My kitchen knives

I don’t profess to be an expert cook, nor do I have elite knife skills. Nevertheless, I thought it worthwhile capturing what I have as my interest in good, sharp knives is steadily increasing.

I have found the most useful site for information about blades is Knife Forums which has a bewildering amount of discussion on topics covering every imaginable aspect of owning, using and maintaining knives.

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No, you can’t touch my social media

For me the key most desirable aspects of new social integration technology is that it be instantaneous and personal. I’m not lining up to buy an iPad but there are some aspects of the device that are very tempting because they progress our immersion in technology.

The iPad does a great job in advancing the ability to pick up an instantly available interface to web content and a range of other data services. Devices such as the iPad provide great availability; they don’t provide any concept of shared access. I’m sure vendors would love everyone to have one (or more) pieces of hardware each, but who wants half a dozen 10 inch LCD panels on the coffee table?

Availability means it is ready to go the moment I want to use it. No waking from sleep mode, no finding a power lead due to low battery charge, no clumsy net-book sitting on the coffee table (my wife doesn’t like it). I don’t want to wait 30 seconds to take a photo to use my digital camera and I don’t want to wait that long to access information.

Where all current technology falls down is the personal aspect. Concurrent logins is how a laptop can have more than one person logged in at the same time, each seeing their own personalised view. This provides good separation of information but consumes more hardware resources (including power) and is relatively slow to switch from one person to another – it is simply inconvenient. In practice you end up with a laptop sitting around relatively unsecured with the inconvenience of having to log in and out of facebook etc every time you pick it up.

So what do I want to buy? I’d like something instantaneous like the iPad with a simple interface to provide a personal view. Are you listening Apple?

WordPress

After mucking around with a number of content management systems over the last seven or so years I have now moved my content to WordPress. It was certainly the most painless of all so far and it has proven very easy to tweak to meet my needs – fingers crossed!

MySchool is better than your school

There has been a lot of hype in the media and by so called media experts on the woe that befalls us in the guise of the new MySchool web site launched by the Federal Government in January 2010 to provide contextualised comparisons between Australian schools.

I have a strong background in data analytics and as a parent I was obviously keen to see how my children’s primary school faired in comparison to other schools we had considered. I noted with interest that numeracy sat lower than desired which was consistent with my own observations of my children’s learning. Of course there was really no surprise in this since the data was the same NAPLAN testing that the school had already shared with us late in 2009.

MySchool provides the results for other schools, which was not readily available previously, and there is also an opportunity to compare schools. Until now I could only see my children’s results in relation to our school and National and State averages and had to make those comparisons myself by eyeballing two separate reports.

So if the data is already available information what is the problem? MySchool does let you see the results for other schools and this is where the critics come in. Instead of looking at this as a tool with which to expose resourcing and programming issues in some schools, there has been heavy sledging with very little in the way of coherent argument.

A good example is a blog article using Finland as an example of how to get it right. Ah the delicious irony of using data based on PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) league tables to make a point about why MySchool data will be used to make evil league tables!

On another blog the author slams MySchool for being decontextualised however the problem is the exact opposite if anything with perhaps too much emphasis on a newly contrived measure of equivalence called ICSEA (Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage). The article then moves on to a rant about the role of technology in 21st century education. I lost interest after seeing ‘holistic view’, ‘discrete focus’, ‘innovative support systems’ and ‘multi-dimensional abilities’ all in the first sentence!

My children are above average students with particularly strong skills in numeracy thus far. I have noted my concern regarding numeracy teaching at the school and they had already started a review based on the NAPLAN data so all good. Being able to compare my school to others in the same area frequented by friend’s children gives us a great starting point on which to discuss our personal observations and each school’s response. The key here is that we’re using the data as a basis for discussion, not a sole basis for decisions.

I note that some misguided parents are trying to move their children from schools that scored poorly to one with better comparative results. The head scratcher for me is why they have waited until now to act as the NAPLAN data would have already been hi-lighting the issues at their school for a couple of years.

Should parents be considering changes their children’s education in order to place them in a higher performing or more supportive environment? Hell yeah! We all want to provide the best opportunity for the future that is within our means. Will some people make ill-informed decisions? Of course; we all do at one time or another.

Don’t be the ignorant gun.

Resolved resolutionless

At 44 I am likely around half way through my life today. When I look back at the huge journey I’ve already had, it gives me pause to reflect on what significant goals and milestones lie ahead of me.

I’m not one for new year resolutions as invariably they are issues or opportunities for which I am currently unable or insufficiently motivated to achieve, otherwise why would I be setting myself a challenge?

There is however quite a list of things that I would like to do at some point and I see no harm, and indeed some potential inspiration, to start actually compiling a list of things needing or wanting doing.

I’ll share a few here:

  1. Skydive (tandem is more than satisfactory given I have mild acrophobia)
  2. Do a stand up routine – straight comedy dialogue and/or singing
  3. Visit some of the countries on the northern side of the Mediterranean Sea – Italy, Spain, Portugal etc
  4. Visit northern and southern Japan (already done three trips in the middle)
  5. Work outside of Australia for an extended period (with my family)
  6. Achieve and maintain a body mass index <= 25 (obviously requires exercise and dietary considerations)

I don’t know whether you now feel encouraged to produce a list of your own, but just seeing these excites me into taking some action so at least one person has had a good outcome!

Living on a working

My 10 year old son had a mate over for a sleepover this evening and I walked in to be told I was interrupting important conversation about matters I wouldn’t understand. Rather than the usual Pokemon, they had been discussing what they wanted to be when they grew up.

On reflection of my life in recent years, I felt the need to remind them even at this early stage in their lives, that you need to always keep in mind that the objective is to work to live – not live to work and that money wasn’t everything despite the immediate appeal. I left them with that thought with little hope it would be remembered very long but perhaps at least for a few minutes.

A thing I have learnt about children is that our ability to interact, and therefore convey information, is a series of trial and error bludgening examples observed through a welding mask. For some things they can be easily malleable whilst others are prone to me caving in to the fact of someone more stubborn than myself.

You don’t have to love the job you do, but you do have to like it if you intend to use it as your main earner AND/OR consumer of time. You may tolerate a job that gives you nothing beyond remuneration, but it will drain you in the long run and likely affect your social and personal life.

A car is like a stick

When the first person picked up a stick and used as a tool, everyone wanted one and an industry boomed.

As the market became saturated, producers tried to differentiate their stick by using different colours or new materials for “high end” sticks. Eventually though, everyone has a stick and unless it is a particularly special stick, noone goes “ooh! ah!” when your neighbour comes home with a new stick.

Like a stick, at some point the market became saturated such that a car is no longer innovative or novel, it is simply a commodity and becomes a low margin item. Where the true boundless opportunity arises is where we take a commodity and use it to create a service.

In the case of a car, it becomes a means of transportation of people and goods which is focussed more on the capability that the commodity provides rather than any inherent value the car has in its own right. A car as a transportation device is therefore an enabling technology for the provision of transport related services.

In the early 90’s my parents would proudly tell their friends that I was “in computers” and they would respond with appropriate exclamations at how clever I must be to understand such wondrous technology that was beyond the grasp of mere mortals.

Nowadays pretty much everyone carries more processing power in their mobile phone than the combined computing resources of a major university in the 60’s and entirely takes it for granted. Being “in computers” is no longer special, it too has become a simple commodity. Again, computing technology has become an enabler for the provision of a vast range of services.

Many industry pundits are pointing at cloud computing as the next wave of technology to sweep home and industry. I ponder what this pervasive and immersive communication technology will enable and the effect it will have on societal social structures.

“Anglican church caught up in global financial crisis”

The headline above caught my eye today as it proceeded to explain how the church was facing financial hardship in 2009 partly due to an expected decrease in investment return.

Call me naive but somehow it just strikes me as just wrong that a religious institution is taking funds raised for various charitable works and putting it in the stock market. Isn’t that gambling, which is viewed most dimly in the bible?

Likewise the Catholic church has suffered due to currency fluctuations. My mind boggles at the concept of an investment advisor listing the Pope as a customer. Of course the church does have significant expenses including the millions of dollars in legal fees and settlements for sex abuse cases.

They truly are church’s by the people (and their associated investment interests) for the people. Don’t even get me started on religions in name only (and associated tax free status) such as scientology.

Recovering from hacked web site

Ugh!

For the first time since I established an online presence back in the 80s, my web site was hacked this week via a security issue with Joomla version prior to 1.5.6. I appear to have recovered and content should now be okay.

MBP does a Lazarus

After some nail biting, I escaped from my potential disaster with nothing more than a replacement keyboard assembly. Neatly installed for $227.48 including labour by Mac1 in Fyshwick. Whew!