Nick Gibbins

Adventures in Marking

Still on the death march from last semester, alas, but thought I’d take time out to share a few choice specimens. From a coursework in which the students were supposed to build an expert system to identify British birds (having first read the RSPB website or similar): The “barnade gosse” The “magple” My personal favourite, that bird with a duck-shaped beak, the house sparrow (admittedly from a Chinese student, but I would have thought that sparrow numbers had recovered since the Four Pests Campaign) From a coursework in which the students wrote a report explaining why hypertext fiction never really… Read More »Adventures in Marking


I appear to have been mentioned in the Huffington Post.

An interesting choice of words

So, Apple posted a teaser for the new version of OS X yesterday, and in amongst the goodies was the following image. Note the name of the user. I’m quite surprised that there hasn’t been a larger reaction to this (but this may just be my own prejudices*). So, to the poll! * two of my cousins are CP

I call it the Marmalagarita

While squeezing some Seville oranges at the weekend (for duck a l’orange, as you do), I realised that what Seville orange juice really, really needs is tequila. I therefore present the following: Marmalagarita 40ml tequila 20ml Cointreau Juice of a Seville orange Dash of orange bitters (Fee Bros. preferred)

Life Update: Luxembourg, birthday, work, court

It’s been a very busy few weeks here, with no sign that work is going to ease off before Xmas (or before the arrival of Garklet #2), but I ought to make an effort to at least record what’s been going on with my life. After the failed trip to Stornoway last month, the candidate and his supervisor came down to Southampton (they were in London for a meeting) for a second attempt at a viva, and I’m delighted to say that he defended his PhD well. On the 6th, I headed off to Luxembourg for the kick-off meeting for… Read More »Life Update: Luxembourg, birthday, work, court

Categorised to a tee

Consider today’s XKCD. For the record, I like Isaac Asimov and XML, I’ve been thinking about buying a pair of Vibrams for the last year, I think that the Segway looks neat (and, as a child, quite the sort of vehicle which I was led to believe would be in my future), and I’ve been looking for an affordable head-mounted display for the best part of a decade. And yes, my favourite map projection is Dymaxion. (although not because of Bucky Fuller, but rather because of my youth misspent on certain games)

Dispatches from the war against scammers

A new record! Last time I kept them on the line for 37 minutes before pointing out that I knew what they were doing. Result: they phoned me back to insult me. This time I managed to wind them up enough *within 15 seconds* that they phoned me back to insult me.

You know what they say: lunch in Southampton, dinner in London, breakfast in… Preston? By now, I should have been mid-viva in Stornoway. Instead, I’m in the Apple Store on Buchanan St. in Glasgow. The original plan had been to get the sleeper overnight from London to Glasgow (arr 0720), then hop on the 1050 from Glasgow Intl to Stornoway, viva the candidate, hop back to Glasgow on the 1935 flight and then get the sleeper back down south. Instead, I got up this morning at 0730 (having been wondering where my 0645 wake-up call and breakfast had gone) to… Read More »

Planes and trains

Just boarded the sleeper to Glasgow (alas no sign of Skimbleshanks). From there I’ll be heading to the Western Isles, where I will do my best to avoid any large anthropomorphic wicker constructions. The shame of it is that this is just a flying (day!) visit to examine a PhD; if it hadn’t been for the demands of work, I would have happily spent a couple of days in Stornoway.

Leaving, on a prop plane

Dear Expedia, No, I will not pay you an extra £10 for booking a Flybe flight from Glasgow to Stornoway, especially if you insist on passing my details to the TSA. In fact, your flight booking software seems to be a little kooky in general. While Stornoway is relatively remote, I find it hard to believe that the quickest flight from Stornoway to Aberdeen (a possible route considered while planning my journey) involved stopping off in Inverness, Kirkwall and Lerwick en route (5.5h). Similarly, flying from Inverness to Southampton via both Manchester and Jersey seems a little excessive (7.5h). I’ll… Read More »Leaving, on a prop plane