Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Assignment Three - 10 things. [ - I hate about you. Man, I love that movie.]

This assignment was the opportunity to share the things I dig about Murdoch. When I first started here I was a very cynical young man, I never thought I'd grow fond of aspects of the campus. Over time I've come to really love some parts of the Uni, like the sunken garden for example. Other little eccentricities have always tickled me, like the soviet hallway [if you don't know the soviet hallway just have a watch.] and there was even a hidden thing or two I've found, some I'll share with you, and some I'm still going to keep just for me.

Fortunately for me I'm good friends with Nigel Fopmorth III, one of the world's foremost documentarians and host of "Urbane Naturaliste" one of the premiere webtv shows on the internet. I invited Nige to come and use Murdoch as location for his latest episode, and share some of the gems I love about the place.

Here is the episode he made.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dying hurts

Profuse apologies for the extended radio silence valued readers, I've been sick.

The word sick doesn't really seem a fair description to me. I wasn't sick, I was dying, I was hunched in a foetal position on my bed in a puddle of my own sweat, cradling my bleeding ear and nose, praying for death.

Sickness is never welcome, but when you're like me, a total moron who's commited himself to far too many things, it really really sucks. Cause the only thing that happens is you end up either letting people down who are relying on you, or letting go of things you don't want to let go of [such as blogging]

As of today I'm feeling a lot better though, I mean, I can't hear out of my left ear, I have an infected pink right eye, and breathing through my nose is labourious at best, but I feel like I can actually get things done.

Which is rather handy really as it's one movement this weekend and I have interview duties. I'll be interviewing Ashley Sellers, CEO of Inertia. I'm looking forward to the chance to talk to one of the major players in the Australian [good] independent music scene. He'll be talking at 11:45 on sunday at a panel on lisencing in the digital age. You don't need a ticket to go check out most of the panels, so if you consider yourself interested in the world of music, here's your chance to go learn even more.

Time for links!

This was a Tee worn by a Norwanese [Norwegian] librarian to the Internet Librarian International in London. Apparently it was created in response to the US patriot act, the latin reads, "We know what you're reading, and we're not telling." Don't mess with the Librarians man. [From Boing Boing]

So apparently there is this awesome animator called Nick Cross, who's style is deliciously old school, reminiscent of the start of the cartoon Renaissance in the early nineties [think Ren and Stimpy] He has done a really dark political animation. Check it out. [From Boing Boing]

Yellow Cake from Nick Cross on Vimeo.

Staying with wicked sticks animation this is from a cool little outfit in melbourne-town. Voice by Nick Cave. [From Clusterflock]

The Cat Piano from PRA on Vimeo.

More from my ongoing linkroll to prove that we do actually live in "The Future". This is an amazingly informative video on how you make a remote control blob do what you want. [From Boing Boing]

Sticking with stuff from the future-now, this is some pretty amazing work into robotic balance. [From Engadget]

Two related video's in a row here. They are interesting because they both seem to bring the playfulness out of people. The first is a really really cool installation art/A.V. Piece in london. [From Clusterflock]

Hand from Above from Chris O'Shea on Vimeo.

The second is a interactive staircase in Sweden designed to get commuters off the escalators. [From Boing Boing]

Staying with musical stuff, this guy is the business, and he'd want to be with a name like Final Fantasy [not the game] [From Clusterflock]

Coolest House ever? I think so. This guys is some kind of Lumber and Construction tycoon in Russia. [seriously] [From Kottke]

Coolest massive sculpture of a bull fart rocketing a man into a wall, ever. [from August Animals]

It really doesn't get any cooler than this [From Clusterflock]

Monday, October 5, 2009

Link Post

Just a few of the rad-tacular things I've found this week.

First off I guess I'll throw the link up to the podcast I'm listening to, D-sides and Glitchmob? Daddy like.

Staying with thing electronica, Dancecult is a new online journal [like, peer reviewed academic-esque journal] on "Electronic dance music culture". Volume one is available, some good reading in there if you're in too deep like me.

I want to work in a place that paints stuff like this on the walls [from Boing Boing]

So, we actually live in the future now. Soon these will be mounted on the pilotless drones so that a man sitting behind a desk in tennessee can fire a laser at a tank from kilometers away in an unmanned remote control plane thingy. Jesus. We're too smart for our own good. [From engadget]

OMG. New feature from Paul King, director of the mighty Boosh. Squee [from Dangerous Minds]

Lol. Married to the sea are great.

I love chess. I'm also a [closet] car nut. This chess set is the absolute win. A rad tinkerer who has a flickr account knocked it together. [from Lifehacker]

The digital devide to which anchorwoman Leah refers, is a very real problem, one that the OLPC movement looked to address [incidentally, netbooks also came out of the program, don't let people ever say that aid can't have positive externalities]. It's efforts like this that remind me that while we have a long way to go, we're making progress. [From Rocketboom (why the hell are all of rocketbooms presenters hot young women? I thought we were better than this now?)]

Sometimes I forget that the states has an absolutely amazing public broadcaster. PBS, which gave the world Sesame Street, has compiled an hour long web video for kids to help them come to terms with the economic recession [which believe me, is pretty rough for a lot of people in the states] These are kids who were accustomed to a lifestyle of videogames and toys and now their folks might be struggling to pay the rent. It's a big ask to get a child younger than 10 to understand that sort of shift. Bravo PBS, Bravo.

Man. Not many things stir my emotions. This did. There is hope. The person I nabbed this link from sums it up best
For an educated adult living in a developed nation, designing and building a wind turbine that generates electricity is something to be proud of. For a half-starved, uneducated boy living in a country plagued with drought, famine, poverty, disease, a cruelly corrupt government, crippling superstitions, and low expectations, it’s another thing altogether. It’s nothing short of monumental.
[from boing boing]

This one courtesy of imgur

Found on 4chan

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Blogging Assignment 2: Slogan

So, for those of you unfamiliar with this one, it was a challenge to come up with a little quip, slogan if you will, that I would have liked to have been told when I was considering my choices for uni [and I went out on a limb and extended that to life in general, post high school]

Despite the inherent cheese factor of reducing any advice to the length of a slogan, I liked the premise of this assignment. While I don't think any one liner is going to offer help in life direction, what they can do is promote thought, and hopefully, a conversation about it. I gave thought to this one and at first I'd settled on a very simple "work hard." and while I mentioned this in a previous post as still probably the most valuable piece of advice for a uni student, it doesn't in any way help those who don't really know what they want to do, and where they want to go in life.

Back to the drawing board I went, this time actually thinking about me back then, fresh out of high school, bright eyed and bushy tailed. Without going into what is an interesting but unrelated life story, the long and the short of it was I did a fair bit of humming and haa-ing after school. Periods of backpacking interspersed with resitting year 12 at a senior campus, as well as a year of a science degree at UWA means that there was definitely advice I could have used.

What I realised eventually, the thing that made me settle down and stay on a course, was that there are things in this world that I'm good at. Whether it's natural talents like my people skills, which I've just always had, or acquired traits such as my penchant for performance or my abilities with a lot of tech, there were things that I did and do well. Essentially, what I did, and what I think other people should do when trying to decide where to go in life, is to "play to your strength"

My slogan and how I presented it are a testiment to playing to your strenghts. In the assignment it said that we should decorate the letters of our slogan. The problem with this for me, is that I am not arty in any way. I learned what the primary colours are literally 4 months ago. I'm 23 for gods sake. I knew I wasn't going to be able to compete with the no doubt significantly more creatively minded kids I'm up against. What I do well though, is working hard, and techy things. The idea came to mind that if I painted my slogan on a wall [where no one would mind, nothing annoys me more than idiots who munt up peoples houses and businesses] I'd be able to create a short time lapse video that would look great. I played to my strengths and I am incredibly proud of that came out of it.

It must be said that all of this would not have been possible without the the aid of my housemate and rogue photographer josh, who had the mind numbing job of doing nothing but pressing the shutter every 30-40 seconds. Fortunately he, like me, loves where I was planning to do the work. He snapped off a few more great shots that I'll share with you to highlight why I choose where I did.

The second part of the assignment was to put up my slogan somewhere that was significant to me. I chose the abandoned powerstation in South Fremantle. It's one of the most magnificent places on earth for a number of reasons. Frist of all, it's huge, like really really huge, it's size can be somewhat comprihended in the following shot.

Up the top there you can see another reason the powerstation means so much to me, those are two young schoolies we ran into as we were doing our project. There is this perfect golden mean of knowledge about the station, enough people know about it that there is some of the best street art in the state there, and you're always likely to run into some cool crew [we ran into 2 other pairs of people with camera and tripod] as well as some more young explorers like the ones we met above, but it isn't filled with heaps and heaps of tools looking to cause trouble for anyone.

Playing to your strengths has worked for me, whether it's for this assignment or for life in general. If you're one of those people who doesn't think they have any strengths all I'd say is don't compare yourself to others. In this networked world finding someone who is better than you at whatever you think you're good as takes about 2 seconds on youtube. Have some confidence and use what advantages you have.

I'll leave you now with some more of the shots Josh took while we were on this mission

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Sometimes my peers at uni depress me. Not in an, "oh my god everyone sucks and man that new album from Third Eye Blind speaks to me." kind of way. More of a queer bafflement really, a kind of bovine lack of comprihension, about what motivates a lot of the kids I see cruising around the place.

It's always kind of interesting to me, as assignment deadlines approach, how often I'm asked for help. It's not the asking that interests me, but the questions. If, for example, it was a question about the implications of one of the theories brought up in a recent lecture or reading, and how that might relate to an almost finished essay? Not only will I give you what help I can, I will probably thank you and talk to you far longer than you would have liked. This is because the overwhelming majority of the questions I fence are not questions of this nature. Instead they are to do with elementary things, things that transcend a mere lack of understanding and sit squarely in the realm of ignorance.

Now, allow me to be abundantly clear here, I am in no way a perfect student. I usually have a number of side projects on the go, be it my radio show, this mental blogging comp, a girlfriend, and a social life. All these things must share a finite amount of brain power and it's a zero sum equation, if I put more effort into one thing, other things must loose out. And studies don't always come first.

However. When I'm at uni, it's on. On like Donkey Kong. I am interested in picking up as much as I can. Addmittedly I'm doing a very practically based degree [Bachelor of Mass Comm] so learning tips and tricks about the industry will serve me much better than say... someone in neuroscience. Even when I was doing a science degree though, I was surrounded by people who weren't into it.

Wait, that's not fair, I was one of those people. I was slack, I passed notes in the back of lecture theatres, I had horrid grades, and was infinitely more interested in my girlfriend of the time. The crucial difference between me then and the contemporary analogues I see around me, is that I dropped out. I realised that continuing a degree I wasn't interested in, and wasn't trying for, was purely absurd.

Now, armed with this knowledge I consider perhaps that the people I see around me now, the ones who seems lost and disinterested, might merely be like I was. This seems unlikely though, I'm in second year, doing a few third year units. I'd always been led to believe that, like myself previously, people would naturally drift away from that which they did not put effort into. I'm not handing judgement here, I don't condemn the people for being slack, I just don't understand.

I feel like shaking them, fight club fantasy style, and yelling "Don't you want to be great, aim to be the best, to take joy from the thing that you do, and try and push that thing further than it has before?!" I know this reeks of idealism, rich fetid waves of pungent naivety. The paradigm goes; the realities of life in the big bad world will over power this [clearly immature] desire to do something you're passionate about.

I would encourage everyone to challenge this. I'm not talking about breaking down cultural walls, dropping tools and seizing the means of production, or any other revolutionary tosh. All I mean is don't be ok with just getting by. Don't study something because you like the idea of it, because some source of authority said you should, because your friends study it, or indeed for any reason other than it fascinates you. Nothing facinates you that you've found? Don't go to uni. Find something, anything, that you love, and chase it.

There is a misguided conception that holding a mediocre degree will get you somewhere in the world. The sad reality is that we don't need more professionals in our society. When we leave uni we enter a competition based market in all but a few select professions. How well do you think you will fare when you're up against someone who is passionate about what they do. They will get the corner office, or industry specific analogue, and you my friend, will be in a very drab cubicle.