The University of Life

Laurel & Hardy in A Chump at Oxford
Laurel & Hardy in A Chump at Oxford

I have just finished an upgrade to the Almanac app, completely re-writing some bits and adding some new ones, and it went through the approval process and into the App store today. I have been somewhat delayed in working on development as I was going through the Stanford University IOS development course on iTunes U. I had already been through the Fall 2010 course but the Fall 2011 one was completely updated with respect to the development environment, IOS and iCloud. Both have been excellent.

Being self taught in a technical discipline is often a bit like crossing a familiar room at night with the lights off, just when confidence builds, you bark your shin on something unexpected. Scientists are yet to develop terms which could describe the enormity of my ignorance on most subjects, but in this area I have just enough competence to get by, or to find out what I need.

So it is wondrous, now and again, to get a flash of insight like when your physics teacher pointed out that a refrigerator with the door left open would heat rather than cool the room. I’ve had a few of these in following the lectures and after each one was left with the feeling that things were standing on firmer footings. This is all very welcome at my time of life, to get past learning the trick of things to learning the nature of things.

The US is often represented in the UK media as a land of rapacious capitalists where those who cannot pay are left by the wayside. I recommend those who think that way to look at the riches that NASA has gifted to the world, and the way that a tremendously successful and profitable company has teamed up with some of the best universities on the planet to give US citizens and foreigners like me access to substantial parts of their lectures and course materials for free. Not because they know either me or any of the other thousands of users, or because they think we deserve it, but because they think it’s a good thing to share.

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