Ali’s Mental Meanderings

wandering, not lost

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With the launch of my new site http://alison-young.com it is a sad fact that this blog has now been made redundant. If I’m on your blogroll then please change my blog address according, alternatively feel free to add me ūüôā

Please edit your RSS feed details to the new feed address: http://alison-young.com/feed

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions then feel free to let me know by whatever means pleases you most. Looking forward to seeing your comments at my new blog.

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May 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

BarCamp-ing

I’ve had the pleasure of attending both Sydney and Canberra BarCamps over the recent weeks. Sydney BarCamp3 occurred over the weekend of the 5th and 6th of April and was held at the UNSW Roundhouse. Canberra BarCamp1 was held on Saturday the 19th of April in the ANU CSIT Building. Because I’m cheating in a way and posting 2 entries in one I’ve sub-headed my comments from each BarCamp.

Continue reading

April 26, 2008 Posted by | BarCamp | , , , , | Leave a comment

100 Things about Alison

After reading these posts from Fifikins and Lu I’ve been inspired to compile my own list of 100 things that you may or may not know about me. I’ve tried to come up with things that majority of readers probably don’t know already and also things that I’m relatively comfortable with everybody knowing given that this is a very public medium.

Here we go!

  1. I love to write and sometimes feel I can express myself better in writing. I’m a verbose writer, this isn’t going to be a short read.
  2. I’ve never liked beer and only this year have started to develop a tolerance/taste for wine. Despite all claims to the contrary, you can do a uni degree without becoming a beer drinker. My preferred alcoholic drinks are spirits and liqueurs.
  3. I’m quite competitive. It’s usually all in the spirit of healthy competition, not necessarily a bad thing if used carefully. My old Personal Trainer was particularly gifted at using this compulsion of mine to progressively improve my performance against my past achievements.
  4. If you’re making coffee I’ll have a skim milk latte with no sugar. I haven’t had instant coffee since the late 1990’s and will opt for tea or nothing before instant. Having said that, I love tea and the T2 Monk Pear blend is my current favourite.
  5. I am most motivated and inspired when surrounded by people that I believe are smarter than I am.
  6. I like my natural lip colour and rarely wear lipstick. This is also because I like to wear colourful eye makeup while still keeping my overall look fairly neutral.
  7. I enjoy my own company as much as that of others. If I’ve had an overly social week I crave some time in solitude. I am happiest when I can strike a balance between time alone and time spent around others.
  8. I’m a Virgo who was born on the cusp of Leo. Belief in astrology or not, it does sum up my personality. Easy-going, perfectionist and friendly most of the time but get me fired up about something and you’ll certainly hear about it.
  9. I love to drive. This inspired my love of taking road trips both by myself and with excellent company. Living close to the CBD of Sydney has meant I drive little and I get cravings to jump in my car and take off somewhere. I usually indulge these cravings when I have days off and a yearning to go and explore somewhere.
  10. I will do almost anything for my friends, I’ve been known to put their wants and needs before my own. Fortunately, I also have friends that do the same for me. Continue reading

April 16, 2008 Posted by | personal | , | 7 Comments

Geek-i-odic Table of the Elements

Last night following the Sydney BarCamp 3 Unorganisers meeting I unveiled the ‘secret BarCamp project’ I’d been working on for the last few weeks. At an earlier meeting we were talking about the idea of having Mikons but they weren’t quite right for us. Instead I had the random idea to come up with a list of things that people can identify with and then just write a one or two letter ‘code’ for each thing on the bottom of your name tag. The others thought this was quite a novel idea and it was suggested maybe doing it in a table, which led to the suggestion that we modify a periodic table. Bingo! Since I had no other tasks I offered to take on this project with a fellow unorganiser, the lovely JodieM. The project took flight.

JodieM found a periodic table online and created a shared GoogleDoc that we could work from. Then as tends to happen she got busier and I got less busy. This resulted in most of the element ideas coming from my side and taking suggestions from others. It was easy to come up with the things that I could relate to but more than a few times I was concerned that I’d missed something glaringly obvious.¬† I ran my ideas past a few people during the development stages and was pretty happy with the spread I’d created. Hopefully not too much of some things and missing other. A moment of quiet humour led to me add ‘Ni’ for Monty Python and that has by far been the most commented on ‘element’.

The finalised table (for now)¬† is able to be viewed here.¬† It’s been licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 2.5 Australia License . I’d love to see it used in other BarCamps as I think it really does embody the whole BarCamp spirit and other geeky networking events. There are way more elements than space on the table which is no bad thing as it lets each group update the table and add the elements that mean the most to them. I’ve also deliberately left the space at the bottom blank. The element list is going to be printed up and put next to the table. On the day the bottom spaces can be filled in by Sydney BarCamp3 attendees with what they’d like to add.

I’m pretty excited that it’s been so well received. It’s also the first project that I’ve CC Licensed which is also exciting, for me at least. A couple of people have mentioned that it’d be a cool t-shirt idea. I think so too and may look into doing a run sometime. Keep an eye out here and on my twitter timeline for more details.

Thank-you to everybody for their feedback!

March 28, 2008 Posted by | creative commons | , , , , , | 9 Comments

White Rabbited

Catherine hit me with a White Rabbit¬†so in the spirit of sharing I’m going to play along.

The rules:
1- Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2 – People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules.
3 – At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4 РDon’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

8 Random Things:

  1. I enjoy problem solving, puzzles and challenges. I adore cryptic crosswords and sudoku in particular.
  2. My personality type is ESTJ which kind of explains a lot, but not everything.
  3. I was once proposed to.
  4. If given the choice between dark, milk or white, I’ll take dark chocolate every time.
  5. Tutoring¬†is the most self-fulfilling job I’ve ever done and would do it again in a heartbeat.
  6. I made a resolution a couple of years ago to fly somewhere at least once every 12 months for as long as I can. So far so good.
  7. I’m something of a clutz and¬†tend to¬†drop things or trip often.
  8. I often knit while watching episodes or movies at home to occupy my hands. Not only is it the ultimate in stress reliever but¬†I¬†find it difficult to just sit and watch something, especially if I’m alone.

I’m tagging:
~ Lauren Watson
~ Monnie
~ Fiona Henderson
~ Michael Specht
~ Della Misner
~ Donna Brown
~ Tony Buttafuoco
~ Lauren Hewitt

March 18, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Only a number

Something that has¬†been discussed¬†in various circles lately is age. While out with some colleagues on Friday night the topic arose and not for the first time has somebody been surprised that I’m 25. This person was actually agape, later explaining that they’d thought me to be closer to 21 and that I didn’t look 25 at all. On my birthday last year in a different workplace I had colleagues asking me if I’d finished high school the previous year. When I look in the mirror I don’t see an 18 or even a 21 year old. In conversation when the topic of age comes up, majority of people will guess I’m 23.

The point to¬†the post is that I continually¬†observe how age seems to be less important than your achievements, passions and outlooks. At a different event I was among a group where the exclamation of ‘I can’t believe you’re only 23’ was the response to a story about somebody and what they had done during recent years. Majority of my social and professional interactions involve people across a very diverse age group. My friends group age range exceeds 25 years between youngest and oldest. In recent years age seems to matter less when it comes to determining who you talk to and befriend, especially among technology people. What keeps us all so young?¬†Our areas of passion are young and vibrant to many;¬†do we tend to adopt those characteristics and to non-tech people appear much younger than our years?

What I’d like to find out is whether the age barrier breakdown is occuring amongst non-technology people. What about¬†groups in other countries or even different parts of Australia? I think it’s great that I know and have built friendships with people of varying ages. Experience¬†comes with age and develops into widsom.¬†Sharing of wisdom is something that people can always benefit from.

March 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

Miro

Last night I did some further reading on Miro which I became aware of a couple of weeks ago. Miro is an open video player that utilises the VLC media player and also features an array of internet channels with all free content and an inbuilt bittorrent client. It also enables you to download and save videos from YouTube, Google Video and seven other sources. Before it was renamed to Miro in mid-2007 it was called Democracy Player and DTV.

This application initially interested me as I often get video’s in my rss feeds that I do want to watch but not always at the exact moment I have the item open. It’s untidy and inconvenient to have several pop-out windows loading at once and sometimes the environment isn’t conducive to watching videos. Previously I’ve also found watching videos from browser windows to be laggy and sometimes they fail to load entirely.

What particularly impressed me about Miro is the ability to download videos only when I want to see them, but also that the downloaded videos can be set with an expiry after which they’re automatically deleted to free system resources. I like to watch BoingBoingTV and VLog ‘episodes’ but don’t need to retain them after viewing. The channel searching and browsing is novel but I don’t foresee that I’ll use that feature often. Searching and downloading clips from YouTube to watch later is useful and searching is quick and quite accurate. The ability to limit bandwidth used by Miro is good and there are plenty of options regarding how often you’d like new videos in the channels you’ve added to be downloaded and managed.

Miro did crash a number of times while downloading videos however after restarting, the application instantly picked up where it left off. Given that Miro 1.1 was released a mere 10 days ago, a couple of initial crashes can be forgiven. It has been running quite stable since.

Extra kudos must be given for having installers with simple clear instructions for Linux, Windows and Mac systems. Within the Linux installation page, Ubuntu had it’s own guide with instructions for installation on either of the three latest Ubuntu releases.

In summary I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far of Miro. For me it is a great way to store and keep short videos for later viewing. I don’t plan to use Miro for large file and playlist management but according to the website it’s more than capable of doing that. Have an explore, it’s refreshing to find such a great application that solves a long-standing niggling problem.

January 21, 2008 Posted by | Miro, open source software, review | Leave a comment

Widget

I’ve discovered to my absolute delight that I can in fact add a widget to my blog which shows links that I’ve selected to share from my GoogleReader rss feeds. In effect this could be seen as being lazy, but I’d like to defend that by stating it is now easier for me to share the more interesting things I find and no more difficult for my readers to find more rapidly changing content.

I’ve also registered my own domain for a bargain price. Now I just need to determine what I’d like to do with it and organise a page and hosting. I’m actually looking forward to developing some more web skills in terms of basic page design and coding in addition to learning more about how domains, space hosting and creating a statement page can all come together.

November 20, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Popularity and Nerds

In 2003 Paul Graham wrote an essay as to why nerds are unpopular. Beginning as quite a detailed account of how the groups within a school function, specifically how nerds fit in and why they are victimised by the popular people before graduating into the role of modern teenagers in society. This offers some sort of explanation as to apparently why teenagers are the way they are and how it is merely the product of the ‘adult world’ and their lack of ability to engage teenagers and thus two disparate worlds are formed, the teenage and the adult.

It’s an interesting read and while I can’t overly identify with all aspects of it, I suspect that’s due to differences in the American and Australian school systems, difference in lifestyle and engagement with my parents and other adults.

November 18, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Link Goodness and job fun

My new contract has been indulging a few of my geeky weaknesses. I’ve had a really good time learning about how mobile phone towers communicate with each other and with our phones. The basics are that I’m in charge of testing new 3g towers and collecting data from around the place using a variety of expensive gadgets and software. Part of my job also includes adjusting the electrical ’tilt’ of tower sectors where required. Learning how to do that was the basis of a ‘field trip’ today including a first hand look inside the shed at the base of a local towers which housed a lot of cable, racks and other assorted goodies in a white air-conditioned room.

Onto the links that are grabbing my attention this week.

  • LOLcode – it’s real, it’s out there and apparently there are employers seeking LOLcoders with at least a month of experience. It looks like fun, I wonder if they’ll let senior programming students use it when they get to pick their own language.
  • Street kids running their own bank – this is so inspiring to me. Why aren’t more children being so innovative and gaining such important skills?
  • Model of Scrooge McDuck’s money bin – link is to the set, I highly recommend going through each of the pictures as the detail and attention put into this is incredible.
  • Portrait Landscape Sketchbook – this is more novel than anything else, but I still think it’s cool though I’d likely never actually buy one.

November 6, 2007 Posted by | BoingBoing, interesting urls, work | Leave a comment