Saturday, December 29, 2012

Reason's Greetings

I wish everyone could experience the blindness of love so that they wouldn't be bigots about how others experience love.  What other consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms is of no concern to me as it does not affect me, my family, my loved ones, my friends, my colleagues nor my community in any negative way.

This means that your religious freedom to feel offended by certain forms of love is fine by me, however you trying to extend that religious freedom to have negative effects on someone else's religious or personal freedoms is unacceptable.  I don't care what your personal beliefs, as crazy as they may be, are as long as you don't try and use them to remove nor restrict rights and freedoms of others.

I hope that we can all use our brains when we look at the world around us and examine the evidence that exists to support our beliefs and/or hypotheses and - and this is the important part - alter our beliefs and/or hypotheses based on the valid, verifiable, falsifiable evidence we find or don't find.  That's the true gift science has given us - the ability to posit ideas, design experiments/observations, look for valid evidence and change our ideas based on the results of these experiments and observations to better suit the evidence, then continue the cycle - not to ignore some evidence so that we can "confirm" our preconceived ideas.  Good science involves being aware of the confirmation bias we all have and making sure that we design experiments with falsifiable results - results that can go either way to prove or disprove our hypotheses.

"God hates fags" say the Westboro Church members.  OK, so where's the evidence for this?  First, where's the evidence for your god, then where's the evidence s/he hates fags?

"The act of the rapist is made easy, because it would be easy to remove the half-cloth worn by the women," says police spokesperson Wendy Hleta in Swaziland recently after miniskirts and midriff-revealing tops were banned.  So, women's clothing is responsible for men not being able to control their dicks?  Here's my hypothesis - if we better teach men how to behave and what's morally acceptable, we should reduce the likelihood of rape regardless of a woman wearing a miniskirt or a burqa. It is the men that are responsible for rape and who should therefore be held accountable for their inability to control their actions.

Swaziland, by the way, is a country dominated by the christian religion.  According to UNHCR, "The population is approximately 35 percent Protestant, 30 percent Zionist, 25 percent Catholic, and 1 percent Muslim. The remaining 9 percent is divided among the Baha'i Faith, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Judaism, and others."  Maybe their religious beliefs are encouraging men not to take responsibility for their own actions and instead blame them on a third party?  That's an ongoing theme in the christian bible.

Remember Malala Yousafzai:

Malala is the Pakistani school girl who was shot in the face by her muslim brothers for daring to educate herself?  Have a read of this for a refresher.  She was being taught a lesson that the Taliban felt was more important than a tradition education - that women should know their place, and that place is to remain uneducated and be subservient to men.  DAFUQ?  Not to mention that in the muslim world, women need to cover up so as not to incite men to rape them.  Obviously, muslim men have no ability to control themselves.  Well, that's quite apparent, unfortunately.

And as to the recent, horrific gang rape and murder of a 23 year old Indian woman on a bus in New Delhi this past week, there's nothing I can do but weep for her and the women who knew her - it could have been any one of them.  or their friends.  Or their daughters.  Or any other woman.  Or the daughter, wife, girlfriend, friend or associate of any of her family members.  But it was this poor woman.  Disgusting.

"We are very sad to report that the patient passed away peacefully at 4.45am 29 Dec 2012," Kelvin Loh, the chief executive of Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital, said in a statement.


Peacefully?  There's nothing peaceful about dying from a gang rape and the associated beating that left her with severe organ failure and brain damage.  We're yet to find out more about this horrific event, but there sure was no equality nor love in there.

And to add more to the current issues in India, the last sentence of that article reads:

Police said on Friday that a 15-year-old schoolgirl had had her throat slit after being gang-raped in the Pali Muqimpure area of Uttar Pradesh state. A hunt has been launched for three youths after the attack the previous day.

I just don't know what to say...

So, how about we look at giving up these childish beliefs in imaginary friends and look at reality for what it is - the amazing, awe-inspiring reality that we live in.  As Tim Minchin said:

Isn't this enough?
this world?

Just this,
wonderfully unfathomable,
natural world?

How does it so fail to hold our attention
that we have to diminish it
with the invention
of cheap man-made
myths and monsters?

Let's all live, love, learn to use our brains and develop our reasoning skills.

Reason's Greetings to all - in the hope we can avoid horrendous acts of unkindness and "unreason" as I outlined above.


The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dave's Thoughts Echo Mine And Many Others'

My friend, Dave Fregon posted this recently. It was so good I had to share it with my other friends:

I'm getting a little sick of Muslim and christian 'missionaries' trying to friend me on Facebook.

We have NOTHING in common and I am totally over talking to the wall that is those of faith that are just out there to score points to get to their heaven. I'll say what I think if asked, but I do the same with anything. I am more than my disbelief in a god.

I change my position given the merits of observable, testable, falsifiable evidence, however what is it that would change their mind? Nothing. That's the problem with talking to missionaries, there is no intention at all of a conversation, they are after points to get into some sort of afterlife.

They want more than the wonderful universe we see around us as they see it somehow lacking. I think it is a sad way to view things and that you can be good without the bribe of a heaven and the gun to the head of an idea that is hell. We are social, caring, loving, empathetic creatures and I hope for each and every one of them some day they learn that morality based on the inspection of ethics, doing the least harm possible, is what has fought such things as slavery and women's rights, whereas holy books have justified both sides all the way.

There is no good that comes from either book that a nonbeliever cannot come to the same conclusion using their own faculties. I would suggest that their god if it existed would prefer that avenue, than a bribe in one hand and a threat in the other.

/end rant


The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Speaking of Nom, Nom

I'm staying in St Kilda, which is nice.  There's a tram stop just about outside the hotel door, the Medina Executive Apartments room is quite good, the air conditioning is working well and there are quite a few good coffee joints within easy walking distance.

Speaking of walking distance, Phil Kent and I put in quite a bit of that on Friday afternoon. :)

The Australian Skeptics National Convention has been going well and the final day today looks to continue being well worth attending.  I've met some good, fun, skeptical people and look forward to meeting yet more. :)

I'll be having a chat with Linus from BackupAssist tomorrow about some of the exciting new products he and his crew are working on.

The Secular Party of Australia is having a Victorian Branch meeting tomorrow night at Sale e Pepe Italian Restaurant that I'll be attending which should be good, especially considering the Royal Commission into child sex abuse that Julia Gillard has finally (been forced) to call for.  Having a proper separation of church and State in Australia will ensure we never again treat these church organisations (and other NGOs) as anything special - we need to ensure that we treat our children with the utmost respect and care, unlike has been the case in the past, particularly in the catholic church.


The Outspoken Wookie

Nom, Nom

I dropped in to the Central Coast on my way down to the Australian Skeptics National Convention and was treated to home made pizza and salad for dinner. The salad had a little something in it I had never tried before, pumpkin pieces baked in coconut oil, which gave the whole salad a lift!

'Twas quite nommy and as we all know, nommy and healthy is a rare combo...  :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

SBS 2011 - Essentials 2012 Migration

Back in the Server 2003 era when the 500 account (usually "Administrator") was still in use by many people, it was a good idea to sync your DSRM password with this domain Administrator password in case you needed to perform an AD Recovery at some point.

Now, as the 500 account is disabled when AD is installed in current Server operating systems, this recommendation is no longer possible.  What we do here is use a DSRM password that is specifically *not* one of the Domain Admin passwords and make sure it is recorded.  All of these passwords are over 16 characters and those characters come from all 4 groups - upper case, lower case, numbers and special characters.  We do this simply for added security to the core of the network - the Active Directory.  It also means we can change our regular domain admin accounts and not need to concern ourselves with the DSRM password needing updating, though this synchronizing can easily be handled via scheduled PowerShell scripting or via Group Policy.

So, when migrating from SBS 2011 to Essentials 2012, the migration will fail at 48% and report that your DSRM password is not long enough.  This error is *incorrect* as that is not the issue at all here.  The actual issue is that the administrative account you're using to perform the migration has a password that is different from the DSRM password - and that is not the error message that Microsoft is reporting here.

So, *BEFORE* you start an SBS 2011 (or even an SBS 2008 or SBS 2003(1) or any Server Standard) to Server 2012 Essentials migration, I'd strongly recommend you do the following:

  1. If the source server is a 2003 Server product, ensure you have a domain administrator account who is *NOT* the 500 user (generally "Administrator") and use the credentials for that account for the migration.  We'll assume this user is named "Derp" for the purposes of this exercise.  Make sure the 500 account and the Derp user are using the same password.
  2. If the source server is a 2008 or 2008 R2-based server, then you should already have this user, and we'll use "Derp" for this administrative user in this exercise.
  3. In an elevated command prompt on the source server, type the following command, substituting your actual administrative account for Derp:
    ntdsutil "set dsrm password" "sync from domain account Derp" q q
  4. If the FSM was looking down on you and smiling, you should see the following results:
    C:\Users\Derp>ntdsutil "set dsrm password" "sync from domain account Derp" q q
    ntdsutil: set dsrm password
    Reset DSRM Administrator Password: sync from domain account Derp
    Password has been synchronized successfully.
    Reset DSRM Administrator Password: q
    ntdsutil: q
  5. Assuming all other prerequisites have been successfully completed, you should be able to proceed with the migration without it failing at 48% with an incorrect error message.

In the steps above, you could (if you wanted) replace the "Derp" with "domain\Derp" where "domain" is your internal domain, but as this step is being performed on the source server itself, this is not required.

(1) Please be aware that I personally wouldn't be migrating any 2003-based servers to Server 2012 Essentials - I'd likely just do a fresh install.  The main reason for this is that we have no clients running  SBS 2003 that we had originally installed - we've already migrated them to SBS 2008 or SBS 2011 or full server products.  We do have a small number of SBS 2003 clients that we gained after the SBS 2003 was established, and as I'm not a fan of migrating someone else's AD configuration (normally because there's things I'd like to change - like their internal domain name), Therefore I've not actually tested this procedure on an SBS 2003 network, so the above procedure may well not be all that's needed, nor may it actually work if your Source Server is SBS 2003 - there may well be other issues that need addressing and if I come across them, I'll update this post.


The Outspoken Wookie

Friday, November 16, 2012

Secular Party Social Lunch - Melbourne

For anyone in and around Melbourne, there will be a social Secular Party Australia lunch on Friday 30th Nov from 12:00 at the Waterside Hotel in Melbourne just before the Australian National Skeptics Convention starts that same evening, just up the road.  For more information, please see


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Appalling George Pell

George Pell clearly has no comprehension at all about how heinous a crime the general society considers paedophilia to be. This man is so far out of touch with reality it is amazing he's still able to breathe. This man is a disgrace to humanity.


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Secular Party Lunch Before AuSkepticon

Just to let everyone know, I'm heading down to the Australian Skeptics National Convention from 30 Nov - 2 Dec, 2012 in Melbourne.

Just before the Convention, there will be a Secular Party organised (not paid for - they aren't that rich) lunch on the Friday in the CBD.

WATERSIDE HOTEL - 508 Flinders Street (cnr King Street)

It's a pub close to where the Meet and Greet will occur (Melbourne Immigration Museum, 400 Flinders Street) and will be starting at 12 o'clock, likely finishing in the bar before some of us head off to the Convention Meet and Greet at 5:30pm.

If we can get 40 confirmed we can have a private room.

All are welcome - Secular Party members, non-members interested in the Secular Party and people who just want to come along for a decent feed with some Skeptical and Secular friends before the Australian National Skeptics Convention kicks off on Friday evening.  As is normal with these sort of things, the more the merrier! :)

It is a strictly social lunch, ie, we won't be pestering anyone with speeches or joining forms, just food and drinks at your leisure (and your own expense).


So, if you are coming along, please go to and book a ticket so that we can let the Hotel know numbers.


The Outspoken Wookie

Office 2013 and the Cloud

Can I say, right up front, that I have no issue personally nor professionally with hosted solutions (having recently been re-branded as "Cloud Solutions") per se - after all we've been offering our own hosted solutions to clients for years and supporting other vendors' hosted products for longer.  So, in case anyone wants to think that I'm a nephophobic, well, that's simply not the case.

What I am is a realist.

Sometimes, hosted (aka Cloud) solutions are appropriate to a client's needs.  Sometimes they are not.  There's no "one size fits all" when it comes to the cloud just like there's no "one size fits all" then it comes to on-premises solutions, SmartPhones, hats nor even underwear - you want to (and really need to) find what's the most appropriate fit, customize that where possible/advantageous, and end up with a result that works well for your business needs.  See what I did there? :)

See, I'm a realist.

Do I have a problem with the perpetual license + annual maintenance model for software?  Nope.  This is quite often the way Line of Business (LOB) Application software is sold and is the way much of it has been sold for many years.  Where this is particularly handy is when a client has changed from one LOB application to another and still needs to access their old data.  The perpetual license allows them to (at least) read their old data using the product version that was installed at the time the License (well, likely the Maintenance) expired.

Do I have a problem with a subscription/leasing model for software?  Nope.  Sure, you never get a perpetual license this way, which means that you may well have issues accessing older data once you stop subscribing to the application, but if you know this up front and if you either have imported all the data into a new application or have some other way to access any old data you may need, then this works around that issue.  The vendor providing the cloud solution or the company providing the server and network resources to this vendor *may* well up and vanish, resulting in your inability to access/export your data to another product, but reliable backups and (obviously) choosing a reliable cloud vendor will go a long way towards alleviating these concerns.

Do I have a problem with Office 365?  Nope.  I definitely have issues with being forced to have to buy it through Telstra because of the inherent inefficiencies; monopolised, overpriced channel and general lack of clue that Telstra brings to the product, but I have no issues with the Microsoft side of Office 365 at all - their cloud/subscription offering is suitable in certain circumstances.

What I do have an issue with, regarding the soon to hit the market Office 365, is how Microsoft is stacking the deck whilst still being unable to make simple things happen.  They have increased pricing (in the US, and therefore no doubt also here in Australia when pricing is eventually released) by between 10% and 17% across the board for regular per-device products and at the same time changing the licensing terms and conditions to remove any multi-install rights from these regular licenses.  They have also introduced a number of new Office 365 options for subscription purchases - Office 365 Office Home Premium and Office 365 Small Business Premium.

Now, as we've not yet been given any Australian list pricing, I can only compare the US list pricing and then translate these with the regular 40% or so Microsoft Australia Tax that we pay here.  Actually, in researching this post, I have come across the following ComputerWorld article that outlines the US pricing quite well and pretty much mirrors my thoughts and objections to the Microsoft Office 2013 pricing changes and Licensing T&C changes, so to save me repeating what's already been written elsewhere, I suggest you go and have a read of that.  Notice the price increases that they detail - they are not insignificant.

So, basically, Microsoft is intentionally inflating their regular, perpetual Office 2013 licensing prices so that their new Office 365 pricing is appealing.  Of course, making the Office 365 pricing appealing without these price hikes and license usage reductions to their regular licenses would have meant introducing these new Office 365 lines at better pricing, but that's not going to happen with Steve Ballmer - an accountant - running Microsoft.

Now, the other *major* issue I have with the new licensing options is that none of the Office 365 options allows for installation on a Remote Desktop Server (RDS), so if you are using Office 2013 on an RDS, you'll need to purchase an Open Business or Open Value License as previously and will not be able to take advantage of the new features of the Office 365 Small Business Premium Licenses.  Not very smart, Microsoft.

Now, in a recent meeting with Microsoft, we were told that discussions were taking place around how to address this issue and they the issue was a rather complex one, yet they failed to see my extremely simple and effective solution that would have taken 2 people, 2 cups of coffee and 5 minutes tops in a single meeting involving the Office 365 Licensing Manager and the Open Licensing Product Manager:

O365: We need to have one of the O365 license instances be usable in an RDS environment
OLPM: OK, so we'll issue a RDS key into the Office 365 portal for you for one of the instances
O365: Thanks

And there you have it - Office 365 subscribers would be able to use their Office 365 subscription in a Remote Desktop environment.  See, Microsoft, it wasn't that hard now, was it?  :(


The Outspoken Wookie

US Election 2012

To all my American friends,

Congratulations on voting for sanity and rationality over religious fundamentalism and the utter craziness that was being sold by some (definitely not all) members of the Republican Party.

After a "legitimate election" it was refreshing to see that in Missouri, the electorate came out and found a way to shut that whole (Republican misogyny and bigotry) thing down.  Yes, Todd Akin was thrown out and replaced by... wait for it... a WOMAN!  Yes, Claire McCaskill took the seat once occupied by the person so biologically illiterate he thinks there's a fairy living in a woman's uterus that will be invoked after a "legitimate rape" to deny possibility of implantation of a fertilized egg.  (OK, so he doesn't quite think that, but come on - what he *does* think isn't that far removed from that scenario, now, is it?)

Richard Mourdock was vying for election as a Republican Indiana Senator.  This is the man who when asked about his thoughts on whether abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest, said "I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God.  And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."  Somehow he didn't get enough votes to represent Indiana.

In Wisconsin, Republican Roger "some girls rape easy" Rivard lost his seat to the Democrat, Stephen Smith.  To make it even more interesting, Wisconsin elected Tammy Baldwin to be the nation's first ex-mormon, bisexual atheist in the Senate.  She is also Wisconsin's first female Senator.

In Illinois, Republican Joe Walsh lost his bid for re-election as Democrat Tammy Duckworth was elected to that seat.  Joe Walsh replied to a question about whether a woman should be allowed an abortion if her life was at risk with "There is no such exception. With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance."  At least Illinois women now stand a chance.

New Hampshire elected the nation’s first all-female delegation.

Mark Takano became the first Asian-American, openly gay member of Congress.

Maine and Maryland held a referendum during this election and both voted to legalize gay marriage.

Colorado and Washington voted to legalize recreational marijuana usage.  Massachusetts voted to eliminate State civil and criminal penalties for the medical use of marijuana.  Montana voted to impose tighter restrictions on the use, cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana.

After this election, there are now at least 19 female US Senators and at least 6 LGBT members of Congress.

It seems that the tide is turning - women are starting to get fairer representation in the US government.  They do, after all, make up around 50% of the population.  The LGBT community is getting representation, too, which is good to see.  Equality, after all, should apply to all people... equally.

The ridiculous statements from the Tea Party and Republican members about rape, homosexuality and women have been dealt much of the death blow they deserved.  There's still some way to go to have the influence that the fundamentalist far right brought into the cold light of rationality, but some quite large steps have been taken.

It also looks like the Republican members of Congress have now realised that Obama's first term wasn't given to him by the voters as a simple backlash against the lunacy of the "Dubya Gov'ment" but because Americans truly wanted to see some change.  The first term of the Obama was stifled, stopped and subverted by the actions of the Republicans at ever possible point.  Still the people voted for the Democrats as they saw through what had happened.  The US Congress should now be allowed to do what it was voted in for - to govern the people of America, not to have the opposition play silly political power games which stifle the recovery and growth of the country.

Mitt Romney stood under a banner that read "Believe In America" when he publicly conceded defeat in Boston.  I think his wish was answered - the American people showed how much they believe in America by re-electing Obama and showing Romney that despite his money, he was not wanted.

You can't tell 47% of your population to go and fuck themselves and then expect them to vote your party in.  Romney now sees this truth.

So, with that I congratulate the Obama government on being given a second term and I truly hope that the Republicans let the Democrats govern the country properly this time.  It can only get better from here if reforms are put in place to ensure the banking industry is not left to run things on their own and people are started to be treated equally.  Secular policies and politics is the only fair way to govern and to ensure everyone has the right to their personal religious freedom.  Freedom of religion should not ever be able to force one's religious beliefs (or lack thereof) on another person.  Fair government should be able to govern without religious influence over their policies.


The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Office 2013 hits RTM

Microsoft has announced that their latest Office suite - Office 2013 - has just been released to manufacturing.  General availability will be January 2013 (just after the FSMas rush - I think that was badly timed), however the roll out of versions will start in November 2012 to Office 365 Enterprise customers (some features, most likely not all in the initial upgrade), followed by existing Software Assurance customers in mid November and new Licensing customers in December 2012.

Anyone who purchases Office 2010 from October 19th will be eligible for a free upgrade (costs for postage, if required) to Office 2013 when it is available in 2013.

Microsoft's Office News blog had this to say about Office 2013:

This is the most ambitious release of Office we've ever done. It spans the full family of Office applications, servers and cloud services. The new Office has a fresh, touch friendly design that works beautifully on Windows 8 and unlocks modern scenarios in social, reading, note-taking, meetings and communications. We are proud to achieve this milestone and are eager to deliver this exciting release to our customers.


The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, October 13, 2012

HSQ - Separation of Church and State Schools in Qld

Just a reminder to anyone who is interested in the future of public school education here in Queensland that the Humanist Society's Separation of Church and State Schools conference is being held at Hotel George Williams this weekend.  Please see for more information.


The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Islam - The Religion Of Intolerance

I posted this on Facebook back on 20th September, 2012:

There is no chance now that a muslim can claim that islam is a religion of love and peace and expect anyone to take them seriously. Islam is showing itself to be a religion of hatred, intolerance, massive overreaction and extreme violence.

To all the moderate muslims out there - WHY are you not standing up and taking back your religion from these fundamentalist whack jobs? The longer you leave this sort of lawlessness and insanity ruin your religion, the harder it will be to get out from under them when they call on you to support their fundamentalist ways. The time is now and will soon pass. Take action, take control, or lose all hope of being seen as different from these people.

And now, just to prove my point, the fundamentalist Taliban goes and does this:

Yet one more show of extreme violence from those who represent the islamic faith.  Time is fast fading for the moderate muslims to take their faith back.  The problem is that when they try and stand up to the growing fundamentalist uprising in their own faith - that uprising who values fear, intolerance, hatred and the ultimate power this brings - those representing the fundamentalist side of their faith murder them.  In what way is that a religion of peace and love?


The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Separation of Church and State Schools – Time For Reform In Queensland?

Please consider attending the 13-14 October 2012 Humanist Society of Queensland conference: Separation of Church and State Schools – time for reform in Queensland?

This event will possibly be the most important and constructive of its kind to have been staged in Queensland.

The keynote address will be provided by Prof Marion Maddox, Director - Centre for Research on Social Inclusion, Macquarie University, NSW.

Mr Greg Purches, Deputy General Secretary of the Queensland Teachers’ Union will be among the seven prominent speakers at the event. The presence of Mr Purches will provide an excellent opportunity for concerned Queensland parents, citizens and teachers to directly relate any concerns, experiences and anecdotes to the QTU.

The same personal communication access will also apply to ACSSO President Mr Peter Garrigan who will also be speaking at the event. ACSSO—the Australian Council of State School Organisations—is the peak national organisation representing the interests of the parents, families and school communities of more than two million children attending government schools throughout Australia. ACSSO’s formal structure currently comprises six State and Territory peak government school organisations and their membership networks.

Bookings can be made at the HSQ website:

A conference flyer PDF is also available for download:

Should the conference not be relevant to you, please pass-on the information to any other persons who might have an interest in attending.
See this and more critical thinking events at


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Looking For Somewhere To Think?

Are you looking for somewhere to meet up with other people and exercise your brain?  Do you like critical thinking?  If so, have a look at for places around Australia (OK, around SE Qld right now) for places to meet up with others who share a love of critical thinking.


The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Toowoomba, Oct 6th, 2012

Toowoomba Carnival of Heathens

Just a quick note to let anyone who is in or around the Toowoomba region on Saturday 6th October, 2012 know that there will be a marriage equality rally - Love Is Worth Fighting For - at Frog's Hollow in Queens Park (corner Margaret and Hume streets) from 1PM - 4PM.  This will be a family friendly event with a sausage sizzle, some stalls and face painting for the kiddies.  This is a drug and alcohol free event.

For more information on this event, see

Also, after this event we'll be having a Critical Thinking get together at Fibber's/Fitzy's from 4:30PM until, well, what time do they close?  :)  This will be the inaugural meeting to establish a community of skeptical/rational/secular/humanist/critical thinkers in Toowoomba so that we can help those who feel that evidence-based thinking is getting the short straw in Australia (and around the world).

This meeting will be an informal get together so that people can see that they are not the only person who feels similarly to how they feel and so that we can work out a time and place to hold future meetings on a regular basis.  This is clearly not an alcohol-free event! :)

I'll be there, as will Ronnie Williams (of the NSCP High Court Challenge fame), Chrys Stevenson (of Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear fame), Jane Douglas (of Putting Her Oar In fame), Emily Dye and a number of others.  Feel free to come along and discuss your thoughts, feelings, frustrations and drink choices with a friendly bunch of critical thinkers. :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, September 22, 2012

ACT - 90% Renewable Energy By 2020

I just sent the following email to both the ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell and also the Chief Minister Katy Gallagher in response to this article in the Canberra Times - thanks to for bringing this to my attention:

As a Queenslander who has just had the misfortune of witnessing our incoming government dismantle not only our previous ALP government's Solar Dawn Program and the Solar Bonus Feed-In Tariff, but numerous other green schemes, it is encouraging to hear that in the ACT, the future is being considered with much greater care than has recently been shown here.

I would like to congratulate you on your ability to make quality calls about the future of the Territory's energy requirements.  This is a good step towards a saner, more manageable and more responsible energy plan for Australia.  I believe the WA government is looking seriously at biodiesel - another area that we Australians need to take a much closer look at, as well as other algae-related fuel and material sources.

With the current global warming we're seeing, someone has to take action.  Australia's Carbon Tax is a small step in a long. long journey and clean/renewable energy will not only help reduce our reliance on CO2 producing energy sources, but will also reduce the other emissions we generate from our energy production that we then need to breathe back in.  The LNP's position here in Queensland that the Carbon Tax that the Federal ALP has enforced on Australia will make further research and development of clean and green energy sources redundant is, to put it politely, utterly ridiculous.

So, again, congratulations on seeing what's needed for both the ACT and Australia and taking steps to implement these practices.


The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, September 16, 2012


The following lyrics were written by a great poet...

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try

You don't actually have to try to imagine there's no heaven - all you have to do is look at the evidence for heaven (whichever form of heaven you believe in) and see that there is no real evidence.  Heaven doesn't exist - there's no need to try and imagine it isn't there as it simply isn't there.

No hell below us

Along with heaven, hell is a myth.

Above us only sky

... and 13.7 billion years of history in this universe.

Imagine all the people living for today

That's right - live for this life, the only one you have, and make sure this life is well lived and you leave the place better than you found it.  Don't bother to "store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal" as that place does not exist.  Make this life good.

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do

Right now with the way the Internet is reaching across the globe and, aside from a few places where it is being heavily censored, such as China, breaking down walls and boundaries this isn't really all that hard to imagine.  Sure, countries still exist and still fight each other for land (look at Israel as a prime example), but these days people have the ability to see what other countries are doing as and when they are doing it and learn from the mistakes that have been made throughout history.  Whether they want to learn or not is still an issue - but the lessons are all out there and available to almost everyone.

Nothing to kill or die for

Now, this will require some serious imagination.  As a species, we're good at two things: Exploration and Aggression.  At times, the aggression pushes our exploration to reach further than it would have (look at the early space race as an excellent example), yet other times our aggression hinders our exploration (look at the current state of space travel and exploration as an unfortunately excellent example).

And no religion too

Humans will always, I think, find something to fight over.  Religion is one of those things - people have different imaginary friends and will kill each other rather than admit those imaginary friends are, well, imaginary.  I don't care if you want to personally have an imaginary friend, but you cannot use that imaginary friend to restrict nor remove the rights of others - but feel free to have them restrict your own rights all you want.

Imagine all the people living life in peace

Peace.  Hhmmm...  Do we really know what that even means?  :(

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one

I'm most definitely not - I know a number of people who would like to see religion used for personal reasons, not to control the will of others.  People like George Pell, Jim Wallace and Peter Jensen are on the other side of the fence, along with the radical Muslim clerics who are beating up this recent anti-Islam movie into something they can use to murder people - the other side of the fence wants to use their own personal religious beliefs to oppress others in various ways.  Homophobia, for instance, will result in the early deaths of more homosexuals than their "lifestyle" could ever cause.  Living with the hatred of your community for what your genes have expressed (ie, something you cannot control and have no choice over) cannot possibly be an easy thing.

I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Yes, that would be awesome.  Reality is awesome.  Though I'd like a few more people to accept reality for what it is and not feel the need to shield it with religion. Thinking is hard, sure, but the payoffs are great! :)

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can

Well, I don't know if I'd go so far, John, but I get your point.  We may not want to have a communist society (theoretically decent, but they are always corrupted by those in power - those who are "more equal" than their subjects) but there's enough wealth to go around that we really shouldn't have people living below the poverty line.

No need for greed or hunger

With the amount of food produced in the world today, there currently *IS* no need for greed nor hunger.  The amount of food that developed nations throw away is obscene - especially when there are way too many currently not only in poverty, but living without adequate food.

A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

How is it that we pretty much all teach our kids to share their toys and play nicely, but we then willingly throw this valuable lesson out later in life?  Some of the lessons we learn as children are extremely valuable and this is definitely one of them.  No, I don't long for a society of free love, free food, free card and free, well, whatever, but we do have enough resources on this planet to be able to see more equity across the board.  I don't begrudge those who work hard and play hard and make good headway, but we also need to keep an eye on those further back in the class and help them along a bit.

Realising that we are all human beings, no matter what our color, gender, sexual orientation, personal religious beliefs nor anything else and that we all deserve a chance to live a decent life is something that as a species, we cannot afford to lose sight of.  The more critical thinking people start learning how to do, the more they will realise that their beliefs in mythology are unwarranted and they will start to give up on their magical thinking - then they will have the opportunity to experience the absolute awesomeness of reality and the understanding that we are *all* human beings.

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Yes, I truly hope that one day we can get past this magical thinking and we can all use our brains for working out ways to move us forward as a species.  That will be a wonderful day!


The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Windows Experience Index - Windows 8

The WEI scoring system has changed a fair bit since it was introduced in Windows F^HVista and the version that's in Windows 8 extends the Windows Experience from a highest result of 7.9 (as per Windows 7) up to a top of 9.9.  Here's the link to my Windows 7 Experience Index post.

For a decent read about what the Windows Experience Index involves, have a read of this. It doesn't go into a lot of technical depth, however it is enlightening.

Now, I have a few computers here right now that I'm running Windows 8 on and below I've listed the scores as well as scores from other people's computers that I've been able to verify. I'm particularly interested in the HDD/SSD and RAM scores for use in regular daily office use. CPU usage is rarely ever an issue (on modern PCs), but more so as a comparison between tablets, ultrabooks, notebooks and desktops to see if one could be usable for extended periods.  The component/figure in bold is the base score (determined by the lowest subscore).  Also, as more figures are obtained, I'll add them to this table.

(If you want to send me details to add to this list, please send the following:
* Screen capture of Control Panel\System and Security\System
* Screen capture of Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Performance Information and Tools
* Screen Capture of Device Manager showing your HDDs (and highlighting the Primary HDD if you have more than 1 installed)
* A zipped HTML output from CPU-z
as all of the above give me the detail I need to complete this table.)

Alan Burchill's Desktop
Win 8 Pro x64
CPU - Core i7 2700K @ 3.50GHz
Graphics - Unknown
Gaming Graphics - Unknown
Primary SSD - Intel X25-M 160 GB
Roy Adams' Dell M4700
Win 8 Pro x64
CPU - Core i7 3740QM @ 2.70GHz
Graphics - Intel HD 4000
Gaming Graphics -Intel HD 4000
Primary SSD - Samsung PM830 256 GB
Hilton's Desktop
Bus Speed O/C to 166 MHz
Win 8 Pro x64
CPU - Core i7 920 @ 2.67GHz
RAM - 3*4 GB A-RAM PC-12000 (1600 MHz)
Graphics - 2 * Gigabyte HD4850 Fanless
Gaming Graphics - 2 * GV-R485MC-1GI
Primary SSD - A-RAM AR120GBE 120 GB
Dell XPS L501x Notebook
Win 8 Pro x64
CPU - Core i7-740QM @ 1.73 GHz
RAM - 2*4GB HMT351S6BFR8C-H9 (667 MHz)
Graphics - nVidia GeForce GT435M 2GB
Gaming Graphics - nVidia GeForce GT435M 2GB
Primary HDD - Toshiba MK6461GSY 640 GB
Dell XPS 12 Notebook
Win 8 Pro x64
CPU - Core i7-3537U @ 2.00 GHz
RAM - 2*4GB DDR3 (667 MHz)
Graphics - Intel HD 4000 2GB
Gaming Graphics - Intel HD 4000 2GB
Primary SSD - LITEONIT LMT-256M6M 256 GB

Friday, September 07, 2012

Jim Wallace - ACL

On 5 September, 2012, Jim Wallace, the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby (a fundamentalist christian lobby group), said at a same sex marriage debate in Tasmania "I think we're going to owe smokers a big apology when the homosexual community's own statistics for its health - which it presents when it wants more money for health - are that is has higher rates of drug-taking, of suicide, it has the life of a male reduced by up to 20 years. The life of smokers is reduced by something like seven to 10 years and yet we tell all our kids at school they shouldn't smoke."

After this, he claimed that when the media released this quote - which he, of course, doesn't deny making - they have misrepresented him.  Now, "The Age" did headline their story on this issue "Smoking healthier than gay marriage" and had the following as their opening paragraph "The head of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) Jim Wallace says smoking is healthier than the lifestyle that would be promoted by same-sex marriage."  Neither of these are written as a quote of what Jim Wallace said, they are a written summary or an outline of what he said.

The following afternoon, on 2GB's "Sydney Live" program with Ben Fordham, Jim Wallace says, when asked if he pleads guilty or not guilty, "Look, I plead not guilty to having said 'smoking is healthier than gay marriage' I mean that was a quote attributed to me in 'The Age' and I think that's the nub of the problem here..." I think Jim Wallace fails to see that the "nub of the problem" is terribly bigoted, irrelevant and misleading comparison he clearly made between the health risks of smoking (a choice people make themselves) with homosexuality (a choice people's PARENTS make through their genes - ie, this is not a choice people make themselves).

Now, to clarify Jim's comparison of smoking with homosexuality, he was interviewed on ABC News where he goes on to say "No, well what I'm saying is I'm comparing the packaging. I'm talking about the packaging and, ah, what I'm saying is that if packaging's important in how we actually present things to people then, ah, certainly the packaging of marriage and, ah, packaging particularly heterosexual lifestyle and homosexual lifestyle under it as one package, ah, is , I think, inappropriate ah in a number of areas and I spoke yesterday about a whole range of issues that come up here but one of those...".  And this is clarification?  In what way - I can't work it out.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, in response to the original comments, stated "I believe yesterday's comments by Jim Wallace were offensive. To compare the health effects of smoking cigarettes with the many struggles gay and lesbian Australians endure in contemporary society is heartless and wrong. Although everyone is entitled to their own view, these statements reiterated again today on behalf of ACL are totally unacceptable. In light of this, I believe my attendance at the conference would be inappropriate."

Does Jim Wallace not realise that his bigotry is unwarranted and unwanted?  Does he not realise that the likely cause of much of the damaging behavior that the homosexual community engages with is likely caused by the hatred and bigotry they are forced to endure on a daily basis?  As a straight man, I cannot personally understand exactly how the gay community must feel when subjected to constant bigotry by people like Jim Wallace and the ACL, however I can at least empathise with them and stand with them to fight for their rights to equality.  In February, 2012, a Galaxy Poll (on behalf of Australians for Marriage Equality) found that 62% of Australians polled supported gay marriage and that 52% of coalition voters want same-sex marriage reform.

Remember, too, that this is the same Jim Wallace that tweeted, on ANZAC Day, 2011, "Just hope that as we remember servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for – wasn't gay marriage and Islamic!"  So obviously, it isn't just "the gays" that Jim's opposed to - it is anyone who is different from him.

What we need is a secular government that is not influenced by the bigotry of a narrow-minded religious group.  I personally believe that anyone can choose what religious views they want to have, however they cannot expect to have their religious views imposed on the general population to restrict the freedoms and rights of others.  All people should be treated equally.

When Jim Wallace was asked why the ACL invited the Prime Minister to their conference, he replied with "Yeah, well, the Prime Minister was going to speak on the theme of the conference which was 'Religious Freedom'. Ah, I was quite interested to hear do that, she has always been a keen supporter of religious freedom and, ah, religious freedom is, ah, under threat around the world particularly for minorities around the world. Ah, it is an issue in Australia with the review of the Federal anti-discrimination laws at the moment and once again, the same people who have made this a problem today are trying to remove the exemptions and exceptions that churches and people of faith, ah, enjoy to, ah, for freedom of religion.  Because, remember that freedom of religion is a Human Right."

Hang on, so Jim Wallace who correctly states that the freedom of religion is a Human Right (Article 18 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), wants religious groups to be exempted from anti-discrimination laws when the same Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in Article 1, states "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights".  So he wants to have different rights - basically, the ability to ignore anti-discrimination laws - from non-religious groups.  And how is that treating everyone equally and fairly?  Article 2 states "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status" - that doesn't seem to say, to me at least, that a religious group should be allowed to restrict or remove the rights of people not of their particular faith.

Now, I respect Jim Wallace's right to free speech and I completely believe he has a right to his opinion, no matter how bigoted that opinion may be, but I also believe that everyone has a right to be treated fairly and equally and I for one do not want to see the limitation of the rights of a sector of our community because of someone's personal religious beliefs.  I think that is morally wrong.


The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, September 02, 2012

The Reality Of Words

It has been said that reality changes words far more than words can ever change reality(1) and I would agree with that statement.  For starters, any language in which the definitions of words (and the even actual words themselves) are not changing is a dead language.  One of my favorite examples of this definition change is with the word "awful" which was originally used to mean "awe inspiring" and has changed so much over time that now it is used to mean "terrible" - quite different from it's original intention!

There are a number of ways that words can be redefined - some of these ways can be quite passive as in the slow change of a word over time as technology advances (such as "computer" which originally meant "one who computes" and now is mostly used to mean specific categories of computing devices including laptops, desktops and tablets) and some can be a little more active such as where a group or community takes a word and re-defines its meaning for their own reasons.  One of these words currently being actively redefined is "persecution".

I've been hearing a lot of people lately claiming they are being persecuted for their views on various things, such as marriage equality and other forms of societal inequity.  "Persecution" according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is defined as "the act or practice of persecuting especially those who differ in origin, religion, or social outlook".  So, I've heard "persecution" being claimed by both sides of the marriage equality debate.  On that definition alone, these may be fair claims, so let's take this one step further.  "Persecute" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict; specifically: to cause to suffer because of belief".

Now, with the definition of "persecute" as given, it would be a little disingenuous for those fighting against marriage equality because of their personal religious beliefs to claim they are being persecuted by "the gays" when all the LGBT community is after, really, is marriage equality.  In my experience, the LGBT community is not asking for church ministers to be forced to marry couples they don't want to marry, nor are they asking for straight couples to become gay couples - they are simply asking for the same legal recognition that is given to a marriage of a man and a woman to also apply equally to a same-sex couple.

What could rightly be claimed as persecution is the treatment of same-sex couples as somewhat inferior to different-sex couples, as if the love that a same sex couple has for each other is in some way not quite up to the level of love that a different-sex couple feels for each other.  And as a straight man interested in treating all people fairly, I find this inequality offensive.  No, I don't feel persecuted personally, but I can empathize with those members of the LGBT community who definitely feel persecuted.

So even though some groups, mainly the fundamentalist religious groups, are trying to redefine "persecution" to mean "being made to (rightly) feel like bigots because we want to enforce our personal and restrictive views on other areas of the community that do not share our religious views" I don't think that as a moral and accepting society, we should allow the redefinition of this word.

I'm happy for religious ministers not to marry a same-sex couple if they don't want to, just like they don't currently have to marry people of alternative faiths.  I'm happy for people to hold the religious beliefs they choose.  I'm not happy for people to try and restrict, reduce nor remove the rights of others based on their own personal religious beliefs.

In 2012, are we not, as a society, mature enough to allow consenting adults to make their own choices and not try and force our personal, restrictive views on them when what they are doing does not actually affect us detrimentally in any way?

(1) Mark Forsythe, TEDx Houses of Parliament, June 2012


The Outspoken Wookie