Some important dates

There are a few important dates coming up over the next month, so I thought I’d do a quick post in case anyone didn’t know about them. One might be of interest to anyone looking to follow up on BlogCatalog‘s Blogging Against Abuse Day.

The Hunger Site

The first is that October is international Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign by the major breast cancer charities to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research. In Australia alone 36 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every day and one in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 85.

Part of the campaign in Australia includes Pink Ribbon Day on Monday October 22nd where you can buy a Pink Ribbon or Wristband to support the cause. Something else you can do is to support The Breast Cancer Site. The site helps to provide free mammograms to women in need; every click from a user raises money from sponsors which goes toward the costs of mammograms. 11,000 mammograms have been provided since the year 2000.

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

October 15th is BlogActionDay, a community project encouraging bloggers around the world to unite about an issue on everyone’s mind: the environment. BlogActionDay is in its inaugural year and is being supported by over 6,850 blogs and institutions including Greenpeace, Lifehacker, Treehugger, Web Worker Daily and Change.Org. Bloggers are being asked to publish a post relating to an issue of their choice about the environment and to donate any daily advertising revenue to an environmental charity. I haven’t decided what my topic will be yet but I’ll definitely be participating; if you want to find out more, check out BlogActionDay. And thanks to MusEditions and Sanjida for letting me know about it.

The third thing is more of a public service notice for anyone in the US. I heard about this from WC and couldn’t believe it; the laws in the US that keep Internet access tax-free are set to expire on November 1, 2007 and the houses of Congress are currently debating whether Internet access should be kept tax-free. I find the idea that you might have to pay whenever you go online bizarre and it really impacts people outside the US as well as US policy is often adopted as standard in other countries. It’s probably not going to happen but the coalition at MyWireless.Org has a form for people in the US to fill out urging politicians to pass the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act of 2007. You might like to have a look and find out more about keeping the Internet tax free.

Lastly is just a reminder that the next court sitting regarding the defamation case which led to the banning of WordPress in Turkey is also set to take place on November 1st. Hopefully more information about the ban will be available after the 1st, but if you’d like to send a letter to the Turkish authorities asking that the Turkish courts reconsider their position or sign MidEast Youth’s petition, it might help. Plus you’d be joining with other people in condemning censorship, something which seems particularly important now with the events in Burma.

add to :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

Site of the Week: GlobalGiving

Site of the Week (4/10/07)

Rating: 5star.jpg

With Christmas not that far away, here’s a website you might find useful. GlobalGiving connects users to over 450 independent charity projects around the world to make donations that can help to change and shape a community. You can help fund projects from orphanages and schools to health programs and all projects are approved by reputable organisations like the United Nations Foundation before being listed to ensure legitimacy.

What makes GlobalGiving different from other sites is that it connects donors directly to the projects, allowing donors to choose who they support. When you make a donation you can opt to remain anonymous or to let your contact information be known to the project leader, allowing you to stay updated on the project’s progress. There are also project reports every few months available through GlobalGiving.

Donations through GlobalGiving are tax-deductible and are a good option for people looking to make donations as a gift. You buy a gift certificate (an email or a card) and the recipient goes to the website and chooses the projects they want to give funds to, involving them in the process rather than simply making a donation in their name. Making a donation or buying a certificate is simple with payment accepted through credit cards, PayPal, cheques and bank transfers.

One thing of note is that GlobalGiving takes a fee of 10% from donations for administration, but that’s lower than the fees of similar sites. GlobalGiving was founded by two former heads of the World Bank and if you’re thinking of making a charitable donation, GlobalGiving is well worth a look.

Mac or PC?

You are a PC

You’re practical, thrifty, and able to do almost anything.Appearances and trends aren’t important to you. You just like to get the job done.

Are You a Mac or a PC?

Damn it! It’s done it to me again. I know I’m not a PC; sure, I have a beard and like Star Wars, but I’m a big supporter of open source software, despise Vista, won’t touch IE or Outlook, use Open Office and listen to Leo Laporte. I am so a Mac at heart, I just can’t afford one yet! But these damn quizzes never agree. Seriously, the last one I took was for PC or Mac and I got Linux! It wasn’t even mentioned as an option! It’s a conspiracy, I know it is… 😛

Stand up for what you believe in

Today is Blogging Against Abuse Day. It’s an initiative created by BlogCatalog asking bloggers on Thursday, September 27th to write about putting an end to an abuse they feel passionately about. The goal is to try to form the largest group of bloggers to write about an important cause on the same day, and by doing so to raise awareness to help prevent abusive situations. If you’d like to join us, please do; it’s a wonderful initiative and worthy of your support.

I feel strongly about condemning all forms of abuse; physical, emotional and psychological abuse is about power, holding power over another life, denying someone the freedom to be all they can be. It’s a cycle that is difficult to break; some people spend their entire lives as victims, enabling the abuse, while others grow into the behaviour and inflict it on other people. I believe we should condemn abuse wherever we see it; if we turn a blind eye, how are we really any different?

There are two causes though I feel very strongly about. The first is animal abuse. I can’t describe how awful I feel when I hear a story about an animal which has been killed or maimed by humans, or when I hear about something like mulesing, or see abandoned pets crowding RSPCA shelters. One of the worst experiences I’ve ever had was five years ago when eight kittens were left abandoned outside our apartment. At first we didn’t know they were abandoned (there were lots of stray cats in our area), so we left a cardboard box and some milk for them. A couple of hours later we heard mewling. An eight-year-old boy had destroyed the box and was kicking and kicking them again and again and again. We scared him off but three of the kittens had broken legs and bruised faces; one couldn’t move at all, was just whimpering. We took them to the local vet and two had to be put down. It was just a despicable, cruel act against defenceless victims; I don’t believe in evil, not in the biblical sense, but I shudder to think of what that boy might be like in 10 years time. I’ll always speak out against animal abuse; I hope to adopt a pet at some stage in the next year myself and when I do, I’ll be adopting one from my local shelter. It just seems like a simple thing to do, a small way to make a difference.

The other cause I wanted to mention is abuse of freedom. I believe everybody has the right to be free, the right to choose the life they want to live; perhaps that makes me naive but it’s what I believe, what I feel every day. You can just look at what’s happening in Burma right now to know how important it is. The raids are terrible and should be condemned by every leader in the world; likewise the continued detention of Aung San Suu Kyi is a disgrace. On a day when we’re talking about abuse, I can’t let the violence go by without saying something against it. And the same goes for Zimbabwe, Sudan, Congo, Tibet and countless other countries and republics where their people are not truly free or live with violence, and it’s why I feel strongly about censorship in Turkey, China, Pakistan and Thailand as well. It’s what Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Freedom is like life. You cannot be given life in installments. You cannot be given breath but no body, nor a heart but no blood vessels. Freedom is one thing — you have it all or you are not free.

So that’s what I have to say. I think this is a wonderful initiative and I’m proud to be part of it. Alone our voices fade into the background, but perhaps together a group of committed people can be heard. We might not change the world but hopefully we’ll do some good.

So I wonder what abuses you’re against? Write something and let us know. 😉

An update on WordPress and Turkey

WP Letter

It was my birthday yesterday. I don’t like my birthday much; it just feels like a reminder of another year gone and what I’ve got to look forward to for another year. Still, it was nice to spend a few hours with my family, and I’m putting some money together with savings to get a new camera.

I had one interesting surprise, though. I received a reply from the Turkish Embassy about the WordPress ban. I wasn’t expecting one at all (I thought they would just ignore it) and while it’s a carefully worded reply, there are a couple of interesting things in it. I’ve uploaded the letter to Flickr if anyone wants to have a look and I’ll quote a few sections below.

This was the first thing I noticed:

“However, after consulting with the telecommunication services provider Türk Telekom, it has been established that technically it is impossible just to ban several blogs hosted by ‘ domain’. Therefore, the ban had to be applied to the whole site.”

I’m almost positive that’s wrong. Technically impossible? It should be a simple matter for Türk Telekom and other ISPs to distinguish between WordPress and individual blogs; if they mean people would just open new blogs, they can just add them to the list as they find them. Blocking access to 1.3 million blogs to stop just a handful is just crazy. And it’s not stopping people from seeing them anyway – they can just go to Wordprexy.

This was the second thing:

“We would also like to inform you that, those bloggers who have directly been affected by the ban placed on ‘’ can apply to Turkish courts in order to revoke the decision of 17 August 2007.”

At first I thought they meant just Turkish bloggers but it seems they mean all bloggers affected, which is good; they know the ban impacts people from all over the world. It seems that my letter has already been forwarded on so there’s not much point doing another, but I wonder if there might be a case for making a joint statement from users of WordPress to coincide with the November 1 court sitting? It might carry more weight coming from a large number of people and it could even be co-ordinated with MidEast Youth’s petition.

So that’s the letter. I was surprised to get a reply at all and I think it was a reasonable response, if a cautious one. It’s ironic, though, that it came the same week that Iran blocked access to Google and Gmail. What a world we live in.

add to :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

Indy 4 title revealed

Just been looking over at and was admiring their new look (and John Williams’ theme) when I saw that the title of the new Indy movie has been revealed. Shia LaBeouf announced it during the MTV Video Music Awards last night, which the official site has now confirmed.

The title is Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Sounds like a mouthful but I actually quite like it. It’s got a bit of the feel of Raiders of the Lost Ark (my favourite Indy movie) and with Karen Allen back, maybe that’s the feel they’re going for. I did like the rumoured working title, though, Indiana Jones and the City of Gods. Either would have worked for me.

Anyway, with the title out the way, hopefully there won’t be too much more revealed before the teaser trailer. I can avoid spoiler sites easily enough, but it’s harder to avoid for 8 months! Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will be released worldwide on May 22, 2008. Start the countdown. 🙂

Podcast of the Week: Best of YouTube


Podcast of the Week (29/8/07)
Best of YouTube

Best of YouTube is probably a podcast a lot of people know about, but I thought it would be a good one to feature. It’s updated daily and features some of the best and more original clips on YouTube, making it easier to find content without shifting through the rest.

It can be accessed via iTunes or Best of YouTube. It’s a good way for parents to control what their kids see on YouTube, as most of the videos are suitable for children. And if you have an AppleTV, the quality’s reasonable when upscaled on a digital screen.

5 fun Facebook apps for your profile

Facebook’s really taken off over the last year. It now has more than 34 million users and Yahoo supposedly offered $1 billion for the site last year. Part of its success is how simple Facebook makes it to stay in touch with friends, but the applications you add to your profile are a large part of it as well. Here are 5 you might like to try.

5) Scrabulous
A game of Scrabble in Facebook. It sounds strange but it’s actually a good idea; Scrabble is a game you play with friends and Facebook is a social site, so it works well, if you have enough friends.

4) Web Presence
Web Presence keeps track of your online identity. If you have a lot of profiles on other sites, or have blogs and write reviews, etc., Web Presence is an easy way to link them to your Facebook profile.

3) Causes
Causes makes supporting causes you care about very simple. You choose the causes and organisations you support and they’re displayed in your profile. It keeps track of the number of members and the money donated. You can make donations, which are processed securely and go directly to helping your chosen causes.

2) Where I’ve Been
A very useful app for anyone who travels, Where I’ve Been creates a map on your profile to show all the places you’ve visited; countries, states, etc. You can also mark places you want to visit.

1) Flixster
Flixster integrates the site of the same name and allows you to rate movies; your profile shows your favourites and you can collect trailers, show which films you want to see, etc. It also compares your ratings with your friends’, so you can see which movies you all like (or hate).

Support Turkish Bloggers

Today is Support Turkish Bloggers Day. It’s an initiative being organised by members of the WordPress forums and others who feel strongly about censorship and freedom of speech. If you believe in the rights of bloggers everywhere, please join us!

I’ve written about the reasons behind this before, but I’ll give you a quick recap in case you missed it. Turkey has banned access to the domain, resulting in all blogs being inaccessible to Turkey. It means that Turkish bloggers are being forced into silence and countless others are being denied the freedom to read.

We want to send a message that this action is unacceptable. In support of Turkish bloggers and freedom of speech, we’re asking bloggers and site administrators everywhere to change their avatars and install a support banner on their blogs.

I’m using the Don’t Block the Blog avatar and will also be writing to the Turkish Ambassador to Australia. If you think you can help in any way, it would be greatly appreciated. The important thing is that bloggers everywhere show their solidarity, so please join us!

“Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them – and then, the opportunity to choose.” C. Wright Mills.