30 December 2007

Dangers of video blogging exposed: Jim Chomas Naked

This post over at Techcrunch on the now infamous Jim Chomas' naked & drunk video is worth a view. It is instructive as to some of the dangers inherent in posting video online. It is also utterly hilarious. I saw the url to it on Twitter and went there to watch the action. It was like watching an accident in motion - hard to look away, but quite entertaining. It is the same thing that keeps us watching Britney Spears et al. You want to see what can possibly happen next.

Unlike when you write blog posts under the influence, video shows it all up close and in living colour. I suspect that Duncan Riley was correct when he said "If Jim had any career before it must surely join the deadpool now, or maybe not, after all drunk TV had some value tonight, at least from me and 100 others. Either way if the full Ustream clip gets released I’m betting this might well be the last great viral video of 2007." Perhaps Jimmy will just continue doing his show drunk and naked in future?

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Truly excellent post on "Why I use Twitter" by Dan York

This is a really great summary of how people are using Twitter and why from Dan York over at Disruptive Conversations, in summary he uses Twitter:

1. as a News Source
2. as a Knowledge Network
3. as a Virtual Water Cooler
4. as a way to stay up-to-date with friends
5. as a Travelogue
6. to Track Conferences
7. as a PR/marketing Tool
8. as a Learning Tool
9. as Fun
10. as a Daily Lesson in Humility (and Brevity)

But it is worth reading the entire post.

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Trying hard to cancel MySpace account

About a week ago I decided to start deleting some of my lesser used online accounts, starting with MySpace. It seems that it is very hard and takes a long time to delete a MySpace account.

I went to the MySpace site and followed the directions to cancel the account, have to date done this process several times now. To no avail. Is it actually not possible to cancel your MySpace account?

Finally in desperation I logged a support ticket, which received the following email. I have emailed another request to cancel this account, let's see if it can finally happen (it is only week #2 of the process).

"Re: Account - How to delete? [ref:00D78NrS.50074htCV:ref]
From: MySpace.com help@support.myspace.com
Sent: Friday, 28 December 2007 10:23:47 AM
To: Kate Carruthers
Hello, The information below provides instructions on how to cancel an account/profile and addresses why yours may have been cancelled by MySpace. You can cancel your account/profile by accessing go to "Home" and select "Account Settings". Please keep in mind that once your account/profile is deleted we WILL NOT be able to restore it for you. Click on the red link marked 'Cancel Account'. Your account/profile will be cancelled once this information is updated in our system. This may take some time to complete so please be patient. If you wish to use the same email address for a new account/profile this can only be done once the address is released.

If your question pertains to why your account/profile was cancelled by MySpace or why content was deleted, please refer to our Terms of Service for more detailed explanations. Reasons could include, but are not limited to inapproproate images, racial content, excessive violence, copyright infringement of any kind, underage users, etc. MySpace is a community where free expression is encouraged. However, we also have a responsibility to all of our users to ensure everyone abides by our Terms of Service. If this does not address your issue completely, please press "Reply" and provide any additional information you feel is relevant.

Please do not alter the subject as it will be considered a new inquiry. For the most up to date messages about MySpace, subscribe to the MySpace Help blog! You get updates almost every day! Go here to subscribe.www.myspace.com/myspacehelp Thank you for contacting MySpace.com.
Please cancel my account I have tried to do this severaltimes now but no email has arrived to finalize the process(yes I have checked the junk mail). Many thanks for your help.
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29 December 2007

Employee engagement video

This video from McDaniel Partners via Phil Gerbyshak from Slacker Manager gives some food for thought on employee engagement. It makes me wonder about the financial cost of employee disengagement?

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28 December 2007

MTUB Invades Sydney: STUB4 on Sunday

Repost from STUB website follows ...

Some Melbournites (well, at least @fulltimecasual) are in our fair city, and have decreed that there shall be a STUB meetup, this Sunday (30th December) from 2pm at the Glenmore Hotel.

Where: Glenmore Hotel 96 Cumberland Street,The Rocks (map)
When: December 30, 2007 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Sponsors: (none so far)
Contact: Follow/message @fulltimecasual for details.
Public Transport: Closest Train Station is Circular Quay Station (City Circle Line)
Note: Public transport is running to altered timetables. Call 131500 or go to 131500.info for timetables.

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High points in Australia's legal world in 2007

Over at the Sydney Morning Herald website Richard Ackland summed up some of the more memorable happenings in Australian legal circles in 2007, but two stood out for me:

"The NSW Court of Appeal upheld the right of judges to get in some important sleep time while trying cases. It was found in Cesan v DPP that justice can still be done by unconscious or 'dormant' presiding trial judges."


"And for the most significant legal moment of the year there is the enduring spectacle of an Australian citizen pleading 'guilty' before an improperly constituted foreign 'court' for a war crime that did not exist - all with the connivance of the Australian government."

Neither of these stories give me a warm fuzzy feeling about the rule of law in Australia.

...full story here

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27 December 2007

When non-technologists write about technology: They're So Cute

Great snarky post from Marc Andreessen about "When non-technologists write about technology: They're so CUTE!" - this is a great serve on the type of overblown analysis of tech stuff done by people who don't have a clue. Really worth a read!

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26 December 2007

There is no 'I' in Team - but there is a huge 'ME' in team

I came across another lame article (no I will not dignify the piece of crap by linking to it, just take my word for it) that talked about there being no "I" in team. It made me cranky again (just after I'd recovered from the recent Samsung A701 mobile phone malfunctions too) as it avoided the whole point that teams consist of a number of individuals (a.k.a. me's or ids).

The simple fact is that teams consisting merely of rampant ids in the form of individuals who do not have predetermined and agreed manners, forms and norms of behaviour are doomed to perpetual idiocy and indecision or rule by loudmouth. Further, it is management of organisations that sets and enables the particular form of team behaviour that is exhibited in each place.

From my experience, the best teams are those where decision making and rules of behaviour are agreed upfront with a view to ensuring that the best possible decision is made.

Well, I'm sick and tired of being in teams where the stupidest but loudest and best connected idiot in the room determines the direction that the group should take. I'm sick of decisions being made by the least qualified individuals in the building when there are others who actually have a clue in the particular problem domain.

My new year wish is for a world where people become self aware enough to admit they don't know everything and defer to other individuals who actually have a clue about the issue under consideration.

Let's see how my new year wish unfolds?

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25 December 2007

Gotta respect girls that like to Digg

Thanks to Michael Arrington over at Techcrunch for this vid, Kina Grannis is great and I too like to Digg:

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This is what happens on family visits ...

funny pictures

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I know how teh kitteh feelz

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

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24 December 2007

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.

Over being cranky now - best wishes to everyone for peace and happiness this Christmas Eve.

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Samsung A701 - this useless piece of rubbish that is masquerading as a phone

This stupid Samsung A701 mobile phone crashed again. Had to remove my battery & SIM card to reboot the phone again after a yellow screen of death. This is not a phone it is just an annoyance. Can't wait to replace it immediately the shops open after Xmas.

This is the first phone I've had that crashes more than once in a blue moon.

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Crappy Telstra NextG network and Samsung A701 phone

It is difficult for me to find words adequate to express my unhappiness with Telstra's crappy NextG network and the equally crappy Samsung A701 phone that I own. But I'm going to try ...
The NextG network is the most unreliable thing since the early days of digital networks in Australia - high levels of drop outs, and there are dead zones all over suburban Sydney. God knows what it's like for anyone in a smaller city. For heaven's sake I could not even get a call out in Hornsby today, and it drops out regularly on the lower north shore and Northbridge, Chatswood, and St Ives. Luckily my friends are now used to one of us having to call back after a drop out. Maybe it is part of Telstra's plan to increase revenue by doubling the cost of each call due to these drop outs mid -conversation?

I wish the NextG people would just find out what their brethren over at Bigpond are doing because they've managed to provide me with a reliable DSL service for several years now.

As for the phone, it is an annoying thing that is so unreliable that I'm going to replace it immediately after Christmas. Maybe I just got a lemon, but I will NEVER EVER by a Samsung phone again. It needs to go and be repaired again. So now I am going back to my old 2G Nokia handset which, by the way, still works day in and day out - even if it is a little clunky.

I feel better with that off my chest - still not happy, but better out than in.

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Online video and social networking big in 2008?

Suspect that video based social networking is about to take off in 2008. But of course, I could be wrong!

During 2007 we've seen the consolidation of video sharing on sites like YouTube and others, now we're seeing sites like seesmic launching. Early in 2007 lots of normal people (i.e. non-geeks) were talking about Utube (sic) but had never seen it, but now everyone knows what it is. Growth in video communications is coming our way. Who knows, soon I might even have a friend who can take one of my video phone calls?

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Subprime crisis - Comments

It is always instructive to watch what a smart & successful company like General Electric* does and try to work out why they are doing it.

Several years ago GE spun off their insurance businesses and this divestment was of interest to me at the time because GE was removing a number of capital intensive operations from their business while retaining an equity interest. By this move GE no longer had to maintain tier-1 capital for these insurance businesses but instead retained a dividend stream from their equity, they also substantially reduced their own risk in those operations. By 2006 GE had sold their remaining equity in these operations, noting in their 2006 annual accounts that:

"In 2006, we substantially completed our planned exit of the insurance businesses through the sale of the property and casualty insurance and reinsurance businesses and the European life and health operations of GE Insurance Solutions Corporation (GE Insurance Solutions) and the sale of GE Life, our U.K.-based life insurance operation, to Swiss Reinsurance Company (Swiss Re). Also during 2006, we completed the sale of our remaining 18% investment in Genworth Financial, Inc. (Genworth), our formerly wholly-owned subsidiary that conducted most of our consumer insurance business, including life and mortgage operations, through a secondary public offering." (Source: GE 2006 annual report p. 49)

This deal by GE really got me thinking about the problems associated with insurance products in the globalised markets where risk is interlinked between geographies and products. With the sub prime mortgages problem in the US lenders have loaned money to people who cannot repay their mortgages. The lenders don't really care because all the mortgages are insured, but the insurers are probably very worried right now. And, if the mortgage insurers have been following the lead of the lenders you can bet that they also relaxed their underwriting rules to write those policies.

The credit crunch is going to be worse for the insurers because often they not only insured the mortgages, but also provided the deposit bonds. Also the ratings agencies are really going to come under some scrutiny - the real question is do they have any clue as to the underlying risk of the products they are rating? I suspect the answer is about to be revealed as a resounding not really.

The sub prime mortgage problem exists because lenders ignored prudent credit policy on the optimistic basis of a rising property market. We are now seeing the almost inevitable consequence of these poor credit policies. GE had the foresight to reduce their exposure to these insurance businesses, a pity some of the other players were not so prudent.

* Note: A few years ago I worked for GE in Australia, but no longer have any business relationship with the company. I have no personal knowledge of the GE business strategy behind these deals and the comments above are based on publicly available sources and my own interpretations.

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23 December 2007

Why software testing is important - from New Scientist

Here is a story for those among us who do not believe that software testing is critical, this is from New Scientist's Doh! Of Technology:

Back to the future
IN FEBRUARY 2007, 12 F-22 Raptors, the US air force's new stealth fighters, left Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, bound for Okinawa, Japan, on the high-tech planes' first overseas outing. Things went smoothly until they reached the 180th meridian - otherwise known as the International Date Line.

Some of the pilots suddenly found themselves without any navigation aids. With nothing to tell them their compass heading or even whether they were level or not, it was as if the pilots had been instantaneously transported from the cockpit of the world's most advanced aircraft into one dating from the first world war.

Fortunately the skies were clear, so the squadron did an about-face and was able to follow its in-flight refuelling tankers back to Hickam.

The error was diagnosed as a problem with a "partial line of code" that had pitched the planes' computers into an infinite loop of trying and failing to calculate their position while dealing with an unexpected date. A fix was issued, and three weeks later the planes made their trip to Japan without a hitch.

"Reliance on electronics has changed the flight-test process," says
Donald Shepperd, once head of the US Air National Guard. "It used to be tails falling off, now it's typos that ground a fighter."

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Finally got an invite to Seesmic last night from Loic and, of course my webcam is not working on my desktop. This means I will have to use the Mac, which I generally only use on the road. It would seem very strange to use it here in my study. Unless tomorrow I brave the Christmas retail madness and buy a replacement. Dunno what to do for my first video though?

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Techcrunch goes political with the US election

Techcrunch goes political with the US election, Michael Arrington explains:

"TechCrunch wants to provide a voice for digital policy and technology issues in the upcoming U.S. Presidential election, and so we've decided to hold our own political primaries online. Voting will be open from Tuesday, December 18 through midnight pst Friday, January 18. TechCrunch will endorse one candidate from each the Democratic and Republican party as the "Tech President" candidate based on the popular results of reader voting and blog input from our community of technology leaders and entrepreneurs."

More at http://primaries.techcrunch.com/

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Unidentified LOLcat object

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

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Microsoft Office 2007 Upgrade

I recently upgraded to Microsoft's Office 2007 and what a pleasant surprise it was! The upgrade process was really easy, the product itself has a really nice user interace, and it's easy to use. This is so much better than the previous versions, although I do suspect having a lot of RAM helps.

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Thomas Paine & the Declaration of the Rights of Man

I am reading Christopher Hitchen's Thomas Paine's Rights of Man: A Biography. Paine's writings were highly influential in creating the world we know today, where equality before the law and democracy are normal. I'm also dipping into the The Thomas Paine Reader to access the original writings. I did read Paine's works many years ago at Sydney Uni when studyin history, which itself is almost ancient history, but Paine's writings have a freshness that stands the test of time.

So many of the ideas we take for granted in Western society were denied to people in Paine's time. Indeed, he was forced to flee his homeland for merely asserting that man (and he did talk about men in the way of his time) had certain basic and irrefutable rights.

His ideas were foundational in the development of the United States, and informed much of their political and legal culture.

He also argued against the British system by which the people occasionally managed to wrest a concession from the ruling hierarchy: e.g. Magna Carta, and the Bill of Rights 1688.

Now that I am studying law and living in an Australia that has been gradually abrogating rule of law, it seems to me that his arguments might have some truth.

No doubt Paine was a radical, even by today's standards. But he did stand firm on his belief that man had inalienable rights and that true nobility came from the 'democratic floor' rather than hereditary titles.

I can only hope that one day Australians will have acknowledged rights that are protected by the full power of the state and which cannot be changed at the whim of the current government without the full and informed consent of the populace. This means that these rights need to guaranteed by something other than mere legislation, which can be changed through parliamentary process without consulting the populace. I don't know the answer, but I do know that Australians need their rights to be defined and protected.

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22 December 2007

Gmail crashing in latest version of Firefox

Gmail has been crashing my Firefox since I upgraded to version

It is very annoying so I've started running IE7 again

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How addicted to Apple am I?

During 2007 I have become a fan of Apple - just a Macbook and and Ipod nothing fancy. But they are sooooo easy to use, and sooooo stylish in design. According to this quiz:

81%How Addicted to Apple Are You?

But I must note that I prefer to use Microsoft Office on my Mac than other options.

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Cancelling Commercial Christmas

In my house, somewhat to the consternation of various relatives, we have decided that we are not doing anything for Christmas or on Christmas day. This means no presents, no family get together, no shopping at the mall (except for basic foodstuffs). We are just going to stay home and have a normal day off. Rest, maybe go to the beach, have a nap, etc.

We are not grinches, we are not angry with anyone. The fact is that our families are financially able to buy their own stuff, we are too. Nobody needs more food than we normally eat. We're not saying we don't want to catch up with family members. In fact, we plan to catch up with some them who are based in Sydney over the holiday period.

Nobody in my family is particularly committed to the actual date of 25 Dec, let's face it Jesus was most likely born some time in April. December was decided on by the Church to hijack the Roman feast of Saturnalia, which was celebrated between December 17-25; or that of Sol Invictus. More on the origins of Christmas on Wikipedia.

I've got no issues with Christianity, I just think that Jesus would be horrified by the commercial debauchery that occurs in his name each year. It's time for me to put a stop to it in my life. Simplicity, peace and no unnecessary shopping are the watchwords for this Christmas.

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How to tell if your son is a hacker

Some nifty advice on how to work out if your son (not daughter though) is a hacker, Leo Laporte and Martin Sargent of TechTV discuss an article from Adequacy.org (it's an oldie but a goodie).

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21 December 2007

SnapShot of twitter.com (rank #3,778), jaiku.com (#25,108), pownce.com (#21,420)

Thanks to Chris Brogan for this link. This is interesting - as mentioned I don't get pownce; but use jaiku and twitter. My preferences seem to match the stats: twitter, jakiu, pownce.

The stats on number of people show a clear preference for twitter:

twitter.com 469,914
jaiku.com 72,161
pownce.com 85,218

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LOLcat Bible Translation

This is the funniest thing - a lolcat translation of the bible

It includes such gems as 1 Corinthians 13:

"(1) iff i talkd wif teh tungz of manz n angylz, n duzzn haz luff, i are becom liek teh human, knockin down all teh potz n panz frm teh shelf, srsly.(2) iff i haz powarz of liek tellin the futurez an, an i gotz all teh missteriez an all teh knowingz an all teh faithz, enuff taek all teh mowntanz awayz, an i duzzn haz luff, i gotz nuffink.(3) an evn iff i givez all mai stuffz awai, n iff i delivur mai bodiz to b burnded up, and i duzzn haz luff, i gotz nuffink.

(4) luv is pashient n kind, luv haz no jelusniss or showin offz, luv no is stuck-up (5) or r00dz. Luv no insistzes on doin it rite, itz not pisst off alla tiem or rezentfluffle.(6) luv izzn all happiez about doin it wrong, but is happiez about teh truthz.(7) luv putz up wiht all teh stuffz, beelivez all teh stuffz, hoepz for all teh stuffz. Luv putz up wiht all teh stuffz. i sed that areddy.

(8) luv no haz endingz. Tellin the futurez, tungz, an alla stuffz u know wil die.(9) we haz knowingz a bit, an we haz profacy a bit. We no haz 2 much tho.(10) o, wait. wen teh perfict coemz, teh not perfict will dyez, lolol.(11) wen i wuz a kitten, i meweded leik a kitten, thinkded liek a kittenz, an I chazed strings liek a kittenz. wen i wuz becomez a cat, i NOT WANT kitten waiz ne moar.(12) for nao we see in teh foggy mirorr like when teh human gets out of teh shower, but tehn we see faec tow faec. Nao i haz knowingz just a bit, tehn i will haz all teh knowingz, as i haz been knownz.

(13) nao faithz an hoepz an luvs r hear, theses threes, but teh bestest iz teh luvs, srsly."

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OLPC: the best designed notebook in the world by Robin Harris

This is great commentary on some of the anti-One Laptop discussion recently. Harris makes some good points. I've seen on of these PCs and they are beautifully designed and engineered. Some people just don't get it.

OLPC: the best designed notebook in the world by ZDNet's Robin Harris -- "The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is the best-designed notebook computer in the world. It just isn’t designed for you. Get over it. Criticism of the OLPC centers on the fact that it isn’t like the notebooks adults use. As the ASUS Eee shows a low-cost conventional laptop can be powerful. But that misses the point. [...]"

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Twitter is dangerous by ZDNet's Michael Krigsman

Here is another critique of Twitter - this time as the enemy of corporate confidentiality. Does Krigsman not realise that the problem already exists with mobile phones & PDAs? I can already send a text message to the 200 people in my mobile phone's address book. Although Twitter does make it more easy to do. It just means that organisations need to ensure people are aware of confidentiality issues. But you can never legislate against stupidity, so someone will surely leak something sometime.

Twitter is dangerous by ZDNet's Michael Krigsman -- "Twitter is rapidly becoming a serious threat to corporate information protection. The program’s great strength — many-to-many messaging — becomes its great weakness in this context. Imagine this scenario: 20 people are in a confidential meeting, one of them using Twitter. This attendee broadcasts an off-hand “tweet” (Twitter comment) to his or her “followers” (Twitter friends). [...]"

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19 December 2007

Pirate Pete

Pirate Pete, originally uploaded by kate.carruthers.

Here is pirate Pete the accountant showing off his booty (obtained from Harry's Cafe). This is his natural state.

16 December 2007

The Story of Mark Eklund, the Former Catholic School Student Killed in Vietnam = Truth!

This is one of those stories that friends email you with the request to email it to 10 friends for a 'miracle'. For some reason I decided to check if it was true and discovered that it is alleged to be true. In any case I like it. It has always seemed strange to me that we wait until someone is dead before talking about their good points. I have always thought this was better stuff to hear while you are still around, also hearing it might encourage people to do more good stuff. Here is the story from Truth or Fiction:

"Summary of eRumor
This is the touching story of a teacher at a Catholic school in Minnesota. She describes an unforgettable elementary student named Mark Eklund who had been likable but frustrating because of his inability to stay quiet in class. The teacher transferred to teaching junior-high and later had Mark again. One day asked everyone in the class to write down each student's name and also write the nicest thing they could think of about that person. Years later, the teacher got word that Mark Eklund had died in Vietnam and she was asked to attend his funeral. Mark's family showed her that the piece of paper from junior-high with other student's kind remarks about him had been carried in his wallet until the day he died. The teacher then heard that other students had also saved their pieces of paper from that day and how much it had meant to them. The story closes with encouragement to tell people how much we care for them and how special they are to us while there is still the time to do it.

The Truth
According to Saint Mary's school in Morris, Minnesota, this is a true story written by Sister Helen Mrosla, a Franciscan nun. According to an Associated Press article published in the Topeka Capitol-Journal in 1998, Sister Mrosla decided to write about Mark for Proteus magazine, which had asked for stories about education. That article was later printed in Reader's Digest but has probably reached its biggest audience via the Internet. Some versions of the circulated email also include promises of good luck if the story is forwarded to other people, something that Sister Mrosla is not happy about. She said it cheapens it somehow."

The actual story can be found here

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Funny cats and corporate life

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

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15 December 2007

InfoSec News Subject: [ISN] Warning sounded over 'flirting robots'

Here is a great story from ISN on Tue, 11 Dec 2007 01:01:27 -0600 (CST) - now the bad guys can extract personal info using flirting robots. Talk about paranoia for online dating!

By Ina Fried, December 7, 2007

Those entering online dating forums risk having more than their hearts stolen. A program that can mimic online flirtation and then extract personalinformation from its unsuspecting conversation partners is making the rounds in Russian chat forums, according to security software firm PCTools.

The artificial intelligence of CyberLover's automated chats is goodenough that victims have a tough time distinguishing the "bot" from areal potential suitor, PC Tools said. The software can work quickly too,establishing up to 10 relationships in 30 minutes, PC Tools said. It compiles a report on every person it meets complete with name, contactinformation, and photos."As a tool that can be used by hackers to conduct identity fraud,CyberLover demonstrates an unprecedented level of social engineering,"PC Tools senior malware analyst Sergei Shevchenko said in a statement.

Among CyberLover's creepy features is its ability to offer a range ofdifferent profiles from "romantic lover" to "sexual predator." It canalso lead victims to a "personal" Web site, which could be used todeliver malware, PC Tools said.

Although the program is currently targeting Russian Web sites, PC Toolsis urging people in chat rooms and social networks elsewhere to be onthe alert for such attacks. Their recommendations amount to just goodsense in general, such as avoiding giving out personal information andusing an alias when chatting online. The software company believes thatCyberLover's creators plan to make it available worldwide in February.

Robot chatters are just one type of social-engineering attack that usestrickery rather than a software flaw to access victim's valuableinformation. Such attacks have been on the rise and are predicted tocontinue to grow.

Update 4:10 p.m. PST: Mike Greene, vice president of product strategy atPC Tools, said that the company learned of CyberLover's existenceearlier this week as part of its regular monitoring of IRC chat roomsand other places where talk about malware takes place.Greene said that it is hard to tell how prevalent use of the program isin Russia."We don't have exact statistics, but I think it's early on," he said.Greene said that the perceived anonymity of the Internet hasdesensitized people to the fact that information disclosed in an onlinechat can cause real-world damage."

People are used to not opening attachments or maybe not clicking on alink that shows up in their IM," he said. "But this emulates a realconversation, so you more are likely to give over personal information,click on a link or send your photograph."

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Journalism Professor Says Citizen Journalists Should Be Regulated

Over at Techdirt it has been noted that "David Hazinski, a journalism professor and former NBC correspondent, claiming that 'unfettered' citizen journalism is 'too risky' and that it needs to be regulated (via Romenesko) by 'official' media companies, handing out 'certificates' to citizen journalists".

It is great to see that free speech is so well understood by an actual journalist, pity about his elitist tendencies. There is much in the modern media that is merely opinion, and that opinion is no better than anyone else's. And it is certainly not more valid than any citizen journalist. It is only in the area of fact-checked news stories that 'official' news media may have an argument. But this raises issues about 'facts' and their interpretation within an ideology and their presentation as objective. But that's another whole can of worms.

One thing I ponder is how did journalists get to be so special? Again the press has lost sight of its own origins in the 18th century pamphlets and newsletters. Ordinary people took up their pens to voice their own opinions and it has grown into the press industry we know today. The Internet is just enabling us to reclaim citizen journalism for the people (OMG that sounds a little bit Marxist, but you know what I mean).

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14 December 2007

Largest Adobe Flash crash in the world

This via Michael Krigsman is the funniest thing I've seen in a long time - it's an error on the huge billboard in Times Sqaure in New York.

"The big screen in New York’s Times Square runs Windows and Adobe Flash. I guess you could say that Flash crashed big-time (no pun intended). From Andrew Flynn’s website: And here’s a close-up of the error box:"

Philip Rosedale Answers Your Second Life Questions

Over at Freakanomics they did a Q&A with the creator of Second Life, Philip Rosedale about Second Life (aka SL).

This is interesting stuff - the questions are wide ranging from security and privacy to economics.

But I still don't think that SL is a very good user experience in Australia due to low bandwidth & our generally 3rd world broadband (thanks again Telstra).

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My celebrity look-alikes

I can't believe that crappy program says I look like these celebrities!

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Laurel Papworth - Online Communities - Australia and Global: eMarketer.com is a SPAM site...

Laurel Papworth - Online Communities - Australia and Global: eMarketer.com is a SPAM site...

Poor SilkCharm is getting spammed by www.eMarketer.com this is bad manners!

12 December 2007

NSW Pearcy Award 2007 - to the non-cricketing Waughs

Great to see that Pia and Jeffrey Waugh have been awarded the NSW Pearcey Award 2007 for their collaboration within the open source software sector and their sustained contribution to the Linux movement in Australia (more at LinuxWorld)

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9 December 2007

Twitter visit on YouTube - too funny

This visit to Twitter by Loïc Le Meur is very amusing ...

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Loïc’s List for Internet Start-ups

Loïc Le Meur est un « serial entrepreneur » français de 35 ans, he recently shared his 10 tips for internet startups:

  1. Don’t wait for a revolutionary idea. It will never happen. Just focus on a simple, exciting, empty space and execute as fast as possible.
  2. Share your idea. The more you share, the more you get advice and the more you learn. Meet and talk to your competitors.
  3. Build a community. Use blogging and social software to make sure people hear about you.
  4. Listen to your community. Answer questions and build your product with their feedback.
  5. Gather a great team. Select those with very different skills from you. Look for people who are better than you.
  6. Be the first to recognise a problem. Everyone makes mistakes. Address the issue in public, learn about and correct it.
  7. Don’t spend time on market research.Launch test versions as early as possible. Keep improving the product in the open.
  8. Don’t obsess over spreadsheet business plans.They are not going to turn out as you predict, in any case.
  9. Don’t plan a big marketing effort.It’s much more important and powerful that your community loves the product.
  10. Don’t focus on getting rich. Focus on your users. Money is a consequence of success, not a goal.

Thanks to Carleen Hawn for this list.

8 December 2007

Has Being Skunk Drunk on the Bust Jumped the Shark?

Good discussion by Mark 'Rizzn' Hopkins on Mashable: Have we really drunk the koolaid? Has the interet jumped the shark?

I think there is business value in the internet yet. But I also think there is a lot of dross in the market. But you need that volume of activity to generate the real innovations.

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6 December 2007

Presentation: Online Collaboration - Frameworks for Success

Copy of my presentation from Online Social Networking and Business Collaboration Conference yesterday available on slideshare

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TED Talk by Philippe Starck: Why design?

Philippe Starke, the famous designer talking about design -and without Powerpoint!

I stayed in one of his hotels in New York earlier this year - it was very gorgeous and funky. His ideas about user centred design are very interesting.

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4 December 2007

The Potential of Enterprise 2.0 - Six Lessons for Success

Here is a link to Ross Dawson's presentation: "The Potential of Enterprise 2.0 - Six Lessons for Success" at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Sydney. Some interesting ideas as usual with Ross.

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18 November 2007

One Laptop per Child & Open Source

Chilren using One Laptop in India
IEEE Computer Society NSW held a seminar last Thursday and Pia Waugh came to talk about Open Source and the One Laptop per Child program.

She also brought along a sample of the laptop (I thought that a few of the members attending might mug her for it on the way out ;-).

The laptop was fascinating - it is a well designed and engineered piece of equipment. It is a visionary program that is focused on getting technology into the hands of children in the developing world. The laptop runs linux and has lightweight and efficient hardware.

Very cool stuff!

More details about the seminar here ...

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Samsung mobile phone lemon

My previous post about the Nokia ad reminded me about the ongoing problem with my Samsung A701 Next G mobile phone. This puppy has been out of action for about 3 months now as the power/data port is cactus.

It has been sent back to Telstra for repairs, passed onto Samsung for repairs, returned from both still broken, sent back for more repairs & allegedly returned fixed this time. I'll find out when I pick it up next week.

My key observation regarding this model phone is that that the power/data port is very fragile and quite poorly engineered. I will be ensuring that my next mobile phone has more robust power and data ports. This is so important now that your phone is more than just a phone.

I feel very disgruntled as this whole thing means that for months I've been using my old Nokia 6110i which cannot use the Next G features.

This is my first experience with a Samsung phone & it means that I am not likely to buy one again. Not happy with either Samsung or Telstra right now :-(

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Nokia gets web 2.0

Nokia really gets what Web 2.0 is about (and they have got product for us to buy). This is exactly what other companies need to understand - web 2.0 really is all about connecting people. And now we have commercially viable convergent technology that enables the connection.

This ad has a catchy jingle and makes the possibilities inherent in web 2.0 understandable by a normal person. Hmmmm perhaps I need a new phone?

Thanks to Orli for the tip

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13 November 2007

Future of the web

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11 November 2007

Chocolate, Cheese, Meat, and Sugar -- Physically Addictive Foods

Neal Barnard MD discusses the science behind food additions. According to his analysis willpower is not to blame for our addiction to some foods like chocolate, cheese, meat, and sugar. They each release opiate-like substances. He advocates a vegan diet as the solution to many health problems. Neal Barnard is the founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

It all makes me feel like having a pizza ;-)

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10 November 2007

7 Periods with Mr Gormsby on YouTube

At last found some episodes on YouTube - this is much funnier than the Aussie Summer Heights High

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LOLPOL - the only bright spot in the election campaign

Since I am a complete LOLCAT addict, of course LOLPOL had immediate resonance for me. They are very amusing visions of our pollies. And given the general dullness of this me-too campaign any entertainment is most welcome.

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Web Trend Map 2007

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4 November 2007

TED Talk by Vilayanur Ramachandran on the Brain

This fab TED talk by Vilayanur Ramachandran explores how brain damage helps us to study the connection between the internal structures and corresponding functions of the mind. He is the director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego, and an adjunct professor at the Salk Institute who has written a number of books.

I found his discussion of learned paralysis in phantom limbs to be of great interest, as was his contention that we all have 'cross modal synaesthetic' abilities.

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30 October 2007

Microsoft Technical Architecture Breakfast

Went to the Microsoft Technical Architecture seminar at the very early 8.00 am this morning. Glenn Smyth the Enterprise Architect from Adelaide Bank spoke about "An Enterprise Architecture Framework to support SOA incorporating MSBA".

It was an interesting session and Glenn shared some of his key learnings from his previous role at the Australian Taxation Office (including that the ATO likes to refer to us taxpayers as clients - as if we have a choice).

Some of the key stuff for me was:

*How to avoid building services wrong
*How to avoid building the wrong services
*How to know where the process boundary ends and the service boundary begins? What is the right granularity for services?

His idea of service boundaries and use of business capability modelling (a bit like old fashioned functional decompositions on steroids) but was a useful takeway.
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Is The Web 2.0 World is Skunk Drunk on Its Own Kool-Aid?

Steve Rubel over at Micropersuasion is arguing that the Web 2.0 World is Skunk Drunk on Its Own Kool-Aid.

His evidence includes:

  • No one's casting a cynical eye anymore.
  • No one's looking at valuations and reality
  • The endless dot-com parties are back.
  • So are the countless trade shows/conferences that regurgitate the same "new paradigms" the last 10 events did - with no end in sight.
  • And yes, the ridiculous BS press releases are flying into my Gmail box.
Steve might just have a point. I've discussed this with a few friends recently and they've pointed out that 'real' money is being made this time around. I'm still not convinced - does that make a cynic (or as my mate Ian would term it, a realist)?

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3D Maps inside buildings

Below an item from CNET news about a 3D internal mapping product about to launch. This is very cool stuff ...

"October 28, 2007 9:01 PM PDT

EveryScape brings 3D map views inside buildings

Click for gallery

The online mapping stuff just keeps getting better.

A company called EveryScape is launching on Monday a three-dimensional local search site that lets people "drive" down streets and even "walk" into buildings.

If you thought Google's Street View was cool, wait until you see how you can ski down the slopes in Aspen, Colorado, or whiz over taxicabs and pedestrians through the streets of New York, Boston, and Miami. The inside views of buildings are only available in Miami and Aspen right now.

The visuals are stunning as you fly through the front doors of hotels, bars, and other buildings and turn around for a 360-degree view. It reminds me of a video game or a virtual reality environment, only everything here is real. ..."

read the rest here

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29 October 2007

Twitter not so frivolous after all?

This post over at Fast Company gives an excellent example of a non-trivial use for Twitter based on how people used it during the recent fires in California. Here again ordinary people are finding meaningful ways to adopt technology.

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28 October 2007

Another social networking site - Gooruze

This one is for online marketers and it has features similar to many others including articles, news, forums, chat, and syndication of your other blogs - all with a focus on online marketing.


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24 October 2007

Inner Geek

It has been discovered that I am merely a:

super geek

on the Innergeek quiz - I knew watching all that Star Trek would come in handy one day. Also having a pet named after a sci-fi movie character probably helped to raise my score.

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Article: The Intelligence Community: 2001-2015

This article issued by the CIA gives an interesting insight into some of the broader issues that face the world over the next few years.

The Intelligence Community: 2001-2015


Daunting Challenges, Hard Decisions

The Intelligence Community: 2001-2015

Aris A Pappas and James M. Simon, Jr.

Editor's Note: The authors intend this article to provoke a broad discussion of the role of intelligence in a constitutional republic during an era of accelerating change and terrible new dangers. The effort was inspired by workshops held under the auspices of the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence for Community Management, where government, private sector, and academic experts reviewed the challenges facing the Intelligence Community between now and 2015. Participants were guided by the National Intelligence Council's "Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About The Future, With Non-governmental Experts."

Full article ...

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22 October 2007

Information Revolution/Evolution

Amusing take on information and the web from Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the Kansas State University. His other stuff is also very interesting, e.g. Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us - it makes you think!

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20 October 2007


Of recent times I have been obsessed with the cooking and eating of jambalaya - in this case a Louisiana Creole inspired dish. I got this basic recipe from here, and I've been trying out variations for a few months now. I love the internet, otherwise it would still be meat and three vegetables for most of us.

Cajun Shrimp Jambalaya

1 lb medium Shrimp, deveined and peeled
2 lbs Sausage, cut 1/4 inch thick
3 Tbsp Salt
1 lb Chicken, boneless
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 1/2 large Onions
3 Bay Leaves
1 Bell Pepper
6 oz Tomato Paste
4 cloves Garlic
5 cups Water
3 cups raw Rice

Sauté sausage, chicken, onions, bell pepper and garlic until sausage and chicken are browned. Add the water, salt, cayenne, bay leaf and tomato paste. Bring to a boil with the lid on. When water boils add the shrimp and the raw rice. Stir and lower fire. Let rice simmer, stirring every five minutes until rice is cooked. This simple jambalaya recipe makes enough for 6 to 8 servings.

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16 October 2007

Mac horror moment

The other day I saw a side of my Macbook that I was never supposed to see. The horror of it!

I was helping out with some cross browser testing for a new website we're about to launch at work & for some reason the IT department needed me to edit my hosts file instead of just fixing the firewall (I still don't understand what all this was about?).

Anyway it meant that I had to open up a terminal window and use the command line vi editor. Shades of my misspent youth - I used to be a unix sysadmin in my youth. BUT I was never supposed to touch the innards of my lovely little Macbook. I was only ever supposed to use the GUI with a mouse.

This experience was so wrong on so many levels. I feel violated! It is still emotionally draining to even think about it.

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14 October 2007

Forget Summer Heights High - Gormsby is the answer

Many people in Oz have been laughing along with Summer Heights High, which I've found to be only mildly amusing. But a friend recently put me on to a Kiwi show that is much funnier Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby.

Gormsby is described as "... an out-dated, reactionary, racist, sexist teacher completely out of touch with educational theory in the second millennium. He defies the curriculum in every subject and is a disgrace to the profession. He should have no place in any state or private school. We will close Tepapawai Boys High and appoint a commissioner if Mr Gormsby is not replaced forthwith."

He is also a totally funny character, and the show has a much more cutting look at modern schooling. Forget SHH go for Gormsby.

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11 October 2007

Call for Participation - First call for papers Computer-Mediated Social Networking

Here is the call for papers that just came out for this conference ...

To be held in Dunedin, New Zealand 11-13 June 2008 The International Conference on Computer-Mediated Social Networking (ICCMSN2008) will explore social networking issues such as formation of online communities and how collaboration and cooperation can be achieved. The topics covered encompass multiple disciplines, including Computer Science, Sociology, Epidemiology, Economics, Marketing, Education, etc. Some of the applications that can benefit from social network structural models include social norm spreading, disease propagation, opinion dynamics, and collective knowledge construction. Network topologies can play an important role in these applications.

The conference will examine the links between these topics. Topics of interest include:

* How can we facilitate effective structure in a SNS?
* How can we enable collaboration/cooperation in social networking application areas such as education, e-commerce, world-wide research etc?
* How can collective knowledge be constructed and shared?
* What is the role of network topologies (scale free, small world, random) in the areas such as disease spreading, opinion dynamics, and norm spreading?
* How can we model the dynamic growth and shrinkage of online communities?
* How can software agents be used in the development and simulation of on-line societies?
* How can various Web 2.0 tools be integrated to satisfy the needs of electronic communities in a holistic manner?
* How can realistic virtual environments be modelled, designed and developed? What are the issues and solutions?
* How can high speed networks such as KAREN (Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network) facilitate the real world experience of virtual environments?
* How can privacy, security, and trust issues be addressed in on-line communities?

Important dates:
Submission date: 15 February 2008
Acceptance notification: 8 March 2008
Camera-ready submission date: 30 March 2008
Conference: 11-13 June 2008

We invite your participation by submitting research papers in the relevant areas of your interest. Inter-disciplinary research papers are also encouraged.

Kind regards, Maryam Purvis and Tony Savarimuthu Department of Information Science University of Otago Dunedin

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8 October 2007

Web 3.0 - What is it?

I've been wondering how wild and crazy we can get with web x.0 labels before someone makes the point that it's all a bit mad. Now Ross Dawson has raised the question with his post Why Web 3.0 is a meaningless term.

It also raises the question is web 2.0 a meaningless term too? But if there is some kind of agreed content for the term web 2.0 isn't that OK? Perhaps web 3.0 is just a term looking for an agreed definition?

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7 October 2007

Rules for a Career in IT?

Here are some rules, according to Mark Gibbs (CIO Magazine 04 September, 2006), that you must observe if you plan to have a career in IT:

Rule No. 1: Do not annoy the guys with money. That means everyone above you with any influence on your budget or salary. They are all your best friends or, at worst, close acquaintances no matter how annoying and loathsome they may be.

Rule No. 2: Always back up first. No matter how simple the task, if you change something, and you haven't got a backup in the bag, you are flirting with disaster. This rule is covered by Murphy's Law: If something can go wrong, it will. And without a backup, it will. Particularly changing router tables.

Rule No. 3: The leading edge isn't. No matter what you are told by the press, the vendors, the resellers, the integrators or anybody, the leading edge should be nowhere near your shop unless you have insanely huge piles of money and can avoid taking responsibility for cosmic-level disasters.

Rule No. 4: Document everything. You never know when that off-the-cuff, seemingly harmless request from a CXO is going to turn out to be a huge python that wraps itself around your throat. If he (or anyone else) asks for anything that has even vaguely related IT repercussions, then get it in writing. Going to change the router tables? Back up first (see Rule No. 2) and then document what you did and why. When I say document everything, I mean everything. In some organizations this might even include bathroom breaks.

Rule No. 5: Document nothing (see Rule No. 4). Once you document everything and make it known that you do so, you should then make sure nothing that implicates you as to being part of the decision process gets documented. Plausible deniability is what we're looking for.

Rule No 6: It is not your fault. Whatever it is, someone else is responsible. And you have the paperwork to prove it (see rule Nos. 4 and 5).

Rule No. 7: Do unto users before they do unto you. There's a fine balance between career-furthering, fawning care and feeding of users and the satisfying but inadvisable practice of torturing them. Get the balance right, and you will be seen as fair but firm. Get it wrong, and you are a bastard who needs to update his resume.

Rule No. 8: You can't afford any piece of equipment or software that is priced high enough to make you shudder. If you have to have it, then it must not be your decision (no matter how much influence you think you have), and your signature won't be on the purchase order, will it?

Rule No. 9: Always tell the truth, never tell a lie and never be the one to change the router tables (see rule Nos. 2, 4 and 6).

Rule No. 10: Always cover your arse (see Rule Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 8).

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1 October 2007

Six things about marketing in the world of Web 2.0 that the CEO should know

According to George F. Colony here are Six things about marketing in the world of Web 2.0 that the CEO should know:

One: Your Company Is Inside-Out In An Outside-In World

Two: Your Company Has A Bad Web Site

Three: You Should Be Asking Your Customer One Question

Four: You Don't Own Your Customer; Your Customer Owns You

Five: Bits Want To Be Free — Bits Want To Break The Law

Six: Great Marketing + Great Technology = The Only Way Forward

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Randy Pausch - Part 2, on Good Morning America

Here is Randy Pausch being interviewed on Good Morning America about his 'last lecture'. More food for thought. I know I'm sort of obsessing about this, but I wonder how I'd behave in the same situation?

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Simulated Web 2.0 start up game

this is too funny - and really helpful for optimistic start-ups to play

28 September 2007

TED Talk by John Maeda

This is a seriously interesting presentation by John Maeda - he is a graphic designer and computer scientist who works to link design and technology. He's given me several interesting ideas to ponder, not least of which is non-eating uses for fast food. Here's his website too.

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27 September 2007

Debate: It’s a World Wide Web of Women!

Slattery IT are running an debate titled: "It’s a World Wide Web of Women!"

I've heard most of the speakers before and am looking forward to a lively discussion! AND we can have drinkies after (web, women and booze - always a dangerous combination!)

As per Rachel Slattery's email "Australian women are doing a helluva lot in the wild world of the web. Women with initiative and spunk that redefine success with each wave of technology. And women that have fun while they are doing it. After an overwhelming response from the call to find extraordinary women of the web, Slattery IT has rounded up a bunch of truly inspirational women that have cast off gender stereotypes and limitations to go forth and conquer cyberspace! So come along for a fun exploration of business models and the new directions that women are forging for themselves - and to share a drink or two afterwards."

MODERATOR Lynne Spender, Consultant, DigiGen

Laurel Papworth, Online Communities Strategist, World Communities
Samantha Brett, Blogger, ASK SAM
Danielle Lehrer, Founder & CEO, GoShout Pty Ltd
Liesl Capper, CEO & Co-founder, My Cybertwin
Sara Goldstein, Co-founder, Mybargainqueen.com

WHEN Wednesday 21st November, 2007; 5.30pm - 7.00pm
VENUE Lecture Theatre, Museum of Sydney, Cnr of Phillip & Bridge Streets, Sydney
COST $30 (inc GST)
* Please note this fee only covers entry to the Debate. However, please join us at Bar Luca following the Debate where food will be served and drinks may be purchased.

You can register online at Slattery IT

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Randy Pausch Last Lecture

Here are some thoughts on life from someone who's really been thinking about it - Randy is dying and shares about his past achievements and success, and he gives advice on living a life. It makes you think about life and work and the balance between them.

Check out Randy Pausch's Web Site and his video address:

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25 September 2007

Web 3.0 Formula

Sramana Mitra has articulated a formula to explain the diference between Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 - this a nice encapsulation of a complex set of ideas!

"3C = Content, Commerce, Community 4th C = Context P = Personalization VS = Vertical Search

This, I submit, is the formula for the future: Web 3.0 = (4C + P + VS). "

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24 September 2007

Death By Powerpoint

This is a truly good insight into the evils of Powerpoint! "Fighting death by PowerPoint... How to make a presentation and not to bore your audience to death."

From: thecroaker, 1 month ago

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21 September 2007

I miss the nice cold places ...

This is a picture of Niagara Falls (Canadian side) earlier this year - this was just after a blizzard

Precious Mac Moment!

Today in the office someone needed to watch a DVD (as you do, totally work related) - they tried 4 different PCs to no avail. Lo and behold Macbook to the rescue, it played the DVD first go no problem!

No wonder I love my little Macbook :-)

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Ark Group Online Collaboration Conference Sydney (2007)

I spoke at the recent Ark Group Online Collaboration Conference Sydney (2007) - here is a link to my presentation on Slideshare

The topic was Approaches to Online Collaboration - which made me think about the cultural, practical and philosophical issues involved in online collaboration in a business context. The more I thought about it the more it seemed to be about people and culture but not about the technology.

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19 September 2007

The Drugs Song - Amateur Transplants

These guys are very amusing!

17 September 2007

Web 2.0 SIG

The IEEE Computer Society NSW Chapter is starting up a web 2.0 special interest group. Our first meeting will be on 3rd October 2007 at the Australian Technology Park. Anyone interested in coming along should email me so I can advise details. I've even made this funky web 2.0 reflecting logo for us ;-)

Talk Like a Pirate Day - 19 September

It is Talk Like a Pirate Day this week on 19 September - shiver me timbers! More people should talk like pirates on this day, I might even dress up this year.

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16 September 2007

Past Notable Women of Computing

This site lists some of the women pioneers of computing - Past Notable Women of Computing

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Good Career Management Tips — Document your accomplishments

This tip from the Cubicle Warrior on career management is to document your accomplishments. It is good advice as I can never recall all the fabulous things I've done when pushed. Clearly it would be easier to note them as I go.

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silkcharm showing us naughty things (again)!

As always we can rely on Laurel to show us the naughty bits - in this case the Tom Ford (VERY SEXUALLY EXPLICIT) ad campaign. Very amusing, but not one to click through on at work.

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15 September 2007

GE Reunion

We had a bit of a GE reunion dinner in Sydney on Friday night - at the Bavarian Bier Cafe. It was nice to see everyone again, but I think that the mixed Bavarian Platter was a mistake (essentially multiple kinds of meat with sauerkraut & potato). Luckily I did not drink too many biers!

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Information Architecture Institute

The Information Architecture Institute has some really good info on IA, inlcuding some easy to use templates like this one which is based on Excel so it is very accessible.

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14 September 2007

Sysadmin humour

In my misspent youth I was a unix sysadmin and this post reminded me of why I quit.

"I think that we should officially make this the sysadmins credo. We'll call it "The Abigail Oath" and require all new sysadmins to swear it.

Well, without the layoff part, maybe something like this:

I am hired because I know what I am doing, not because I will do whatever I am told is a good idea. This might cost me bonuses, raises, promotions, and may even label me as "undesirable" by places I don't want to work at anyway, but I don't care. I will not compromise my own principles and judgement without putting up a fight. Of course, I won't always win, and I will sometimes be forced to do things I don't agree with, but if I am my objections will be known, and if I am shown to be right and problems later develop, I will shout "I told you so!" repeatedly, laugh hysterically, and do a small dance or jig as appropriate to my heritage.

Mike Sphar, re: Abigail's resignation letter"

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13 September 2007

Ark Group Collaboration in the world of Web 2.0 Conference

Spoke at the Ark Group's Collaboration in the world of Web 2.0 Conference today - the topic was online collaboration (copy of the presentation here). It is very helpful to do things like this as it really forces me to think about the issues. It all came down to the fact that collaboration is all about people and change, very little about the technology you use.

Laurel Papworth did a fine job chairing the conference, the Ark Group people were well organised, and the venue seemed nice.

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12 September 2007


Just launched - PikiWiki - fun for those bored with textual wikis

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2 September 2007

Digital Media & Convergence

Weirdly several people have wanted to talk about digital media with me over the last few days. It is very apt with the AIMIA Digital Media Summit so close (I cannot attend as so many of our digital projects are launching in September).

It made me stop to consider digital media and the way it is all converging. Several years ago everyone was talking about convergence, but the technology had not caught up with the idea. Now the technology is almost ready to support the idea.

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Why women just don't want IT

I was away on a snowmobiling vacation in Canada for International Women's Day in March this year so I missed seeing Sheryle Moon's speech. I just caught up with it tonight and she raises some really important points.

Women do not want to work in the IT industry. We have to ask ourselves is it women or the industry or government policy that needs to change?

Sheryle Moon is a real inspiration to women, but do we really want to be available 24x7 like she is?

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IEEE Computer Society NSW Chapter

Currently working to revitalise the IEEE Computer Society NSW Chapter, first steps have been to:

  • revamp the website
  • start an online community to get member feedback & involvement
  • schedule a chapter meeting for September 2007
  • start a special interest group (a.k.a. SIG) in Web 2.0 with inaugural meeting in October 2007.
I'm really hoping the Chapter members will get involved. In Australia we have so few forums for technologists to get together and build communities of knowledge.

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19 August 2007

Failure is an option

Many times I've heard colleagues say that 'failure is not an option', I've even said it humorously myself. But failure is an option and it might just be a good thing to experience sometimes.

Success is highly regarded in our society. It is extremely popular if the sheer number of blogs and websites devoted to it is any gauge. There seems to be an almost feverish chase after success, and it is success defined in fairly narrow terms - wealth, power, achievement, and high regard by other people.

None of these is a bad thing to have. But I do wonder if this chase after them is good for us human beings. I also wonder if the occasional failure might not teach us more about ourselves and the way things work than unbridled success. The knowledge of how to handle failure is critical to persistence and subsequent achievement.

Failure should be an acceptable option for human life. It builds knowledge and, handled properly, can make us more resilient. It is not possible to make progress without taking some level of risk, and the chance of failure is inherent in every risk taken. Of course, I am not advocating failure as a habit, but sometimes failure can be a good outcome.

So many of the great discoveries that benefit our world today are the result of people who knew how to handle failure. They are the result of persistence effort based upon revised knowledge. But if we have never experienced failure and do not know how to handle it then we might never persist until we achieve success.

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Water usage reduction 25%

This past quarter our household water consumption has been reduced by 25%. This effort has not made a negative impact on our quality of life, and it has inspired us to do more. Now trying to work out next steps to reduce usage even more.

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12 August 2007

Meeting Madness

Many times recently I've found myself in 'meeting madness'. Someone somewhere has called a meeting, usually sending invitations via Outlook. The invitation usually has, at best, a one line summary of what the meeting is about. No agenda is set and nor are requests made explicit for necessary preparatory work to be completed prior to the meeting. Often nobody can track down the organiser of the meeting to seek clarity on what is expected or required.

The result: several busy people arrive in a room to find that they are not prepared for the actual meeting (since none of them actually knew what it was all about anyway). Often the first section of the meeting is concerned with setting the agenda to direct the discussions. Then the next section of the meeting is spent discovering that essential preparatory work is either not ready as yet or not done at all.

I know that I'm as guilty as the next person in this regard. So my new resolution is NOT to send out meeting requests to colleagues unless there is (a) a predefined agenda, (b) clearly set out requirements for any preparatory work by the attendees; and (c) a timeframe for the meeting.

The only exceptions to this are (a) where the meeting is a 'catch up' meeting with another person, where the agenda is simply to have an informal information sharing session together; or (b) scrum meetings that follow the scrum meeting model.

I feel like there are better ways to be spend my colleagues' time and my employer's money than on inefficient meetings. Clearly if we all continue the same way nothing will change. I cannot change what others do, but I can change my own meeting practice.