University of Winchester Psychology 2015

LinkedIn presentation

3 December 2015

Background

There is a lot of guidance on the internet and in publications, on how to do things step-by-step on social media and particularly LinkedIn. However, we explored how we can use it in seeking a first career or finding research opportunities. We also discussed the value of reflecting on our own personalities, and choosing which aspects of them are of interest to other users of the LinkedIn site.

Summary

There is no doubt that asking ‘why?’ before ‘how?’ is better than simply diving in just because everyone else is. As a result, everyone will benefit from reflection and researching which aspects of an individual’s personality will be best received.

Although we talked around the slides as well, the presentation slides (pdf format) are here for those who want them for review.

Sharing documents and the Open Document Format

What’s The Open Document Format about?

If you ever send or receive computerised documents by email, this is important for you.

Have you ever you received a document that you did not have the right program to read (Word, Office, Adobe, docx, pdf etc), or the contents were rearranged? And isn’t it frustrating to have to upgrade software you are used to just because others do?

The Open Document Format helps.

What is a document format?

When a computer saves something you have typed on the screen, it puts it in a thing called a file. The file is what you attach when you email it to someone, and the format is the way that your program writes the file.

Now, various computer programs write their files in different formats. It’s as if one saves your document in language A and one saves it in language B. The person the other end can only read your document as you wrote it if their program also reads that file format or ‘language’. If you have the same program, about the same age, then you will be ok.

Why don’t documents get saved in the same universal format?

There is a technical argument that some formats cannot cope with new, clever things that software companies invent for us to use. So formats need to change every few years.

There is a commercial fact that if you get enough people on the same software, everyone else has to buy it in order to share information. Equally, if you tweak your format every few years then everyone has to buy an upgrade in order to keep in step, so as a software supplier you sell a new program to write letters even when the old one still works fine.

What is the Open Document Standard?

Adopting the Open Document format is the UK government’s attempt to decide which of the file formats is comprehensive enough to cover most needs, and suggest that is used for all communication. My opinion of the reasons for this are:

  1. in order to make their documents available to everyone, the govt would need to issue documents in every format that was around, and that takes time and cost
  2. it costs UK businesses a huge amount of money each year upgrading when many do not need the functions provided by the ‘latest upgrades’
  3. being tied to one software supplier just to read documents is not a competitive market
  4. most importantly, some software suppliers do not publish details about how their format works. So if that software company goes out of business or stops supporting its ‘outdated’ formats, both you and the govt lose the ability to open and read older old documents!

Why should I use the Open Document Format?

  1. To eliminate the familiar problem of someone asking you to resend in a different format, download a new program or upgrade
  2. to give you the choice which word processor you use
  3. to give you the chance to invest in new software when you need to, not when incompatibility forces you to
  4. so that you will still be able to read your own documents in years to come

How can I use the Open Document Format?

Most software packages now allow you to change the ‘default’ format when you save a file. It will be in your user settings and you will also be asked when you install new software. You certainly do not have to spend any money to start using this standard. There may be a few minutes needed in training, but it is very simple. You only need to alter the default once.

Libreoffice and google docs have automatically used this standard for years. Libreoffice is used by millions and can be downloaded for free, so give it a try whatever you already use – it will look very familiar and does most things well in my view (I’ve used it for ten years now).

Further reading

More details from the UK government here.

Guardian comment here.

An article about how some software suppliers worried about how they might lose the ability to keep you tied in with them here.

Adding the Epson Stylus Photo RX620 printer to Debian Stable Wheezy

CUPS Printer Driver

I spent a while trying to get this going on a 64-bit machine.

Step 1 – install cups. Open a console and type sudo aptitude install cups cups-client.

Some forums suggested aptitude install cups cups-client which did not work for me. The first thing to remember is that at the moment there is no gui print settings application, so you access CUPS settings from a browser by entering the address from //:localhost:631. Then select administration and at the login window that pops up, you need to use root and the root password. Find printers or add printer did not discover the printer, which was turned on and connected to the USB port.

Epson Download

Tried the downloads from the Epson site and  got dragged into a loop of searches on their site. Eventually I got to a selection listing a load of separate scanner and printer drivers, 32 and 64-bit in rpm and gz form. opting for gz gave me a file but no instructions that made sense, so I gave up

Gutenprint

This was by far the simplest solution for me. Open a console:

  • make sure you have done stage 1 above – sudo aptitude install cups cups-client
  • type sudo aptitude install printer-driver-gutenprint ijs gutenprint cups-driver-gutenprint foomatic-db-gutenprint
  • plug in and turn on the printer(s)
  • open a browser and type //:localhost:631 in the address bar. Enter the root name and password, then go to admin > find printers.

For me, two separate Epson all-in-one printers were found and I just followed the default names and used them. So CUPS was very close, but Gutenprint filed in the gap. I have no idea whether this would now work if I uninstalled any of the bits above.

Webex Webinars on Debian

Webex WebinarsThe webex logo

Webex are one of a number of companies who offer a platform for hosting webinars – for interactive teaching, demonstrations and training. The application runs in a browser and is dependent on java and flash – something which many user will have turned off to avoid security, speed or compatibility problems.

Installing in Debian

Linux users are often a bit more circumspect about installing just anything into their browsers, and here is how I got things to work in debian 7 testing (Jessie) 64-bit xcfe:

  1. tried all sorts with native 64-bit and so much conflicted I gave up
  2. set up a 32-bit virtual machine in virtualbox
  3. opened a console and entered sudo aptitude install icedtea-6-plugin flashplugin-nonfree
  4. went to the Webex test meeting page to check the functionality
  5. on the desktop, went to media > mixer > show controls and enabled the mic and master volume

Sorted.

However, it’s a real drag to fire up a vm just to participate in a demo! Contact me if you have come across a better platform for hosting or attending webinars on linux.

Thanks and good luck.

Remove google+ birthdays from your calendar

Google Calendar

Google calendar can be a very useful part of the gmail suite, especially for anyone who wants to manage mail and calendar on several devices. For more details see Google’s introduction here, but there are some great advantages like sharing other’s calendars and having several calendars for different purposes (home and work for example).

Removing the Birthday Calendar

Recently google has dumped another calender in your view, and it has the birthdays of any of your google or google+ contacts who have recorded their birthdays. I don’t want this and here is the trick to remove them:

  • calendar view
  • Settings > Calendars tab > ‘Browse Interesting Calendars’ > More tab > Birthdays – Unsubscribe
  • return to calendar

With thanks to n21Brown on google help forums for pointing that out to me.

Make the change from British Summer Time work for you

Picture your ideal working hours and try to introduce them

The Working Hours clock from BVD Design

Because the clocks change in the UK in October, I work my winter “split shift” system.

Using the Clock changes to your advantage

If, like me, you find the darker evenings and the end of British Summer Time (BST) take away your leisure or exercise time (in my case, cycling) in the winter, think about how to split up your working day.

The concept of split shift working

The concept is simple and used in many workplaces – do your day’s work in several chunks, rather than one go (e.g. 9 to 5). Many people could start earlier, take a few hours out mid-morning or mid-afternoon then return work later, providing they plan it.

What about missing calls or customers?

A business cannot flourish unless it satisfies customers. So people need to make plans for dealing with enquiries etc. But remember, this arrangement could actually extend the time a business is available to customers if colleagues take different breaks, or answering systems are used sensibly. There are always times when people are unavailable due to meetings etc, so why not plan them to your advantage?

Run your own business?

If you are your own boss, it can be tempting to keep the traditional routine of ‘office hours’ and more. In winter you can find that sports, gardening or just a walk outside to unwind can get ignored.

So consider taking a break of several hours in daylight then return to running your business as it starts to get dark. The extra focus when you return means that you can still get things done by a reasonable time, and you will not have missed out on stress-reducing down-time and leisure activities – you probably work late anyway!

Employees

The concept of split shifts or different working hours may suit many employees, so before making any decisions, have a discussion about the whole concept of working hours. As long as everyone is in agreement, most arrangements are possible.

Go on – take a few minutes to consider how you could keep your daylight activities when the daylight hours are shorter! Some timetables can’t be changed, but many can with a bit of thought.

Contact me if you want explore how to make time work for you.

WordPress automatic backup

It is always to backup any computer files that you value, and especially wise with your blog or website.

I recommend wp-db-backup because of its simplicity to set up, but currently have a few problems with a few sites which for a couple of reasons to not follow the default installation of wordpress. I’ll elaborate later, but am getting great support from the plugin authors so am using this as a diagnosis page for them.

How the backup fails

When the plugin is working properly on a site setup the default wordpress way, it will expect to backup your core tables and offer extra tables that have been added by plugins. They would be listed on the left and right of the backup screen respectively.

Screenshot when the underlying structure causes the plugin to fail:before_backup

As you press the ‘Backup now!’ button to do the first unscheduled backup, some warnings and a progress bar will appear at the top of your screen. You know there is something wrong when the progress bar appears but it does not move beyond 0%!
Screenshot as the backup is started:

in_backup

 

What causes the backup failure

WordPress ‘out of the box’

The default installation of wordpress is into a directory called wp. If you have a hosting package rather than run your own server then you often put your files in a directory called public_html.

So, if you run one wordpress site or blog,  your files live in public_html/wp/ and the address of the home page of your blog is www.yourdomain/wp/index.php.

Other directory structures

There are several reasons why you do not want the default setup, and wordpress has allowed for this (see settings > general on your dashboard). For example:

  • you want simple page addresses. My site for example lives in public_html/wp/ but because the whole site is based on wordpress, I want the home page of the site to be www.interweave-now.co.uk/ and not www.interweave-now.co.uk/wp/.

    In this case in my settings > general the wordpress url is set as www.interweave-now.co.uk/wp and the site url reads www.interweave-now.co.uk/. The domain points to the public_html/wp

  • you do not want to make it obvious you use wordpress, or have no need for other pages in the ‘root’ of your domain. Put the wordpress files into public_html/myblogname/ and point the domain to public_html/myblogname/
  • you want something more personal than ‘wp’. For example, I have a site for members of a group and put wordpress in public_html/ourgroup/members/

Summary

So WordPress can adapt to your file structure and to a degree can separate the appearance in the browser address bar from the hierarchy of your directories. At the moment the plugin struggles with this but I expect it will be sorted very quickly.

Contact me if you need to discuss having a website or blog for your needs.

Barclays Bank Computer theft

This is one post what I am going to revise as the story unfolds, so keep an eye on it. The interesting part to me is how do you track people on your sites and places of work? BBC article here

Monitoring People on Site

It is so common to visit a workplace (other than as a customer) and follow someone through a pass-protected door, or sign in yet leave by another entrance and drive away with a visitors pass still in your pocket. So although security is a specialism in its own right I though I would jot down a few questions we all need to consider, then act on if we suspect that our answers are weak.

Visitor Security self-assessment

  • in an emergency am I sure that anyone could know who was left in the building?
  • what help can neighbouring businesses be to each other?
  • how important do people really think visitor books and passes are?
  • can all your colleagues challenge a visitor about their identity confidently and politely? How well would they be supported if their challenge was not well-received?
  • what impression does a visitor get from all the areas they might visit?
  • how well do visitors have to be known before scrutiny is relaxed?
  • if my insurance company tested the system with a visit, how would they rate us as a risk?
  • do you use technology effectively and unobtrusively?

Next Actions

I made this post to gather my thoughts and perhaps help a few people with some searching questions. To me, the points above tell me about your approach to business or project planning, safety, theft, sabotage, intellectual property, branding, leadership and employee relations.

If you want someone who can pose those questions in confidence then help you improve your answers, call me.

Adding HP Deskjet in Linux Mint

Bidirectional Printing Problem with HP Deskjet

When I plugged my HP Deskjet 5552 into the USB port of a PC running Linux Mint LMDE operating system. It automatically selected a driver (HP Deskjet 5550 using CUPS + Gutenprint) and printed correctly in all resolutions. However, printing was very slow because it was unidirectional, not bidirectional (i.e. the head only prints in one direction across the paper rather than each way). We really needed to be able to specify 5552, not 5550.
I confirmed it was a driver issue with the following checks:

  • cable suitable for USB2
  • port capable of USB2
  • Windows XP running in Virtualbox on that PC printed bidirectionally

Solution

There are 2 ways I know of to instal a printer in Mint LMDE – via a browser and the CUPS interface or using System > Printing from the menu. Usually the system will detect and install correctly when you plug it in and turn it on, which it almost did here.

CUPS

To use CUPS you have to log into the session as root (or someone with CUPS permissions) – starting a browser with sudo will not work. By default Mint will not allow system administrator access via a login window, so this has to be enable first (see tips below).

Although in general CUPS allows you to set more options, it did not offer the Deskjet 5552 as a potential printer, so this option is a dead end.

Printers utility

Select System > Printing from the main menu bar.

  1. If your printer has already been found, its simplest to make sure it is switched off then delete it
  2. Click the + sign to add a new printer – you may need to enter your user password (not root).print1 This will happen several times during the process but I’ll only mention it once
  3. click on your desired printer.Then select ‘forward’
  4. print2you will get a box ‘searching for drivers’ then the printer details should populate – BUT as a 5550 NOT 5552.Click ‘apply’
  5. print3Right-click the new printer icon and select ‘properties’.You may see “Option ‘printer-resolution’ has value ‘(unknown IPP tag)’ and cannot be edited.”. I know of no way around this but it has not caused me problems
  6. print4you will see the driver details box.Click on the ‘Change’ button after ‘Make and model’
  7. There will be a notification box to say ‘searching for drivers’. Wait for the manufacturer list then select ‘hp’. Click ‘Forward’. If you prefer, at this point you can point directly to a PPD file, but this was not necessary for me
  8. print5You will see that the recommended option will be the HP 5550.This is what I needed the change.

    Look below it and select HP 5552, I then chose the second, CUPS option.

    Click ‘Forward’.

  9. print6You are then offered the choice of accepting new PPD values or copying across the old ones. On the logic the old one did not work properly, I selected the first option.
  10. Tick if you have a duplexer installed then ‘Apply’. Providing the utility does not hang (mine did a few times) you now have a much faster printer!

Note

Not wanting to be critical, the print utility seems flakey at best, with repeated requests for password and frequent hanging on ‘Apply’. Although I can’t solve this I am trying to work out what goes wrong consistently so that I can file a bug report.

 

 

Top Tips

  • To log in as root, first login normally then select ‘System > Login Window’ in the main menu. Select the ‘security’ tab and tick the ‘Allow local system administrator login’ box. Close will save your settings, so you can log out then login as root
  • You get the CUPS control panel in the browser using the address ‘localhost:631’. This is normally the best option for administering printers
  • It’s best to confirm the hardware is capable (USB lead, USB port options) before assuming that the software is failing you

Arts Project Earth Grant Funding

The Arts Project Earth grant

This is a grant for charitable organisations working on projects that are directly related to climate change mitigation, adaptation or awareness-raising from all over the world.

Notes about the grant funding

The size of grants given by APE depend on the total funding available, the number of applications and the strength of the project. To date, grants have been in the range of £500 to £20,000.

The Artists Project Earth Grant is provided and administered by The Artists Project Earth (APE) and is available for Third Sector Organisations (TSOs) active in the UK.

The scheme is intended to support charitable originations undertaking projects and awareness raising initiatives to combat climate change and raise funds for natural disaster relief.

The scheme aims to create a better world by bringing the power of music and the arts to 21st century challenges.

Application Deadline: 31 March 2013 (midnight), or on receipt of the first 100 applications, whichever is first.

Key Funding Criteria

The scheme is open to organisations such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs), registered charities and academic institutions.

Organisations should be working:

  • To prevent the causes of climate change.
  • To defend communities and ecosystems against the impacts of climate change.
  • To support and build resilience for communities affected by natural disasters.

These are broad topics and may include, among other things, projects that:

  • Create awareness of the causes, impacts and solutions to climate change.
  • Create political and social awareness of the need for rapid change and preparation.
  • Lead to the adoption of low carbon technologies and lifestyles.
  • Prepare vulnerable communities and ecosystems for climate impacts.
  • Protect ecosystems at risk from climate change.

APE has created a new category for funding called ‘Inspiring Change’. APE is looking for projects that can make a real difference in the world; projects that show how artistic creativity can come to the aid of our beleaguered planet. Priority will be given to applications that:

  • Combine creative ideas such as art/theatre/music and activism.
  • Ideas for new methods of public participation in creating a more just and sustainable world.
  • Projects that inspire positive changes in people, organisations, businesses and policy-makers.
  • Projects that provide solutions to environmental problems.
  • Projects that create green jobs for young people.

Match Funding Restrictions

APE may partially fund projects and applicants are advised to approach other grant-making organisations. However, applications should not be match funded by any organisation or corporation working for or on behalf of the nuclear, oil, coal or gas industries.

Funding is not available for individuals unless they are working in close partnership with a recognised and accountable organisation.

Applications will not be accepted from previously-funded organisations. Organisations that applied for a project that was not funded may reapply but not for the same project.
Application Procedure

Application forms are available to download from APE’s website. This should be returned by email, along with references from two referees.

Applicants can also send a link to a two minute video to tell APE about the project and enable them to better convey their depth, commitment and passion for the project. Applicants that do not send a video link will not be penalised.

Contact the Artists Project Earth for further information.

Contact details:
Enquiries
Artists Project Earth
P.O. Box 627
Banbury
OXON
OX16 6EZ