Category Archives: Writing


So, here I am, logging into my blog again.

I now (for my sins) work in London, for the private sector! Shock horror. Its been an interesting change, the running has fallen by the wayside, but I am sure I will pick it up again when it suits, it is never too late.

I have taken up cross-stitch and knitting (the latter very badly). Which have been really good for my mental health and generally just feeling more relaxed. Hopefully I will get around to putting up some pictures soon.

I am also very fortunate that in this new job I am able to travel and deliver speeches/presentations. So far (in about a year) I have been to:

  • Anaheim (oh that’s a good point, I can share some Disney photos!)
  • Indonesia (Jakarta)
  • Montreal
  • Shanghai
  • Paris
  • Sarajevo
  • Dubai
  • Cairo
  • Amman (Jordan)
  • Beirut (Lebanon)
  • Bucharest
  • Nanjing (and Shanghai again)

In the next couple of weeks I am delivering a workshop at a Toastmasters district conference, which was another ambition of mine. The workshop is on “Speaking to difficult audiences”. I am really looking forward to it.

I have also gone back to school and am back studying with the Open University, where I am working on a module called H800 Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates, which is the first part of a Masters in Online and Distance Education. Right, yes, now you get it! 🙂 It’s a very different study experience to my last Masters with the OU on Classics where I had a physical reader and a folder where I compiled all my notes. I am using a google doc as my “folder” writing everything in there. Seems to be working ok, one TMA down (in which I got 69% so pretty chuffed with that).



Wow – September already and I’ve not posted since June. Where has the time gone?!

I’ve been busy – a bit of running (not a lot though, I’ll admit) and some changes at work – a new boss, then a new job (doing more stats and analytic type stuff, yes!) and another new boss.


Anyway, around this time I was offered a free trial of LinkedIn’s new acquisition. The site offers courses in leadership, management and lots of software programmes (including things for CAD and Photo editing). As it was a free trial I was signing up for; I signed up for a premium account which means access to additional files to download – you can still get your own free 10 day trial.

Courses on take the form of video lectures with a transcript – because of this I kind of think of them as MOOLs – Massive Online Open Lectures – there is no interaction via community message boards with fellow students or tutors, you simply watch the lectures and make notes, downloading any reference material if provided. Courses tell you how long they are (I think the shortest I did was about 16 minutes the longest over 5 hours) and material will be broken down into chapters.
There is also no assessment or requirement for interaction – all you need to do is click on every segment/chapter of the video – you do not even need to let it play through, just click on it, and it will count as being completed.


The subjects I looked at were:

  • Leading and Working in Teams
  • Data Visualization for Data Analysts
  • Data Visualization Fundamentals
  • Developing Political Savvy
  • Leading with Stories
  • Business Storytelling
  • Leadership Fundamentals
  • Presentation Fundamentals
  • Developing Executive Presence
  • Building Self-Confidence
  • Stepping up to Leadership
  • Managing and Analysing Data in Excel 2010
  • Thinking Like a Leader
  • Macros in Depth
  • Body Language for Leaders
  • R Statistics Essential Training
  • SPSS Statistics Essential Training
  • Up and Running with R

Some were a lot better than others – the tutor for the Body Language for Leaders stood out for me; so much so I actually sent the tutor an email via her professional website. Leadership Fundamentals also had some great content. The guy on the excel videos (Dennis Taylor) was also extremely good at delivery and I would certainly recommend any course by him; I was also able to preview what was coming up and skip to the areas that I knew I had a couple of gaps in or were in need of refreshing.

So, I guess the more soft skills courses were a lot like going to a seminar – except you can pause and rewind bits that perhaps you missed or want repeated.
The software courses can be useful to work alongside – as it had been a few months since I’d used SPSS last, I borrowed a laptop with it on, found myself a room and worked through the exercises – everything came flooding back (though I admit I didn’t learn much new on that one). is also fully integrated with LinkedIn so after completing a course you can link it directly into your profile with just a couple of clicks – I did this for a few courses but not all of them.


I can certainly see the value in a business signing up for an account and allowing staff to work on subjects and brush up some skills with Microsoft office or other products, but for an individual learner it isn’t cheap and I am not sure how much you would benefit; is anyone going to hire me on the strength of the fact that I sat through some MOOLs on R, SPSS and leadership? No. But, I did have great fun and did learn quite a few things (note – once your trial is over your access including to courses you have completed shuts off – so make sure you have taken all the notes and downloads that you want!) so I would certainly recommend people signing up to the free trial when they can time it right so they have the opportunity to get as much out of it as possible.


23 Things – Thing 23 Wrap-up

Wow, the end of my 23 Things journey is finally here and (unsurprisingly) the final thing asks you to reflect on what you have learned and experienced as part of 23 Things, which I had been planning to do anyway, but I had expected Thing 23 to specifically direct me to do it.

Stuff I learned

  • – this looks like a good tool to track click-throughs and create short, neat urls extremely simply; I hadn’t investigated it before because I (wrongly) thought it was complicated, signing in via twitter also meant I didn’t have to create yet another account!
  • Image use – I was glad to get a bit more guidance around this subject as I was extremely wary of using images that I hadn’t taken with my own fair hands.  I still am wary – but at least I know what to do now if I do choose to use one!
  • Podcasts – screencast-o-matic.  I think this may be very useful one day – I have thought it would be great to do a podcast about telethons, direct mail etc and then do a screen-cast to show people/colleagues how to use the data manipulation tools that I have created, rather than writing a how-to document with screenshots, I think this would be a much more fun and useful approach.
  • Wikipedia – this was a bit of fun exploring the extra tabs that I hadn’t known existed and signing up to the daily emails.

Perhaps the most useful thing that I got out of 23 Things though was the habit of blogging.  Having stablished my blog in May; my blogging could be described as “sporadic” at best; one of the main reasons for my signing up was to get into more of a habit of regular blogging – I think I have managed this (let’s hope I can keep it up).
I have also got far more involved in Twitter and following other blogs.

23 Things was part of #Oxengage – a Michaelmas term suite of events and activities getting people more involved in social media.  I went to a talk on social media and analytics, a half day course in setting up an online presence and of course, that amazing talk by Garr Reynolds.

All in all it’s been a really worthwhile experience – I am particularly pleased with my all-time high of 44 views in a day! I would recommend anyone interested in becoming more familiar with social media to try it out.

23 Things – Bonus 6 Researcher IDs

23 Things is aimed at researchers so this Thing was quite interesting; encouraging researchers to create a Researcher Identifier – this helps distinguish researchers with similar names, increase your visibility (and the chance of your work being read/cited).

Despite not being a Researcher, I do have a publication so I decided to set up an ORCID (Open Researcher & Contributor ID) – others are available, but this seemed like the simplest one.  So, here is my ORCID page I can see this would be extremely useful to Researchers and it makes me feel a teensy bit academic!


23 Things – Thing 19 Linking

Thing 19 tells us to post a link to something that we have created and see what happens.

One thing suggested was to sign up to to both shorten and track the link. I have seen links all over the place, but had never really considered using them myself.  Signing up for an account was super easy – I signed up through Twitter in (literally) seconds and then pasted my link text into the box and the top with the orange fish (why an orange fish I have no idea) and ta da – a pane opened on the right with my new link in it.

So here is my link.  This link is to my dissertation on Ancient Greek runners, published on Kindle.  And if you hurry and click-through in the next couple of days, it’s free!

I know, I need to get a cover done.

I know, I need to get a cover done.

My link aside, looks like a very interesting tool – I hope some people click on my link so I can see what the stats look like!