Saturday, 23 February 2008

Water Balloon

Exploding (so last year)

Not Exploding (so cool)

Note the elasticity of the balloon.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Australian Parliament Says Sorry

[Photo from]
Today is a great day in Australian History and should go down the history book as one of the most significant day. Our Prime Minister Kelvin Rudd, as the first business of the government for the 42nd Parliament delivered a sincere apology [news from ABC and the whole speech] to the past wrong of several previous governments resulting in the removing of aboriginal children from their families.

Two notable absences from today's celebration: former PM John Howard and Mr Tuckey (the member for O'Connor in Western Australia).

History will also note that!

Here is a comment I found in ABC website:

Well done and thank you, Kevin Rudd. I am glad you represent me, a multi-coloured new Australian. I live in Wilson Tuckey's electorate and am ashamed by his red-neck and immature actions and his ignorant, callous and superior attitude. His actions have been un-Australian in the extreme. He does NOT represent me.

On the issue of potential compensation claims:
One small step for Aborigines, one giant compensation bill for Australia!

Kevin 07 ?

Told you you'd be sorry.

Now we sit back and watch the record compensation claims roll in.

However, it seems to me the consensus is:
Yes. Compensation should be preserved for really important, worthy cases of true suffering, such as when Mr. Bolkus fell from his bicycle inside parliment house, or that poor armed robber who broke his leg climbing out of parramatta gaol.

Just because compensation would be expensive doesn't mean it is undeserved.

HOWEVER compensation was not the agenda item here, but recognition.

Oh and by the way did anyone else note the irony of John Howard officially declining to attend ? technically he has given his apology for the the apology :)

Tell us [name omitted], if it were you is that what you'd want? Is it? Have you heard a single thing Fred Chaney has been saying lately?
Oh, and I'm not sorry.
I'm happy and proud once again that we're governed by generous, imaginative, bold thinking men and woman and that the punishers and straighteners are back in their box for a while.

Today is really a proud day for Australian.

Full Text of PM's speech:
"Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations - this blemished chapter in our nation's history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia."

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Rubik's cube

Hi teachers, if you want to impress your kids, practice the solution provided in these videos:

psrt 1

part 2

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Chinese New Year of Rat

Today is Chinese New Year of Rat, wishing you a rewarding new year.

My friend sent me a slide show which I am sharing with you all.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

BitTorrent Traffic Vs the rest of Internet Traffic

I read with horror how a chief technical officer at APConnections publish an article with misinformation (i guess the aim is to convince users not to use BitTorrent).

Here is what I disagree; [My comments in square brackets like this]

First of all, lets look behind the scenes at how BitTorrent can affect a large ISP's network.

Torrents create thousands of connections. If you use a BitTorrent program on your laptop and attempt to download content (music, movies, et cetera), your computer will locate and find as many sources of this specific content as possible and download from all sources simultaneously. [true]

Conceptually, this is like simultaneously downloading separate chapters in a book from different sources, and then putting the chapters back together on your computer when the downloads complete. Your motivation is time; downloading all the chapters simultaneously is much faster than downloading them in sequence. [good conceptualisation]

In addition to looking for multiple sources for a single file, BitTorrent clients allow the user to attempt more than one file download at a time. [that's the beauty of BT!] This behavior further multiplies the number of active connections from your computer to the Internet. The amount of concurrent connections generated by one home user to the Internet can reach into the thousands. [Untrue! Most torrent client sets the TOTAL connections to around 400] Compare that number of connections with somebody who passively browses the web, and perhaps runs an AIM messenger client on their home computer; their connection total would not exceed fifteen or so at any moment in time.

But multiple connections generate tremendous overhead for a provider, too. [FALSE]

Each connection from your computer across the Internet must be accounted for [???] in various switching points (routers) in order for the data to flow. [OK, data packets go through] You can imagine these switching points as little traffic police standing at the intersection of a street during a 5K road race telling the runners where to turn. Now imagine thousands of races running all over the city at one time; each starting and terminating at a different location. Obviously the traffic cops would get overwhelmed and have to restore some order, like making sure organizers did not run their races all at the same time. [Bad conceptualisation. The effectiveness of Internet traffic is based on packet switching. That means that each packet may traffic from source to destination on different paths. The little traffic police at the switch does not care whether this packet is for the same connection to the last packet. Each packet is routed on path depending on the current traffic situation. CONNECTIONS do NOT increase any workload for the traffic police. The amount of traffic DOES!] In a nutshell, that is one of the motivations for a service provider to try and limit torrents. [I don't think the motivation is because of number of connections. Rather it is more related to the AMOUNT of traffic] The spontaneous and overwhelming number of connections they can create can overwhelm their circuits.

Where do all these BitTorrent files come from? Who is serving up this content?

When you set up a BitTorrent client and start downloading files you also unwittingly become a BitTorrent host/server. Any file you download to your computer can also be sent to other users while your BitTorrent program is active. [True]

From a content provider perspective there is great value in having your data hosted by millions of home users connected by BitTorrent; they can reduce your distribution costs. A content provider that distributes content from servers hosted on their private servers would be charged accordingly for the amount of data uploaded from their hosts. By using a BitTorrent model for distribution, however, a content provider becomes a parasite on third party sites allowing them to replicate and distribute content like a benevolent virus. [Bad comparison and deliberately biased against bitTorrent! Are you saying that you are objecting your users to host home-base smaill web servers. They are serving content as well. When a user connects to a website, the initiation is also out-going traffic! Again, a packet is a packet and is a packet. To the ISP, except for accounting purposes, incoming or outgoing packets should be treated the same and have similar load on routers.]

So who is absorbing the distribution cost when a content provider distributes their data by releasing it into the BitTorrent cloud? [Good questions, but it should be asked from an accounting point of view rather than technical.]

The additional cost of delivering BitTorrent content is essentially shouldered by the major ISPs who likely did not account for this traffic overhead when building out their networks. [No!, ISP do NOT have another additional cost except users are actually requesting the ISP to meet the sale agreement. For unlimited quota plan, most ISP will offer different prices based on different speed limits. So users using BT only INCREASE the amount of traffic, which is agreed in the price. For limited quota plan, BT users are godsend. They need more traffic and you have a great reason to ask them to upgrade! Another point to note, once a physical link is built (eg an optical fibre) the cost of running the fibre is small compared with the capital investment. Amount of traffic does NOT have any effect on running cost! Quota is a mechanism in accounting!]

If I am wrong in my interpretation of Internet technology, I stand to be corrected. Please cite sources when pointing out my mistake.

Students demo cheating & my reaction

Jason Schultz posted 4 videos of kids demonstrating their favorite cheating techniques. Jason's reaction is "it's fascinating to see all these kids disclosing their favorite techniques"

Here are the videos. I will disclose my reaction after I saw these vidoes after them.

My reactions;
1. How clever these kids are (1st and 2nd videos) and how well they can present the information! Education has already succeeded!
2. The technical skills used in the third video already show that this guy can find a job in media with no difficulties.

Back to the 'problem' of "cheating". Yes, there is a problem here. But it is the way the examination is set up, not the students. Isn't obvious to you that the so-call cheat are memory-aides? When questions are set to measure memory recall, which any educator can atest to you is one of the lowest level of mastery of knowledge, these memory aides become cheat. when the questions are set to measure higher skills, they are useful information to help solving problems.

I program in Javascript day in day out. But every now and then, I need to do search on Javascript functions which I use less frequently. Is that cheating? Yes, of course. But that's part of the work process.

Our children are growing up in an era where information are abundant. Information are literally a few clicks away. To them, memorizing pieces of information is a waste of time and energy.

I wonder when school will reflect the reality and teaches our students to properly use the memory aide in solving authentic problems.