Around the Web for March 19th

These are my Around the Web links for March 19th from 09:01 to 10:18:

Shark Attacks Statistics and Policy

A great article today on The Conversation about shark bite statistics and policy.

A cursory glance at statistics can lead to fear and a perception that shark attacks are on the rise. This can lead to bad policy, such as the shark cull in Western Australia, with the acting Premier Kim Hames vocalising the policy

So the numbers have significantly increased in the last three years and we believe the Government had to do something about it.

But the reality is that a shark attack is, mathematically, random chance. As stated by Christopher Neff in The Conversation article, there are an enormous number of human-shark interactions (most of which the humans remain blissfully unaware of) that are never counted:

The coin is tossed all the time, but we only count the tragedies.

As someone who spends a lot of time in, on and arond the ocean, I have knowingly had many encounters with sharks. Only once was I aware of a shark being uncomfortable with my presence. I moved away.

Shark attacks are undoubtedly horrific events when they occur. But so are car accidents. Car accidents, however, are far more frequent[1] and are far less random in their occurence.

Navy clearance diver and shark attack survivor, Paul de Gelder, has posted a great response to the WA Shark Cull. He makes a passionate case against the cull, but I think his conclusion says it all:

The ocean is not our back yard swimming pool and we shouldn’t expect it to be one. It’s a wondrous, beautiful, dangerous place that provides our planet with all life. It and it’s inhabitants need protection from those that would do it harm.

Killing sharks as a blanket policy is a knee-jerk reaction, and is bad policy. Doing it based on poor interpretation of random chance is short-sighted.


  1. According the Australian Shark Attack File, Taronga Zoo, as of this writing, there have been 202 unprovoked, fatal attacks by sharks in Australia since 1791. That’s slightly less than 1 per year. In the last 50 years, there have been 50 attacks. Compare this with 1,543 deaths from transport accidents in 2011 alone.  ↩

Early Light

The Australian War Memorial in Canberra is a wonderful celebration of the contributions and sacrifices by the Nation’s sailors, soldiers and airmen at home and abroad. Whilst war should not be celebrated, we should never forget the hardship and loss suffered in the name of our national interests.

The War Memorial has a spectacular straight line view to Parliament House. From the War Memorial visitors can see what was fought for – democracy and freedom. From Parliament House the government of the day can see the reminder of the sacrifices made for that.

This image was made pre-dawn on a cool Winter’s morning.

This is my first post using the new Flickr web embed functionality. Let me your thoughts on how it looks.

Siri Performance Improvements

MacRumors has today reported on a study by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster showing improvements in performance of the iOS virtual assistant Siri.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who has regularly assessed Siri’s accuracy in terms of correctly interpreting and answering queries, has issued the latest version of his Siri report card, noting that Siri has continued to improve under iOS 7, particularly in terms of being able to properly interpret questions being asked.

My anecdotal feeling corresponds with this view – not only is Siri (I service I use daily) getting better in terms of the range of information being sourced, but it is doing a far better job of interpreting my inputs. When I previously asked it to call my colleague Mike Davey I would get a response along the lines of “Des, I don’t understand. What do you mean by call my baby?”. Now it gets Mike Davey everytime.[1]

Marco Armant (@marco) isn’t quite so enamoured:

This is good, but the biggest problem I always have with Siri is reliability, not quality of answers.

For a while I got a lot of responses indicating Siri’s apology for being down. I haven’t had that experience now in several months. My experience is more like that of Federico Viticci (@viticci):[2]

It’s still far from perfect, but I’ve been using Siri on a daily basis for phone calls, directions, and Wikipedia integration. I particularly appreciate how iOS 7 made Siri smarter in understanding pronouns, indirect speech, and verb conjugations.

Anyway, Siri is an important part of my daily iOS usage, and I generally find it to be reliable and constantly improving. And I still love finding Easter Eggs.[3].


  1. I know I could’ve trained it to interpret that name better, but I had never got around to it.  ↩

  2. Maybe the Australian Siri and the Italian Siri share the same servers, or at least use different servers than American Siri…  ↩

  3. If you’ve never asked Siri about the plot of the movie Inception give it a try.  ↩

Avoid Presentation Interruptions in Mavericks

I’ve written before about how I believe that system interuptions should be completely disabled during presentations, and how Windows devices shouldn’t be used for presentations if possible because of their propensity to interupt the user anytime.

In my experience, Mac OSX devices are far better for presentations because the system tends to not interupt you when doing important things. With the recent enhancements to the notifications functionality, there is a growing possibility that individual apps will popup notifications that will appear on screen. So you might get a text message on screen, or a news update, or similar.

OSX Mavericks has a great way to avoid this. In System Preferences navigate to Notifications (System Preferences>Notifications) and in the Do Not Disturb option check the box to turn on DND “When mirroring to TVs and projectors”.

Attention to detail like this will allow your presentations to be smoother and you will be less likely to have your presentation, train of thought and audience’s attention interupted.

David and KatieFloyd Talk Email on MacPower Users

I’ve been away on work related stuff for the last few weeks, and am catching up on lots of things.

This morning I listened to the MacPower Users podcast episode on Email, which was a really good indepth study on the state of play of best practice in email management. Well worth a listen.

Prior to listening to that episode, I started reading David Sparks’ latest book: Email – A MacSparky Field Guide[1]

I plan to review this book, but I want to finish reading it first. First impressions are fantastic. In the meantime, go listen to Episode 165 of MacPower Users where David and KatieFloyd talk about the ins, outs and best practices of the email beast!


  1. Affiliate link. Thanks in advance!  ↩

Fires Near Me app featured on the App Store

Back in January I posted about the Rural Fire Services of NSW’s Fires Near Me app on what was a record temperature day in NSW, with a declared catastrophic fire danger. Fortunately the danger passed mostly smoothly.

Ten months later we are in the midst of a declared State of Emergency in NSW and that old post is still getting a lot of hits. I am pleased it might be helping to get the word out.

I just cruised by the App Store app and was pleased to see that Apple is giving the Fires Near Me app top left billing in the above the fold featured area for Best New Apps. Fires Near Me is not technically a new app, but it is great that people can find it quickly, on a day that has the very real potential for disastrous fire damage.

This is a small but important gesture by Apple, one that supports the incredible efforts of the fire fighters, police, emergency services personnel and the variety of government, private sector and volunteer organisations supporting their efforts.

Best wishes for a safe day for all those effected. Use the app, along with news services and social media to keep teack, and heed warnings. If recommended, leave early.

Welcome to Uepi

Welcome to Uepi by DesParoz
Welcome to Uepi, a photo by DesParoz on Flickr.

Getting to Uepi Island Resort is an adventure in itself – it is one of the most hidden away places you can imagine. First you must fly to Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. Then a domestic flight to Seghe. Then a short walk through bush to the water’s edge where you board a "motorised canoe" for the 40 minute ride to the very edge of Marovo Lagoon where Uepi is situated.

Marovo Lagoon is the world’s largest natural lagoon, and Uepi is on its very edge, near where it meets a deep ocean area called "The Slot".

This is the Welcome Jetty at Uepi.

Uepi is isolated, wonderful and spectacular. I think it would be my single favourite diving destination.

Pro Apps at tomorrow’s Apple event?

There is as expected a lot of noise going around about tomorrow’s Apple event.

Of course there will be new a new iPad – probably both a full size and an iPad mini with Retina. Theres likely to be new MacBooks and I think the long awaited MacPro is bound to get a mention.

OSX Mavericks will also be released.

Personally I am also interested in the app side of things. Updates to iWork for Mac are long overdue and much needed. Rumours have been circulating regarding iLife apps – particularly GarageBand.

But how about Pro apps. You know, to go with the new MacPro and the (new) MacBook Pro models…

I think we’re likely to see a new release of Aperture [1] and perhaps some surprises.


  1. Affiliate link. Thanks in advance  ↩