Free online distance learning courses

8 02 2013
Back and already hard at work!

Back and already hard at work! (Photo credit: clemsonunivlibrary)

I recently came across the Coursera website and was amazed at the quality of the resources available for free.  Through this site you can enrol on free online distance learning courses on a massive range of topics from some of the top universities from all over the world.

 

Only one of the courses on which I have enrolled  has started so far, but the quality is really impressive.  Aside from the excellent learning resources, the tutors are regularly on hand to answer questions and the course community as a whole is very active in both the discussion forums and the course wiki.

 

As I have said, there is a really wide range of topics, including computer programming, equine nutrition, aboriginal world views, academic writing, maths, history, economics and business management.  Participating institutions include the University of Edinburgh, University of California, Stanford University, University of Toronto, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Michigan and Princeton University, to name but a few.

 

It’s all free and definitely worth a look!

 





LAUNCH EVENT: Angela Campbell-Souter: The Private Hire Cook

20 09 2012

Please take the time to look at www.the-private-hire-cook.co.uk – 15% off all first-time orders

Angela has been cooking and entertaining for over 25 years and offers a wide range of services, including:

  • Private Dinner Parties
  • Lucheons
  • High Teas
  • Canapes
  • Shooting Party Lunches
  • Themed Banquets (world foods)
  • Picnic Hampers
  • Champagne Breakfasts and Lunches
  • Special Occasion Catering
  • Buffets
  • Consultancy and Advice
 

Angela is hosting a Launch Party on Friday 21st September, 5-7pm in the Barley Hall, York, to introduce herself and business to you.

Call by, gather some information and try a sample of canapes and a free glass of Prosecco.

Directions

 




Camping Tips

24 06 2011

So, the summer holidays are almost upon us and, for those of us trying to stick to a budget, camping is probably somewhere on the agenda.

I’m really not one to try to take all my home comforts camping with me; all I want when I’m camping is somewhere to sleep, eat and have a drink. The first two turned out to be somewhat problematic the last time we went.

The problem with sleeping turned out to be the thing we thought would help the most: an air mattress. While it kept its word and protected us from bumps in the ground, it also indulged in some pretty base treachory, which took the form of wobbling, tipping us into the middle and causing each of us to bounce up and down every time the other moved. Perhaps it would have been less trying if it had been for one person. We ended up deflating it and using self-inflating roll mats instead. They were fantastic but, to be honest, a good layer of blankets and clothes would have done as good a job.

Another caveat is temperature. It can be pretty hot in a tent when the sun’s been on it, but the temperature can seriously drop in the night. I particularly dislike having hot feet in bed and find they get far too hot in sleeping bags, so I prefer multiple layers of blankets. Layering provides good insulation and it’s easy to add and shed layers as temperature dictates.

I’d love to hear about your camping experiences:

  • What is your must-have camping item?
  • What have you learnt the hard way?
  • Why do you like (or dislike!) camping?
  • Do you have a favourite camping food or drink?
I’m afraid to say we also had problems with eating, as our camping stove set fire to itself within 5 minutes of switching it on. I’ve just stumbled upon this video, which shows you how to make a camping stove from various materials. I’m itching to give it a go!


Click here for a slightly more complex version





University libraries that anyone can use

22 06 2011

I just came across this list of university libraries from around the world that anyone can access and had to share it. An amazing list of resources I never knew were available!.





Free Summer Fun

8 06 2011

The summer holiday season will soon be upon us and who doesn’t know someone who’s going somewhere that makes you green with envy? At this time of year, it can feel as though you’re no one if you’re not going somewhere that’ll make everyone green with envy.

I don’t know how many of you watched the BBC TV series, Beautiful People, but there was an episode in which Simon’s family had been telling everyone they were going away on a fantastic holiday, but found themselves too short on cash to actually go, so, to keep up appearances, they locked themselves in their house for a week and carried on as though they were on holiday. They decorated the house, dressed in their holiday clothes and held holiday-camp-style competitions in their living room. They had a whale of a time.

I’m not suggesting that you go to the lengths of lying to your friends, family and general acquaintance about your whereabouts, but here are a few ideas for fun holiday activities on a shoestring budget.

House Swap

If you fancy getting away, how about swapping houses with a friend who lives in another area? You can have fun making lists of local sights and activities for one another and you won’t have to worry about finishing absolutely everything in the fridge and getting someone in to water the plants and feed the pets.

Picnics

Picnics are vastly under-rated. You can go where you like, within legal limits, obviously, and eat what you like, when you like. You don’t need to be near a café or restaurant, you don’t need to comply with their times, you won’t find that there’s nothing you like on the menu or that everything’s over-cooked. It won’t be hideously expensive. Basically, it’s all on your own terms and you don’t have to be on your best behaviour!

Fishing

Spend a pleasant summer’s day by a river, enjoy being outside, take a picnic and maybe a book or a radio and you’ll maybe get something to take home for tea. It’s not free to fish everywhere – you need a ticket or club membership in many places. dofreefishing.co.uk has information on where you can fish for free and what you can catch there.

There really is something very satisfying about catching your own food!

Free Days Out

For ideas on free days out, try dofreestuff.com. There’s also a list of free museums provided by the Department for Culture. It would also be worth checking your council’s or local attractions’ websites, to find out whether admission is free or discounted for local residents.

Discover your home town

Very often, we look further afield for our holiday fun, but how many of us can say that we’ve taken the tourist trail round our home town? Get a guide-book out from your local library and find out what you’ve been missing out on.

If you can get hold of a walking tour map itinerary, you could give yourselves the full-on tourist experience. Go in a large group and you can take turns at being the guide and being the tourists. Why not go the whole hog and create characters for yourselves?

Cycle paths, bridleways and green lanes

The countryside and, for that matter, towns are full of paths and shortcuts you would never see from public transport or your car. They say a change is as good as a rest, so why not look at your town from a different perspective?

Scavenger Hunts

These are great, in that you can easily make them age-appropriate and you can even sneak a bit of learning in there.

For those who don’t know, on a scavenger hunt, each participant has a list of items they have to find. The first to return with the full set of items within the allowed time wins.

They’re nice because you can pass time with spin-offs. A rainy-day project could be making or decorating bags to carry collected items in. The journey could be spent making up the item list in the style of the game ‘Granny went to market’.

Let the Children Camp in the Garden

Just because you’re not going away, it doesn’t mean you have to stick to the term-time routine. Why not let the children camp out in your garden? You can have a quiet night in and they can imagine they’re anywhere – American pioneers, heading west, nomads in the desert, circus performers, a travelling fair, jungle or arctic explorers – the world’s their oyster! If you have a sandpit and or a paddling pool, they could create their own beach. They could put on their own circus act with your friends. It gives a taste of independence, with the safety net of running back in if they need to.
Maybe they could cook on a camp fire, under adult supervision? Some easy cooking ideas:

  • Baked beans – cook them in a pan then eat them out of a mug
  • Jacket potatoes – wrap them in tin foil and put them in the embers of the fire, once it dies down
  • Marshmallows or toast – put them on skewers and toast them over the fire
  • Cocoa – make it in a pan over the fire, then pour into a mug. It goes really well with marshmallows.

When you’re camping in the garden, you might see all kinds of wildlife you wouldn’t see in the daytime: hedgehogs, foxes, owls, badgers etc.





Knitting update

12 05 2011

I’m finishing off a simple, blue and tan garter stitch scarf today. I’m not yet decided on what to start next. I’ve been toying with the idea of trying something from Beeton’s Book of Needlework by Mrs. Beeton but I’d also like to make something for a friend’s little boy, so I’ve been trawling through the free patterns on the Patons website. There are so many choices!

I really like the idea of giving the Beeton patterns a go, it’s just that I’d end up with an awful lot of d’oyleys and antimacassars! To be fair, there are quite a lot of other things in there, so perhaps I might give some of those a go. I like the look of the Knitted Neckerchief in Black Shetland Wool and the Knitted Shawl. The patterns may be a little more complex than anything I’ve attempted previously, but they are quite descriptive. I’m not always sure exactly what kind of weight of wool she’s referring to, but I can probably make a guess and if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just have to unravel it!

I have reproduced the two patterns below.

Knitted Shawl

Materials Shetland wool, white and scarlet; steel needles.

346

347

This shawl is knitted in the patterns given on Nos. 346 and 347. Both illustrations show the patterns worked in coarse wool, so as to be clearer. Begin the shawl, which is square, on one side, cast on a sufficient number of stitches (on our pattern 290); the needles must not be too fine, as the work should be loose and elastic.

Knit first 2 rows plain, then 3 of the open-work row of pattern No. 346, which is worked in the following manner:–

1st row: Slip the first stitch, * knit 2 together, inserting the needle into the back part of the stitch, slip 1, knit 2 together, throw the wool twice forward; repeat from *.

2nd row: Knit 1 and purl 1 in the stitch formed by throwing the wool forward in the preceding row; the other stitches are purled. In the next row the holes are alternated–that is, after the 1st slipped stitch knit 1, throw the wool forward, and then knit twice 2 together.

When 3 such open-work rows are completed, knit 1 row plain, and then [367] work the pattern seen on No. 347, which forms the ground, and is worked in the following way:–1st row: Slip the 1st stitch, alternately throw the wool forward, and decrease by slipping 1 stitch, knitting the next, and drawing the slip stitch over the knitted one.

2nd row, entirely purled.

When 6 such rows have been worked in this pattern, work again 9 rows of the open-work pattern, but work on each side of the 2 stripes, each 6 stitches wide, in the pattern of the ground (No. 347); each first stripe is at a distance of 4 stitches from the edge, and each second stripe at a distance of 20 stitches. After the 9th open-work row, work again 6 rows in the pattern of the ground, then again 8 open-work rows, and then begin the ground, only continue to work on both sides of the shawl the narrow stripes of the ground pattern, the narrow outer and the two wide inner stripes of the border in the open-work pattern. When the ground (pattern No. 347) is square, finish the shawl at the top with two wide [368] and one narrow open-work row, as at the bottom, divided by stripes in the ground pattern. Knot in, all round the shawl, a fringe of scarlet wool; the fringe must be 3-1/2 inches deep.

Knitten Neckerchief in Black Shetland Wool

Material: Black Shetland wool.

This three-cornered neckerchief is knitted in the following pattern (commencing at the corner).

1st row: slip 1, make 1, knit 2 together, inserting the needle into the back part of the stitch, slip 1, make 1, knit 2 together.

2nd row: Knit 1, purl 1 in the stitch formed by throwing the wool forward in the preceding row; the other stitches are purled. In the next row the holes are alternated; the neckerchief must of course be increased at the beginning and end of every other row. It measures at the upper edge 1 yard 16 inches across from one corner to the other; the lower corner is rounded off. The neckerchief is edged with a knitted lace.

323

The lace is worked in rows backwards and forwards, the cross way. Cast on 22 stitches and work the 1st row as follows:–Slip 1, knit 11, knit 2 together, throw the wool forward, knit 2 together, knit 6.

2nd row: Slip 1, purl 18, knit 1 and purl 1 with the stitch formed in the preceding row by throwing the wool forward.

3rd row: Slip 1, knit 2 together, knit 9, knit 2 together, throw the wool forward, knit 2 together, throw the wool forward, knit 2 together, knit 5.

4th row: Slip 1, purl 5, knit 1, purl 1, knit 1 in the stitch formed in the preceding row by throwing the wool forward, purl 13.

5th row: Slip 1, knit 2 together, knit 6, knit 2 together, throw the wool forward, knit 2 together, throw the wool forward, knit 2 together, throw the wool forward, knit 2 together, knit 4.

6th row: Slip 1, purl 8, knit 1, purl 1 in the stitch formed by throwing the wool forward in preceding row, purl 9.

7th row: Slip 1, knit 2 together, knit 4, knit 2 together, throw the wool forward 4 times alternately, knit 2 together, knit 4.

8th row: Slip 1, purl 3, knit 1, purl 1 in the stitch formed by throwing the wool forward in the preceding row, purl 13.

9th row: Slip 1, knit 2 together, knit 2, 5 times alternately; knit 2 together, throw the wool forward, knit 2 together, knit 2.

10th row: Slip 1, knit 1, purl 1 in the stitch formed by throwing the wool forward in preceding row, purl 5.

11th row: Slip 1, knit 2 together, 6 times alternately knit 2 together, throw the wool forward, knit 2 together, knit 1.

12th row: Slip 1, knit 1 in the stitch formed by throwing the wool forward in preceding row, purl 13.

13th row: Slip 1, throw the wool forward, knit 2, knit 2 together, 5 times alternately throw the wool forward, knit 2 together, knit 2.

14th row: Slip 1, purl 10, knit 1, purl 1 in the stitch formed by throwing the wool forward in preceding row, purl 5.

[331]
15th row: Slip 1, throw the wool forward, knit 4, knit 2 together, 4 times alternately throw the wool forward, knit 2 together, knit 3.

16th row: Slip 1, purl 3, knit 1, purl 1 in the stitch formed by throwing the wool forward in preceding row, purl 13.

17th row: Slip 1, throw the wool forward, knit 6, knit 2 together, 3 times alternately throw the wool forward, knit 2 together, knit 4.

18th row: Slip 1, purl 8, knit 1, purl 1 in the stitch formed by throwing the wool forward in preceding row, purl 9.

19th row: Slip 1, throw the wool forward, knit 8, knit 2 together, twice alternately throw the wool forward, knit 2 together, knit 5.

20th row: Slip 1, purl 5, knit 1, purl 1 in the stitch formed by throwing the wool forward in preceding row, purl 13.

21st row: Slip 1, throw the wool forward, knit 10, knit 2 together, throw the wool forward, knit 2 together, knit 6.

22nd row: Slip 1, purl 6, knit 1, purl 1 in the stitch formed by throwing the wool forward in preceding row.

23rd row: Slip 1, throw the wool forward, knit 12, knit 2 together, knit 7.

24th row: Purled. Repeat from the 1st row till the lace is sufficiently long. Then sew on the lace round the edge; the lace can be knitted somewhat narrower for the upper edge. One of the ends of the neckerchief is knotted, As seen in the illustration, and the other end is drawn through the knot.





Free stuff

12 05 2011

Freecycle

Just in case anyone hasn’t come across it, I thought I’d make a quick mention of Freecycle. Here’s the description from the Freecycle website:

Welcome! The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,944 groups with 8,449,161 members around the world. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them’s good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on ‘Browse Groups’ above the search box. Have fun!

Free Books

Recently, I’ve noticed quite a few people looking for books in my local Freecycle group. I find that I have more books than I can possibly read available for free, so I thought it would be worth sharing that information too.

Local libraries

Until recently, I hadn’t visited a public library in 10-15 years. I was very much impressed by the quality of service on offer. I was registered and issued with a card and PIN very quickly, which allows me to use the reference library, withdraw books, DVDs, CDs, audio books etc, access the catalogue from home and request books, extend loans and make suggestions for new resources. I can also now log in to the e-Library and download e-Books and audio books in a variety of formats for a range of devices.

Google Books

Google Books offer quite a range of e-Books. Some are free and some paid. They can be downloaded or read online.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg offers over 33,000 e-Books to read online or download in a range of file formats. There are also human- and computer-read audio books. Additionally, there is a range of digitised sheet music, although this project is currently dormant.

Librivox.org

Librivox.org has just under 4,000 audio books available for download. The books have been read by volunteers and can be downloaded as MP3 or ogg vorbis files.

verkaro.org

verkaro.org is another site with free audio books. It is run by a group based in Mexico.

loudlit.org

loudlit.org is another free audio book site.

Technology

It seems to have become standard that people expect to have to pay for computer software. In fact, there is a vast array of free software available, ranging from computer operating systems to smartphone apps.

Linux

According to wikipedia:

Linux […] refers to the family of Unix-like computer operating systems using the Linux kernel. Linux can be installed on a wide variety of computer hardware, ranging from mobile phones, tablet computers and video game consoles, to mainframes and supercomputers. Linux is a leading server operating system, and runs the 10 fastest supercomputers in the world.

What does that mean? It means that, rather than paying for Windows or Mac OS on your computer, you can run a free Linux operating system instead. Linux tends to be less resource-hungry than other operating systems and can give an older computer, struggling to run the latest version of Windows, a new lease of life. As it is less widely-used, there tend to be fewer virus targetting it than Windows and updates are issued frequently due to the fact that it’s community-driven and people all around the world are contributing.

Personally, I run Ubuntu on my laptop. From beginning the installation, my laptop was up and running and connected to the internet within two hours. I didn’t need to install hardware drivers once the operating system was installed – it was just ready to go. I have not found anything that I have been unable to do with it.

openoffice.org

openoffice.org is a free suite of office applications, compatible with the pricey Microsoft Office. It is also very useful for recovering corrupt Microsoft Office documents, which Microsoft products can no longer open.

Security

Free anti-virus, anti-malware, firewalls and anti-spyware software are available, negating the need for expensive and resource-intensive products such as Norton Internet Security.








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