About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

20 January 2006

5th INDICARE Workshop

So yesterday, I was the first speaker at the 5th Indicare workshop. Unlike the other workshops/conferences I have been to - this was a different experience; and was quite refreshing in some ways. This was not an academic conference but was much more of an interaction session between academics, industry, consumer organisations and specialist groups. The format was a bit similar to panel discussions - 2 or 3 presenters gave a 20-30 minute presentation which was then followed by a panel discussion of about 15 minutes.

But the best part was the interaction with the consumer organisations and specialist groups - interaction that is not present at academic conferences. For example, there were two presentations from blind associations (one from Hungary, another from England). In most cases, software developers completely ignore disabled people during their designs - and even though computers can help empower the disabled and let them overcome much of their disabilities, much of the software lets them down. A very positive feedback in this regard, is that one of my key contributions to the field - negotiations - can be an effective solution to much of the problems posed by accessibility.

I also had a chance to talk to Martin Springer from DMP - a sort of rival project to my PhD project. We had some very long chats, and on many different aspects of DRM and computer security in general - I think this was probably the most useful part of the trip.

So a valuable trip overall - and many thanks to INDICARE for inviting me and for funding the trip!

18 January 2006

First Thoughts: Budapest

Greetings from a cold Budapest, where the outside temparature is about 2 degrees Celcius. Budapest lies almost directly northwards of Cape Town, but due to the lack of a direct flight, I had to take a detour through a surprisingly warm London (was about 9 degrees at 6am ... substantially warmer than the last time I was there in November when it was about 1 degree at noon).

On first impressions, Budapest has a strange mix of modern, ancient and the really ugly (most possibly soviet era) buildings all seemingly next to each other. The picture is the view from my hotel room, showing one of the many bridges across the Duna river, and some of the older parts of Budapest. Anyway, I am off to explore around the hotel, and check out the distance to the conference venue.

17 January 2006

Gravy Planes

So there has been a huge outcry over the expense of Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka's holiday. While I do think, that the expenses touted are high, and is a waste of taxpayer money - I do see another side.

Because she is the Deputy President, it can be expected that her security entourage (for herself and her family) would need to travel with her - and she is not responsible to pay for their expenses. Flying such a large group of people in Business Class (if not First Class) to Abu-Dhabi is an expensive deal; and considering the time of the year, I wonder whether they would have even got seats! So, a private jet would seem to be ideal - esp as, she would be expected to travel back from holiday should there be an emergency. Thus the expense of a private jet and the bodyguards should not be in question - but rather, whether the taxpayer should pay for "her" portion of the holiday. Considering that she earns quite a bit, (as does her husband), I think it would be reasonable for her to pay her portion of the expenses - not for the bodyguards etc - but just for her family and guests.

It is interesting to see, as always, that the debate around the issue has been on the two extremes - she should pay for all of it (from the opposition camp and Phumzile detractors) and she shouldn't pay for any of it (from the government) ... what ever happened to compromise?

15 January 2006

Hungarian Phrasebooks and Rejections

It's sort of bittersweet - on one hand I am leaving for Hungary on Tuesday evening to attend the 5th INDICARE Workshop, where I am incidentally the first presenter. I am also getting to spend a few nights in Budapest, and I have heard from many people that it's a very interesting city to visit. So my thanks must go to INDICARE for organising and paying for the trip - very much appreciated - and I hope my presentation is useful to the workshop.

The first thoughts that ran through my mind when I did get the invitation was the classic Monty-Python skit. The Hungarian language is not related to any of the Latin languages, so communication might be very difficult - as even the simple words are so different. Hopefully, my list of common words (greetings, yes/no, numbers, directions etc) in my European guidebook (which has been remarkably useful for the past year) does not suffer the same fate as the guidebooks in the skit.

As for the depressing news - I just found out that the two papers I submitted to IFIP-Sec in Sweden were rejected. However they both come with more than 6 pages of comments, so hopefully I can re-edit the papers and submit it somewhere else and get them published.