Weekly Wrap 319: Progress and a change of pace

Sydney Harbour Bridge from Milsons Point Wharf: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 4 to Sunday 10 July 2016 was full of significance.

First, the last batch of documentation needed to bring my tax compliance disaster up to date was sent to my accountant. There’s still plenty to go in this saga, but that’s the first phase done.

Second, I stepped outside my planned production schedule to create the special podcast episode listed immediately below. It was both fun and scary.

Podcasts

Articles, Media Appearances, and Corporate Largesse

None, sadly. But all will return in the coming weeks.

The Week Ahead

On Monday, which is almost finished as I write this, I’ll be shifting mental gears away from tax compliance to other things. I’ll be writing for ZDNet, wrapping up the post-production for The 9pm Edict, and then migrating from Ashfield to Lilyfield.

Tuesday is all about a certain interview. Research in the morning, conducting the interview at 1300, then writing something based in that interview for ZDNet.

On Wednesday, I’ll be helping a client automate a routine administration process in their business, and returning to the other much-delayed geek-for-hire projects. That work is likely to continue for the rest of the week.

Further Ahead

While the following few weeks are still be be organised, I can say that I’ll be going to theGartner Security & Risk Management Summit in Sydney on 22-23 August, and the AISA National Conference in Sydney on 18-20 October.

[Photo: Sydney Harbour Bridge from Milsons Point Wharf, photographed at dusk on 4 July 2016.]

Weekly Wrap 296: And now everything changes, again…

Sunrise at Bronte Beach: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 1 to Sunday 7 February 2016 has been very different. Not merely different from a typical Australian’s experience, like last week, but different from even my own smorgasbord of experiences.

It began on Monday with the stress of negotiating certain timelines with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). That was successful, and I was much relieved — although I still have to meet those deadlines in the coming months.

Then Wednesday provided another emotional journey, I’ll call it, with my visit to the Black Dog Institute and the resulting diagnosis.

After all that, I was exhausted.

So even though I achieved two significant milestones right there, when it came to producing the kinds of things I usually list here…

Articles / Podcasts / Media Appearances / 5at5

… there were none.

I did kick off another new geek-for-hire project on Thursday, however, so there’s that. I’ll tell you more about that, and the other projects, in due course.

Corporate Largesse

  • On Friday, I received a package of American snack food — Chex Mix, Reeseā€™s Peanut Butter Cups, Caramel Corn, and the like — from networking vendor Brocade to consume during this weekend’s Super Bowl. Why? Because Brocade did the data networks in Levi’s Stadium.

It’s still only Saturday as I post this, but Sunday 7 February will be a lazy day, so let’s get straight into…

The Week Ahead

It’s going to be a busy one, boys and girls. No, this time it really will be.

On Monday, I’ll be doing the long commute to Sydney for a medical appointment, and to get a haircut. I’ll be dealing with tax documentation and project management en route.

Tuesday will be a quiet one, pottering around the house, and dealing with all manner of loose ends.

The rest of the week is shaped around the Pause Fest in Melbourne.

On Wednesday, I’m catching the 0543 train down to Sydney and then Sydney Airport. At 0900, it’s flight VA824 to Melbourne. Once I’ve checked in to my hotel, I’ll be having lunch with someone. The afternoon is as yet unplanned. The Pause Fest opening party is in the evening, but I need to have an early night. So instead, I’ meeting a friend for drinks, with a break to do a radio spot on ABC 774 Melbourne at 1930 AEDT.

On Thursday, I’m up early to do a spot on ABC TV’s News Breakfast. I think it’s at 0810 AEDT. I’m then spending the rest of the day at Pause Fest’s Tech Day, presumably covering it for ZDNet. I’m on the panel at 1730 AEDT, titled “The security paradox: individual privacy vs digital driftnets”, after which I’m having drinks with some people, and then dinner with someone else.

On Friday, I’ll be writing for ZDNet, then at 1300 it’s lunch in the Melbourne CBD or thereabouts with Andy Nicholson and anyone else who wants in. The afternoon is as yet unplanned. At 2000 it’s Pause Fest’s Speakers Dinner, for speakers only, so you can’t come.

On Saturday, well, I’m open to suggestions for how to spend the morning, and where to have lunch. I’ll then leave for the airport at 1430, and catch my 1600 flight VA859 to Sydney. I’ll probably then catch the train to Wentworth Falls that night, but we’ll see.

Either way, Sunday will be a day of sloth. A very big sloth.

Further Ahead

I suspect that the much-delayed episode of The 9pm Edict podcast will eventually be recorded on Tuesday 16 February, or the day after.

Plans are being hatched for me to return to Melbourne two weeks after that, to cover the APIdays conference on 1-2 March. We shall see. Either way, it’s more than likely that I’ll be in Melbourne 8-11 March for Cisco LIVE!, assuming they’ll have me again.

[Photo: Sunrise at Bronte Beach. For several years, it was my habit to photograph the first sunrise of each new year. Here, the sun rises out of the Pacific Ocean at Bronte Beach, Sydney, on 1 January 2005.]

Weekly Wrap 294: Unlocking a great many compartments

Torpedo tube hatch controls on USS PampanitoYou may have noticed that I wrote nothing about my week of Monday 11 to Sunday 17 January 2016. That shall continue to be the case for some time. That was a terrible week. But this week, Monday 18 to Sunday 24 January 2016, has been much better. So far. And about that…

The key word, ladies and gentlemen, is “compartmentalisation”. And you’re in the wrong compartment. Move on. There’s nothing to see here.

Some of you will be wondering why I haven’t been paying attention to Twitter for a couple of weeks. Well, I’m busy dealing with a great many things, and it’s a lot to process. I don’t need the additional cognitive load of Twitter just now — neither the processing of a fast-moving information stream, nor the performance aspects.

Twitter will probably be added back into the mix a few days from now, once certain things have been dealt with.

Articles

Podcasts

None, but see below.

Media Appearances

None.

5at5

None. But should 5at5 ever reappear, you’ll know about it if you subscribe.

Corporate Largesse

None.

The Week Ahead

On Monday morning, I’ll spend a couple of hours on my tax accounting, the first of many such sessions in the coming weeks I’ve got a production meeting at 1000, and then I’ll be writing for ZDNet. In the afternoon, I’ll make the long commute down to Sydney and back, because errands. En route, I’ll update various client projects.

Tuesday is Australia Day. But despite the public holiday, I plan to spend the afternoon on pre-production for the next episode of The 9pm Edict podcast.

On Wednesday, I’ll spend a couple of hours on my tax accounting, the first of many such sessions in the coming weeks, and then write for ZDNet.

The 9pm Edict will be recorded on Thursday night 28 January, streamed live through Spreaker from 2100 AEDT.

On Thursday, I’ll finally finish a column for ZDNet, and then spend a couple of hours on my tax accounting, the first of many such sessions in the coming weeks. After that, I’ll sort out some loose ends on my geek-for-hire projects. Well, it might not be in precisely that order.

On Friday, I’ll head down to Sydney again, for a meeting with my accountant, and to record a Corrupted Nerds podcast with Leslie Nassar, and perhaps some social activities.

The weekend is as yet unplanned.

On Saturday, I’ll be dealing with whatever critical loose ends remain from the working week.

The 9pm Edict will be recorded on Sunday night 31 January, streamed live through Spreaker from 2100 AEDT.

Further Ahead

On 10 to 12 February, I’ll be in Melbourne for the Pause Fest. I’m on a panel on Thursday 11 titled “The security paradox: individual privacy vs digital driftnets”. I’ll be staying in Melbourne until Saturday afternoon. If you’d like to catch up, let me know.

Update 25 January 2016: Edited to reflect schedule changes. Update 27 January 2016: Edited to reflect further schedule changes. Update 28 January 2016: Edited yet again to reflect even more schedule changes.

[Photo: The controls which operate the external torpedo tube hatches in the forward torpedo room of USS Pampanito, San Francisco, photographed on 10 December 2010.]

Weekly Wrap 291: Ready for a year of change

Sydney Sunrise from Lilyfield: click to embiggenMonday 28 December 2015 to Sunday 3 January 2016 was spent in the Sydney suburbs of Ashfield and Lilyfield, where the quiet week following Christmas heralded a new year that should see many, many changes.

I hope so, anyway, because I’ve got plenty of things to sort out. I’ll tell you more in due course.

Podcasts

  • “The 9pm Topsy Turnbull Land”, being the rather brief The 9pm Edict episode 55, was recorded and posted on New Year’s Eve. It’s also on SoundCloud and Spreaker.

Articles

None.

Media Appearances

None.

5at5

Should 5at5 eventually reappear, you’ll know about it if you subscribe.

Corporate Largesse

  • I arrived back at Bunjaree Cottages tonight to find a Christmas gift from Kaspersky Lab: a bottle of Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2013.

The Week Ahead

I’ve got plenty to do in the coming week, but I won’t be able to schedule everything until I make some calls on Monday. I do know that most of it will be spent at Wentworth Falls, however.

That said, the week’s tasks include designing a website and a matching email template for a client; booking some medical appointments in Sydney; writing for ZDNet; scriptwriting for the next episode of The 9pm Edict; planning my coverage of Linux.conf.au; updating some of the stuff I use to explain what it is that I actually do; starting to tie up the loose ends from my crowdfunding projects; thinking about my future accommodation needs; and starting to bring my bookkeeping up to date so I can file five years of outstanding tax returns.

Further Ahead

The next episode of The 9pm Edict will be recorded on Thursday 14 January 2015, streamed live starting at 2100 AEDT.

The next episode of The 9pm Edict’s Public House Forum is likely to be recorded on the afternoon of Saturday 23 January. I’m thinking this should be a monthly thing.

In theory, in the first week of February I’ll be in Geelong to cover Linux.conf.au. And then on 10 to 12 February, I’ll be in Melbourne to speak at the Pause Fest.

Update 2000 AEDT: Edited to add the wine. Update 6 January 2015: Edited to reflect dropping plans to go to Linux.conf.au.

[Photo: Sydney Sunrise from Lilyfield, photographed on 2 January 2016.]

Australia’s Budget 2013 keeps us stuck in the past

[As it turns out, my planned Budget commentary for Crikey didn’t happen. I got up early in San Jose, read the budget papers and made notes, but then my as-yet-unwritten article got spiked. This is a quick and somewhat belated post based on my notes, not as polished as it might have been if written for Crikey.]

Photo of Budget 2013-2014 papers: click for official government budget websiteThe problem with Australia’s Labor government is that after having had One Big Idea for a bold new future in the National Broadband Network (NBN), they’ve come up with almost nothing anywhere else. This year’s federal budget was a dull plod. Again.

There was even one move which struck me as remarkably dumb: capping the available tax deductions for self-education expenses at just $2000 a year. Apparently that saves $500 million, and that’ll go to the schools — and schools are good for the kiddies, of course — but that’s half a billion dollars less for people to be able to keep up with a rapidly-changing work environment.

This strikes me as particularly stupid when so many of the people servicing the computers, networks and other technology that powers small business are often freelancers, as are so many web developers and designers.

Two grand a year doesn’t go far when it costs nearly half that just to attend the annual user conference for just one of your core software toolsets — more if you have to add airfares and accommodation — and the rest would soon be burnt up on a handful of reference books.

Back when I used to work in various management and staff development roles, I was told that any organisation that wants to advance its knowledge base should be spending at least 5% of its time on staff development. In a technology field, in my opinion, that should be at least 10%. That’s four hours a week, or a week or so every three months.

That still doesn’t sound very much, but it’d cost at least four times that capped amount. And that’s still not compensating freelancers for the loss of billable hours.

“Business and training groups have already said capping the expenses will stop employers from being able to offer staff new training initiatives. There were reports [the week before the budget that] the government would end up reversing the move, but the budget papers now state the change is locked-in,” wrote Patrick Stafford at SmartCompany.

“The announcement is sure to raise the ire of small business groups. Many business owners also use these deductions for short courses and industry-based training sessions.”

There’s two particularly galling lines in the budget papers themselves. First, the tax deductions are now only available…

…where these expenses are incurred in the production of the taxpayer’s current assessable income.

So you’re discouraged from educating yourself for the jobs that will become available even in the very near future. Why?

The potential for uncapped claims for a wide range of expenses provides an opportunity for some people to enjoy significant private benefits at taxpayers’ expense.

Orly? That’s a bit rich, given that vast sums already given to private schools. Or the “baby bonus” that people on quite significant household incomes still get for extruding another brat. That simply reeks of hypocrisy.

Continue reading “Australia’s Budget 2013 keeps us stuck in the past”

Links for 22 May 2009 to 27 May 2009

Here are the web links I’ve found for 22 May 2009 to 27 May 2009, posted automatically.

  • The Age of the Essay | Paul Graham: This essay dates from 2004, but it’s still valid. The essay, the kind that’s about exploring an issue, is a natural form of writing online. Plus I like his comments about disobedience and creativity.
  • GLAM | Wikimedia Australia: One for your diaries! A little conference called “Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums & Wikimedia: Finding the common ground” at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 6-7 August 2009. Hosted by Wikimedia Australia, with discussions on four themes: Education, Technology, Business, Law. To be opened by Senator Kate Lundy, Senator for the ACT.
  • That 180ms is the bane of my life: Network engineer Glen Turner explains why the 180 milliseconds it takes for Internet data to cross the Pacific causes problems. “You’ve got to realise that Australia is almost unique in being a long way from the centre of gravity of its language. Broadly, almost all German-speakers live in Germany, whereas a tiny proportion of English-speakers live in Australia. That has an effect on Internet traffic. Most Internet traffic in Germany stays within Germany. Most Internet traffic in Australia goes offshore.”
  • One thing PC users can do that Mac users can’t…: Crude but effective.
  • Media and Brand Supremacy: Why the New Media Brand Could Be Nike | The Huffington Post: Heidi Sinclair notes that individual journalists and commentators are sometimes bigger news brands than the outlets they work for. There’s plenty here which meshes with my complains that some folks don’t separate the content (“news”) from the container (“newspapers”).
  • texts from last night: A scarily funny collection of people’s (allegedly) drunken text messages. Don’t click through unless you’ve got plenty of time to spare.
  • Death in Birth – Where Life’s Start Is a Deadly Risk | NYTimes.com: The first of three articles on efforts to lower the death rate in Tanzania. Excellent timing, given Project TOTO. Challenging to read, however
  • The Angelina Factor | Bitchy Jones’ Diary: A ranty article which, in language which may be confronting for some, explores the social and psycho-sexual issues around the idea that Angelina Jolie is universally sexually attractive. Just for the record, I do not find her the least bit attractive.
  • Rethinking the Global Money Supply: Scientific American: China has proposed that the world move to a more symmetrical monetary system, in which nations peg their currencies to a representative basket of others rather than to the US dollar alone. The article includes a little history, too.
  • “We did not know that child abuse was a crime,”says retired Catholic archbishop | the freethinker: The retired Catholic Archbishop of Milwaukee, Rembert G Weakland, says “We all considered sexual abuse of minors as a moral evil, but had no understanding of its criminal nature… [I] Accepted naively the common view that it was not necessary to worry about the effects on the youngsters: either they would not remember or they would ‘grow out of it’.” WTF?
  • Comedy Thrives in Times of Despair | Spiegel Online: Monty Python’s Michael Palin on what the financial crisis is a boon for comics, and the perils of political correctness.
  • Hello Africa | Vimeo: A 42-minute documentary about mobile phone culture in Africa.
  • Shell On Trial | newmatilda.com: Next week, Shell will appear before a US federal court on charges of torture, extra-judicial killing and crimes against humanity for incidents which took place in the Niger Delta. Will it be the first multinational found guilty of human rights abuses?
  • Genital warts take Shoaib out of Twenty20 World Cup | ABC News: There was a time when someone’s medical history was considered private, even if they played sports professionally. Personally, I reckon the specific of Shoaib’s medical problem are none of anyone else’s business.
  • PlugComputer Community: The developer community for Marvell’s Plug Computer.
  • Plugging In $40 Computers | NYTimes.com: Marvell Technology Group has created a “plug computer”. A tiny plastic box you plug into an electric outlet. No display, but Gigabit Ethernet and a USB. Inside is a 1.2GHz processor running Linux, 512MB RAM and 512MB Flash memory. US$99 today, probably under US$40 in two years.
  • Misguided middle-class moaners | BusinessDay: Ross Gittins explodes a few myths about Australia, class, taxation and social welfare.