill Transmission button!!!)


It’s the summer, so it’s raining. And I need to get up onto the roof to do some work.

As it’s summer Uni is relatively empty, but there’s still plenty going on. A couple of PhD students’ experiments are getting to a stage of requiring a lot of technical support. Also usually over the summer many of the undergrads get placements in industry. But this year there seem to be fewer industrial placements going, and for some reason this year there’s more funding available for research and placements within the university. So it’s relatively full of those little horrors who, having pissed me off during the semester, won’t even give me a summer break but are still here.

It’s also exam re-sit time. (Was going to say ‘Hahaha…’ but I guess that’s a bit cruel, so I won’t.)

Oh, I knew there was something else bugging me about students…
As for being text’d at 9:30 at night; things that start with ‘Sorry to bother you…’ Ahhhh…. can’t even have my evenings in peace and quiet!!! (Had it finished …but I’ll buy you a beer…., now that would have been so much better.)