Catch Up Update, 2nd-6th July

I haven’t updated my “weekblog” since the end of May, which is about when things got very busy for me at Cetis! I’ve been:

Working with my REF2021 analytics team.

Working with my KEF analytics team.

Developing the new Jisc-HESA analytics product for HR in HEPs using Tableau and Alteryx.

Working on the Journal Registry project, using Flask, Python and PostgreSQL.

Working on the Intelligent Campus project looking at building management and timetable system data specifications and potential campus routing algorithms.

Delivering FOSS Training for Oxentia, and working with Cetis partners on some FOSS spinout content for another HE client.

Playing Civ VI on the Mac and Star Wars Battlefront on the Xbox.

Watching the World Cup.

Reading Red Sister by Mark Lawrence  and Autonomous by Annalee Newitz.

Gardening. Trying to stop everything drying out. Pretty much a first in Manchester I think!

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“Occasional” Update 21st-28th May

The sun is shining, my hayfever is playing up, and there is much data to be wrangled.

Working with my REF2021 analytics team. We had a great startup meeting at Brunel, coming away with some user stories, data sources, and a plan of action.

Developing the new Jisc-HESA analytics product for HR in HEPs. I’ve built a beta dashboard for workforce demographics and equality with Tableau and Alteryx, and ordered more HESA data for building the performance metrics dashboard.

Kicking off our new journal registry project. I’ll be mostly focussing on data modelling in PostgreSQL for the next couple of weeks while colleagues do more fun things with Python.

Working on the Intelligent Campus project, which blends the Internet of Things with Learning Analytics. I’ve been analysing use cases to build a set of data measure definitions, identify algorithms of interest, and figure out privacy implications.

Working on GDPR-related actions for our company. Mostly this involved closing old mailing lists and deleting old files.

Teaching on the Foundation Degree in Creative Technologies course. I came up with what I hope is a fair rubric for assessing diverse student projects; they’re all in now, so I have to get on with marking!

Playing Elder Scrolls Online and Star Wars Battlefront on the Xbox.

Watching the third season of Fargo on Netflix.

Reading Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

Gardening. Cooked the first home-grown chilli of the year, and it was a hot one! Currently dealing with an aphid infestation in the greenhouse. Also discovered the self-seeded plants I thought were Borage based on the early foliage are in fact Foxgloves. I’ll have to actually plant Borage this year! Good job I like looking at Foxgloves, I’ve got about 6 of them.

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“Occasional” update 1st -18th May

Its been another busy month here at Cetis LLP

Working with both of my Analytics Labs teams. Its been a hectic few weeks of polishing up Tableau dashboards, fixing up Alteryx workflows, and tuning machine learning models. However, last Wednesday was the final test as both teams presented to their peers and to the expert panel from HESA, Jisc and the board. I’m really proud of the work both teams put in – our Alternative Providers group and the Course Marketing group. We had great panel feedback and very positive popular vote results. As those two teams have completed their work, I now have two more to work with – so onto REF2021 and KEF!

Developing the new Jisc-HESA analytics product for HR in HEPs. I’ve built a beta dashboard for sickness absence using UCEA data with Tableau and Alteryx, and ordered more HESA data for building the performance metrics dashboard.

Working with a client on a new project to build an internal data registry.

Working on the Intelligent Campus project, which blends the Internet of Things with Learning Analytics!

Teaching on the Foundation Degree in Creative Technologies course. Its final project hand-in this week! Coming up with a fair marking rubric for projects that include students making game concept art, designing apps, testing airline websites, building robots, and researching palm oil extraction has been quite challenging.

Attending our annual Cetis LLP partners meeting up at Halton Mill.

Playing Elder Scrolls Online and Star Wars Battlefront on the Xbox.

Watching the end of Altered Carbon and seeing that Marvel Infinity thing at the cinema; plus of course, Eurovision!

Gardening. I think I may end up with too many gherkins and green beans this year. However, you can never have too many chillies.

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Weekly update 23rd -27th April

Hello again! What was I doing last week?

Working on some data dashboards in Tableau for Alternate Providers in HE. In particular I worked on a dashboard to allow providers to see who they are most similar to for a particular subject area – whether thats other APs or HEIs. Initially I used the KD-Tree algorithm in the Find Nearest Neighbours R package for Alteryx, but found that in practice I got just as good results in a more user-configurable fashion just by computing z-scores for each feature and ranking  the providers by the root of the mean squared deviation. The AP team is producing some really interesting visualisations, with a lot of data stories and insights, so its a great team to work with.

Releasing the latest version of HtmlCleaner, v2.22. Its taken me longer to get around to this then I would have wanted, and I’ve made it a personal vow to get at least one release per quarter!

Working with a client on a machine learning model to predict outcomes using  linear regression in Alteryx.

Teaching on the Foundation Degree in Creative Technologies course. I helped one student deliver their web app to Android using PhoneGap Build, which included helping them fix their config.xml file – which uses the Widgets specification I used to work on, both in W3C and Apache!

Working on new analytics products with HESA and Jisc. We’re focussing efforts on a few specific areas of BI to produce new product suites. Last week I sorted out some of the data workflows and revised some existing visualisations, and we had a team meeting to sort out priorities and update the Trello board.

Playing Elder Scrolls Online and Star Wars Battlefront on the Xbox.

Watching that new Marvel film at the cinema, and Upstart Crow on Netflix.

Reading Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong.

Gardening. Though mostly this involved replacing some rotten decking and screening, so more DIY than gardening.

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“Periodic” update 16th – 20th April

Hello again!

So what have I been up to lately?

Working with a client to develop a machine learning model to predict outcomes, using that handy standby linear regression. Alteryx makes setting up the test and validation samples really easy, as well as putting in formulas for the error calculations (RMSD, MAD), so re-running and tuning the model is quite easy to do.

Working with another client on a completely unrelated machine learning problem using Naive Bayes (plus a load of conventional stats such as Pearson’s R and Chi Squared.)

Travelling to client sites in London and Exeter. Had a nice visit to ICON College of Technology & Management in London; they did a great curry for lunch!

Teaching on the Foundation Degree in Creative Technologies course. One of my students is working on a project that combines Tinder and Pinterest. In true Peter Kay style she’s called it T’indterest.

Working on the “Intelligent Campus” project with Jisc. Think IoT meets BI and LA. I’ve been developing an ontology to try to define the requirements space for this. Challenging stuff.

Working on some new analytics products with HESA and Jisc. We’re focussing efforts on a few specific areas of BI to produce new product suites. So far I’ve been defining approaches to generating metrics from existing data sources.

Delivering an online course for the Apereo Foundation on leadership and conflict resolution in Open Source Software projects.

Organising a course on licensing for Oxentia.

Playing Elder Scrolls Online on the Xbox.

Karaoke. No, really.

Reading pretty much everything by David Wong. Now onto Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits.

Gardening. Potting on tomatoes, giving up on the chilli plants I tried to save from last season, and planting lots of lettuces.

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Weekly-ish (oh who am I kidding?) update 2nd-6th April

OK, its been a hectic month. Not that I’m complaining, I like hectic.

This week I’ve been:

Working with Alternate Providers on some BI dashboards. We now have a great dataset covering both APs and universities so we can make some interesting comparisons. For example, 70% of APs have less than 1000 HE students, and most fall into the “long tail” of HE providers by size. However, in particular subject areas APs are actually the largest providers of degree courses – in music for example, and human resource management. This is because over 50% of APs are single-subject-area specialists, as opposed to just 8% of HEIs. Anyway, lots of work on this with my team using Alteryx and Tableau.

Working on some new analytics products with HESA and Jisc. We’re focussing efforts on a few specific areas of BI to produce new product suites. Unlike the work we’ve done previously of taking community-developed PoCs through to Beta, this is  more ground-up design work.

Working on the “Intelligent Campus” project with Jisc. Cetis is developing the technical requirements that sit behind some very ambitious use cases that Jisc are discussing with their clients. The basic concept is to take campus sensors of various kinds and augment them with data insights. Think IoT meets BI and LA. Some huge privacy issues here we’re having to highlight!

Delivering final requirements specifications for a client for their internal data management project.

Planning some bids with Cetis colleagues for government R&D funding for some innovative new products.

Delivering an online course for the Apereo Foundation on governance, communications and community building in Open Source Software projects.

Learning to use Flask with Python for an upcoming client project.

Playing Elder Scrolls Online on the Xbox.

Reading pretty much everything by David Wong. I’ve finished John Dies At The End, This Book Is Full Of Spiders, and What The Hell Did I Just Read?

Watching series 2 of A Series of Unfortunate Events and Altered Carbon.

Planting potatoes, shallots, rocket, Cheyenne chillies, tomatoes and Kale, as well as tidying up raspberry canes and the like.

Listening to Kyuss, Moby, and the Dandy Warhols. My musical taste makes no sense.


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Weekly-ish Update 5th-9th March 2018

Travel! If there’s one thing I miss about being in research it was the travelling around talking to people. This week I was back in Ireland for the first time in years. What have I been up to?

Giving some talks and having meetings on Open Source and Free Software at Trinity College Dublin with lots of interesting people from enterprise, IT and academic departments.

Marking lots of student proposals for their foundation technology course. Its a fun mix of projects, everything from robot building to app development, game design and social change.

Working with my Analytics Labs teams, sourcing data and coaching analysts in working with Alteryx. This week I had two teams; one looking at progression from school to university, the other looking at challenges for Alternative Providers.

Working on a requirements specification for a client.

Watching Black Panther at the cinema. Really enjoyed it!

Playing Elder Scrolls Online. I’m rubbish at it, but its fun.

Listening to Paramore and Depeche Mode.





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So much for the weekblog. I haven’t updated it since before the holidays!

Oh well, lets see if we can kick this off again. This week I’ve been:

Teaching students at the University of Bolton. I’ve been working with Foundation students in Creative Technologies, getting them to develop ideas for projects they’re delivering by the end of semester. Its a lot of fun, and also very challenging.

Working on Analytics Labs. This time I’ve been working with two teams, one comprised of staff from Alternate Providers that are pretty new to analytics and HESA data, but very enthusiastic and with lots of ambitious ideas. Another team are focussed on the entry points into HE – A levels and BTECs from schools and colleges.

Developing more Tableau dashboards as part of the Jisc-HESA Special Projects Team. (Being of a particular generation the name always makes me think of Vivian’s pet hamster Special Patrol Group from the Young Ones.) This is basically taking proof of concept BI products developed in Analytics Labs and developing them to Community Beta releases. Fun!

Experimenting with the R-based predictive analytics tools in Alteryx. Lots of fun with logistic regression and SVMs. Finally one of the teams has been brave enough to give ML a whirl.

Watching Altered Carbon on Netflix. I really liked the book, and the series runs pretty close to it.

Reading Walkaway by Cory Doctorow. There are bits where the characters basically explain things like meritocracy and the politics of abundance at each other in a very narrative-breaking way, but overall its worth it.

Delivering some OSS Watch training for the lovely people at Apereothe home of Sakai and Xerte among other great projects. This week we covered governance and communities in FOSS.

Writing the requirements specification for a reference data registry for a client.

Listening to Priests, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Orbital.



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Weekly-ish update 11th December – 15th December

The snow has been falling, there is a tree covered in multicoloured LEDs blinking in the corner of the room, as well as on my Bing start page, and the entire family has colds, so Christmas is immanent.

However, as usual there is also the acceleration of work as clients rush to get stuff done before the end of the year.

So, what have I been doing?

Working on Analytics Labs. I had a session with our team from the DfE on Monday, then a visit to the University of Sheffield to meet up with our team of HR analysts and UCEA partners. This involved jumping onto a paternoster lift to get up the Arts Tower. As one colleague pointed out, its kind of like a slow-motion thrill ride. So as usual I’ve been doing lots of Agile, Alteryx and Tableau with a wide range of data. I’ve also completed the work on the TfL API data, with a lovely interactive map showing how difficult it is to reach the campuses of various London universities from all over greater London.

Working on Data Orchestration for Jisc’s portfolio of library services, implementing some of the findings of an initial study by our friends over at Sero Consulting. We’ve just completed an analysis of Master Data Management products for implementing the solution, and are working up the consolidated As-Is and To-Be data models.

Anonymising Learning Analytics data to make more open data in this space, potentially for an open competition using it as training data for ML or for building apps and mashups. Watch this space!

Watching The Force Awakens on Netflix, in preparation for seeing the new film at some point.

Going to Dick Whittington with John Barrowman, the Krankies (!!) and loads of rude jokes that daughter #1 is now old enough to get.

Playing Skyrim. There goes my life. Using the Frostfall mod for additional survival fun.

Listening to Protomartyr, Priests, and Paramore. (Possibly other bands starting with the letter P.)

Reading Existence by David Brin.

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Weekly-ish update 4th December – 8th December

I’m going to get the hang of this weekblog thing. Eventually. Maybe a New Year’s Resolution?

Anyway, this week I’ve been:

Presenting two workshops on Free & Open Source Software under a joint Cetis and OSS Watch banner. This is a course we developed covering licensing, other types of IP, due diligence, creative commons, and all kinds of related stuff. The first workshop was part of the PraxisAuril Software Commercialisation course for technology transfer professionals held in Loughborough. The second I did for the STFC’s Daresbury Labs with a more technical audience of scientists, engineers, and research managers. Both went very well I’m happy to say; a good indicator for me is how tricky the questions I get from delegates, and there were some nice conundrums this time around.

Working with Jisc and the DfE as part of the Analytics Labs programme. We had our face to face scrum retrospective and planning meeting on Monday, as well as a brief Scrum session. Some great Tableau dashboards already coming out of this team; also some great use of Alteryx.

Starting some new work on open learning analytics data for a client.

Working with a team of London-based analysts on journey data for students travelling to campus locations. I now finally have the geospatial data for the various campuses, I just have to grab the journey data from TfL again with my handy pile of Java code.

Watching Fargo.

Playing Civilization V. I should probably get VI, but I’ve only unlocked 60% of the achievements in V so far.

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