Monthly Archives: February, 2010

Degrees of freedom is a very interesting site which has just been launched by my friends Ros & Steve Edwards. It lets you compare different UK degrees and universities to see what their graduates actually went on to do afterwards, with the aim of allowing students – for example those from poorer backgrounds who may not get much support from their schools or parents – to make more informed choices about whether to do a degree, and if so, which one.

So, for example, you can find out that, six months after graduation, Computer Scientists are paid more than Architects or Lawyers – hurrah! – but they’re more than twice as likely to be unemployed. On the other hand, over 8% of Law graduates are soon afterwards employed as ‘Sales Assistants and Retail Cashiers’ – that’s nearly as many as for History! Oxford graduates earn a bit more than Cambridge graduates, at least initially, but then I guess they need some kind of compensation.

The site raises lots of questions – but that’s a good thing – even if all it does is start discussions about what’s behind the numbers. For example, Oxford graduates earn less and are much more likely to be unemployed than graduates of the Open University, which might be surprising if you didn’t know that OU graduates are generally quite a bit older and often employed at the time they take their degrees. Even the numbers I quoted above need some interpretation. They refer to a point six months after graduation. So law graduates may be employed as cashiers, and earning less than their hacker contemporaries, but that is massively skewed by the fact that 6 months after graduation, lawyers are still qualifying – perhaps they’re paying their way with an evening job, or perhaps they didn’t get a place at law school and have a temporary job until next year.

The site could be a valuable educational experience in itself on how to interpret statistics. I hope that kids get that kind of education before looking at it. Otherwise they might become computer scientists under the mistaken impression that it’s a better-paid profession than law. Trust me…

My friend and colleague Garry has become something of a poster child for the project, as he has achieved an impressive career path from a rather disadvantaged background – so much so that he appeared in The Sun today – see the section on the right-hand side of this page.

This means that he has added to his list of achievements perhaps the greatest accomplishment yet: to appear in the Sun and yet emerge with your dignity intact!

There’s no placebo like home(opathy)…

The House of Commons report into the Evidence Check on Homeopathy has now been published and sounds most encouraging.

We conclude that placebos should not be routinely prescribed on the NHS. The funding of homeopathic hospitals—hospitals that specialise in the administration of placebos—should not continue, and NHS doctors should not refer patients to homeopaths.

Lots more good stuff summarised on Andy Lewis’s site.

The horse had definitely bolted…

Lovely walk this morning around Landwade. No, I didn’t know where Landwade was, either.

Photos here, trail and photos here.


A frosty morning.


I never feel quite comfortable without a camera… and I don’t really count the one in my iPhone, which is useful for quick snaps of things I want to remember, but I’ve seldom got a really good image from it. So for much of the last year I’ve had a Canon Powershot G9 strapped to my belt. It’s in many ways an admirable little beast, being built like a Lilliputian tank, but that did mean one needed a certain amount of dedication to carry it on a daily basis, and I wasn’t always up to the challenge. I’m not sure, either, whether I’ll be up to the challenge of paying to have it repaired after it suddenly expired last week, just two months after its warranty did.

So its successor is the new Powershot S90, with which I’m quite delighted so far. It’s substantially smaller and lighter than the G9 – it will slip in my shirt pocket – and it shoots RAW, has a better sensor than the G9, and boasts an F2 lens, though it seems to have a greater depth of field than most F2s I’ve seen.


Definitely much more pocketable, and, in the words of Chase Jarvis, the best camera is the one that’s with you.

All in all, a very pleasing, if rather pricey, toy. The only thing I need to fix now is the rotten British weather this week, which has given me only the gloomiest light in which to play with it. You see, once a bad workman can no longer blame his tools, he has to resort to the failings of the climatic conditions… but I was quite pleased with my first few shots:





Nothing earth-shattering, but I could only manage a few shots before the factory charge on the battery expired, and I had to go home and unpack the charger!

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser