Thursday 27 November 2014

Why Australia's data retention plans are a bad idea

I know I keep bleating on about the Australian Government's proposed mandatory data retention scheme and why it's bad, and a lot of people probably don't really understand the issue - but honestly - it's bad.

This article outlines why. And this article, compiled by a communications lawyer, compares Australia's proposed plan with 29 other countries. Of those, 8 have already ruled data retention to be unconstitutional, and 10 more are currently reviewing their scheme.

In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution entitled Right to privacy in the digital age, stating that the right to privacy is a human right.

In July 2014, the United Nations human rights chief advised that "Mass surveillance by intelligence agencies is almost certainly illegal under international law, even where it involves collecting but not looking at people’s data".

And yet, the Australian Government presses ahead. To be clear, what they're proposing is that they can force ISPs to collect and keep data ABOUT YOU, for 2 years. Sadly, at this point they can't tell you exactly WHAT data because, well, they don't actually understand what metadata is and thus far haven't been able to define exactly what it is and what they will or won't collect (try not to laugh).

The second part they're proposing is that they can access that data any time they want, WITHOUT any kind of court mandate, warrant or judicial oversight. The argument is that they need these powers to fight terrorism. Or pedophiles. Or... something else scary. But if they want to tap a phone or break into a premises to fight terrorism/pedophiles/other-scariness, they have to get a warrant. A judge decides if the government REALLY needs to tap that phone or break down that door, before the government is allowed to do it.

The only country out of the 29 surveyed where a scheme similar to what the Government is proposing is in place, where they can access data without a warrant, is Poland. And to be absolutely clear - there is NO evidence, anywhere, that shows that collecting data in this manner, has resulted in any benefit whatsoever.

If you read George Orwell's "1984" in school... what's that saying? "Absolute power corrupts absolutely"? No government should have unrestricted access to this much information about its citizens, without some kind of judicial oversight to "keep the bastards honest".

I encourage everybody to stand up for your BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS.

Saturday 15 November 2014

Me + EFA = :)

After many years of quiet-introverted-online agitating, I recently took the plunge and became a member of Electronic Frontiers Australia (where I might have to actually, you know, talk to other people and stuff - yikes :/ ).

Then last week, one of my uni tutors announced on a Facebook group that they're looking for somebody to help out with social media, so I put my hand up.

So, I've just been invited onto the Communications and Campaigns commitee of Electronic Frontiers Australia :)



Sunday 26 October 2014

NET303 - Policy Primer

For NET303 - Internet Politics and Power - we had to create an online Policy Primer.
Create a short, succinct online presentation summarising the key features, and related issues, of the terms of use for an online service or platform.
Here's mine:

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Kids in sport

There's an article in today's Queensland Courier Mail entitled:
Netball Queensland to end culture of ‘every child gets a prize’ by reducing number of representative players

While I agree with the psychologist's views to a certain extent - the "every kid gets a prize" thing does my head in - if the flipside is that young girls lose interest in playing sport then I'm a bit torn because I believe that the more kids you can keep active into their teens, the better.

My daughter is not in an A-side, but her year of playing rep has brought many benefits that she otherwise may not have experienced - new friends, new coaches who took a different approach with her, increased confidence which has helped her off the court, and learning to deal with a different level of sustained pressure over a full day which can only help her going forward. All at a time when her body was starting to change and all the issues that come with that. She liked that they got a participation award from every tournament - who wouldn't! - but is fully aware that she wasn't playing A grade, and that under-13 is a different kettle of fish, assuming she even gets into a squad next year. 

So there's a balance to be achieved between "false impressions of their own abilities" and the benefits. I hear a lot of "they didn't do that in my day" and that's true - but how many kids dropped out of sport in their day compared to now?

Saturday 27 September 2014

WE WON THE GRAND FINAL!!! #GoHawks #everymoment


Another day, another toy gone to meet its maker


Tuesday 23 September 2014

Government exploiting terrorism fears to seize greater power

Via The//Intercept:
Australia’s Prime Minister Gives a Master Class in Exploiting Terrorism Fears to Seize New Powers

It's becoming like I'm more scared of the government at this point...

Some notable quotes from the article:

If you’re an Australian citizen, you have a greater chance of being killed by the following causes than you do by a terrorist attack: slipping in the bathtub and hitting your head; contracting a lethal intestinal illness from the next dinner you eat at a restaurant; being struck by lightning. In the post-9/11 era, there has been no terrorist attack carried out on Australian soil: not one. The attack that most affected Australians was the 2002 bombing of a nightclub in Bali which killed 88 of its citizens; that was 12 years ago.
Like the US for the weeks, months, and even years after 9/11, Australia’s political system appears completely inebriated with hysteria, fear and power-hunger completely out of proportion to the ostensible risk to be addressed.


Saturday 13 September 2014

Wednesday 10 September 2014

DIG251 - Final website submission

Well, that was interesting. It's been a long time since I hand-coded HTML. Here are the closing reflections as submitted within the final assignment:

I learned to code HTML3 using Notepad many years ago, and have picked up CSS in the intervening years. In recent years I’ve worked primarily as a CMS website developer, so while I understood the concept of how it all fits together, I found this process of starting from scratch and handcoding again to be very useful. CSS didn’t even exist when I first learned HTML, and while I knew how to do many things, I wasn’t entirely clear why all of those things worked the way they did, so this unit has filled some gaps for me that I didn’t realise were gaps! Also, coming from CMS world where I simply purchase templates, it was good experience for me to look more at the design side of the process, and I’ve learned some valuable concepts about site layout, colours and fonts which will assist me going forward.

I feel that I’ve successfully addressed the assignment’s requirements. The website was built for a domain name that I’ve owned for years but never utilised, so it will continue to run for the time being as it’s better to have something there than nothing. I will probably replace the HTML contact page with a PHP script so I can hide my email address a bit better, but the rest of it does the job it was designed to do, and should be sufficient as it is. I also have the option to add relevant articles to the linked Facebook and Twitter accounts as I find them.

And here's the final result:

(Final result was a 79. Criteria: File management - HD. Visual design - D. Usability - D. Image manipulation - D. Progress report - HD. Not QUITE enough to squeeze into a HD for the entire unit, but very happy!).

THIS is why you can't have nice things

The destruction continues... :/


Monday 8 September 2014

Tore all the foam out of my bed, so Mum got me a new one. Hate. It. A. LOT. :(

That is her "you are making me VERY VERY unhappy" pathetic face :P

Thursday 21 August 2014

Playtime in the park


Thursday 14 August 2014

Finally figured out how to wear this puppy out...

2 hours at the doggy park!:)

Monday 23 June 2014

Cone of Shame finally gone...

Nice new haircut. And a ribbon!:)

Last day with the Cone of Shame...

It has not slowed me down. This week I learned how to drag EVERYTHING in the laundry, out the doggy door and around to the backyard. I also figured out how to break into the garage so I could steal Josh's shoes. SHOES! Last week I got hold of Mum's Crocs. Fun times.

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Day 1 post-op...

Hate this collar. Not happy with Mum for putting it on me. Decided to go outside for wee, then hide in the bushes where she can't see me. Got stuck. Turns out Mum COULD see me cos she had to climb in and get me out. Inside now. VERY not happy :(

Monday 2 June 2014

Back to the work/study shuffle today. Wish me luck!

Week 1 of DIG251 - Internet Design - Introduction. Which might look like I'm cheating, but there's a difference between web design and web development and while I try to do both, any web design I've ever done has been entirely self-taught.

The defined Learning Outcomes are:
  1. reflect on how the World Wide Web has evolved from its specialized origins to the now-ubiquitous role that it plays in our information-based society
  2. edit and optimise suitable text and graphics for web delivery with an emphasis on streamlined readability and efficient graphic formatting/compression
  3. understand and navigate copyright issues relating to the use of media and content in a digital authoring environment
  4. understand and apply basic website usability and accessibility concepts in the design production and delivery of a website using hypertext markup language (HTML5) and cascading style sheets (CSS3).
I use a different approach in my work to 4., I was there for 1. and self-taught in 2. and 3., so I'm expecting that this unit will be another of my "fill the gaps" subjects. Plus, it's a prerequisite for a couple of 3rd year units that I want to do.

The last time I created a non-CMS website in HTML was using HTML3 or HTML4, no CSS, at least 10 years ago (probably more). I used to hand-code in Notepad. I've since taught myself CSS and updated my HTML skills, but only in terms of reconfiguring paid Joomla! templates to make them look how I want. So this could be interesting! :)

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Puppy and ex-plant :/


Puppy chasing bubbles

Cute :)

Monday 19 May 2014

Someone left a newspaper within reach :(


Tuesday 13 May 2014

Cybersafety in school #FAIL

My daughter had a visit at school yesterday by a cybersafety "expert" who is quite well known in Australia - and came home panicked that she would end up in jail because she was told "it's against the law to have social apps or Kik unless you're 13 or 17".

This is incorrect. In fact, this is so incorrect I'm a little irritated. Here's why.

First - there is NO Australian law that specifies any age limitations for the use of apps or creating accounts. The closest thing we have is the ratings system, which are only recommendations until M15+ and higher.

The "13" thing has come about because of COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which is a U.S. law based around personal data collection by organisations and which applies only to those under U.S. jurisdiction. The intent is to gain parental permission before collecting data (which is usually fairly impossible to do). I have no idea why "13" was chosen as the magic number, but there it is.

Most organisations have Terms of Service for using their product and/or site. Because of COPPA, U.S.-based organisations (or organisations that may collect the personal data of U.S. citizens) need to include the "13" requirement in their Terms of Service, which gives them the right to terminate an account if their Terms are breached. Fair enough. The organisation can be prosecuted if they don't do this. However, in 99.9% of cases, this doesn't happen (either the terminating, or the prosecuting).
Next, "17". On iTunes, Kik does indeed have a rating of "17+". On Google Play, it's "Medium Maturity". But the Terms of Service on Kik's own website states "You must be at least 13 years old to use any Site or Product, and if you are 13-18 years old, you may only use a Site or Product if your parent or guardian consents to this Agreement on your behalf." Okkaaaayyy... so "13" again, care of COPPA and... "17" anyone? (hello, Apple?!).

Lastly, and actually the thing that irritated me the most, is that the overriding message my daughter came home with was not about cybersafety or cyberbullying (both of which I would have applauded) - but fear, that police would pull up outside the house and arrest her! One of the 2 key points she wrote on her form is that kids her age can go to jail. Yes, the "expert" actually told them this.

Now, I'm not clear on exactly which law kids would have to break to end up in jail, or of any primary-school-aged kid in any Western country that has actually gone to jail for using an app or creating an account - but I do know from a conversation with another mother this morning that my daughter wasn't the only child who went home in a panic last night thinking the police were about to swoop. There has been much deleting of apps overnight. I can't quite believe an "expert" would peddle fear like this.

Heavy-handed, fear-based teaching using draconian interpretations of law, taught in a school environment where kids take everything they are told as absolute truth, does much harm and little good. It would have been preferable for the "expert" to talk about appropriate/inappropriate use of apps/software the kids were already using, and to encourage digital literacy, rather than scaring the pants off them.

NOTHING beats education. You wouldn't tell a kid they're not allowed outside unsupervised until they're 13, then let them out the door to walk across a busy road alone, uneducated and unsupervised on their 13th birthday. Most parents start teaching road safety from a young age, continually reinforce the look-both-ways message, go out with them until they're old enough to try it themselves... Internet education should be the same.

For further reading on this topic, I recommend It's Complicated the social lives of networked teens by danah boyd, which is available free (legally) on her website. I also have some Getting Started tips for parents here that I wrote a few years ago. And thank you to Dr Tama Leaver for clarifying a few important points for me while writing this post (and reminding me what a great word 'draconian' is!).

Monday 28 April 2014

Some Muffin & Angus cuteness


Saturday 26 April 2014

Taking photos of sport

This morning my husband took some photos of our daughter and her friends playing netball, and some extras to use for the club website I'm about to start building.

Just take the camera along, you might think?

Oh, no no no...

Once upon a time we used to just turn up and take photos of all the kids at various birthday parties, sporting events, etc., and then give parents a nice "action" shot of their child, which was always greatly appreciated.

Last year my husband turned up and was literally chased away from the stadium by one of the elderly netball umpires.

So this is what I had to do this week to be able to take photos:
  1. Emailed all of the parents in the team (all OK).
  2. Emailed stadium administrator (told they would contact other team and get back to me).
  3. Mentioned this in a club committee meeting (told I couldn't take photos as it breached privacy laws - minor disagreement ensued as it doesn't - breached stadium by-laws - further minor disagreement).
  4. Got home, checked stadium by-laws - no mention of photography.
  5. No contact from stadium so got there early this morning to check (advised OK by stadium admin and club president, still had to check with other team).
  6. Double-checked with all parents in our team.
  7. Other team OK.
Then I casually asked the other team manager "If you like, we're happy to take some shots of your kids too, I'll put them on a CD for you and bring it along next week?". "YES PLEASE!".


Monday 14 April 2014

Husband wins the "cute puppy photo" award this week

Awww <3 :)

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Sleep habits

The deeper the sleep, the less bed is needed <3

She starts off in it and spends the next hour sliding out.
So... Mum turned my bed around #nothappy AT ALL!

Friday 14 March 2014

Today we learned...

... to climb up on the table and grab hold of the paper towel that Dad obviously left there JUST for me to play with... :/

Monday 24 February 2014

My foot-warmer...

My foot-warmer is having yelp-y #puppy #dreams under my desk #melt ♥

Wednesday 19 February 2014

After a 2hr play with a friend...


Thursday 13 February 2014

My new work/foot-warmer arrangement


Sunday 9 February 2014

New puppy with Puppy Kong

... 8 weeks old :)


Thursday 6 February 2014

Our new family member

Meet Muffin, our newest family member <3

More photos on Facebook