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

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)

Hits since 1 Sep 2004

Site design by Jasmine

Peter's blog
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]

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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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, 11 Mar 2007 [Australian eastern time]

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Gettysburg Address in PowerPoint

Here's the Gettysburg Address presented as a series of PowerPoint slides: a cool example of why you shouldn't use PowerPoint to communicate everything. The related essay is interesting.

One thing that really annoys me in my work life is the way that people sometimes think that every meeting needs to be scripted with meticulously crafted PowerPoint slides. People hide behind the messages on the projector screen, rather than cutting to the chase and having a really productive, dynamic conversation. People copy slides from the corporate deck and recite them slavishly, without thinking about exactly what is required for the meeting at hand. The worst meetings are often ones where people actually read word for word from PowerPoint.

This is not to say that PowerPoint is a useless tool -- I actually find it very useful. But it's good for particular things: punchy summaries, providing structure to complex discussions. It shouldn't be the detailed script for a whole meeting.

(via Matt Cutts, where the Gettysburg link was mentioned as a tangent)

[tags: Gettysburg+Address PowerPoint]

Sun, 18 Feb 2007 [Australian eastern time]

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After a frantic several weeks -- packing up in London, back to Australia for work and other engagements, and then heading back to the airport -- Jasmine and I arrived back in the United States late in January. We're still working for our Australian software company employer, and we will be back in the States for at least a couple of years. We will be based in Arlington, Virginia.

[tags: Arlington+Virginia]

Sat, 28 Oct 2006 [Australian eastern time]

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Hands get dirty in American politics

The New York Times has a great article today about US politicians who shake hands, but are concerned about all the germs they acquire in the process. Purell Hand Sanitizer is the answer, according to the article. I'm not convinced.

I have only ever seen so many hygiene products in the United States, but I have not seen anyone die from touching another person in Europe or Australia. Could it be that effective product marketing manufactures demand, and this stuff is just marketed well in the US?

[tags: Purell politics hygiene]

Sun, 22 Oct 2006 [Australian eastern time]

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US ban on Vegemite!

The United States is apparently cracking down on Australians who want to import Vegemite! It seems that the folate content in Vegemite violates US standards, and Australian expatriates in the US will lose part of their identity as a result!

[tags: Vegemite folate]

Mon, 25 Sep 2006 [Australian eastern time]

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Avoiding lost baggage (and contents!) in the USA 

The editors at Boing Boing often criticise US aviation security. In a recent article, they point to a technique which allegedly allows checked bags on US flights to be locked, and also supposedly ensures the security of the bags' contents:

Many airports won't let you effectively lock your suitcases when you fly, and the new limits on carry-on luggage thanks to moisture-terror-hysteria mean it's open season for unscrupulous TSA employees and baggage handlers who want to help themselves to expensive cameras and other valuable in checked bags.

But once you add a gun -- even a starter pistol -- to your luggage, it gets extra-locked, gains new tracking privileges, and is subject to heightened scrutiny all the way to your destination.

Boing Boing links to Bruce Schneier's blog on this topic.

I can't vouch for the wisdom or effectiveness of this... but it's definitely not an idea I would have thought of myself!

[tags: aviation security TSA Transportation+Security+Administration Boing+Boing]

Wed, 19 Jul 2006 [Australian eastern time]

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Critical infrastructure

With current concern about terrorism, it's understandable that people want to identify critical infrastructure and protect it.

However, a column by Danny Westneat in The Seattle Times suggests that sometimes it's difficult to understand the criteria that are used to identify critical infrastructure. He lists a shopping mall, casinos, restaurants. He questions the extent to which pork-barrelling has come into play to increase the list of top terrorist sites from 160 a few years ago to 77,000 now.

[tags: Seattle+Times Danny+Westneat]

Sat, 13 May 2006 [Australian eastern time]

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Viking threat at NASA

It seems that NASA's Ames Research Center is better prepared for abnormal events than my workplace. See, for example, this list of required bureaucratic steps to deal with Viking raids on the Center. To quote the preamble from this important policy resource:

Since the decline of the Carolingian Empire in the 10th century, Building 245 of the NASA Ames Research Center has been subject to periodic raids by Viking marauders. These marauders generally attack in search of gold, religious icons, and other forms of plunder. The NASA Ames Barbarian Affairs Office has established the following procedures for defense against Viking raids...

(Via Mikal)