Census Fail: Aust Just Can’t Handle It

Well done, Australia!!

For the last week or two, the Australian Government has been nagging all the Aussie minions about their ‘patriotic duty’ to participate in the National Census on 9 August 2016 (which is tonight – at the time of writing).

That was the first line of BS – it is not patriotic; it is compulsory.

I’m fine with the whole census thing. I see the benefit of the census and consider it a good thing. The data from the census goes towards a good number of things. Yes, yes, yes – it is primarily used by a handful of policy makers and a bunch of civil engineers and local councils. But without the census, those poor minions would simply tick the welfare box on Census Night.

Seriously, census stats are used for determining a range of things: school zones; park development; large building approvals. Yes, it may feel like only policy makers and academic read the damn things, but they are the harbingers of change in our society.

Geez, I sound extremely naive about the romanticised nature of our society. Quick, dose me up with some Stephen Colbert

And that was for the United States of America in 2013. How dare we expect Australia to have caught up three years later?

I mean, c’mon. They spent all this time and money on organising the Census to be electronic. YAY! Digital evolution!!

Oh wait, you haven’t submitted your census details yet? Well, why not?

WHAT?!? The website has CRASHED?!?

ABS

But surely not! The Aust Govt told us it wouldn’t crash!! They promised us the smooth path of enlightenment into the digital world of the future!!

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

The good news is that this is a nation-wide documented event. You’re pretty safe from being fined if the census data is late.

Of course, there are some who are considering not submitting it at all. At last count, Senator Nick Xenophon, Senator Jacqui Lambie, and five other Green Senators have all said “No thanks” due to concerns regarding privacy and security. We even have a former deputy privacy commissioner, Anna Johnston, boycotting the event.

The problem with this is not everyone can rally the financial support to take on the ABS with this protest. Once they figure out you boycotted, they can start fining you $180 per day for withholding information. This kind of limits the protest vote to those with enough Klout (you can find my FundMe website … Nah, too lazy).

And while some may parry with “The Census is no different to Facebook” – please note the biggest difference of all:

Facebook is elective. If you don’t like the privacy settings, you don’t have to participate. The Census is a “patriotic duty”, remember?

I’ll be honest – I am really torn on this one. As a social antagonist (read: hobby sociologist), I love census and all the stupid it collates. But on the other hand, I have heard reports of the ABS being violated electronically up to 14 times in the last three years. I’m not sure if I want my personal details (including MY NAME) associated with that sort of behaviour.

I have a reputation to uphold. 😛

 

Soooo… will you “census”?
UPDATE: Apprently the Census site did not crash, it was hacked – 4 times!!

ABC News is following up on the statement from ABS. I would not want to be an ABS employee today. Or any day really.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Turns out it was just DDoS, or a bunch load of people accessing the site all at the same time…

So why did they release a statement saying “hack attack” to begin with? And is IBM going to do its job now? 

One Twitch At A Time

I can’t even blame this one on the spawnlings.

About a month ago, I developed a twitch in my left eye-lid. 

Just a small little spasm. A little involuntary movement, too small for anyone to see but enough to BUG THE ABSOLUTE S#!T OUT OF ME!!


*sigh*
At the time, I had started drinking coffee again – after giving it up for the last 7 years. Breastfeeding and babies and caffeine and whatnot. Taking up the habit again, I started with just a latte in the morning.

Slowly it built up – one more at lunchtime. One more in the afternoon. Less latte, more flat white.

And then the twitch started.

And it bugged me. 

Oh my chocolate deities, did it bug me. 

I would sit there, resting my open palm over my twitching my eye. Putting the slightest pressure on the spasm. Trying various temperatures and ideas, hoping for relief.

Nothing.

ARGH!!

Okay, okay. Breathe. 

The obvious culprit: Coffee.

Or was it just the easiest target?

Forgive me, fellow coffee drinkers. It has been one month since my last coffee. And I was wrong.

THE DAMN TWITCH IS BACK!!


So I’m thinking of drowning my sorrows in a flat white tomorrow morning.

Of course, EG Dad thinks I haven’t cut out enough caffeine. He suggested cutting out chocolate too.

The Funeral is on Thursday. Please give chocolate and coffee in lieu of flowers. It’s what he would have wanted.

What’s your sure-fire tip for an eye twitch? Share it in the comments below, and the one that works will win my favour for a week.


Art of The Brick: DC

There are only a handful of themes which truly stand the test of time. The kind of things shared between generations; dancing across language barriers; appreciated by any child, anywhere, anytime. Lego is definitely one. DC characters are absolutely there. Art is certainly there.

And then whoa! You have someone like Nathan Sawaya combining all three?!? Welcome to the Art of the Brick: DC Comics.

Continue reading

One Fridge At A Time

It was not how I wanted to be spending my Sunday morning.

Arm deep in an empty fridge, surrounded by food, trying to figure out where the leak was coming from.Leaky-Fridge-Title

Why was I doing this and not calling a tradesperson?

Because how am I supposed to teach our spawnlings how to conquer the world if I can’t show them how to conquer a simple refrigerator?!?

Plus I’m a cheapskate, and it was Sunday morning. Do you have any idea how expensive tradespeople are on a Sunday morning? I do not have that many kidneys.

However, the good news is I successful conquered the fridge. One-handed (literally…broken wrist, remember?) and while EG Dad was scouting out the competition in the US of A (apparently travel for work).

I’m rather impressed with myself. So was my grandfather, EG the Great (EG Great Grandad). Now here is a man who can conquer anything, anything. Electrician, mechanic, surfer, spear-fishing, gardening, hang-gliding … and all this right up until a couple of years ago. He’s like my own Leonardo da Vinci.

And he turns 80 today. He will hate me telling you, but he won’t risk telling me off as that would reveal his secret location. He is in hiding from the other 80-year-olds he knows, who are trying to throw him a big party.

So instead he was sitting on the phone with me, brainstorming about my fridge problem.

In fact, we were both so impressed with how I solved the problem, I thought it wise to share with you the ‘hows’ – so you can see how easy it was. Trust me – I ain’t no mechanical genius.

Leaking Fridge

  • First, where is the leak coming from? In my case, there was a pool of water around the front right corner. The water was leaking through the seal from inside the fridge. This was my first clue it was a defrosting issue. If the leak was from the back, then you need to consider the water tray at the back (where the water goes) for cracks; any pipes for water or ice dispenser (if you have one); pipe-tube that cycles back to the motor (more on that later).
  • Pull the fridge out (slide on the tiles) and TURN IT OFF AT THE WALL. I cannot express this enough. EG the Great is a retired electrician. It was the first thing he would always say to me as a kid, and he said it to me again this time. Turn it off and pull the plug out of the wall.

IMG_9715

  • Freak out at the mess back there – It had been awhile since I cleaned this area. Ugh.
  • Empty out the fridge – I kid you not. Everything. Good time to clean, except that it was Sunday morning and I was missing my ritual coffee-and-yell-at-the-tv-during-Insiders (political commentary show). With our FisherPaykel c450, the defrosting panel is most of the back wall. I needed to check this for ice, which meant everything out.
  • BTW: At this point, probably a good idea to note the model and serial number in case you DO end up calling that tradesperson.Fridge Serial and Model
  • Once you have all the trays out, you should be able to pop out the plastic covering over the defrosting panel at the back. Do this carefully because if you crack it, it will no longer hold in place and you will be calling the tradesperson for parts.

IMG_9722

  • This is the point where I found the back wall pretty much iced over. I also checked the door seals and they are looking a little dodgy. So my theory is that the seals are getting a bit more of a workout during the school holidays and are due for replacement (requires +2 dexterity so it will have to wait). This means the motor is working overtime to do its job. Let’s look at the back to see what else is going on.
  • Now remember it hasn’t been cleaned for awhile (let’s say, at least since before the wrist-break). Good idea to give it a vacuum. EG the Great also suggested I have a feel of the tube at the back for blockage: a small tube going from inside the fridge to the motor. This deals with water collected during the defrosting cycle. If it becomes blocked, the water will back up inside the fridge.IMG_9717
  • Unfortunately, to pull out the tube and have a look is again +2 dexterity (needs two hands), but you can squeeze along the tube and feel for any large chunks; a bit like the jelly pearls you find in the Asian drinks in shopping centres. If you find one, try breaking it up with a bit more squeezing.

Conclusion:

After cleaning up the ice and squeezing the little ball of whatever at the back, I have turned down the fridge power (making it a little warmer) to stop it from icing up again. I’m monitoring it with a thermometer and so far it is bang on 5 degrees Celsius (ideal for safe food standards).

I will still need to replace the door seal, but in the meantime, I have fixed the fridge. There are no more pools of water in the morning. There is no more ice covering the back wall inside the fridge. And there are no more mystery jelly balls in the tubes.

EG the Great

Happy Birthday, EG the Great. Thanks to you, I have the confidence to assess it myself first and show the spawnlings how-to as well. That’s more a present for me than you, but I know you’re pretty happy with this too.

 

Now folks – always be reasonable about what you are capable of. NEVER mess with electrical. Always turn things off at the wall. If you really want to try plumbing, turn the water off AND the electrical. But most of all, be realistic. I didn’t try pulling out the tube because I knew if I did, I may not be able to put it back together. Be honest with yourself. BUT don’t be so fearful you don’t try first. 

The Interwebs: Where All The Evil Kids Hang Out

I have just finished a really long, heated, and frustrating telephone call with my father – EG Opa. The short version is that the Internet is an evil place, where evil things happen, and only evil people benefit from it.

</old baby-boomers rant>

Yeah, I was going to palm it off as “grumpy old man say whaaat?” … But I’m one of those people who benefits from the Internet.GotG-Idiots

So naturally I felt the need to defend it, and all the other people who benefit from it without the intent of evil status (if you’re reading this, then accept that you are at least subconsciously working towards ‘evil genius’ status).

Now let’s make one thing, one very particular thing, clear before we go any further with my rant. I currently do not receive any financial benefits from my blog. Just old school wanting to write stuff.

So the first thing I asked my dear old dad is “What’s the evil benefit that I’m gaining?”

Yes, he stumbled. He ranted about evil people trying to steal information and lead people astray; corrupting young minds; and stalking my spawnlings.

No mention about my blog. Because clearly I am not on the internet.

So then we started talking about Facebook and Twitter and other social media forums. Predictably, he was back to “they’re evil, no-one is honest about who they are, they are all out to defraud you, no-one is really your friend” etc.

I am not naïve enough to think that everyone is honestly my bestie and thinks I am funny everyday (though, that day will come). However, I have received great positive benefits from online relationships – friendships that enhance the person I am in real life.

Way back in the 90’s, we had mIRC through the university servers. My first uni was a regional campus that used mIRC to connect students across hundreds of kilometres. It WAS supposed to encourage study groups, in the same manner as long-distance education. All faculties were included.

mIRC

Let’s be honest – only IT geeks used it. Mostly guys. There were a few females. And it was SOOOOO much fun. I met one of my closest friends through mIRC.

When I changed universities and moved to the city, I knew where my people were: Computer Labs and mIRC. Once again, I found a group of people who were as geeky as me and made me feel welcomed in a new habitat. We started meeting up at the pub for beer o’clock and pool (billiards) – and yes, one of them was even a genuine study buddy (the only other law student in a group dominated by IT and engineering)! Still friends with some today.

Over the years, the ‘forums’ have changed, but the friendships have not. Despite the stereotype EG Opa was giving, I was not some awkward teen unable to make any friends in the real world. I was merely a multi-layered individual who enjoyed associating with a diverse group of people.

Just like you.

I still maintain a presence in chatrooms and message boards; I frequently participate in Facebook and Twitter discussions (not much else due to time constraints); I have met many of my online friends in the real world (Hi Bruce and Tracey, and tribe! Hey Clinton and Kimberley, are you going to Supanova?).

I even write with an amazing group of people I have never met in person, yet respect and admire for their own Evil Genius. They have taught me so much and guided me through a fairly steep learning curve over the last 6 months. All from their computers.

Most of all I have been able to connect with people around the world, people who I would never EVER have met otherwise and yet give me the support to explore so many awesome things: geeky interests; International Humanitarian Law; Cosplay for kids; Gifted Children. Believe me when I say there are VERY FEW people in my geographic location that I can talk to about all of these topics, and yet there they are – on my computer.

NONE of this has been corrupt. None of it has been creepy. None of it has ever been as evil as the grumpy old man would want you to believe.

I know this is all a rant (how ironic), but the main reason for this rant is to show you, my loyal minions, that you are not alone. Unfortunately there are still people who do not understand the social benefits of the internet – but I do. I DO!

The Internet is NOT an evil place where only evil benefits. It is merely a tool, like anything else. And while there is a small minority of ick, there is a greater overwhelming feeling of YEAH!

Don’t let the grumpy old man ruin that for you.

Go say hi to your online friends.

And tell them thanks from EG Mum.

IMG_6063-0.JPG

Safe School Bullies

Yesterday was Australia’s National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence.

So… the Australian Federal Government commemorated the day by removing almost anything of strength or substance from the national Safe School program.

The Safe School program was set up to provide free resources and support to schools around Australia. The program is meant to give staff and students the skills to combat ignorance towards sexuality, gender, identity, and anything else.

Sounds like the type of program that should be introduced to the Federal Parliament.

There’s a bunch of conservative scared backbenchers who aren’t happy about such open-minded policy. 

They ordered a review.

It came back praising the program for its strength and positivity, predicting great change to come from it.

Well, the Conservatives couldn’t have that.

So they ordered their own review of the review.

I don’t know whether to compare this to Blackadder or Yes, Minister. Either way, this crap should be kept in fiction, not polluting the real world.

And how does the Prime Minister respond to these fearful bullying tactics?

He ‘guts the program’.

  • It will now only be offered to High Schools;
  • Any third-party groups or links (including support or counsel groups) will be removed;
  • Removal of role-playing activities (despite child psychologists approving the initial programs); 
  • Parents have say on resources used in school (whether or not they support the program as a whole).

Hmmmmm.

Maybe… Just maybe… We should take a minute to think about what this program is meant to achieve. Who it is meant to help.

Let me share a story with you:

(Copy of letter sent by parent to school principal – shared with permission)

First, let me just say that I apologize for overwhelming you with what is a lengthy email. I want to be clear that I recognize all sides of the issue, lay no blame on the school, but I have concerns I need to share and am willing to work with all of you to address them somehow. 

I know kids will be kids. I totally own that L is not perfect. However, whatever is going on at school is really bothering him, and it’s starting to feel as though it’s endemic in the population. 

L is different. I get that. He’s not the norm in various ways. However, for the past two years, he’s had to deal with the gender confines at school. Today, while he was in class, someone he doesn’t know laughed at him for singing “Let It Go” with the girls. Or he perceived someone to be laughing at him because it has happened so many times that when he is singing with girls and kids are laughing that is his internalization. Several times in the last year, he has come home upset because his pink shirt or his pink lunchbox or his pink shoes or his Elsa shirt or his My Little Pony shirt has been mocked by other students for being girlie (both boys and girls, and all grades). As much as I recognize that boys calling others boys “girlie” as an epithet is how it has always been, I feel responsible to L, and whoever he chooses to be, to teach him to be better and to expect better.

We have talked at home about being yourself. We share videos of guys singing “Let It Go” or girls liking Star Wars. We have done everything we can at home to reinforce that it is ok to be yourself. We have tried very hard to take care of our concerns at home. 

However, today, L came home saying things like “I’d like to move to a desert or forest to be alone where no one can tease me.” When I suggested the forest since it has water and you need water to live, I got “I want the desert because then I’d die. I wish I was dead because then no one could make fun of me.” 

Perhaps some kind of awareness program would benefit all of the students. I can’t imagine L is the only non-conforming child, and he isn’t even particularly outside the norm. I know he is sometimes mean to other kids, but this has been very specific to being slightly outside the gender norm over the past two years. I cannot imagine he is the only one. 

No, dear minion. Your son is not the only non-conforming child. 

But his child-voice is small in comparison to the fearful conservatives who cannot face that which they cannot control.

Australia’s Safe School program was supposed to protect and enable kids like L, to defeat the bullying in schools. It is not about ‘sexually liberating children’; it is about giving children a safe environment to be themselves. 

Hey Conservatives! If you’re worried about the kids being liberated, it’s only because you recognise the poor mites are already restrained by your narrow views. 

The Safe Schools Program was meant to empower children against bullying.

Instead, all we have done is show them how the bullies win again. 
If you or someone you know is being bullied at school, there are some good tips shared at GeekDad – the organisations mentioned ARE US based, so speak to your local school about the equivalent departments in your jurisdiction.

Not sponsored or endorsed – just frustrated with the fearmongering politicians everywhere.