Wheelsurf – Unicycle with motor!

Posted by jerry on February 18th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Motorcycling, Technology

The Wheelsurf is an amazing machine – part 50cc motor scooter, part German wheel (circus wheel)  🙂 And it looks like a load of fun! – Click on the image to see how it goes 🙂


I can see my daughter coming up with a whole new circus act coming up with these…


Copyright, copyleft and creative commons

Posted by jerry on February 17th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media, Technology, Writing

I have had occasion recently to address a copyright issue, when one of my papers turned up on an Estonian website and then many iterations of it around the web all linked back to the Estonian one, and not to my original on my site. While I’m not precious about my work, and am quite happy to see the text appear on Wikipedia, my objection was to the further links that did not come my way.

I was able to amend the link on Wikipedia, but other derivative sites clearly had old versions. After writing a series of emails pointing out the error of their ways, I found the major sites like Wikipedia and Answers.com responded within hours by amending the link to reflect the true copyright owner – so congratulations to those sites. Others seem to stream the information to seemingly orphan pages devoid of any email contact points, and to those I wrote to the top level domain operator pending further action.

But it did also get me thinking about the concept of copyright, and of its variations aimed at allowing people to take something in the public arena and develop it collectively with anyone who stops by. This broadly, is the concept of copyleft.


Then there is a kind of middle ground – a creative commons licence, in which copyright is still retained, while allowing free downloads and use of the material. In a sense, that is the spirit in which my band site offers its MP3 downloads – you can download for free and enjoy as many times as you like, as long as you attribute the music to Full Circle Band, and not claim it as your own.

Creative Commons

As far as my material is concerned, I’m happy for people to quote it, download it, or link to it – all I ask is attribution for my work and a courtesy link to my version of the piece. Site rippers are, in the words of the great Jar Jar Binks: ‘So rude!’


Billy Moran (1928-2007)

Posted by jerry on February 16th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Music

I was saddened to hear a couple of days ago of the death of one of the great stalwarts of Irish music in Australia, Billy Moran.

Billy Moran

A fine accordion player, I shared a number of great sessions with him over the years at the National Folk Festival and other places. I was privileged to share a stage with him at the 2005 National in Canberra. And at the sessions if you sat too long without playing, he would raise an eyebrow and suggest you start the next tune. Of course he would know it – I doubt there are many tunes he didn’t know.

Billy Moran

Billy was a rough diamond who played music since he was a lad. According to IrishAustralia.com he spent some time working in the Midlands of England, and his accent was a mix of Irish and north country. Migrating to Austrlia in 1950, he worked on the Snowy Mountain scheme and at Maralinga – site of the British nuclear weapon tests. He finally settled in Melbourne and he haunted the sessions. He certainly had stamina. At the National Folk festival several times he would start a session mid afternoon, and if you were around at two or three in the morning, you could still hear his accordion playing.

Billy Moran

Billy, we will miss you.


Internet – fifteen years on

Posted by jerry on February 15th, 2007 — Posted in History, New media, Technology

It’s hard to believe that fifteen years have passed since Tim Berners-Lee released the software and the concept of the world-wide-web to the public. I remember having used ‘Gopher’ to retrieve documents, and then being amazed by Mosaic v1 when I first saw it. I’d used email since 1989 at the university, so I guess it was fairly early when I came to the World-Wide-Web, in about October 1993. I suppose I could put in a shameless plug for my book Virtual States (The Internet and the boundaries of the Nation-State) here, but I won’t 😉
The BBC has put up a timeline of world-wide-web history – ever wondered whatever happened to the Cambridge University coffee pot? It’s all here 🙂

BBC - web history


Evicted possum

Posted by jerry on February 14th, 2007 — Posted in Journal

For a couple of weeks now, we have heard movement on the roof. But when we went outside we couldn’t see the culprit. The footsteps were heavy – this was no rat, we thought possibly a cat on the roof. Then I went up on the roof to investigate. And there I found a large hole in the eves and a tile nudged loose. The noises, coupled with their timing – just after dusk and around dawn finally pointed to one thing – a possum.

Not wanting to hurt the creature – they really are cute – we called the Possum Man. Yesterday he arrived in the early morning and made lots of noise scrambling around the roof. The end result was a one-way door that would let the possum out, but wouldn’t let him back in again.

Last night I heard the noises. Possums are creatures of habit, and we had sealed off his usual route in and out – and we were warned that possums get upset when their habits are frustrated. At three and four AM the possum was clearly disturbed, stomping around in his hobnailed boots.

And this evening I heard footsteps on the tiles. Not on the ceiling, but outside, on the roof. I grabbed the camera and tripod and a flashlight and hurried outside. By this time the possum had given up on the roof and marched huffily up the wires to the top of the telegraph pole in our backyard.


I shone the torch, and he just stared back forlornly. Tonight the realisation was setting in that he had been evicted, and would have to find a new home at the top of a tree, rather than curled up in our cosy roof among the insulation batts. And so I took a couple of photos of the artful lodger.


They are about the size of a large rabbit, with the agility of a cat – possums can climb anything, and make use of telegraph wires like a seasoned tightrope walker. They make it look so easy waddling along the wires as though they were on firm ground. Occasionally they’d stop and look intently at something with those keen eyes, then carry on as though nothing had happened. Tonight, though, our lodger just curled up and sulked, looking accusingly at the flashlight and camera.

Sharon has a great picture of another possum that used to live by the roof of her office at the University so you can see what these gentle creatures look like in daylight