PyCon Australia Call for Proposals closes Friday 25th April

April 21, 2014

There’s less than a week left to get your proposal in for PyCon Australia 2014, Australia’s national Python Conference. We focus on first time speakers so please get in touch if you have any questions. The full details are available at




Review: Three Crooked Kings

March 12, 2013

I must confess to reading this book rather quickly over two nights, so I’m sure some nuances were missed.

Like a lot of Australians, and presumably Queenslanders, I do have a bit of an unhealthy interest in our criminal past. I think I was in grade six when some of the Fitzgerald inquiry was finishing up (or recommendations being handed down, or some such) and getting interested then. Personally, I make a lot of use of our Joh given right to mix metaphors.

Overall I was disappointed by the book. There’s clearly a lot of research gone into it, which is great, and the narrative ties it together reasonably well. There are editing issues and some ham fisted attempts at pop psychology. A glossary for all the colloquialisms would have been useful. The worst thing for me though, is that the main interviewee, Lewis, comes out with nary a red cross against his name. Time and time again Lewis is implicated in the skulduggery of the time, but he denies the worst of it at every turn.

I feel I can’t quite call the book a whitewashing of Lewis’s history yet, as there’s still another half to go, Lewis may well let it all out then and redeem himself. But I also feel the author has let us down by not digging deeper on Lewis. Maybe that was part of the interview deal; or maybe Lewis still has powerful friends.

On a matter that I really should disclose, it appears that family members are named in the book, in none too good a light.

Camp JS

February 18, 2013

Camp JS was a weekend conference held at Koonjewarre down at Springbrook.

The area the accommodation in was lovely, if the weather had been better I would have definitely done a little bush walking. The accommodation itself was pretty basic, but along with your own sleeping bag and pillow was reasonable for a weekend, but would start getting a bit painful for longer stays. The food on offer was very good for the most part, except for one meal, but that turned out to be a backup meal.

The conference did have planned workshops all weekend, and some of these were very good. However the main point of the conference was not attending the workshops, it was interacting with other developers, both on a technical and social level.

On the upside were some impressive international guests and sponsors. On the downside for me were the smokers who always smoked just outside whatever building I was in. On the interesting side was the open bar, free beer and wine for all, at any time, without any problems whatsoever; something to think about given lca’s recent moves to restrict alcohol access.

FreeCAD workshop

June 2, 2012

Earlier this week I attended a FreeCAD workshop at The Edge.

The eventual goal is to know enough to design simple things for 3D printing.

The workshop was at a beginners level, and I pretty quickly finished the main goal, but I still had plenty of problems with the FreeCAD GUI. I like the main thrust of the program, but I was constantly plagued by accidentally switching on UI modes and features, but not knowing how to use them, or turn them off. Other irritants included the attributes tree collapsing every single time I switched objects.

For really basic stuff, I should be fine.

Community Coding

August 4, 2011

The first two Community Coding sessions were a little light on numbers, but the third was well attended, and I’m hoping for a similar number for the fourth and final workshop.

We had two really good outcomes of this workshop:

Project Acceptance

At the very first workshop the participant and I came up with a smallish project using the OLPCs that would help utilise The Edge a bit better. I was very happy that this project was agreed to enthusiastically by everyone at the third workshop, and am happy to charge ahead with it now.

The project is a simple checkin service for The Edge bays, utilising the library cards already handed out by The Edge staff. The OLPCs will be used to update and view the checkins of those around you, and is aimed to increase serendipitous meetings and collaboration at The Edge.

Ongoing Community

It became clear that the workshops had filled a gap for the participants, a supportive place for beginners where it didn’t matter how much experience you had. The general thrust is that we’re going to keep the small community started by these workshops going, in both a physical and virtual sense.

A lot of technical groups around Brisbane are focussed on one particular technology, and a lot of them are targeting experts, and can be hostile to neophytes. The Community Coding workshops were really designed at all levels of ability, and it’s that spirit I wish to continue with.

Podcast update

July 20, 2011

I recently changed the podcast application on my phone to Pocket Casts, so I figured now was as good a time as any to update the world as to what podcasts to listen to, to keep up with my segue free, abrupt subject changes.


  • A Little Bit of Python
  • Coding By Numbers
  • FLOSS Weekly
  • Free as in Freedom
  • This week in Debian
  • IT Conversations
  • Pragmatic Podcasts


  • Boing Boing Gweek
  • Future Tense (ABC)
  • Innovations (ABC)
  • Outriders (BBC)
  • Patch Monday by ZDNet Australia
  • SolderSmoke Podcasts
  • Spark (CBC)
  • Spectrum Podcasts
  • Tech Weekly
  • EEVblog – The Electronics Engineering Video Blog


  • A word in your ear (ABC)
  • Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
  • Word of Mouth with Colleen Ross (CBC)
  • A Way with Words


  • All in the Mind (ABC)

Politics/Current affairs

  • Analysis (BBC)
  • Background Briefing (ABC)
  • Counterpoint (ABC)
  • Law Report (ABC)
  • More or Less: Behind the Stats (BBC)
  • National Interest (ABC)


  • Astronomy Cast
  • StarStuff (ABC)


  • TEDTalks
  • Big Ideas (ABC)
  • Geologic Podcast
  • Ideas (CBC)
  • KCRW’s Le Show (NPR)
  • Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! (NPR)
  • Search Engine (CBC)
  • Tank Riot
  • This American Life (NPR)
  • Robert Llewellyn’s CarPool


  • Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
  • The history of the world in 100 objects (BBC)
  • In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg (BBC)
  • Playback (NPR)
  • Rear Vision (ABC)
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class


  • 60-Second Science
  • 60-Second Tech
  • The Science Show (ABC)
  • Discovery (BBC)
  • Material World (BBC)
  • Nature Podcast
  • Krulwich on Science (NPR)
  • Ockham’s Razor (ABC)
  • Quirks and Quarks (CBC)
  • Skeptoid
  • Radiolab (NPR)
  • Science in Action (BBC)
  • Science Talk


  • Freakonomics Radio
  • Planet Money (NPR)


  • Eli Glasner on Film (CBC)
  • KCRW’s Film Reviews (NPR)
  • At the Movies (ABC)


  • All Songs Considered (NPR)
  • Live Concerts from All Songs Considered (NPR)


  • The Age of Persuasion (CBC)
  • Media Watch (ABC)

Community Coding – Workshop One

July 19, 2011

I’ve recently started running some Community Coding workshops at The Edge, I’m hoping to document them a little by way of this blog.

The workshops are open to anyone interested in learning more about programming, of any experience level, including beginners. We’re using the One Laptop Per Child as our development platform, it comes with a number of different programming environments that can cater to different levels of experience.

I’m hoping that all participants will come away with a greater understanding of what makes computers tick, and more confidence to make computers do what they want. The Edge is hoping for a couple of applications that they can use at the space.

The first workshop went well, there was a lot of planning and prep done. I’ve got a lot of items on my todo list now!

I have started a Launchpad instance to store all our code and documentation.


June 5, 2011

Last weekend I helped out with Libraryhack, a national competition put on by state libraries to encourage the use of openly available data in mash up applications.

My local branch, The Edge, put on a 24 hour coding jam event complete with top notch speakers from Google, Microsoft and the library itself.

We had a reasonable turnout for the public events, but only a small turnout for the rest of the evening. Despite the low numbers, I was floored by the outcomes, four very impressive mash up applications that could easily be put into the national competition.

I was asked to help run the fun stream of the night, which, well, didn’t fit too comfortably. However, I did come up with some simple, geeky events that didn’t stress the brain too much.

Overall I was happy to be involved, and handled the all-night aspect fairly well. 2011 braindump

December 12, 2010

I finished up at work last Friday, then headed down to TAM over the weekend, then at YOW back in Brisbane, both very worthwhile conferences to attend.

My current plan is to work on for the next six weeks or so; there’s plenty to do. As an experiment, I’m also trying to give up caffeine..

The Cake

All the important pieces are in place: speakers, venue and accommodation. I got to be on the papers committee this year, and I’m really happy with the quality of presentations we’ve accepted. The venue, QUT Gardens Point, is right in the heart of the city, next to the lovely city gardens. Due to QUT starting off life as a technical college it has no on-campus accommodation, but we’ve managed to secure some new student-style accommodation just across the river.

The Icing

The keynotes we’ve been able to attract are pretty stunning, we’ve got some really useful tutorials as well. All of the social events are organised in the main. We’ve got fifteen miniconfs this year, with an awful lot of content.

Open Day

My main responsibility is the Open Day, plans are coming together well, though I’m still behind the eight ball a bit and have a few groups to get back to. We’re hoping to announce a new addition to the Open Day soon, some public lectures.


We’re accepting posters this year, you can think of posters as a visual lightning talk. Posters can be on any Open Source project, they can be technical in nature, or can be art in their own right. We’re going to be accepting posters right up until the conference starts.


I’ve been doing interviews, spamming mailing lists, handing out business cards and attending conferences in order to spread the word about lca being in Brisbane, but I get the strong feeling lots of people still don’t know about it. Any suggestions on how to get the word out there would be appreciated.

A Response to “Curing Cancer by Fasting”

September 26, 2010

Recently was treated too a woowoo article espousing fasting as a cure for cancer. The comment I posted to the story was rejected, as is the authors right:

What a load of codswallop. I’m embarrassed to see something so silly on

A few days later I got a longish email full of anecdotes backing the claim, I could go through every single paragraph and respond to each, but I can summarise my response, in public, much easier:

Unless you are a health professional, you have no right to recommend any health protocol.


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