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Friday, May 23, 2008


Friday... gardening tips?

It's Friday, so I don't have to keep it technical. But what the heck, I've got a little bit of tech. was exactly what I needed yesterday when I realised I had an n-squared problem with accumulating strings into one long string. It's a complete newbie mistake, but I found it at least. Anyhoo, it was so good I decided it needed another vote.

Okay, so gardening. I'll make it quick. I read in my bonsai book that if you have problems propagating from cuttings, you can grow roots on the original plant in a process called air-layering:

I tried that with my dwarf schefflera (at least I think that's what it is). Here's the parent plant (it's in a pot with 2 chillies and a mint):

But the air layer failed. No roots grew. And as you probably guessed I failed with cuttings, too. But I don't like giving up, so I stuck the cutting in some water:

It has done well. It's in a tall thin jar half full of water, in a pot that's backfilled with pebbles. This keeps the rooting part warm, which I understand is important. It is now finally growing roots:

By the way, there was no sign of those roots when it was being air layered - they've all popped out since it has been in the water. I had it outside, but a couple of the roots died and I decided it was too cold out there so I bought it inside. And today I noticed there are lost more roots starting to stick out through the bark (from cracks that run in the direction of the stem, not from those popcorn-looking bits).

So here's my conclusion about air layering schefflera (umbrella trees). There's nothing to be gained from cutting a ring of bark off. The roots don't grow out of the cut bark - they just grow out of normal bark. In fact, they grow out of the brown ~2mm long cracks you can see on every part of every branch.

In summary:
Enjoy your weekend. I'm taking a week off and spending it on vacation on Long Island in the Whitsundays, to celebrate my partner and my 10 year anniversary.

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Friday, December 21, 2007


It Wouldn't be Christmas Without....

In 2006, the (sadly, soon to be ex-) Senator Andrew Bartlett helped us identify a new species of creature, one borne out of the Copyright Act amendments, known affectionately as "the Congealed, Wobbling Blob of Copyright" (see here and here).

In 2007, it appears the Blob has moved with the times and now has its own 'BlobBook' page, and sends its silly season good wishes:

Seasons Greetings from all of us at the House of Commons!

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Friends Don't Depreciate Other Friend's Choses-in-Action

We have all seen those 'you wouldn't steal a car' piracy-is-wrong-kids advertisements on the legitimate DVDs we have purchased (and how can you avoid it when they don't let you fast-forward). Apparently the University of Sydney Law Revue 2007 had their own (and perhaps more accurate) take on these anti-piracy ads:

More piracy parody clips from the Revue are available here and here.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007



House of Commons readers will know of the Virgin Australia/Creative Commons images controversy that I have blogged about previously (see ad campaign here). There were plenty of other pictures that Virgin could have used in its ad campaign, for example, why didn't Virgin just use pictures of cats (thereby avoiding issues of model releases, defamation, privacy etc) and, in the great tradition of LOLCATS, build a campaign around that? There are hundreds of thousands of CC licensed cat photos on Flickr so we decided to help Virgin out with this image based on their ad "multi tasking is like swordfighting, it always ends in tears".

(Pictured: "Matrix Swordfighting Cats", 0205billege, available under Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License 2.0 license.)

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Thursday, July 05, 2007


Some Friday Fun - Wikipedia Style

(Pictured: "Wikipedian Protester", Randall Munroe - via his excellent webcomic xkcd, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 license)

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Monday, June 25, 2007


The Essence of Canberra - House of Commons Style

A few weeks ago Catherine and Abi went to Canberra to attend the ANU College of Law 'Outlaws' Postgraduate Research Conference. Before we left we warned you, our kind readers, that blogging would be temporarily suspended and promised to include some photos that captured 'the essence' of Canberra (see post here). And here's a few to get you started...

We have recently discovered that this is the National Carillon (excellent photography by Catherine Bond).

Catherine was keen to get a new job at the High Court but was told by a security guard that the position of Chief Justice was not yet available (but he took her name for future reference - or possibly - to keep her out in the future).

Finally, as you can tell by the expression on Abi's face- Canberra can be downright joyful (despite the cold)!

If anybody feels that our photos do not truly reflect the essence of Canberra, Matthew Rimmer has kindly suggested the following places:
After this post however we may not be allowed to leave the House of Commons for some time - so we hope that one day we will be able to visit these sites...

(Pictured: "Cath's shot of the Carillon", "Cath at the High Court" and "Joyful Abi", Catherine Bond, Pictures available under either a AEShareNet Free for Education license or Creative Commons License Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)

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Friday, April 27, 2007


Jimmy Wales Down Under...Chaser-Style

Here in Australia, we have a great tradition of tongue-in-cheek, satirical comedy shows, and The Chaser's War on Everything is one such show. Here at the House of Commons we are very big fans of this show, so when we saw this story we knew we had to blog about it.

As you may remember from an earlier post, Jimmy Wales has this week been touring Australia and speaking at various capital cities (he was also here for our public holiday ANZAC Day - I wonder if he had to look up the Wikipedia page for it?) Yesterday, Wales spoke at the Hilton here in Sydney. And there he was confronted by Andrew Hansen from the Chaser, who had decided that Wales would be perfect for a Chaser segment called "Mr Ten Questions". Wales was asked ten questions in rapid succession, including such gems as "There are 1.7 million articles on Wikipedia; how long did it take you to write them all?" and "How do you feel about the fact that when I looked you up on Wikipedia this morning I changed your page to say that you were a teenage drug lord from Malaysia?"

In being asked the Ten Questions, Wales now joins an elite list, although only one of the Ten Question candidates has ever got all the answers right - actor Anthony LaPaglia.

You can read more at the Sydney Morning Herald article on this here. As the SMH points out, this is quite a minor stunt by the Chaser guys. As the Wikipedia page on The Chaser, these guys were on the official list of potential terrorists, anarchists and protestors "deemed to be a threat" to United States Vice President Dick Cheney on his recent visit to Australia. So it seems that Wales got through this easy!

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Friday, April 13, 2007


The Rise of Open Source Cinema

The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday picked up an article from the Telegraph about the rise in "open source cinema", or films where the audience has a certain degree of control over what happens in the story. The term "open source cinema" was inspired, obviously, by open source software.

The prime example of this, of course, is last year's classic thriller Snakes on a Plane (or "SoaP"). New Line Cinema intended to change the name of this film from Snakes on a Plane to Pacific Air Flight 121 but outrage on blogs meant they kept the original title (although really, couldn't execs think of a better title than 'Pacific Air Flight 121'?) Following other demands, a certain line which, because this is a family-friendly blog will not be mentioned, was also inserted into the film. You can read more about open source cinema, and that particular Samuel L. Jackson line, at the Sydney Morning Herald article here.

When we started this blog I never, ever, thought that I would get to mention Snakes on a Plane. The House of Commons is now part of SoaP history.

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Monday, January 08, 2007


Five Things You Didn't Know About Us

We were recently tagged by Andres Guadamuz of TechnoLlama with this meme, which we've taken as applying to us collectively. So here's five (or fifteen) things you didn't know about us:
  1. Some alternate names for the House of Commons were 'Ode to a Coffee', 'Stenchblossoms' and 'UIP Unlocked'.
  2. Hidden talents: Catherine was a child singer and was accepted into the Australian Youth Choir; At the ripe age of 8 Abi was a contestant on Boomerang, a children's television game show created in Hong Kong. She never received her prize; Ben is a black belt in karate.
  3. We all dream of very different alternate careers: Catherine would like to be the editor of US Vogue; Abi would like to take over the world; Ben would like to be a professional go player.
  4. Ben has dual citizenship. In Australia, his name is registered as Benjamin Mark Bildstein. In Canada, it is Benjamin Mark Noble Bildstein; Abi's full name is Abirami Paramaguru, with no middle name; Catherine's full name is Catherine Michelle Bond.
  5. Abi grew up in Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Sydney; Ben grew up in Hobart; Catherine grew up in Sydney and Adelaide.
And to complete the meme, we're tagging Kim Weatherall, Nic Suzor, Robin Boyd, Peter Black, and Jeff Waugh.

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Lawrence Lessig On The West Wing (Well, Sort of...)

This may be old news to some, but here Down Under we're only just getting to see Season 6 of the TV show The West Wing, so I thought this would be a good post for local readers. In tonight's (January 8, 8.30pm, ABC) episode actor Christopher Lloyd portrays Lessig in a Constitutional-drafting storyline. Turns out a student from Lessig's Constitutional Law class at Harvard ended up writing for The West Wing...Lessig told the story in class...and the story appeared on The West Wing.

See the details on Wikipedia here and at Lessig's blog here (the fact that Lessig's blogpost about the episode was written in February 2005 serves to further illustrate how far behind we really are.) The ABC also has a description here, with Lessig getting a mention. How surreal it must be to see your name intermixed with fictional characters...

Just in case you’re wondering, if the housemates were ever portrayed by actors, I believe these fine artists would do us justice: Sarah Michelle Gellar (myself), Johnny Depp (Ben) and Australia’s own Bollywood queen Tania Zaetta (Abi).

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Friday, December 22, 2006


The Blob is Back

At most houses you will find the usual Christmas paraphernalia such as trees, holly and Christmas stockings. You won't have the same experience here at the House of Commons. The visitor this particular Christmas is the Copyright Amendment Act 2006. To pay homage to the Copyright Amendment Act we have decided to decorate the Congealed Wobbling Blob of Copyright in lieu of a Christmas tree.

Thank you Attorney General Mr Philip Ruddock. Thank you for the gift of Congealed Wobbling Blob of Copyright.

So us housemates and the Congealed Wobbling Blob of Copyright wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

And when you are singing Christmas carols in public, or perhaps recording your 4 year old on your mobile phone, singing along to the Wiggles cd you bought her for Christmas- beware...the Congealed Wobbling Blob of Copyright may creep up when you least suspect.

(Pictured: "Christmas Congealed Wobbling Blob of Copyright", Abi Paramaguru, Picture is available under either a AEShareNet Free for Education license or Creative Commons License Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)

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Thursday, December 14, 2006


Free Beer Anyone?

"Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of free as in free speech, not as in free beer." (Richard Stallman, Free Software Definition)
December 15 2006 is the fourth anniversary of Creative Commons. What is the best way to celebrate? With a cool refreshing glass of free beer of course!

What is free beer? It is promoted as "beer which is free in the sense of freedom, not in the sense of free beer." The project is the brain-child of a Copenhagen based artist collective called Superflex and a group of students at a Copehagen IT University. The underlying idea involves the application of free software/open source principles to a tangible item (close to the heart of many) - namely beer.

How do they go about it? The branding and recipe is released under a Creative Commons (Attribution-Sharealike) license. This means that anyone is free to produce and sell the beer and brew their own modified version of the beer, as long as they share the modified recipe. The recipe for Free Beer version 3.0 (codename: "Skands") is available here.

Lawrence Lessig rightly points out that recipes are not copyrightable. But I wonder- does this matter when it is the best beer you have had all year?

Richard Stallman seems to like the idea but unfortunately, does not drink beer.

Anyway, if you happen to be wondering around Blågårdsgade 5, Copenhagen on the 15th of December why not put on your dansende schoenen and join in the festivities for the fourth anniversary of Creative Commons. Creative Commons Denmark and the folks from Free Beer will be there. If that isn't enough enticement remember- Free Beer is now available on tap.

(Pictured: "My glass of beer", Lupinanto-Antonio Pennisi, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 License)

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Six Degrees of Copyright Amendment Blob

The Copyright Amendment Blob/Congealed Wobbling Blob of Copyright has taken the world by storm. So it is time to put the blob through its paces. I applied my version of the infamous trivia game, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and here is what I came up with:
  1. Kevin Bacon starred in the movie Sleepers alongside Robert De Niro.
  2. Robert De Niro produced the movie Entropy which featured a special appearance from U2 front man-Bono.
  3. Bono is one of many starving artists who were signatories to the full-page advertisement in the Financial Times pleading for a "fair play for musicians." Apparently, a 50 year term of protection for sound recordings isn't enough and the group of artists petitioned the government to extend the term to 95 years. In fact, the cause was so compelling that some artists managed to raise themselves up from the dead to put their name to the document. [Read more about the plight of Bono and like-minded artists in this article by Marina Hyde]
  4. The advertisement, "fair play for musicians" was a response to the Gowers report which recommends (among other things) the copyright term for sound recordings be maintained and not extended. Andrew Gowers, author of the report, is quoted as saying that extension of the copyright term beyond 50 years would only benefit "an exceptional few stars who are already fabulously rich." [Excellent commentary on the report can be located on Weatherall's Law and TechnoLlama.]
  5. The report prepared by Andrew Gowers simply follows Australia's lead on copyright. Well, such is the case if you ask our Attorney General Mr Philip Ruddock. I query why Gowers even bothered writing the 140 page report when apparently all that was required was "See Australian Copyright Law" (we housemates much prefer "See Blob"). [Read about the similarities in this post from Weatherall's Law]
  6. As we all know, Mr Philip Ruddock is intimately acquainted with the Congealed Wobbling Blob of Copyright/Copyright Amendment Blob/ Copyright Amendment Act 2006. [Read more here in previous post by Catherine Bond (featuring the blob).]

And thus, it is demonstrated- Kevin Bacon is within six degrees of the Copyright Amendment Blob. Are you?

(Pictured: "a little more than six degrees of Kevin Bacon", Matt Leclair, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommericial-ShareAlike 2.0 license)

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