Thoughts on teaching, technology, learning and life in an era of change.

Archive for January, 2005

Clicking on the "Next Blog" button #2
January 30th, 2005

Before I had came across the blog referred to below I had a surprising experience. The first blog that surfaced after clicking the “Next Blog” button was this one: “The Angry Arab News Service

The next blog that turned up after clicking the “Next Button” was this: “Love One Another“.

How is that for an interesting juxtaposition?

Clicking on the "Next Blog" button #1
January 30th, 2005

I just randomly came across this blog after clicking the “Next Blog” button. It is authored by a person named Peter Faris. He indicates he is “Proud to be Australian” and that his blog contains politically incorrect views. At least he is up front. I do not always have the guts to be as open as he is in his blog.

I disagree with most but agree with some of the stuff he publishes. Unlike Peter I do find it hard to be a “proud Australian” at times. Ever since Pauline Hanson made her maiden speech in parliament and the actions of the Liberal Party in supporting Bush, establishing detention centres, etc it has been somewhat embarrassing to be an Australian.

When travelling and also working overseas, being an Australian wasn’t such a big issue. You were just an Australian. That was fine. But since 1996 it has perceptibly changed. People question me about Hanson, Howard and the like and I have to answer those questions. It is uncomfortable and it makes me feel frustrated. I apologise for the actions of the Hansons and the Howards and reassure my inquisitor that not all Australians have such narrow minded views although I think now I may be wrong there having returned to this country after a stint overseas.

Anyway, back to Peter Faris’ blog. He writes about the left and the right and terrorists and so on. It made me think. So I wrote this as a comment in his blog:

“What’s the point of being left or right? What’s the point of being patriotic or not? Being left is a problem. Being right is a problem. Patriotism in any form is a problem. Life everywhere would be pleasant if patriotism and politics didn’t interfere in our daily lives. Patriotism is becoming jingoism in this country.

What difference will being right or being left make when you are dead and buried? Just get on with life. Enjoy a meal, have a drink, go for a walk, paint a picture, listen to some music, read a book. If we continue to worry the way we do we will all go to an early grave, one way or another.

The left and the right in Australia are identical anyway. Go and live in several other countries… in several continents and then you may understand how pointless it really is to unswervingly sit in any camp.

We will all be dead one day anyway. We will all be forgotten soon. Why waste time and energy pontificating the way that you/we do? If you are so committed to your views why don’t you join an army and really face up to someone with differing views to your own (or that of the political leaders that sent you).

We live on an insignificant planet surrounded by an infinite number of galaxies and stars and here we are preoccupied with freedom, terrorism, politics and money. What a waste of time and energy!”

Sharing a printer over a WLAN with OSX and XP Part 2
January 30th, 2005

A few entries back I described how a PC laptop running Windows XP was able to access a printer on a wireless LAN. The printer was connected to the WLAN via an Apple Airport Express station. Anyway, the IP address of the Apple Airport Express station would change depending on what we had switched on and off and this was a bugger because I had to reconfigure the relevant TCP-IP port settings on the PC laptop.

I thought there must be another way and I considered making the IP address of the Apple Airport Express station static. A colleague suggested distributing the IP addresses from the modem/router and not from the Airport Extreme Base station.

But, in the end, a wise friend, David, suggested I download Rendezvous for Windows Technology Preview 3. I did and it is sensational!

I downloaded the file on to the PC laptop, installed the software, restarted the machine and then launched the Rendezvous Printer Wizard. In a couple of clicks the printer was located and made the default printer. Brilliant!

Compared to the twenty three steps required to achieve the same thing via Windoze XP what can I say? Thanks David! Thanks Apple! Thanks ZeroConf Working Group!

The ubiquitous iPod
January 29th, 2005

Green iPod, originally uploaded by John Larkin.

My wife, Shao Ping, spotted this advert in a magazine the other day. The iPod looks rather tawdry and lacks the simplicity and purity of the original design.

iPods have become so ubiquitous. Local Honda dealers offer an iPod if you buy a particular vehicle. Even our local butcher has a deal where you can win an iPod. It is an interesting match… get a juicy red beef steak and an iPod mini to boot.

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald today echoes these sentiments to some extent. Eddie Perfect, a Melbourne-based composer, actor and comedian, writes “However, my disappointment at not getting an iPod has since turned into cynicism. I now have an “issue” with the lovable iPod. It seems to me that as the technology to store more music on ever-smaller devices grows, the diversity and range of music available to us is shrinking. The irony of technology is that we now have musical audio space equivalent to all the shelving in the New York State Library, yet we have the cultural capacity to fill it only with Ralph magazines.”

Perfect, goes on to say that “if you picked up someone else’s iPod, you’d discover the painful truth: people are scarily the same, and growing more alike. I’m sure all of us would like to believe we’re individuals, but the music marketing machine ensures that most of the kids on the street don’t listen outside the box. It would be foolish to underestimate the extent to which the major recorded music corporations dictate and control our tastes.” So we are enamoured by the technology but the music is still coming off second best. Money needs to be spent on encouraging diversity and originality in music.

It seems the “i” in iPod no longer relates to Internet, information technology or the like. The “i” in iPod now relates to that vain, mindless sensibility that broadcasts, “Look at me, I have an iPod”.

On a different, yet related wavelength, I have had these completely irrational thoughts regarding iPod ownership of late. I see some individuals with iPods and I think to myself, what a waste. What will they listen to? Will they get maximum use out of the device? It is probably just jealousy masked as snobbery to be honest. I secured the original 1st generation 5 gig iPod three years ago. Still works and is chock a block with songs that could last 2.8 days non stop. Surely that makes me cooler than an iPod-mini toting teenager?

The building blocks
January 27th, 2005

The building blocks, originally uploaded by John Larkin.

These are two pictures of some chromosomes. On the left they are carefully ordered and numbered. The clever ones amongst you will be able to figure out the gender of the patient. On the right they are straight out of the nucleus of the cell. The interesting thing about these chromosomes is that they are actually mine.