Circular reasoning hiding the benefits of fast Internet access

I have seen the same argument many times now. It is circular reasoning, in some cases begging the question (in the original meaning of begging the question - where the question assumes a particular conclusion).

people don’t need internet that fast, because they don’t use it for things that need it to be that fast

This overlooks the obvious fact that we can’t use speeds we don’t have, and services that require faster speeds won’t be built or be available in Australia if faster speeds aren’t available. Arguably, Australia has the greatest need for innovation that makes use of high-speed and reliable connections with plenty of upload capability due to the sparseness of population over the country. The easier it is for anyone, where ever they are, to access services electronically (particularly health services), the easier it becomes to live in regional or rural areas, and less traveling is required.

As to the potential for faster speeds to contribute to the economy, bolster Australia’s competitiveness, and save money there are plenty of possibilities. Many have undergone trials and tests, and are simply waiting for the speeds necessary to be put into use. Nick Ross at ABC Technology + Games has summarised this quite well. The list of application at Whirlpool are separated by speed tier.

In some ways, fibre broadband is similar to public transport. It has a substantial chicken-and-egg problem. Without the faster speeds or regular transport services, the service is not used. As it is not used, governments of some persuasions see this as an indicator of overallocation of resources, and reduce the funds spent. This might make sense if fast internet and public transport responded to supply and demand in the traditional ways, but they do not. There needs to be a threshold level of investment before use will take off, as well as support from many areas of the community and government. Simply throwing money at the issue, then proclaiming a few years later that the service is not wanted, is disingenuous. People and data travel to many different areas, and providing services to only a few areas, or a few good services among many bad services, will not encourage use.

Oh, and in case you think this is a minor issue: read the article by Nick Ross and the Whirlpool wiki page. Think about the potential applications - health benefits, economic benefits, environmental benefits. There was also the (now closed) petition to the Coalition to reconsider FTTH in September 2013. It gained 272,033 supporters, many of whom also described their personal and business use cases for faster and more reliable internet access. That is just over one out of every 100 people in Australia (for 2014 estimated population of 23.5 million).

Game Review: SteamWorld Dig

SteamWorld Dig is a platform mining adventure game by Image & Form, released in the second half of 2013. It is available on quite a few platforms, including Nintendo 3DS, PC/Mac/Linux (via Steam), Playstation 4, and Nintendo Wii U. It is apparently a Metroid-influenced game, but I haven’t played Metroid. It is also quite like Terraria due to the mining down and collecting precious stones. In SteamWorld Dig there is considerably less emphasis on open-world exploring and extreme numbers of items to collect, and more of an obvious storyline.

I found the game good fun. Unlike the beginning of Terraria, it was obvious what to do, and I was clear on my next goal. Roll into town with population 3, talk with the NPCs, then down the mine and start hacking away. The NPCs have exaggerated personalities, which is to be expected I suppose, and are rather obvious and traditional in their roles. It would have been nice to mix things up a bit. As I dig further down, I found quickly that it pays to go horizontally more than vertically, and any vertical movement needs to be carefully planned. Even with the higher jump and other power-ups collected later on, it can still be very difficult to go back up without a little forethought. Rusty can only dig one space up, and cannot dig while jumping.

I was pleased that the pause screen displayed the current keys to use - this made it easy to quickly check how to change objects to place, rather than accidentally placing an object. The inventory is straightforward and provides all the information required while playing. It is possible to further inspect the inventory and reject items, but I haven’t needed to do that. The movement and hit zones for Rusty are reasonable. I was frustrated occasionally by digging the wrong space, just because I was slightly off centre over the top of rocks. The map is very useful in seeing where I’d been, and what’s coming up. Displaying the number of strikes required to mine the default rocks as separate levels was very helpful. I would have liked a way to see the current goal again - new goals pop up in a red banner once the previous goal is achieved, but I haven’t found a way to see the goal again.

Overall a pleasant game, simpler and more straightforward than Terraria, but with reasonable progression and some small choices to be made between available upgrades. I would recommend this game as a casual game, as a small amount of time invested can give a good return. For more complex or open-ended exploration and building, Terraria is the way to go. SteamWorld Dig is a fun way to pass some time.

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This And That)

Some fun can be had remixing the lyrics for Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by the Eurythmics. First of all, there are two official music videos the original

And the second one

The most well-known remix of the lyrics is for cheese!

Sweet dreams are made of cheese,
who am I to diss a Brie.
I cheddar the world and the feta cheese,
everybody’s looking for Stilton.

Some of them want to fondue you,
Some of them want to be fondued
Some of Edam want Roquefort, too.
Some of them want to have some Blue

Some of them want cheddar fondue,
Some them want to a sweet danish blue

And here’s one that was cobbled together by me and a few friends about teas!

Sweet dreams are made of teas,
brew am chai to steep the leaves
I savour the world for the perfect earl grey
Everybody’s looking for darjeeling

Some of them want to infuse you,
Some of them want to be infused by you
Some of them want to cosy up to you,
Some of them want to be cosied by you

Advance Australia Unfair

Advance Australia Unfair

This post was from September 2011 on Tumblr. Based on a post by willowphoto on Tumblr. Things have not gotten better :(

I hate to do this, but I’m really not proud of Australia these days.

Australians all let us reject,
Those who aren’t young and free;
We’ve gotten spoiled and withheld our toil;
Except to guard our sea;
Elect not to share nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
This sad story’s page, is at the stage
Of loosing Australia Fair.
Our wasteful reigns force us to sing,
Please help Australia Fair.

Beneath our heavy Southern Cross
We’ll withdraw our hearts and hands;
To fake this Commonwealth of ours
Took people from their lands;
For those who dare to cross the seas
We’re not prepared to share;
With cowardice we turn our backs
On those who our seek our care.
In mournful pains for not keeping,
Our poor Australia Fair.

I hope I can look back at this and say we moved on and became better…

And here’s another remix. I’m not sure where this is from. I’ve changed it a little bit.

Australians all let us rejoice
for we are white and straight.
We’ve mined our soil and killed for oil
We’ve turned back refugees.
Our land abounds in trees to log
A reef to dump and dredge.
As Sirs and Dames,
We’ll flout the shame,
Advance Australia Fair!
let profits reign, all serve the rich,
Advance Australia Fair

Assuming Incompetence

The sentiment and points in the article You’re Not Stupid; Ello Is Badly Designed by Elena Palmer on The Toast are things I need to keep in mind.

“[Ello] wasn’t ready for a public beta – there were too many prominent bugs and usability problems. But when I looked at the conclusion on Twitter, there was a theme that wasn’t present in my own high handed criticism: a bunch of highly educated, internet-savvy women were asking each other, “Am I stupid, or is Ello not working?””

“there are many types of intelligence, a significant number of which are not suited to evaluation via tech use. But putting that point aside for the moment, let’s focus on the fact that we measure our intelligence via our ability to pick up tech and use it fluently. But when we fail, women almost invariably blame themselves, at least partially. Men almost invariably blame the technology, if they’re using it, and user error, if a woman is using it.”

I need to be more aware of my own assumptions and areas of skill. Knowledge and skills I do not possess are just as worthy and valuable as those I do. Perspectives that I do not have are often even more valuable than my own, as they highlight mistaken assumptions or areas I have neglected to consider. Most importantly, lived experience always overrides theory. I build software for people and provide research assistance to people.