Fake News: Media Literacy for Our Kids?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Musings

In this age of “fake news” and “native ads”, people are not critical enough about the information presented to them. They end up believing what they want to believe.

How do we tackle this? How do we teach our children to recognise this phenomenon? How do we give them the tools to understand and review information for themselves, lest “fake news” becomes a scourge for all time?

In a recent episode of This Week in Tech, contributor Mikah Sargent spoke of how he undertook a ‘media literacy’ course whilst in college.

I could help but thinking how good an idea this was.

Teaching our children how to defend themselves against vested interests controlling our media will be an important democratic tool in the future.

What do you think?

When Journalists Were Journalists

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Musings

There are many fine examples of journalism in the world today, but we unfortunately live in an age where “fake news” and the selective acceptance or non-acceptance of “facts” is prevalent.

As such, for consumers of news, understanding what is really happening in the world today can be confusing.

Not to mention, misleading.

The downing by Soviet fighter jets of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 in 1983 was a tragic, yet fascinating story of tragedy and international politics, spanning more than a decade.

Here is a fabulous piece presenting an insight into how the beginning of this story was covered.  This is reflective of just the San Francisco area at the time – at a time when journalists really were journalists.

Sunday Nerding: Apollo Guidance Computer

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Technology

Like many a nerd, not only do I love computers and computing, I also love space exploration.

Today I present a magnificent combination of the two, as a group of what can only be described as massive enthusiasts, work at getting an actual Apollo Guidance Computer – (which hasn’t been powered up in around 50 years) – up and running, and executing actual NASA Apollo code.

While this particular unit was never flown into space – (it is understood to be serial number 14, which was used in LTA-8) – it is basically an almost flight-ready prototype.

Is it Huawei or the Highway?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Technology

There’s been a lot of discussion lately around whether allowing Huawei telecommunications equipment into major infrastructure is a good idea or not.

Given the company has strong and proven ties to the Chinese military, I don’t think it is even unreasonable to have an honest discussion about the security implications of using their equipment.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/11/HuaweiCanada9.jpg/1280px-HuaweiCanada9.jpg

However, if we’re going to have such a discussion about their equipment, we should have the entire discussion.

An excellent example is the common HG659 modem/router, in use all over the world, including extensively in Australian premises as part of the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout.

The HG659 is an extremely popular modem with ISPs, because it is an extremely versatile modem.  It supports both ADSL and VDSL connections, and FTTP connections.  For this reason it is widely deployed in Australia as part of the “multi-technology mix” hodge-podge Malcolm Turnbull turned the NBN into for political reasons, rather than for technology reasons.

Australian ISPs using the HG659 therefore only have to stock one type of modem, and you as the end user just plug it into whatever NBN technology is serving your premises, and the modem self-configures to suit.

Done!

A great number of Australian ISPs use it – (and brand it with their own logos) – see a selection below:

ISPs in other countries also use it:

The use of the HG659 modem is widespread worldwide – including in jurisdictions where the lawmakers are seeking to ban the use of Huawei equipment in telecommunications systems, such as Australia and the United States.

I’ve even read of instances where one Australian ISP appears to have an active backdoor into their private customer’s networks, using the custom firmware in their supplied HG659 modems.

But why ban Huawei in the implementation of 5G networks, but happily welcome them into other significant network infrastructure?

One might argue that having a footprint inside millions of homes is a bigger concern than having them in mobile phone towers – (which can be and are actively monitored by the carriers operating them, and suspicious activity might be detected) – as the vast majority of home users get the modem from their ISP, plug it into the wall and never think about it again.

Monitoring?  Yeah, right.

I think the politicians are clearly – (as is often the case) – trying to make a political point without having any real understanding of what they are talking about.

Huawei may or may not present information or national security issues, but if you’re going to take a stand against them, you cannot and should not be so selective.

Ban them or don’t ban them – but just don’t half-ass your decision.

Further Reading:

Sunday Nerding: Secrets of the Underground

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Transport

Aside from being a computer nerd, I’m also something of a train nerd.  Not sure why, but I’ve always loved trains.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattbuck007/7286159124

While I’ve been to London, I’ve never left the confines of Heathrow Airport, and so haven’t had the chance to do what every train nerd would love to do – ride The Underground.

The following series of videos show some of the fun and less obvious parts of The Underground, presented by possibly the biggest and best train nerd going around, Geoff Marshall.

This series is almost six years old, but is a good watch if you have about an hour to spare and a cup of coffee to consume.


Headspace: Inner Truths

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Headspace

I’ve been a single man again for a little over 7 years, and living with only myself and my daughter for about 4 and a half years.

I’ve briefly attempted a couple of relationships in that time, but found nothing that inspired me to want to stay in them for any extended period of time. It was clear I was not ready either.

Seven years is a lot of time to think about what you want in life, and what is important to you.

I would like to think I’ve figured many or all of those things out by now, but as time goes by I realise that that simply isn’t the case.

Yet.

In recent weeks I’ve been working through in my mind what I consider the “truths” in my life – travelling the road to my own personal truth, if you like.

  1. Family – my family – and in particular my daughter – are the one true constant in my life. Like any family, there are always bumps in the road from time to time, but I’m fortunate to have a loving and supportive family.
  2. Creativity – I’ve always tried to think about and learn about new things, to keep my mind active and healthy. I’ve gotten away from that a lot in recent years, so I’ve been engaging myself in the restoration of my first computer. This has definitely given me something to feel occupied with and inspired by.
  3. Work – I’ve had a little bit of a bumpy ride in my working life in recent years – but find myself in a job that I love and find new challenges in every day. Perfect.
  4. Love – this one is a little harder to define. I’m reasonably sure that I am not ready to be in a relationship again yet, but I know I still want that eventually, because I miss the companionship all of the time. Trust is still my main issue. There are some wonderful women in my life who I’d love to end up with, but I don’t trust myself yet. There is one amazing person who has been a part of my heart for many years who I could trust myself to be in a relationship with, but that’s a complicated situation in itself. She is cared about deeply, but I don’t really know how I feel about her. She’s absolutely a truth in my life, but I don’t know the question of where, let alone the answer of where she fits in.
  5. Learning – I always want to learn something new every day. I don’t always manage that, but I’m always looking. What point is there to live life if you can’t learn and grow?

So that’s the list I have so far.

I’m still trying to completely rationalise each of them, but if nothing else, I get to think about these things and figure out what I need to do to resolve them in my life.

I’m getting there.