Abolishing Lectures

From the BBC comes the story of a university lecturer that podcasts his lectures..

Dr Bill Ashraf, a senior lecturer in microbiology at Bradford University, says the move will free up time for more small group teaching.

He told The Times Higher Education Supplement that first year biochemistry students would watch or listen to virtual lectures in their own time.

Students will access the podcasts via their MP3 player, phone or computer.

I’m asking myself why he doesn’t go all the way and introduce virtual lectures with Vyew, Skype and a webcam?

Vyew

One problem that occurs frequently when developing projects remotely or training remote users is that one usually needs to have a custom application that both sides can use (Net Meeting) for example. Now comes a website, Vyew that offers real-time collaboration with remote access and the only requirement is to have a recent browser version with Java 1.4 and Flash 8. That’s it. I set up a sample meeting and did a short presentation using a notepad and a conference call over Skype. It worked wonderfully The only feature that doesn’t work so well currently is real time desktop sharing but it will be developed further. And the cost? Currently, it’s free although no promises are made about what the business model will be in the future. However they do say

If you sign up now, we will provide the registered user’s features to you for at least two (2) years.

I believe it’s really worth a try.

I want my GigaPixels!

Forget about thinking in MegaPixels anymore, the future is coming with an engineer in Microsoft attempting to produce a 10 GigaPixel photo. When I first read the headline in this article on CNET I thought that they had invented some kind of of super-camera. However the reality is quite different as the trick is in the technique. As the article says…

The technique involves taking several hundred pictures with a standard digital camera, stitching the photos together and then compensating for changes in the position of the sun, the movement of clouds and other environmental factors during the time it took to take all of the photos.

It’s the Future, Stupid: Why most CRM systems don’t deliver their potential

Sviokla’s Context delivers a very insightful article about CRM systems from a vendor-independent viewpoint. Basically, the essence of the argument is that CRM systems should begin by adopting a forward looking approach to customer management that focuses on the potential of customer to deliver new business rather than looking at past performance to provide rewards.

One of the few companies I know that treats customers based on potential is Harrah’s Entertainment. If Harrah’s sees you game at the “Diamond Level” — their highest level of status, they begin to treat you like a Diamond customer right away. They then track your actual behavior to decide whether or not you deserve this high level of status. (I think the time period is six months).

FAKE MODEL PHOTOGRAPHY

Receding Hairline has an imaginative tip on making a photograph of a real-life scene look like it came from a model. According to the website:

With a very little effort, you can take existing photographs of everyday scenes and make it look like they’re actually of miniature models.

Something to muck about with in the next while.

Marginal Revolution: The Gender Imbalance Disequilibrium

Marginal Revolution: The Gender Imbalance Disequilibrium

China’s gender imbalance is now 117 boys for every 100 girls and for second and third children (when allowed) the imbalance can be as high as 151 boys for every 100 girls.  Millions of men, perhaps 15% of the population, may not be able to find wives

Sexy pictures and lacy underwear take men’s minds off getting a good deal.

Nature magazine reports that macho, testosterone men tend to drive a hard bargin, unless they have been exposed to images like the one below.

Researchers at the University of Leuven in Belgium asked men to play an ultimatum game, in which they split a certain amount of money between them. High-testosterone men drove the hardest bargain — unless they had previously viewed pictures of bikini-clad models, in which case they were more likely to accept a poorer deal.

The sight of flesh had less effect on the bargaining tactics of low-testosterone men.