10% of what we read … is not what we remember

Education is one of the most important drivers of mankind, after oxygen, food, and sex. You would think we took it seriously, as a society. Sadly, we continue to perpetuate insanely stupid myths when it comes to education. Here’s one of those that often annoys me which I was just reminded of:

Seen this graph? Believe it?


Well, you really shouldn’t (see this report on Multimodal Learning through Media, from Cisco)

As it turns out, doing is not always more efficient than seeing, and seeing
is not always more effective than reading. Informed educators understand that the optimum
design depends on the content, context, and the learner.

For example, the bogus percentages on
the cone would suggest that engaging students in collaborative learning in general would result in
higher levels of learning than would a lesson where a student listens to narration or reads text
about the topic. The reality is that, for the novice student engaged in basic skill building such as
learning chemical symbols, individual learning through reading or simple drill and practice might be
the optimal learning design. Yet, for a different learning objective – for instance, understanding
cause and effect of a specific chemical reaction – involving that same student in collaborative
problem-solving with fellow students through a simulation might be the most effective learning

The concept here – that that graph is completely wrong – was pointed out to me more than 10 years ago by my line manager at IBM, who’d done badly at school, and in later life heard how the cone needed to be mapped to different dimensions according to context (the learner themself, the subject at hand, etc), – and discovered that his primary mode of learning, according to basic testing, was to watch other people do stuff. He confirmed that that “50% Watching a demonstration” was for him often more like 95-100% retained – yet (thanks in part to this myth) was rarely offered as an option whenever teaching was happening. Sigh.

bitching server admin

Please, someone, destroy cron. Forever.

Just wanted to say: I detest “cron” more than mere words have the power to convey. I suspect there aren’t many other pieces of fundamental software implemented in so few lines of code that over so many years have caused so much harm and frustration to so many people and systems (surprisingly, cron has often been the point of error in weird failures of clusters of servers I’ve dealt with – e.g. when the backups mysteriously stop working, or an app crashes and won’t restart, etc)

games industry recruiting

Shaming the recruitment agencies – Aardvark Swift

Given how much money these agencies charge – and how that SPECIFICALLY reduces the chances of “good but not great” candidates of getting job offers (anyone who says otherwise is a liar or naive) – I’m fed up of their mediocrity and the lack of criticism it gets. So, I’ve decided I’m going to stop complaining in private to the agencies themselves (that seems to have had no effect for the past 5 years) and instead start naming and shaming them. Sorry, Aardvark Swift, but thanks to your current email campaign, you just volunteered to be first. It’s nothing personal, I promise.

(I will probably never ever get a job again via any of the agencies I go on to talk about :). Oh well.)

Aardvark Swift is one of the better-known UK specialist recruitment agencies for the games industry. They used to have a good reputation (although it’s been up and down over the years, depending upon who you talk to). They just spammed me to ask me to apply for the job of “Lead AI Programmer in Australia”.

Now, if you were to just take a brief look at my work history (, you’d probably notice that:

  1. I live on the opposite side of the planet, literally
  2. I have never in my life been an AI programmer
  3. It’s been many years since I did a programming job

That’s bad enough. Except … I already told them much the same over a year ago, the last time they were cold-contacting me. I have a vague memory that they even had a fairly recent copy of my CV/resume at that point (no more than a year old).

I know people in the industry make big, sudden career changes, but is this – blind spamming of inappropriate jobs – really an effective way to catch those? Because – as a candidate – it feels like lazy bottom-feeding tactics; how come they can’t even be bothered to check current information on public LinkedIn profiles? As an employer it makes me wonder: of the candidates this agency would send me, how many would the agency even know the first thing about the people they’re sending through?

Companies are desperate for good candidates these days, so it should be easier than ever to get a good job in the industry. But somewhere between the Hiring Manager and the Candidate the process often breaks down completely. Just to be clear, it’s not just Agencies that are to blame – far from it, often it’s the companies’ own insane internal bureaucracy, or misdirected HR depts, that screw things up – but as an industry we *really* need to put a stop to this.

Or at least stop whining and bitching about how “universities and schools aren’t providing enough programmers, artists, producers, and designers” (whether or not its true) – many companies wouldn’t spot a good candidate if they walked in the front door and handed in a printed copy of their CV/resume.