Coming to you for the first time from the Yum Yum Cafe…

… via Baby Toshiba, whose webcam works much better now I have removed the protective film that’s been there for about a year!


And there is so much news too. Had a call from Sirdan last night, who has been in Queensland. Major changes are coming up, and I am still processing them. It can’t be called bad news though it does make me more than a bit emotional.

Definitely bad news though is that a former SBHS colleague, Greg, who is much younger than I,  is very much on his last legs in hospital. Life is so uncertain, eh!

Meanwhile  do check the new page on the photoblog!

Yesterday I presented the most visited posts on this blog in the quarter just ending. Today it’s the top posts this month:

  1. Home page 1,532 visits in September 2011
  2. Thanks, Tilly and Kate! 455
  3. Showcase 300
  4. Jack Vidgen–Australia’s Got Talent last night 209
  5. Being Australian 16: inclusive multiculturalism Aussie style 9 – my tribes 208
  6. Nostalgia and the globalising world — from Thomas Hardy to 2010 194
  7. Australia’s Got Talent 2011 Grand Final 94
  8. The Rainbow Warrior 92
  9. A very personal Australia Day 26 January – my family 88
  10. Honk if you hate the changes on Facebook… 72
  11. Is that all there is? And how to remember 9/11 constructively… 65
  12. R U OK? Day 62
  13. So there went another August! 57
  14. Jack Vidgen comes to Wollongong 36
  15. Being Australian 11: inclusive multiculturalism Aussie style 4 36
  16. Has school bullying increased? 31
  17. Leaky Boat: the documentary 29
  18. In the matter of David Hicks 29
  19. This may well be the best Australian history book I have EVER read! 27
  20. The High Court has struck down the Gillard Government’s refugee swap with Malaysia 26


See Two years ago today–and the ending of the current quarter of 2011 on the photo blog.

September departing with sound and fury

Or so we are promised in today’s Illawarra Mercury.

A severe weather warning has been issued for the Illawarra, with gale-force winds expected to whip through the region later today.

Peak gusts of up to 90km/h are predicted, exceeding the estimated 76km/h winds that buckled WIN Stadium’s western grandstand roof last week.

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting winds averaging 45km/h in the morning, intensifying to 55km/h during the afternoon thanks to a strong cold front blowing up from the state’s south.

But with peak gusts higher than those of last Tuesday’s strong winds, all eyes will be on the beleaguered western grandstand.

Five cranes are now on the site supporting the roof, which buckled after 16mm bolts, which held the truss together, snapped in high winds…

I’m hanging out for Steelers and The Steel Wok to reopen – and I am sure they are too but even more so!

September began thus:

Checking outside just now:



Back to reviewing the third quarter of 2011 on this blog.

Most visited posts in the quarter ending 30 September 2011

  1. Home page 4,940 visits since 1 July 2011
  2. Australia’s Got Talent 2011 Grand Final 1,281
  3. Jack Vidgen–Australia’s Got Talent last night 1,007
  4. Thanks, Tilly and Kate! 468
  5. Nostalgia and the globalising world — from Thomas Hardy to 2010 438
  6. Being Australian 16: inclusive multiculturalism Aussie style 9 – my tribes 401
  7. Showcase 267 – this is the current home page
  8. A very personal Australia Day 26 January – my family 264
  9. Leaky Boat: the documentary 209
  10. The Rainbow Warrior 192
  11. Who to vote for on last night’s Australia’s Got Talent 187
  12. Semi-Final 5: Australia’s Got Talent 166
  13. Australia’s Got Talent 2011 Grand Final — my top 5 122
  14. Australia’s Got Talent Final 2 118
  15. More disordered thoughts on “Leaky Boat” and the Q&A 90
  16. Whatever it takes… 89
  17. In the matter of David Hicks 79
  18. Being Australian 11: inclusive multiculturalism Aussie style 4 78
  19. About 74
  20. Has school bullying increased? 73
  21. Documentaries to make you think, cringe, cry, or wonder.. 1 71
  22. Wollongong local history 71
  23. Honk if you hate the changes on Facebook… 71
  24. Yesterday 70
  25. Being Australian 20: poem and song, images, dreams, nostalgia, England 68

Where would my blog be without TV? Winking smile

Highlights of the third quarter of 2011 — 3


September has had 52 posts so far, including this one. These are the highlights in time order.

Highlights of the third quarter of 2011 — 2


August had 53 posts. Here are the best ones in time order…

Post 1,001: highlights of the third quarter of 2011 — 1

Where has the year gone? As a mere visitor to the 21st century I am quite amazed by how much of it I am living through…


Not bad, looking back on these entries!

Facebook story confirms Wollongong is the centre of the universe

1453109Rarely has a Dapto resident had such an instantaneous international impact.

A young Wollongong man and his computer have exposed secret monitoring by one of the world’s biggest companies.

Nik Cubrilovic become an overnight sensation yesterday after revealing Facebook is tracking users after they have logged off the social networking site.

The University of Wollongong drop-out blew the lid in a blog post, which triggered a panic among users and reignited debate over online privacy.

Born in Wollongong and educated at Hayes Park Public School and Kanahooka High, Mr Cubrilovic spent yesterday at home, coming to grips with his new-found global notoriety.

"From where I’m sitting right now, I have no idea how big this story is, all I’m seeing is the media requests coming in from all over the world," Mr Cubrilovic said.

"I’m used to privacy not being a big issue [but] an increased awareness from Facebook users is what’s made things really blow up this time."

Tests the 31-year-old conducted last year revealed that, when somebody logs off Facebook, rather than deleting tracking "cookies" the site maintains account information and other unique tokens that can be used to identify users.

When a user visits another website containing a Facebook button or "widget", the browser sends details back to Facebook.

Mr Cubrilovic only released the test results on Sunday in a bid to tell users how to avoid the privacy implications of Facebook’s latest upgrade.

"I thought it was my obligation," he said…

That from The Illawarra Mercury, which reports today:

Facebook has denied that it tracks its users’ web surfing even when they are logged out, saying it only uses tracking cookies to personalise content and to make the site more secure.

In a blog post, Dapto-based technologist Nik Cubrilovic this week accused Facebook of using cookies to track users when they are logged off from the service.

The University of Wollongong drop-out became an overnight sensation after revealing Facebook is tracking users after they have logged off the social networking site.

Facebook engineer Gregg Stefancik denied that the company tracked users in a comment on Cubrilovic’s post. Stefancik did admit that Facebook alters – but does not delete – cookies when users log out. But he says Facebook does that as a safety measure, and does not use the cookies to track users or sell their personal information.

In a written statement, Facebook said: "Facebook does not track users across the web. Instead, we use cookies on social plug-ins to personalise content (e.g. show you what your friends liked), to help maintain and improve what we do (e.g. measure click-through rate), or for safety and security (e.g. keeping underage kids from trying to sign up with a different age). No information we receive when you see a social plug-in is used to target ads, we delete or anonymise this information within 90 days, and we never sell your information."

Logged-out cookies are used to protect consumers, Facebook said. For example, Facebook says the logged-out cookies are used to identify spammers and phishers, detect when an unauthorised person is trying to access a user’s account, help users regain access to an account when it’s been hacked and disable registration for underage users who try to re-register with a different birthdate….

You may read the rest there.

Now I have to admit I was not all that concerned by the story when I first read it yesterday. My recent reading of The Facebook Effect has shown at the very least that despite the squillions of dollars one associates with something like Facebook and the natural paranoia around such a thing, Facebook has all along been comparatively unmercenary and has in fact passed up opportunities to monetize the site, sell on data, and so on. Much to the bemusement of some.

… I have a more radical recommendation for Facebook: Go ahead, Mr. Zuckerberg, take your marketing practices a step further and sell that social data the company is collecting. Facebook is poised to become the biggest consumer database in history. Instead of using that knowledge to show users tiny ads, a more potent business model could be to sell information about users to outside marketers.

To be sure, Facebook has no plans to sell consumers’ data. I asked Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt about my idea, and he said in an e-mail that "people share so freely on Facebook, in part, because they trust that we’re not going to sell their information. We don’t have any interest in violating that trust."

Let’s play a mental game, though, and see what the social networking world might be like if Facebook and other sites sold data that could make the coupons that arrive in consumers’ mailboxes more relevant.

Marketers maintain lists, or sets of data about you, that couple your name with various descriptors. Consumers walk through life leaving clues that let marketers figure out who they are and what they’re likely to buy. Your driver’s license, voting registration records, product purchases, and periodical subscriptions are all fair game….

Now Facebook has a choice. It can take this wealth of information and try to display ads on its own site, where advertising performance has been lackluster. Or Facebook could sell its data to others. This would require changes to Facebook’s current privacy policy, which says, "We don’t share information with advertisers without your consent." Change is possible.

Consumers should get over their panic. Yes, a recent Facebook glitch allowed outsiders to see private chat conversations. Yes, Congress is drafting legislation that would require companies to explain how they collect data. And yes, you may have posted photos of your puppy that result in strange marketing offers.

None of this would preclude Facebook from doing what stores and auto dealers have done for years—selling your personal information to the highest bidder. Doing so could also shield Facebook from some criticism, since it puts distance between the place users input data and the offers that result from it.

If this sounds outrageous, take a breath and read your direct mail tonight. Did we mention we know you drive a Lexus?

Bloomberg Businessweek 26 May 2010

Fact is, without cookies doing their thing Facebook simply wouldn’t work. I find Facebook’s response to this latest story quite convincing and happily continue to use the site – even growing to like the new interface!

See related stories: 6 stories of life-changing social media connections; Facebook confirms ‘Like’ data collection, will fix three cookie-related issues within 24 hours; A look at Facebook usage across eight different countries.

# This is post 1,000!

Snapshot of a nation losing its faith

That’s the lead feature in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.  It is reporting the findings of the latest Scanlon Foundation social cohesion survey. Details may be found on a Monash University site.

Even though I took on board the idea in last night’s Q&A that we do tend to exaggerate, or over-react to, the parlous state of Australian politics, I still find much in this latest survey report tickles my schadenfreude.

WE ARE growing distrustful and gloomy; we doubt government does the right thing by the Australian people; most of us don’t trust one another; and though we are generally optimistic about our futures, there has been a sharp rise in the number of us who fear being worse off in two or three years’ time.

This unhappy picture emerges from the fourth survey of social cohesion conducted for the Scanlon Foundation by Andrew Markus of Monash University. He blames the conduct of politics. "What goes on in Canberra doesn’t stay in Canberra. That style of politics is having ramifications in the outside community. People are being told the government is so stupid they can’t even solve the simplest problems."

The problem that looms largest in the survey is the political controversy over boat people, which Professor Markus argues has had a "direct negative impact" on social cohesion. "It is an issue that fuels disillusionment with government and heightens division within the population."

The surveys, funded by the businessman Peter Scanlon, focus on the impact of immigration on Australian society. Here the report card for this year is by no means all gloom. Though almost all of us think migrant numbers are rising when they are actually falling, most also think the intake is "about right" or "too low". The fear of a big Australia seems to be dissipating.

Read more: David Marr’s report.

Consider these:





The last two confirm my suspicion that Lib/Nat voters have mental and emotional difficulties and really should be pitied. But then I wore my teeth out by grinding them so often during the Howard years…

At the same time my cynicism – or should that just be disillusionment – knows no bounds. And I don’t look to the Greens with any joy either, ersatz parsons that they are…

Billy Joel sang me long ago:

Give a moment or two to the angry young man,
With his foot in his mouth and his heart in his hand.
He’s been stabbed in the back, he’s been misunderstood,
It’s a comfort to know his intentions are good.
And he sits in a room with a lock on the door,
With his maps and his medals laid out on the floor-
And he likes to be known as the angry young man.

I believe I’ve passed the age
Of consciousness and righteous rage
I found that just surviving was a noble fight.
I once believed in causes too,
I had my pointless point of view,
And life went on no matter who was wrong or right. OHHHHHHHH

And there’s always a place for the angry young man,
With his fist in the air and his head in the sand.
And he’s never been able to learn from mistakes,
So he can’t understand why his heart always breaks.
And his honor is pure and his courage as well,
And he’s fair and he’s true and he’s boring as hell-
And he’ll go to the grave as an angry old man.