This week …

… I’ve been mostly

  • developing a new version of my project allocation tool in Drupal (permissions, CCK and views,.. oh my!);
  • re-launching the annual research project selection round in Blackboard; and
  • re-launching Social Engineering as a self-hosted Elgg site.

In the meantime, last-year’s research projects have been winding down (submission deadline was yesterday and vivas are in two-weeks), and we’ve been winding up to asking colleagues for the 500 or so new projects we are going to need for 2010-2011.

A Beginner’s Guide to Social Engineering

Today I presented a “Lunch and Learn Session” to colleagues at our Staff Development Unit. Here are the slides which are hosted at Google Docs.

The creation of a Ning network was a highlight of the session, and unfortunately that bit is not present here, but the *intro* and *outro* may nevertheless be of some interest.
There is also a [SlideShare version]( which includes some extra video which I may get around to narrating and including a screencast demo of Ning site creation. Watch this space!

Digital Economy Bill

The Digital Economy Bill was pushed through parliament last night despite the attempts of MPs on the Labour and Liberal Democrat benches to force it to be delayed for proper scrutiny until after the next election.

It’s apparently not a big issue in the electoral coverage and at the time of posting there had only been four reactions in the *blogs* of mainstream media:
– Charles Arthur, Guardian Technology Editor, [live blogged the whole debate]( and then summarised in[ “Digital economy bill rushed through wash-up in late night session](“.
– The BBC News site posted initial reaction “[Anger about ‘Digital Stitch-Up’](” which includes recording of the whole 264 minute debate.
– Mike Butcher of the Telegraph posted [The Digital Economy Bill: a nightmare of unintended consequences](
– James Graham in *Comment is Free* on the Guardian reacts to the debate with an opinion piece [Digital economy bill exposed broken system]( that calls for a reform of Parliament and a vote for the Liberal Democrats (hardly non-partisan then!)

We will have to wait until Friday’s papers to read more considered coverage of the implications of this, but I fear that Government has legislated in haste, and we will have to repent at leisure.

More reactions from [Google’s Realtime Search](, the excellent [Guardian Web Technology]( site. My MP [didn’t attent for the debate or the vote]( (even though I emailed him about it) and there was a very[ distinct difference]( between the social media’s response to this issue and that of our representative democracy.

It’s its not it’s

Just posted my last post and I noticed that I’d typed it’s when I meant its. This is a common error that I pick up my students on all the time, but it’s one that I make myself quite frequently.

[Its]( is the possessive adjective form of the pronoun *it* used in the post in question as “YouTube has changed **its** user interface”. [It’s](’s) is a contraction of *it is* as used in “*First impressions*: **it’s** [that is YouTube’s new interface *is*] certainly much less cluttered”.
Student beware: this type of error won’t be picked up with a spell checker … it might be picked up by a grammar checker … but don’t count on it. Since *its* is actually quite rare, as things don’t usually possess other things, it’s probably *it’s* that you want. But if you are unsure, ask yourself “is it its or is or is it it is?”