Thursday, October 26, 2006

Please kids, don't try this at home

Well, "The Experiment" was a resounding success. For those of you who don't read Nettie's blog (I think there might be 1 of you, maybe), The Experiment was an ettempt to summon an internet deity. It all began like this...

*Cue harp music and cheesy flashback effect*

Last weekend I started this blog. I assume that you know that because I haven't made enough impact on the universe yet to have casual readers. My very first post included a reference to a guy which I met at a corporate breakfast. I won't mention his name as he's probably out feeding the masses somewhere and I don't want to disturb him.

Within 3 hours of my post, said person had left a comment on my blog. The blog had been up for just three hours. RG, as I will now refer to him, had no prior knowlege that I was putting a blog up last Saturday and still, he somehow managed to find out about it in three hours.

Well, I was shocked and a little wierded out. Here was an entity who clearly existed on a plane above our own. So Nettie and I conducted "The Experiment". In short, my sister, who has never met or come into contact with RG, conducted an internet seance (is that spelt correctly). She mentioned RGs name on her blog in an attempt to get Him to visit.

It took a little longer this time but success stands. We have successfully summoned RG. Now I must take this opportunity to ask that no-one else perform this experiment. The reason is that we need RG to be out there conducting miracles and not answering petty summons. But now you know:

If thy need be great
And thy intentions pure,
Speak His name thrice,
And he shall appear.

But seriously, Richard left a comment explaining that he had uncovered the blog entry using nothing more sinister than technorati (how sinister that is I leave to your own discretion). He had conducted a "Vanity Search" and struck gold.

I think that there is definitely a case here for people to wonder if, at some stage in the future, blogging and other online activities and services might need to be covered in primary school (or even earlier) to prepare young people for the digitized world around them. I will leave this topic for another post.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Experiment

I can't talk about it. I won't talk about it. All I can do is light some candles, sit on the floor and hum swaying back and forth.

Is there more to it than Google Alerts? Is it omnipotence in action? Is he really a god of some description? All of these questions can and indeed must be answered.

I actually want to talk about "The Experiment" but until it is done I can't. I will be back, likely fairly soon.

And back to the puppies and the crying.

I musta been outta my Frakkin mind

Some of you may know that for a while there I was a heavy smoker. By heavy I mean that for at least six months I went through 10 packs a month. I shudder to think about how much that cost me, both monetarily and healthwise.

Just over three months ago I was out the front of my work enjoying a quiet cigarrete, as I was want to do when the weather presented itself as such when my boss pulled up in front of me. This is an unfortunate byproduct of working in a building with executive parking next to the ashtray out the front.

Richard (not Giles this time) said to me:

Mike, when are you gonna give those things up?

I took a drag of my cigarette and said to him:

Richard, that was my last one.

Really? If you have truly just given up smoking right here in front of me I'll give you one hundred dollars.

It's a deal.

Well, let me tell you. The first week was hell. I was like a small insane puppy which has been given a shot of adrenaline. I honestly couldn't sit still. I wanted to move all the time, pick things up, put them back down in a different order. It's a strange thing to watch yourself go slowly mental and be kinda smug about it.

I argued with myself constantly. "Just one more. It won't hurt", I would tell myself. But I knew the dangers of that trap. I've given up before, I know how easy it is to cave.

Last Friday was my 100th day. Now I don't even think about it. I sometimes like to get up and go for a wander outside, but I think that is a consequence of having very little fresh air in my cubicle. On Friday everyone in my office gathered in the boardroom and we had cake to celebrate. Richard even gave me $100.

Richard has offered the same deal to our new secretary and she has accepted the challenge claiming that I have inspired her. I'm not sure how to take that, but it makes me feel proud, like I have accomplished something grand.

Tomorrow marks Nat's first week. She's been going crazy but I keep reassuring her. It will be okay. Some day soon she will be so proud of her achievement. I understand what she's going through.

I took the $100 and bought a heap of DVDs. For those of you who read Nettie's Blog you would've heard that we went to carousel on Saturday. I bought:
and yes Nettie, I even found a copy of Battlestar Galactica Season 1 today.

I just wanted to take the opportunity I guess to thank Richard so much. It was never about the money (although my DVD collection really appreciates it), it was always that you believed in me that kept me going. Whenever I felt like having a cigarette I would just imagine trying to tell you that your faith in me was unfounded. I couldn't betray that trust.

Well I'm gonna go cry at tissue commercials or something now but I'll be back sometime soon to spout wisdom (or at the very least some serious ranting).

Good night world.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Hey You! Don't you know who I am?

I said the other night that I had some good post ideas and some ranting to do and I'm afraid the time has come to rant. Today I will be ranting about the internet and it's contribution to personal identity crisis.

You see, I have been kicking around the internet for a number of years. I probably arrived on the scene in 1995 or 1996 as I was finishing up high-school and since then I have signed up to no end of internet based services.

These services include;

  • email newsletters,
  • forums and bulletin boards,
  • webmail accounts,
  • free web spaces,
  • internet service providers,
  • online learning tools,
  • and several special purpose online applications.

This would be fine except for one small problem. They all require me to identify myself in some way. Ordinarily even this wouldn't be a problem but because of privacy concerns and security considerations they don't share any information.

I only really decided that this was a problem a couple of weeks ago when I decided to join
Flickr and GMail (among others) all at the same time. I found myself entering the same username and password (when the system rules allowed me to do so but I'll get to that issue in a minute) and the same profile information. Why do I need to create a profile each time? Why do I even need profile information to be stored on flickr anyway? Isn't flickr about sharing photos?

I understand that people are concerned about security and identity theft. What I would like to see is a centralized service containing just profile information. This service could be accessed by other applications when they need personal information via a user key of some description. I'm not a security guru so I don't understand the logistics of such a thing but it would be great to sign up to or some such and then be given a user key which you use when signing up to flickr, gmail and so on.

Maybe people could just fill up the Online Identity account with everything about them and then decide on a site by site basis which of that information they want to display.

I mentioned above as well that I have a tendency to re-use the same username and password for everything that I sign up to. This is probably a bad idea but so is having so many usernames and passwords that you can't remember half of them. The problem with this is that the rules are different for many applications. Some apps require a username to be between 6 and 10 characters, some require between 8 and 12. Some are unlimited. Some require a valid email address. Some systems require complex password containing non-alphanumeric characters. Some don't allow non-alphanumeric characters. Sometimes my usual username has been taken by someone else. At least once in the past, it had been
taken by me and I couldn't remember the password.

There is some light at the end of the tunnel (even if it is on the front of a train). It seems that as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft sweep through the internet purchasing services they are trying
to centralize user profile information. The problem is that each one wants to be the center so we are having a scenario with three large companies standardizing in their own special ways. Is it just me or do they not remember the browser wars. It is up to us as internet users to stand up and say:

Hey. There is only one of me but you don't need to fight. Talk to each other that you might someday understand me, and my needs.

Well that about wraps it up. I promise I won't be so long-winded in the future. Ranting online is fun even if I do get the desire to close with "I'm Alan Jones".

If you have an opinion on centralized identity management or even if you've experienced an issue involving online identity/profile management please leave a comment.

OK I'm really going to go now.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

My name is Mike and I'm an alcoholic

Well not really but this is a similar sot of idea. My name is Mike, I am 27 years old and I am a web developer for an integrated communications studio in Perth, Australia, called Creative Nature. I know all of this because I just read it in my profile. But there are a few things about me that are not in my profile so lets stay here and read a bit first.

I am married to a wonderful woman (I-heart-Barbie) who, for whatever reason, seems to love me no matter what I do. This, as it turns out, is a serious advantage because I seem to contantly get her "up the duff" as the saying goes.

Yes, I am the father of a small horde of demons which, upon closer examination, turns out to be three kids. They are Chiara, Caleb and Wil and I'll get a photo of the up at some stage for everyone to have a gander at. The joke used to be that I was breeding my own basketball team, but it got less funny as I got close so now it's a cricket team. I may be a fair way off with this but I still reckon I could beat Australia with my players.

I am a university student (for the moment at any rate) studying Computer Science. I have been at this for 10 years now and I have 2 weeks to go. Fingers crossed, touch wood and all those things.

I mentioned above that I work as a web developer for Creative Nature Communications. This is nowhere near as boring as you would imagine. I won't go into the sales-y puff here because no-one wants to read it but the work is pretty cool and the people are friendly.

As a part of our continual business goal, we need to help people use technology to communicate in effective and innovative ways. I have a bit of a sinister motive in creating this blog in that I want to find out just what one is and how one does it so I can apply it to my work.

That doesn't invalidate any other resons for doing this. The main one is that i want to talk to the wind. Who knows, maybe one day the wind will talk back.

Well, three kids down and the mrs is out at a party. Guess that means I get to go to bed (probably to read on my laptop [gods I'm a nerd]). I have a number of ideas for posts (and some serious ranting to do) but if I use all my A material up front, you'll never come back will you?

Ah well, g'night.

So it begins

Welcome to One Track Mind, More Than One Train. If you are here then you probably know what a blog is. I have wanted to create a blog for some time now but I just never seemed to know how to get started. Then one day (not so long ago) I met Richard Giles.

Richard is a world-renowned blogger and podcaster and he'd come to do a talk on communications for a breakfast I was attending.

Richard said to me:
There is nothing to starting a blog. You just do it. Then it's up to you to keep it up to date and keep your readers interested.

In that spirit I have started. Now let's see if I can keep it going.