morsla: (lookin)
Six thousand words to go. Everything's now officially overdue, so I'm eating into my holidays while I rack up penalties. At least the Editing work is in, and the last part of my non-fiction folio will be submitted this afternoon. That will leave five thousand, split between two papers.

I'm finding short folio pieces (1000 words) to be damn hard to write - all my ideas seem to be too big, or don't have enough in them. I've started about six different pieces, eventually picking an entirely new topic for one when I got to Deakin last Friday. I wrote it in a few hours, and handed it straight in without a second glance. If only they were all that easy to write...

I've blocked out ideas for the next one (an actual research essay - no changing topic this time). Turning the essay structure from dot points to prose is like pulling teeth, though. I think I might make some headway writing it with an active, personal voice - although it probably breaks every unwritten rule about academic essay writing, anything will be an improvement on my lists of bullet points.

I went to RetroCon (briefly) and Golgotha (also briefly) over the weekend. Only ran a single session of A Broken City, but I had some good players. Spent three hours dancing at Golgotha, which seems to be more exercise than I've had in weeks... it must have done something good, though, as I managed to run from McKinnon college to the station in time to catch my train on Monday night. I also got to dispel some more rumours about UniCon not running, and got a cheer at the RetroCon award ceremony when I announced dates for the convention.

Quote from RetroCon, when I mentioned we'd be plugging unicon online/in stores/by LJ:
Kid in audience: "Livejournal is for emos!"
Me: "Yes, yes it is. But we need to promote to emos as well..."


I lay awake until about 5am, brain in overdrive while I thought about the million things I want to do in the holidays. My body clock wanted to power down at 9am, but I can't afford that luxury yet.

InvisiBen

Jun. 6th, 2006 10:17 pm
morsla: (Default)
Excuses, excuses. I'm sorry that I've turned into such a hermit lately.

I headed out to Burwood today, to hand in my final Editing assignment - 5,000 words of copy, plus a design brief and stylesheet. I spent a little under five minutes in the university before getting on the tram for another hour and a half to head home... luckily, I had my laptop to work on. I really like the Editing and Publishing course material. I only hope that one day I'll find a job where all these theoretical work processes actually happen.

I'm fighting off the Cold That Will Not Die at the moment. It's had [livejournal.com profile] aeliel in bed for a few days over the last week or two. I'm particularly stubborn when it comes to getting sick, though... I won't let myself stop moving unless the cold agrees to write my assignments for me. Strangely, they don't often take me up on the offer.

Still to go:
Cradle Mountain reflection (1,500 + 400 exegesis)
Kitchen Confession (1,000)
Not just fun and games (1,000)
Communication technologies paper (2,500)
Defamation Law paper (2,500).

All due by Friday, although some won't be in until next Wednesday. Nine thousand words still to write, but that means I've now crossed the half way point. I guess there's no sense looking back now...
morsla: (Default)
Q: What is the effect of current communication technologies on the communication process and language?

I find it amusing that I'm now using a blog to collate information on the way communications have been affected by technology...

"Finding a good time to visit with her is an experience in teenage time management. "We’re the most last-minute people you'll ever meet," she says of her posse's complicated lives. To find pattern in the way her crowd swarms, it helps to remind yourself that college kids, like the proteins that underlie much of human nature, really are much more organized than a tangle of spaghetti. There is logic in the complexity. Events do work out."
Joel Garreau - Radical Evolution

Swarming is a seemingly amorphous, but deliberately structured, coordinated, strategic way to perform military strikes from alldirections. It employs a sustainable pulsing of force and/or fire thatis directed from both close-in and stand-off positions. It will work best - perhaps it will only work - if it is designed mainly around the deployment of myriad, small, dispersed, networked maneuver units. This calls for an organizational redesign - involving the creation of platoon-like pods joined in company-like clusters - that would keep but retool the most basic military unit structures.
Swarming and the Future of Conflict

"The people up front and the people in back are in constant communication, by mobile phone and walkie-talkies and hand signals,"says Eidinger. "Everything is played by ear. On the fly, we can change the direction of the swarm, a giant bike mass. That's why the police have very little control."
The US military has been one of the earliest institutions to fear and see the possibilities in swarming. John Arquilla co-authored Swarming and the Future of Conflict two years ago for the think-tank Rand Corporation and the Secretary of Defence. He sees swarming - "a deliberately structured, co-ordinated,strategic way to strike from all directions" - as spearheading a revolution in military affairs.
"The military has much to learn from Critical Mass," he writes in an e-mail. "In future campaigns, leaders might benefit by simply drawing up a list of targets and attaching point values to them. Then units in the field, in the air and at sea could simply pick whatever hadn't yet been taken. The commander would review periodic progress, adjust point values, and basically stay out of the way of the swarm."

Joel Garreau - Global Swarming

IRAQ: A large swarm destroyed twenty out of sixty fuel tankers in an Iraqi Oil Ministryconvoy built to protect tanker drivers against threatened attacks.These threats, some attributed to Ansar al-Sunna, caused a ten daywalk-out of fearful tanker drivers.
SWARM: Cutting Iraq's Gasoline Lines

More swarming links: http://www.sci.fi/~fta/swarming.htm

Also: http://www.mobileactive.org/ (Cell Phones for Civic Engagement)
morsla: (lookin)
Contempt of Court paper: the issue is mostly unravelled, and dear gods does it get complicated right before the Supreme Court challenge. I guess that's why they took it to a higher court, as both sides were getting tangled up in their definitions. I'm feeling very glad that I decided against Science/Law all those years ago. Two sections to finish writing, and then the conclusion.
--> Complete by tomorrow lunchtime. Print it out, go to uni, hand it in.

Crazy layout project of craziness: much heavier workloads are looming over the next three weeks, and I need to get this finished. So, I've asked to be able to do the second chapter myself, in order to get onto the index etc faster. After that I'll see just how long it takes to upload 500MB of art + 80MB other files, with a 512/128k connection.
--> Finish chapter by tomorrow night. Export ch1-5 as PDFs, compile index on laptop Thursday. Start uploading on Friday.

Then, there's a busy weekend followed by a week of playing with fire 'doing research' for another nonfiction feature. http://www.homeofpoi.com tutorials, here I come :) Also, writing a media folio by next Friday.

Due around the end of the month:
29 May: 1500 word nonfiction feature + 400 word exegesis
29 May: 2 x 800 word short pieces (nonfiction)
29 May: Minor Editing assignment (proofreading)
2 June: 2500 word Defamation Law paper
5 June: Major Editing assignment

After the end of May, almost all my weeknights open back up again. Even better, by June 9th I've handed in everything I'm working on - work, uni, the lot. After (or at) Retrocon I intend to start hunting you lot down, as I miss seeing living, breathing people on any sort of regular basis.

I also intend to pick up my paintbrushes again. With four large commissions lined up, I might actually be able to pay some bills with my mercenary pigments. It's also time to sharpen up those sculpting skills.

Enough!

May. 7th, 2006 12:01 am
morsla: (Default)
Too many hours... too many lawyers...

I've been wading through court proceedings and the http://www.austlii.edu.au databases, trying to find out more about journalists, codes of ethics, and contempt of court. I've even been through 92 pages of actual court transcript, and my skin is crawling from all the legalese that was thrown about.

It's a lawyer's job to ask tight questions. I've been reading people's reactions to those questions, knowing that if an attempt to avoid giving an answer is obvious to me, it sure as hell must be obvious to the people working in that courtroom. It's painful to watch (or read).

I don't know how the Factiva (media) and Austlii (law) databases work, though. I have hundreds of media stories on the Gerard McManus & Michael Harvey case, and scarcely any legal information. A similar case, involving ABC journalist Arthur Nicholls in South Australia, yielded details of his trial and subsequent appeal - but it doesn't seem to have any media coverage.

I'm trying to assemble an essay on journalists and Contempt of Court charges - specifically, cases where journalists have refused to reveal anonymous sources under oath, because of the journalists' code of ethics. I've narrowed down my reading to about 55 print news articles, and eight websites (television transcripts, political blogs and online news sites). There's still a shortlist of about thirty sources, though. It should be plenty, but for the large black hole in my research... being the outcome of the McManus & Harvey trial. I think that it's still in progress, though, so I'm guessing that's why I've run into a wall.

Brief timeline:

Febrary 2004: Herald-Sun publishes an article by McManus & Harvey, detailing leaked Federal Government documents about a plan to spend only $100m of a proposed $650m overhaul of war veteran's benefits.

July 2005: Preliminary (Victorian County Court) hearing for Crown v. Kelly. Kelly is a public servant, charged with unauthorised communication of a document. The reporters are summoned to give evidence, and refuse to name their source. They are charged with contempt in the face of the court.

The journalists launch a counter-claim in the Victorian Supreme Court, questioning the judge's authority to summon them to trial. Their own contempt hearing is stayed pending the outcome of the Supreme Court action, which is yet to be resolved.

To muddy the waters further, the federal Attorney-General has intervened in the Contempt hearing, asking that the Judge use his discretion to dismiss the charges as there is the possibility of legislation shielding journalists in these circumstances. The judge replied that he's only able to rule according to the law, and that (even when the Attorney-General asks it...) he cannot dismiss charges on the grounds that new laws might be made, and might not classify the journalist's actions as contempt, at some unnamed point in the future.

So, unless the Supreme Court rules that the judge doesn't have the authority to order people to give evidence in his own courtroom, it looks like the pair will be found guilty of contempt. I doubt they'll serve any jail time, though... by the time the Supreme Court finally handles the counter-claim, new legislation may well be in place, and that will probably influence the judge's decision on sentencing. My money's on a suspended sentence, handed down in a year or two.

It's just a pity that I went and chose a case that is missing the second half...
morsla: (Dawn)
High is the way
but our eyes are upon the ground.

You are the light and the way
They'll only read about
I only pray heaven knows
When to lift you out

10,000 days in the fire is long enough.
You're going home...

I'm slowly wearing myself away at the edges. The last few weeks have been a trial... I've been running that knife edge between five sets of deadlines for too long. Nights like these, I wonder whether I'm actually still on top of things. I'm far too stubborn to stop just because I've hit a wall. I'm still delivering work faster than ever, but this time I'm all out of reserves. One more week at full throttle. Six more weeks until I get a few days off. After that, blessed oblivion.

No firetwirling tonight. Not much of anything other than work, actually. Layout has stalled while I wait for Chapter 2 to come in... after that, I'll make a few final changes and connect up all those lovely "page XX" references. Compiling an index will be the last job to do. I can see why so many RPGs "forget" to leave space for one - they are a royal pain to prepare. Fortunately, Wednesdays and Thursdays are eaten by uni so I'm not twiddling my thumbs waiting for the last piece of the puzzle.

I can see why they don't recommend combining postgrad with any large amount of other work. Like, say, 80-hour weeks. The workload is generally pretty decent, but it's been slowly building up while I try to make enough money to pay my bills. The work is fun, but getting it in short bursts is killing me. In realistic terms, work from the last month should have been spaced out over at least two. Unfortunately, when it's "do this in three days" or "don't do this and don't get paid," that doesn't give me much of a choice.

Right now, I have pieces of a persuasive writing folio to upload, and then it's time for a few more hours of restlessly wishing I could get to sleep. The thing that frustrates me most about insomnia is the wasted opportunity - you can't do anything productive with those hours, sleeping or otherwise. The plan for tonight is to get some exercise until I'm physically exhausted (not hard, in my current health), with the aim of collapsing into bed afterwards. If I would have spent a few hours staring at the ceiling, I might as well get something done in that time.

It's time now!
My time now!
Give me my wings...

Victory!

Mar. 29th, 2006 12:04 pm
morsla: (Default)
The Deakin students have successfully convinced the uni to make lecture recordings available as podcasts, instead of restricting them to audio streaming. There are no actual lectures for my Law & Ethics subject, but the 3rd Year lectures in Geelong are covering the same topics as we are, so the lecturer has recorded everything for us. Each lecture coincidentally runs for the same time as my tram trip to uni... now I can listen to them while I'm travelling in to my tutorials. It's nice when the technology fits the users, instead of requiring the users to change.

I'm actually (horror!) enjoying the report-writing section of the communications subject. Each task involves a fictional case study (background, current situation, problems), needing a coherent report to summarise the issues and give recommendations to fix them. Lots of lateral thinking, lots of reading between the lines and lots of tangled information that needs to be teased out into a logical structure. I could happily do this for a living, if anyone would pay to have their workplace problems sorted for them.

Editing is also going well. I'm still missing a few details in the exercises as I've been rushing through without checking the dictionary often enough... however, when I slow down I'm as efficient as anyone else, and when I'm hurrying through I don't miss more than about one in ten errors. The exercises are designed to include unusual and deliberately tricky errors, so this is hopefully better than it looks. I'm fairly confident that I can cut down on the error rate by learning more of the underlying grammar - this will happen as I go, and won't affect the speed at which I work. I'm keeping my eye in by doing lightning-speed copyediting for Weapons of the Gods material...

Unfortunately, I've just discovered that there is a bigger pile of assessment due next Monday (and this Friday) than I'd thought. Fortunately, [livejournal.com profile] aeliel is also doing homework this weekend (she has ~175 interim school reports to write) so we may just bar the doors all weekend and write. Must remember to lay in supplies in case we don't make it out of the house.

Actually, I should leave the house at least once in the weekend. Last week's bruises have healed, so it must be time to practice some more firetwirling in the park. I'll get the hang of throws and contact staff tricks one way or another...
morsla: (Default)
Well, I've successfully managed to get myself into the uni, and found my way to the various buildings I'll be based in for the rest of the year. I've even found a computer lab... quite handy when I suddenly have a spare half hour to kill.

Note to self: Burwood station =/= Burwood shops =/= Burwood campus of the uni. Not that I really expected the uni to be right in the middle of everything, but it's even further away than I gave it credit for. Rather than taking 1-2 trains and at least one tram each day, I think I'll settle for a single tram ride instead.

I now have a laptop (picked it up yesterday - yes, times are moving fast), so I can comfortably work anywhere I can find a seat. I've used my Secret Mutant Powers (tm) to find some quiet spots to work in the library. Now I just have to get to the postgrad info session, so that I can find out what I have to do about these subjects. If I can get a PT concession card sorted, I might come back in on Friday to start stocking up on books and course guides.

Yes, life is all a bit bland at the moment. I'm finishing my current painting commission job (Khadorans for Lon) tomorrow, and trying to clear the slate for the start of classes next week. No idea what the workload will end up being like, but I'm preparing to dig in just in case.
morsla: (lookin)
So, uni starts in a week. I now have a timetable of classes running Mon-Thurs, generally finishing late into the evening. I've been looking through the online subject info and marvelling at just how much better the Deakin Online interface is compared to Melbourne's antiquated system... There's a customiseable information portal, with webmail/event calendar/uni announcements/subject websites, and everything from new Journal articles to traffic conditions around the uni.

I'm also amused at the novelty of having a student card that also works for building access, printing and copying, library borrowing and vending machines :)

I'm determined to avoid doing the "easy subjects" this time, as I know I'll need the less appealing ones later on. Sadly, the graphic design subject lost out over picking up some basic law... graphics I've studied before, while law is something entirely new to me. The subject list for semester one is:

Monday: ALW738 Editing
Tuesday: ALR731 Public Relations: Theory & Practice
Wednesday: ALJ724 Law and Ethics for Professional Communicators
Thursday: ALW729 Writing for Communications Media

It looks like the most productive way to travel to and from uni will be by tram, taking some work with me. It's the slowest way to get there (over an hour from Flinders St), but it means I have an hour of uninterrupted working time. To avoid double handling everything by writing it and typing it up later, I'd like to get a laptop to take with me...

I'm interested to hear advice & horror stories from the notebook users out there... I used to have a Twinhead, which managed to have problems with the battery (twice), power supply, and eventually a complete hard drive failure. Needless to say, I have no intention of dealing with that company again.

Are Asus any good? They seem to have more models in my price range than some of the larger brands. I've been looking at things like this so far.

Most of the time, I'll just be working on things in Word/Excel/Powerpoint etc, or looking at PDFs. I'm not sure whether to get a reconditioned laptop that will only handle current requirements, or whether to get something a bit better (link above) that I can get a bit more use out of.
morsla: (Default)
I've just come home from an afternoon at Deakin's open day - a campus I've never been to, filled with people I've never met before. It's the first time I've been on a uni campus for anything vaguely study-related this year. For all it's newness, it still felt like home.

I've spent a lot of my life in or around universities. In high school I turned up at Monash to try learning university chemistry at high speed (two 12-hour lecture and prac days, and the rest self-taught by correspondence) alongside a packed final year at high school. That didn't work out (not enough support for the distance-Ed students to make it worth continuing), but the campus has always felt familiar. I worked at RMIT in their Key Centre for Applied and Nutritional Toxicology for a few summer holidays, learning how to be a Generally Useful Person in a postgrad research lab. Sure, RMIT still feels like a rabbit warren, but there are a few familiar places amongst the mass of tunnels and corridors.

At Melbourne, of course, I spent a lot of time. I've studied full time and part time, been an Arts student and a Science one. I sat in a chemistry lab learning how to be a scientist; I followed scientists around writing about the social context of their research. Somewhere amongst years of martial arts, science fiction books and long lunches at the pub I managed to take measurements of fossils in cliff faces, jogged for six hours in the desert to catalogue rock outcrops, and explored a gold mine a few hundred metres underground. I often discount how much actual "study" happened amongst the million-and-one other things I got up to, but I'm starting to realise just how much there really was.

Today went well. I didn't get the information I'd hoped to hear from a few course co-ordinators, but I slipped through the crowds and chatted to staff about all sorts of things. I quickly sifted out the presenters-who-read-speeches-written-as-adverts, and the people who just want more postgrads to join them in academia. If you prune away the PR, there are some nice honest people who have good information about the state of their field, and their standing amongst other universities.

I'm also apparently an Industry Professional now. I think I fit into the demographic because I'm already working in a field (even if it's not exactly where I intend to stay), and because I ask direct enough questions to intimidate people who were expecting me to be Highschool Student #384 for the day. Mind you, I was impressed by a lecturer who gave on-the-spot explanations of post-structuralism and gender studies to a boy who explained that he really wanted to be a graphic designer, but wanted to know more about Arts...

In proper student style, I lived out of my pockets for the entire day :-) I bought lunch at the Vic Market for less than a dollar, and walked home at my own pace through the park. If I get more days like today, I'll be quite happy with whatever comes.

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