Happy Australia Day – Safe Fun in the Summer Sun

25 01 2007

It’s Australia Day here down under, which is supposed to be a celebration of Australia as a nation. Unfortunatly, the date chosen happens to be the day Australia was invaded by the British and for many is a Day of Mourning. As a nation I think it’s time we selected a date that’s a little more appropriate for celebration, one that’s less drenched in blood. Celebrating slaughter is not very Australian. While many have suggested already historic dates for a new Australia Day date, I think a date selected purely for the occassion would be more appropriate and officially recognise the history of our original Australia Day is a part of our history that’s not something to be proud of, just like the White Australia Policy. History isn’t just followed, it can also be made. Maybe we can use the date of the day we’re finally freed of the shackles of the British Monarchy. Anyway, enough about the shame of our nation and on to some of the fun stuff you could do today to celebrate what’s great about Australia.

Watch a citizenship ceremony – Congratulations to our new Australian Citizens receiving their citizenship today.
Listen to Triple J’s Hottest 100
Look Up and Smile
Have a BBQ and invite your friends and family
Look up what’s on in your local area – Australia Day in Victoria
Plant a wattle or eucalyptus tree
Plan a holiday in our sunburnt country
Make a Pavlova
Watch the Australian of the Year Awards

Whatever you end up doing today, don’t forget to Slip, Slop, Slap & Wrap.

Sun and Shade Sail
Originally uploaded by ShelterIt.


4000 hits – WordPress vs Typepad – Ratio of 5:1

23 01 2007

I love WordPress, let me count the ways. 4046 total hits today, compared to 815 on my Typepad blog. That works out at roughly 500% better hit rate on WordPress. So if you want to increase your blog exposure, trash your Typepad account and switch to WordPress now.

From my first WordPress post on 14th of August 2006 to today, I’ve received over 4000 hits. I started using Typepad during the beta.

Media, Political and Religious FUD – Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt – Controlling By Fear

19 01 2007

Yet another news item about hate speech, the latest one being John Howard and the Catch The Fire ministry. This ministry appears to have a history of spreading the word of intolerance, but as there’s no transcript of John Howard’s speech and the entire article is based on speculation of what he might say or plans to say. This is a pretty shallow and inflammatory article – typical lack of integrity from the MSM (Main Stream Media), yet again. Thank god we have journalists, what would we do without them? Gerard McManus and Michael Harvey you should be ashamed of yourselves. Go home and apologise to your family and friends for inciting racial hatred, inciting fear and publishing material that belongs on Today Tonight or 3AW.

This article is a perfect example of a bigger issue that is not being covered by the MSM, mainly because they are one of the biggest culprits. The issue is FUD. Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt. If you are not familiar with this concept, it’s a marketing strategy, originally used by IBM to cast aspersions on their competitors. However since the terrorist attacks on America, it’s also been increasingly used by the MSM, political parties, governments and churches, as well as big corporates like pharmaceutical companies.

FUD is not always about misinformation, but it is using information as a weapon of fear to manipulate and control people, similar to an armed bank robbery, people who are afraid or uncertain are easier to control.

Everyone needs to be a little more skeptical about the use of FUD by political and religious groups (frankly, most of us in Generation X & Y expect it from corporates, but the use of FUD by politicians has surged since the attacks on World Trade Center). The agenda of any group trying to control people through fear is a dangerous one. Saddam Hussein used this very weapon against his own people, although he didn’t hide it as FUD.

If you find yourself experiencing fear, uncertainty or doubting a previous belief that you had, consider the source of this FUD feeling, and whether that source will receive a personal gain from your fearful, uncertain or doubting state. Today Tonight, 3AW, Beauty & The Beast, there are so many of these shows that drive ratings based on fear, misinformation, divisive statements and repugnant social behaviour. The purpose of fear in evolution is to incite reaction. Media executives have discovered this works really well for ratings, regardless of the impact this has on society. Many of the hosts of these shows do not believe the “controversial” things they say, they’re just whoring for ratings, exploiting the ignorance of their audience for a few bucks in their pocket and five minutes of fame.

Societies living in fear are no longer functioning to their full potential. Fear is crippling to productivity, confidence and mental serenity.

For the next week, count the number of FUD media experiences you have, it may surprise you.

Two’s Company, Three’s a Mesh Network – Logs are pulsing with OLPC searches

18 01 2007

From the numbers of hits I’m currently receiving, I’ve gathered that one of the most important issues in Australian education has finally hit the Main Stream Media (MSM). Good job MSM, you’re only four months behind.

However they did cover some good stuff (despite the misleading, attention-grabbing headline – news please MSM, not misinformation) “Dr Tim Aubrey, Dr David Davis and Mr Alex Gibson, part of UTS’ engineering department, said they would be incorporating OLPC projects into their undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and even working on developing the software themselves.”

This is a welcome development, as implementations in Australia will need local knowledge, as well as technical expertise with OLPC systems.

“Dr Davis, a senior lecturer, said he was drawn to the OLPC project because it would allow his students to take part in a challenging engineering problem that is also “socially useful”.”

“another challenge faced by Australian governments looking to deploy the laptops is the need to order large quantities, said Srikhanta…. In order to produce them for $US150 – the goal is to bring this price down to $US85 by 2010 – countries would need to order the laptops in one million unit batches. This poses difficulties for countries with smaller population sizes, such as Australia.”

This is where smaller nations need to band together and order them as a group, or as a sub-order through a larger size nation. Most of these kinds of problems are not unique to any government, yet they shy away from collaboration, seeming to prefer wastage, duplication and inefficiency.

Another primary need, not just in Australia, is for a decent emulator for the OLPC interface, so open-source developers can start contributing to local software now. Then volunteers can create and test code to run on the OLPC laptops, without having a unit themselves. This is also important when bug-free software is a requirement. Yes, bug-free software is possible, it just requires a severe raising of the bar from current (and slacker) development/testing standards. Not only will tight development control be required, but some kind of integrated support WILL be required. Support is never just of a technical nature, it’s also a natural learning process, applying technology to solve local problems.

There also needs to be heavy penalties for people selling these items for profit, including the item being confiscated. Without heavy penalties, these are going to become a black market item of novelty value, weakening the position of the manufacturers who don’t want this available to members of the general public, as well as weakening the program itself.

People need to understand the purpose of this project, it is NOT to bring cheap laptops to people living normal lives. The Queensland Education Department obviously doesn’t get it, as they have described the machines as “far below the requirements” of students in developed countries. Yes, they are, and that’s exactly what they are supposed to be, they are not for students in developed countries! However, these would be of great assistance in Australian communities without any access to education, medical care, electricity, telephones and financial assistance. Basic literacy! Basic medical knowledge! These are greatly needed in some areas.

For all those people searching for information (a shout out to the hard working teachers and public servants who do give a shit), here are some links that may help you out. If you’re looking for something else, comment here and I’ll see if I can find it for you.
One Laptop Per Child – Wikipedia entry
One Laptop Per Indigenous Australian Child? – OLPC News

If you believe that Australia needs the OLPC right here and right now, contact your local member of Parliament (and your local paper) and ask them what they personally are doing about this issue. It’s time for them to pull their fingers out.

Wikipedia alive and kicking for six years – Happy Birthday Wikipedia!

17 01 2007

Wikipedia is a fantastic example of world-wide volunteer collaboration. Over six million articles, over 250 different language versions, Wikipedia is global knowledge at it’s best. While it has it’s critics, Wikipedia‘s biggest strength is not that it has been free of criticism and scandal (it hasn’t), but that it has used every downside to improve, evolve and expand. Even the people who leave Wikipedia and move on to other similar projects are all in “Wikipedia mode”, publishing, improving and sharing.

Wikipedia provides a better public service than many governments. That’s something to think about.

via Touchstone Blog

KKR looking to spend over 5 billion dollars

15 01 2007

Putting 735 million into the Seven Network wasn’t enough for KKR, reportedly they’re now looking to spend over AU$5 billion dollars in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Australia and New Zealand. This rumour seems to have legs as today it was announced that Seven & KKR are teaming up to bid for NZ’s Yellow Pages. Telecom New Zealand wants well above AU$1.3 billion) for the business, which would barely put a dent in the KKR piggy bank. Further adding to speculation, The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that there may be a change of leadershop at Telecom New Zealand.

Video of Blue Origin’s Goddard sub-orbital spacecraft

5 01 2007

Blue Origin - Goddard spacecraft launchThe Blue Origin spacecraft has been unmasked. You just have to see the video of Blue Origin’s Goddard spacecraft taking off. Blue Origin is Jeff Bezos’ (yes, that Bezos) sub-orbital spaceflight company. The Goddard (named for Robert Goddard – father of modern rocketry) is the first step in the New Shepard program. The New Shepard will be controlled completely by on-board computers, without ground control. Unmanned test flights began in November 2006. Once passenger flights begin, the company expects up to 52 launches a year.