New site

I’m no longer working for myself, so I’ve moved most of my old content to this new blog. The same entries should generally be available, although there may be some issues with paths not matching and images not showing by default. If there’s something you’re particularly interested in, use the search to see if it’s there, otherwise let me know and I’ll try to dig it up (or you could just use the Wayback Machine). The best way to get in touch is Github or Twitter, but you can find me through other social media and coding sites as well, usually under the moniker “paulgear”.

Anyone but the majors

(Warning: Contains political content about the upcoming Australian federal election – although not the type you might expect…)

Annabel Crabb hit a nerve with this article opening recently:

You’re one week into a federal election campaign that is going to sprawl malevolently over one sixth of this calendar year. So I imagine you may be reading this in the comfort of your own home panic room. Or maybe you’re living under the surface of a local billabong, respiring shallowly through a straw and emerging only under cover of darkness to scavenge for picnic scraps. All perfectly understandable.

So for a cheery break, I want to talk about endangered animals.

It appears I’m not the only one who is highly frustrated by the current political climate. The double disillusion meme about Shorten vs. Turnbull only scratches the surface of the problem: we have an excess of self-serving, short-sighted narcissists vying for our votes, and a distinct lack of real leadership.1

So I’d like to take this opportunity to remind Australian voters that preferential voting is a key weapon in our arsenal to bring some humility to our so-called representatives.

All you have to do is this: put everyone but the majors before the majors on both the Senate and the House of Representatives ballots. It’s that simple. Still pick the parties which better match your views, but make sure you leave the ones who actually have a chance of getting elected to the end. The new above-the-line preferential voting in the Senate makes this nice and easy.

In the Senate, this has a great chance of actually electing minor party members, as happened during the last federal elections. In the House of Reps it’s far less likely that the non-majors will be elected, but at least those electorates which have prominent independents might see some change (in the way of a swing away from the majors).

Which government would be better for Australia? A Turnbull-led LNP with complete control over the Senate, or a Turnbull-led LNP with 8 minor party senators, 5 of which have to be won over to get any legislation through? A Shorten-led ALP with a clear majority in the House of Reps, or a Shorten-led ALP who needs to get the Greens on board to change anything significant? I think the latter choice would be far preferable in each case.

  1. In our recent local elections, I got so fed up with this that I instituted a new personal voting methodology: I would vote in order of whose face I had seen least often on advertising signs. In the event of a tie, I would vote based on who had seemingly spent the least on hair, makeup, and wardrobe for their advertising photos. This method was 100% successful in predicting the exact opposite of the vote count in our electorate.

An update to "What's in my Podcast Roll?"

I blogged previously about the podcasts I regularly listen to, and the topic came up again this week on the SAGE-AU mailing list, so I thought I’d update it with my current thoughts.

Regular listens from the previous list

  • SANS Internet Storm Centre daily podcast [feed] – Still my “must listen” podcast.
  • Risky Business [feeds] – They have done a little cleaning up on the NSFW content, but they could still do with a little more.  The RB2 feed has been expanded to include “Serious Business”, a light-hearted look at general current affairs with Dan Ilic, an Australian comedian based in the U.S.
  • Packet Pushers [feeds] – Getting a bit too frequent for a full-length (60+ minutes) podcast, but still interesting; they’ve diversified content and now include “Network Break”, a shorter, business-/news-focused show, and “Datanauts”, a “silo-busting” show on data centre topics in general.  One disappointment is that Michele “Mrs. Y” Churbirka’s “Healthy Paranoia” is inactive at the moment.
  • Linux Voice [feed] – Desktop/mobile/freedom-focused Linux podcast from the ex-Linux Format/Tuxradar team.  Sometimes not as technical as I would like.
  • DevOps Cafe [feed] – good interviews, not too frequent.
  • The Cloudcast [feed] – Broad coverage of cloud topics, from both business and technical perspectives.  Some of their guest spots are a bit light on content, but overall still pretty good. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the amount of content.
  • Andy Stanley – A profound Bible scholar disguised as a catchy communicator. Multiple podcasts:

Added recently

  • Quirks and Quarks [feed] – weekly science show which features interviews with (mostly) doctorate-qualified scientists talking about their studies.  Compelling stuff – I never miss an episode.  They take a break over the Northern Hemisphere summer, which almost gives me withdrawal symptoms.
  • Software Gone Wild [feed] – Software-Defined Networking from Ivan Pepelnjak, a long-time networking expert.  Discusses interesting projects; not afraid to call out traditional vendors for their hype and vapourware.
  • Arrested DevOps [feed] – Deals a lot with of cultural and organisational issues relevant to the DevOps movement, as well as technical topics.

Podcasts I’ve dropped