July 29, 2004

Thank Goodness for post-grad students

No really. I actually very much enjoy my classes (even if I am exhausted after class). I enjoy the stimulation, the ideas and the sophistication of debate. And after reading some of the stuff that's being submitted by undergrads this evening, I have to say I appreciate you all even more.

Any student looking for an extension on any assessment items would be well advised to email me tonight in light of this particular tsunami of good will.

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Think different.

I'm so glad to see the geeks are back at what they do best: hacking. In this story from engadget, the resident geeks used an iPod to record sounds made by infra-red (IR) remote controls, and then converted the sounds back to IR with a simple program. Add an IR transmitter to the headphone jack on the iPod, and it could then do all the functions of all other remotes as "songs" in its repetoire. Might take a while to scroll thru functions to find what you wanted to do, but instead of having 5 or 6 remote controls sitting on your coffee table it's far more sexy just having the one iPod.

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July 28, 2004

It's late, I'm still at work

... and I still haven't had a chance to catch up with the people I wanted to speak to this week. But on the good side, I managed to get through a day wearing contact lenses - my first in a week. Now to get home and sleep for a week. No wait. I have work to do and I have to get it done tonight. And then I have meetings and have to teach all day tomorrow. And then I have meetings on Friday. And then I have functions on Saturday and have to work all day Sunday. And then I have a tonne of marking and more admin and preparation next week.

So maybe I'll get to sleep in about a month.

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Wicked!

My inner geek just trembles with the extreme coolness of Cassini's latest image of the Moon, Mimas. But along with every other geek, my first reaction elicits a Star Wars quotation; "That's no moon". Of course, it is a moon in this case. But gee, it looks like the Death Star.

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Awwwwwwwww

I love this story, not just because it's a cute story from the bird's perspective but because of Department of Conservation staff member, Warwick Murray's interpretation of what the tomtit thought. I'm sure "Bugger that, I'm going home" is just precisely what he thought :-)

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July 26, 2004

Note to self

Good music to mark assignments to. Strong reality check.

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Numercial naming

According to the flash WordCount service, my name could also be represented 11316 22193. Now there's trivia for you.

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July 25, 2004

Mmmf

I rather suspect the eye problems I'm having are viral. Have spent the entire weekend either working or sleeping but uniformly feeling crappy. Thanks to those people who did try to cheer me up over the weekend. Apologies to those I could not get back to.

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July 24, 2004

Happy Birthday AG!

A special happy birthday wish to my big brother, Andy Grace (or Andrew, Grassi or AG as I know him). Be well and be happy, AG. Love you heaps.

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The rest of the terror in the skies story

Stanford PhD student, Clinton Taylor, has followed up on the Annie Jacobsen story I covered a week ago. He has confirmed the middle eastern men were indeed musicians and that the paranoia was unfounded. But it's actually what he says after the light-hearted expose of the Iraqi Wayne Newton that matters: he notes that the actions of flight staff - or rather, the inaction - failed utterly to prevent terror in the skies. This is what terrorism is all about: engendering fear in the hearts and minds of all people, regardless of whether an actual threat exists.

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July 23, 2004

Oh. My. God.

Want an Extreme Makeover? Join the US Army!

(And thanks for the good wishes re: my eye. After seeing a doc, I now have some serious eye drops that I have to take every 2 hours. Last night I set my iPaq to wake me every 2 hours for more drops. Ick.)

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July 22, 2004

Ouch!

I've managed to totally stuff up my eyes again. My left eye kind feels like it's got skewers stuck into it and it's rubbing against some fairly rough grade sandpaper, and all light just provides instantaneous stabbing pain and heat, so that tears stream down my face. Oh joy.

But other than that things are fine. How're you?

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July 20, 2004

Blog "statistics"

In my latest post to my Blog Research blog, I calculate the significance of the e-Marketer statistics on viability of blog readers as a demographic cohort primed for advertising. My conclusion? 1.37% of the US population isn't anything to get excited about.

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The Stepford Wives

Thanks to Camilla for joining me at a film that could probably be described in the same way I heard I, Robot reviewed: it's not a disaster, it's just a mess. There were times when The Stepford Wives was hysterically funny - almost in the order of Absolutely Fabulous-style funny. But it quickly shifts to the original and dark tale of domination, in a manner I thought was going to work until it just failed to become even remotely frightening and disturbing. The thing is, I think the film could have been really incredibly successful travelling between slapstick comedy and sheer horror. It just never got there. And while Frank Oz and Scott Rudin echoed the original 1970s film in several scenes - including the fabulous final scene from the original film where the women meet in a grocery store, drifting mindlessly yet exquisitely down the aisles, greeting each other in dulcet tones - Rudin and Oz also take the original script a lot further, producing the "happy ending" for a comedy, or at least the kind of conclusion to be expected in Hollywood. That ending doesn't work. Oh well.

Still I have to say where The Stepford Wives is funny - keeping in mind that the original film was unmistakeably a dark and horrific drama - this version is really exceedingly funny. So it's almost worth seeing it for the comic repartee between Bette Midler and Nicole Kidman (the latter rehashing her To Die For character with appropriate cartoonish exaggeration, although her eyes frequently unintentionally fill with tears of laughter). But if you do see it, please go hunt down the original film from the local video store, sit down in a quiet, dark room and watch it for its mastery of the moral debate it explored. It's disturbing in the way AI (starring Hayley Joel Osment) was disturbing. The original Stepford was a far better film than AI but the message was similar... when men play God, they forget what it is to be human.

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July 18, 2004

Good weekends

Have spent a great weekend with friends. Thanks to Kevin for brunch on Saturday and a cosy coffee debating the finer points of Blade Runner and friendship :-) Then spent Sunday with work friends at Glengariff winery at Dayboro, listening to the fabulous Darryl and Toby whose fabulous jazzy tones really made a superb day!

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July 17, 2004

Reinitialising fear of flying

In probably one of the most important examples of the power of a single printed story, Women's Wall Street has published the story of Annie Jacobsen, who with her husband and small child, boarded a four-and-a-half hour flight from Detroit to Los Angeles and witnessed during the trip what could only be described as behaviour consistent with terrorist activities.

The story made me very uncomfortable indeed. While I have much more faith in Australian airlines than I would have in US airlines, I find it doubtful that air crew would behave in the manner described by Jacobsen. At the very least I can imagine an unscheduled stop during the flight to deal with any possible concerns. Other bloggers have already captured this story, and Michelle Maulkin is running a continuous check on the accuracy of the story's claims (see here and here). The details have been confirmed from a number of sources, but the difficulty is not whether or not the story is accurate, but whether or not there is a growing paranoia about the activities of people based on collective behaviours and race.

Of course I recognise the true implications of potential terrorist activities. I imagine I myself would have found the experience described by Jacobsen as deeply disturbing. Perhaps also, as a single woman without children, I can speak with a degree of fatalism about the possibility of being involved in a terrorist act: I have less to lose than many. But I am extremely concerned about two aspects in this story. Firstly, there is no doubt that race and cultural behaviours are targeted. The behaviours of the middle-eastern men on the flight are profiled and even described as "bizarre". But secondly, the act of some mainstream media organisations in burying the story is perhaps just as concerning. The fourth estate functions of journalism fail where stories are not explored. It would have been possible to introduce this topic in a far less controversial fashion than has now occurred, if the media had reported on the possibility of a security risk and the resolution of the problem. Now there can be nothing but suspicion and hatred of Syrians in the US.

But now it's been blogged, it's almost certain this will hit mainstream media by Monday. Probably tomorrow. Watch the share price of airlines plummet, and the fear of flying rise. And worst of all, watch racism rise and rise again.

Posted by jj at 07:25 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 16, 2004

Article is out

My article with Jeremy Williams has just come out in AJET. Unfortunately,you won't be able to read it unless you're a subscriber for another month or two (when electronic databases kick in) but it is good to see it in eprint. The text edition will be at the office some time next week so I'm looking forward to that. In the meantime I have about 2/3 of the article ready for the Australian Journal of Publishing and Culture so I should finish that this weekend.

I'm really tired this week. I wonder why?

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July 14, 2004

There's a house floating across the sky

No, I'm not insane, or on recreational substances. A hot-air balloon shaped like a giant house has just floated past my house. Only the basket beneath is almost invisible, so it just looks like a floating house. It's the kind of image which makes you think you really ought to go back to bed.

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July 12, 2004

Tech "news"

So Microsoft has hired a former search-engine hacker. So what?!? How can this possibly be news, according to the Associated Press? Hackers - in the true sense of the term - have been setting themselves up to be hired by the major software companies for decades. For some, this has been their employment strategy. Why exactly do journalists consider this to be a problem?

In other news, I was invited to do a talkback program on blogs and blogging for Radio National tonight, but am unable to assist as I have to teach. Feel free to listen in to my colleague, Axel Bruns, who has kindly agreed to take my place on that forum.

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Home

Home again, home again, jiggety jig. Good to be back. Shame about the headcold. Busy week teaching ahead (18.5 hours face-to-face). Will blog it if I'm up to it.

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July 10, 2004

Update

Things have improved. I have been moved to a better room in the complex where I am staying (about a million times better) which has working facilities and - best of all - is quiet. The conference ended well and I have indeed retired from the position of Secretary/Treasurer of the organisation. I will be maintaining my position as webmaster, and plan to use some software I saw demonstrated last week to improve the site dramatically. I also managed to score $200 of books from McGraw Hill by putting my business card in a draw. Nice :-) I have also seen my brother and sister-in-law today and am having dinner with them tonight. And finally, I have had access to my brother's broadband connection to despam this blog. So things are looking up. Home tomorrow - you guys had better have the evidence of parties at my place cleaned up!!!

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July 08, 2004

I should also add...

HUGE thanks to my brother and his gorgeous wife for at least doing their level best to look after me while I'm in this mess. El and Andrew insisted on my taking an extra blanket and a heater back to this horrid rathole of a hotel room and they let me watch the footy at their place (because the TV here didn't work).

I'd also like to thank Dan and co. for looking after my place while I am away. You guys have no idea of how jealous I am of you right now.

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July 07, 2004

Never ever ever ever ever ever ever again

I'm exhausted. I got up at 4am to catch a 6am flight to Sydney where it's been cool and wet today and the conference I'm attending has been situated in one of the coldest buildings of all time. My "hotel" is a glorified backpackers place and my "room" is a converted balcony with no noise proofing AT ALL and I'm directly in front of a main road. I'm cold, I'm tired and I can't sleep. And I can't find ANY alternative accommodation in Sydney. Plus, to cap it all off, Queensland lost in the footy.

Next time there's school holidays, Origin football and a religious festival on in Sydney I will not be coming, no matter what.

Posted by jj at 11:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 06, 2004

Back to teaching...

GSN447 Strategic Internet Marketing is probably the subject I most enjoy teaching. Odd that, as I didn't write it. Perhaps I just play with it more. Or perhaps it's just that I'm a little wicked, and internet marketing as a discipline is just full of opportunities to be argumentative and introspective. So in other words, it's fun. Thanks to my class for being enthusiastic, in spite of my glasses in class. I promise to wear contacts next week.

Thanks also must go to the people who are looking after my place whilst I am in Sydney in coming days. Please, no parties. I get upset when I'm not invited.

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July 05, 2004

Weirdness points

* It got to 28° Celsius today in Brisbane. The last couple of nights have been warm too - 16° and 14° respectively. This is good after a week of cold nights but it's a bit ridiculous for winter. Nice though. I'm not complaining.

* Apparently the entire queer crew at QUT are gothics. At least if the Queer Collaborations crew are anything to go by (the group I passed on my way to a Committee meeting today), this is the case. I've never been a big fan of gothic styles and clothing (as far as I'm concerned there are about half a dozen people in the world who can actually look good in goth), but it's just depressing that the fabulous queer fashions I used to envy are no more. Oh well. Thank goodness for the Fab 5 in Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. At least a few of them understand what it is to look good.

* I have already packed for Sydney. That's a record for me. I never pack more than 12 hours before my flight. This time it's 36 hours. I think I might be going in to organisational overdrive. Either that or I need a hobby.

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Procedures and personal messages

I'm just reporting I'll be away in Sydney from Wednesday till Sunday at the ANZCA Conference (full paper available shortly). I'm finishign up with my duties as Secretary/Reasurer of that organisation at the Executive and AGM for that organisation - and just in time. I've taken over as Faculty Chair of the On Line Teaching Group and Faculty rep on the University Steering Committee and have also been co-opted into working parties on guidelines for technology use in assessment practices. Plus I have to teach 18 hours face-to-face next week. Mmm. So life doesn't seem to be getting any easier.

In personal messages, a belated Happy Birthday to my friend, Robin, based in London. Miss you babe. Also birthday wishes to my friend, Kevin, for Wednesday. Thanks for everything, Kev. You rock my world.

Finally, my best to the poms, Steve and Pav, for their army exercises over the next few weeks. I promise you guys I'll be there to celebrate when you're next free. And Pav? I apologise for sending messages to Steve via your phone. Steve, hon? Get a phone!

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July 04, 2004

Good times, bad times

Had a bit of trouble with my back lately and been a bit overstressed with workload. However, I am progressing, even if I am frequently interrupted with pain. Wanted to say thanks to my dear friend Michelle and her partner Michael for sharing some of their holiday with me up at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday - was great to see you guys and just take time away from work.

On the tech front (and because it's 4:30 in the morning and I haven't been able to sleep for the past couple of hours) I'm interested in both the stories coming out of WIRED this week on patents and the Google code. On the patents issue, the Electronic Frontiers Foundation have listed the top ten patents they want redefined or thrown out under US intellectual property law because they see these patents as an infringement on rights to freedom of speech. What I find extraordinary about this 'hit list' of patents is how they were approved in the first place. Surely this is evidence that US Trademark law needs some renovation? Why should it be possible, for instance, for a trademark to exist which limits the generation, distribution, storing and performing of musical work files, or the transmission and receipt of digital content via the Internet, cable, satellite and other means? This seems patently - pardon the pun - absurd.

As far as the Google code is concerned, I will be interested to see how the case against Google, and raised by a small social networking software company progresses in coming months. It will end up being a test case more for human relations and corporate intellectual property ownership than for software in my humble opinion. When a talented staff member is head hunted by a large operation (or even a small one) and the new company takes advantage of that person's talents by using their software in their operations, it seems to me bad luck if the first company has failed to recognise value or provide a foundation for development of their former employee's ideas. But is this case succeeds then all work you do at a previous company may be subject to intellectual property violation. Apparently if you are bright enough to get a better job or capitalise on your ideas, you should instantly clear your head and start from scratch to create new content. That's going to happen. Not.

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