About Peter

I'm an Australian, based in the Washington, DC, area of the United States. I spend a lot of time there with Jasmine, Australia's best-known speedsolver of the Rubik's Cube. Prior to the US, Jasmine and I were based in London, UK. We have also lived previously in the United States and Australia.

I have worked for an Australian business rules and compliance company since 1999 in Australia, the US and the UK. I have also lectured in IT and Law related topics at King's College, London, and at The Australian National University.

I have some more information and a list of publications available (pop-up window).

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Archive
- February 2007
- January 2007
- All posts from 2006
- All posts from 2005
- All posts from 2004

Links
These are a few of my favourite links:
- Jasmine's site
- Jasmine's blog
- Mikal
- Daveydweeb
- Beth
- Lyn
- Doug
- Marissa
- Lisaloha
- David (Greenomics)
- Paul's Ramblings (music)

Counter
Hits since 1 Sep 2004

Site design by Jasmine

Peter's blog
Sun, 27 Jul 2008 [Australian eastern time]

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This site has moved, including its syndication feed
Please update your links to point to http://peterstill.blogspot.com

Sat, 07 Apr 2007 [Australian eastern time]

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Snow in April!

Ridiculous! We have been having a number of days in Washington, DC, in the upper 20s Celsius (low 80s Fahrenheit)... and then Jasmine and I woke up Saturday morning to see a light dusting of snow outside! The weather forecast tells us that there's a chance of more snow, too.

According to The Washington Post (login required):

Washington has had the occasional snow dusting in April. But the last time the city got more than an inch in the month was in 1924, when five inches fell, Weather Service meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said.

[tags: Washington+DC Arlington+Virginia snow]

Sun, 01 Apr 2007 [Australian eastern time]

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Michael has reminded me why I disabled comments on this site

My brother, who (like me) uses Blosxom for his website, has reminded me why I gave up on comments on this website. Michael writes:

664 real comments on this site, 18361 I manually said no to, 32111 were blocked based on originating IP, and 5007 contained a bad word. Andrew currently donates 506 mb of disk to hosting just comments.

My experience with comment spam was similar -- and it took more time than it was worth to try to block the spammers. Even now, when I look at my website log, there's a huge amount of traffic from spammers trying to use long-disabled comment links.

[tags: comment+spam]

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Earth Hour

David had an interesting post on Friday about his participation in Sydney's Earth Hour. The Earth Hour idea is pretty interesting: Sydney households and businesses were urged to turn their lights out for an hour on Saturday night to demonstrate commitment to reducing greenhouse emissions. Although it saved power on the night, the event was probably more significant as a high profile way of promoting an environmental cause -- even to people who chose not to participate.

It's interesting that the event has received a huge amount of publicity around the world. This morning, Google News was showing more than 400 hits for "earth hour" from the world's media. Here's an example of the international coverage from CNN.

[tags: Sydney environment Earth+Hour greenhouse]

Sat, 31 Mar 2007 [Australian eastern time]

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Wikipedia, Citizendium and reality

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia anyone can edit. Citizendium takes the Wikipedia idea, but adds expert oversight in an attempt to become more accountable.

The Go-Go Blog comments (probably fairly) that:

I hope ... that the emergence of Citizendium inspires Wikipedia to take steps towards better highlighting content contributions from verified experts.

Stephen Colbert claims that the Wikipedia model is great because it brings democracy to knowledge: you can make anything true by putting it in Wikipedia and getting people to agree. See the havoc that his call to arms caused!

[tags: Wikipedia Citizendium Stephen+Colbert]

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The Magic of Magic Quadrants

As someone who works frequently with Gartner Magic Quadrant documents, I was intrigued today to read an interesting critique of the Magic Quadrant approach in The Register.

The Gartner Magic Quadrant is an elegant idea. Basically, it takes a class of IT products, and compares them on a graph with axes for ability to execute (y-axis) and completeness of vision (x-axis). Companies strive to get as close to the top right (complete vision, strong ability to execute) as possible. The simple view which the graph portrays of the market is backed up by a more detailed prose report.

There are other similar approaches to ranking competitive products, for example in Forrester's Wave reports. Interestingly, the Forrester reports use more than the two axes, by plotting companies as different-sized dots to show further company information. Forrester also releases very detailed analysis, often in vast spreadsheet documents, to back up its conclusions.

The critique in The Register is based on the idea that the very simple Magic Quadrant graphs could display much more information than they do, by adding colours, different-sized dots and arrows to show trends. That is probably true: but perhaps the real problem is that readers are too lazy in their absorption and interpretation of information. People often talk about the Magic Quadrant graph, but how many of them actually read the whole report that accompanies it?

[tags: Gartner Magic+Quadrant Forrester The+Register]

Sat, 24 Mar 2007 [Australian eastern time]

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No Impact

In the United States, land of consumption, the New York Times has an interesting article about a New York couple and their No Impact project:

Welcome to Walden Pond, Fifth Avenue style. Isabella’s parents, Colin Beavan, 43, a writer of historical nonfiction, and Michelle Conlin, 39, a senior writer at Business Week, are four months into a yearlong lifestyle experiment they call No Impact. Its rules are evolving, as Mr. Beavan will tell you, but to date include eating only food (organically) grown within a 250-mile radius of Manhattan; (mostly) no shopping for anything except said food; producing no trash (except compost...); using no paper; and, most intriguingly, using no carbon-fueled transportation.

The project is accompanied by a blog, and there will also be a book and documentary in due course!

[tags: New+York No+Impact environment]

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Perverse incentives


Here's an interesting list of perverse incentives -- incentives which actually have the opposite effect to the  one which was intended.

[tags: Wikipedia]

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What is wrong with my brother?

My brother seems to have developed an irrational love of dentists. OK, so he got good service from the dentist he found in California, but there must be more interesting things to do around San Francisco!

[tags: Michael+Still Mikal dentist]

Sun, 18 Mar 2007 [Australian eastern time]

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Can lunar dust harm astronauts?

BBC News has published an interesting article about the potential dangers to astronauts of inhaling moon dust. It seems there are a couple of health risks: the tiny size of the particles, which can cause lung damage; and the fact that they not only contain iron but are so small that the iron quickly reaches the bloodstream, with adverse effects on the blood's haemoglobin content.

[tags: astronaut moon lunar]