Language is never neutral

Language is never neutral

Language is never neutral – a new podcast episode.

Migrating from AudioBoom

I’ve been podcasting using Audioboo (now Audioboom) since 2011 and supported the service by paying for a podcaster subscription for much of that time. Audioboom introduced a new pricing structure that I can’t sustain so I need to migrate to a new solution.
Using my LAMP server, which has bandwidth capacity for my podcasts, I set up a new subdomain on and installed podcastgenerator 2.6. I uploaded a selection of episodes over FTP and used the import function in the admin interface (I had to change the timestamp using touch -t filename.mp3 for each episode to get them into the right time order) finally editing in the description for each show.
For the most part, my episodes had embedded images in the mp3 file, but where they did not, I thought about having to edit the ID3 tags. I read about a method for avoiding this which includes posting an image (say, 300×300) for each track within the long description field in the admin interface of the new software, but this doesn’t seem to work. There’s a command line way to pull an image into an .mp3 file which sometimes works as an alternative:
ffmpeg -i input.mp3 -i cover.png -map 0:0 -map 1:0 -c copy -id3v2_version 3 -metadata:s:v title="Album cover" -metadata:s:v comment="Cover (Front)" out.mp3
If that doesn’t work, you can just drop an appropriate jpg/png in the images folder of the same name as the episode audio file.
The iTunes podcast feed was easily updated by visiting  and pointing to the new feed. Note that podcast artwork must now be between 1400 x 1400 and 3000 x 3000 pixels, JPG or PNG, in RGB color space, and hosted on a server that allows HTTP head requests. The iTunes podcast updated overnight without any difficulty.
Finally, I emailed audioboom to request they apply a 301 or iTunes <itunes:new-feed-url/> redirect to the old feed (pointing to the new one).

Till we meet again

This is Audrey Bourne, my mother, in her younger days singing one of the wartime favourites I grew up with. She sang, standing on top of Letchworth fire station in 1945 on VE Day, home after her stint with the Land Army (having lied about her age). The photo shows her around that age. She sang all through my childhood and now, at 87, sings no more: she has lost none of her spirit and even if her vocal chords have failed her, her mind has not.

The Scottish Academy

I had intended to offer a short talk at Teachmeet – Scottish Learning Festival 2015 this week but had to cancel due to work commitments. Instead, and so as to still put it “out there”, I recorded a podcast of the talk which you can find over at AudioBoom:

The presentation text can be found on Evernote. What do you think? Comments welcome.

Buffer-facing in the Christmas crowds

So, I thought I’d grab a coffee and do some work in Costa using the free wi-fi that the shopping mall is bathing the shoppers with.

[remote@server ~]# ping
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.032 ms 64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.029 ms 64 bytes from icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=0.028 ms 64 bytes from icmp_seq=4 ttl=64 time=0.030 ms 64 bytes from icmp_seq=5 ttl=64 time=0.030 ms 64 bytes from icmp_seq=6 ttl=64 time=0.028 ms 64 bytes from icmp_seq=7 ttl=64 time=0.027 ms 64 bytes from icmp_seq=8 ttl=64 time=0.029 ms ^C
— ping statistics —
8 packets transmitted, 8 received, 0% packet loss, time 7878ms rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 0.027/0.029/0.032/0.003 ms
[remote@server ~]# logout
Connection to remote@server closed.
Local:~ user$ ping
PING ( 56 data bytes
64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=52 time=680.538 ms 64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=52 time=434.284 ms Request timeout for icmp_seq 2
Request timeout for icmp_seq 3
Request timeout for icmp_seq 4
Request timeout for icmp_seq 5
64 bytes from icmp_seq=6 ttl=52 time=676.341 ms 64 bytes from icmp_seq=7 ttl=52 time=965.469 ms 64 bytes from icmp_seq=8 ttl=52 time=779.800 ms ^C
— ping statistics —
10 packets transmitted, 5 packets received, 50.0% packet loss round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 434.284/707.286/965.469/172.116 ms Local:~ user$

No chance. Good job I brought a book.

BBC Beethoven treat

Self-imposed constraints

How can systems learn? Metacognition of organisations

The degree to which organisations and systems, like people, have control of their destiny depends not insignificantly on how well educated they are. This audioboo considers what learning in an organisation is and how leaders might begin the process of educating their organisation.

Interview: Radio #edutalk


George Smiley, apparently

Last night, I was interviewed by John Johnston of Sandaig Primary fame, digital educator and edu-technology guru whose wisdom is now informing our Scottish Executive. As any of my students will know, I talk too much. Our nominal 30 minutes extended beyond 50 but I think it made for interesting listening. I am thankful to John for not adopting a Paxman persona (or taxman, as my autocorrected text to him pleaded). The consummate radio show host, he quickly put me at ease, pushed a couple of buttons and off we went.

We talked about the changing structure of education and what schools might look like in 2020; professional networks and the Cambridge tutorial and other “inverted” models of teaching where the learning takes place principally when the teacher is not present.

If you’d like to hear the show, you can find it here. Links to some of the sites mentioned in the programme are below:

My stuff:


The Wind of Opportunity Blows