Cookery books

February 27, 2008


In the past many people learned to cook while they were at university. This is less likely to happen now because of the easy availability of  cheap take-away and ready meals. Are you fed up with eating unhealthily but are not very confident about how to start cooking for yourself or for  your flatmates? Why not start honing your skills by using some easy recipes?  Cooking can be a relaxing pastime and provide a welcome break when you are tired of studying. The Library has recently acquired a number of cookery books including Nigella Express, Gordon Ramsey’s Fast Food and Ainsley Harriot’s all new meals in minutes.  You will not find cooking a time-consuming process when you use these books because most of the recipes in them take about 25 minutes to prepare and 20-30 minutes to cook

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Smart Bunnies

February 25, 2008

Baby rabbits are cute.  Penguins are popular, looking both comical and streamlined in a dinner jacket.
Combine the two with the appropriate technology and you have  a Wi-fi Rabbit and a Tux Droid, both friendly and compatible to your PC.
The Nabaztag wi-fi rabbit

The Nabaztag wi-fi rabbit  – a new ‘communications device’ which can ‘move its ears, light up in hundreds of colours, play music and even speak’. ‘There are different levels of service – “free rabbit” offers you messages and alerts without charge, while “full rabbit” offers additional feed alerts, the ability to send MP3s and personalised email, with Nabaztag actually reading out your received messages…’
For details and demonstrations, click

Tux Droid

This penguin is a desktop companion that uses  ‘wireless fed, text to speech enabled, a programmable robot that flaps and twirls, reads your email to you, tells the time, can alert you to RSS feeds ‘
For details and demonstrations, click
The use of animals in advertising and product design is nothing new and information about new technical gadgets is available through  MetaLib , which offers you a vast amount of resources available to you,  such as

  • ABI Research (ProQuest)
  • ArticleFirst (OCLC)
  • Emerald Fulltext
  • Web of Science
  • Nexis UK

So, if you are thinking of researching new portable gadgets, try MetaLib pages for Business and Management and  Design and Technology,  and see what you can find…

Power of supermarkets

February 21, 2008

As reported widely in the media, last week the Competition Commission published the latest stage in its investigation into the UK groceries market.  The final report is due at the end of April.  The documents, evidence and announcements eminating from this inquiry are available on the Competition Commission’s website, which has a  section devoted to the inquiry , which has been underway since May 2006.  The website also provides access to the Commission’s earlier report on supermarkets which was published in October 2000.

If you want to look further into the Supermarket ‘market’, then you can get an overview of the situation in the UK from Mintel.  Its ‘Food Retailing’ report dates from November 2007, with the next one due in November 2008.  It provides an overview of the market, plus competitor analysis, detailed customer demographics for online grocery shopping, as well as traditional stores, plus a look to the future.  To access Mintel, go to Metalib and then either search for ‘Mintel’ as database or browse the ‘Business and Management’ category to locate it.  This latter way will also enable you to see the variety of databases the Library suggests for business topics.  To access Mintel off-campus, you will need to use a separate username and password, which you can access from the Library’s passwords page.

Lots to try!

February 13, 2008

The Library has instigated a number of database trials for the next few weeks.  So now is your chance to try out Oxford Reference Online, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online; the Complete Cambridge Companions Online and a number of Social Science online encyclopaedias via Gale Virtual Reference (International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Encyclopedia of Race and Racism and Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender). 

To access the Oxford and Cambridge trials, use the links above or go to the Trials category on Metalib and let us know your views.  The Cambridge trial lasts until the 28th February and the Oxford ones until 8th March.  You will need to be on-campus to view these.  To access the Gale trial go to: 
and select the new titles from the Advanced Search’s ‘Publication Title’ option .  If you are accessing Gale off-campus, you will need your Athens username and password.  The Gale trial lasts until 11th March.

Please let us know your views via the ‘Comments’ .  And, thinking of a previous post, could any of them replace Wikipedia for you?

Google – White Bread for the Mind?

February 13, 2008


Tara Brabazon, Professor of Media Studies at the University of Brighton has stimulated a lot of discussion with her inaugural lecture: Google: white bread for the mind” (Full-text available on NexisUK – Athens username and pasword needed to log in). 

In it she argues that easy access to online sources has blunted students’ ability to find material of quality so much so that they can’t distinguish between information and knowledge. Professor Brabazon bans her students from using Google or Wikipedia during their first year. Instead she asks them to find their source material from a compilation of 200 extracts from peer reviewed journal articles. In this way she hopes they will develop critical thinking skills.

Librarians don’t discourage students from using Google but try to teach them to use it properly, so that they can sort the wheat from the chaff. David Dolowitz, Professor of Politics at the University of Liverpool has adopted different approach from Tara Brabazon. During their year studying on his MA course, students confine themselves to using electronic sources and learn to use the Internet to find quality sources. Dolowitz’s book co-authored with Steve Buckler : Politics on the Internet : a guide for students  grew out of his M.A. course and has some general guidance on searching which would be invaluable for all social science students.

It is perhaps unrealistic to ban students from using Google even if it is only for one year because ‘googling’  is so much part of all our lives. Students writing on blogs have reacted unfavourably to Tara Brabazon’s lecture because they feel as they if they are constantly under attack for using the Internet as a source. Perhaps it would be better to embed the teaching of information literacy into the curriculum as soon as it is practical, so that students can learn how to discriminate between the different types of  information on the Internet and in which contexts they should be used.

As the late great humorist Miles Kington said “ The difference between wisdom and knowledge consists of knowing that tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad”.

 Let us know what you think about the idea of Google or Wikipedia being banned.  Is it a good idea?

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Rogue Traders

February 6, 2008


Rogue traders are in the news again. The term was coined in 1995 when Nick Leeson bankrupted Barings Bank through risky derivatives dealing in Singapore. He became the subject of many books and a feature  film. Now Jerome Kerviel has lost 4.9 billion euro for Societe Generale and also become a folk hero in the process. An American business is selling Kerviel T-shirts and both publishers and Hollywood are tempting him with book and film offers. If you want to know more about the background to this phenomenon of rogue trading, there is a long article on the psychology of financial risk-taking entitled “Folly, fantasy and roguery”  by Nigel Nicholson and Paul Willman which appeared in the Financial Times on June 13, 2000. This is one of a series of in-depth articles on risk ” Survey – Mastering Risk”published in the FT in 2000. There are a lot more recent  articles and blog entries from the experts who write in the British broadsheet newspapers which appear in the database Nexis  Nexis also gives access to foreign language newspapers so if you read French you will be able to follow how the latest financial scandal is being covered in the press in France.