advocate

Tuesday, 1 November 2016 - 1:12pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Tue, 01/11/2016 - 2:00pm in

COFFS Harbour company Janison has today launched a cloud-based enterprise learning solution, developed over several years working with organisations such as Westpac and Rio Tinto.

Really? In 2016 businesses are supposed to believe that a corporate MOOC (Massively Open Online Course; a misnomer from day one) will do for them what MOOC's didn't do for higher education? There are two issues here: quality and dependability.

In 2012, the "year of the MOOC", the ed-tech world was full of breathless excitement over a vision of higher education consisting of a handful of "superprofessors" recording lectures that would be seen by millions of students, with the rest of the functions of the university automated away. There was just one snag, noticed by MOOC pioneer, superprofessor, and founder of Udacity Sebastian Thrun. "We were on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, and at the same time, I was realizing, we don't educate people as others wished, or as I wished. We have a lousy product," he said. That is not to say that there isn't a market for lousy products. As the president of San Jose State University cheerfully admitted of their own MOOC program, "It could not be worse than what we do face to face." It's not hard to imagine a certain class of institution happy to rip off their students by outsourcing their instruction to a tech firm, but harder to see why a business would want to rip themselves off on an inferior mode of training. Technology-intensive modes of learning work best among tech-savvy, self-modivated learners, so-called "roaming autodidacts". Ask yourself how many of your employees fit into that category; they are a very small minority among the general population.

The other problem is gambling on a product that depends on multiple platforms which reside in the hands of multiple vendors, completely beyond your own control. The longevity of these vendors is not guaranteed, and application development platforms are discontinued on a regular basis. Sticking with large, successful, reputable vendors is no guarantee; Google, for instance, is notorious for euthanising their "Software-as-a-Service" (SaaS) offerings on a regular basis, regardless of the fanfare with which they were launched. You may be willing to trade quality for affordability in the short term, but future migration costs are a matter of "when", not "if".

Wednesday, 19 October 2016 - 8:24pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Wed, 19/10/2016 - 8:26pm in

MORE than 2000 customers at Toormina and Sawtell were left without power after safety equipment detected a fault this afternoon.

Shockingly, thousands more people, revealed not to be customers, also lost access to electricity. These freeloaders, or "electron bludgers", even include a huge number of children stealing electricity from their own family members; a sign of how ingrained the something-for-nothing culture has become.

More outages are planned in order to flush these electricity cheats from their safe havens. Essential Energy regrets the inconvenience to their legitimate customers, but is confident that they will support the measures necessary to maintain the integrity of the utility cartel system, which has done so much to replace boring old public services with a bewildering array of plans and bundles. For more information, just wait for the next pair of Irish backpackers with laminated ID cards to turn up at your door.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016 - 5:40pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Wed, 12/10/2016 - 5:56pm in

I'm sorry, but it's just irresponsible publishing an article like this without distributing an accompanying sick bag:

"The HSC taught me how resilient I am, and the impact goal setting can have on opportunity,” school captain Bianca McNeill said.

Jesus Christ, what are we doing to our children? As far as this stakeholder is concerned, this learning opportunity has achieved maximum outreach in terms of impactfullness. The lesson is to never let your child anywhere near a school if you want them to be capable of independant thought rather than just stringing together grammatically correct neoliberal clichés.

Saturday, 9 July 2016 - 1:48pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sat, 09/07/2016 - 1:48pm in

There is nothing so futile as speaking truth to bureacracy, but here I go again:

Walk into any "Job Services" provider and look at the services they actually provide. There are posters on the wall telling young people to dress smartly; men to polish their shoes and women to go easy on the make-up. Does anybody seriously believe that persistent, widespread unemployment is to any significant degree caused by an epidemic of poor fashion sense?

The huge parasitic industry that has been peddling such fatuous advice since the abolition of the Commonwealth Employment Service is designed to police, punish, and brainwash the unemployed into destitution and subservience.

The federal government could eliminate all unemployment in a matter of months, if not weeks, were we to demand they do so. The government's 1945 White Paper on Full Employment declared that "governments should accept the responsibility for stimulating spending on goods and services to the extent necessary to sustain full employment. To prevent the waste of resources which results from employment is the first and greatest step to higher living standards." The policies proposed in that paper worked, at least until the monetarists used the opportunity of the OPEC oil crisis to take control of the public debate and ransack everything that had been achieved.

You cannot train away the unemployment and underemployment of about a fifth of the working age population. There is useful work to do and people to do it. Refusal to mobilise the resources to put people to work is nothing but class warfare.

Saturday, 2 July 2016 - 6:25pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sat, 02/07/2016 - 6:25pm in

Look, I'm no expert in the psychology of child abuse, but it seems self-evident to me that if you cover some poor woman with gold paint, and force her to assume a stress position, bearing the weight of a bloody great sword and a pair of scales that aren't even being used to weigh anything, you really have nobody but yourself to blame if afterwards she's a bit short-tempered. Who's the real villain here?  Clearly there's somebody high-up, with a gold paintbrush, who isn't being held to account, while she's left holding the baby.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016 - 9:34pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Tue, 28/06/2016 - 9:34pm in

The jewel in Coffs Harbour's cliche crown is still putting out the red light for any real estate agents in need of discreet, high-class services, after rejecting suggestions that a news story requires more than one source before it can be considered journalism.

The Advocate's advertorial editor-in-chief, Mr. Earnest Hardwicke-Goodge said he was disappointed by so many readers mystified as to why the unchanged ownership of prime CBD graffiti canvas was considered newsworthy.

"The continued presence of readers is a regrettable distraction from our core business of connecting advertisers with other sophisticated, consensual, like-minded advertisers," Mr. Hardwicke-Goodge said. "Unfortunately, despite filling any unsold advertorial space with the most unreadable tripe imaginable, we've been unable to shake them off."

Mr. Hardwicke-Goodge said that while an upcoming series of particularly nauseating stories of wholly uninspiring local people doing utterly unremarkable things had the potential to turn the situation around for the paper and it's key stakeholders, he urged any remaining would-be readers to remember one simple rule: "If you're not looking to scam or be scammed, just put the paper down and walk away; it's not for you."

Monday, 20 June 2016 - 9:44pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Mon, 20/06/2016 - 9:44pm in

This confirms my long-held suspicion that Bellingen is really an extended episode of Father Ted.

"And you say the giant rock hasn't moved since? … Yes, I agree that is curious. … Well, I'm no giant rock expert, but I'd say that if it's got it into its head to stay where it is, you'll be wanting to undertake some processes - safe ones if at all possible. So it's on the left-hand side of the road - is that my left or your left? … Ah, the rock's left, of course. Right you are. Listen to me now; big eedjit!"

Friday, 17 June 2016 - 8:43pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Fri, 17/06/2016 - 8:43pm in

I briefly considered doing a Cat Stevens act, but it's such a crowded market. And the turf wars are brutal. I mentioned I was thinking about it to Steve Moonshadow and he savagely lashed out, giving me the most horrendous swollen black eye, saying "Come anywhere near my patch, and I'll do the other one, then you won't have to look no more. Understand?".

Anyway, you really need to go niche to make an impact. I thought maybe James Taylor, Donovan, even Mary Hopkin (promising, but I just couldn't make the blonde wig work).

Finally, I hit on the perfect, under-exploited formula. You can catch "Turned Out Nice Again - A Moving Homage to George Formby" during my 2016 east coast tour, starting in Grafton and ending slightly north of Grafton. Check local pubs, community theatres, and scout halls for dates and times. Celebrate the life and work of a man who has united generations around the simple pleasures of flat caps, ukuleles, leaning on lampposts and appreciating the occasional little stick of Blackpool rock. Who knows - you might see what I can see, when I'm cleaning windows!

Friday, 17 June 2016 - 6:09pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Fri, 17/06/2016 - 6:09pm in

Ha! We stride boldly into a vision of the future from the 1970s. More roads! More cars! More shopping malls! More dormitory suburbs! Knock it all down, and if you can't knock it down, knock something else down to bypass it!

Soon the current plague of property investors will pass, leaving ghost malls sitting alongside the ghost arcades of a previous plague. A home for tattoo parlours, the ever-expanding offices of the privatised dole police, and placards proclaiming "This space for rent" and "Vote Hartsuyker".

Tuesday, 14 June 2016 - 12:24pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Tue, 14/06/2016 - 12:24pm in

If there's one thing you can say about Coffs, it's that it's never afraid to build on its weaknesses. Our local university campus dropped it's Bachelor of Arts course three years ago to make room for an expanded range of business studies courses (on this at least I'm not kidding). We're celebrated as the region with the highest per capita concentration of Elvis impersonators, and the home of "Ain'tmusic: the Original Australian Adam and the Ants (and Tears for Fears) Tribute Show". And the local thigh slappers and scenery chewers collective is currently rehearsing "Rocky Horror Get Your Gun!" The combination of suburban sprawl and inadequate public transport means that for most of the population an evening out involves sitting on an upturned milk crate in the garage listening to Cold Chisel records, gulping rum and coke from a can, and wondering where it all started going so wrong.

I can save us some consultancy money and and deliver a report on the viability of a new performing arts centre right now: There is  none. Anybody in Coffs interested in seriously pursuing the arts has already left. A performing arts centre will, in approximately three years, be hollowed out and refitted as the new expanded headquarters for one of our flourishing Job Services providers. We might as well consider the viability of establishing a space exploration program.

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