The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Upcoming party, via MOO cards!

Monday 30 October 2006 at 10:34 pm

It is official: there is to be a party on the 25th of November in celebration (or, more likely, commiseration) of the fact that — shock and horror — I will soon have finished uni!

E-mail and SMS invites will be going out shortly. But far and away the coolest way to be invited to my party is to get one of my Flickr MiniCards!

[Some of my Flickr MOO cards!]

I echo the widespread sentiment that these cards are awesome, and almost everyone to whom I’ve given one has mentioned their coolness. But I was nabbed by a few gotchas:

  • The cards are matte — which isn’t a problem, and is probably better than gloss, but still caught me unawares.
  • I managed to break their system by trying to print photos I’d only just uploaded … but I think they’ve fixed that problem now.
  • Their software had some trouble with the Unicode punctuation characters I fed it. Fortunately MOO’s customer service is awesome and I got almost-completely-fixed free cards out of them — and promptly, too!

If you want a card, even if you can’t come, get in touch with me! :-)


Five months on, more mob violence

Sunday 29 October 2006 at 7:29 pm

I haven’t written about Timor-Leste in ages, even though it remains the biggest item in my (still-in-alpha) tag cloud.

To be truthful, I’ve not been following the situation very closely of late, but it worries me that there are reports of anti-Australian sentiment on the streets of Dili, allegedly because Australian soldiers are taking sides. After speaking to an ex-Army man in seminars this year, I have a new respect for how difficult life is when you’re stuck in the middle of a conflict, but I wonder if there’s more that could be done to clarify the troops’ role, ensure their impartiality, and deal with the deep-seated rivalries that seem to be at the heart of the ongoing conflicts.

And it just so happens that the recommendations from the International Crisis Group report of a few weeks ago say exactly that, among other things. More recently, the UNHCHR also laid down its report, the one that was supposed to be all shock-and-horror, name-and-shame (but wasn’t really all that surprising). As nice as it is to be reading the work of people who actually understand what’s going on, I wonder if the sound recommendations in these reports will actually get followed, given the quality of Timor’s governance and the bickering that so often seems to slow its development …

At least the situation isn’t the violent chaos that some news services are claiming. Dili-gence reports from the ground that the trouble is confined to Dili and then only in pockets, even though some of those pockets are getting pretty hairy at times.

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Friday 27 October 2006 at 11:12 pm

The first East Asia Summit: potential challenges to greater regional cooperation

Six months, 13 116 words … and as of this afternoon, it’s all over.

Today has been an insane day — frantic panic to finalise my referencing, followed by a minor crisis when printing, then an awesome afternoon at the End of Semester Show, and the first fun night out I’ve had in ages.

I am now going to sleep. A lot. If you’re trying to contact me, don’t expect a prompt response :-)


Another short photo expedition

Friday 20 October 2006 at 12:29 pm

I always feel horribly deceitful when I visit other universities to steal resources, like I’m rudely intruding on someone else’s turf. Oh wait, that’s exactly what I’m doing. Anyway, yesterday’s destination was the library at ECU Joondalup.

[Building 18, the library, at ECU Joondalup]

Wandering through the CBD on the way there, I got caught up in lunch hour, and was mildly surprised by the number of Ernst & Young employees watching the construction work at Esplanade station.

[Random folks watching the railway construction workers]

I also saw window cleaners! And which crazy hack at the City of Perth thought it’d be a good idea to have the Christmas decorations up at the start of October?

[Chaps cleaning windows on the Quadrant]   [Elderly lady walks past the already-decorated post office in Perth]


Newspaper columnists don’t need facts!

Monday 16 October 2006 at 11:39 pm

Being, as I am, behind schedule with draft writing (anyone care to concoct some sources on APEC for me?), I don’t really have time to post anything comprehensive. But I will rant briefly about a ridiculous opinion piece by Bettina Arndt in today’s West Australian, reprinted from the Herald Sun.

The first sign of trouble is when she starts talking about the average earnings data from the Bureau of Statistics — specifically, about wage inequality by sex — and casts doubt over the figures. I have a degree in pure maths, and I’d dare not question ABS findings, least not without some awfully solid evidence. But of course, Arndt doesn’t need any qualifications to denounce the comparison data as “meaningless”.

Later, she makes the sharp-as-a-bowling-ball observation that women, as a group, spend fewer hours in paid work than men. She also enlightens us with the discovery that they tend not to go into technical or construction jobs. But apparently this is perfectly normal … it’s not like there are any social factors keeping women out of science and engineering or anything. No, really.

She offers barely half a dozen words each to mention “glass ceilings” and “second shifts”. And so she should — after all, it’s not like there’s very many women out there who have to work fewer hours because of an unequal distribution of household labour. And on that note, I suppose I shouldn’t call it household labour, because Aunt Bettina tells us that women have fewer work hours than men, full stop. I guess those women do it for cheap thrills, or something.

I really need to stop expecting any kind of insightfulness when I open that newspaper …


The West Online: lamez0r

Monday 9 October 2006 at 10:39 pm

Clearly freaked by News Limited’s move with PerthNow, some months ago The West Australian redesigned their web site. After a ridiculous promo on Saturday’s front page, today’s paper features a big full-pager informing everyone of how great the new site is.

Back when PerthNow was released, I dug into it for being behind the times. But guess what? For all today’s print fanfare, The West Online is even worse. Indeed, the kids at Vivid Group who built this site have clearly not used any decent online news service in the last, oh, five years or so.

Where to begin? The Community page, with its lame attempt to tell you everything while keeping you on The West’s site, reeks of a mid-90s “Web portal” play. Heck, the print ad even claimed it provides Transperth information (though I couldn’t find it) — cos you know, it’s not like that’s the job of Transperth’s own site or anything!

What’s more, the front page has a decidedly old-school design (no, we won’t show you all the stories up-front, you have to click on this silly little tab thingy!) and there’s no RSS feed. There are, however, promises that “interactive blogging opportunities” will come soon (ha!).

Meanwhile, the content still consists of only a few shovelware stories, without so much as the occasional picture to dim the monotony. By comparison, for all its still-starting-out-ness, PerthNorg already features more, and better, content than The West Online could ever hope for.

If this represents the best that can be had from a local web-dev firm, then it saddens me that there is such a big shortage of clue in this town.