HTC Math Fail

Can you spot the problem? This isn't exactly an epic fail, nor is it particularly or devastatingly terrible, but I do think that mobile devices do need to work properly, and clearly this is a bug. This is a HTC Desire, but the same bug is replicable on the HTC Desire HD. While this isn't a reason not to buy an android phone, I choose to use it as an example to make myself feel better about living inside the Apple Reality Distortion field. Sure, the iPhone might be communist, but the streets are clean and the trains run on time.

UPDATE
It turns out that this is a bug with the HTC Basic Calculator, and not a bug with the device itself (as verified by testing the same math on another calculator app on the same phone) but it's still as funny as hell.

10 years & 1 day

Today marks the first day commencing the 11th year that will be married to my chosen person, @MrsAngell (that's her on the left). Happily, I can quite honestly say that as we've started getting old together my feelings have changed, but only to be deeper and wider than when we first were married.  10 years, 8 room-mates, 7 houses, 3 kids, 2 degrees and 1 cat later; I've become so accustomed to her being around that when she's missing, I feel as though I've lost an arm.

Or a leg.

...That sounded more romantic in my head, but you get the idea.

She has been a part of me for so long that I can't even quite remember what it was like without her, and certainly it doesn't feel relevant anyway.  After all, who would want to remember times when she wasn't part of their lives?  No  one.   And all romantic bias aside, that's the point.  She is a unique selfless individual who enriches the lives of the people she connects with.  I'm just luckier than most people.

She's sexy, elegant, polite, caring and intelligent and I challenge people to create a more complete list of desired attributes in a partner.

I told her last night, that managing to reach the 60 year anniversary would be really neat, and she pointed out (rather correctly) that 80 would be "even awesomer".  Of course I agree, because spending another 40 years seems together seems not only exciting, but an absolute delight.  (we'd both be exactly 100 years old on our 80th anniversary for those who are interested).

And it hasn't always been easy, and sure there are days and even months I'd sooner rather forget but the number 1 lesson I've learned over the past 120 months is that anything can be fixed, provided both parties want to fix it. And obviously that's what we've done - fixed things that were broken and had the courage and care to try new things to make them even better.  A mutual friend recently said to me that our marriage was above all others, the one for which this person held the most regard.  "Real", "honest" and "role model" were some words used to describe how this person saw our marriage, and how they wished to emulate it. It came as quite a surprise, because we were just living our lives.  It does highlight to me how much I can take for granted AND how much I really do love her.  I think she'd probably say the same thing about me.

Our marriage has survived teen pregnancy, family death, family dis-functionalism, breast-cancer scares, lost employment, dead brokenness and financial windfalls; there isn't much in the past 10 years that couldn't have easily torn us apart.  But we are not perfect, and we continue to try to "get it right".

I was reflecting on some of the reasons why we've stood together this long, these are:

  • Mutual rule to never go to sleep angry at each other.
  • Trying to keep perspective at all times.
  • Proportional split of chores.
  • Freedom to be one's self.
  • Listening, listening, listening.
  • Trying to get involved in the other person's interests.
  • Knowing when it's time to step back (being secure enough to let your partner experience things without you).
  • A ritualized, regular "date night" - which for us is each and every Wednesday night, chatting, playing games, baking, watching movies, going out, anything actually, but with basic rules which for us are: must be done together and no computers/iPad/Phones).  It's not a chore, it's something that both parties want to do because it's mutually important to us as a technique to keep the marriage strong and healthy.
  • Similar ideological views
  • Identical and consistent parenting views and techniques.

But I think the main reason we work so well together is because we're so remarkably different.  This gives us a diverse range of conversational angles, but also that each one makes up for the short-comings of the other.  The simple fact of the matter is that each of us, makes the other a better person.  And we love each other for that.

I love you honey.

Always have.  Always will.

How Politics Is Being Changed by the Web

Internet mediated activities in recent years have created a new, diverse and engaged political culture throughout the world. Public awareness of important issues is increasing like never before, due to the increasing participatory social culture, catalyzed at least in part by the Internet as a technological platform of rich social communication. Organization and activism, which used to be primarily isolated to special interest groups, is becoming trivialized with smaller groups being able to utilize the social power of the Internet. This has resulted in social demands for greater levels of government transparency and accountability. This essay focuses on three specific aspects and the effects of the Internet on Politics, the Internet as an Information source, how the Internet has changed political campaigning and the new emerging trends of cultural citizenship.

The virtually ubiquitous adoption of the Internet in most industrialized countries has allowed people to very easily and quickly find and attract large audiences. These audiences are virtual public spheres where geography has little, if any impact. Local stories, which traditionally would stay localized, can become global rapidly, and do so with amazing regularity. Robert Scoble a well-respected American blogger and technical evangelist claimed that the 2008 Chinese Earthquake was being discussed on Twitter up to a full hour before the mainstream press was reporting on it. Traditional media coverage is no longer the only viable way that groups and individuals can be heard effectively. Part of the reason for this is that the Internet is a great equalizer; people have unrestricted access to worldwide audience to share their unique experiences and opinions. Shiky says that the Internet allows people to escape their usual limitations and avail themselves of capabilities previously reserved for professionals. In this way, anyone is able to report or discuss political issues without limitation, difficulty or professional training and as such, everyone becomes a media outlet. Transfers of powers from professional classes to the general public supports a culture of participation. The increased participation allows the public to rapidly coordinate protests and pooled resources. While its probable that most of these synchronized community efforts are usually destructive in nature, focusing on “stop energy” the trend is generally positive because they improve community expectations of the standards and accountability of government.

In 1993 the UK government published a white paper entitled Open Government, in which it stated that an “Open government is part of an effective democracy”. The premise of the paper was to illustrate that while it is often necessary for a government to maintain secrets to ensure public safety, ministers and public servants had an obligation to explain policies and decisions to the public. The Internet provides a perfect platform for the government and the public to communicate transparently. Sites like WikiLeak’s strive to pursue transparency and accountability, and continue to do so despite the wrath of international political forces.

The Internet has also made it easier for groups to self-assemble and for individuals to contribute to communal effort without the need for formal management. Burgess & Green recount the story of how citizen journalism rose to a new never-before-seen level of public outrage after video of the tasering of a young UCLA student by campus police was uploaded to the video sharing site YouTube. This became such a politicized issue that it actually reached national US press coverage. Similarly, the 2008 formal Apology to the Stolen Generations speech was uploaded for posterity, but was soon complemented with people uploading their own remixed versions with each individual’s commentary, reactions and emotions about the speech, published to an global audience. Burgess & Green claim that these events transcended the typical viral-culture of Internet media and became a purposeful sphere of public conversation and self-mediated representation, expression and encounters of highly political issues.

These factors mentioned above have also created a platform ideal for top-down and mass grass-roots political campaigning. The proliferation of political campaigning on the Internet is proof of how serious politicians consider the web as a campaigning platform. However, Burgess & Green argues that “the forms of political engagement … has just as much to do with celebrity culture as they have to do with Capital-P political culture- in the same way that tabloid mainstream media focus on individual candidates as media personalities.” This is evidenced by official candidate stances on issues becoming nothing more than a back-story for the ‘gotcha’ moments and sound bites. Politician’s are clearly aware of the use of the Internet in mainstream everyday life and is used, particularly in the case of minor Republican 2008 presidential runner Ron Paul, for driving up the popularity of an underdog candidate. At times during the primaries, Ron Paul was more popular on YouTube than Hillary Clinton or even Barack Obama, which speaks volumes to the Internet being a successful tool in disseminating political rhetoric.

The Internet supports and promotes the idea that contemporary citizenship is not only an individuals and rights obligations to the state, but also the concerns the way individuals participate in matters of collective shared interests. The worldwide web transcends cultures, persuasions and borders and political thought is virtually impossible to control. Even despite employing over 30,000 people to monitor maintain it’s censorship regime the Chinese central government finds it nearly impossible to control the political voice of it’s civilian’s who choose to speak.

In conclusion, the Internet is a perfect, powerful and versatile platform to facilitate this shift in political thinking and ideology, while ultimately will lead to a more egalitarian society for everyone.

This post is a slightly modified version of a piece I wrote for a University assignment for the Curtin University Subject Internet Studies 102/502: The Internet and Everyday Life, answering the question: Describe and explain how everyday life is now experienced through Internet-mediated activities of information and communication with reference to ONE of the six topics (Sex and/or Dating, Music, Health, Games, Faith and Politics) in the first module?

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So You Found Something on the Internet…

This is so funny because it's so true. Just because lots of content on the Internet is free (or easy to rip-off) doesn't mean we should.

Link to the original creator.

How to Export an Entire Newsfeed From Google Reader

Google reader is an amazing web-based feed reading application.  One of it's most outstanding features is the ability to archive feeds, and show you posts from the feed regardless of when you subscribe.  You see, normally, RSS and ATOM feeds only contain the 10-30 of the most recently posted items, but since Google Reader stores all the posts from the subscribed feeds, they're (usually) all available if you keep scrolling down in the interface.

This makes it an awesome feed caching and archival tool.  However, not many people are aware that you can actually extract the data back out, in one mega standard ATOM file.

Just enter this URL in the address bar:

  1. http://www.google.com/reader/atom/feed/FEED_URL?r=n&n=NUMBER_OF_ITEMS

...where FEED_URL is the address of the feed and NUMBER_OF_ITEMS the number of posts to extract.

For example, http://www.google.com/reader/atom/feed/http://feeds.feedburner.com/blogspot/MKuf?r=n&n=100 should return the latest 100 posts from the Official Google Blog as an ATOM/XML file.

The Impacts of Digitisation and Convergence on Television

BitTorrent Download

Television has come a long way since it’s mainstream popularity in a Post-World War 2 world. Today, the convergence of the Internet along with other digital innovations has, rather ironically, provided the same kind of industry wide, mass-disruption that Television caused Radio, all those years ago. However, where Television sought to replace Radio as the primary source of household entertainment, the Internet has instead empowered audiences to seek control over their entertainment habits; granting them the ability to consume media on their own and often unique terms. This ability to deeply personalize what traditionally used to be a static user experience has created a number of technological, social, ethical and commercial concerns, which will need to be addressed in the near future for Television to survive this most recent technological and social transition.

The most extraordinary shift in the disparity between old media and new consumption behaviors is due primarily because users have discovered new means of information access and how this information can be heavily personalized. Traditional broadcasted Television (old media) is a highly inflexible medium that can only be consumed in pre-packaged linear ways and it’s this content model which the entire Television industry has built is business models. Until recently, control over distribution channels was relatively easy, and this control gave commercial networks the power to monetize specific demographics. Primarily, the monetization strategies were structured around selling consumer attention (advertising to audiences).

Küng, Picard, & Towse state that “Once such content is available in digital format, it can be accessed through several devices, channels can be broken down into constituent parts, advertising can be avoided and programs can be consumed on demand, and in different locations, according to consumers’ individual preferences.” In other words, anyway, any place and anytime – something quite foreign to the established status quo of successful commercial Television networks. However, despite technological advances and changing audience behaviors over the past decade (favoring new and exciting content delivery mechanisms) the Television industry has been quite slow to find a place in this emerging new paradigm.

Increasingly, programs are utilizing the web, and specifically social networking (such as Twitter and Facebook), as a cost effective means to increase audience engagement. Websites, Video streaming (via catch-up services), blogs, and Social Networks can be easily created to catalyze an audience and create ‘lock-in’ which aide in stabilizing audience numbers and potentially even increasing them through word-of-mouth. Content lifespan can also be extended through convergence. Jeremiah Zinn from MTV Networks said recently at a VideoNuze event in New York, that “overlaying commentary and contests on TV reruns extends the life of that content and can make it relevant even during a second or third airing”. This clearly shows that old media is happy to converge with new technologies, provided that they don’t interfere with existing monetization and distribution strategies. New monetization opportunities are beginning to be explored, but so far the Industry seems lethargic to embrace them; possibly due the complex and sometimes delicate distribution deals currently existing between studios, producers, copyright-holders and Television networks around the world. The Film and Television Industries have learned from the music industry’s mistakes and the subsequent success of legal music download services, such as iTunes and are slowly embracing them, however, the burden of geography still handicaps many users from getting what they want, when they want it.

It is this “digital distance” that is fracturing the Industry. The effect that these arbitrary geographical rules imposed on different audiences is a primary driver behind the increasing quantity of pirated Television. Some popular TV episodes are getting up to as many as 5 million downloads per episode, a number that is rapidly approaching the total audience population for that same episode in the US. Ernesto Van Der Sar who created the Torrent Freak website said that after they analyzed some 400,000 torrents the “data indicated that approximately half of all the people using BitTorrent at any given point in time, were using it to download a TV-show”. This is supported by Michael Newman who stated that in 2008 the most popular episode of Lost was downloaded over 5.7 million times versus Neilson’s report of 13.4 million US viewers tuning in. The Industry is concerned that the increasing quantity of ‘bootlegged’ or otherwise unauthorized episodes downloaded online will only increase profit hemorrhaging, but there are also reports that the Industry has allegedly used these same illegal distribution networks as a marketing tool by deliberately leaking unaired pilots. One of the members of EZTV reportedly told Torrent Freak that it was his “understanding that many of the people that download TV shows from us are avid TV fans and will usually buy DVD boxsets of shows they like.”

Clearly, there is an argument to be made for Torrent downloading in actually helping Television in building stronger, deeper, more engaged audiences. Additionally, the Television Network NBC recently commented that they actually make less money on per-per-download services than they do on free download sites due to the advertising revenue gained from so many viewers, further justifying BitTorrent downloading as a viable distribution platform. Never-the-less, unauthorized downloading are publicized by traditional media as being theft, whilst many downloaders argue that if recording to PVR from freely broadcast media isn’t illegal, then neither should be Peer-to-peer (P2P). Proponents of Television downloading argue that P2P represents an opportunity, not a threat.

New media is something that the mainstream will soon expect from the Television Industry. New media is about breaking down the walled garden of traditional media and stripping away all geographical bias and enhancing the social relationship. People now see Television as an invested social experience; one to be shared discussed and participated in. The concept of Prime-time Television is starting to disintegrate and soon will be gone altogether, as audiences simply download or time-shift to the program they wish to watch at the time. Interestingly, only Reality Television and Special Events (e.g., Olympics, Sport Finals) are likely to avoid this trend and be watched live, partly because of the need audiences will have to share these experiences in real-time. This later trend has already converged into mainstream Television behavior, with people discussing live Television events as they watch, and some shows such as the Australian ABC’s Q & A and the American’s CNN which actually already incorporate a live audience Twitter feed into the regular broadcast.

The next generation will be the one to watch closely. They will be an entire generation who’ve not known Televisual media any other way, with an utterly transformed mode consumption and interpretation. A generation of Television viewers who don’t care which network a program comes from, only care that it’s right for them, at that moment, to be shared and discussed. They will expect to watch Television in a post-scarcity world and in contrast Television’s current status quo, expect Television to adapt it’s broadcasts to everyone’s own personal schedules. While the demands of unique personalization may take the Industry more time to adjust to audiences pulling them in every personal direction, once the Industry embraces new media we will again reach equilibrium. Despite the possible short-term struggles with the ethical, commercial and technological challenges, the future looks bright for all Television audiences because ultimately digitization allows new communicative, journalistic and content consumption which will force us to reformulate the existing paradigm.

This post is a slightly modified version of a piece I wrote for a University assignment for the Curtin University Subject Web Media: WEB207, answering the question: What are the Impacts of Digitization and Convergence on Television?

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Games: At Work, No One Knows I am a Wizard

A treant from World of Warcraft

There is still a strong social stigma attached to people who confess to regularly playing computer games in western culture. The lingering stereotype of gamers being solitary male teenagers with poor social skills persists, despite studies showing that the average gamer is 30 years old, and has over 30% chance of being female. The fledgling industry is now breaking into the mainstream, and the rise of casual and social gaming has turned the games industry into a $39 billion per year powerhouse of entertainment. In the next 12 months, this figure is expected to balloon into $55 billion per annum, which is a figure that will rival the international film industry and predicted that it will soon be the preferred and dominant form of entertainment.

The popularity and rise of recent casual and social gaming owes much thanks to the phenomenal success of the Nintendo Wii games console, who’s success is largely the result of it’s ability to not only break through the traditional image of the games industry but to transcend it entirely. The Wii made gaming accessible; making games a social experience anyone could enjoy (particularly families and the elderly) - opening up games to a new and untapped demographic . While not the sole reason, it was one instrumental in the rise of casual and social gaming, which in the past 12-24 months has become a seeming tidal wave of success.

There is a deep psychology to gaming that’s yet to be fully understood. Researchers have found that games provide “sense of freedom and connection to other” and this lets us explore ourselves, our friends, our families, but also complete strangers in way we could never do during a face-to-face interaction. Playing games, particularly online, gives us remarkable insight into other people free from typical social constraints, for example PlayStation's Smash Up Derby allows users to drive classic motor cars, like the T-Bird; but also drive them at breakneck speeds into other users.

This combination of reality and fiction is deeply stimulating. It also allows us to validate and test our moral systems, since people can be exposed to morally questionable situations that would never arise organically in the real world. Studies also suggest that games make us smarter. Educational games such as Immune Attack (presented by the Federation of American Scientists) provide mental and social benefits to players. Unfortunately, there is also a cost. Games are highly validating, in that they provide a source of fun, thrill, competitiveness and this makes them very addictive; although there is a lack of formal diagnosis in current medical or psychological literature. Unfortunately, the number and frequency of deaths and illnesses resulting from online game addiction continue to grow.

While social and casual gaming can clearly enrich our lives and relationships, we must be mindful of the possible problems when taken in excess.


This post is a slightly modified version of a piece I wrote for a University assignment for the Curtin University Subject Internet Studies 102/502: The Internet and Everyday Life, answering the question: What are the implications of the rise of casual and social games on the internet for online gaming and everyday life?

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My Thoughts on Dating, Intimacy and Sexuality

Second Life

The Internet can be a powerful tool for everyday people to explore thoughts and emotions without inhibition.  Since the Internet provides us with great anonymity, we can explore and share deep feelings and ideas without fear of judgment and retribution.  This can facilitate very positive outcomes; especially for people with otherwise quite acceptable sexual feelings and desires, but who feel impeded and couldn’t or wouldn’t act them out in real life (such as is often the case with young people exploring sex and homosexuality).

Arguably, cybersex is also perfectly safe.  Cybersex provides people with a physically safe environment, since the nothing physical ever occurs (other than possible self-masturbation, which often accompanies cybersex).  However, sharing and exploring sexual feelings and desires online, is accompanied with strong and intense emotions.  It’s these feelings and emotions that are significant to infidelity and therefore any sexual activity, regardless of whether it is merely flirting, seeking arousal or orgasm, could reasonably be considered betrayal by most romantic partners. Indeed, the Fortino Group reports “one-third of all divorce litigation now involves one partner’s online infidelity”.

We live in a world where the Internet is becoming a pivotal and sometimes pervasive component of our everyday lives.  Our physical bodies are exposed to stimuli that transcend our own thoughts and views of the world and we’re exposed to more than we can imagine.  We can participate, or contribute as much or as little of ourselves as we desire.  Because of this the line between the real world and the virtual-world is becoming increasingly difficult to define.  Since we carry ourselves into the virtual-world, it has become a mere extension of our physical selves.

If we define physical acts of sexuality to be foremost the emotional connection between two people sharing a sexually arousing experience, than Cybersex is just a real as intercourse.  The Internet has also adapted to make Cybersex as real as possible, further blurring the line.   The social game Second Life, grants players great control to ensure that players can highly customize their game avatar; designed to be the player’s representation in the Second Life digital world. Player’s can then control their avatars, much like a puppeteer would control a puppet, and as such can enact any activity the player can imagine.  Second Life is known for player avatars being able to enact and enhance sexual activities, augmented by text chat or voices using a microphone . It’s easy to trivialize Cybersex as harmless fun, but doing so also trivializes illegal sexual activities such as the computer depiction of adults having sex with children .  While people should feel free to explore Cybersex as part of normal and healthy sex life, normal real world social rules and expectations need to still apply.


This post is a slightly modified version of a piece I wrote for a University assignment for the Curtin University Subject Internet Studies 102/502: The Internet and Everyday Life, answering the question: How far would a partner/spouse have to go online before it is considered cheating? Up to what point is flirting online acceptable? How 'real' is cybersex?

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Politics: Julia Gillard is My Facebook Friend

GetUp!

Democracy literally originates from ancient Latin as “government by the people” and as a system of government, it allows the citizens of a country to directly or indirectly participate and manipulate the legislative process. Only a few short years ago, for a single individual to be heard, required great effort, coordination and some luck. As a result politics evolved many defenses against individuals attempting to disrupt the status quo. This meant that citizen activism was slow, encumbering and difficult to coordinate en mass.

This is changing as the mainstream continues to adopt new Internet technologies and has created for itself “transformative opportunities related to key public sector issues of transparency, accountability, communication and collaboration, and to promote deeper levels of civic engagement.” This has resulted in an unprecedented and transformational level of citizen participation and organization. Where citizen activism used to take days, weeks or even months to coordinate, it can today be organized and executed, quite literally overnight. Getup.org.au (GetUp!) is a community advocacy group dedicated to getting greater community participation on important issues. They take a very strong and active role in Citizen Democracy; not only making suggestions, but also providing specific and intricate instructions on how people can engage in a number of specific political and social agendas. The site provides many examples on its front page, and these are constantly changing with an ever-changing social landscape.

Conversely, the Queensland Government’s Get Involved initiative is more about how the general public can participate in their local communities . There are suggestions towards influencing Government Policies and decision-making, but the bulk of the suggestions involve passive political activities, such as donation and volunteering and are reasonably ambiguous and nondescript. But its not just the underlying vagueness that is the problem with the Get Involved website.

The main issue is one of obviousness and one of timeliness; it provides dated, obvious suggestions for which most people would be already be aware (e.g., volunteering at a local school). However, the Government cannot be seen to be biasing or influencing the public, which stands to reason why the Get Involved website is quite generic in it’s suggestions. However, even after forgiving Get Involved for its politically sensitive content, I think the main reason why GetUp! is more successful, is because it selects highly specific language, which is clearly designed to invoke an emotive reaction as well as the specific links and activities to do something about it. This reduces social hegemony and action paralysis.

It’s indeed a microcosm for politics today; governments and politicians know they need to get engaged in new media, however, Social Media and the Blogosphere often cycle faster than Governments and Politicians can react. It’s interesting to me to see how the political machine will evolve and adapt to a more open and Internet-aware public.


This post is a slightly modified version of a piece I wrote for a University assignment for the Curtin University Subject Internet Studies 102/502: The Internet and Everyday Life, answering the question: Navigate around and discuss two of the following sites in terms of the kinds of involvement they encourage. (www.pm.gov.au, www.tonyabbott.com.au, www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au or www.getup.org.au)

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