When disaster strikes.

If you have ever been through a natural disaster, you will no doubt have had the terrible time of checking off all the belonging you have lost in your mind. This tends to come some days after the actual event, and really is part of the natural grieving process. After loss of lives, the loss of personal belongings is probably the hardest thing to come to terms with, especially after a disaster like a bush fire taking your home.

bush fireThose of us living in the city tend not to concern ourselves with action plans necessary to survive natural disaster events, and when my house was burnt to the ground in 1999, I had never conceived of the need for an action plan. Australia is currently experiencing record-breaking heat waves, which always bring with the heat the chance of deadly and destructive bush fires.

What can you do to prepare? Each person and family will have different needs, depending on their particular situation, but here is a list I have come up with. Take note of the points that apply to you and your loved ones, as they could save your life and important belongings.

  • If you have pets, keep them inside and have carry cases ready. You will need to pack them and a little food and water for them. Letting them out of the house will only stress them out and you run the risk of them running away or being caught by the fire.
  • Have a battery operated or dynamo powered radio tuned in to the emergency broadcast station (in Australia, that is the ABC). You will receive news of evacuation plans, routes and assembly points. You will also get information on where the fire is, its heading and current safe zones.
  • Pack a change of clothes, water bottles, identification and medication for everyone in one backpack. Toiletries can be bought elsewhere when you have time to stop.
  • Make sure that any important documents are backed up, preferably digitally and on a small form hard drive. If you can, make this a flash drive/thumb drive/usb stick or a small external hard drive. While they may not be much help in replacing documents, they are at least some kind of proof that you are who you say you are.
  • Keep listening to the emergency broadcasts. If you get the notice to evacuate, move all young and invalid people into your car first, followed by pets and the gear then drive in a sensible and orderly fashion to your designated assembly zone. Make sure you have been accounted for, or the fire brigade will assume you are still in your place of residence.
  • If you have livestock, open all gates. They will instinctively run away from the fire to safety. You can always look for them once it is safe to return to the area.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, return to your home until you have been told it is safe to do so. Embers can reignite and start fires again. If you’re in doubt, contact the fire brigade or emergency teams in your team. When you do return, do a check of the property and surrounds as best as you can before unloading the vehicle.

This is not an exhaustive list. Everybody’s action list will be different and there are tips given by the authorities which have not been listed here. If you have anything you think should be added to the list, please add a comment below!

The Search for the Holy Grail…

aka: information on how to apply for Honours.

Mortarboard and scrollLast year I completed my undergraduate degree in Internet Communications with Curtin university. It was a great achievement. For someone who attempted year twelve of high school twice, dropping out at the half way point each time, I never truly thought I would get this far, let alone consider a future in research or further education.

This month has seen me make some changes to my life so that I can enroll to do my Honours year on campus instead of the external online study I have been doing up until this point. It will be another first for me, as I have not attended a single class in a real life university (unless you count a day course in Old Kingdom Egyptian artifacts I did when I was 15).

Turns out, applying properly is not so easy when you haven’t already been studying on campus. Certainly not when there is no information online and no one on campus actually really understands how your degree is awarded or what is needed to get you where you need to be.

I spent the better part of a day last week finding out exactly how NOT to run applications for enrollment to an Honours program.

I drove to campus, parked my car and went to find my way to Student Central. On the way, I happened to chance upon a printed A4 piece of paper informing students that there was an information session being held for student on Honours program from 10-3pm. This was not posted online anywhere or publicised.

I thought this would be a better place to start my search for information, so I used the campus map app I had downloaded the evening prior to find my way. It wasn’t that far away, thank goodness. The temperature was already rising and I am very much NOT a summer person.

I sat through the questions asked of the coordinators by a few arts students and one journalism student, only to find none of them answered any of the questions I had hastily prepared myself on the way from the car park to the lecture room. I waited for the other students to leave then asked my questions, namely “what did I need to prepare” and “how can I find out more information on what the process is, as no one has been able to tell me everything?” Turns out that on campus students normally have lengthy talks with teachers who can offer the majority of information required for their enrollment paperwork: things like how to choose a topic and supervisor and what necessary paper work is required in order to successfully enroll.

I was then directed to Student central, which was where I was originally headed in the first place. I walked through the sweltering campus, heat radiating off the mostly brick and concrete buildings. I took my ticket and waited for my number to be called, despite being only one of two people to be waiting to be seen.

The first person who saw me was new and had no idea what to suggest, called someone else to help me. I took my seat and waited for them to come out. They too had no idea what to tell me, so had to go and check with yet another person and come back to the meeting room, only to inform me that I had to direct my queries to the humanities student services. The building for this was next to where I had been for the information session. Needless to say, I was not impressed.

It’s a good thing that I carry water with me everywhere I go. Once I had spoken to someone int he humanities building about what was required to actually submit my application (intent to graduate, application for enrollment, marks for completed units, and my thesis proposal) I walked to the library to print and fill out a form I had not been informed I would need.

I am still waiting for my final unit marks to be released by OUA (this should be happening sometime this week), and to complete my thesis proposal (which I have only just now found the information regarding the format for), return to the campus to have these join my application, then sit and wait for my offer. I know I exceed the minimum entry requirements and I know that no one else will be studying my topic, but the running around, waiting and more running around is soooooo going to be worth it when I walk across that stage either at the end of this year or early next year.

So, when looking to enrol into the Humanities Honours program at Curtin university, what do you need to prepare? As with any other academic or bureaucratic system, it is always best to double-check information given with the necessary department, as they are subject to change without notice. Here is a check list for those considering it:

  • statement of final grades from your university or record of results (if you are a OUA student, this is your statement of attainment, found here and here, respectively)
  • application form (this can be found here)
  • credit for recognised learning form (necessary if you have studied at more than one university, found here)
  • notice of intention to graduate (yes, despite what OUA might tell you, you still need to fill this out, found here)
  • ID (this can be your student card, driver’s license, proof of age card, etc etc etc)
  • thesis proposal (guidelines for writing this can be found here)

For more information, or contact details, head to Curtin University’s website for more details.

A New Year, A New Look.

spring cleaningYou might have noticed things have been changed a little. I’ve done some spring cleaning, made some appearance changes and I think it’s looking much improved.

After a few years of the same theme, and some feedback suggesting reading my blog was not so easy, it was time for an update.

So what other changes can you expect this year?

There will be more posts. I will be more focused on Internet-related issues, but will still included other posts relating to my life and other bits and pieces that come my way. I’m also hoping that you will find more reason to comment on my posts, as I love to hear what you have to say.

Hope you enjoy the “new & improved” NephthysNile blog!

Do What You Can With What You’ve Got.

In light of this week of the rather strange tradition of “New Year’s Resolution” (something I’ve never really understood), I thought I would write a little about why goal setting shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Finish Line Ambition and aspiration are great. Everyone needs goals. The problems comes when we under- or over-estimate our capabilities and other demands on our resources. To what do I elude? Knowing when what you want to achieve is too much, or when you’ve picked a task that is too easy.

In choosing an easy-to-achieve goal, we might think that we are setting ourselves a standard which precludes us from disappointment. In fact, it is quite the opposite. If you reach the finish line of a marathon, only to admit that it was actually a quarter mile, would you still tell everyone your ran a marathon? No. The same goes for other goals you want to achieve. Let me be clear on this – Not everything you set out to achieve is a goal. Sometimes, it is a step to the real goal. The celebration should be reserved for the real end goal, not completion of each step on the path.

When setting yourself a goal that is too difficult, or too optimistic, you st yourself up for disappointment. IF you know it’s too much of a stretch for you to run the marathon, then set your goal of the half-marathon. If you can’t run, choose a different goal! Why set yourself a goal you simply cannot achieve?

What I am saying is this: Before you can set yourself realistic and achievable goals, you need to first take a look at yourself, your life and the other things which you will have taking time, energy and other resources away from being able to commit to those goals. Otherwise you will either be unhappy with your lack of success, or feel that you could have done better. Throwing in the towel is too easy to do when all hope seems lost, simply because you didn’t take the time to assess your options first.

Happy New Year 2014!

And bye bye to 2013. Here is a look at the year that was.

Happy New Year

January:
I held a friend’s hand while she got a tattoo she had been wanting for many years. a few weeks later I started on my own tattoo project, completing a wish that I had had for many years also. It brought me one step closer to how I believe I ought to look. I braved the back-to-school madness to shop for my child’s return to education for the year. Only missing out on a few items which had sold out, it was my most successful year yet. I also entered my third year of my undergraduate degree– the beginning of the home run, so to speak. Having injured my right knee in the previous month, I continued to hobble around, catching public transport to and from work and elsewhere, with the aid of crutches, painkillers and anti-inflammatories. I also broke a toe. My family (grandmother and my father) met the family of my partner (mother and father) with amusing results. I also started as the Employee Engagement Officer for my office at Medibank, bringing (hopefully) joy and mirth to an otherwise dry and dull office.

February:
I continued work on my tattoo project: three hours at a time, every two weeks. Definitely a labour of love. My degree also continued. February, it would have seemed, was the months of continuation.

March:
I began my internship with Living Smart, work which still matters a lot to me to this day. I got new glasses, which in itself might not seem much, but as I had not worn glasses for some years, it was big to me. Thank you to Kate, Jenny and the whole family at Living Smart for letting me be part of your fabulous project.

April:
I continued working on the website for Living Smart, bringing the group’s presence online into greater clarity and letting it act as a better representation of the great work this group does. I went to Oz ComicCon and met Alan Tudyk, and had my dinosaurs signed by the man. It was in stark contrast to the rest of the months, which saw me begin the fight against changes to the admissions for the degree I am studying at Curtin University. A strong web, email and social media campaign thwarted efforts to make on campus enrollments obsolete, potentially leading the only dedicated Internet Studies department in Australia to its demise.

May:
I attended some events later in the month which allowed me to indulge in the darker part of my personality, with some very gratifying results (no spoilers here). My child turned 11, making me realise that it is probably too late to really be considering another child, as the age gap would be vast. I also began working on a research project which was to try my already strained patience.

June:
I continued to see the doctor regarding the damage done to my knee back in December of the previous year. Six months later and the repair was going slowly, but as expected.

July:
In writing the proposal for my research project, I realised that the paywalls of of research institutions and publishers is the single most defining obstacle to my metastudy. Much banging of my metahead against a metawall ensues. Attending the ANZCA Early Research pre-conference fires my imagination and passion for research, but returning to my study only drops me deeper into a paywall-facilitated rage. I quit my job to focus on my study, hoping to get a job with more steady hours. This dis not happen straight away. I attended the last Profs and Pints event of the year, put on by Scitech, this time as a member of the panel. We discuss the pros and cons of censorship. On the panel with me were expert in their fields. As an undergrad, I felt more than a little out of my depth however, I believe I managed with moderate success.

August:
The AICP (Association of Internet Communications Professionals) became a thing! It was a month of interview after interview after interview, jut hoping for something that wasn’t taking advantage of me, but was also rewarding. I started to become disillusioned with how my job hunting was going. I also attended Can’t Stop The Serenity, the worldwide fundraising event for Equality Now. The Perth Browncoats managed to raise US$8,500 (the highest donation of any CSTS city this year!) toward the worldwide total of US$110,783.53.

September:
The interviews continued, as did the rejection letters and phone calls. I escaped from it all by flying to Sydney to attend the annual swarm conference, after running their blog for the lead up to the event. This is also volunteer work that I do, but it fills my heart to see such a great event for community managers and those working in social media taking off and getting bigger and better every year. Thank you so much to Venessa and Alison for allowing me to be part of their event. I applied for, interviewed for and was offered a position working with two graduates of the very same degree I am! The wedding that had been planned and prepared for in three months was cancelled, propelling me into one of the darkest times to date.

October:
The exam schedule for my one and only exam this year was published. It was with a shaking hand and a raised heart beat that I booked my spot in the exam that would herald the completion of phase one of my undergraduate degree. I began my position with Real Estate Tribe and my learning streak on life in the fast lane of real estate and online tools. One of my best friends came over and stayed with me during what was going to be a very trying time. Thank you Rachael for making it seem all the easier.

November:
I celebrated my 32nd birthday. Many friends were with me and fun was had by all. I was taken out, as part of my birthday celebrations, to see the Joss Whedon rendition of Much Ado About Nothing, which was nothing short of wonderful. November also saw me celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who with my family. It was great to see so many people getting into a once-forgotten and laughed at television program that is so dear to my heart(s). I also sat for my final exam in sociology. I felt incredibly nervous going in to the exam room, and coming out of it, but while I was sitting in front of my paper I felt very confident. I guess it just shows that if you cover the same material often enough, it will finally stick.

December:
Which brings us to the last month of the year. I attended the Living Smart Christmas party and was thanked for my work. I applauded as my friend graduated (well done Rachael!), albeit from across the other side of the country.

In summary, I did a lot of stuff this year. Some of it time-consuming. Some of it heartbreaking. Some of it mind-numbing. All of it has brought me to the place where I stand now, ready to take on 2014 and whatever it brings. To everyone who has been reading my blog, and to those I have traveled through this year with – Thank you and may your 2014 bring you challenges and triumphs!

How to Attend a Conference.

I have been to a few different business-related events now, where I have seen a lot of people not really know what to do, where to go, or who to look out for in case of questions. In light of my recent attendance of a BarCamp, which is a very different sort of an event, I thought I would put together this guide to attending a conference.

This is a general guide, and each particular event may differ in its set-up and expected behaviours.

Conference

    • Always bring your own refreshments

Not only will this save you time in the breaks between sessions or presentations, but it will mean you know you’re fed. Most events are catered for the days, but invariably it difficult for an event coordinator to know exactly how much people will eat. And the chances of people eating more at an event where the food is provided than they would at home are high… So you’re likely to miss out on snacks… Or, at least, the good ones.

    • Have back up water

If you’re anything like me, you drink more water than the average fish. Venues will quite often place a bottle of water before every setting on a table, if it’s that kind of set up, but where it isn’t, you will be thirsty in the air conditioning that most places insist on placing either too high or too low, which leads me into my next point.

    • Wear layers of clothing

If you arrive first thing in the morning, as most conferences have an estimated start time of “morning”, you will probably want warmer layers than you will need come lunch time or even in the afternoon. At least, that is certainly the case in Western Australia. This is especially true when the venue at which the event is being held can simply not cart for the amount of people milling around and all the hot air being thrust upon an unsuspecting crowd. Once the finishing drinks are done (read: close to midnight), you will need those early morning layers again on your way home. Layers, my friends, are urge key to survival no matter what Bear Grylls might say.

    • Pack thy charger

If you an on using any kind of electronic device at all, pack your device’s charger and label it and hold onto it for dear life. By all means, be generous and allow others to borrow it but, no matter how credible you think people might be, if your charger is not labelled with your name, you will lose it at some point throughout the day. Better yet, if you can, have your gear colour coded or otherwise clearly designated in such a way that no one would dream of pinching it.

    • Don’t mob the speaker

They’re tired. They probably travelled a long way to make it to your event. They’ve slept in a strange bed, eaten strange food and been surrounding by lovely (but draining) fans all day. Let them have a moment to themselves. If you simply must engage with them! make it short and simple and leave them to have their well deserved drink or canapé. This is unless, of course, they make it explicitly clear they don’t mind at all you hanging around, in which case – go for it!

As I said, this is not an exhaustive list, so if you have some other rules you think should be included, please feel free to add it to the comments below!

Perth Joins a Brave New World!

Free wifi for all!

 

Well…

 

Provided you download no more than 50mbs per connection, within a one hour connection enabled for any and all wifi enabled device. Should you last an hour without downloading that much, you will have to disconnect and reconnect to keep using it.

 

The Free City Wifi from the City of Perth is the first of its kind in any capital city of Australia, with blanket wifi coverage in the area shaded pink on the map below:

 

Wifi-Map-final

So, what do you think about the move to give all who visit Perth free internet access whilst in the city? Is it a good idea, or just a waste of money? I’d love to hear your views in the comments below.

It’s a Small World Afterall – Tiny House Movement.

Houses seem to be getting bigger and bigger until they take up most of the block of land they’re on. No room for kids to play. No room for a shed. No room for gardening, which is okay because with climate change and water restrictions, it’s not like you could keep anything alive anyway.

Tiny HouseIt seems to me like this is just the way it will be. Ever smaller block thanks to subdivision and urban crush, with multi-storey dwellings becoming the norm. Increases in medium to high density living and a constant pull on resources in constantly decreasing public spaces…

 

That was until I was this website yesterday. The Tiny Life is a cause I could really see gaining momentum. 

The cost of living is always increasing, but it seems we are having to stretch the dollar further and further these days just to make ends meet. Demands on housing mean pretty soon the “1/4 acre block” will become a thing of fantasy, or the exclusive domain of those with an endless supply of cash.

It just seems to make more sense to me to live small. At the very least it means less space to keep clean! 

A house on a trailer is the land equivalent of a houseboat, without the constant holiday feel of living in a caravan. Brilliant! Not to mention that it seems to me to be a highly sustainable way of living, requiring less resources and making less impact on the environment. 

All in all, it would be lovely, and I think I may have just changed my plans for the future. 

Would you be able to live like this? Could you live off the grid and on a trailer? Let me know!

On Being Thankful.

Giving thanksThis morning an article on LinkedIn caught my eye. I finished reading it and spent a moment thinking about its underlying meaning.

There are things to be thankful for in any situation, but sometimes we find it easier and, dare I say it, more socially acceptable to be down on everything in our lives.

This is my time to be thankful. Being thankful isn’t just able saying, “Thank you,” and moving on. It’s about seeing the silver lining in the darkest cloud, knowing it’s there, appreciating it, embracing it and carrying it with you as you move through the difficult situation. It’s about allowing the good feeling of being thankful to fill you and not feeling ashamed to smile about it, regardless of how people around you are acting.

These are the things I am thankful for:

  • I have a good, healthy life
  • My child is healthy
  • I have a healthy, happy relationship with a partner who supports me and my decisions
  • I can support my family financially and emotionally
  • I have attended university
  • I have people around me who believe I can succeed
  • I am able to show my intelligence and not be sidelined for it
  • I work with great people who are genuine about their interests and passionate about their work

Now, this isn’t about joining in on the American tradition of Thanksgiving Day.

It’s about making sure I, and I hope you as well, take the time to reflect on what is really precious in life. Offering a silent thank you and being truly appreciative is not often something we do these days, but I think it’s a very important part of bringing a sense of balance to an otherwise hectic schedule. All it takes is a moment of your time.

Facebook Ditches Old Settings… Again.

So, the other day I got this email from Facebook.

The Facebook email

I knew the change was coming. I had known for a while but, like most other Facebook changes that are gossiped about, I thought it wisest to leave it until it was officially confirmed by Facebook. I knew exactly why this setting was being removed, even before Facebook decided to tell anyone. What I didn’t count on was no one else picking up on the possible implications of it all.

I logged into Facebook this morning and saw this:

Facebook warning

Well, now it’s on like Donkey Kong.

So, what does the removal of this setting mean for the average Facebook user?

Not much… Unless you like privacy and are lazy in locking down your privacy settings.

Basically, this change is being made to make way for Graph Search. Haven’t heard about Graph Search? Watch this space. I’ll tell you about it real soon. In a nutshell, Facebook’s Graph Search is going to allow for more personalised search terms to be entered into the search bar and yield results which you might think strange.

Rather than searching through your friend list for all your friends who like a certain band, then looking through them to find out who also likes another band, you will just be able to type into the search bar: “friends who like band x and band y” to get your results.

On face value, this seems fairly innocent, right? Right. Except for the fact that this information is being obtained from the 6 petabytes of user information that crosses the Facebook servers every day. If you haven’t already taken a look at your security and privacy settings, to limit who sees what you post, I would suggest doing it now. I would also suggest limiting your past posts. Another thing I would suggest doing, which is going to take you a little time, especially for those of your with large numbers of people in your friend’s list, is to start creating friends lists, if you haven’t done so already. This is going to make sure you can pick and choose who sees what with a little more control.

If you have no care about who can see your personal information, then as you were soldier. If you’re concerned that your personal information might be seen by people you have no association with, then I say to you: Either lock down your profile or get off Facebook altogether.

EDIT:

This morning when I logged in to Facebook, I had this pop-up in front of my newsfeed.

Facebook pop-up

Seems like they’re making sure everyone sees the notification. I’m guessing there’s more to this settings change than most others in the past.. Hmmmmm…