Archive for August, 2012

No time for complacency: Why it’s still important to make submissions to the Inquiry into potential reforms of National Security Legislation

by on Aug.15, 2012, under Blog

It’s been reported that Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has back-pedalled on plans to push forward with far-reaching increases in powers for Australia’s Intelligence agencies (ASIO, ASIS, DSD) being reviewed by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. What may not be clear is that the current Inquiry into potential reforms of National Security Legislation  hasn’t been disbanded. Or deferred. Or delayed.

It’s important to remember that we still need to make submissions to the Inquiry to provide tangible feedback on this issue. One of the possible (intentional?) outcomes of this announcement is that people breathe a sigh of relief and don’t bother to put in submissions. When the proposals eventually get revived, the government of the day can point to the lack of submissions and say, “See, there’s no real opposition to these proposals…”

I’m not a conspiracy theorist by nature (the maxim “Never assume malice where incompetence will suffice” is a pretty good one), but it wouldn’t surprise me if the announcement has been made in full awareness of the likely effect of reducing people’s sense of urgency about putting in a submission.

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Watching history unfold: Viewing the Curiosity landing from a NASA facility!

by on Aug.07, 2012, under Blog

Yesterday I was out at the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex at Tidbinbilla to witness a piece of space history – the landing of the Mars Science Laboratory (a.k.a. ‘Curiosity’) on Mars. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of coverage of this amazing feat of maths, physics, and engineering in the last day or two, so I’ll skip all that and just share my experience.   🙂

Here are a few pix I snagged during the day…


Dishes poised to acquire the signal from Curiosity on the morning of landing day

Dishes poised to acquire the signal from Curiosity on the morning of landing day

Early in the day, the 70m dish (DSS43) and smaller DSS34 (hidden) are pointed towards where Mars will soon rise over the horizon, so that they’re ready to acquire the signal. Tidbinbilla was the primary receiving site for the landing, as none of the other two sites in the Deep Space Network around the globe had line-of-sight to Mars at the time. Just like in the movie The Dish, Australia’s space tracking stations were key to communicating with the spacecraft during the most critical phases of the mission.

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‘The Cloud’ – Canberra Tech Talks

by on Aug.02, 2012, under Blog

Tonight I led a discussion at Canberra Tech Talks on ‘The Cloud’.

Canberra Tech Talks are informal discussions/talks for anyone interested in technical topics, regardless of their level of expertise. We encourage curious n00bs and seasoned experts alike. 🙂 The talks are designed to make complex topics accessible without either oversimplifying or ‘talking down’ to participants. It’s a safe space to ask questions, and as much of a jargon-free zone as possible.

Tonight’s discussion was wide-ranging, covering everything from the basics what ‘the cloud’ actually means, to issues of privacy and security in light of the current (Australian) Parliamentary Inquiry into potential reforms of National Security Legislation.

Talks are usually livetweeted using the #CanberraTechTalks hashtag.

My prepared notes for this evening’s discussion are linked below for those who want a little more detail on the topic, and have a couple of links to further reading.

The Cloud – Canberra Tech Talks


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