Monthly Archives: May 2008

Business card collection – Connecting Up 08 conference (updated)

The first thing I noticed when I hopped off the plane in Brisbane was not the humidity but the air conditioning. Pretty chilly. It’s something I’ll have to get used to. Representatives from community groups meeting to talk about using ICT in communities are meeting at the Hilton. This means living in a sealed, air-conditioned environment for the next few days.

I’m going to run a business card collection post for the Connecting Up 08 conference (19-20 May 2008). Everyone I grab a card from I’ll throw up their name, a link and a comment, when I can get time.

The Hilton charges $26 for two hours wireless connectivity so I’ve popped out to a cafe where they have free wireless if you buy a cuppa.

Anyway, on with the business card post. In no particular order:

  • Ron from Group 61 is wants to learn about how to find volunteers using websites. His organisation runs a befriending service and organises outings for people with mental health issues.
  • John Y G Fune is Director of the Information Technology Resource Centre owned in whole by Hong Kong Council of Social Services. He has built the centre up from scracth, now employing 30 staff on a heap of programmes.
  • All the way from the Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboringinal Language Centre, Bruce was recording stories of his people and wanted to learn what part the web could play in this.
  • Flying Arts “offer professional development workshops and exhibiting opportunities for regional and remote visual artists and communities”. Ann said she hadn’t met most of the people she communicated with.
  • The IT industry in India put 10% of their income into a charitable foundation. Rufina Fernandes, CEO, of NASSCOM Foundation, runs both digital inclusion programmes and is developing ways to support not for profirt organisations, of which there are at least a million.
  • Today is Vyria Paselk’s first day in her new role supporting partners of the San Francisco based TechSoup Global.
  • I’ve already written about the Doing IT Better initiative in Victoria (see my post from 30 August 2007). Today I met Dean Lombard, an ICT Projects Coordinator, with the Victorian Council of Social Services, who is working alongside Larry Stillman to support NGOs to get online.

Here goes on part two, from the second day of the conference:

  • Des Naude works with Charity Computers in Canberra providing practical support to individuals using techies from disadvantaged backgrounds trained by the organisation
  • As the clubs and student development manager at UNSW Hannah Baral is looking for examples of mobilizing younger people with social media (see Beth Kanters post relaying this question).
  • At the same time I finished my talk on wikispaces, Louise Arkles finished talking about the PhilanthopyWiki, run by Philanthropy Australia. It’s an online encyclopaedia and archive of knowledge on philanthropy in Australia.

Here’s the third and final instalment:

  • I almost spent more time talking with Terry Stokes from Lasa about beer than community ICT, so I thought I should link to a couple of the top breweries pouring in his home town in Wigan: Thwaites and Timothy Taylor.
  • Jan from Dragons Abreast, an organisation promoting breast cancer awareness and education, primarily, through the sport of dragon boat racing, gratefully received a grant for computer hardware recently, but no money for installation or maintenance. What to do?
  • I missed Nigel Sanderson’s session on FundraiseOnline, but we’ll catch up in Wellington. The New Plymouth based company has just expanded to Australia offering its website to keen athletes raising funds for charities.
  • Back in 2004 I worked alongside Amodha from Infoxchange in Melbourne. She presented about the service-to-service software package designed specifically for health and welfare providers.
  • Darrell Burkey is President of Computing Assistance, Support and Education in Canberra. His positive feedback on the Wellington e-rider IT service really boosted my confidence we’re on the right track.

There are more than 300 participants so I didn’t manage to get around everyone, but I did manage to have lots of good yarns.

Broadband tale of woe

My demeanour as an ihug customer has changed from happy and unflappable to disgruntled and frazzled. I’m in the middle of a broadband tale of woe.

It all started when I decided to switch ISP from ihug to TelstraClear. Faster cable broadband was the carrot, and slightly cheaper pricing a not unwelcome bonus.

TelstraClear’s customer service department were polite and efficient. A concern my existing adsl broadband and phone number might be cut-off before the cable was installed was met with a swift reassurance. “Sir, the old doesn’t go until the new is working”. Oh, how I wish I’d got that in writing.

The technician turned up on the appointed day. That’s when things started to go seriously wrong. Once upon a time a TelstraClear cable arched majestically to the house. But, aha, when we found a mangled cable it was obvious this was no longer the case.

Just install a new (ugly, thick black) cable and all will be sorted. Not that quick. There are already too many cables on the nearest lamp-post and a more thorough investigation is needed to determine whether the pole can take another one. Scott left before I could offer him a cuppa tea.

Two days later I found out new wiring in the neighbourhood is needed, which first takes permission from the lines company.

“Sir, you won’t be able to get cable broadband until at least 30 May.”

In the meantime, my account at ihug was already cancelled. There is a long explanation of porting and provisioning and so on and so forth. My efforts to get them to temporarily reinstate my account have fallen on deaf ears. As the jilted party, ihug have taken their loss of me to heart and they don’t want to talk to me. I no longer exist.

This leaves us unable to make toll or mobile calls, and without broadband. Dial-up from TelstraClear is keeping a modicum of connectivity, but the disruption has been painful. Downloading big files, accessing some websites and sending email, forget about it.

This doesn’t really seem fair.

I wondered if the Telecommunications Disputes Resolution service could help. The answer: no. Well, not in the short-term. Consumers have to give telcos six weeks to respond to complaints before you go to the service.

I’m going to use a Vodafone mobile data plan so I can work from home. This means Vodafone (who now own ihug) will profit from the comedy of errors (which I can say in my good humoured moments) or sheer incompetence and ineptitude (which pops out in my darker moments). It’s an irony which I will treasure.

The Go-Betweens, the past is another download away

The Evangelist by Robert Forster, cd coverThe Go-Betweens album I last thrashed on the turntable was “16 Lovers Lane”, released in 1988. This was the band’s sixth and final album from their first time together. Typical of their aching literary pop it’s easy to be swept out to sea when listening to it.

Since those heady days I’ve been wary of revisiting my old musical stomping ground so I’ve basically avoided any new Go-Betweens music. During the 1990s I didn’t bother getting any of the band members’ solo efforts, and I ignored the albums released during a second coming from 2000-2006. Nor have I been playing the albums which I’ve miraculously clung onto in their original vinyl despite carting them from flat to flat over the years.

My avoidance ended yesterday. During a download frenzy from emusic (where I got 75 bonus songs for returning to the mp3 music service on top of the the 30 I paid for) I came across a copy of Robert Forster’s third solo album, “The Evangelist”, released just a week or so ago.

It’s a particularly poignant album, as it includes songs he began writing with Grant McLennan, a former Go-Between and Forster’s song-writing partner of 30 years, who died suddenly in 2005.

You can hear the pain. With Forster still singing in his plaintive, angular tones, the emotion is very raw but now surrounded by pretty arrangements.

Forster has also written and talked about the sadness sitting not far from the surface on the new album. A couple of weeks ago a long article appeared in The Times of London (see “Former Go-Between Robert Forster pays tribute to his mate with Evangelist”), plus there is an interview and some songs on a Times music podcast recorded in February and an interview in the Australian newspaper (see the “Flying Solo” video).

As I dive into my back catalogue of Go-Betweens albums it’s remarkable how memorable and unchanged Forster’s voice is. On “Spring Hill Fair” the vocals are crystal clear laid over a sparse sound with jangly guitars, a loan stop start snare, and at times plodding bass. It’s 4/4 rock and roll, but mostly slow and sardonic. On first re-take, the music has survived remarkably well.

Up shortly – when the album finishes downloading from emusic – a 2006 concert recording from the Tivoli in Brisbane.

I’m enjoying dusting off the old albums and listening to the profound (some would say earnest) lyrics. On being reacquainted with the Go-Betweens my mood is kinda subdued and reflective, not melancholy nor am I dancing on rooftops. Very fitting for a dull, spare autumn day.

PS. As the coincidences continue, this morning Julian showed me the recent two album set featuring a disc each by McLennan and Forster. Despite the evocative packaging and catchy tunes, I’m trying not to re-ignite my Go-Between tendencies, so I won’t be getting a copy of it.

PPS. For more history, a discography, past tour dates, news, etc see: The Go-Betweens on wikipedia and a UK Go-Betweens fan site.

yMedia challenge 2008 – roll up

After a successful yMedia challenge in Auckland last year, Pamela and the team are expanding. The challenge matches web savvy students with community groups who develop a practical website or make use of online tools over a two week period. Both Wellington and Auckland community groups are invited to participate this year.

Participating organisations last year ended up using pay per click ads, creating bebo and facebook accounts and updating websites. The video interviews with each team tell the story far better than words alone.

To get get yMedia Group help using exciting emerging digital tools, to engage with young people, and connect with new volunteers, staff and stakeholders, there is a one month opening for community groups to sign up.

According to the publicity blurb participating groups can:

  • Profile your organisation on the yMedia Challenge 2008 website (to be launched May 30)
  • Attend the two yMedia 08 Workshops
  • Receive newsletters detailing emerging tools, advice from digitally-savvy young people and insights into what other groups are doing with digital technologies
  • Have the opportunity to be selected for the yMedia Challenge 2008
  • Be invited to networking events with opportunities to connect with other community groups, ICT industry, students and government
  • Have the opportunity to advertise for ‘tech scouts‘ / volunteers on the yMedia Challenge 2008 website

Find out out more, including details of the small contribution, at:

[Presentation] Using wikispaces to support projects workshop

At the Engage Your Community mini-conference on Tuesday 22 April, Kirikiriroa Hamilton, I ran a workshop on using wikispaces to support a project. This was based on my experience using wikispaces to support the CIMS Project governance group and team.

The main learning goals for participants were:

  • finding out how a wiki works, ie anyone can edit, track changes and/ or discuss pages
  • matching a wiki to your organisation or project.

Here’s the presentation I made, publicly available on slideshare.

Wikispaces workshop notes

At my hands-on wikispaces workshops at the Engage your community mini-conference on 22 April, a couple of participants raced into action and set up trial Wikispaces for their organisations. Wikispaces covering accessible parking, a walking school bus and the Otorohanga arts project went online within the 75 minute session.

75 minutes sounds a lot of time to cover the basics of editing a wikispaces page. Because I was foiled somewhat by not being able to use my teaching aids (the curse of Apple users I suspect) my plans had to be adapted off the cuff. I supplied participants with text to enter into the wiki and planned to walk through the basic editing process. This didn’t happen as I envisaged but everyone seemed to cope. It’s amazing how resource people within the group will surface to share what they know given the chance.

In the end we achieved the goals I set out: introduce people to wiki editing including embedding multi-media such as You Tube clips, and getting people to think about how a wiki could suit project work, or their organisation more generally.

The resulting Engage your community wikispace is still online. (NB it needs some work to be fully accessible, a topic we couldn’t cover in the time available.) For a copy of the workshop presentation and notes, see my training page.

A couple of the things I neglected to mention were:

  • wikispaces is run by a profit making company from the USA. They’re big but nevertheless subject to takeovers (like Yahoo) so it’s not totally secure long-term, and to earn a buck they do run Google ads on the free websites.
  • for wikispaces organisers you’ve got lots of powerful functions (eg messages to group messages, customising the skin, manual back-up, mass uploading of files using WebDav, etc)
  • it’s easy to delete an account from wikispaces: login and go to your “My Account” page.

I’m running a 45 minute version of the workshop in a couple of weeks, with modifications based on what happened in Kirikiriroa Hamilton.

I’m planning to list any wikispaces that are publicly available, if I can find the website addresses.

PS Miramar Mike’s help during the workshop was fantastic. Thanks heaps!!