Photos: A week in Perth

The one certain thing about NZUSA: Dissatisfaction.

In the Otago Daily Times today there is an article about both Otago Polytech and Otago University Students’ Associations withdrawing from the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA).

The quoted reasons for withdrawing are:

OPSA president Meegan Cloughley proposed that OPSA withdraw, saying she did not think OPSA was not getting value for its annual subscription of $31,000.

She believes the NZUSA was not spending income wisely – overspending on administration costs and underspending on student activities and campaigns.

NZUSA had also been slow to respond to concerns or provide up-to-date information on expenditure and financial controls, she said.

The Otago University Students Association (OUSA) has also indicated it may withdraw from the NZUSA because of concerns over expenditure, financial accountability and value for money.

OUSA’s annual subscription is more than $100,000 – more than one quarter of NZUSA’ total annual income.

OUSA’s draft budget for next year does not include an allocation for NZUSA fees.

Two years ago when I was president of the Albany Students’ Association (ASA) I recommended that ASA withdraw for very similar reasons:

After serious concerns over the direction, focus and performance were raised of the national students’ association – NZUSA at the recent conference in Dunedin, the ASA Executive Committee is seeking feedback from students at Albany as to whether or not to withdraw from the organisation in protest.

“We are seeking direct feedback from our members, many of whom probably don’t realise that they pay a levy indirectly through the ASA budget to support an organisation in the opinion of the Executive is failing to focus on its core business of representing all students and is instead involved in internal politics between associations and spending too much time and money on small subgroups who pander up to the organisation,” says ASA President, Brad Heap.

“NZUSA have a vital part to play in NZ’s political realm and were paramount in achieving interest free student loans, they also provide training to association executives. However the question needs to be asked is can the $40k a year we put into this organisation be better spent? We could run our own training a lot cheaper and use the residual funds to increase funding to groups on campus. We believe in the ideals of NZUSA but if the organisation is not focussing on its core business should we continue to be involved?”

Satellite Issue 15, 2008

At the same time University of Canterbury Students’ Association (UCSA) withdrew after less than year’s membership of the national body.

Is the national body in crises? Or has year after year of bad practices caused systematic problems in the organisation?

Two years ago were arguing for changes and it appears that nothing has changed. NZUSA has a vital role to play in advocating for students in New Zealand. But they need to get back to their core business of doing so.

UNSW vs NTEU dispute becomes ugly as students turned into political prawns

Yesterday morning I found out that members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) would be refusing to release student end of semester course marks as part of their ongoing dispute over pay and conditions with the University of New South Wales. Yesterday afternoon UNSW responded by issuing a refusal to pay any staff member who takes part it the ban on exam results. The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the issue here.

The biggest problem with refusing to release marks is that the main impact of this action will affect students far more than it effects the university. This step has seen students become political prawns in a petty dispute. While I support the right for members of the union to strike, and I certainly believe in their cause I do not see how bringing students into the crossfire is going to get the staff onside with anyone. However, I believe the actions in response by University management will only seek to inflame the situation further. Tit for tat is never a good way to resolve conflict.

If the staff really wanted to force the university’s hand they would place a ban on submitting papers and attending conferences. This would see a far bigger impact on the university’s reputation, standing and income. I do not believe that the NTEU would even consider this course of action because more than any lost income the action would directly affect the standing of its own members within the global academic community. But surely that is what industrial action is about, standing up for what you believe in, putting your reputation and standing on the line? Rather than using students as cheap political ammo the NTEU should focus on where it hurts, research output.

Honours Research Project Now Available

I have just uploaded my thesis and source code for my honours research project to the site. You can find them in the Research section.

Earlier today I received my final grades for my research project and three papers from Semester Two. I scored an A+ grade in all three papers and the project. I am absolutely delighted with the marks and my overall performance this year. In total, for both semesters, I scored 7 A+ grades and 1 A grade. This is by far my best ever set of marks and as a result I have been accepted into a PhD programme at The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia beginning early next year.

In time I will blog about some of the challenges I have faced this year (it has not been all plain sailing), as well as this I am working on uploading some of my past assignments to the site (some with and without source code – and minor modifications). I never imagined I would progress so far in academia and now I feel like the journey has only just begun.

Android Blog Reader Application – Honours Assignment

One of my papers this semester is focused on Google Android Mobile Operating System.

The brief for my final assignment is:

Your task is to write any application you like. The are no restrictions on what your application can do but it should show of the capabilities of the platform and be well written.

Marks will be awarded for interesting applications that make good use of the Android platform.

Make sure your application works on the emulator but I will also test it on a real device.

For this assignment I decided to create a Blog Reader that reads the RSS XML feeds off blogs to display them in a Android Application.
I have spent around three days coding this assignment. I will not release the code until after the assignment has been marked, however here are some screen shots of the work

My Application Sitting in the Android Application Menu on my phone
My Application Sitting in the Android Application Menu on my phone
The application's home screen
The applications home screen
Adding a new blog feed into the application
Adding a new blog feed into the application
Viewing a list of blogs
Viewing a list of blogs
Removing a blog feed
Removing a blog feed
Viewing a list of blog posts
Viewing a list of blog posts
Viewing list of blog posts
Viewing list of blog posts
Viewing single post
Viewing single post

BREAKING NEWS: VSM back on Agenda

No right turn is reporting that Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill (Roger Douglas) has been drawn from the ballot this morning:

http://norightturn.blogspot.com/2009/08/drawn_20.html

10 months. That is how long National has been in power for before this issue came up again. I sure as hell hope National do not support it. Everything they have said so far is that they support the current law. So leave it as it is.

More to follow later.

Whatever happened to the knowledge economy?

At the moment I am busy looking at options for my PhD study and methods to support it… aka… scholarships.

Now I know that a few government departments have scholarships available and one of them is the Tertiary Education Commission Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarships.

So off I go to the page to take a look: http://www.tec.govt.nz/templates/standard.aspx?id=675

And what do I find?

As part of the Budget announcement made on 28 May 2009, the Government announced that the Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarship scheme will be disestablished.

Say what?

Where is the commitment to educating the future. The government has made it clear they want to focus education on youth. How is applying for a PhD at 22 not youth? You can’t get through to that level much earlier.

Does the government now expect that each person pay their entire way through a PhD?

Grumble, grumble, grumble.

At least I have a few others to look at. And they are not all in this country either.

Traffic Sim: Round-A-Bouts

traffic flowing freely

Traffic flowing freely with two roads connecting to each other.

traffic congested into round a bout

Traffic Congested as three roads merge and they have to give way to the road on the immediate right as they enter the intersection, notice how many cars are queued up as compared to those that are leaving.

Simulating / Emulating a MPI Cluster or Supercomputer under Ubuntu Linux

Okay a few posts ago I mentioned that I had been successful in setting up my laptop as a virtual supercomputer.

Here are hopefully some relatively clear instructions on how simple it was to do.

Setting up a MPI development system on Ubuntu Linux

  1. Download Ubuntu – check out the latest version at www.ubuntu.com

  2. Intall the required mpi files.

    For Ubuntu 9.04:
    In a terminal window enter:
    sudo apt-get install libopenmpi1 libopenmpi-dbg libopenmpi-dev openmpi-bin openmpi-common openmpi-dev

    For Ubuntu 10.04:
    In a terminal window enter:
    sudo apt-get install libopenmpi1.3 libopenmpi-dbg libopenmpi-dev openmpi-bin openmpi-common openmpi-dev

  3. Test the mpi install by compiling and running a simple program

    1. mpicc testfile.c -o testfile

    2. mpirun -np 2 ./testfile

      1. Where np is the number of cores * number of processes on your system.

      2. e.g. on a two core laptop np should be 2.

  4. If you get an error regarding ssh when you enter the mpirun command install ssh

    1. sudo apt-get install ssh

  5. If you get requested for your password everytime you run mpirun set up a stored RSA key control

    1. cd $HOME

    2. ssh-keygen -t dsa

    3. cp .ssh/id_dsa.pub .ssh/authorized_keys2

Further reference:

http://www.csc.cam.ac.uk/academic/practicals.html

http://www.math.umbc.edu/~gobbert/mpi.html