Robert Godden’s musings and rants

I muse. I rant. This is my outlet!

Archive for June 2008

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I can understand phishing. There’s a point.

The point is to rip every cent (or penny, or peso, or whatever) out of your bank account. It’s fraud by mass market: someone somewhere will fall for it (and by the way, Anti-Phishing Phil is brilliant, if you’d like to get better at avoiding falling victim).

But when it comes to straightforward virus attacks; there’s no discernible point.

Common wisdom is that it’s the thrill of destruction – a bit like arsonists who hang around to watch a building burn.

In fact, a bit like cases where arsonists have tried to use pyromania as a clinical defence, it won’t be long before someone tries to defend themselves in court against charges of creating viruses by claiming ‘viromania”. If they ever get to court.

The vast majority of anti-social reprobates that create viruses are never caught.

To go back to our arson analogy; arsonists are often caught. And they often turn out to be people who would profit in some way, (e.g. by an insurance payout) or have a grudge.

However, there’s quite a few who get no discernible benefit; they just decided to burn down a building.

Many of the people in the last category are poor and undereducated. Burning down a building and getting caught for it is within a fairly limited scope – you don’t have to be a genius to accomplish this.

Not so the creation of a virus. For starters, you need access to a computer somewhere reasonably private, programming skills, and usually, an ability to not get caught easily.

So, why are the penalties for a poor, uneducated firebug so much more than those of a sophisticated virus author?

Now, I’m not advocating a lessening of penalties for the former; just some parity for the latter.

“Ahhhh, but Computer Viruses don’t kill people; whereas arson often does.” I hear you say.

While this is basically true at this point; how do we know that a virus won’t take down an air traffic control computer? Or one that affects red lights?

In many fatal arson attacks, the goal is gratification, not murder; and I’m happy to included virus creators in the same group.

So, I’m going to change tacks here to wrap up.

Listen, Mr or Ms Virus Author: Your efforts disgust me. The effort I put into keeping your sick products away from my home and business is time I’ll never see again; time spent away from my family. The time you spend creating it is also completely wasted.

So. here’s the changes I’d like to see.

It’s time to bring back the public stockade. These people want to be famous. Chaining them up in stocks in a public place with a ready supply of rotten fruit and a couple of dozen IT managers in the vicinity will spread their name nicely.

Then tattoo their foreheads. “Moron” in 72 pt bold works for me. If you put the “r” backwards it’s even better. A nice long sentence and perhaps a kick where it hurts as well!

And keep them in wooden prisons. Next door to the arsonists.



Written by robertgodden

June 23, 2008 at 7:24 am

Posted in Musings, Rants, society

Tagged with ,

Life is Real

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I write this blog; a column on; a few articles here and there on sites such as ERE, press releases and news stories for my main employer; all the content for four websites; I have one book published and three more on the drawing board.

In other words, I write a lot. In fact, I also talk a lot. Communication of ideas and concepts is really what I do.

But we have a problem.

Lately, I’ve found that actions speak louder than words. Try losing over 40 kilos (90 pounds for my US friends) and it becomes the opening conversational gambit for everyone you know when you see them. That’s if they recognise you in the street.

Whilst I never tire of the compliments, it does start the conversation down familiar paths. And inevitably; that path is advice.

Yes advice: I’m full of it. How to get around to finishing that book you’ve been writing for years. How to lose a massive amount of weight. How to harness social networking and fulfil your destiny!

You expect to get asked for advice when speaking at conferences etc. After all, you’re there as an expert. And ditto: columns and news stories have advice running through them. So I write; speak and generally impart a lot of advice.

Or do I? Is it really worthwhile when people don’t actually listen. I pretty sure many of them don’t. How am I to know if they do or not?

With real life and most of my work becoming a full-time advice dispenser; what about the other sides of my life. The beauty of this blog; and; is that they are my outlets for emotion, not really advice.

OK, so I still pontificate on this blog. That’s me. But it’s stuff I feel passionate about.

At the moment there are a few things in my life that occupy a lot of my thoughts. Given the lack of nourishment that intensive dieting offers; perhaps I have less thoughts as well.

It amazing that I appear to transitioning to the web. The things that affect me the most are private issues that will not make it to this blog. They dominate my conversation with my nearest and dearest. So, they get endless repetitions of the same theme; my 312 satisfied blog readers get passion and interest; my twitter Friends get the benefit of my rapier-like wit and my column readers get as much advice as they can eat for $0.

In The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie, there’s a painter who disappears into his own painting; he ceases to exist in real life. Sometimes I feel that I’m slowly becoming a net persona and that this is a substitute for real life.

Someone asked me where I lived the other day and I replied “LinkedIn”. True, we had been discussing social media; and I was being funny.

The difference between disappearing into the web, and say, falling down a rabbit hole to a magical kingdom, is that the former is more subtle: because you feel you can pop back anytime from the web. But try going on holiday and not being on-line. I’m nowhere near a full-time web junkie, but I do feel the need for web-ether running through my veins after just a day or so.

Yet I’m reasonably interesting in real life and I quite enjoy it. Why does the web have this attraction? Perhaps a blog is simply a conversation where I’m never interrupted: the ultimate soliloquy.

Or perhaps I’m like a late night talk DJ who’s never sure if anyone is out there, I hope for callers – or comments, as it is on this blog.

Attack me or flatter me; disagree with me or proclaim my spot-on-brother-ness; just don’t ignore me.

Because I wonder what happened to the painter, when people stopped looking at the painting? 



Written by robertgodden

June 16, 2008 at 7:07 am

Posted in Family, Musings, society

Tagged with , ,


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I love LinkedIn network statistics.

My direct list is OK, my indirect list is huge, but the number of people in my home town has remained relatively low – I only cracked 5000 recently.

Last Saturday, I made a decision that I would become the most LinkedIn person in Adelaide. I did this after discovering that you can list people by number of connections – I know that’s a pretty obvious feature, but I had never looked for it.

My thought was that I would find out who the top LinkedIn people in Adelaide were, and send them requests. That’s a good start. It will build my list generally, and I hoped, locally in particular.

So, I did the search, and found that I already am the most LinkedIn person in Adelaide.

Wow, what a warm glow of smug achievement. I was a terribly ineffective user of LinkedIn until I met Dave Mendoza in April, and a light went on in my head. Look at me now, everybody!

But not one to rest on my laurels, I wrote to a bunch of other highly LinkedIn people in Adelaide, and requested connection.

So I dared to dream. Given that I’m less than an eighth as well connected as Stan Relihan, how do I rate in Australia?

Do I dare to dream Top Twenty? Top Fifty? Must be top hundred, surely?

Well, no, no and no.

As of this morning, I sit in position number 191.

This exercise has made me think about why people are on LinkedIn, so I posted a simple question: Is it better to give or receive on LinkedIn.

Given the Pledge (see my post ‘One Vision’ below) asking any question has its price, so such an open one means I’ll be very busy Wednesday – that’s my question answering day.

Apart from one bitter reply, the overwhelming ethos of LinkedIn is to give.

I think that is the miracle of LinkedIn. I suspect people mainly join to further their own ends, but get swept along in the tremendous feeling of goodwill.

Whilst I’ve found few good candidates on LinkedIn; that’s just my day job. It’s the community on LinkedIn that keeps me at the keyboard in early hours of the morning, swapping ideas and advice.

Adelaide is my hometown by choice; I wasn’t born here. LinkedIn is my virtual community by choice; and the stats don’t matter – being a part of something bigger than yourself is always inspiring.

Written by robertgodden

June 10, 2008 at 7:07 am

Teo Torriatte (Let us cling together)

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Yesterday, I was feeling that the world was inching toward becoming a better place.

True, there are wars, and an end to war is a dream that many of us share.

True, a long-lost friend of mine is dying of a very nasty cancer. And an end to cancer is a dream many of us also share.

But for me, the dream of everyone being just that bit nicer is the big one. Because as the Paul Kelly song goes; “From little things, big things grow”.

The reason for my optimism is that yesterday, the Adelaide Advertiser ran a column of a friend of mine.

Sidebar: How many people know that my home town is responsible for the Murdoch Empire? Sir Keith Murdoch started it all here with the Adelaide News. News Limited went on to buy its much older rival, The Advertiser, and the rest is tabloid history. Not that I’d ever bag News Ltd. For starters, I write a column for them. And secondly, I’m a close personal friend of a whole bunch of people there, though sadly not Rupert!

As is often my wont, I digress. So back on topic:

Monica Magann’s column yesterday spoke about the power of nice. I’ll encourage her to put it on line. It was just lovely. It was, well, nice! I really felt that her quiet conviction sold the benefits.

 It’s not that every bully boss out there is going to suddenly become nice, but it is the start of a movement where people refuse to accept anything but nice.

But this morning, the world bought me back with a thump.

Autism is challenging. When I wrote the short story “Angels Like Water“, which I’m currently turning into a full length novel, I did a small amount of research. And there’s a lot to know. And a lot we don’t know. 

I’ve seen first hand the difficulty of handling a child with Asperger’s Syndrome; as one of the boys in a football team I coached suffered from it. And to be honest, everybody around suffered a bit as well.

But taking issue with someone who cannot control this condition is pretty low. When it’s a supposed adult abusing a child, then it’s far worse.

In Florida, a teacher organised a kangaroo court to evict 5-year-old Alex Barton from his classroom. In a 14-2 vote, held after the teacher asked every classmate to pillory Alex publicly, Alex was removed from the classroom. Democracy at work?

Sidebar: Democracy was not invented by happy Greeks in robes discussing philosophy as the world imagines. Cleisthenes, desperate to cling to power in Athens, proposed it one day and startlingly won the backing of the people. Whilst it has been idealised and very successfully implemented for good, it is not possible to interchange the words “good” and “democratic”. In a speech Winston Churchill said “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”.

So, this is a teacher who has not only abused a child, but has systematically, callously and heinously invested other children into the process. “Here’s an example of how we can kick the weak, children. Learn, well, because you may be able to fight your way to a position of power, where you’ll need those skills.”

Don’t forget, democracy gave Germany Hitler. The problem with democracy is that it only works if one is in a position to judge motivation.

What’s the motivation here? I mean, currently the most notorious example of enforcing democracy – US policy in Iraq and Afghanistan – arguably for oil, or prestige, or to fix Daddy’s little problem – still has underlying it, a passionate belief that the citizens of those countries will be better off with democracy. The vast majority of policy writers, of soldiers, of diplomats, of Presidential lackeys surely at heart believe that they are helping to restore and rebuild countries with a significant place in the history of this planet. I have to believe this to be true. I can’t comprehend the magnitude of any other motivation.

But this teacher’s motivation could be spite or sheer laziness. I’ll break for half an hour to think of others…

Back from half an hour. Still nothing!

Enlisting democracy for evil ends is nothing new. Using it to revile a child does hit a new low.

Clearly this teacher should never, ever teach again. Give them a mop and bucket, or teach them to pick fruit, I don’t care, but this is a person who has forfeited the right to ever supervise another human being, let alone a classroom of children.

No doubt there’ll be a lawsuit. Good! If a bloody big settlement is the only punishment meted out; then at least it’s something.

The Advertiser article I referred to suggests that nice begets nice, and I think that’s right. But the converse is true, and this nasty, reprehensible act on the other side of the globe has led me to my bitterest side and this rant.

I promise I’ll be nice tomorrow.

PS: On Dave Mendoza’s site, you can read the full stoty and email the school to tell them what you think:

Written by robertgodden

June 1, 2008 at 10:07 am