morsla: (mantis03)
Lots of things have been happening lately. My ICWSM paper has been approved! Though it needs to be re-written as a short-format paper, before the end of the week. That means that I will be able to attend the conference in Barcelona (mid July), and meet a bunch of interesting people working in the social media field. This makes me happy :)

In less happy news, Melbourne Uni Sports continues to be crap. They appeared in an article in The Age yesterday, as the university has decided to cut support for venue hire, for the clubs that aren't involved in regular competitions.

The Melbourne Uni Kung Fu club has been running since 1977, and may not make it through the current year. As there are no competitions available to them, they are now required to pay regular hire costs for all their venue use, in addition to hiring instructors (which is traditionally covered by membership fees). For a "sports and recreation" body, MUSA doesn't do much to support recreation groups any more. However, the university is still happy to market itself on having an active student community, full of sports and general interest clubs and societies...

I've been told that venue hire will only be covered for three sessions per competition event that a club competes in. That's fine for a football club that plays a 16-week season, but not for martial arts groups that may only have one or two events available for the year. Clubs that don't "fit the mould" of a western sporting team are effectively being cut from the university.

At least RMIT is (currently) still in the habit of supporting its student groups, even when there's no space on campus to put them. RMIT Kung Fu is training in the appropriately named "multicultural hub" next to the Queen Vic market. It's a world of difference from the Melbourne Uni training area - which has been relocated outside, to the concrete lawns.
morsla: (mantis04)
I'm working on a "virtual safe" project at work - finding out the legal implications of having electronic versions of your important documents stored online by a third-party service provider. Some documents (watermarked birth certificates, etc) can't readily be digitised; some are easy (account numbers and share certificates), and some are a bit tricky (wills).

Let's say that you have a legal will document, duly witnessed and authorised. You scan it, save it as a PDF, and place it in your online safe, alongside things like identity documents, titles and deeds for property and shares, and whatever else needs to be kept secure. The next summer, a bushfire destroys your town, including your home, your physical documents, your computer, and yourself. Your next of kin want to settle your estate...

Hopefully you told someone that you were making a will, and where you were keeping it.

Then, they need to get access to it. They might know your password, have a login of their own, or persuade the service provider to open up the account. Maybe it takes a court order to do this, or maybe they'll accept a stat dec. In theory, they go into the account, find the document labelled "will," check that it's the most recent version available, and start the process of resolving your estate the way you wanted.

What I'm interested in at the moment: putting on your bad guy hat, how would you break this system? What are the obvious flaws and weaknesses? How do you make sure the right people can access it, while preventing the wrong ones from doing so?

- How does the service provider stop unauthorised access?
- How can people legitimately gain access if you're not able to give permission?
- What about access by legitimate people, but for the wrong purposes? (spying on what's in the will)
- Improper use of documents in the safe (identity theft, fraud)
- How secure is the password and encryption? (technical elements)
- What's the process for gaining/changing access? (human elements)

What questions and ideas sping to mind for you?
morsla: (Dawn1)
Candidature review presentation is done - I have just walked out of the presentation room.

My proposal grew (and grew, and grew) over Easter, and was finally trimmed down to 36 pages by the time I submitted it. I am fairly happy with it, though it cost me most of the Easter break.

I'm still intimidated by the presentation before mine: a highly detailed look at knowledge management in multinational corporations, focussing on Toyota. The student has lived and worked in Japan for 12 years, and has spent the past 10 months negotiating access to staff in two countries for her case study interviews.

I didn't use any slides for my presentation, which seems to have shocked a few people. I just sat down and had a chat with a nine-person research committee; outlining what I propose to do, why it's relevant, and how I propose to do it. Afterwards, I answered questions from the panel and wrote down a few of their suggestions on refining my methodology. Now I get to wait, as the panel will discuss the presentation in private.

I don't have a formal background in my research area, and am constantly reminded of that. Mostly by me, though I worry that I'm just vocalising what others might be thinking.

I've lived and breathed online for the past decade, though. I run a forum with 8,000 members, which has helped to support 25 small businesses over the past 3-4 years. Most of the digital natives haven't finished their undergrad yet, and the senior researchers aren't part of the online generation. I think I'm as relevant as anyone, for my field of research.

It's still difficult, though, to get past that little voice that says "Hey! You aren't qualified for this! What the hell are you doing here?"
morsla: (Default)
The RMIT pay office finally realised that I've been working for them since the beginning of February. This is good! It means that my bank account isn't full of negative numbers any more, and I can pay some of the bills that I've been neglecting lately.

Also, I've just recieved a formal "offer of research place" letter, which I promptly signed, scanned and emailed back to the Graduate Office. This is also good! It means that the CRC is making some headway on the task of convincing RMIT that I'm actually a student. I need to enrol by next Tuesday, as it's the government-imposed census date: if things aren't sorted by March 31st, I will need to wait until Semester 2.

Hopefully that will mean that I spend Monday and Tuesday completing the enrolment process, find a way of accessing journals from home, and then bake a thank-the-gods-that's-over celebration cake for Wednesday's meeting.

Next on the list is finding out how to purchase a MacBook using some of my support funding, getting said computer ASAP, and then transforming into some kind of superhuman literature-reviewing machine. The assessable part of my lit review is due in a fortnight.

Also: Grass is growing. Paint is drying. Watched pots still not boiling. News at eleven.
morsla: (Default)
I now have (or had, when I checked on Wednesday morning) a desk at RMIT. This is good!

Unfortunately I don't have a key to get into the PhD room, or a pass to get beyond reception on the floor. Despite going to weekly meetings since the start of February, the receptionist won't actually let me in before the meeting starts - lest I become the sort of "unaccompanied visitor" that departmental emails warn about, marauding about the workplace. Fortunately the reception area has comfy couches.

Apparently, most of my problems stem from the fact that I don't actually exist. If I seem to have spent a couple of months drifting phantom-like from one meeting to the next, it's actually because I'm not real. My days of freedom appear numbered though, as I've heard rumours that my enrolment forms may have resurfaced.

One day, they promise, I'll be a real person. Real People (tm) can have access cards and keys issued to them. They might even be able to buy a computer and get access to the IT network, though nobody is willing to make any guarantees on that. After becoming a Real Person, I can even enrol in (and submit assessment for) the Research Methods course I've attended for the last three weeks.

morsla: (mantis04)
So, last Friday night I recieved an email addressed to "Dear Prospective Student." It gave details for a compulsory Business Research Methods course, running from the 2nd - 18th of March... held in the city from 9:30 - 12:30 every weekday. It's trampled all over any plans I had for the current fortnight, and reintroduced me to the wonders of long public tranport trips.

Four sessions on qualitative methodology helped, as I have a much better idea of what everyone else is working on at the moment. Today's session (a three-hour overview of statistical methods) wasn't nearly as relevant to my project, so the rest of this week may be a trial. I also seem to be representing the "Other" demographic in a class comprised of economics, accounting, finance and management students... today, someone commented that I looked like "someone from a creative industry" because I have long hair. I wasn't quite sure how to answer that.

I'm actually spending more time on the train than I do in class. Many hours on the Frankston line are steadily eroding my compassion for humanity.

In other news, still not enrolled at RMIT yet. That means I'm still waiting on a student number, IT access, library access, building access, and a place to work. At least the CRC was organised enough to confirm my scholarship back in January... although nobody seems entirely sure how the scholarship works, so I'm now entering my sixth week without being paid. I haven't found anyone who can tell me whether it's an RMIT issue (need to be a postgrad student first) or a CRC one (in which case, what the hell is going on?).

I've spent the past few weeks working out of a backpack, drifting from cafe to foodcourt throughout the city. It seems I've successfully turned into a Wandering Scholar, though I haven't noticed any epic kung fu battles yet.

September 2014

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