May 2017 round-up

My heart broke twice, this month: when I woke up to news of the attack targeting children and young people at Ariana Grande’s concert; and when I learned that some dear friends are facing a very difficult challenge.   Both these news immediately put my personal ‘problems’ into perspective (swiftly downgrading them to mere inconveniences), … Continue reading May 2017 round-up

Day in the Life of an Academic #7: exams and viva

Got up at 6 am, as usual. However, instead, of squeezing in a bit of writing, as I usually do, I squeezed in a bit of marking. You see, I am in the middle of exam marking season, and I need to go through this particular pile and pass it on for second marking by tomorrow. … Continue reading Day in the Life of an Academic #7: exams and viva

Fake missing persons appeals

After the Manchester terror attack, there were some amazing displays of humanity, online and offline. But there was also a phenomenon that is, at the very least, bizarre, if not just plain cruel: people tweeting fake appeals for missing ones.   For instance, someone used the image of a girl who had been murdered, in a … Continue reading Fake missing persons appeals

March 2017 round-up

A small number of people have told me that they appreciate reading these monthly reports, and some have even adopted a similar practice – most recently, Silvia Tavares, who is an architect and urbanist based at James Cook University, Australia. I have been writing this type of report, in one form or another, since my … Continue reading March 2017 round-up

How Alexa got its name

I always assumed that the name for Amazon’s smart voice assistant, Alexa, was some sort of nod to the (female) name Alexandra. But I was wrong. The creator of Alexa, Brewster Kahle, revealed how he came up with that name, in an interview with Kara Swisher for the Decode Recode podcast, which you can listen … Continue reading How Alexa got its name