Towel Heads

25 01 2014

I have a friend who I’ve known for a long time, in fact we met at Primary School in the 70’s.

He lives in Alice Springs and I rarely get to see him, but He has kept in touch.

He’s one of those people who, although online, is fearful of using the internet properly, He uses e-mailand that’s his limit.

So, Every week I can look forward to an e-mail full of memes from five years ago.

But lately, He’s been sending me a fair bit of racist memes, concerning “Towel Heads”, I think most of you will understand what those posts would contain.

Now if I were some sort of racist bogan, my little racist bogan mind, might decide that since I’m a fourth generation Aussie, with some Aboriginal blood in me, That I’d be well within my rights to call him a Wog, since his parents were clearly not Australian themselves.

That however, is not me.

This is me.

One sunny day at Kingsville Primary school, I found a gangly boy standing under a gum tree, crying. He was a funny looking kid, mostly because his mum made him wear the shortest of short shorts which gave him the appearance of having the longest, skinniest legs, a bit like a daddy long-legs spider.

I walked up to this kid, and I asked him why he was crying.

He told me that he’d been called a “German Sausage” (His Dad is German, His Mum Yugoslav), and he was clearly hurt by this.

I had been the butt of jokes myself, so I introduced myself, and from that day on, we were firm friends.

Our Parents also made friends with each other.

Years later I went to his 21st Birthday Party, and Attended his wedding, He married a Woman who adored him, and I’m proud to say they are still together today.

Tonight, I plan to remind him how we had met, and I hope a little guilt sets in.


The Patriot

22 01 2013

It’s Australia Day soon, and I don’t really care for it.

I’m not Patriotic, I’m not one of those people who wrap themselves in a flag and somehow think they’re superior to everyone else.

When I was a kid, Mum was aware of certain Mothers who would be asked to come to the office to discuss a problem child.

“Oh No, Not MY little boy, You see He’s a perfect little angel, He’d never do anything like that, It must’ve been the child sitting next to him” they’d say.

Patriotism is just that, an imagined perfection in our own culture, it blinds people to ones own problems, which is a shame, because we know that if someone can admit they have a problem, then they can do something about improving themselves.

Oh look, I do love the country, I especially love the natural aspects of it, I’m just not, and never will be, a patriot.

Why is an Australian so concerned about the US Elections?

5 10 2012

StoreThe guy following me on twitter asked me why I was so concerned about the US Elections, Why would it matter to an Australian?

Well, There’s a lot of reasons.

I’m concerned about the welfare of my friends who live there, I hope that they have access to good healthcare when they need it, and that they have access to Government assistance so they can keep their homes going in difficult times.

The tide is turning for Gay people as it has for black people and women, there may come a time soon where marriage equality is standard practice for everyone.

There are some who would give no rights to gay people, and hope they go to church more often, to “pray the gay away”, they want to pull us all back to the dark ages, while I would rather step proudly into the future.

That said, I don’t think we’re as helpful to minorities and women as we ought to be, equality for all is the only way, and any future leader should embrace this.

No government should come between who we love and our bodily functions.

I want someone who sees science as a wonderful thing which we can use to build a better world, and I’d rather there was more atheism in the mix, it’s time that religion was let go as a relic of the past. A leader who embraces these concepts would be well worth having.

Someone who sees Climate Change as a serious threat, and takes up arms against it, rather than against some foreign land, is definitely in our best interests.

Someone who understands that this is the only planet we have, is interested in keeping it clean and healthy, and someone who can guide businesses and individuals to do their bit in this regard, would be more than welcome.

I want to see a leader who talks with world leaders and really understands how the world and it’s people function, rather than start pointless and possibly illegal wars, Men should be home with their families, not in some far flung land, killing people they’ve never met, don’t you agree?

As an Internet user, I would also like to see Governments keep their hands off our Internet, the Internet should be a human right, it should never be weighted down under censorship, and it should never be blocked from anyone.

And I would really like to see our Prime Minister talking with someone who is sensible, someone who will honestly try to make things better, not only in the US, but around the World too.

Does that answer your question.


Piti Yindi Sketches.

22 06 2012

I have commissioned some art from Piti Yindi who draws the brilliant “Wuffle Comics” and this is the progress report if you will.

That NBN thing

17 05 2012

A lot of us in Australia are either talking up, or talking down the NBN, as you know.

I think those of you who are talking up the NBN need to get your message across to this person.

This person has only recently bought a computer,

They think Internet Explorer is the thing that turns on “The Internet”.

They have an ADSL connection but when asked about how they’re connected to the internet, They’ll say Bigpond or Google.

Speaking of Google, this person thinks it’s something ON their computers.

I think of the time before 2000 as the “black and white era” of the internet, anyone who has just got online may have no real sense that one file is larger than the other, To them a short text file is the same as a Movie, I have seen one person burn a single short text file, to a CD.

This person has never experienced the effort of downloading an mp3 file, on dialup, which took a whole hour to download.

I’ve seen a computer ruined because someone downloaded “a song” from a P2P program which was only a few hundred KB in size, a huge red-flag to me, (virus) but they thought it was the song they were after.

They have no understanding of why Apples insistence on a closed app store is a bad thing, and probably think that everything is on the app store anyway. I’ve met an apple owner who doesn’t know how to use the app store.

When I got my first computer, an Amstrad CPC 6128 for my 21st Birthday in 1986, I was very aware of the size of files, I had to be, as I could run out of disc space very fast. The same when I moved to my Amiga A500 and my Amiga A1200… and I learnt about the limits of my machines and it’s software.

Newbies never had that education.

And while I fully appreciate the idea of having an NBN, this person won’t understand any of it, and probably think they’re fine with what they have.

This person will accept any of the rubbish they hear from Tony Abbott, about how a wireless system would be better.

To the techie, you need to explain yourselves very clearly to this person, and fast, You need to sell the idea that an NBN is a very good thing, you need to make it sound as appealing as a new Apple gizmo… and realise that even if all the customer understands is that they can buy a white one, then sell them a white one.

To the person who is new to computers, who may be reading this, feeling a bit confused, would you like some things to think about? If so, here’s a few.


There are three ways to send data.

1. Cable

2. Regular copper wires

3. Wireless

Now I know some of you confuse Wireless with Wi-Fi, I’ll get to that shortly.

Consider this, do you recall from school what the fastest thing of all was?

If you said light, you’re right, and deserve a gold star.

Light is the fastest thing of all, and that’s what will travel along the fiber cables of the NBN.

Now there is some talk about different cable systems being faster than others, so some people worry that perhaps all the old cable will have to be dug up again and replaced with the new technology, this is highly unlikely… instead when it’s time for an upgrade, it will be as simple as the NBN people replacing their computers with new ones, just like you would if you need a new machine.


Wireless is fine, and I’m not against it. But radio waves cannot ever go as fast as light can, and it doesn’t matter what politicians of either side say, the fact is that nothing in the known universe, is faster than light.

Have you ever had your mobile phone slow down when you tried to access facebook, or poor reception? or worse no reception? Well that’s what it will be like if we all had wireless internet, which would get worse in the evenings as kids tried to play games on it or do their homework, it could even stall completely.

Granted, Wireless internet can be great for accessing things on your computer while on the train, but at home it’s probably not the best.

What’s the difference between Wireless and Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi is usually the signal which comes out of your router, that box with the blinking lights on it. It’s that box which allows you to connect to your internet via a laptop, a mobile phone or iPad.

Wi-Fi will only work within range of your router, and is usually password protected so that only you and your family can make use of it.

You can access the NBN via Wi-Fi if you want.

Wireless is different.

To access wireless internet on your laptop, you need a small plastic thing which plugs into the USB port.

While an iPhone or iPad would need something like a pre-paid plan with Optus, Telstra or someone like that.

Wireless internet allows you to take a computer or phone with you and use your internet on the go, it would be useful to someone who’s an interstate truck driver, for example, or someone who regularly flies interstate.

But the down side is that it’s generally quite expensive and rather slow to use, and while it’s perfect for E-mails or Facebook, it’s no good for downloading movies, skype or playing fast moving games with.

Old copper wires.

If you have a really good phone connection, then you can connect to the internet via dial up, which is the very old method which makes odd squealing sounds through the phone,

You cannot use the phone when you’re using the computer for  dialup  internet.

Dial up is terribly slow, so slow in fact that it could take an hour to just load a youtube video.

Or you can have ADSL which is a fairly standard method used in most homes in Australia.

ADSL is for the most part, pretty reliable, it will allow most people to do pretty much everything they need to do, however the problem here is that the further away from your phone exchange you are, the slower ADSL becomes, and if you’re in a rural area, it might not work much better than dialup.

So, if you’re on a farm in the bush, your internet may suck more than your milking machines do.

What an NBN would do, is basically give everyone the chance to drive a Ferrari,

And it should cost about the same as standard ADSL internet (Generally ADSL works out to be a lot cheaper than wireless as you get a lot more data for your money).

It may surprise you to know that the internet came out of the 1960s and has slowly been advancing, always getting better.

That Facebook, Youtube and Twitter are all fairly new, and have come about as the new technology became cheaper and easier to use.

And that although things are pretty good as they are, they could be a lot better and a lot fairer to the wider community if we decide on having an NBN.

Well Like what?

People in rural areas would have the same internet experience as those of us in the city would.

It would give doctors life saving information about patients extremely quickly, or possibly allow surgeons in Melbourne to operate on a patient in Alice Springs via a robot.

It would allow anyone to upload high definition videos they’ve made themselves in just a few minutes (It once took me eight hours to do this on ADSL)

Business people could have conferences online, rather than fly interstate or overseas, allowing more time for people to remain with their families, the experience should be a lot better than todays Skype calls.

I really love to dream of possibilities, I’m really not sure what the next step will be, and that excites me.

So far I have met the most amazing people online, people who I thought I’d never get to meet, but what tomorrow brings may be a complete knock out, for all of us.

I say push it hard and as far as it will go, choose the NBN, it’s the best technology we have at the moment.


The current, cheapest option is $50 per month, which is 30GB per month, with a speed of 12mps down, and 1mps up

(on internode)

*There was an error in my research last night, this has now been corrected.

Air Waves

28 09 2011

The sound of radio has changed with each passing decade, not only with our tastes in music, but in what was technically possible at the time. Radio wasn’t always as clear as it often is now, and depending on your location, it still might not be.

Last year an idea occurred to me, what if we could re-create radio of the time, down to the most timy detail… the sound of the music being played, the way the announcer spoke, the hum of equipment, the static the audience would hear, the commercials and news reports of the day.

So that it’s almost like a person had somehow gone back in time, and is listening to a broadcast from a particular day.

No, this is not hits and memories, it goes deeper than that, this is a normal broadcast day by a fictional Aussie Radio Station (But it could be from the ABC).

When music is played, it’s what would have been played that week, that year of that decade… the good and the bad.

The Announcer would need to be a good actor, who understands how Australians spoke at the time, and which slang was… and wasn’t used.

The Advertisements would be genuine (Surely ABC would not worry about decades old material?).

The program would need to sound completely real, there would be no reality breaks during the two hour broadcast.

Even at News time, the reports would be from the past.

Understand this would be difficult to put together, We’d need a linguist who knows how people spoke back then (40’s to 80’s), We’d need experts on the technology who would make sure things sounded right, We’d need to go through archives and find the advertising, live interviews and anything which might surprise us and which could be used.

A script writer or two, of course!

And then, how would this be broadcast? Live on ABC once a week? On Digital? or a Podcast?

I’m sure there are things which I haven’t thought of, which would need to be addressed.

Would you be up for it?


Mr. Ed (or how I almost met Frenté)

3 04 2011

During the 90’s, when the internet was still a bit of a virgin, I had found out that the band Frenté had their own IRC channel, and would use it to chat with each other, and their fans too.

Well I hung around for ages, hoping one of the band members would eventually show up, and that we could have a nice, long, *dignified* discussion.

One day I’m waiting there, and nobody was in the channel, So I’m stuffing around at my desk for twenty minutes or so, contemplating my place in the universe when suddenly, a friend who I knew from another channel, logged in and we started having a random chat about anything that happened to come to mind.

This went on for quite some time.

Then another name popped up in the chat list, it was one of the band, who gave us a friendly hello.

I said hi back, and felt really happy because I could at last have the lovely happy chat I was hoping for.

It was just the three of us, which wasn’t surprising back then because the internet wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now. if you even owned a computer, you were pretty much considered a social cripple.

But anyway, the Frenté band person (I don’t remember who it was) asks “What are you fellas talking about?”

Which was a really really bad thing to ask, because my “Friend” types…

“Horse Cocks!”

And the guy goes “Oh” and logs out.

Thanks Mate, Thanks a lot.