TheMittani – the mistake and the man…

Jester wrote a really good article so go check it out first then come back as I feel the need to reply as I have to disagree with some of the conclusions.

Firstly when someone decides to take public office they understand and know they are forever in the spotlight while they are serving in that capacity.

Using Jesters example of Bill Clinton lets not gloss over he was impeached, faced criminal charges and had to make out of court settlements for very large sums and never again held high office.

A mere apology didn’t cut it.

I have no respect for theMittani or Mittens, but I do Alex.  If I take his apology and tweets today on face value which is hard given his other persona’s I have no choice but to have respect for Alex.

He knows himself what he did was reprehensible and there is no excusing it.  Yes smart people make mistakes and they should get a second chance but in leadership positions of responsibility rarely do you get to say sorry and continue as if nothing has happened.  It’s just not accepted.

I mean lets look at CCP Zulu with Incarna, it was a mistake, did he mean it?  would he do it differently? Yes but he still did the right thing and stepped a side so EVE could repair and grow.

Honorable people with self respect, show respect to others and do honorable things.  Alex knows this and it’s why he himself is making the gestures he is.

He certainly should not continue as the CSM chair, but I would like to see him remain in the CSM, while he did get 10,000 votes we must also reflect on the fact 50,000 subscribers didn’t want him to be their representative and even more so now.

As a member of the CSM and as it’s chair when ever he is in public, in front of the media and on camera he is seen by the wider communities inside and outside of eve as representing us, the eve playerbase first and foremost.

The 5 media sites carrying this story don’t say theMattani leader of Goons, they say theMattani CSM Chairman.  That’s the damage, that’s how it’s seen rightly or wrongly.

I think if Alex wants to remain an active part of the CSM he needs to step down as leader of Goons and choose what he wants to do, does he want a role in shaping EVE as we know it and represent the playerbase or does he want to lead Goons and represent them?

I think it’s safe to say he can’t successfully do both.  I think at last years FanFest Alliance Panel we saw a tame Mittani  heavily influenced by Alex because he was taking his CSM role seriously and this year he thought he was untouchable, and had cemented his CSM position… another mistake.

What he did in the Q&A was in violation of his social contract with us the players, the EULA and more then wrong, it wasn’t light hearted and he is just lucky the subject of the ridicule is alright else I dare say he would be at this moment starring down criminal proceedings, he dodged a bullet and so did CCP.

Fact is weather you think of him as your hero or your villain, the role of the CSM and it’s Chair is bigger then one person and must be held to a standard above and beyond the normal joe average as it’s a position of power and carries a lot of weight.

This is no different from the candidate Fon Revedhort, the wheel fell off their campaign when it become quite clear they are racist in the extreme, this is a game but at our core somethings just don’t sit right when the game world and the real world merge for us.  You can overlook things that go against your grain in eve but not when it confronts you in flesh and blood.

The CSM is there to be the voice of the player base and to stop CCP doing stupid shit, and then they do to hold them accountable.  When the CSM or someone on the CSM does stupid shit that brings the player base, CCP and EVE into disrepute the player base is obliged as are the other CSM members to hold that person to account.

We as a brand, CCP as a brand, EVE as a brand has been tarnished and everyone theMittani represents has been tarnished and stained by the same brush.  We must stand up and say no, this is not acceptable and this is not what we stand for.

The only course of action as a minimum is for theMittani to stand down as CSM Chair, stand down as Goons executor and pay his penance by focusing his efforts on improving eve and championing the issue that brought him unstuck.

I also like your idea of banning Goons from next years Fanfest Alliance Panel and I would also ban them from the next Alliance Tournament to send a very clear and strong message that his behavior will not be tolerated.

Again I have more respect for the man Alex today then I did yesterday because unlike the hordes of Goons coming out to blow it off and support their man, he knows right from wrong and he knows it wasn’t acceptable and he knows what needs to happen.

To me that is the image of Alex I will take away from this, a true man can admit to his mistakes and not shy away from them.

I congratulate Alex on having the moral clarity and conviction of purpose and leadership to own up to this error of judgement and show us what the man is made of.

The shame of a Nation…

The following was written by someone I know in a closed environment under the guise of what had pissed them off today, and to be honest it pisses me off too and touches on an earlier comment of mine about how actual Australians are becoming a second class to non citizens.

I expect and hold dear the values of our nation, to give people a fair go, stand by your mates and support those that can’t support themselves but I despise and loathe Government policy that would take advantage of our good nature and trade on the fact we will just cop it on the chin.  We are far to apathetic, living in an idiocracy.


On the 18th of August 1966 at Long Tan, Vietnam, D Company of the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, mainly made up of Australian National Servicemen and at that time located to support the American Army, fought a battle against the Viet Cong.

In this action D Company lost 18 men killed and 24 injured. The Viet Cong dead numbered in excess of 245.  The Australian lines were never crossed. The Viet Cong withdrew.

American President Johnson and US Army Staff recognised the achievement by awarding the Unit Citation of Gallantry on 30th May 1968.  The Award was formally accepted by Queen Elizabeth in 13th June 1968.  Prime Minister John Gorton made the formal presentation of this American Citation to the Battalion at Lavarack Barracks, Townsville on 18th August 1968.

On the 31st of March 2010, D Company of the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment were belatedly awarded the Australian version of “Unit Citation for Gallantry” (UCG) honouring their extraordinary deeds at Long Tan.

The Government however refused to approve travel payment for the surviving Unit Members or their families, including the families of deceased Unit Members, in order that they be present at the UCG Presentation Ceremony presided over by the Governor General of Australia.

In February 2011 the same Government of Australia footed the Funeral Bill to bury the illegal boat people, who tragically perished on Christmas Island. This included flying surviving family illegals and survivors to and from Sydney and Xmas Island, accommodating them, etc etc, plus a Coach tour of Sydney thrown in.

The Canberra Politburo had waited 45 years to publicly acknowledge the bravery and sacrifice of  these Sons of Australia and then immediately shit on their memory by wetting themselves to appease the feelings of boat illegals forcing entry into our country.

Now we witness what can only be described as attempted political face saving, by this same  Government, sponsoring a TV Documentary, to celebrate our Armed Forces accomplishments at Kapyong, Korea in 1951. This will see our Prime Minister and the entire Priministerial Entourage fly in a RAAF plane to Korea to mark this 60th Anniversary.

What Bloody Hypocrisy!!!

What a Blatant Affront to the feelings of our Nation’s serving Armed Forces, Past and Present.

Delete on Reboot

Just a quick one today,  have you ever had a directory they just wouldn’t delete and you didn’t want to have to try downloading some crappy tool to do it for you on reboot?

Well I have and here is my solution… We are going to add an option to the right click contextual menu on Windows XP Pro, though this should work with any version of XP, and if it doesn’t oh well…

Fire up your favorite text editor, vi is highly recommend or ultraedit if stuck on Windows.  Create a file called something like Sendto.reg with the contents of;

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shell\Delete on Reboot\command]
@=”CMD /E:OFF /C REG ADD HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SOFTWARE\\Microsoft\\Windows\\Currentversion\\RunOnce /v \”Del %1 OnNextReboot\” /d ^\”cmd.exe /c DEL /F /Q \\\”%1\\\”\” /f\””


[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Folder\shell\Delete on Reboot\command]
@=”CMD /E:OFF /C REG ADD HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SOFTWARE\\Microsoft\\Windows\\Currentversion\\RunOnce /v \”Del %1 OnNextReboot\” /d ^\”cmd.exe /c RD /S /Q \\\”%1\\\”\” /f\””

Now save the file, and merge it into your registry.  Now you should have the option “Delete on Reboot” in your right click contextual menu.  Now this is not all encompassing but works for most things.  The gotcha’s you need to know about are it will only work if you log in again as the same user as it processes as a run once command for that user just after login but before the shell is loaded.

If the directory is being locked at the system level it won’t remove it as well the system will already have locked it by the time the users is enacted.  However this works for 90% of the instances where this issue seems to crop up.

Enjoy, and as always if you aren’t comfortable playing in the registry, simple don’t and get an adult to supervise you 🙂

Rise of the Planet of the Bridging Visa

Back in 2010 I wrote  a small tidbit about Refugee’s and the myth of outrageous benefits being applied to them over and above our other welfare recipients.

As someone who dearly believes we as a nation have a social contract to look after those that cannot look after themselves while that state exists I have no desire to turn my back on refugee’s or the systems to look after and manage them.

Recently on the 25th of November 2011, our Immigration Minister Chris Bowen with the direct support of Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a policy shift to onshore community detention by way of granting bridging visa’s to irregular maritime arrivals (IMA) known commonly as boat people or asylum seekers.

This shift is the next stage in the legislative impasse between the opposition and the government , with the greens thrown in for added flavour.  I really dislike the issue of welfare being turned into a political basket ball game seeing who can score from the three point line and then rebound with a slam dunk.

Immigration policy should never be about point scoring and it should never get to the point where policy is introduced just for political gain.  What distresses me more then anything with this shift is we are now seeing Asylum seekers elevated to a level of support over and above those of our most vulnerable pensioners and low income families.

We have the situation where opposition leader Tony Abbott will never agree to bipartisan support for any type of reform, his and the entire Liberal ethos at the moment is to oppose, oppose, oppose regardless if it is in the interests of Australia or not.  This forces the Government into the arms of awaiting Greens which make untenable and unreasonable demands to get their support which the Government has to bow to in order to get anything done.

We all know what happens when someone has you over a barrel, you invariably get shafted and folks that’s exactly whats happening to us… we are being shafted as we have a weak opposition unwilling to put our needs first.  The Greens control over the Government has given us the Carbon Tax, and now it’s given us Immigration policy that offers no deterrent to irregular arrivals weather it be by air or sea.

Abbott wants Naru back on the cards, Gillard wants Malaysia, Greens want onshore community detention and that’s exactly what we are getting and Gillard is only to happy to face the media time and time again and say to us we have had to take this measures as Abbott won’t work with us, so really it’s his fault we have these people in our community now as parallel off shore processing can’t work without his support.

There is a lot of fear mongering that boarders on racial vilification that I really don’t want to get into, other then to say it plays no part in my dislike of this policy and to be clear I don’t really even have an issue with community detention.

What I have a issue with is these people getting more support then Australian’s receive,  under preexisting arrangements and legislation irregular arrivals only received benefits once a protection visa was granted after they were assessed as being true refugee’s with need of assistance and the level of benefits were the same as any other Australian.

What we have now with these bridging visa’s are groups of people being moved into the community while their status is determined.  They are provided housing, material aid and income support via the Red Cross but fully funded but the Department of Immigration and granted on the basis of ministerial discretion.

In south east Queensland the cost of this housing which is fully paid for by us the tax payer is on average $383 a week, with phone and electricity connections being covered as well.  That in itself is more then any Australian can hope to get from the Government in terms of housing support.  What’s more these rental properties are not housing commission dwellings these are private rentals.  This eclipses the support of rent assistance or even the National Affordable Housing Scheme.

Further once a property has been identified, it has to be setup to make it habitable which is reasonable but again it’s more then any Australian in need is provided.  Centrelink doesn’t take our needy down to the Good Guys or Fantastic Furniture to fit our their housing commission dwelling.

The average home starter package as provided by the Red Cross paid for by us the taxpayers runs at about $10,000 and includes items such as LCD Digital Televisions (our pensioners had to make do with a set top box), washing machines, bed suites, and lounges.  It also includes a hamper with essential home items like cleaning goods and groceries valued at $750.

This is all based on a family or grouping of 5 people, more people equals more money.  On top of this recipients can petition the Department of Immigration to have items such as bikes, computers, internet access and even iPods considered and granted to them.

89% of the Centrelink special benefit is then provided to individuals as income support which is comparable with Newstart Allowance, but with all other costs already covered such as rent, phone and power this is far an away more then what our Australian needy are left with.

Pretty sure I’ve never heard of any welfare benefit paid by Centrelink to Australians including any of these things.   I believe this is a step too far, if we can’t and won’t do these things for Australian’s in need we shouldn’t be doing it for anyone else either.  Welfare should start at home and be equitable for all those receiving it no matter the political points to be scored.

My other real concern with onshore community based processing of claims is that many asylum seekers often arrive with untreated medical conditions, some quite serious in nature.  Only this week we have seen arrivals at Christmas Island with typhoid fever which can have fatality rates as high as 47%.  We need strong quarantine measures and ensure correct medial examinations occur well before anyone gets out of mandatory detention.  In our agriculture we talk about having strong bio security,  this needs to be no different.

I am greatly disappointed in the Opposition and the Greens for allowing this imbalance to occur.  Since when does being Australian make you a second class citizen to irregular arrivals?

Chris Bowen has already confirmed that the majority of irregular arrivals are now in community detention under these measures.  That’s 1,145 people with more then that already moved through the community and onto protection visa’s.  Since 2010 when Gillard took office at the last election we’ve had 117 boats arrive with 6,897 people on board.  Higher then under Rudd, and with no deterrent in place to stop them only more will arrive till this political point scoring ceases and a real bipartisan solution is found.

It annoys me when Gillard says things like “we are committed to strong protection of our borders“, this has nothing to do with border protection.  This is about doing the right thing, and creating a policy frame work that not only protects asylum seekers but protects every day Australian’s as well while providing adequate levels of support to people as they progress through their changing circumstances.

Today I believe we have gone beyond any reasonable measure of assistance and need to pull it back in line, even for a socialist like me this is hard to justify and I can’t.

Stream NAS content with Windows Media Player

Recently I off loaded my media content to a Thecus NAS which I just put 4 new 2TB drives in.  A side effect of this the Windows Media Player that I use to serve DNLA content to my Playstation 3’s and Xbox can’t stream NAS connected mapped drives from it’s library.

This seems to be a standard with windows streaming server products and I have a feeling it’s because they want these mapped drives indexed.  Not to be deterred it was time to find a work around.

Enter stage right MKLINK, in the world of Unix we’d call this a symlink (Symbolic Link) and it’s a concept older then I am practically but very new to the world of Microsoft.  A symbolic link is simply a filesystem object such as a directory that points to another filesystem object as the target.  Prior versions of Windows could have junction points but these differed in that they could only deal with absolute paths on local drives.  What we can now do is create links to relative paths over networks.

But this in itself isn’t enough to fool Windows Media Player, as it still wants to see the path indexed so we’ll have to cheat a little to make it think it’s all cool.

  1. Firstly we need to create directory to house our target, ie.  g:\content.
  2. Then go into Windows Media Player and add this folder to your Library.  Once added it will be indexed.
  3. Now we need to close down Windows Media Player, you can also stop the service if you like to be sure.
  4. Go back and delete the directory you created in step 1, as we no longer need it.
  5. Open the command prompt with elevated rights.
  6. Using MLINK create our new symlink to replace the directory we deleted in step 4;
    mklink /d g:\content \\server\content

So now we have a non-indexed UNC path in our Windows Media Player Library.  Open up WMP and you will see your NAS content start to appear as if by magic as not WMP believes it to be a local drive and not on the network at all.

Happy streaming.




iPad apps for getting it done.

As we progress into an ever portable world I find myself spending less and less time at my desk in front of my workstation.  This new found devotion to being out and about has required a bit of a rethink in how I do things and get things done in time without merely just not doing them.

Enter my iPad, it’s nothing new really I’ve had it since they were first released a couple of years ago and I’m still using the original, maybe in March I’ll update though truth be known I’d rather keep it and just get a new MacBook Air.

Anyway lets progress, what has changed is how I employ my iPad to greater benefit my time management.  (I highly recommend you delete angry birds and bubble blast as well).

I have decided I would list here my concoction of apps for getting it done now I’ve lived with them for some time and have found the sweet spot and deleted all that other junk I didn’t need and was just serving as a distraction.  I’ve also included some that really aren’t work related but I love and use all the same.

Keep in mind I work in IT Management… individual mileage may vary…

1.  Dropbox

This is absolutely a must have, Dropbox ensures all my on the fly data is perfectly in sync between my iPad, iPhone, Workstation at home and in the office.  It’s what binds it all together and makes it work.  Dropbox is used by sooo many apps for cloud based data storage and you’d have to be a leper not to use it.

2.  Notebooks for iPad

This right here is the bread and butter folks, every meeting I go to this app is the star.  Create rich format notes, sketches or books quickly as the meeting happens.  Lets you add photo’s, links, rich text formatting to your minutes or note taking.  One of my favorite features it’s ability to tag all notes with the location and time stamps.  When you are done it can be set to automatically push your notes to your dropbox account so when you get back to your desk they are already there for final editing or action.

3.  iWork

Okay so it’s not really called iWork, really I’m taking about the three apps from Apple for productivity being Pages, Numbers and Keynote.  These are pretty stock standard for creating and reviewing documents, spreadsheets and presentations.  Generally I do very little in the way of creation on the iPad however I love these tools for reviewing material sent to me and makes quick adjustments on the fly then sending them back.

4.  Mail + Messages

I figured I should mention these two,  even though they are standard app’s that comes with the iPad.  They both rock my world, being able to send free txt messages to other iOS devices with Messages is simply awesome.  It’s helpful that 98% of those I want to communicate with in this manner use iPhones but still it’s awesome.  I don’t think there is any doubt how extremely important email is these days in the business world, it’s more important then the phone seriously.  Mail allows me to be in constant contact with the business, weather it be staff, customers or suppliers.  Communication is king in my world and with Mail no matter where I am or when I am doing it I can communicate effectively.

5.  Desktop Connect

This is a wonderful tool for remote administration of your Microsoft Servers and Desktops.  Supporting both RDP and VNC it allows me to connect to any workstation on our network and carry out support or administration tasks.  Great over VPN next to the pool.

6.  Filebrowser

One of the iPads default failings by design is it’s lack of interoperability with other networks and file systems.  It’s like having a Ferrari with a flat battery.  Filebrowser breaks you free of those shackles and seamlessly gives you access to your data over the network with inbuilt viewers for various file types and the ability to then send those files to other apps like Pages or Numbers for easy editing or to email and print.  This gives you the diversity that’s needed to preform a large number of productivity tasks out side the office.

7.  Teamviewer

Another remote support app, but a little different in that I use it to maintain systems outside my normal network boundaries.  Could be staff at home, or just a machine in a unsecured location.  The other feature I use a lot is the meeting function to hold conference calls with parties external to my business.

8.  Skype

I think by now we all know what skype is and does, but for those that don’t it lets me turn my iPad it’s a giant phone by allowing me to make voice calls over any available data network.  I generally don’t use it that often but some times you need people to hear the anger in your voice to get things done.

9.  CardMunch

This app is a great time saver, and quite possibly the only redeeming feature of LinkedIn.  I don’t know about you but when I go to meetings or conferences I always end up with a bazillion business cards that need to then be transcribed.  This takes all the pain of that away.  Simply take a photo of the business card with CardMunch  and then wait for it to automatically transcribe the cards details and create an address book entry.  It’s that simple.  Works faithfully every time with very little error, think in 100 cards there might be 1 that needs an edit.

10.  Kayak Mobile

Kayak is used to search for flights, accommodation,  and hire cars as well as having the function to track your trips if you provide it your itinerary.  This quickly speeds up how long to takes me to book my flight where I am going to stay and what hire car I am going to use for my trip.  On the other side of the coin if I have to pick up someone from the airport and know their flight number it can track that too and tell me if it’s on schedule or if it’s been delayed.

So that’s my top 10 for getting it done, but there are some others that I think deserve mention just cause I like em and they have done enough to earn salvation and haven’t been relegated to deletion.

11.  Google Search

Sure you can search in Safari or what ever browser takes your fancy, but I find doing it via the app far more effective and convenient, and it allows for voice searching whilst is kinda creepy is also mildly amusing.  Really though the searching is just the surface, because this app directly connects you to all of your other Google services such as Docs, Google+, Earth, Translate, Maps, and Photo’s.

12.  Twitter

I’m almost embarrassed to add this to the list but I admit it I like twitter, it reminds me an ongoing series of Haiku.  Besides Charlie Sheen has twitter and it’s all about the Winning! right?  The reason I really like twitter is it lets me to connect to those people I find interesting but don’t really know, or really don’t want to know.  It also lets me take a pot shot at those pollies every now and then whilst being kept informed about upcoming gigs by artists I like directly by that artist.

13.  OPlayer HD

This is my VLC equivalent for the iPad and a great way to play movies and other video media on flights, in taxi’s or even in the bath just don’t drop it.  Supports all major formats, divx, flv, mkv etc etc.  Great for playing content from Urls, embedded on websites, SMB/CIF shares and FTP.

14.  Garage Sale

This is a cut down version of the app on my Mac, but it’s still 100% functional.  This is the tool I use to sell all my crap on ebay, comes with a stack of good looking templates and really takes the effort out of creating good effective ebay auctions.  Highly recommend it if you are doing more then 2 sales a year on ebay.

15.  Photo-Sort

Photo’s for me is the iPads biggest weakness, lets face it the stock functionality is shit and beyond useless.   Photo-Sort goes along way to correct this weakness.  I really don’t know what was going through Apples mind when they come up it but they were obviously lacking sleep.  Using this app you can sanely get photo’s in and out of your photo library.  Still not the best though in terms of functionality, in fact I’d still like it better, so while it’s lacking it’s better then it was… might look for others.

16.  Word Press

I admit it I don’t update this blog as much as I should, but at least I can do it on the fly using the word press app on my iPad.

17.  Wikipanion

Best way to cheat at a trivia night 🙂 or just to look something up when your out an about.  I actually like it as a history buff, I can see something when I am away and get a bit of info on what I am looking at.  Also good for making you look smarter then you are at events.

18.  Pocket Weather AU

As someone that likes to ride motorcycles a lot and does the odd bit of travel this is a must have.  Not only will it give you the standard crap like the temperature and this weeks out look but my very favorite feature is that is gives me the radar.  I can see exactly where that rain is coming from and where it’s going.  There is a Global version of this software that is very handy as well if you happen to travel internationally.

Well that’s it folks, that about wraps up whats on my iPad and what I find useful to have at my finger tips when I am away from my desk.  In terms of last mile connectivity the iPad really has no match in the market place despite what Google and Samsung would have you believe.   Do yourself a favor avoid the knock offs and just get the iPad.


Oracle Solaris Studio 12.2 on Solaris 11 Express

It’s that time again where I like to get my hands dirty with a new project, so I am going to try and move our Fabrication CAD/CAM users off their PC’s and onto my favorite Sun Ray thin clients by using the Sun Ray 5.2 framework with Vmware View.

As part of this I wanted to install the Sun Studio for development, now called Oracle Solaris Studio.

It seems there is a bit of an issue at present with this on Solaris 11 express, if you try and install by the package installer it gives you and error telling you to install Studio via the IPS system from package manager.  Only problem is Studio doesn’t actually exist in the Oracle pkg repository.

To get around this we are going to extract the packages from the installer and install them ourselves.  I don’t want to use the tarball Oracle provide as I want the packages registered in the management system and besides this way we get the lovely menu icons in Gnome.

Unto the step required;

  1. Download the Solaris Studio 2.2 package from here.
  2. Extact the package with bzcat SolarisStudio12.2-[OS]-[PLATFORM]-ML.tar.bz2 | tar -xf –
  3. Create a temporary folder to extract the set of SVr4 packages to with mkdir tmp
  4. Now time to extract with
    • ./ –non-interactive –extract-installation-data  tmp/
  5. If like me and your /tmp is less then 1Gb you will get an error, so append –tempdir to the above command
  6. Next is a simple cd tmp
  7. Lastly is the magic bit for i in SPRO*; do pfexec pkgadd -d $i; done

Now I should probably have mentioned before that lot that in order to use Solaris Studio you will require some additional packages as prerequisites.  Firstly I will provide the list I had to obtain, and then the list of others you might need to check to make sure they are also installed.

  • system/header
  • developer/java/jdk
  • developer/library/lint
  • system/library/math/header-math

This will not be present if you installed Solaris 11 via the LiveCD or VirtualBox image, in fact I doubt they are there even if you used the text installer or other methods, I just can’t say for sure with the others.

To install these you need to pkg install system/header etc for each of packages you are missing, you can check to see if they are installed or not with pkg info -r system/header etc…

The other dependencies you may need to check are as follows;

  • system/library/math
  • developer/macro/cpp
  • system/library/c++/sunpro
  • developer/linker
  • developer/build/make

However I suspect they should already be present.  After all that you should be good to go, log out and back into your desktop environment and you should even have some new lovely development icons.

What goes around comes around…

Campbell Newman, leader of the Liberal National Party is having a bit of a sook today over flak being thrown his way by Queensland Labour over not declaring his interests in the pecuniary register.

Now strictly speaking he doesn’t have to, he’s not a sitting member of parliament, nor is he the Lord Mayor of Brisbane.  However he would be Premier, and in contesting the seat of Ashgrove at the next election I frankly think the man who would be king should reflect the standards we expect of our elected officials and have an open book policy.

Back in April when Campbell Newman won preselection for the LNP and resigned as Lord Mayor he went on the records saying “We will be open and accountable and plan for the future, not the daily media cycle.”

Open and accountable, well lets look at what he is crying foul over.  As we all know earlier this year South East Queensland was subjected to flooding not seen since January 1974, and it was every bit as bad with the loss of 35 lives and sum $30 billion in damage inflicted.

What should be on the mind of the Lord Mayor and his partner?  Helping Queensland or making a quick buck?  Seems it was the latter, Lisa Newman the wife of Campbell Newman became a director and secretary of Majella Global Technologies which was first registered on the 21st of January 2011 by her brother.

Who just a day earlier had emailed John Bradley, who at the time was the director general f the Department of Environment and Resource Management trying to sell the companies profile in disaster management.

It doesn’t matter that this company didn’t receive any business from the Queensland Government or Brisbane Council, what matters is that Campbell and Lisa Newman thought it was appropriate in January in the midst of this disaster to actively tender for business to profit off the misfortune of the people of Queensland.  This wasn’t some going concern, they deliberately setup this company to take financial advantage of the situation.

Did this interest appear on the Lord Mayor Campbells last declaration to the pecuniary register? no it did not, and it should have, even if Lisa Campbell by then has resigned her position as a director of the campany.

How can Can Do Campbell tell us he will be open and transparent when he refuses to disclose his interests, and while he may not have a legal obligation as such while unelected, surely he has a moral one.

The real problem I think Campbell has here is the heat being placed on his wife Lisa, well Campbell what goes around comes around and you had no qualm throwing fist fulls of mud as Anna Bligh’s husband, Greg Withers back in July.

I’ll chalk this one up to Karma.   Take some rapid set and harden up Can Do!

When does wrong become right?

This probably won’t be a very popular subject nor do I envisage my point of view being popular either however I will try and not let that deter my resolve to say my bit on the matter.

Recently David Hicks has hit the headlines in Queensland again because his new book “My Journey” is up for the premiers literary award and out comes the media of ignorance wanting to shut him down and quieten his voice.  I am reminded at this time of a quote from John F. Kennedy “Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors“, what do we have to fear from this book?  does it go against the establishment so badly that we must silence it?

For myself it’s not weather I agree with what David Hicks did or not, honestly for me it’s not about that, it’s a question of what we did, what Australia did and what we supported.  How can we deem the actions of one individual to be wrong and then deem the actions of our Nation to be right when materially they were the same.

The only thing David Hicks was successfully convicted of was “providing material support for terrorism” and that was in a hostile United States military commission that many internationally still take acceptation to and probably with good reason but that in itself is probably a subject all in it’s own so I won’t go into that.  I have a feeling this will be long winded as it is.

What I do want to go into however is the topic of material support for terrorism, why it troubles me and how I see it pertaining to David Hicks.  My take on David Hicks is the dude’s just not that bright, do I believe he wantonly wanted to go off and support terrorism? no not at all.  I feel he was misguided and impulsive without a good steering influence on his life, seeking a place to belong and latched on to something he thought he could believe in.

David Hicks is portrayed to be a bad bad man, so bad the United Stated had to create retrospective laws to charge him with.  Lets then start at the beginning of Davids terrorist activities according to the United States statement of facts as per his charge sheets.

Albania 1999, David joined the ranks of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) after seeing their struggle in a documentary in Japan and decided to travel to Albania to join them where he completed a 4 week military training course.  The United States saw the KLA as a terrorist group until 1998 when it was de-listed and the UK and US opened diplomatic relations with them.  So by the time David Hicks arrived  he was on the right “Team“.

During the months David was with the KLA it transformed  itself into the Kosovo Protection Corps working with NATO and being armed by the United States, in fact the former head of the KLA went on to become the Prime Minister of Kosovo.  After being little more then a tourist David returned home to Australia, at no time did David pick up arms or enter the battlefield in Kosovo.

By this point we can see David temptation for adventure? and wanting to do something that he thought would make a difference no matter how misguided he may be?  David next took interest in East Timor and tried to enlist in the Australian Army but was rejected due to his poor educational levels having left school at the age of 14.  I think this in itself speaks volumes, did David truly grasp where the path he was traveling would take him?

By the end of 1999 David was on the move again and in November traveled to Pakistan to study Islam and take up with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in early 2000.

The LeT has an interesting back story that we will take a look at, firstly though I would take note that the LeT wasn’t listed as a terrorist organisation by the United States until December 26th, 2001 and similarly not by Australia until April 11th, 2003 well after the war on terror commenced and after the attacks of September 11th, 2001 which precipitated it.

Why is that?  How was David Hicks to identify these groups as terrorist if we didn’t?  What indicators where available to say these guys might be on the wrong side?  Maybe it was just for the first time in his life people accepted David.  I wish it was just sloppy intelligence but alas the truth is more sinister then that.  The LeT were an instrument of Pakistan supported by the Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan with close links to the 12th Infantry Division of the Pakistani Army founded to take up arms against India after 1990 as hostilities increased.

It was more then likely with the 12th Infantry Division that David Hicks toured with and mentioned in his letter of August 10, 2000 to his mother that  he had been the guest of the Pakistan Army for two weeks in their war against India having been able to fire hundreds of bullets across the boarder legally.

So the LeT was funded by the ISI, and where did funding for the ISI come from?  Pakistan? no, unfortunately the ISI’s funding came from the United States and Saudi Arabia using Pakistan as an intermediary to launder the funds.  WTF right?  Why would the United States do this?  To answer that we have to go back in time to 1978 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

The United States in a move to weaken Soviet Russia as part of the cold war strategy in 1979 began to fund anti-government militant groups (can you say terrorists) through the ISI.  During the Soviets decade long occupation of Afghanistan from 1978 – 1988 the United States and Saudi Arabia injected in excess of $40 billion to these anti-government militant groups under the banner of Mujahideen including what would go on to become the LeT, the Taliban, and Al-Qaeda.  By 1987 over 65,000 tons of United States munitions per year was being handed over to the likes of Osama bin Laden, and Mohammed Omar who went on to be the founder of the Taliban by the ISI.  While the United States provided the funding and weapons through operation cyclone, the training of the groups was carried out by the Pakistani Armed Forces and the ISI.

Osama bin Laden was a close ally of Hamid Gul, who was a three star general in the Pakistani Army and also the head of the ISI.  During the Mujahideen bin Laden was a key player in the arranging of training camps and the funneling of war assets into Afghanistan.

Anyone watch the movie “Charlie Wilson’s War” staring Tom Hanks?  Cause it’s entirely about this very subject, hell they are so proud of it they made a Hollywood movie.  Tell me again who is guilty of providing material support to terrorists?

So when we talk about the LeT it’s impossible to ignore the links to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda as they all had the same father Uncle Sam and shared the same up bringing.  David Hicks has always maintained he hadn’t heard of the term Al-Qaeda until after his capture and I am inclined to believe him since our very own highly educated Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) didn’t see fit to mention Al-Qaeda in any of their annual reports to the government prior to 2001-2002 as an external threat.

They just simply weren’t on the radar, and the United States while knowing exactly who and what they were didn’t want to bring too much focus on their would be children.  To this day it is believed that Pakistan still support the LeT via the ISI even though officially after the attacks of September 11, 2001 they too declared them an illegal terrorist group.

In January 2001 when David Hicks was funded by the LeT and introduced to the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Taliban was seen by Australia as the de facto legal government of Afghanistan going so far as having diplomatic recognition for the state.  Indeed after the twin towers attacks the United States made diplomatic demands of the Taliban to hand over the leaders of Al-Qaeda or face attack.  It wasn’t till after this ultimatum was refused by the Taliban on September 21, 2001 that the Taliban government was deemed in need of removal by the international community and a United Nations resolution passed.

When David Hicks moved from Pakistan to Afghanistan, he was moving from the legal army of one nation to another.   David can’t speak the language,  nor has a grasp of international relations or politics so his grasp on what was going on around him would have been limited at best.  Between 1996 and 2001 Al-Qaeda was a state within the Taliban state, most of the camps used by the Taliban were setup by bin Laden as part of the Mujahideen so it’s of little surprise that David Hicks found himself in a training camp with links to Al-Qaeda after all many a CIA agent had used and visited these same camps, hell even the odd US Senator did.

On September 9th, 2001 David had left Afghanistan and returned to Pakistan to visit a friend it was during this visit he saw the coverage of the twin towers attacks on the 11th and frankly I think David shit himself.  He immediately returned to Afghanistan to retrieve his passport which he had handed over to the Taliban when he arrived in January so he could go home.

I am of the opinion things quickly escalated around David and he was caught in a tide hard to swim against.  Much is made of the fact he was given an AK-47 and choose to go to the Airport to guard a Taliban tank for all of two hours.  For starters everyone over there carried an AK-47 even farmers and if I was looking to get home being at the airport rather then in the mountains would seem a pretty good bet to me.  Seriously he guarded a tank for two hours, maybe he was keeping up appearances?  I don’t think I’d want to stand up in the middle of the Taliban and say hey um guys thanks but if it’s all the same to you I will go home with the good guys now.  He’d probably be shot on the spot as an infidel.

We know that between September 11th and his capture on December 9th David did not fire a single shot, was not involved in any action against Australia or her allies in fact David spend most of the time on the lamb hiding trying to work out how to extradite himself from this mess.  His final act was to sell the assets he had ie his AK-47 to catch a Taxi back to Pakistan to try and escape, when David was captured he was unarmed no where near the fighting and was looking to go home.

When David was sold to the United States he was declared an enemy combatant, which is a historical term referring to members of the armed forces with which another state is at war.  What followed is a legal travesty and a insult to every Australians basic human rights, David Hicks was held without charge from 2001 till 2004 and even then the charges laid against him where deemed to be unconstitutional by the United States supreme court and reversed.  It wasn’t until 2007 that new revised charged were filed.   That’s more then 5 years without facing legal justice.

The Geneva convention lists a prisoner of war as a legal combatant of which the main provision makes it illegal to torture prisoners and applies from the moment of capture to the time they are released or repatriated.  When looking at the definition of a legal privileged combatant under the convention it states they are members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government.

So David was by the United States statement of facts defending a Taliban tank who were the de facto government of Afghanistan, this would make him a privileged combatant under to Geneva convention to which Australia and the United States are signatories.

David has claimed many a time he was tortured and signed his charge sheet under duress, I’d say 5 years locked in a hole is duress wouldn’t you?

George W. Bush stated in 2009 “This Government does not torture people.  I want to be absolutely clear with our people and the world.  The United States does not torture.  It’s against our laws and it’s against our values.  I have not authorised it and I will not authorise it.”

So torture is illegal, that makes it a crime and crimes are punishable right?  But it’s okay cause the United States doesn’t do it right?

George W. Bush affirmed in his 2010 memoirs “Decision Points”  that he told CIA officials that they could torture terrorism suspects and that he would do it again.  President Barrack Obama in a press conference to mark his first 100 days in office made an unequivocal statement “I believe that waterboarding was torture and, whatever the legal rationals were used, it was a mistake.

President Obama went on further to say “I was struck by an article that I was reading the other day talking about the fact that the British, during world war two, when London was being bombed to smithereens, had 200 or so detainees.  And Churchill said ‘we don’t torture’, when all of the British people were being subjected to unimaginable risk and threat.  And the reason was that Churchill understood you start taking shortcuts, and over time, that corrodes what’s best in a people.  It corrodes the character of a country.”

Given that David Hicks is not the only person nor the only Australian to claim to have been tortured in Cuba at the hands of the United States and given that George W. Bush admits it was happening I think it’s a fair bet to say it happened to David and that it was not only illegal, immoral but also wrong.

If you were kept in those conditions, under that treatment for that long you too might be willing to say or sign anything to get out.

On August 2nd, 2005 former Prime Minister John Howard rejected the possibility of David Hicks being tried in Australia as there were no laws covering his alleged offenses at the time.

David Hicks broke no Australian laws, was tortured, held without charge for more then five years and yet we want to silence him from telling his story?  Sorry however misguided he is I want to hear it.  Do we really want an Australia that is okay with it’s people being treated in this manner by those that would call us friend?

When do we as a Nation, as a group of Nations stop, stand up and take note of the mistakes we’ve made and decide to stop repeating them.  Even now in Libya we support a movement exactly the same as the Mujahideen with CIA operatives on the ground Libya supporting NATO’s air strikes, and well as the rebel leadership.

The United Kingdom has ordered the elite 22nd SAS Regiment to render assistance to rebels in the manhunt for Muammar Gaddafi, whom a bounty of $1.6 million has been placed dead or alive… really is this right?  is this what we stand for?  The crack troops have donned Arab clothing and carry the same types of weapons as the rebel fighters in a bid to blend in.

Explain to me how this behavior is any different to what David Hicks did, except David was an uneducated fool and we as Nations should know better.

When I think about the charge of “providing material support for terrorism” I can’t help remember the billions of dollars injected into Al-Qaeda and the Taliban along with the weapons to wage war.  The Training Australia and the United States have long provided to Pakistan who then trained these terrorist under another name.

Who taught the Taliban to make improvised explosive devices? Where did the funds come from to train Al-Qaeda to fly air liners?  It wasn’t the Soviets cause they were the enemy… lets face facts and be honest for once and drop the spin.  We did it, the West we taught these people how to kill us and we gave them the money to do it.  If any one is guilty of supporting terrorism it’s all of us through our fear and past actions.

It will keep happening till we learn as a society that we can’t force political change on others, it needs to be an evolution not a revolution and that it’s differences that make the world an interesting place just cause we don’t agree with someone and we have the might it doesn’t make it right to set out to destroy them and install our own vision of that the world should look like.

What have we achieved?  I see David Hicks as a victim of  himself, his environment our society that says it alright to do these things.  He may have been wrong, he may well be guilty, but since when do two wrongs make a right?  I don’t want my children learning the ends justify the means, there has to be a line in the sand you won’t cross because it’s the wrong thing to do because we as a people are unwilling to sacrifice our ideals and principals.

I used to see us, Australia, the Commonwealth as being on the side of right even in the face of uncertainly and over whelming odds.. that’s the Anzac legend that’s who we are meant be, we’re meant to stand up for those that can’t stand up for themselves.  Instead I feel like we have been led into the dark, jumping at our own shadows because someone is different, we are turning into a bully taking kids lunch money in the form of oil fields.

I wonder what Weary Dunlop would say, I think we could use a lighthouse of sanity in a universe of madness and suffering once more.

My guide to NOT buying online…

It’s hard not to hear or read about Gerry Harvey and consumers talking about the downfall of the Australian retail sector and watch them speculate on the causes and how to fix it recently given the media coverage it’s currently getting.

I will agree that at the core of this is people are buying online, but what I disagree with is the reasons people buy online.  Gerry Harvey would have us believe it’s all about price and that online sales don’t attract the GST, sorry Gerry that’s not it at all.

The simple fact is the retail sector gives us consumers very little reason to buy from them, seriously what do they offer us?  A store like Harvey Norman wacks a minimum 30% GP on everything they sell and then some but in return what do they provide me the consumer?  I have never once walked into a Harvey Norman and been in awe of the depth of knowledge of the sales staff, or made to feel important and that they were there to help… in fact I’ve been made to feel the very opposite.

So given the option of buying from Mr Harvey at an added 30% markup or online I think I will go online as at the end of the day they are both just a place to get something.

In times past when things weren’t so tight consumers where more willing to pay that extra 30% despite a fundamental lack of service or value add because they wanted it now, right now not later it was shiny and we all like shiny things and you could take it home and play with it that very day.  Of course that was a luxury of good times, and now times aren’t so hot so even the well off are more conscientious about how and when they spend their hard earned so now people are willing to wait for the post to arrive to get their shiny new goods in order to less, a lot less.

The only way for the Australian retail sector to combat this is with good honest to god service and a willingness to go the extra mile and make it easier for consumers to do business with them.  This means know more about the products which it sells then the consumer buying them.  Far too often I am educating the person whom is supposed to be selling the goods I am interested in, or they spend an hour on the phone scrambling to find answers to a common question about the product.

So number one product knowledge is king, it makes consumers confident.  Be honest, if a product is not right for the consumer’s needs say so and offer alternatives but be genuine about it that is to say don’t simply steer the consumer at another product simply because that’s what you sell be up front about your motives as consumers are like elephants ie they have long memories.

Retail is all about relationships, you treat consumers right and they will invariably treat you right if you give them a reason to.  Sure today you might not get the margin you want or you might lose a sale by giving them the right feedback, but they remember this and on the next purchase and the one after that you will make it back in spades let me assure you.

Now thirdly and a bit more on topic for the title of this entry is about price and the internet.  I hear retailers lament about the internet and the trouble it cause them as consumers come in to tire kick and then buy online at a cheaper price once they have pawed the retailers wares.  To be honest I know this happens quite a lot and I really don’t understand why as a consumer you’d do this, people you have it back to front.

If you know you want a product or have need of a product, research it online that’s why god gave as google.  Learn as much as you need to make an informed choice about what you want, and then start hunting prices.  Get a median average online cost, make sure you are realistic and include freight.  I always try to get pricing from Australian online retailers as well as over seas.

Now you are in a position of power, you are armed with knowledge, you have a price in mind that you should be paying it’s time to go talk to the local retailers.  Often with retailers you get one bite at this so make it count be ready to do the deal, do not waste your time or theirs testing the water.  You’ve done your research you know what a good buy is, you set the price you want to pay.

Here is my hard and fast rule if they will not negotiate on price just walk away, I have been known to ring their direct competitor for directions to their store in front of them as it sends the point home for them.

Don’t buy this “oh we can only price match another quote” get real, come on retailers this is the most absurd policy I have ever heard.  What school of business did you go to that told you sending a consumer that’s standing in front of you wanting to do a deal to your competitor was a smart move?  Hello are you insane?  Given the local climate you never ever want to expose your customer to another avenue of business.  Hell if I can get a better price from your competitor why would I deal with you again?

Now I will admit at this point some gamesmanship comes into play, often I will say to a salesmen mate is that the best you can do and they will go um let me see and say X and I will go hmm you know what X sounds better to me… they will give me a line about oh we can’t do it for that, that’s too cheap… next thing I say is oh well pretty sure I can get it from Fred at X store for that but since I always shop here I thought I’d buy it from you, hey I thought you wouldn’t be beaten on price.  This invariably leads to them talking to their manager, who will come over and say wow that’s a great price.

This is the moment to seal the deal, you again state you want to pay X for the item, and you want to pay for it now and do the deal… fast transactions are a wonderful thing to a retailer and the smart ones know that once they have built a rapport with you that you will keep coming back so over time they will always make out better then letting you walk away.

Being willing to play the salesmen yourself will give you the result you want every time I promise, you get the price you want to pay, you get the shiny right there and then and you support your local retailer.

Be mindful though, I reward good businesses, if a retailer treats me right and provides a good level of service I am more then willing to pay a premium for it.  Price is NOT everything, but in the absence of service or a value add unfortunately a good 90% of retailers reduce themselves to just that.

I am quite a loyal customer, if they do the right thing by me I will do the right thing by them, but I will never be taken for a ride… next time you feel the urge to buy something online please give your local retailer a change, even if you have to educate them a bit about this process, I promise you time and time again it’s worth it and you can create lasting relationships that mean you don’t have to go through the routine repeadly.

My last piece of advice is simple, use peoples names, read their name tag and use it… make it a human transactions not a financial one.