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September 14, 2007

All together now...

... it's that time again, kids!

Vote early, and vote often! (Whomever you vote for doesn't bother me that much. And no, I'm not saying vote multiple times and get yourself done for electoral fraud. I hear it's not particularly nice to get caught doing that.)

July 17, 2007

Captions without pictures

OK, Time managed to do what I initially didn't think (easily) possible -- write about lolcats (and I Can Has Cheezburger?) without really showing one (not counting the one at the top of the online version of the article, which doesn't appear to me to be an example, and if it actually is, it's not as funny as other lolcats out there).

(Tonight, someone mentioned to me about the ICANN Has Cheezburger! one. Which reminded me, as I spotted at least one InternetNZ person in the photo and the photo credit to a InternetNZ I know that it's AGM time, once again. Pity I'll be in Dunedin on the night. Yay for proxies!)

May 30, 2007

Welcome back to New Zealand, locked mobile handsets!

Coincidentally, I hear of a certain something while I am looking for a new handset to use on Telecom NZ's CDMA network (think worn out buttons) -- the sooner I get it the better, as Telecom are going to make it obsolete by moving to GSM, or the network type Vodafone NZ currently use. (Albeit for voice they're using GSM for, anyway, it seems... data might run on something else if I read things right. If I have.)

Which can only mean one annoying thing for someone like me -- I'll have to put up with locked handsets once again. It's something I recall Vodafone did when I had my first (prepaid) handset with them (oddly, that Alcatel One Touch Easy was locked so that their postpaid SIM cards couldn't use it, though I see that Telstra Australia still do that sort of thing), but I found that by the time I got mine, they were already it seems giving out the unlock code for phones at that time fairly readily (I recall being told at the time that they didn't bother with locks anymore because handset subsidies were no longer being made; it also seemed they weren't too worried about losing roaming revenue from customers putting overseas operators' cards in while overseas). Doubtful they'll be doing that once Telecom gets their GSM act together.

Sure, I want phone companies to recoup their handset subsidies, but I don't want even a slightly confusing unlocking regime like that used in Australia (what I dislike there is at least two carriers' attempts to extract money after what would seem to be a reasonable length of time). The best I've had so far for locked handsets is T-Mobile USA: 90 days' account standing and they give it to you the unlock code with no questions or fee. At least that's what they told me when I signed up. (Which I should check seeing I have an 850/1900 MHz handset somewhere they sold me that's ripe for asking about. Too bad what I have read about Telecom's proposed network build doesn't mention whether it'll work on their network if it does end up using 850 MHz for voice. Gut feeling says no, though.)

So, the returning spectre of locked handsets to New Zealand would appear to be imminent. Tasty.

April 30, 2007

Another patch in the works

Oh, brilliant. I'll need to load up another blasted time zone patch, so my computers back in NZ don't get too confused. That's in addition to the one I already had to install for dealing with the US changes, too.

Now, will all the major operating system vendors issue patches in time for the 4,182,612 people that will be directly affected by this, I have no idea.

Sigh.

February 21, 2007

Hackers fake Howard heart attack

I just got a rather large stack of spammy e-mail messages saying that the John Howard we all know as the prime minister of Australia just 'survived' a 'heard attack (sic)'. Another says a 'hear attack (sic)'. Yeah, whatever. I'm not the only one to get the spammy/phishy e-mail messages, though. There's other variations of the e-mail message, and it's been happening for a while.

Sigh.

February 9, 2007

Accident compensation

Who do I have to thank for New Zealand's compulsory accident insurance system and several other social rights laws? Sir Owen Woodhouse, of course.

February 4, 2007

Nailing jelly to the wall

Tried nailing jelly to the wall? Don't bother, the advice would appear to say.

It'd appear the exception is to be found in concentrated jelly cubes. Which, last time I checked, one can't find in NZ. Those just stick to the wall, but can be nailed, anyway. But, as the advice author says:

This is called "cheating".

Another reminder, after going to see the Vagina Monologues for WMNST 205 last night: I should be studying, I should be studying, I should be studying... [instead of looking at articles on nailing jelly on a library laptop!] Anyway, the play was an interesting empowerment of women's sexuality -- because it took not only a positive look, but also a multicultural look at sexuality, including, well, rape.

Not a bad week overall, then. Lots of study has been done. Yay!

But there's still more to do.

Sigh.

December 25, 2006

Safety

Here's a good reason to RTFM with those presents these holidays: setting those WPA passphrases to stop hackers (and possibly neighbours, depending on circumstances) can be a rather useful thing to get done.

December 5, 2006

Fiji military commander takes over government

Fiji military commander takes over government -- or, in other words, oh, bugger.

November 1, 2006

Bedtime reading -- two unrelated stories

I really must have some odd reading tonight. Again, I've included very small fair-use (hopefully) snippets that hopefully summarise each.

  1. Penn State Live: Can school bullying have deadly consequences?

    Studies back up Carney's assertion. A Secret Service report published in 2000 on fatal school shootings since 1974 found that more than 75 percent of all school shooters had experienced ongoing peer bullying. According to the report, the attacker often had felt "persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked or injured before the incident. Many had experienced longstanding and severe bullying and harassment, which some attackers describe as torment."

    Many experts agree that educators bear some responsibility for the school conditions that set the stage for deadly violence. In her 2001 study, "Adult Recognition of School Bullying Situations," Carney and colleague Richard Hazler tested whether teachers and other school personnel could distinguish between bullying and "other forms of youthful play or fighting."

  2. MSNBC: China says North Korea to rejoin 6-nation nuclear talks.

    Chief envoys to the negotiations from China, North Korea and the United States held an informal meeting in Beijing on Tuesday and agreed to resume the six-nation talks, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its Web site.

Yeah, I'd say I have some odd reading tonight. The first one goes within my academic area of research interest, though.

October 31, 2006

The pains of deciding on a cellphone call plan

So, BestMate was actually an 'add-on' to Vodafone NZ's newly-released Supa Prepay plan (the wording kind of made this obvious beforehand, though), and not the main offering. But before one signs up, best to look at one's usage patterns. Steve Biddle has written thoughts on Supa Prepay, reminding us that it may not be suitable for some prepaid customers, while Matthew Robinson looks at the text messaging add-on, prepay crediting requirements and why he thinks that it's only now that something new is being offered. Comments following only assume prepaid accounts.

If one makes lots of calls of one or two minutes to multiple people and in-network or to landlines, it seems not worth bothering, as Steve points out the rounding used (per second after the first minute for Motormouth, Anytime and Nights & Weekends; nearest minute -- I'm guessing upwards -- for Supa Prepay), note to mention 49¢ (Motormouth) versus 89¢ (Supa Prepay and Anytime). If one's calls are longer than about 4 or so minutes, however, a $2 two hour cap might be an incentive. Overseas calls change things a little, but not much. There's no in-network or landline restriction on Supa Prepay, however. It's possible Nights and Weekends may also be appropriate; there's no in-network or landline restriction there either. But such in-network restrictions can be solved by (depending on one's circumstances) getting another phone on a similar prepaid plan on the only other cellphone network, or a second plan (and thus, account) on the same network.

So, without add-ons, unless one does actually do calls longer than about 4 minutes or doesn't want to complicate their life with a second phone (on another plan or network) or SIM, there won't be much point.

With the add-ons, the text message offer ($10 for 2000) is in-network only, which means trying to con as many friends as possible on to the same network. That's not always possible. While Telecom NZ's $10 for 500 plan has an allocation a quarter of the size, there's no in-network restriction. They also offer a in-network $10 for 1000, though. (The most I've ever really done with a push has been about 200 or 300 all networks in a month.)

Credit minimums are a little iffy for low-volume users as well. 365 days for the existing plans versus 90 days. The number's 365 day validity stays for all plans, however.

As for the other the BestMate add-on, I've already noted that it's not worth my bother given my usage.

Overall, nice idea, but doesn't suit my usage. Oh well. But I understand that it's quite possibly an attempt to lift ARPU, as Steve Biddle talks about in his diary entry.

That's enough from me on phone plans for a while. Talking about commercial products (no, I haven't been paid for or asked to write the above) in the way I have for the last few days scares me. I'll just stick to some more news articles as I usually do, now. At least I'll try to.

Sigh.

MySpace to use recognition software to block copyrighted multimedia

The NZH has grabbed from Reuters a report that MySpace wants to use new technology to stop users from posting unauthorised copyrighted music on the social networking website and oust frequent violators of its policy. OK... I guess there must be no one at all that'd be able to claim fair use rights nor claim that they were licensed, then, and that anyone that uses so-called copyrighted music or videos must be doing something illegal and have something to hide -- or so this scheme appears to assume. I'm not necessarily disputing such an identification system, but what if someone does honestly and in good faith try to claim fair use or licensed use? What mechanisms would there be to claim fair use or for licensed uses to be noted? I'd need to know more information before I passed judgement on such a scheme.

Sigh. It'll be interesting to see the answers. :)

October 30, 2006

Another asthma cause

Over in New Zealand, are you concerned about the condition your home with regards to asthma? In the New York City suburb of South Bronx, I've no idea about environmental conditions in housing, but one newly-identified asthma cause is truck exhaust.

Two other snippets I've found in the New York Times today, with two sentences from each that summarise them:

  1. US Jobs Shape Condoms' Role in Foreign Aid -- Britain, Ireland and Norway have all sought to make aid more cost effective by opening contracts in their programs to fight global poverty to international competition. The United States, meanwhile, continues to restrict bidding on billions of dollars worth of business to companies operating in America, and not just those that make condoms.

    Eek!

  2. What Do Women Want? Just Ask -- More companies, in the United States and elsewhere, have realized that they overlook women at their own financial peril. The companies are realigning their marketing and design practices, learning to court an increasingly female-centric consumer base that boasts more financial muscle and purchasing independence than ever before.

More on Vodafone's 'BestMate' plan

Only a small snippet confirming what I found yesterday: that it's all-you-can-whatever voice and video calling and text messaging to another in-network (Vodafone) number, for $6 a month. The message appears on Vodafone's customer service site. I guess it does guarantee them, to some degree, some cashflow, revenue, or whatever the exact word is.

(Unfortunately, they don't list the last modified date on the question so I can't see when it was 'accidentally' (or apparently so) leaked, which would help determine the age of the information, but according to the UNIX date hidden in the URL, it was created on 1161052238, or 17 October, in the early afternoon NZ time. Assuming the $6 statement has been there since then, that'd be amusing in that this is linked to from the bestmate.co.nz viral marketing site Vodafone set up -- see the FAQ JavaScript-based popup link in the bottom right corner of the front page.)

The page also gives a URL for the plan's fine print. Doesn't work yet, and the HTTP last-modified headers for the general prepaid fine print say they were last uploaded on 17 May.

Again, I'm not sure I'd bother, as I tend to spread my usage among several people. It's nothing against the product -- it just doesn't fit my usage patterns.

October 29, 2006

Lots of hands, lots of disinfecting gel sort of stuff

Two more stories before I head to bed, both unrelated to the other:

  1. What's next? If politicians use disinfecting handwash stuff to clean their hands after shaking hands with crowds, perhaps it'll be disinfecting lips after kissing babies next.

  2. Archbishop defends faith schools (BBC) -- it's surrounding the controversy of a plan compelling new state-funded faith schools in England to take up to 25% of pupils from outside the religion.

    It's interesting as I recall there's a similar provision for 'non-preference students' in New Zealand's state integrated schools, pretty much most of which are Catholic. As far as I know, many if not all of these schools have a non-preference quota in their integration agreements, given though that I've never actually read any of these agreements.

'Prepaid' credit cards, finally!

Kelvin Yong writes that gift vouchers, in the form of a prepaid Visa card, will soon be available from New Zealand Post under the name 'Prezzy Card'. So it's not really a credit card per se in terms of getting a credit line, but given for some people the difficulty of getting a credit card, it might become useful -- it's apparently to be accepted in most places as per a 'regular' Visa credit card.

At least it appears, according to the FAQ, that one won't need to buy it online, which would probably need a 'real' credit card in turn. Phew.

It's a pity that it is specifically not reloadable (as per the fine print), thereby requiring effectively their $5 activation charge for a new card every time one's card is finished. For someone forced to use it for every day transacting, it'd start getting rather expensive, unless they were able to load a large amount of money each time. (Assuming the $500 maximum loading on a card, that $5 each time, the loss of interest on the blocks of $500, one's actual ability to stump up with $500 at a time each time, once one reaches about 3 or 4 cards, one might as well try really hard for getting a 'real' credit card -- credit card annual fees are as little as $15 a year or $18 a year to $25 a year, or $35 with rewards points, if one likes those.)

Not only does just that stop me from getting one for more than just amusement value -- the product's expiry date is just (at least) a year, and there's a 3.5% foreign currency transaction fee, when most banks are around the realm of 1.75% (half that of this card's rate!), 1.85%, 2%, 2.1% 2.25% 2.5% or 2.5%, as far as I recall. On the other hand, it might be worth considering getting one for higher risk transactions -- one's number would have to change often, if the card's not reloadable. Then again, I can't imagine many people using it for overseas travel. In that case, it seems there may be a more favourable option in the form of TravelMoney (also from Visa). The for at least a full year statement with regard to its validity/expiry period that's mentioned on the card's home page puts me off the most.

Overall here, I think it's a good card for a 'first mover' in to the market to use marketing speak.

I'd be interested to see what denominations of preloaded values end up being available, or whether it could be determined largely arbitrarily at time of purchase. Of course I wouldn't want to have a large amount loaded, but equally I wouldn't want to have to change often, were I to get one for purchasing reasons (as opposed to present giving reasons). The home page, though, suggests it can be between $25 and $500, but doesn't say exactly what particular values can be loaded.

Interestingly, they have a partner of sorts in the venture, so I'm guessing, like their Good Call prepaid calling card, it's probably some sort of reseller/resale arrangement with said partner (in Good Call's case, it's some people called CardCall, and in this case, some outfit called WildCard Systems). They're using some of their subsidiary Kiwibank's systems though, it seems, if the private bag number for Prezzy Card disputes is the same as Kiwibank's.

Now, why don't any banks here (Westpac did, I hear, but they aren't taking any new customers) do cheque cards, or transaction account-linked 'credit' cards? If they did, I wouldn't have a particularly desperate need for a credit card anymore. I don't really need the credit, but I'm forced to get it, and the risk that comes with it.

Delving deeper in to the product's fine print, there are some nice ones that that I haven't mentioned yet. If the card's worn out, it's a $20 fee (which also applies if one's lost it, which seems fair enough). Also, one can't use it to get cash out of a money machine or while at a shop, nor use it for gambling websites (the latter sounds like something to keep the post office's US-based business partner out of trouble).

Overall, in a naive sense, I hope it helps encourage people not using credit cards for credit. It sounds like a fun thing, too. Maybe I'll get one anyway for amusement.

Another reason I mentioned it here is the usefulness of (overseas) travel, should I do that in the future. Useful as a backup, but I have no idea if I could get a card replaced while overseas. Perhaps yes, but maybe way more than the stated $20 fee.

Buying Lotto tickets possible soonish, allegedly

In some ways I wonder if it's vapourware. But the NZH claims it's not:

Lotto tickets could soon be available on the internet, the Lotteries Commission is set to announce this week.

But gambling watchdogs are worried that that if the game goes online it is likely to become irresistible to at-risk punters.

Chief executive Todd McLeay told the Herald on Sunday that because many customers expected to use the internet in all aspects of their lives, the move would be "a natural addition to the online Kiwi experience".

I wonder if they'll try barring overseas sales?

$6 per month for Vodafone's 'BestMate on Supa Prepay'

Sick of the viral marketing that's making you say 'just bloody well tell me'? Well, some folks at a local electronics store (whom I'm guessing other locals will be able to identify from the pictures below) decided to put out their (possibly still embargoed) marketing collateral for Vodafone NZ's supposedly brilliant (I haven't I should add pass judgement on it yet, and I've got no idea if it is, really, but I'm not a marketer) new BestMate™ on the new Supa Prepay plan (yeah, they write it with the trademark symbol, even in the press release, heaven forbid), for their prepaid cellphone customers, a little early (as far as I can tell).

So, if the sign is to be believed, it's 'Call, video [call?] and TXT' one's nominated best friend for $6 per month. I'm guessing that the $6 wouldn't allow reciprocal calls or text messages back without the other friend person also paying six buckazoids to Vodafone as well. It doesn't suggest how many so-called best friends one can, uh, have. It might also be one of multiple options. I don't know. Heck, I've no idea how open a secret this is, anyway.

Makes it quite interesting for people who mostly send text messages to one other person, as it then effectively trumps Telecom NZ's 2007 $10 for 500 text messages plan.

[I would have uploaded the photographs as indicated, but all three of my usual points for uploading photos seem oddly broken. I'll try again later.]

[Update (6:18): Looks like I've managed to get one of the album sites to upload. Sigh. Took a while.]

Here's closeup of the operative part of the sign, which basically tells us to call, video call and send text messages to our 'BestMate' for '$6 a month'. And here is a detail from another of the photographs. The person holding another person seems rather odd to me. The full album might be useful, too. Lastly, here is a slightly blurry overview of the whole sign.

Yeah, the man holding the woman in his hand seems mildly odd to me. I'm trying not to make a resistant reading of that.

Would mobile number portability actually get around to happening? Vodafone claim that it's happening next year, but the same statement has been up for a while. Then again, Telecom says they'll have it sorted to launch, of all dates, on April Fool's Day next year.

I hope that's not a joke. I'd like just to see a few more points of competition. Portability would help.

October 21, 2006

It's the telly -- no wait, it's the programmes they watch... no wait, it's...

Whoever said New Zealand's biggest threat was a moral decline? Maybe even a moral decline thanks to dodgy television programmes and dodgy films? (And with that, dodgy by whose standards?) Anyone thought of all those screens of varying descriptions wasting childhoods? Sometimes it isn't totally the blame of the media or the programmes carried on the media -- it's the use of the media, too, to some extent.

The NZH also run an intergenerational comparison on the abovementioned topic.

Of course it's dangerous to get blinded by one factor, so I won't venture more in to this particular debate.

Other things -- I'm planning a study trip at the moment. For those that don't already know what, I'll mention it if (and once) all the details fall in to place. And Klaatu's Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft is currently playing on my Pandora.com station. Hmmm. I liked the Due South version that they did; it just seems to sound different now.

New on hydro.electric.gen.nz is my take on the 'new' tabbed browsing feature in IE7. It's all right, but tabbed browsing did take a while to get added as a feature (for those our there not having been pestered or nagged by Windows yet to install IE7 yet -- if you're using the operating system at all, I've left the original message window available). Loading third-party solutions (OK, so one was engineered in the form of Microsoft's own Windows Live Toolbar) just isn't my cup of tea for tabbed browsing.

It's a pity that I find Firefox's memory leaks in its current releases on some of my systems at home a little bit too much.

October 19, 2006

Two years later, the toy dinosaur's still there

Looks like the Flintstones-style dinosaur (Dino?) is still on White Island's crater webcam two years and (nearly) five months later. When its existence was first reported, GNS said that they hoped Dino sticks around for a while, but we doubt he will have the staying power of his ancestors. The acid environment on White Island gives plastic a fairly hard time.

Uh, well, as of today, it's still there on the White Island crater webcam. Courtesy of HTTrack and hydro.electric.gen.nz, some captures from the webcam for posterity:

The White Island Volcano Crater Webcam from 1.00pm on 1 October, 2006, on hydro.electric.gen.nz, not GeoNet.

This compared with earlier. To me it probably means not a lot, and not a lot's changed, but I'm guessing to a geologist, a lot has. Except the dinosaur hasn't received an acidic demise yet, assuming she or he ever will any time soon...

The White Island Volcano Crater Webcam from 10.00am on 24 May, 2004, on hydro.electric.gen.nz, not GeoNet.

October 14, 2006

Losing luggage in Las Vegas

It'd appear next time you visit LAS, you'd be more likely to lose money at the casino and less likely to lose luggage at the airport, thanks to RFID.

OK, other things: I got around to uploading Hinemoa: with notes and vocabulary (1907) by Henry James Fletcher this afternoon, scanned from a public domain copy in the VUW library.

October 12, 2006

Is 30 people big enough for a sample?

While I was writing up my final assignment draft for the university year, I spotted an article on MSNBC about dress style and fertility:

A study of young college women showed they frequently wore more fashionable or flashier clothing and jewelry when they were ovulating, as assessed by a panel of men and women looking at their photographs.

“They tend to put on skirts instead of pants, show more skin and generally dress more fashionably,” said Martie Haselton, a communication studies and psychology expert at the University of California Los Angeles who led the study.

I can see the point of the research, but as usual it raises the question for me that, OK, money might be a constraint, but 30 for a sample of, uh, people being tested seems a little small to me.

(If you can't be bothered wading through digital rights management hoops for an earlier version of the paper, bothering to Google comes up with a proof version in the author's online papers list, DOI code doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2006.07.007. If you don't mind wading through, for an earlier similar paper from the same journal, prod your favourite web browser at DOI code doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2005.10.006 via your favourite library journal database or link resolver for some reading.)

October 6, 2006

His Majesty King of Interface -- oh, and Telecom implies that Jabber is peer-to-peer stuff

Right, two things, while I should be doing work/finishing off at Women's Studies for the university year: my friend Donald Gordon is now King of Interface, or, put simply, a life member, and (in an unrelated madness) the open standards-based Jabber instant messaging protocol is a peer-to-peer technology, Telecom Xtra implies. Egads.

August 31, 2006

Sold your phone lately? Or checked your antivirus program lately?

So, you erased the information as the manual said? Seems like flash memory on phones is a little bit more resilient than you'd want it to be in this situation. Also from MSNBC today:

  • Write an e-mail that actually gets read -- one (opinionated?) person's view on the matter.
  • I'm glad my only potentially difficult encounter with a cell phone company (Vodafone New Zealand) over a billing issue (I was happy to pay the money in this case, I should add, so there wasn't a dispute there) wasn't hard to solve -- one phone call and I never (as they promised) heard back. Apparently it's no fun at all in a certain other place. Mirroring that, credit reports aren't either.
  • Last up for me, there's a debate about the ethics of creating variants of viruses for a consumer test. This is an interesting one -- I can see how creating variants can help antivirus vendors develop better heuristic logic and so on, but it just doesn't seem right.

I've also had a bit of an enlightening day on some new sources of volumes for scanning from for the Section 27(1) books today. If it comes to something, I'll write again.

August 14, 2006

Making it easy

Sure, some smart person cleaned the wrong house, but have they got the message that it isn't such a smart idea to hide a key?

Not to mention I'm now scared of running web applications that might get hacked.

On another note, last month I recently had a trip to Dunedin via Christchurch. The view on the way back was rather nice. Pity the airline (Origin Pacific) appears to have met an unfortunate demise. Sigh.

Here's a view from the plane on my recent trip from Christchurch.

July 22, 2006

One reason you wouldn't want to bother with getting broadband in New Zealand

Why wouldn't you want to bother? Why wouldn't you want to dare switch your DSL-based ISP to another one once local loop unbundling is ready? Now there's another reason. In some areas, there isn't enough space in some telephone cabinets, not to mention that it's just as bad in the main exchanges.

This isn't just the rural or supposed 'lower income' areas. Remuera supposedly has a significant waiting list, and one person in New Plymouth has been told to wait four years.

Hmmm. Charming.

I'm not sure what I would do.

Meanwhile, the ISP bidding war continues.

July 20, 2006

The great ihug bidding war

So who'll it be that gets ihug, folks? The NZH says it might be Orcon, while Computerworld claims it'll be Vodafone.

May 12, 2006

Ohio priest found guilty of nun's murder

NZH: Ohio priest found guilty of nun's murder.

May 8, 2006

Noone Usenet?

Not at Xtra anymore, it would seem -- or 'a few hundred' rounded to the nearest thousand below. Hmmm.

May 5, 2006

Privacy and soft drink

Which have nothing to do with each other, but off MSNBC's news website, happenings in the US:

From the latter:

The phone records are generally acquired by the resellers through fraudulent means and would not be admissible in court as evidence, but they are still helpful as an investigative tool, say officials familiar with the investigation.

The alleged use of the customer records by law enforcement officials could raise legal and ethical questions, as it would circumvent due process and years of established laws protecting consumers from random eavesdropping on electronic communications.

And, on a random note: The Style Contest for Movable Type, Typepad and LiveJournal.

April 20, 2006

Germany Agrees to Open Holocaust Archive

Also from the New York Times -- Germany Agrees to Open Holocaust Archive:

The accord ends a nasty diplomatic dispute between the United States and Germany. More important, officials at the Holocaust museum said, it will open the documents to historians and researchers, whose access has been blocked because of Germany's strict privacy laws.

"Sixty years after the end of the war, it's time," Arthur Berger, the Holocaust museum's senior adviser on external affairs, said after Ms. Zypries pledged that Germany would work with the United States to make the documents available. The 11-nation commission that oversees the archives is to meet on May 16 in Luxembourg.

Reading through, though, it appears the treaty under which the archive operates as part of the Red Cross will need some tough work on getting the signatories to agree to the changes. I hope it turns out not to be a difficult task; having the documents in the open will be a great step forward.

Google in China: The Big Disconnect

Via David Goldstein, something from NYT: Google in China: The Big Disconnect. David describes it as: what I reckon is an 8,000 word story that deals with China and Google, censorship, internet use in China, cultural differences on the use of the internet between China and the west.

He suspects it won't be up for long. I guess we'll see.

February 21, 2006

We don't know?

Apparently none of us know what Joan of Arc looks like. I hadn't thought it mattered, but hey... :)

February 17, 2006

North American schools' iPod usage

Older stuff out of the NYT, but nonetheless, something coming from the United States about using iPods in the classroom for podcasting. (Full referencing available on your friendly ProQuest licence. Or, page G4, Late East Coast Edition, 25 January, 2006, if you're lazy.)

Spending $50 to save $40,000

Yes, it's called 'a high school promising to pay pupils who don't wag this year $50'.

Apparently it's one possible way to save on throwing some of them in prison later on.

February 13, 2006

Uploads again

So now, faster upload speeds, if you want to pay more. Possibly not me at these prices, anyway.

January 23, 2006

Ever had a funny feeling...

...about the money paid for the flight you just missed?

January 20, 2006

Who'd threaten elderly relations for money, anyway?

It'd appear that some heartless individuals are forcing elderly family members to give them money. Losers.

Elsewhere: Google resists demand to reveal search terms ...as part of a government probe of online pornography.

January 16, 2006

Leaks and new-ish methods

NZH:

  • Perhaps this is another type of leak?
  • It's apparently the 'suck it and see' method: The number of people coming to New Zealand on temporary permits and later taking residency is on the rise, according to latest migration statistics. The "suck it and see" approach is leading to more successful settlement, says the Immigration Service.

[Listening to: Fall to Pieces -- Avril Lavigne -- Under My Skin (03:29)]

January 15, 2006

Hygiene, privacy and crystals

All right, a few links to pass this Sunday by...

  1. Hygiene: at least the parents in this case (so far, anyway) aren't blaming the early childhood education centre involved...

    Dr Brieseman said authorities considered closing the centre, but most of the exposure that was going to occur had already happened.

    The difficulty with a childcare centre was that preschoolers generally were not hygiene-conscious.

    I thought the last bit was a little obvious? But nothing a bit of teacher modelling of best practice can't at least attempt to correct, anyway.

  2. Privacy: AMERICAblog just bought General Wesley Clark's cell phone records for $89.95.

    Oops?

    Liberal, conservative or person-on-the-street American... it doesn't look good.

    Either way, nice tool for 'concerned' parents...

    (Spotted via David Farrar.)

  3. Crystals: Rakon could be the poster child for New Zealand business.

Back to the regularly-scheduled programming of women's studies- and Bear Committee satire/humour-related diary entries next week. I've had enough 'holiday', methinks.

[Listening to: dig Jazz -- Australian Broadcasting Corporation]

January 14, 2006

Segways are monkey bikes?

Or... Only in Australia?

December 31, 2005

Enron guilty plea

NZH: Former Enron chief accountant pleads guilty.

Before the plea deal, Causey would have faced 36 charges including conspiracy, fraud, insider trading, money laundering and making false statements on financial reports and could have gone to jail for life if convicted. Skilling and Lay will face 35 and 11 criminal counts, respectively.

Causey's sudden switch from a key member of the defence to a potential star witness for the prosecution could throw off the legal strategy for Skilling and Lay and force a delay in the trial now scheduled to start January 17 before Judge Lake.

[Listening to: History Repeated/All Night Programme -- National Radio (Radio New Zealand)]

(Mmmm, live public radio streams...)

November 13, 2005

Lies, damned lies and statistics

There are statistics, and then there some rather nasty lies.

November 9, 2005

Another symbol, more muggings and calling for calm...

Another Red Cross symbol? About time... Muggings for phones? Not good... Leading Arab cleric calls for calm in France? I hope people heed his call...

November 2, 2005

Hope

There is always some good measure of hope, somewhere: North and South Korea agreed on Tuesday to compete as a single team for the first time at the 2006 Asian Games, and at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, a South Korean official said.

Get a free rootkit with your next music purchase

That's right, people, according to Sysinternals. Buy the album Get Right with the Man by the Van Zant brothers, and courtesy of their record label, one apparently will get a rootkit installed on their Windows system that's difficult to remove.

And if you buy it in the next fifteen minutes, I imagine that, instead of steak knives, you'll get a lot of frustration instead.

October 29, 2005

Islam feminists urge gender jihad

Here's something hopeful, it appears: Islam feminists urge gender jihad.

Islamic Feminism argues that the inferior legal and social status of women in Muslim countries is a result of misogynistic distortions of the teachings in the Koran.

Organisers say they want more collaboration with western feminists but say non-Muslim feminists need to challenge their anti-Islamic stereotypes.

Sounds like a really useful start for a conference.

October 26, 2005

Things to read later

Note to self -- read these things later, especially the online diaries story...

[Listening to: Sk8er Boi -- Avril Lavigne -- Let Go (03:24)]

Oh yeah, and I got the album Let Go last week. Not bad... maybe I could do research on female artists and singers and implicit messages related to feminism for honours instead. :)

October 19, 2005

False passport used to get $180,000 mortgage

I haven't seen this before: False passport used to get $180,000 mortgage.

And I hadn't heard of something like this before either: a person that watches a staggering 17 hours of television a day.

October 17, 2005

Marmite the 'Marmite-loving cat'

I mean, what else would one name the cat?

September 30, 2005

Hallucinations

NZH: Vodafone glitch clears accounts.

Thousands of Vodafone customers have paid a price for a service the mobile phone company advertises as being free.

Customers using the Vodafone Live service this week had all the credit in their prepay accounts cleared out after a technical hitch on the company's network.

Right...

However, those who lost the most money were reimbursed on Wednesday night, and Vodafone said it hoped to have repaid everyone by last night.

Sending a text message with the credit, Vodafone apologised for the mistake and any inconvenience.

What, I wasn't hallucinating? Damn...

At least I got a refund for what the text said was 'GPRS overcharging', whatever they meant by that...

September 16, 2005

Body moulds

Here's something fun and cool, methinks: pregnant mothers getting body moulds of their pregnant form.

September 15, 2005

Vapourware?

I wonder if this paragraph from the NZH is the start of a newspaper story describing vapourware?

Yahoo today said it is upgrading Yahoo Mail, the most popular Web email program, to make it run more efficiently than other Web-based systems and nearly as fast as desktop email.

It sounds like a story based primarily on a press release to me.

Another Google News page

I've put together a new customised Google News page. This one contains searches on Student Christian Movement, ecumenism, religious dialogue, Christianity, religious tolerance, social justice, human rights, New Zealand churches, civil unions and gay marriage.

Schnackengrubensteinwitz

I wonder where the Ministry of Justice got the name Schnackengrubensteinwitz for the name of the orange animated character they and the Electoral Enrolment Centre use on their electoral-related advertisements? For example, these two mentions of him in print/online, one on an EasyVote card:

The front side of a sample 2005 EasyVote card. Enrol to vote.

[From: http://www.elections.govt.nz/uploads/easyvote_front_copy.gif, 15 September 2005.]

He's definitely a lovable guy, and at least for the EasyVote card, he does get the point across that it does make the process easier for those persons involved in working on the day. :)

Apparently it's the 'best nation' in which to do business

In the New York Times: New Zealand Named Best Nation for Business. On why New Zealand is a good place to do one's business, only this is offered: The United States and New Zealand, for example, were the only two countries in the rankings that imposed no requirement at all to give severance pay to workers who had been laid off.

Politics doesn't even come in to it, considering there's an election on Saturday (which, as I've said, I'm not going to comment on -- I feel I need to be neutral and non-political regarding it). I just want to know far more on why New Zealand is a good place for commerce, not just one terse sentence in the whole story.

The following paragraphs do actually talk about some of the arguments related to that sentence, but I'm sure there's more to it than what the newspaper mentions.

September 8, 2005

Charging and charring

Guess who's going to start charging for viewing content?

Mutter.

Update: DPF and Jordan Carter have both mentioned this, plus some clarifications. So, not so bad, actually. Yet. Phew!

September 7, 2005

Texas struggles to cope as refugees hit 250,000

NZH: With still more refugees pouring in every day, Governor Rick Perry issued an appeal to counterparts in other states to take some of the pressure off Texas.

Also -- Garden gnome used in fight: A fight between two men in the backyard of a Masterton house turned bizarre when one of the men hit the other with a garden gnome. Right...

September 6, 2005

Flashers

Now I've heard it all: Passenger snaps flasher on New York subway.

On the subject of really short stories, the New Zealand Herald really, really need to elaborate a little bit more on what services Telstra are supposedly cutting, even as an initial published story.

September 1, 2005

Lower Hutt youth centre opening party

Well, the youth centre's official opening party, anyway. To cut a long story short, here's some photographs of the place just after the party was over. It looks pretty good, and of course it turned into another of those Bear Committee impromptu meetings.

Anyway, here's a set of highlights from the set.

Little Albert Kenby-Bear at the Secret Level opening party. Move Bar at Secret Level. View of Move Bar at Secret Level, from the High Street window side. The raised stage area at Secret Level, with one of the pool tables in the foreground. Some of the large chess pieces at Secret Level. The Move Bar menu. Completely non-alcoholic, too. The Move Bar coffee supply. At the top of the stairs to Secret Level. The view from Secret Level, northbound along High Street, from Move Bar. Look for this sign when visiting Secret Level.

In short, it's a bloody good place. Go use the facility when it's available (most days during the week, I understand) and you're free. It's for all you youth and young adults out there in Lower Hutt. While I don't work there, it'd be good to see y'all there if I'm around, of course. :)

August 20, 2005

Peering in

Now, Radio New Zealand, bless their souls, are running a live National Radio stream especially for coverage of the David Lange memorial service (and bless him, too). Now, this setup is the prime example of the effects of peering -- the primary server hosting the full rate stream is pretty much firewalled to anyone off a Telecom- or TelstraClear-sourced Internet feed. I'm getting the United States-based feed that's a vastly lower rate on both Xtra and Paradise.

The ironic thing about this setup -- and Computerworld has suggested that this is it -- is that Xtra license some Radio New Zealand content on their streaming media page. Perhaps they'll be nice to their customers and host a mirror of the live feed. Unmetered too, if we're lucky, maybe?

There's so many potentially political issues I'll just leave it there. But it'd be nice to get a universally accepted access arrangement.

August 19, 2005

Zotob

I don't know why people don't patch their machines so regularly, but it seems my, uh, paperwall is picking up a lot of port 445 attempts, as well as the usual naughty behaviours on port 138.

Come on, the bloody outbreak is happening, people. Really, it is. There's even a rival infection going around, too.

Oh well. Back to the idle monotony of homework.

August 8, 2005

Japanese prime minister loses key reform vote

Now, I couldn't resist the pun in a BBC news item I just saw: apparently it appears that Japanese parliamentarians have gone postal.

And it's...

...musical (dairy) chairs! Oh, and geothermal power might be a saviour. Right...

Free local telephone calls could come under scrutiny

I wonder what does under scrutiny and up for a rethink mean in this particular context?

August 4, 2005

Roundup

No, not the Monsanto pesticide, but a summary of the icons I haven't got around to deleting off my OS desktop:

And for the historians -- from 1999: Preamble shamble.

More links from the 'backlog' of icons later in the week.

July 27, 2005

Leap second

Ha. You're getting an extra second this year. So there.

SCMA news now. Now that the WSCF-AP books have been uploaded, I've been working on arranging the DVD Our Stories, Our Struggle: Life and Mission of World Student Christian Federation Asia-Pacific to be put online. Thanks to those doing that -- I'll post details and credits when it's done.

[Listening to: We Belong Together -- Mariah Carey -- We Belong Together (03:23)]

July 24, 2005

Marriage is the most dangerous social institution!

Ouch! Well, guess whom this is from, without Googling?

At present marriage is easily the most dangerous of all our social institutions. This is partly due to the colossal ignorance of the public in regard to sex, and partly due to the fact that marriage is mainly controlled by lawyers and priests instead of by women and doctors. The legal and religious aspects of marriage are not the primary ones. A marriage may be legal—and miserable; religious—and diseased. The law pays no heed to the suitability of the partners, and the Church takes no regard for their health. Nevertheless, the basis of marriage is obviously mating, or sexual intercourse. Without that there is no marriage, and with it come not merely health and happiness but life itself. Cut out sexual intercourse, and society becomes extinct in one generation. Every generation must, of necessity, pass through the bodies of its women; there is no other way of obtaining entry into the world. Hence, it is clearly the duty of women to understand precisely the processes involved, from beginning to end.

With the lower animals sexual intercourse is desired only seasonally, and only for the purpose of reproduction. With the higher animals—man and women—sexual intercourse is desired more or less continuously throughout adult life, and desired much more for romantic than for reproductive considerations—that is, for the sake of health and happiness rather than for the sake of procreation only. A few women, and still fewer men, have no sexual desires. To them sexual abstinence seems more natural than sexual satisfaction. But for the majority of mankind and womankind—for all normally healthy men and women—there is this continuous desire to be happily mated.

Yup, it's our friendly Ettie Rout, kids! In the above, she's writing in that great 1922 classic Safe Marriage: A Return to Sanity, from the S27(1) bookshelf.

It's interesting from any viewpoint how she gets quickly to her views and ideas on certain things. That's the first two paragraphs of the introduction above. The first five sentences, and especially the fourth, are quite telling in this regard.

[Listening to: Breathless -- The Corrs -- In Blue (03:29)]

July 21, 2005

High-tech trolley aims to transform shopping

But the new shopping trolley still won't necessarily push straight -- it has the same wheels as the traditional model.

July 16, 2005

Australia: Penultimate Harry Potter hits shops

ABC: Penultimate Harry Potter hits shops. Has some videos that might be interesting.

No, it's government property

The Indian government has dismissed claims by a Muslim trust, the Sunni Waqf Board, that it owns the Taj Mahal.

BBC:

The board argued the monument was its property since it holds several Muslim graves, and the board is responsible for all Muslim graves in the country.

Bring on the court case now, perhaps?

July 14, 2005

Music for minors

Not a new idea, but nonetheless, a North Shore pub manager, wants to have teenagers in his pub on Saturdays for concerts.

July 11, 2005

Burns mask photo woman 'stable'

BBC News: The bomb blast survivor, whose photograph symbolised the day when London commuters faced terror attacks, is being treated in hospital for burns. Also:

July 8, 2005

Bad taste?

Oh dear, again. It looks like the Evening Telegraph goofed.

This is the front page of the said newspaper, saying 'TERROR ATTACKS ROCK'.

That's not to say by posting this I'm doing so in bad taste -- far from it, I don't see anything funny in the above. I see the non-realisation by a newspaper that their design when folded at a news stand could be misinterpreted badly is not good.

In that spirit of horror at the event, certainly sympathies from me to everyone in London and around the world. Yikes. This was big.

[Source: ukdragon.com]

Government action unlawful in Unitec case

NZH: It means last night Unitec in West Auckland was able to celebrate a crucial victory in its six-year battle with the Government over its tertiary status.

July 7, 2005

London underground stations evacuated

Oh dear.

Net users change habits to avoid spyware

NZH: The Pew internet and American Life Project found that an overwhelming majority of internet users have stopped opening questionable email attachments, or taken other steps to avoid a plague of stealthy, unwanted programs that can disable computers or secretly monitor online activity.

July 6, 2005

Deep Impact

Maybe the NASA folks should be careful about Deep Impact -- from Monday's Doctor Fun:

4 July 2005: 'They blew up our nicest comet! Prepare to destroy the Earth!'

Identical twins grow apart with age

ABC News Online: the study of identical twins shows the genetic code itself does not change, but rather chemical changes after birth alter the way the gene is expressed, a process known as epigenetics.

June 29, 2005

Pull over!

NZH: Using a cellphone -- even with a hands-free device -- may distract drivers because the brain cannot handle both tasks, say US researchers. Otherwise you might end up on the Wanganui computer's replacement.

Meanwhile, now that the steeplechase results have been made official, it seems some other people are rather happy at the result, while others are pretty much laughing at the result. For the purposes of neutrality and balance, it's hard at the moment to find any opposing views. It seems anyone who's got anything to say in their diaries are all feeling either happy or pleasantly surprised. Pity I can't seem to find the dissenting views for balance here.

June 28, 2005

Plagiarism statistics

Apparently the numbers are on the rise -- not because of increasing instances, but due to increasing detection rates.

June 27, 2005

Friday night at Jet Bar

Wine glass and lamp shade, Courtenay Place.

Wine glass and lamp shade, Courtenay Place.

Originally uploaded by Jonathan Ah Kit.

Friday night, downstairs, over at Jet Bar in Courtenay Place, Wellington.

In unrelated news, Judgments of the Court of Appeal of New Zealand on Proceedings to Review Aspects of the Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Mount Erebus Aircraft Disaster and Safe Marriage: A Return to Sanity got posted to Project Gutenbery today as 16130 and 16135 respectively. Yay! The Section 27(1) pages will also get updated this week with the links.

June 26, 2005

Less expensive options

Instead of paying four digits of money to cover over things one doesn't want to see, wouldn't a far more viable option be to hold press conferences elsewhere?

Booklet provides guide to Territory sexuality laws

ABC News Online: The Darwin Community Legal Service has produced a guide to the law for gays, lesbians and bisexuals in the Territory. Pity that it's not on DCLS's website, yet.

Across Darwin, in the post-vote count it appears to still be the biggest landslide in the grand electoral steeplechase. Ever. Good for some, but bad for others, alas.

It's all expensive

The US situation: Beyond Wi-Fi: Laptop Heaven but at a Price. Plenty of technologies can get you online wirelessly these days, but there's always a catch. Wi-Fi Internet hot spots are fast and cheap, but they keep you tethered to the airport, hotel or coffee shop where the hot spot originates.

June 25, 2005

Rats! Lines Companies! Rodents! Telecom!

So, it was a rat, after all, and lines company contractors. And now it's time for Telecom to talk compensation for themselves. This will be fun for them.

And there's little demand for business DSL upstream speeds faster than 128? Someone tell me that Telecom are joking. Really. They must be.

June 23, 2005

Again?

Didn't one of the Nationals' previous deputy prime ministers also resign from the Australian federal cabinet for family reasons?

Over in Europe, Spain's gay marriage bill is apparently secure to pass, despite the upper house rejecting the bill.

June 21, 2005

Candidates face postal votes count

Darn. The grand Darwin electoral steeplechase is too close to be over in some seats. Photo finish, anyone?

Award for sexual health awareness programme

The No Rubba, No Hubba Hubba programme has won an Asian regional award for a television advertisement.

Incidentally it's interesting to see a reworking of the advertisement to take into account other sexual orientations that are out there, which I've seen screened on television channels recently. It's also on the site's video and audio clips page.

Rat blamed

Um, a rat isn't exactly a road contractor, though a (possible) rat and a electricity contractor hitting a cable probably is. I don't even want to know the cost of the fibre cut. Things were a bit crazy around town, after all.

June 20, 2005

Sliced fibre, anyone?

All right, who smells that Xtra's and Telecom's problems today are thanks to someone (last time I remember something similar, it was a road contractor, but of course it doesn't mean it was them this time) slicing a little bit of Telecom fibre optic cable?

If it was just one cable, perhaps having a backup route might actually be a good idea...

I'm typing this over dialup. Helps having backup connectivity off a provider that avoids the telco that provides your usual network access. :)

June 19, 2005

Burke defeats Burke

Sometimes life doesn't seem fair, does it, like being defeated in a grand electoral steeplechase by not only a landslide, but getting defeated by a namesake as well. Aside from the ABC, the victory rates a mention in the NZH. (How odd -- the ruling party now has nearly three times the seats of the opposition. Even to a politically neutral spectator like me, that just looks big.)

Elsewhere, in the New York Times: What Is Google, Anyway? Is Google a media company? One answer is: Sure, Google is a media company, except when it isn't. The other answer is: It doesn't really matter anyway. In the NZH: you may have a grave problem getting a plot for yourself when you die -- at least in greater Auckland, anyway.

June 18, 2005

Biggest. Defeat. Ever.

Fun and games at the ABC tonight!

It looks like it's going to be the biggest landslide defeat ever for the NT CLP in the great electoral steeplechase.

Oh, and something about girl being born from a frozen egg, a Man keeps wife on life support to save unborn child and Fleet Street ends its days as journalism hub.

Marriage, civil unions, religion, solo parenting and families

If you're not busy pondering new theories on time travel or reading a paper on using RPC ports, the NZH has a good set of articles on marriage, civil unions, religion, solo parenting and family generally today.

  • How solo parents became a political football: Forty-one per cent of Pakeha babies, 55 per cent of Pacific babies and 76 per cent of Maori babies were born last year to unmarried parents.
  • Don't turn children into the scapegoats: political parties are being warned not to punish the children as they grapple with policy to offset one of New Zealand's most common and growing family formats -- the sole-parent family.
  • Young women flock to NZ: ever wondered why some ethnic groups are represented in New Zealand more by women than men? A new study has found that New Zealand has a higher ratio of women to men in the peak childbearing ages of 30 to 34 than any other industrialised country, with 9 per cent more women than men.
  • New Pope takes swipe at Labour's civil union law: The Vatican's news service reported that he made the comments specifically about New Zealand at a speech to seven new ambassadors to the Holy See.
  • Tamaki becomes a Bishop today: apparently 3000 people showed up at a ticket cost of $55 (in other words, of course, giving around $165000 in revenue). Yikes.
  • Underdog-fighter scrubs up: Sue Bradford says she discovered through politics that there were people in the world like her.

On a related note, there will be some more scanning of S27(1) books next week.

Time for entertainment!

That's right! If anyone's looking for a close by election fix before the big one in Wellington later in the year, the grand Darwin steeplechase is on tomorrow! Centrebet has odds on for an ALP win.

Ah, much fun to be had watching from neutral sidelines. And from far away.

June 16, 2005

Stargazers could be in for a treat tonight

Myself, I'd have no idea what to look for.

June 15, 2005

Court finds in favour of school over playground accident

ABC News Online: The High Court has dismissed an attempt by a schoolgirl to sue a Catholic primary school in Canberra after she was injured on a flying fox.

Thank goodness we have the ACC in NZ...

The family of the schoolgirl argued St Anthony's had been negligent in its duty of care.

But the High Court has found in favour of the school, saying it had a well known hands-off rule, which barred children from touching each other during playtime.

[Listening to: 702 ABC Sydney -- Afternoons with James Valentine]

June 13, 2005

Evidence in missing girl case may have been lost

NZH:

Forensic experts investigating the possible sexual assault of a young Auckland girl at a public toilet may have missed out on crucial evidence after a cleaner mopped up blood at the scene.

Oops. :(

Also from yesterday: Mystery remains over sighting of semi-naked schoolgirl.

Hopefully someone finds her. Soon.

June 12, 2005

Pope rejects condoms for Africa

BBC: Aids in Africa should be tackled through fidelity and abstinence and not by condoms, Pope Benedict XVI has said.

June 8, 2005

Sexual behaviour in the playground

NZH: Sexual behaviour in the playground. Apparently children as young as four are engaging in adult sexual behaviour, but the agency involved does not know if the rise is because it is happening more, or if more parents are simply coming forward.

The general conclusion of the experts interviewed appears to be that early intervention -- including prevention measures -- appears to be the key.

Abortion legal moves

From the NZH yesterday: Court case a bid to raise abortion issue, says MP.

Court action claiming that too many abortions are being allowed is a pre-election bid to raise the focus on a divisive issue, says Health Select Committee chairwoman Steve Chadwick.

The anti-abortion group, Right To Life New Zealand, has filed legal action in the High Court at Wellington against the Abortion Supervisory Committee, saying it has misinterpreted the law and allowed too many pregnancy terminations.

It appears it's mostly a matter of viewpoints as to whether or not the law has been misinterpreted on the part of the Abortion Supervisory Committee -- for example, the ALRANZ's Margaret Sparrow calls it a final attempt.

Whatever views are involved, it does look like an attempt to politicise the issue again.

June 7, 2005

Meteor shower seen across New Zealand

Meteor shower? What meteor shower?

June 6, 2005

A Tyrannosaurus rex fossil's surprise: she was ovulating

NYT: Until now, distinguishing the sex of dinosaurs has been impossible without well-preserved pelvic bones.

  • Unsolved Mysteries, by David Greenberg: With the unmasking of Deep Throat, one of the 20th century's biggest political mysteries has been solved. But other riddles about Watergate linger.
  • Hal Holbrook Saw a Torn Man: The world now knows that Deep Throat is Mark Felt. But for many, Deep Throat will always be Hal Holbrook, the actor who portrayed him in the movie All the President's Men.

June 4, 2005

More...

...and more Mark Felt information from the NZH.

Smoking banned in Indian films

From the ABC:

[Listening to: Radio New Zealand International]

Marketing...

Tobacco companies designed cigarettes to appeal to women's desires to be thin and healthy in ways that went "far beyond marketing and advertising", say health researchers.

So says the New Zealand Herald -- apparently some cigarettes were especially created to target the female image, whatever that means.

And more on Mark Felt (from Reuters) can be found.

June 1, 2005

And they're off!

It's the Northern Territory Grand Legislative Assembly Election Steeplechase again! Election day is not even three weeks away -- it's on Saturday, 18 June. Eeek.

Deep Throat steps out of the shadows

NZH: He was the most famous journalistic source in history.

Update: some more stuff, from the NYT...

May 31, 2005

Expensive ways to get a transistor radio

Well, I checked out the RRP today for the transistor radio I recently got to get some amusement. The Sony Walkman SRFS84S/SRF-S84 I got a few weeks ago on Fly Buys points to avoid getting around to buying an iPod or similar device has a recommended price of roughly $60 on Sony's website. I'm told by a family member that similar products are available from The Warehouse for around $2. Maybe Sony makes money off putting the Walkman logos and Mega Bass on the front.

I was expecting a rather high price, but not that high.

From the Computerworld site: wireless price gouging in local hotels, and -- with Telecom -- at your local Starbucks, Telecom competing with itself (apparently), the Wanganui Computer goes and Keith gets another hat at InternetNZ.

[Listening to: Big Yellow Taxi -- Counting Crows -- Hard Candy (03:46)]

[Listening to: Fallen -- Sarah McLachlan -- Fallen (03:51)]

[Listening to: Drops Of Jupiter [Album Version] -- Train -- Drops Of Jupiter (04:20)]

May 30, 2005

Too much of a good thing?

From the NZH: Vodafone overloading delay texts. Apparently it got a bit too popular. Stuff carries a longer Dominion Post article, but as usual, I don't link to those as, as I've previously explained, they're not archived. Mutter.

Wind turbine

The wind turbine at Brooklyn, Wellington, New Zealand.

The wind turbine at Brooklyn, Wellington, New Zealand.

Originally uploaded by jesstherese.

So... the wind turbine's blades are taking a break. But it looks kind of 'naked' without the blades on the turbine. At least they're on the ground, and not too far away. This photo by someone else I found today on Flickr; I really should visit the Brooklyn windmill some time soon to take a look for myself.

May 25, 2005

I'm a big boy now, says solo shopper Roscoe, 3

From the New Zealand Herald: I'm a big boy now, says solo shopper Roscoe, 3. Truth is stranger than fiction, it seems, of course.

The bird stays

Yay! The Morning Report bird call stays!

May 24, 2005

Christian porn filter seen as censorship

From the NZH: Christian porn filter seen as censorship.

Anti-porn software developed for schools by a company with links to fundamentalist Christians has been criticised for blocking students' access to leftist political forums and websites on sexuality and health.

Education Minister Trevor Mallard approved the Watchdog Corporation's CampusNet filtering software last year, as part of a $9.5 million package to help schools screen out hackers and objectionable material such as pornography.

I wonder if my Section 27(1) and public domain books page will be next? :)

A neutral thought here: perhaps it's better to not block information sites so students can get both sides of arguments, so they can research these views? Perhaps doing so, and providing some teacher guidance anyway for any Internet access, would help students form balanced and fair assignments and personal world views and opinions?

May 23, 2005

New Zealand faces up to a diverse future

From the NZH and the Herald on Sunday: Coping with the great Kiwi identity crisis and New Zealand faces up to a diverse future...

New Zealanders are obsessed with it, intellectuals are fascinated by it and migrants are giving it a new twist. Amid all the gnashing of teeth over the great Kiwi identity crisis, what seems to endure is a love of the land and laissez-faire egalitarianism.

We are, we believe, a society free of classes but stingy with emotions. We don’t like tall poppies, but we’re resilient, laid back, and multicultural.

Yeah right.

Immigration is changing our national identity, and according to academics, despite our claimed tolerance, we don’t like it much.

These articles have some relevance to the future of youth in terms of changing ethnicity statistics and tolerance and acceptance issues.

May 20, 2005

Student political activism on blackboards

Student political activism at Victoria University of Wellington.

Student political activism at VUW.

Originally uploaded by Jonathan Ah Kit.

I don't know about other universities or colleges other than VUW, but here (well, at least everywhere at VUW but the former WCE, it seems), but here, there's a lot of blackboard (not usually whiteboards, oddly) political graffiti in lecture theatres. Otherwise notices about gatherings and 'advertisements' for commercial websites are put up, but I find it's usually political rants. Anyway, this was a rather odd one to turn up to at a GEND 101 lecture; I'm sure any pun wasn't intended. Ugh. From what I gather, it was probably written yesterday (Thursday) about student aid in the 2005 government budget presented at Parliament yesterday. I guess after the student protest at Parliament earlier this week people weren't too hopeful for all the youth undertaking tertiary study.

May 16, 2005

College Libraries Set Aside Books in a Digital Age

From the New York Times: College Libraries Set Aside Books in a Digital Age. Some shades of Cambridge High School anyone, but perhaps at least in a more positive (and, well, American, geographically, as opposed to New Zealand) setting? And to imagine if VUW tried this... and to think of the digital rights management costs, especially with those non-one-off licence payments! Still, the basic principle shows much promise. Interesting, this all -- will be equally interesting to see how it turns out. Outside the world of education, I do wonder what uses there may be.

Time will tell.

On another note potentially stupid note, I managed to coax my DVD-ROM drive here to play the Brooke Fraser DVD, though not using my preferred software video player. But in any case, I'm playing it a few times now in case I don't get a chance to do it again on this computer. It's an improvement on the results of my last attempt to play the disc, anyway.

[Listening to: Saving The World, Lifeline, Arithmetic and Better -- Brooke Fraser -- What To Do With Daylight: Special Edition (Disc Two: DVD) (18:51/19:09)]

May 14, 2005

Brothels in Kent

According to the venerable site that is The Register, a search for brothels near postal code TN12 7EA shows a police station. Also mentioned is a pointer to Dutch academic research material archives, and a new way to use Skype for the classic scam. Yes, the 419. In other possibly equally venerable (or otherwise; I'm not intentionally judging them) spots:

On a different tack, I ended up buying the 'special edition' of Brooke Fraser's album. Unfortunately, the bonus DVD suffered pretty much the same fate that Centre Stage (which I can't seem to find right now) suffered on my computer -- it wouldn't play. Odd. It did when put into the television, so I'm still happy. Just someone don't tell me I need to send the computer in again for warranty service. The lack of a local authorised warranty centre gave me quite a shock in courier charges. The transportation charge was peanuts, but once the postal worker got to the compulsory insurance bit... apparently whole computers are quite a risk.

More books will be scanned from about Monday week. Watch the bookshelf. As for the quick table, it wasn't much of a success, but I might keep it anyway.

May 7, 2005

Raspberry Coke

More marketing madness: Coca-Cola with Raspberry. When will this endless marketing end? And what about Cherry Coke again? Someone?

In Internet-related stuff, Australia seems to be making motions with its upcoming ENUM trial. In education, evolution and creation come up again, this time in Kansas.

[Listening to: All I Need -- Bethany Dillon -- Bethany Dillon (03:16)]

May 4, 2005

How to make a decision

Stone, paper, scissors -- really. Honest.

Scanning more books

Thanks to a suggestion from someone obtained from an SCMA-sourced contact, I've started scanning a book from a William Allan Chapple, as well as a response to that book written by someone else. I expect I'll finish these by mid-June, though there are no guarantees, of course.

More details to follow. After some discussions with a local university library, I am also likely to have another select committee report from the 1920s scanned in addition to Venereal Diseases in New Zealand (1922). This will be likely to occur during the mid-year break at VUW.

[Listening to: On My Knees (LP Version) -- Jaci Velasquez -- Heavenly Place (03:49)]

Some more education-related articles from mostly the NYT and the BBC:

All right. Sleep seems good now.

[Listening to: Legacy -- Nichole Nordeman -- Live At The Door (04:16)]

[Listening to: My God (LP Version) -- Point Of Grace -- Steady On (05:04)]

April 28, 2005

Radio feeds

How to waste one's 'broadband' traffic quota: listen to radio feeds!

[Listening to: Concerto in C (in the style of Vivaldi): Andante doloroso -- Fritz Kreisler -- Fritz Kreisler Edition (04:07)]

[Listening to: Imagine Me Without You (LP Version) -- Jaci Velasquez -- Crystal Clear (04:10)]

[Listening to: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op 61: Wedding March -- Aaron Rosand -- The Story Of Mendelssohn (01:32)]

[Listening to: WFUV Stream]

[Listening to: God Of Wonders -- Rebecca St James -- Worship God (04:13)]

(Yes, I do have a QuickTime and RealAudio player installed somewhere, the latter for Humour Australia tracks primarily, and the former for some video clips from school, but it seems, alas or otherwise, Microsoft have the best feeds.)

[Listening to: Messiah Highlights: Hallelujah! -- Sir Thomas Beecham -- Händel: Messiah - Highlights (03:33)]

[Listening to: I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever -- Sonicflood -- Sonicpraise (04:47)]

[Listening to: You Are So Good To Me -- Third Day -- Offerings II: All I Have to Give (04:02)]

[Listening to: 50/50 -- Metal Urbain -- Anarchy In Paris (02:45)]

[Listening to: audioad9 -- Steven Curtis Chapman -- All Things New (00:11)]

[Listening to: Passenger Side (LP Version) -- Wilco -- Wilco A.M. (03:34)]

But, the best feed on the Microsoft list, of course, is...

[Listening to: BBC News -- Yahoo! Broadcast]

On the subject of wasting my broadband traffic and Telecom, their Rex & Molly site has me suspicious. It just doesn't seem right...

News wise, here's an afternoon roundup. Quite a lot of gender- and sexuality-related stories at the New York Times this week, it seems.

[Listening to: Also Sprach Zarathustra (Sunrise) -- Saint Louis So/Walter Susskind -- 25 Thunderous Classics (01:43)]

[Listening to: Polonaise -- Moscow Symphony Orchestra -- Orchestral Works Volume 17 (05:02)]

April 25, 2005

More

New York Times:

  • Pope Benedict XVI Formally Installed: At a Mass in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, the new pope officially took control of the Roman Catholic Church.
  • Shall I Compare Thee to the King's Library? It might seem unfair to King George III, but recently, as I surveyed Liberace's collection of vintage automobiles, fur coats, feathered capes and antique pianos in the Liberace Museum here, I thought of the King's Library in the British Museum.
  • A Boldface Name Invites Others to Blog With Her: Arianna Huffington is starting up a Web site, the Huffington Report, that will feature blogs from celebrities like Arthur Schlesinger, David Mamet, Nora Ephron, David Geffen and Walter Cronkite.

Roundup

In the absence of much time lately to write about exciting things, here's a roundup of new stories I found perhaps even just vaguely interesting. Most of them were from the NZH or the BBC. They're in no intentional or particular order.

As usual, I haven't included any items from Fairfax's Stuff site. And not until they have a reasonable archival policy, anyway.

[Listening to: Humour Australia]

April 15, 2005

Why I don't become politically active

There's a politician with pretty much the same name as me, give or take, and people seem to me to think digging up dirt on opponents' pasts is a fun sport. I don't -- half the stuff they find isn't even remotely interesting to me.

April 12, 2005

Patent reviews

Here's an interesting note from someone claiming to be an IBM employee on their internal review processes for patents.

On another note, today I came across an online directory called The Asterix Annotations. While I knew a lot of the puns already, this would have been useful years ago!

Cane toads

I have a suspicion that if I tried to use a golf club or cricket bat to kill cane toads, I'd probably end up breaking the club, if not bend it out of shape.

Any possibly better ideas, anyone?

April 10, 2005

People

There are New Zealand Herald and Herald on Sunday stories on (and slight mentions of) people I know of (or know) this week: Archbishop John Dew, and Michael and Sylvia!

And, from Michael, this, hot on the heels of my last entry on typos in Mazengarb: unfortunate headlines.

April 6, 2005

Google News page

In case someone per chance finds it useful for themselves, I've made my first customised Google News page. I'll post some newer renditions as I add some education- and youth-related searches to it.

April 5, 2005

Vibe opening

I was briefly at the Vibe (aka the Hutt Valley Youth Health Service) opening of new premises at 12 Daly Street, Lower Hutt last night, wearing my Youth Infusion hat, to show support for the redefined venture. $15,000 (according to the Vibe press release) does seem like an awful lot just to 'rebrand' at first, especially with a $500,000 budget, but if it keeps the service relevant in the minds of youth, it is worth it. But I do believe the new environment compared to my prior visits to many of the prior premises of the HVYHS showed the need for new digs in an appropriate place -- there's a reasonable level of parking onsite, at least for staff, and certainly on-street parking, despite utilising parking meters, is nearby. It really is a great place. Visit there soon!

Incidentally, I can't wait for the next YI meeting.

An expensive delay for everyone but the couple

Well, here's a wedding delay that doesn't inconvenience the couple so much as the guests, or perhaps it will be the souvenir makers losing out the most?

And, from a prison officer in Sweden on taking away heavy weights from inmates:

"We don't feel it is part of the mission that society has given us to create ... over-sized muscle builders."

April 2, 2005

Oops

Moral of the story: watch out when publishing obituary columns.

March 29, 2005

And you thought New Zealand 'broadband' had issues?

Thought that, whatever you might call New Zealand's 'broadband' market, that it's having problems? Well, they're having broadly similar problems with the broadband market in the United States. However, the biggest problem seems to be whether one should have to pay for a phone line with one's DSL.

I suppose on first quick impressions, over in the United States, there's more of a problem due to the apparent popularity of cell phones and Internet telephony over the broadband lines that's a problem. I imagine it's quite possible this sort of thing might become an issue in New Zealand in the future, with cellphones starting to replace landlines.

Fibre to the front door of your home, anyone? There's probably still room on them electricity poles outside, unless the TelstraClear cables have taken all the room. Which is likely. The Telecom poles look decidedly sparse, though.

March 25, 2005

Usually it's the other way around

What about sneaking paintings into a museum?

March 16, 2005

I want a tank!

Why don't I ever get an ex-army tank in my back garden?

March 6, 2005

Signs malware and spyware are both getting out of hand

Here's another sign (courtesy of Slashdot) that malware is getting out of hand: at least 23 megabytes of bandwidth used up without asking. Not to mention in the same story someone discovering that they've been had for no less than 65 megabytes for a .NET Framework installation they never asked for, excluding the adware, malware and advertisements that came with it.

I wonder if Microsoft AntiSpyware and Norton AntiVirus will come out with definitions against the web page markup that does this, if not already... as someone on a byte cap, this is not only below the belt, in a very uncomfortable spot, but quite probably unethical.

I guess I have to be very careful what websites I visit, now. Grumble. Not that I wasn't already, however.

March 5, 2005

Horses

In the interests of road safety, LTNZ have bought the naming rights to a horse.

[Listening to: Pacific Symphony Orchestra -- Appalachian Spring Suite (27:02)]

February 28, 2005

The digital divide is 'narrowing fast' -- apparently

Well, that digital divide between rich and poor nations is narrowing fast, the World Bank said on Thursday. Apparently, so says Reuters, in the New Zealand Herald.

February 27, 2005

Where there are peers, now someone doesn't peer

TelstraClear: mutter. Further information is available from the NZNOG.

Hopefully the situation gets better. Soon.

February 25, 2005

Kakapo are breeding again!

It's not every day (or year) that one gets excited that kakapo are breeding, once again.

February 20, 2005

Size doesn't matter...

...for brains, that is. Apparently.

Elsewhere at the BBC right now:

And yes, I did get one of the Gmail invitations in the abovementioned report.

February 16, 2005

Slicing fibre, again

Watch those wayward bits of fibre!

And, unfortunately, having a moko may not be a good idea. (The reporter paints it as a pretty difficult question to answer, as well, alas.)

February 11, 2005

'The following statement has been issued on behalf of the Queen'

The Duke of Edinburgh and I are very happy that The Prince of Wales and Mrs Parker Bowles are to marry. We have given them our warmest good wishes for their future together.

That's rather a short and terse press release from the Queen. More at the BBC, from 10 Downing Street, and the Church of England/Archbishop of Canterbury.

February 2, 2005

The publicity effect

Seeing the Close Up story last night on TVNZ publicising the Mount Wave Cam as a place for voyeurs has me speechless a little. I'm not sure what to think. There is a video clip of their report that's around six-odd minutes long, if you can manage it.

Seems like whoever's controlling the Java applet at the moment is trying to find women to zoom in on (it's on full zooom right now, too). No such luck, really. It's obviously raining pretty heavily, by the looks of things.

Whatever one's views, it does look slightly alarmist but the report, whether or not it is indeed alarmist, does raise some privacy issues. It is a public place, on one hand. Maybe warning signs might be appropriate. Perhaps.

It's going to be a mine field to work through, no pun intended.

In other news, Gopher access is back on greta.electric.gen.nz on a pygopherd daemon, so it's also available once again in non-Gopher browsers. I need some content to put on there, though. I wonder if photographs from my trip to Hamilton would be of use?

My Jabber work should also continue, from late February, once my school timetable is finalised.

February 1, 2005

Rule: don't leave scrap paper behind

It might be analysed!

January 31, 2005

Getting to 4 Kelburn Parade

Well, the new timetables server from the regional council comes up with this route on its automated brain that I'd never thought of. Slightly modified for my writing style, here it is:

  • Turn left into Wellington Station.
  • After 3 metres, continue into Lambton Interchange Subway.
  • After 175 metres, turn left into Lambton Quay.
  • After 250 metres, turn right into Masons Lane.
  • After 50 metres, turn left into The Terrace.
  • After 120 metres, turn right into Aurora Terrace.
  • After 300 metres, continue into Walkway.
  • After 120 metres, turn right into Clermont Terrace.
  • After 80 metres, turn left into Salamanca Road.
  • After 0.5 kilometres, turn right into Kelburn Parade.
  • After 17 metres, arrive at 4 Kelburn Parade, Kelburn, Wellington.

But if that's not mindless for 25 minutes to Kohanga, the route via the cable car is a bit odd, funnily enough:

  • Turn left into Westpac Stadium Walkway. (Wouldn't it be easier to exit the railway station?)
  • After 60 metres, turn right into Unnamed Road (which I've never heard of, oddly).
  • After 70 metres, turn right into Bunny Street.
  • After 30 metres, turn left into Stout Street.
  • After 350 metres, turn left into Lambton Quay.
  • After 350 metres, turn right into Cable Car Lane.
  • After 60 metres arrive at Cable Car Station (Lambton Quay), Wellington City. (That was a 13 minute walk.)
  • Wait 2 minutes for a cable car.
  • After 3 minutes, arrive at Cable Car Station (Salamanca Road), Wellington City.
  • Turn right into Walkway.
  • After 40 metres, turn left into Salamanca Road.
  • After 175 metres, turn right into Kelburn Parade.
  • After 17 metres, arrive at 4 Kelburn Parade, Kelburn, Wellington City. (The last bit is a 4 minute walk.)

Maybe I'll stick to human experience. But aren't automated trip planners just fun for odd and unexpected things like this?

January 27, 2005

Before, it were beautiful; after (adware), things got ugly

Ah, the memories of Opera... before it got adware. Ugh. I really must consider trying it again sometime. If the adware has gone, perhaps.

January 26, 2005

Sixteen snippets of supposed 'secrets'/trivia from the world of Google

Ah, alliteration. Here's the write up by someone of a lecture by a Google employee.

With the web server I'm using being a bit faster again, and a new version being introduced in my absence from it, I'm back using the diary posting software w.bloggar.

From Slashdot today: AOL killing Usenet access and a link to a Scientific American article that mentions the NZDL project. S27(1) is probably far small at the moment (possibly forever too small, too) to even think of trying out their software project (Greenstone), of course. And, from the New York Times: a teacher is charged over an attack on her principal. For some reason, the title on its own reminds me of the British-made television show Teachers. Also at the NYT is an article about the differences in form between men and women, but [that these differences do] not mean that they function differently.

January 22, 2005

An earthquakes feed

Someone's put together an earthquakes XML feed for GeoNet's recent quakes page. Alas, the feed's home page is a little sparse, but the feed seems valid, recent and seems to work.

There's now a report for the last earthquake, too -- it says it was an aftershock of yesterday morning's.

Right, enough about earthquakes from me. For now.

And another one goes!

Yes, looks like there was another earthquake that's now on the GeoNet drum. In addition to Friday morning's. And some of the others from this week.

By the way, I may if I have time, before going to Hamilton, be going to the blogger drinks on Wednesday night. Even though I detest the word 'weblog' or 'blog' and I consider this a 'diary'. Never mind. :)

News feed at the Electricity Commission

I thought that seeing the power house officially says it's web news management for hydroelectric power stations, I'd better create a category/section about electricity policy and issues, even if it's now mainly a place to talk about books without copyright. So, here I go.

A quango that has an XML news feed on its front page. Now, let's see if in the new year the Electricity Commission maintains it. And its insurance policy.

On the subject of linking, Six Apart have put together a Q&A page on rel="nofollow".

In the area of S27(1) books, Venereal Diseases in New Zealand is now In Post-Processing in DP too, like the Mazengarb Report. My next document is currently sitting in the DP OCR pool, now. Alas, the next one to scan is going to be quite huge. Eeeek. I guess that I'd better have a good lunch before I start scanning, this next time.

And, last for now, I took some photographs of the Wellington Railway Station, Waterloo Quay, Parliament Building, Government Building and the Wellington Cenotaph late last night on a fifteen second exposure for most of them. At first impressions, I think that the seemingly (at first, at least) over-exposed photograph of the railway station actually looks good, with the blurred flags flapping and the large golden ball of light leaving the station could be interpreted in many ways as a static image. The album is currently offline, but hopefully not for much longer. I'll add the photographs when it's available again.

Smith Street Mall

Seeing that for non-Section 27(1) stuff on tph I thought I should start talking about the most banal stuff I can think of, there is some otherwise random news that I noticed this afternoon from page 004 of yesterday's Northern Territory News:

So, the (bored?) NT CLP opposition leader wants to move not only the Darwin GPO into the Smith Street Mall, but both the public library and the territory library as well. There seems to be some support from the territory government and the lord mayor, but there are probably two problems. Smith Street Mall was fairly full last time I was there, and the post office doesn't want to move (if no plans to do so counts as that).

If I've counted the years right, it's election year, so maybe the fun for those on the sidelines has started. Yay. The article seems to be available on EBSCOhost, if you can somehow authenticate through an EPIC-subscribing library or similar database system.

January 18, 2005

A big thing or two

In a moment, something about food. But first, that earthquake. Yes, an earthquake in 'the' Shaky Isles.

Well, as DPF said, it was big and that there was an earlier one I don't remember.

Here's the GeoNet national drum image from some time tonight.

At least hopefully the effects of this weren't too big. Don't think I can say the same for the trouble at Panix. No pun intended.

Other stuff I've found interesting in David's diary tonight: the ALP's Mark Latham disappearing from the Australian federal parliament (I knew that already, though from one of those e-mail alerts, from The Age's web presence), and person having too much food. And it doesn't end there.

In Section 27(1) news, I've received clearance for the Court of Appeal decision and, separately, the Royal Commission report I'd applied for copyright clearance for PG. They will be two interesting books to scan!

January 15, 2005

Weekend reading, or lack thereof (at least in Section 27), and the week that was

In Section 27(1) news, obtaining the next book on my list of finalists to scan next (which, incidentally, as I've said, wasn't actually a S27 book, just PD in the US and NZ) has hit a snag. Looks like it's onto the next possibilities on the list, though there are some further options to explore. Which does include looking for more finalists for the next list. Suggestions appreciated, though my own personal interest and academic study takes precedence. So there.

Now for some (mostly) education-related weekend reading for everybody. Starting off at InternetNZ: happen to be a lawyer looking for some teaching and research work? Maybe a fellowship might be useful.

Anyone else smell qualifications inflation in this New York Times article, too?

Looks like I'll need a bit more than a BA, then from the SES -- I mean the School of Education Studies. Or should that be a FOE of Still Eating (or Emulsifying) Something? I'm not sure. Hehehehe. Actually, that's what I intend to do, anyway, and not get into the satire business. For the time being, at least.

Interestingly, the last three or four paragraphs of that article seem to be the most useful. I'll have to make a note of them.

And, I now know why libraries for sight impaired people don't like using CDs for distributing books. And why fields alongside parking barriers are bad. For business or security, anyway. (And if it were Photoshop, it was funny anyway.)

Oh well. I've had an odd week, and two wonderful people helped out with making things a little better. (Thanks!) On to the weekend now, I think.

(To the abovementioned people: I hope you don't mind not being named. Unless it's to do with services rendered to get my sites up and running, I'm generally hesitant to thank people online in such a place like this without their knowledge.)

January 10, 2005

Virginity pledges

I've just finished watching the Channel Four documentary Texas Teenage Virgins on TVNZ. It appears to be at least a year old, but makes for an interesting episode from what appears to be a television series on religion.

It's almost as if Texas (and much of the USA is going through much of what we in NZ went through from the 1950s (see 1954's Mazengarb Report which I've just digitised) through to 1990, when a lot of contraception education was legalised (and it's been further liberalised since, judging by the self-adhesive addenda stuck into my printed copy of Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum when I got it. (Disclaimer: I'm not necessarily expressing any views on sexual education policy in Texas, just an observation.)

On the subject of what to scan next and digitise, I've put in copyright clearance for PG for one ministerial inquiry from 1922 (actually, I'm about to upload it), one landmark Court of Appeal judgment from the early 1980s (though I'm also wondering if I should pick another one on the Western Samoan citizenship case from around the same time), and a Royal Commission from the 1980s.

I'll probably actually stick to stuff I'm interested in for my graduate study, actually. But it's so easy to get distracted when reading primary source documents.

January 8, 2005

A new project, and a new location!

Well, to cut a long story short, the power house has indeed changed locations. For now, at least, but that said, it's not an experience I want to repeat any time soon.

Sorry for the long entry, too. Got heaps to mention.

(Yes, kids, greta.electric.gen.nz is still experiencing trouble. Sorry. I'm working on it with Philip as time allows either of us. :) Thanks for everything, definitely, Philip!)

Part of the reason is that I've decided to take on a new project, digitising books that come under Section 27(1) of the Copyright Act 1994 (NZ). So far, I've only done 1954's Mazengarb Report, but I think there's some good, promising targets for the Section 27(1) treatment. (It's going through the Distributed Proofreading process to become a Project Gutenberg e-book, too, which coincidentally -- read on for the coincidence -- is also hosted on ibiblio.)

As a result, I'll be spending less time on esoteric things, and mainly talking here about the books I republish on the Section 27 pages, both on the Section 27 project itself, and commenting on the books I post. I'll be creating a category presently for all that stuff.

TypeKey authentication is, for the time being, compulsory. My web host for the dr-fun-changes list and the Section 27 pages has suggested it. And, yes, it's the fine, gentle creatures at ibiblio. (I like their self description on their front page, the public's library and digital archive, incidentally -- fits in with PG and Section 27 quite well, methinks.) Thanks, guys, for taking my pages on for hosting.

It was actually for the dr-fun-changes list to be closer to the people who host the Doctor Fun pages that I originially decided to move. Then I came up with the Section 27 project, so after a bit of consultation with librarians, my university's copyright officer (even though I didn't use and don't intend to use VUW books for the time being), and a couple other allied experts, it appeared that ibiblio was also a good fit for digitised books that have no copyright in New Zealand.

You'll find more gormless information on the Section 27 page.

There's much more in the way of news I want to mention that I haven't while tph has been down, but I'll save that for a bit later. Such as the fact that a lot of inter-entry links are hard coded for the previous location. Never mind. They might get fixed, some day, if I have time. I knew I should have used relative links...

But, to cut things short, I'm back in business! At least completely so once my Jabber server has Internet connectivity again. :) I'm doing new projects now, so old ones may fall by the wayside, but that's another story, too. I'll keep you all updated.

November 27, 2004

Misusing statistics?

I prefer to be non-political (certainly in public, anyway, and almost so privately) and I also prefer to be able to call myself politically inactive, but I also believe that I can stay neutral when coming across some weird uses of statistics.

A site against same sex relationships and civil unions, civil-unions.org, appears to be misusing statistics. If you follow the reasoning, the site appears to be saying that because less than 4% of people in same sex relationships (according to their reading of census results), they don't deserve the rights the current Bills under consideration provide. Moving along, they also claim significant support for their position because only 4.5% of submissions were in favour of the Bills. What they don't realise is that it's easy to stack those sorts of statistics with submission writing campaigns (it's not new). But the best one doesn't involve statistics at all. It says: Think of the bad effects this Bill, if allowed to pass, will have on future generations and younger children. They don't even use statistics at all.

Thanks to DPF, who appears to be in favour, for the link.

I'm not mentioning my position here at all. I just find it interesting when sides in an argument are seemingly so selective in their facts, even if I agree, overall. (Incidentally, I would look at the 'other side' of the debate, but I can't easily find statistics on civilunions.org.nz right now with the time I have left online tonight.)

November 19, 2004

Oops? Or not?

Ouch. I guess it pays not to annoy the bosses.

November 17, 2004

Home internet access provider rankings

As per a pointer on an InternetNZ mailing list: NetRatings have put up their latest NZ home ISP top ten. No particular surprises who's at the top, with Telecom/Xtra taking up nearly half, and what's listed separately as TelstraClear and Paradise taking up, all together, around 21%. Unless there's an ISP called Other, ihug thus takes third place. Slingshot gets fourth, but below what appears to be the margin of error, or what the PDF file calls any rankings smaller than 4.7% -- they're indicative only due to sample sizes.

I see that they've also published a top 10 (online, I presume) publishers for NZ (also presumably online) visitors over 60. If there were any surprises of sites that I've heard of, it would be Public Address (I'm assuming they mean www.publicaddress.net) at third place, with 17%.

Of course, the above two paragraphs assume I have implicit trust in statistics. Yeah, sure. :) Hey, that's a thought. I wonder if I want to know how they track this?

I'm not sure I do want to know.

More on the above (and, maybe, more) providers in a day or so. I'm thinking about their implementations of dial-up modem standards.

In a galaxy far, far away...

Oh, the memories.

Mmmmm, changing spots...

(Interestingly, elsewhere in Amanda's entries, is a claim from a US reader that her nearest polling booth in her country's recent elections was around 160 kilometres away. I wonder how much they use mobile polling booths and postal ballots, and how it compares to Australia's experience, where some electorates are bigger than a good proportion of the countries of the world.)

On the subject of VUWSA executives' diaries, the EVP's diary looks fun.

Maybe I should do a 100 things about me entry for myself for some amusement (and serious thought) at some point.

Back to study in a moment. Enough of reading diaries for today!

November 15, 2004

Another one bites the dust!

Hot on the heals of ACE's demise, WCE have finally got their death wish.

From January, I'll be a student in the renamed School of Education Studies, in the Faculty of Education. Why can't there be a School of Musical Chairs instead? Or perhaps using the same letters, Still Enamoured with Studying?

I see the price harmonisation between the two institutions is finally moving beyond the tripling in price of student influenza vaccinations at WCE, too. Ouch.

Of course, however, the nice papers on youth issues, such as EDUC 229, will continue. Well, they'd better. I'm likely to be signing up for EDUC 228 and or EDUC 340 next year.

Why run backups?

What, stupidity with files when it comes to computer maintenance? That would have to be the first of an infinite number of reasons why I have installed a backup routine for my critical systems. Which reminds me, though I save an image onto a network share, it's just about time to transfer some of that to compact disc, once again. After all, I don't want to get worked up over losing 300 photographs myself, especially after the Kohanga end of year concert last Thursday night.

Based on the reader comments on a similar article the above linked to, it sounds like to me quite possibly the BBC could possibly take the cake for the freezing the hard disc trick.

All right, back to school work, now.

Life is boring

Life has probably hit another low when you read in the Southland Times on Stuff via the Newztext Newspapers database (what a mouthful...) this morning that the Southland Museum and Art Gallery have had their two 15 centimetre pet goldfish have been stolen from the museum pond.

November 12, 2004

The crows are circling!

Seen the recent University of Canterbury print advertisements in student publications like Salient where they crow about being one of the top two universities in the country, because of their TEC PBRF rankings?

Well, get ready for a fresh round. The 2004 Times Higher Education Supplement world rankings are now available. Auckland is 67 out of 200, Massey is 108, and Otago is 114. I'm currently reading the THES rankings right now on their website (yay for VUW's account at that site!), and the articles seem rather boring advertising supplement or advertorial style articles. Unfortunately.

Spare me the marketing, please... that's the advertorials and the blasted advertisements that I can smell following closely behind...

(Hey, I wonder, with the amazing disappearing WCE, if its 'disappearance' will manage to drag down VUW's PBRF ratings next time around with its second-from-bottom performance this time. Probably not if they're minnows by size comparison, I suppose.)

November 10, 2004

A child sues his parent for not buying him a computer

OK, an 11 year old child suing a parent because she didn't buy him a computer as promised has to be a little crazy, even if it were the proper thing to do, right?

November 9, 2004

Downloading Firefox 1.0

Yes, I am downloading Firefox 1.0 (the Windows build, anyway) right now.

Thanks, Ben, for the release commentary.

Oh wait, it's just finished. Here we go!

November 3, 2004

Laundering money

At least if you cast your vote in a laundrette, you know where your money goes, unlike with a bridal scam.

Oh yeah, and what's the surprise (also) from the New York Times, in the US, that voters flocked to the Web?

October 29, 2004

Yay!

Finally! My local DHB posted election results yesterday.

October 23, 2004

Comment spam again

Yes, tph -- and thus everything else running off greta.electric.gen.nz (which includes my Jabber server) -- is currently suffering a comment spam maelstrom, once again. Grumble. There were somewhere between 40 and 60 spam messages/comments. (I'd give an exact count, but they were coming in fast enough to annoy me.)

Spammers: when will you realise you're losers for making people's lives (say, mine) harder just to sell stuff?

In other thoughts, I notice that it's mainly .info domain names that they seem to be using. Maybe it's due to the free .info domain names offers I've seen floating around the Internet lately. Argh.

On another thought, I really need to move stuff to the other box I have on this network to prevent some of the issues.

[Listening to: Jewel -- A Night Without Armor: Poems by Jewel]

October 20, 2004

United States terror list singles out New Zealand man

Oops.

I wonder if the money transfer service lost a customer out of all of this?

Another moral of the story: the game's up when your local MP gets involved in such a ridiculous affair.

Update: I've posted the New Zealand Herald story to Stupid Security.

October 14, 2004

Spades are really something else

Dave [Tollner] calls a spade a shovel and luckily Territorians know what both a shovel and a spade look like... They appreciate that -- and I think that is one of the reasons they have supported Dave.

That was the also reelected CLP senator, Nigel Scullion, on page 013 of Monday's Northern Territory News.

October 8, 2004

Longer every day

No change on the overall win odds, but it's becoming less of a Solomon choice in Solomon: Davidson's on $1.60 today, while Tollner's now $2.00.

In other updates on yesterday's entry, DPF has put the Coalition at 60%, and a hung parliament at 35%. He also puts the ALP at 5% for a win.

Hmmm. Good thing I'm politically inactive, methinks.

October 7, 2004

Election too close to call (apparently)

In the 'gospel' according to Centrebet, as reported on page 003 of Monday's Northern Territory News, it looks like Solomon's going to be taken over by the ALP, but that the Coalition parties (Liberal, National and CLP, I recall) might win nationally.

I don't consider myself politically active as such and thus don't consider posting my views a good idea, but one thing for sure: I don't like close elections.

Incidentally, Centrebet's website has the ALP's Jim Davidson at $1.70 right now, versus the CLP's sitting member, David Tollner, at $1.90. Hmmm. Nationally, it's a bit more weird, though. $1.20 for the Coalition, and the ALP's way out at $4.00. Quite different from what the Northern Territory News reported on Monday, which was $1.60, even, $1.45 and $2.55 respectively for all four odds.

So, I'm not sure I want to guess who's going to win. Then again, it's been known for some time betting agencies' odds have been pretty good indicators of wins, even if the pollsters think otherwise. Any guesses for Saturday, anyone?

On another note, I don't think I want to comment in any way on the local government and district health board elections here in NZ. The turnout looks skewed, for a start.

September 24, 2004

Mark Latham on family

There's one sign an election campaign is getting out of hand -- hopefuls drawing parallels to Star Wars:

I think I would be Luke, the last of the Jedi knights, and I hope in this campaign the force is with me, [...] Although I know one thing for sure. John Howard is not my father.

It's on page 006 in today's local section of The Australian (the first edition, anyway).

Country Liberal Party candidates and riots?

Oops? Or not?

September 18, 2004

Ballot papers

Is it me, or are Lower Hutt City's ballot papers more of a nightmare than Wellington City's ones?

September 4, 2004

www.gop.gov is broken, sort of

Well, not a news story really, but surely not the sort of thing you want to happen to your one of your party's web sites during election season, even if your party hasn't bothered with the site for a while (presumably editing the site during summer is too much work, or you're not supposed to edit it during election time).

Current screen shot of http://www.gop.gov/ on a first page load.

Curiously, the workaround is to select the link to the Spanish language version of the page, and then go back to the English version.

I wonder how the Republicans got this domain name, anyway. I recall when the whois was showing more information, I saw something along the lines of 'federal exception'.

More on electoral fun

Having had some electoral fun already, I'm reviewing the print editions of the Northern Territory News, The Australian and their weekend counterparts right now. Monday, 30 August's NT News has the sitting CLP member for Solomon not confident of winning, despite his 88 vote majority, being rather profound, saying [if] 45 people change their minds then Solomon will be a Labor seat. In the meantime Tuesday's paper quotes a CDU lecturer who reckons there's no way first preferences will settle the matter. Yummy. The Australian on Monday reviews the fight in Solomon, too, calling the same said sitting member a larrikin, but pretty much saying the same thing.

July 3's Weekend Australian, however, has a rather comprehensive feature (and very personal) story on the said sitting member. If you can get hold of the article, it's a very interesting read. The August 29 issue's website edition includes an article that notes that [there] are 24 government seats held by less than 5 per cent, while Labor has 16. As I've found previously, Solomon's at the top of the list.

[Listening to: Election Night -- Bic Runga -- Beautiful Collision (03:05)]

September 3, 2004

Fun with Air New Zealand

I've sent Stupid Security's way some links to this week's fiasco over barefoot toddlers:

Some toddlers appear to have done something even a terrorist would have trouble doing -- delaying a flight by around 40 mins by boarding barefoot. It might have been quiet, if a couple NZ members of parliament hadn't been on board. Ironically, the captain only agreed to take off after the harrassed parents found some socks. Really, Air NZ could have picked someone else for safety or security issues.

Nat Howard (I presume it's him) asks if anyone has seen the captain's side of the story. My inkling is that it's a bit like the situation with public servants -- it's a bit hard to comment publicly on something you're passionate about (or pretty much anything, really) without losing your job.

I see he's also posted something someone sent him (no external website verification, though, but interesting nonetheless) about delays on an El Al flight's arrival because a smoker needed to be dealt with by police. My only possible guess (as posted in reply) is perhaps they either wanted evidence on their second trip, or perhaps both visits were a, uh, smoke screen for something else.

Thanks for the stories, Nat. :)

September 2, 2004

Australia's 'most marginal seat'

Quick, guess which seat in Australia's House of Representatives is the most marginal?

Yes, according to the AEC's latest Electoral Newsfile, 116, it's Solomon, NT! (It's currently held by the NT CLP's David Tollner -- just.)

This will make for even better electoral fun this year, methinks.

August 29, 2004

Election time!

Yay! In the last half or quarter of an hour or so: a certain Australian prime minister has just got around to announcing that he's calling a general election.

Excellent! This ought to be the best electoral fun I've had in years. Interestingly, 9 October is also the same day for local council and DHB elections here in NZ. At least they're postal vote elections.

August 26, 2004

Hamish Carter and Bevan Docherty

Gold and silver in the men's Olympic triathlon. Enough said.

August 18, 2004

Weather

Ah, finally. The weather in Wellington and Lower Hutt suits my wardrobe! Unfortunately, it isn't the happiest of circumstances in which to be please I am able to dress well.

Pity I may have trouble getting home from school this afternoon, though.

Ironically, Linda Clark on National Radio played a certain Crowded House song -- yes, it was Weather With You -- during her show after a report on people waiting at the Wellington airport.

Oh, that and my Blosxom incarnation of this diary has been comment spammed. Grumble. I've just deleted some of the comments. Fortunately there weren't too many comments to delete, and I've now disabled comments. (On that subject, TypeKey still isn't functioning here properly yet, but I've left comments enabled so at least with the stories in this incarnation you can leave a message. Not that a lot of people have done so. But I'm not worried.)

Windows XP Service Pack 2

Just finished installing Microsoft Windows XP SP2 over the last three days. No problems yet, as I am still able to access network shares and the like so far with minimal reconfiguration, with existing settings and with the new defaults.

[Listening to: I Never Loved You Anyway -- The Corrs -- Best of the Corrs [Australia Bonus Track] (03:54)]

August 7, 2004

John Walker: modest stamp of a golden boy

Haven't posted any links to New Zealand Herald stories lately, so here's a good interview with John Walker and another on wearing Muslim face veils.

(If only Stuff allowed persistent, I might link to them. Likewise, other sites such as TVNZ's seem to go through enough changes that I can't be sure they'll retain stories. At least on their last change they appear to have sort of done so.)

[Listening to: Jingle Bells -- The Simpsons -- Songs In The Key Of Springfield (00:46)]

Random stuff

First, I want a Bluetooth rifle. Second, I don't want to download a whole new installer every time I hear of more vulnerabilities in Firefox. Third, the latest medicinal spam offers I get are for codeine.

On yeah, and ACE seem to think they're finally going to let themselves disappear into the University of Auckland. Here's wondering if it will actually happen properly, now that it's approved, from (apparently) 1 September. In the meantime the merger between WCE and VUW still wanders along in the consultation process.

[Listening to: Menelaus Remembers -- Anton Lesser -- Homer: The Odyssey [Disc 1] (05:29)]

July 30, 2004

I'm shy

Yikes. I seem to have made it into InternetNZ's annual report, just in time for today's AGM. The photograph I ended up sending them was taken by a school friend nearly four years ago.

[Listening to: The Right Time -- The Corrs -- Best of the Corrs [Australia Bonus Track] (04:08)]

In other electoral news, I finally found out today a friend got elected to a general position on the student union executive (congratulations!), and the results of the last JSF membership votes are available.

[Listening to: Only When I Sleep -- The Corrs -- Best of the Corrs [Australia Bonus Track] (03:51)]

July 24, 2004

A crazy day

Wow, those EDUC 312 readings are intense. And then I still haven't decided if I'm going to the Kohanga ball tonight yet. Then when I got told that I appear in the newspaper, having had a crazy day overall, I thought at first perhaps someone got arrested and tried to use my name.

Anyway, the conversation goes something like thus. Mark asks did you see yourself in the Herald? I wonder if someone's misidentified me with my NT namesake (that's the Northern Territory of Australia, not a certain Windows OS flavour) politician person -- and no, I'm not related to any politician in Darwin -- and that last time I thought I appeared in the paper was two years ago on the Dominion Post's second day of publication. Mark then advises me that the New Zealand Herald's Web week column people have been looking around the power house:

One big blog: This tech blog seems to run on for ever with postings about all sorts of issues affecting its owner and the world of technology at large. Good for infrequent browsing.

Run on for ever? Now that's a new one. Though it's probably accurate. :) Perhaps I should actually write about electricity policy at some stage. Education theory and policy is far more sexy at the moment, though... (I wonder what good for infrequent browsing means for this site? Not that I expected anyone to read this, but cool if they do, hey?) :)

Anyway, for those who have been visiting, I should probably mention pretty much the same thing as David: I don't update this blog every day or anything, and it varies a lot between random irrelevent rants and occasionally politics and even more occasionally some vaguely technical notes. Occasionally. However, I should add that I am more likely to wonder about education issues more than geeky stuff nowadays. After all, it is more, uh, attractive for me to write about at the moment. (Which reminds me, my Jabber server's JIT gateway is still apparently stuffed, even though the daemon happily restarts on demand. Oh dear.) There's also the minor issue at the moment that, for example, <q> and </q> tags don't have any effect whatsoever in IE at the moment. Though (in a slight plug) Mozilla browsers (and other clients) do.

But what is this diary about? Firstly I don't like the name 'blog' or 'weblog'. This is more of a diary to me, than a, uh, 'log', though more public. I write about random stuff. I have an interest in both education and teaching issues, and the odd geeky thing I've learnt (all of which culminated in me joining the InternetNZ council, where I keep an eye on all sorts of stuff, but most of all education issues). I also tend to write long soliloquies like this one over the course of a few moments, instead of several small entries. Go figure. I probably should write more about this, but I'll leave it until later.

(In the meantime, I wonder if I'm one of the 4 out of 6 that fishy knows? Small world, I know. Mmmmmmmmmmm.)

The best part about this whole exercise, though, is that I've discovered some interesting (figurative) neighbours. Groovy. And thanks to the New Zealand Herald, too. Ka kite. :)

In other news, I've done my JSF membership voting for this quarter. Mostly renewals that were solid, but still a pleasure as usual. Which also reminds me, I need to check on that Wiki of mine and somehow force it to allow self-created logins... either that or I just let anyone edit, but then I need to keep an eye out for vandals... I can't ever win. Oh yeah, DPF's little dabbling in wireless networking reminds me of the Network Stumbler sessions I've had lately. Compared to a few months ago, more and more people have discovered turning on encryption is a damned good idea, but still a fair lot of people around The Terrace through to Lower Hutt aren't doing it yet. But at least the majority are now, compared to my Network Stumbler logs from March. Essentially, the police's and New Zealand Herald's Auckland conclusions pan out in Wellington, too, as far as I can tell from my limited trips. Home users really do need to note that their networks need better-than-defaults setups. Or maybe they really do want their broadband bill to be at risk, just to make things easy for them? :S (And no, I didn't try to get free access off any AP.) Oh well, off to bed, now. :) Enough of a mega entry. Really. :)

July 2, 2004

David gets a pay rise

Well, we never did have a report on the spam workshop in the end. But not to worry. We got some good discussion in on other matters.

Speaking of which, earlier in the day (before lunch), yes -- we did vote DPF and the other officers a pay rise. And it wasn't a case of stuff being passed around -- from what I can tell, the nature of DPF's job, for example, has changed, but the president's especially.

But I don't like talking about money. So I'm leaving it there.

[Listening to: Disc 02, Track 13 -- Philip Pullman -- The Amber Spyglass [Dramatisation] Disc 2 (03:56)]

Things to do with a CityLink connection

One is to check out the streaming CityLink webcams. They appear in almost full motion, as far as I'm concerned. Top webcams I think are the Zephyrometer and Cuba Mall ones -- at Cuba Mall, one can see the 'don't walk' light on the traffic light currently located in the middle of the image flash in pretty much full motion. Mmmmm. (Well, in truth, it's not full motion, probably 15 frames per second, looking at it in an offhand way, but motion enough to see planes start to descend in the Zephyrometer webcam, and people's leg movements in Cuba Mall.)

It also seems to work well with Jabber in terms of latency. Most lag now is on the cable modem (and the associated firewall) that greta.electric.gen.nz hides behind.

But in the meantime, I'm eagerly awaiting the video clip streams from the spam workshop from R2.

(On another note, before the Bearcom forget, the latest photo shoot has Albert overeating SPAM, and regretting trying.)

The more important thing, however, about being here at InternetNZ today is, of course, the council meeting. We're currently looking at the Interop Programme, not the spam stuff yet. But I think this is a good thing -- we need the funding stuff sorted, quick smart.

InternetNZ council meeting

I'm at another InternetNZ council meeting. Nothing out of the ordinary, apart from two proposals from the previous meeting getting a mention. I'll write about them once the minutes go up, as time permits.

Pete (our executive director) is to giving us a summary of the spam workshop after a five minute break. Should be interesting.

June 26, 2004

It's a long way from Katherine: the baby bonus bungle

Clare Martin, NT Chief Minister (ALP), on the Australian PM (Liberal), in Thursday's Northern Territory News on the effect of one-off payments of $600 to territory families, which has led to more domestic violence, drunkenness and substance abuse:

'The logistics of actually managing those payments, they haven't even thought about it,' she said.

'This is a Canberra pre-election promise. Okay, it's very welcome by families but you have to look at how it's implemented.

'From John Howard's point of view, Canberra is a long way from Katherine.'

Ah, the law of unintended consequences... oops. The ATSIC people don't seem too pleased, either:

'(The Federal Government) should have staggered the payments, not give it to them all in one hit.

'The Government has just compounded the violence and drinking problem we already have in the region.'

Guess you can't get everything right. :(

June 25, 2004

Workshop notes

Having gone to the Wednesday night NZCS event, it felt as if I had the recap before the big workshop on Thursday. But no matter, as it was useful to hear the stuff beforehand.

What I didn't hear beforehand from Andrew Maurer was some detail about what was meant in Australia's Spam Act 2003 by inferred consent. As I (still) haven't read it for months (I suspect possibly even before it was passed, as well), it was interesting to see how wide a net they have cast to avoid innocents being caught up. Anthony Wing also had a few important messages. The interesting bits though were that his agency has issued 130 warnings so far, and a suggestion not to reinvent educational material. (I've heard similar things with regards to Internet safety, too, in the past.)

More on this and the InternetNZ submission later.

As if by coincidence, I received an e-mail message from Dell this morning, asking me to 'confirm' consent, for the purposes of the Australian Spam Act 2003, for staying on their books as (presumably) a marketing target, which I was happy (I know, I'm a sucker) to do, as I am pondering whether to replace a computer that seems to have a rather dodgy thermometer somewhere in it.

Thanks muchly to the kind Jeff Barr of Syndic8.com, I now have a Gmail account. The part of most interest to me was the spam filtering function. But, alas, now having my paws on a 'virgin' e-mail address is so tempting enough to consider not publishing it online to see if harvesters pick it up and start spamming it...

[Listening to: All You Wanted -- Michelle Branch -- The Spirit Room (03:38)]

June 24, 2004

Spam workshop today

Well, it's just hit midnight, which means I am off to the anti-spam legislation workshop that InternetNZ are running today. Yesterday, though, I got the opportunity to attend a joint NZCS-InternetNZ meeting in Wellington, with some of the speakers at today's workshop making an appearance. I have to say I now have an appreciation for the policy decisions the Australians made that I wasn't too keen on, courtesy of Andrew Maurer and Anthony Wing. The most important one to me is the civil remedies, as I was thinking for a while it'd be better to get black marks than financial pain (though it never was a deal killer for me). It's great that we got these two fine men along to the workshop: if their contribution today is anything to go by, they'll be great tomorrow for helping with formulating the submission to the MED. Also a good time to meet them and some of the other people involved, before the workshop, too.

Once we can get the legislation in place, I'll be very happy, and I'll feel much better about putting my efforts in the direction of educational resources for schoolchildren. Groovy.

In the meantime, there's an interesting New York Times article on some developments in technology-based verification solutions. More related stories and comment to come later in the day, when I get back from the workshop.

June 22, 2004

Where can you find an Australian flag flying?

Where can you find an Australian flag flying? Apparently John Howard wants to tie additional funding to schools to flying the flag (among other things).

For some (satirical?) reason, I'm tempted to compare them to The Register's latest 419 scam listing here and now.

Perhaps it's another 'idea', like last week's apparent pre-election vote-buying scheme?

Or maybe not. I like to give the benefit of some doubt, for some reason. Maybe I'm too generous?

Some toilet humour, a systems update, and some school results

Perhaps someone needs to select better acronyms?

On other matters, greta.electric.gen.nz is back up, until the second week of July, Philip tells me, so more overloaded load average madness on my Jabber and Mailman box is to be had until then. (Actually, it was up all the time the downstream server it hides behind was being worked on, but hey, even I couldn't access it during the downtime.)

I've also calculated what I think is my likely mark for EDUC 234, based on adding up my marks (ah, the joys of internally-assessed university papers). No such luck yet with the SOSC 111 paper I randomly picked up. That had an exam, so I'll be waiting for a while. Now, unfortunately, it's time for me to sort out my papers for next trimester. Yuck, as I smell degree planning up ahead in bright lights. Ugh, indeed. Incidentally, I see the VUW School of Education has decided to change its website. Hopefully this time the information is updated often enough, though even in its previous state, the information was still useful.

Time for bed now, methinks. I was going to write about the upcoming InternetNZ spam workshop, but I've decided to leave that until afterwards as I gather up ideas. (And yes, I'm still working on that unit plan. I might trim it for brevity, though.)

June 21, 2004

Always about money, or about e-mail address clinginess

For many Australians, it's always about the money as well as what one can extract from something... not all Australians, though, of course.

I wonder if it's about time I cynically started saying 'only in Australia'? I imagine those Centrelink staff are cursing Howard and his gang for the little flood he's caused. Or not. Oops.

Incidentally, the word I've found today in the OED is the noun ocker, or rough, uncultivated, or aggressively boorish Australian. Lively definition, that. Doesn't sound nice, though. (The Concise Oxford Dictionary expands on that to say it's an alteration of a name of some, uh, Australian television character called Oscar, whom I've never heard of before. How odd.)

I suspect, though, even an 'ocker' wouldn't like having to let their e-mail address expire. Well, if it weren't for spam, anyway.

In the meantime, I wonder if I'm made of fairy dust. Certainly we're made of stardust, apparently.

[Listening to: Love You For Always -- Mandy Moore -- I Wanna Be With You (03:21)]

June 17, 2004

How to Jabber safely (apparently)

Being a read the manual type of person, reading a fact sheet on 'safe' IM practices was kind of amusing. But, that said, serious at the same time.

A while ago, I was contemplating running an academic experiment using a chatbot I'd cobbled together using existing parts -- centericq and some external plugin implementation of Eliza. I'd have to say it did work kind of well when I were testing it -- if one were supervising it (it has a habit of suddenly causing a crash by increasing processor overload, at least last time I tried it). It did fool the odd person, but there were two problems -- it processed each message individually, and it couldn't join conference rooms, because it would reply to everything in the room, right down to the join messages. (I imagine, though, for the latter I could have used a grep or something.) I can't seem to get past the ethics issues, though, but that's mainly because I haven't had time to work on it in the last several months. Still, it was of some amusement at WCE.

What does this tell me? Like my join message on jdev@conference.jabber.org suggests, I'm not hot by any means at programming, and I worship off-the-shelf binaries from apt-get. But I like writing documentation-like stuff, which is what I suppose I can contribute to Jabber.

In the meantime, however, I'm working on a unit plan for teaching schoolchildren safe choices with regards to junk e-mail and instant messages. I've deferred work on it, however, until a workshop next week...

So, incidentally, I'll be going to an anti-spam legislation workshop in Wellington on 24 June. It should be interesting to see what sorts of stuff come up. Sure most of the spam we get in NZ comes from overseas, but we still don't want people to perceive our country as a soft touch. At least in the meantime we have a good Internet Service Provider community who tend to (by my experience or two getting a spammer run in; other people's experience may vary, I suppose) terminate spammers pretty quickly.

[Listening to: Disc 3, Track 09 -- Douglas Adams -- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [Audiobook] Disc 3 (03:08)]

Update: while typing this, someone asked me to put my chatbot back up. Turns out its home directory was a bit full, so creating a fresh account seems to have done the trick for now. Currently it's Jabber only, but I'll add back the other protocols if I see it's gonna be useful. I'm not sure if I'll leave her on all day, though. I'll have to think about that.

[Listening to: Disc 4, Track 01 -- Douglas Adams -- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [Audiobook] Disc 4 (02:57)]

June 14, 2004

Five year adult passports?

Five year passports for adults? I feel like a kid again.

[Listening to: A Wild and Distant Shore -- Michael Nyman -- The Piano [1993] (05:52)]

June 2, 2004

Going, going, gone... to Auckland

So, the VUW vice-chancellor is going... he's only taking a short drive up SH1 to the University of Auckland, not to some place overseas, however.

May 29, 2004

Melted pink toy dinosaurs

White Island's now got a pink dinosaur as a mascot, thanks to a crater webcam from GeoNet. (If the thing's finally melted, though, hydro.electric.gen.nz has a copy from 24 May.)

The scariest part of this is that it's gone on The Age over in Melbourne, and the New York Times. There's a good write up about this all in the New Zealand Herald, also home to probably one of the earliest postings about the dinosaur.

Actually, the scariest thing would be that it's appeared on Slashdot. The ultimate in knowing a site's made it. Perhaps.

The White Island Volcano Crater Webcam from 10.00am on 24 May, 2004, on hydro.electric.gen.nz, not GeoNet.

May 23, 2004

Energy drink reviews

The venerable editors of the New York Times (story tip courtesy of Slashdot) obviously have trouble finding stuff to write about, because one of their reporters seems to have gone away and reviewed energy drinks. Oh dear.

Reminds me of an Evening Post feature story I read a few years ago where a reporter and a kid drank energy drinks together. All I remember of the article offhand (I can't seem to find it in the Newztext database on Knowledge Basket) was that the child stomped off (perhaps a sugar low was involved?) grumpily after trying Lift Plus, thereby ending the exercise.

Computer loyalty

So, people feel loyalty towards particular computers... but it doesn't feel like it at the more popular VUW SCS computer locations. People seem more desperate to do stuff than worry about which computer they'll get.

More SCS workstations, perhaps? Or maybe we should get a points-based loyalty programme for all our trouble waiting.

[Listening to: Paradise -- Vanessa Carlton -- Be Not Nobody (04:50)]

May 22, 2004

Never underestimate the weather

Yesterday's Northern Territory News print edition on page 13 talks about the luck of an unnamed television network's crew securing their pricey stuff under a tarpaulin after what it called an unseasonal downpour, which blew away pretty quickly. Too bad they didn't go to check, because when the crew went back, the rag says, all they found was a pile of expensive junk.

(If I were superstitious, I'd have said it were payback for some news organisations refusing the Joanne Lees offer of 'controlled' images of her in return for a charitable donation. Hrm.)

Moral for anyone who's spent five minutes in Darwin: watch out for anything.

And secure your tarpaulins really well. If you dare use them in the first place in an 'unusual' storm. Silly television news crews. :) (After all, lightning storms come out of nowhere when one is around. Makes good entertainment if you're really stuck for things to do but you have a good balcony or verandah to watch the light show.)

[Listening to: Anticipating -- Britney Spears -- Britney [Australia Bonus Tracks] (03:16)]

May 17, 2004

Argentine presidents

I've just finished watching something (while getting ready for bed, of course) from Reporters on BBC World, talking about the IMF and Argentina via TVNZ right now. Wow, an Argentine president that doesn't hold cabinet meetings, doesn't bother with bodyguards and still walks the streets outside his modest abode in his hometown. Groovy.

May 15, 2004

Cheating during quiz nights

Here's a great way to cheat during quiz evenings.

May 8, 2004

The Hotel Alcatraz Auckland

Fancy the possibility of staying the night in a (former) prison? The worst prison, however, will be trying to get a copy of the Windows XP SP2 installer. Great. For others, it might be e-mail stalking, which is (supposedly) happening more often. (I'm surprised The Register missed IM stalking, which I consider a much more real form. Hmmm.)

Meanwhile, happen to want a professorship no one seems to want? As for Intel, they seem to be warming to their mobile processors.

[Listening to: Paint It Black -- Vanessa Carlton -- Be Not Nobody (03:31)]

May 4, 2004

Adware-type wireless?

Slashdot has some fun stuff today. First thing I noticed was a free wireless hotspot Internet access idea, which hopefully doesn't mean adware browsing to send me nuts (which it would). But the BBC starting to trial video on demand stuff that they suggested a year or two ago might happen is good.

Weird stuff comes up, too: Kevin Mitnick becomes a hero for a day, while some people in India spend all day clicking on banner ads.

On a completely different subject, I checked out the latest release of Mozilla Thunderbird last night. Whew! It now has an installer.

May 3, 2004

Hedges

No, not the bushy sort -- more like politicians not being able to make up their minds.

May 2, 2004

More old photographs

Looks like the New Zealand Herald does indeed make a habit of using old file photos, after all.

April 28, 2004

Photos of Prebble

There's an interesting 1983 photo of Richard Prebble at the New Zealand Herald right now.

And there's possibly more jobs for Whenuapai, and lots more for Auckland Grammar. Aucklanders... how big will it all get? :)

On the bright side, despite it being Microsoft, looks like there's going to be more New Zealand language packs for Windows and Office. Useful. Last year's macron input drivers have proved rather useful for my study.

April 26, 2004

It's official

It's official, sadly. At least for Bruce Simpson, perhaps. Things get murky in certain situations. On the bright side, his Aardvark column still seems to be running, despite the monetary 'issues' he's been having.

All the best, Bruce. Shouldn't have happened to such a person like you.

April 24, 2004

Politicians on television?

What? Our parliamentarians might finally get a television channel screening parliamentary stuff that they've always wanted? The long-running radio broadcasts are already very enlightening... :)

In other New Zealand Herald articles, there's worries from Monte Cassino veterans that they might not be able to go, and speculation on what Mossad might want in NZ.

April 21, 2004

While you were away...

With greta.electric.gen.nz now hopefully more stable, time to check out more news stories!

Looking at InternetNZ-related things, some people are really unrepentant when it comes to saying 'I did nothing wrong' (or something like it). And if only people would be more up front about their wireless Internet coverage -- meanwhile, across Auckland, looks like Pitcairn Island is a British territory -- for now.

On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, the produces of The Simpsons seem to have problems with their actors' contracts.

Oh well. Some fun stuff appears to have happened while the server was needing some taking care of. :)

April 10, 2004

Buried treasure challenge

Here's a challenge: try to find meeting agendas for the Hutt City Council -- without using Google or some other search engine.

Hansard fun

If only someone would actually table a large chocolate egg in Parliament...

With lots of fat, no less, it would seem.

April 7, 2004

Wrestling spammers (and three electoral agencies)

Time for another poke at various news items, kids! To kick things off, everyone seems to be reporting an Irish college student catching a spammer in the act, including the usual comments from Slashdot users, not to mention . The 'teeth' data destruction method on the USB storage key started becoming a bit disturbing when the spammer also tried to use some of his spirit on one of the police helping out with arresting him.

Maybe wrestling with three electoral agencies in NZ rather than one spammer is harder work, though. Or maybe wrestling with two NZ universities is more tiring? I wonder if trying to kill off 218 middle schools in New York City compares, though, especially in light of the NZ intermediates and middle schools having faced the 'network review' process or living the hell.

On an aside, one reason not to plagiarise is that you find you have to 'retire'.

April 5, 2004

There it goes...

Oh well, my chances for a flight on Concorde have disappeared... :(

At least there's always a chance I could go see one in Scotland, though, especially when Edinburgh is one of the places in the world I'd love to visit at some stage. :)

April 2, 2004

Michael King

Too soon, too soon... :(

(By the way, I'm at an InternetNZ meeting on spam right now.)

March 30, 2004

Interviewing oneself

Seemingly interviewing oneself could be amusing.

March 29, 2004

New television stations don't happen every day

A new television station doesn't begin broadcasting every day, and nor do shows about New Zealand's best ever (deceased, alas) comedian start screening. :)

March 28, 2004

Solving the renaming problem

Well, there's now a window renaming solution for the constant changes of name for the browser that's currently known as Firebird. :)

March 26, 2004

Friends

It's such a cool thing when you discover you have more friends than you thought you did, and friendships you already had are stronger than you thought they were.

Well, I met heaps of friends around school today. Thank you and good seeing you all, everybody! :)

On a completely unrelated note, cane toads and introduced grasses are threatening Kakadu National Park's ecosystem. Uh oh. :(

March 24, 2004

Address block oddness

I see there's a lot of rather interesting organisations on the ARIN IP address ERX project lists. Examining a not-so-random sample of NZ registrants, I wonder how many of them actually still know they have a block of addresses literally lying about?

March 23, 2004

Format shifting

I wonder if using Windows Media Player's digital filtering stuff (it digitally 'reads' the disc, as opposed to using an analogue method) means I'm illegally format shifting a CD? Quick, I should stop playing my soundtrack from Jane Campion's The Piano and stop my VCR from recording Joan of Arcadia! Oh wait, that's not on television here at the moment. (Actually, I thought using a VCR is time shifting anyway, not format shifting. Or many local law is different from the mighty USA. Dunno.)

March 20, 2004

25 times the fun

Would you pay 25 to 50 times what you'd pay at other places to do photocopying at $5 per page at the High Court? Presumably not, if you could help it.

March 19, 2004

Gift clocks, not war

So, it was a clock from a foreign government being reshipped that blocked The Terrace yesterday. Oops. (I didn't seem to notice it myself. How odd. Oh well.)

March 14, 2004

Five minutes is all it takes!

I remember that I liked the NT within five minutes of arriving in Darwin. I wonder if that makes me a Territorian?

March 6, 2004

A (pure) dingo stole my shopping bag!

Looks like, apparently, in 50 years' time you won't be able to say a dingo stole your baby. Or get shopping bags without charge in NSW.

March 5, 2004

Hell freezing over

Sometimes it looks like hell has frozen over in Parliament, even though it happens regularly. The newspapers just seem to bury it, if they report it at all. I think.

March 2, 2004

Someone actually bought one?

What, people have actually 'bought' a SCO Linux IP licence?

Yikes.

[Listening to: Jingle Bells - The Simpsons - Songs In The Key Of Springfield (00:46)]

March 1, 2004

General madness

On top of starting a paper at VUW, there was some excitement (uh, madness) to be had. The results of the excitement might be posted later in the week. I'm just creating some vapourware-type hype right now.

[Listening to: Everywhere - Michelle Branch - The Spirit Room (03:36)]

In other madness, however, a lecture I randomly (or not so randomly) turned up to was interrupted by a lecturer to send vibes to some certain about-to-win-everything-they-were-nominated-for Academy Award nominees in Los Angeles. Seeing other New Zealanders nominated was also just as amusing in all the pre-prizegiving craziness. Luckily, the fun was spread around with at least one other crazy set of 'awards' being handed out. Looks like I will have to watch the late news on television to look out for apparently witty Billy Crystal quotes.

[Listening to: If Only She Knew - Michelle Branch - The Spirit Room (04:19)]

I must also stop listening to music tonight. Sleep is becoming so tempting right now...

February 28, 2004

Upgrade time!

Another 'upgrade' time for Windows soon, I suppose. Argh. Let me guess... it will cost me an arm and a leg, and maybe half my torso.

February 25, 2004

Argh! Keywords!

Nooooo! AOL-style keywords on the TVNZ website, referenced on station identifier clips on air! I'm not sure what is worst, the keyword thing or the nzoom.com website.

On another side of life, I didn't know medical textbooks could cost $800. Yikes. At least in this case they're going to a really cool cause.

February 16, 2004

Stuck in Lower Hutt

While I'm stuck in Lower Hutt unable to get into Wellington due to the weather after advice from traffic police not to attempt travel, here's some articles I've been holding out posting for a few days.

Firstly, in Germany, one city council has decided Linux is so easy even a woman could use it. Elsewhere, Kuro5hin doesn't seem to like Movable Type. (I'd stick with Blosxom, but like with the previous software, it just took too long and I as of now still don't have the time to rectify it. Maybe in a month or two I will.)

Onto technical things, I'm looking at installing a comments filtering system. However, it seems I get few enough comments one side of me is saying I don't need it. But then I wouldn't have to look at my diary so often for people desperate for Google rankings. Personally, I'd rather not use things to defeat PageRanks. Mumble. And Nikster really does need to get her GnuPG key signed eventually, after one aborted attempt. That and I am for now using Firefox as my usual browser for personal interest. It seems kinda funky, though I'm not too keen on the second name change. Oh well. Reminds me of the naming problems for some characters in the Tintin comic strip series.

February 13, 2004

Let's buy just the blank and extraneous tracks!

Is it me, or will North Americans buy just about anything, even blank bits from digitised CD albums from online music stores?

Yikes. Some have even been thinking of buying just the blank bits (thanks to automated ripping processes) from albums if I've read the article correctly.

Cute... and mucky... and leaky...

Awwwwww... stories of diaries of love and love beyond death are always sooooo cute...

Continuing in the muck of education-related stories from the New York Times, at another university in the US, they're trying to do anything for a few more dollars. Yikes. I wonder if VUW would try this one? (I'd say it's unlikely though, as they're filling international student places like crazy, it would seem.) And as for muck itself, seems like New York schools have, uh, toilet [quality] problems.

[Listening to: Candy - Mandy Moore - I Wanna Be With You (03:55)]

At least they haven't got, shock horror, their monopolistic IP leaking and floating around on the Internet... but then, it's only Microsoft's closely guarded Windows code. Or so they claim. On the other hand, what did they expect, letting selected customers look at the code? It was bound to come out eventually. From the BBC write up:

Hackers with the code could exploit the operating system and access machines running Windows.

Exploit? Sure, but open source stuff does open its code and by logic assumes that sorta thing would happen... and I think it strengthens it. However, Windows is a commercial product and all that. Still...

Cute, mucky and leaky. I like it. Now, for some appropriate music...

[Listening to: Into Temptation - Crowded House - Recurring Dream: The Very Best Of Crowded House (04:34)]

February 3, 2004

Cool library databases

One good thing about enrolling at a tertiary institution is the nice databases most private and public sector organisations probably wouldn't subscribe to, with the odd exception of a government agency. The problem is when they don't subscribe to the more popular ones, but hey, it's better than nothing. :) On a related subject, it may help being prepared when one randomly visits a university. :) Hehehe.

[Listening to: Good Morning Baby - Bic Runga - Beautiful Collision (Bonus Disc) (03:29)]

January 31, 2004

What ever happened to being straight up about something?

One of the joys of reading the New York Times on occasion is the odd feature that provokes my attention, such as one on religion being below the surface on websites. On a basic level, I don't have a problem with people using other website content as a drawcard, but I also don't see the problem with people being upfront about their religious motives. At least people can browse one's content keeping their (hopefully honest and well meant) spiritual/religious motives in mind. Then everyone is hopefully happy... or not.

Other stuff I saw on the visit was the latest list of the United States' Iraq war dead. It reminds me of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode (no time to search for it, sorry) where Captain Sisko gives up reading the list of the latest Starfleet dead in the Dominion War. Ick.

On another subject, I think I'll maintain both the Blosxom and Movable Type versions of my/this diary; I'll probably rename the other to something like tph, Blosxom edition, I suppose.

Treaty issues, alias positive discrimination

What noone has seemed to bring up is that that Don Brash speech was actually about people getting fed up about positive discrimination, as far as I see it. There must be a middle ground people can be persuaded to take at some point. I still see what people in the United States call 'affirmative action' of benefit (despite referenda going crazy), but using the Treaty of Waitangi to try and throw it all out isn't good. Ridding ourselves of the flavour of positive discrimination wholesale is bound to cause more injustices; we need that middle space.