News, views and what I choose to dos



For Jo, my dear friend

Category : General · (7) Comments · by Jan 19th, 2017
For Jo, my dear friend

Joanna Witt was my first love. She spotted me talking to someone her friend knew on the other side of…

Why won’t my van start?

Category : General · (4) Comments · by Nov 13th, 2011
Why won’t my van start?

I need your help. And I am counting on you and the power of the Internet to fix an issue…

My feedback to the Crown Prosecution Service re: Twitter joke prosecution

Category : General · No Comments · by May 12th, 2010

I have just send a complaint – or “negative feedback” as the website wishes to call it – to the Crown Prosecution Service in South Yorkshire for its prosecution of Paul Chambers for making a (stupid) joke on Twitter. I reproduce it below:

If you also wish to complain, you can do so at: http://www.cps.gov.uk/contact/feedback_and_complaints/index.html

No doubt you have received numerous complaints about the prosecution of Paul Chambers for a joke he made on Twitter regarding Robin Hood airport.

I would like to add my name to that list.

This was a severely misguided prosecution and raises serious questions about the CPS’ ability to manage cases.

I understand you feel obliged to investigate complaints, even when the complainants feel similarly obliged to lodge a complaint for any form of threat made against them.

But as soon as it became clear that this was never taken seriously as a threat and if you had applied some basic commonsense, you would given the person in question a warning.

But to proceed to prosecution on a clearly light-hearted comment on a social network site beggars belief.

If Paul Chambers does appeal – and I hope he finds a lawyer that will allow him to do just that – it is inevitable that the CPS will not only lose this prosecution but be undermined in the eyes of the public.

I sincerely hope this case is being reviewed high up in your chain of command, and I hope that whoever makes the call recognises the ridiculous and insidious nature of this prosecution and issues a formal apology to Mr Chambers.

I also hope this sparks a review of your systems for deciding whether to go ahead with a prosecution. And I hope the whole CPS is also given some basic training on modern social media so you don’t make similar mistakes in future.

Yours sincerely

Kieren McCarthy

Does the US needs a States’ Convention to sort out Congress?

Category : General · No Comments · by Apr 8th, 2010

Academic and Internet activist Lawrence Lessig has an idea that he thinks will help the United States fix the current bind that Congress is in: a convention called by State legislatures that would propose amendments to the Constitution.

Apparently, Article V of the Constitution can require Congress to call a convention if 34 state legislatures (out of 50) demand it, and any proposed amendment would then have to be ratified by both houses of 38 state legislatures.

Such a convention and amendments would enable “the people” to make changes to the way Congress currently operates, since Congress is clearly not in a good position to change itself. Lessig has set up a new site to sell this idea and try to pick up support and momentum: Call A Convention.org.

So, is this a good idea and does it have any chance of success? Well, as an outsider to the US who has been here now for three years and who follows US politics and political history but not in a professional capacity, this is my brief analysis:

What does a truly democratic Q&A format look like?

Category : General, ICANN, Internet, Technology · No Comments · by Feb 8th, 2010

Internet thinker and political operator David Weinberger has posed an interesting question: how do we design a question-and-answer format for politicians that is truly democratic?

Weinberger’s blog post was noted by Andrew McLaughlin on his Facebook page – Andrew is the White House Deputy CTO and the man more than any other that could make a democratic Q&A system a reality.

And so I figured I’d have a stab at designing something since this is an area where I have a fair amount of knowledge and experience both as a journalist and as ICANN’s general manager of public participation. Here then is a rundown of a system that I think would broadly work:

Electric car news – here we go

Category : General · No Comments · by Dec 11th, 2009

I am fascinated with electric cars. And 2010 is going to be a huge year for them. Finally, road-ready, road-worthy electric cars (and hybrids) will be produced by a range of big car makers and it will be the turning point, I believe, in a technology that holds so much promise that we will wonder in a decade what the hell we thought we were doing.

The Tesla, Nissan Leaf, Toyota EV and Chevy Volt

The Tesla, Nissan Leaf, Toyota EV and Chevy Volt

So I’m based in California, which is also the hotspot for electric car techology in the world (although Germany and Scandinavia are also very promising) and I’m a journalist so it makes sense to bundle it all up and start writing about electric cars and electric car technology.

So this is the first blog post along those lines, tagged “electric car”. And my intent is to write many, many more. If I find I really get into it and there is alot of interest out there, I may set up a separate site but at the moment I’m just going to subset on this blog.

What have you got then?

Well, straight off there are two interesting events coming up next month in Detroit and Vegas.

MacBook Pro zooming browser problem

Category : General · No Comments · by Dec 1st, 2009

This is just a quick blog post sharing some useful information about a problem with the new MacBook Pro trackpad.

The trackpad on the new Pro is an all-in-one piece. So, if like me, you have grown the habit of resting one finger on the bottom in order to be able to click, you will probably find that when you try to move the cursor, you keep zooming in and out on your browser because the computer thinks you are doing a “pinch”.

I tried to unlearn this habit but after several weeks I’m still doing it and it is driving me nuts, so here are two solutions if you are having the same problem.

The one I’m using: changing settings in Firefox. This only works if you use Firefox as your browser, of course.

Type “about:config” into a blank page and it brings up Firefox settings. Scroll down to “browser.gesture.pinch.in”, click it, and then remove the command there – delete all the letters (“cmd_fullZoomReduce”). Then do the same for “browser.gesture.pinch.out” and “cmd_fullZoomEnlarge”.

Option two is much broader. A bit of software called MultiClutch lets you customise the “gestures” you make on the trackpad. It’s designed to allow you to create keyboard shortcuts but can be used to make things not happen – such as the incessant zooming.

I’ve not used this – I try to avoid using beta software from third parties that affects core functions – but browsing online people seem to have found this useful.

You add your browser to the application list and create two new rules – Zoom In and Zoom Out – and then set them to do nothing. I may look into this if I find my Firefox solution doesn’t work.

Hope this post helps someone out there.

Leaving ICANN, off to greener pastures

Category : General · (21) Comments · by Oct 15th, 2009

I am leaving my job as general manager of public participation for ICANN on 25 November.

Yesterday, the COO sent round a note to staff; this morning I find myself elevated to the point of wanting to dance. Whenever I leave a job, I get the feeling of a weight being lifted off my shoulders and, shortly after, feel the excitement of future possibilities. This time, it is particularly strong.

I still have a busy meeting in Seoul in just over a week to deal with, and then more work for the Internet Governance Forum in Egypt two weeks after that. But from December I will be free to apply my energies wherever I wish and man does it feels good.

I’ve learnt a hell of a lot over the past two-and-a-half years but with the ending of a big agreement between the organization and the US government (and they said it couldn’t be done), with my boss heading back to Australia, and with a feeling that my ability to effect changes has passed its peak, it is definitely time to move on.

Update: I just found my original post on taking the job. Pleased to see I have managed to stay true to myself, although I may have to evaluate performance against my own goals in December.

Happy Birthday to me

Category : General · (2) Comments · by Aug 12th, 2009

Today’s my 34th birthday and I’m writing this post the evening before because I think I might give myself a break from all electronics for the day.

This time last year I took the day off and went surfing. I think I might do the same tomorrow. I have taken the day off work and made it as plain as I can that I won’t be doing any work at all. That’s what I think your birthday should be for – to take a day in the year for getting on with whatever you want to get on with.

Currently I’m thinking: surfing and then fixing up my van. Or I may just hang out by the beach and do little, have a few beers and talk to a few of Venice’s lively locals.

Why should any of you care about this? You shouldn’t. And if you are reading this, thinking how lovely it sounds to have a day to spend how you wish. Well, then you need to take a day off. I guarantee you the world will continue to revolve when you get back.

ICANN meeting over, off to see Australia

Category : General · No Comments · by Jun 28th, 2009

ICANN’s 35th meeting in Sydney finished on Friday and I am now off on a two-week holiday with Sapna checking out this great country.

I’d love to say I’m going to blog about the trip but frankly I don’t want to even see a computer for the next fortnight. Plus, we’ll be spending a chunk of time in the rainforest in the very north of the country – where, I have just found out – mobile phones don’t work. Double delight.

Anyway, if you are wondering why you don’t hear from me until mid-July, now you know.