Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A new era for Asterix

I received the long-awaited new Asterix book this morning, the release of this album is an important event in the history of European comics. This new Asterix adventure is the first which the original creators of the indomitable Gaul (Goscinny and Uderzo) did not have a hand in (though Uderzo did help draw the cover i think).

The Asterix saga is at a major turning point therefore. The creators were either too old to continue or had already passed away, the only way the franchise could continue was with new blood at the helm. You can imagine the team of Ferri and Conrad, who created this story, felt a huge amount of pressure when they were putting Asterix and the Picts together...

NuAsterix (a term i invented, feel free to borrow) could well live or die on how good this story is. If it was bad then there might not be much chance to keep the characters going much longer. Luckily Asterix and the Picts is actually pretty good.

I wouldn't say its the best Asterix book but it is definitely the best for some time, and certainly better than most of the ones Uderzo wrote and drew on his own after the passing of Goscinny. Not that i am as down on Uderzo's version of Asterix as some are, the books are still OK but lacking the subtlety and warmth of the older books.

Asterix and the Picts takes a bit of a middle ground, it still has some of the more slap stick graphically heavy humour of Uderzo's Asterix but more of the word play and puns of the original version. The story gets off to a bit of a clumsy start but then starts to find its feet and includes a few genuine laugh out loud jokes. In truth the book is a bit safe and maybe lacks a clear identity but you can understand that because of what is riding on it. I suspect NuAsterix is now safe for awhile at least and hopefully subsequent books will begin to establish more of the new identity of this third wave of Asterix. By Belanos what a relief!

Now the big question is, can the success of a NuAsterix one day spawn a NuTintin too?

Friday, October 25, 2013

A826 w/c 20/10/13

I started Chapter 3 of my thesis this week, this one is on the Stratford tramway itself - why it was built, how it was operated, how well it did et cetera. I've made good progress through the week and got up to a couple of thousand words already.

One thing i did do this week is upgrade my word processor (Apple Pages) from 09 to the latest version. I really shouldn't have done that. Endnote no longer works properly, luckily i only use the Pages integration as a short-cut to search for references so i can do this directly from the client, its no more than an inconvenience. Some of the other changes to Pages are a bit annoying, such as the word count is no longer in the status bar but has to be floating over the page. No matter where you put it it will get in the way at some stage!

Hint for future thesis writers, DO NOT change your word processor half-way through.

Starting my MOOC

I started my first MOOC today (Massive Open Online Course), which is the University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam's Future of Storytelling course. The first set of video lectures were interesting and i hope the rest of the course over the next few weeks follows suit. I am interested in this course both for my own creative projects and also as it could be useful for possible future jobs, you never know.

Although not directly relevant to a web developer job (for example) there will likely be elements of the course that are helpful just as my History courses proved in areas like research skills and writing. Of course an outsider (such as a manager...) might not be able to appreciate how it could be relevant but things you learn and skills you develop can have beneficial side-effects elsewhere in unexpected ways.

I also completed my latest Lynda course on jQuery anyway. Its been a multi-disciplinary day!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Train video

I took a couple of videos of my model railway Project Eskalon yesterday. This ones shows that by using one of the industrial wagons as a match wagon little No.17 can work with my Liliput wagon. This is the Eskalon engineering train, rushing ballast to where it is needed.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Dipping a toe in the MOOC waters

MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses are pretty big now. They are university courses offered free to everyone with an internet connection. A few friends have taken such courses and i thought it was time i tried one too so i have enrolled on the very interesting sounding Future of Storytelling Course offered by the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences via iversity.

It lasts for a few weeks but shouldn't get in the way of the "day job" academic wise (i have plenty of free time at the moment anyway!) This course isn't related to my masters in any way but may be useful for career purposes and general interest as i do quite a lot of writing online. If the course works out there are a few others starting in early 2014 i have also got my eye on.

If thats not enough i've got a free trial on the Lynda software training site too and i'm trying to get the most out of that improving my career focussed skills as they are lagging badly in many areas. Seems a better way to spend my time during the Winter months than on Facebook anyway.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A826 w/c 14/10/13

A quiet week due to being away for much of it but i did get feedback on my second chapter from my tutor and it was largely favourable which was a relief. I had feared i had gone off in totally the wrong direction but it seems not and most comments were about the formatting not the actual content which is a lot easier to fix.

I think i'll revise chapter 2 (and 1) before i go ahead with chapter 3, i have that planned though.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Eskalon gains a loco

Full coverage on the dedicated blog to the Eskalon model railway project of course but Eskalon has now gained its second locomotive (and 10 more wagons). Now all we need is a station...

Back to Aberystwyth

We enjoyed Aberystwyth so much last year we returned this year. In fact my wife treated me for my birthday and we had a great time, the weather was a bit variable but when it was good it was good (better than August 2012 in-fact). A lot of stuff was closed or restricted as it was out of season but we went up the hill overlooking the town on the cliff railway (something we never got around to doing last time). What a great view from up there! Here you can see the photos i took.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A826 w/c 07/10/13

Chapter 2 is with my tutor so now i am working on chapter 3 of my thesis which will concentrate on the Stratford tramway. As before i am starting to sort my various notes and references and putting post-its onto various sheets of paper. I might start writing at the end of the next week.

As i mentioned earlier in the week i visited Birmingham's new library and looked up a few sources. I'm not sure i need to look up much else now, just a case of trying to sort it out and getting something written down!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Kipling and a 737

One thing i thought i would do a lot more of this year, due to circumstances, was build more models than in previous years. In the event i'm still well short of 2012's 16 completed projects. I'm now up to 10 with Project 049 a British WW2 destroyer (HMS Kipling in fact) now being painted while Project 051 is a Boeing 737. With the Winter chill now starting to be being felt i'm not sure there may be many more completed this year. Maybe 2012 was just a blip?

Monday, October 7, 2013

The new Library of Birmingham

The new Library of Birmingham actually has been open for a few weeks but i decided to wait until today to visit as i did not want to wait in any queues. I was a bit worried about the library if i am to be honest with you as all the press coverage mentioned the building, performance spaces, multimedia and so forth but no one mentioned any books...

I need not have worried, there are plenty of books too! I was really impressed with the new library and visited the local history section where i was glad to see all the resources i was familiar with were there in place. I did manage to look up a few things for my masters.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A826 w/c 30/09/13

Hard yakka as they say. I've been working hard on my second chapter this week, aiming to get it ready to send to my tutor this weekend (or maybe Monday). I went to Stratford archives on Friday to check up on some sources which i first looked at last year. I thought it would be a good idea to look at them again. Usefully too as i think i may have made some mistakes with my interpretations of the sources last year (nothing major but something to reassess).

My PTLLS course ended this week, i hope to do an A1 Assessor course later in the year but for now its A826 all the way!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


The culmination of my PTLLS (Preparation for Teaching in the Life Long Sector) course is a micro-teach. A 20 minute long mini-teaching session that has to be properly planned and assessed. This morning i did my micro-teach to an audience of 16 people, the subject of which ties into my Masters as i did it on searching historical archives and handling primary sources.

A fairly dry subject for the layman perhaps but i wanted to do something like that instead of making up something funky. Maybe i'll be a history teacher one day, you never know. Anyway my micro-teach went fine, i was a little nervous but didn't fall apart and improved as the session went on. There are aspects i need to improve on but overall i was satisfied.