A Life Untold

Ranting while I’m Raving; Technology News and Views

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Archive for the ‘school’ Category

Working from Anywhere: The U.W.O. Addition

Posted by titusferguson on February 11, 2008

So the benefit of the new media, internet based applications, and doing business online, is the ability to work from anywhere you have a wi-fi connection. This is also true regarding students at universities. With last minute papers always been finished off and assignments due within minutes, its imperative that we be able to work anywhere on campus.

Unfortunately around this time of year that becomes increasingly difficult.

The University of Western Ontario (U.W.O) has done a great job providing wireless internet access to its students in pretty much all the major areas on campus, as this map shows. What the school is missing is adequate seating and desks.

Unless you arrive on campus early enough, say before 9 am, (early for students), you will proabably spend between 10 to 20 minutes looking for a seat anywhere. The library is always full, the cafeteria is packed from 1o am to 4 pm. The University Community Centre (UCC) has almost no good seating arrangements and other buildings on campus have almost no extra seating outside of class rooms.

Thankfull the university seems to realise this and the new athletic center will free up space in the UCC. I just hope they can maximize the space and not waste it will ill-designed kiosks. (third – fifth floors of the library for example)

I would have liked to included pictures in this posts, but I forgot my camera and walking around taking pictures with an iSight did not seem to be a good idea.


Posted in internet, school | 4 Comments »

Shopping Experience

Posted by titusferguson on January 31, 2008

I am a student at the University of Western Ontario, in London Ontario. Like all schools in North America, the administration is more concerned with making money then learning and development. For this reason space is often rented out in the University Community Centre (UCC) to retailers. The UCC is like the hub of the campus, the cafeteria, bookstore, printers, gym etc is all in there. The majority of the student population shuffles through there at least once a day, its a high traffic area.

So it was no surprise on Tuesday to see a bunch of clothing racks and decide to browse through them. I found a shirt I liked as well as a hoodie that was kinda cool. I bought the shirt and put a $5 deposit on the hoody so they would hold it for me. I specifically asked about returns and they said only exchanges. I was fine with that since I had seen other items I liked.

When I got home I tried the shirt on a bit more and looked in the mirror. I came the conclusion that it wasn’t quite the item for me. No problem, I was told I could exchange it if I didn’t like it. Thankfully I hadn’t lost my receipt this time, so everything was in order.

The next day I’m back at school and I head back to the UCC to browse through the clothing. I eventually find an item I like. The whole time that I am shopping, I might add, all sorts of “employees” are coming up to me and telling me how great everything looks on me. I can tell they are just being patronistic and only care about making a sale. I can *kinda appreciate that, I have worked retail. I take the item I want up to the girl at the cash, tell her I want to do an exchange. She says no problem, then asks what I had originally bought. I showed here and she walks over to another guy, and confers with him for a moment. He starts shaking his head no. He walks over and tells me that they can’t really do the return because its from a different vendor, blah blah blah.

At this point I am really pissed off. I was already tired of being patronized and coddled. I had been told on numerous occasions by these people that there would be no problem exchanging. And on top of that, as he told me he wouldn’t do the exchange he was bagging the other item, as if he thought I would still want to take it. I had to raise my voice at this guy to get him to stop. He was not appologetic, all he cared about was to make another sale.

To make things worse, I then had to tell him I wanted my deposit back, and I know for a fact that he knew I had paid it, because it was the same guy I had talked to yesterday. He looks in the cash drawer, sees only $20s and asks me if I have any change. Since I didn’t have any he went off to go get some.

While he was gone, the cashier standing there kept apologizing, but it was so blantantly fake, I knew she didn’t care. Eventually I found out why, since she felt so bad she would give me a deal on the shirt I was going to exchange. Did these people not get it?!?! I did not want more stuff! Once I explained this to her one last time, she just walked off. The guy had been gone for a while and I was starting to think that maybe he was going to make off with my $5. Little did he know that I Scot will wait around for quite some time. He did come back eventually, handed me my money and left.

The whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth, and I realise that I should have trusted my gut feeling with these guys, the whole thing seemed sketch. Now I am not totally against corporations, I’m not anti-capitalistic or hate commerce. I just hate getting shafted and screwed over. I’ll no doubt support a small vendor again at some point, I’ll just think more critically about it before I do.

Posted in ideas, life, school | 1 Comment »

First Day Back At School

Posted by titusferguson on January 7, 2008

So, as the title suggests, today is my first day back at school for the 2007/2008 winter term. While I did take two courses last term, the majority of my time was spent working. I’ve finished working until May and will spend the next four months focusing on school.

Even now I’m still undecided about how I feel about heading back. I experienced a certain amount of freedom while working full time that I had hitherto not known. At the same time though with only 4 courses and 11 hours of total class time, going back to school feels almost like a vacation compared to 9.5 hour days and 6 am wakeups.

I lot of how I feel is going to depend on how my courses go too. I’m looking forward to a couple of them, which is important obviously. But I am also forced to take a couple of courses I really don’t want to, only to finish up my degree.

I really have nothing to complain about though, I’ve had a very cushy 4+ years here at school, and as it winds down I’m sure I’ll spend a lot of time reminiscing about the past.

But for now, its time to focus on class…

Posted in blabing, ideas, life, school, work | Leave a Comment »

You Know What to do…

Posted by titusferguson on April 26, 2007

A funny thing happens as exam period goes on and I finally reach the last exam. Its usually the one that I should have studied the most for. This happens every year, and is probably related to some form of burnout…

I also don’t care about my marks any more and just want to be done. I’ve yet to figure out if that has seriously impacted my grades at all.

Although this might not be of interest to many people reading this blog, there is quite the interesting discussion going on over at Joel Timmerman’s blog on sermons.

Posted in Biology, religion, school | Leave a Comment »


Posted by titusferguson on April 24, 2007

A break now from the more serious and important posts I’ve done recently.

Music is very important during exams. It breaks the monotony of  studying at a desk for hours at a time. So heres a list of the recent artists and albums I’ve been enjoying these past few weeks:

Sufjan StevenSeven Swans 

The Kooks –  Inside In Inside Out

Yo La Tengo  – I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass

These three albums have been on repeat on iTunes constantly. They’re all different musical styles so it doesn’t get boring.

Posted in Music, school | Leave a Comment »

Genetically Modified Organisms: Part 2

Posted by titusferguson on April 23, 2007

Sorry this was delayed but my internet service has been down all weekend

Previously I talked about the need for third party monitors on GMO crops. In this post I’m going to look in a little more depth about what that would mean. For the most part I don’t like groups like Greenpeace and other militant environmentalists, but I must agree with their tactics regarding GMOs.

Europeans have the most stringent guidelines for the labelling of GM foods. Any product with any amount of genetic engineering must be labelled as such. When Europeans discovered a batch of soy travelling to Europe had been intentionally mixed with GM soy they became enraged. Civil disobedience against Monsanto, a major biotechnology company involved in many GMO foods, was rampant across the continent and the UK.

Both Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth were involved in blocking shipments and organizing supermarket boycotts. Because of their actions the soy was not used unknowingly in non-GMO labelled foods.

In the end though it was the private citizen who really got things accomplished. By standing up to big companies and letting their voices be heard private citizens can impact change. Ultimately North Americans must realise that neither corporations nor governments are looking out for the consumer, we are nothing more then potential customers and therefore potential profits. Getting informed and making your opinion heard is the only way to ensure what’s good for you is getting done. No one is going to do it for you.

Posted in Biology, GMOS, politics, school, science | 1 Comment »

Genetically Modified Organisms: Part 1

Posted by titusferguson on April 18, 2007

The idea of whom the public should look to for protection, I’m not talking about physical but consumer protection, has been on my mind lately. This might have something to do with my studying for philosophy of biology and the readings from “From Naked Ape to Superspecies” by David Suzuki and Holly Dressel on the impact of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). When I talk about products in this post I’m focusing on food.

I don’t want to get into a discussion on the merits or disadvantages of GMOs, mostly because I don’t completely know what to make of them myself. What I do know is that trusting any company that seeks to make a profit to have my best interests at heart will not work. The bottom line motivates all decisions a corporation makes. Despite the implications to my own heath if a product makes money it will be forced on the market. You can call this what you want, even the inherent problems of capitalism.

However the consumer must be made aware of the risk associated with any product and therefore we require, and have the right to a regulatory body to oversee the introduction of new products. The manufacture cannot be trusted to give an honest assessment and often the government is swayed by their own potential profits in these deals.

A third party organization is the only viable third option. They can avoid the profit motivation and focus entirely on fair judgment of a product. This is not to say that they don’t have their own agenda, it just isn’t going to potentially harm me. In my next post I’m going to look at what such an organization might look like and accomplish.

Posted in Biology, GMOS, politics, school, science | Leave a Comment »

Virginia Tech Shooting

Posted by titusferguson on April 17, 2007

There is so much you could write about this latest school shooting. Gun control no doubt will receive renewed interested as a result. But I want to focus on another issue.

Dr. Charles W. Steger, the president of Virginia Tech, defended the school’s decision not to evacuate the  campus after the earlier shooting at the dorm. One reason, among many, he gave was that thousands of people were already on campus by this point and it would have been difficult to inform them all and get the school shut down.

My reaction to that? You’re crazy! Notifying the student body would have been as simple as announcing the school was closed via email and any PA system, as well as sending administration staff out to inform  students personally. Classes could also have been canceled by sending emails.

As soon as a few of the students knew what was going on and why it was closed word would have spread like wildfire. We’re talking about late-teens early twenties students. the most plugged in generation of all time. Instantly word would have gone out through text-messages, instant messages, facebook and even phone calls. Informing a few would have informed everyone.

The bomb threats from the previous week and the shootings at the dorm should have set off warning bells. Even if the events were not linked, precaution would have been warranted. Evacuating the school may not have completely prevented the tragedy, but it would have reduced its scope. Its a shame the right decision was not made.

Posted in news, school, shooting, virginia tech | Leave a Comment »

Exam Time

Posted by titusferguson on April 14, 2007

The last days of class are always great, the feeling of finishing up a course and finally handing in all the assignments is amazing.

But its quickly surpassed by feelings of dread, anxiety, and fear. Exams.

Unlike a lot of lucky arts students, over at science all our courses have finals. So this year, like every year,  I’ve got five exams.

First one is on Monday: Introduction to Logic 3 hrs

So please excuse me while I go study.

Posted in school | Leave a Comment »

Wrapping Up

Posted by titusferguson on April 11, 2007

So classes are winding down at school and its amazing how fast the second semester seems to go compared to the first. I feel like I just started most of these classes but here they are all ending.

Today I’m handing in a term paper for my philosophy of biology classes. The topic I chose was evolutionary origin theory, basically how life began. I presented the case that theories like that are not science, as per the definitions philosophers of science like Karl Popper and Michael Ruse present. I’m pretty proud of the paper and if anyone wants to read it let me know.

Also having checked my stats on this blog I see that two people subscribe to the RSS feed. I’d be curious to know who they are….

Posted in school, science | 4 Comments »