October 06, 2010

Rajans' Ball 2010

With Upul Ekanayake - President DRCK OBU UK
A glittering evening of music, dancing and fine dining was enjoyed at Rajans Ball 2010, organised by the Dharamaraja College OBU in the UK, at Kingsbury’s R’n’B Hall on 2nd October.  The evening started with Rajans and their friends coming together to remember those who sacrificed their lives in the conflict in Sri Lanka and to offer gratitude to the dawn of peace in the country, by observing a minute of silence.  This was accompanied by the lighting of a traditional lamp by distinguished guests Brig. Nirmal Dharmaratne, the outgoing Defence Advisor to the Sri Lankan High Commission in the UK and an Old Rajan; Prof. Justin Perera, the most senior old Rajan in the UK today; Mr. Upul Ekanayake, president of the Dharamaraja College OBU in the UK; and Mr. Manjuka Tennakoon, representing the Rajans Ball 2010 organising committee.

The evening’s entertainment was provided by the outstanding musical talents of Exceed, with a star performance from Saman de Silva, who was specially flown in for the event.  In addition to the old Rajans who came from all over the UK to attend the event, and some from even further afield, the evening of music and dancing was enjoyed by a large group of friends and well wishers of the college, representing other schools who have a long tradition of close friendship with Dharamaraja College, including Mahamaya Girls College, St. Anthony’s College, Kingswood College and Maris Stella College.

The excellent buffet dinner was followed by a special felicitation presentation to Brigadier Nirmal Dharmaratne, recognising the stellar service of this old Rajan to Sri Lanka, and to the Rajans community in the UK.  Following this, guests were treated some superlative dance from invited performers, Tara and Amalura, whose fluid movements to mesmerising rythms held the rapt attention of all those present.  The evening closed with a barn storming baila session from Saman de Silva and Exceed, with a packed dance floor for the baila dancing competition and the selection of the Rajan’s Queen and Man of the Night.  

The organisers would like to thank all the sponsors of this event, with particular mention of Mr. Chanaka Olagama of Sri Lankan Airlines, who sponsored a Sri Lankan Airlines ticket for Saman de Silva’s travel; Elegant Travels (formerly Glen Carriers), Global Towers Colombo and Prince of Ceylon Restaurant, who each sponsored some very generous raffle prizes.

As an unforgettable evening that would bring together Rajans in a great celebration of the Dharmaraja spirit, Rajans Ball 2010 was a resounding success.  We look forward to more of the same in the years to come!

March 22, 2010

A grand day out

On the carousel
Originally uploaded by akbandara.
We were victims of the weather on Saturday when we thought of going to Oxford for a day out. My mother-in-law is visiting from Sri Lanka at the moment, so this was an opportunity for her to do some sightseeing as well. But the day was a washout with rain from the moment we set off.

So it was a nice surprise when Sunday turned out to be bright and clear, which gave us a chance to do something I haven't done in ages - go to the Zoo! Kanthika is learning about animals at his kindergaten at the moment, so this outing has the additional benefit of giving him a chance to see some of the creatures he has been learning about in real life. Living in Milton Keynes, we have a choice between Whipsnade and Woburn, and decided on the former. Whipsnade is affiliated with the Zoological Society of London (whose main site is the Regent's Park Zoo in London). It is a mixture of traditional zoo where animals are housed in small habitats and it is possible to walk between the various displays, and an open safari park. An added bonus for Kanthika was that the safari park section could be toured by steam train!

All in all, it was a grand day out. Hopefully the weather co-operates for more fun throughout the coming spring and summer :-)

March 18, 2010

Protecting the digital economy ...

It seems that the UK government is trying to work the system to get the Digital Economy Bill through parliment without allowing a full debate on its provisions (Hansard 15 Mar 2010 : Column 464) - very worrying considering the some of the draconian measures relating to digital copyright protection built into the proposed legislation.

So, following the example of a number of my colleagues (@psychemedia, @liamgh and @blaineprice) I wrote to my MP (for the first time!) to demand that he ensure that the government don't ramrod this legislation through before the general election.  I used the template provided @ 38degrees.org.uk as a starting point and made some amendments, so it didn't take very long to do.  Am interested to see if the 'adapted template' letter gets a response  - and whether it will be different from the one sent to @liamgh :-)

Watch this space!

March 11, 2010

Cloud of Software Engineering Education ...

Pittsburgh Landmark
Originally uploaded by akbandara.
This week I have been on the road, visiting some friends in Boston on my way to attending CSEET 2010 at CMU, Pittsburgh.

The conference has been excellent, with lots of interesting papers and workshops that have given me lots of ideas of could be integrated into our curriculum at the Open University. A particular challenge of many of the techniques (e.g., puzzle-based learning) is that they have been designed for classroom based situations. In order to adapt these into a distance learning delivery mode, there needs to be some careful thought into how the elements of interactivity and student collaboration could be maintained in some useful form.

I have been making notes on the various presentations at Cloudworks - http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloudscape/view/2020.

This has been an interesting experience and I am not convinced that the Cloudworks system is optimised for live-blogging of events like these. In particular, it would be better if the content editor did periodic autosaves; and it would be helpful to have a discussion section associated with each content item, so that it is easier to see the context in which a particular conversation is being conducted.

Nevertheless, I think Cloudworks is a great platform for sharing information on learning and teaching ideas.

February 26, 2010

Back after a long break ..

Blogging has not been a priority over the past couple of years, which is why there have been no updates here for such a long time. However, writing something on a regular basis is good practice for my day job so I thought I'd start doing this again. Even though I haven't been writing recently, I have been reading quite a lot of blogs - here are just a few that have held my interest:

Groovymother - Personal blog of former colleague and friend, Rod Begbie, who is now programmer extraordinaire at Slide Inc. in SF. URL: http://groovymother.com

dbjsjeyaraj - Blog maintained by Sri Lankan journalist, D. B. S. Jeyaraj provides excellent analyses of political situation in Sri Lankan, plus some great biographical pieces about prominent people from Sri Lanka and India. URL: http://dbsjeyaraj.com

transcurrents.com - News aggregation blog that allows writers with an interest in Sri Lanka to post their opinion pieces. The comments on the articles give some insight into the mindset of Sri Lanka's netizens - so not entirely representative but still interesting. URL: http:/transcurrents.com

groundviews.org - An excellent citizen journalism site - similar to transcurrents. URL: http://groundviews.com

Hope to post more updates here soon.