The Human Element – An academic journey

Sun, 02-Mar-2014_[05:46 AEST] Leave a comment

This is the first posting to a new discussion board that I have started at Curtin University:

Welcome to the ‘Human Element’ A new discussion board at Curtin University

Posted by  Adrian McGlinchey  at Sunday, March 2, 2014 1:37:22 AM WST

Hi everyone,

I’m your host, Adrian McGlinchey.  I’ve had a varied background in work and study, having been a computer mainframe operator, and an administrative officer, a sales order clerk, and also a picker and packer in a leather factory when other types of work was scarce.  A self-taught enthusiast of many subjects, I have maintained a lifetime’s (to present) interest in the areas of:
Art & Craft; Writing & Publishing; Classic Literature; History; and Philosophy;
Cooking & Fine Cuisine (probably why I can’t win the Battle of the Bulge, to lose
the “middle-age spread”)

Despite having all these different passions in life, I never managed to make a professional pathway out of any of these interests, and I was always caught between what I had to do for a livelihood and what I really felt driven to do in life.  This is why I have taken up university studies with Open Universities Australia and Curtin University, in the endeavor to find my true vocation, even though my greatest ambitions will most likely eventuate late in life in my case.

My medium term plan is to study for a Bachelor of Arts (Internet Communications), and to establish a private consultancy in internet website design and management.  I have already had some experience in designing my own web pages, but I think they look quite amateurish and I need to refine my web design skills so I can develop websites at a more professional level.  At least in this area, I will be starting with something I have already had an introduction to, so I can build on my existing skills rather than commit to a field of study I know nothing about.

While part of what I am learning is computer related I am also studying the humanities, as two aspects of a multi-disciplined course.  To those of you who are not computer-minded, please feel welcome to still contribute to our discussions on the humanities, which is as valuable to me as my computer studies.  In web design we need to master, not only the ‘computerese’, but also need to have an appreciation of culture and communications and how best to present the human aspect in a good light over the internet.  What I am saying here is, don’t be a stranger, whether your interests are primarily in the humanities or in internet web development.

I think most of us here may be just starting out on a new direction in our lives and so I wish everyone here success with their endeavors and hopefully we can form some lasting friendships and professional associations during our time together, even though we are mostly communicating by internet at this stage.  Please feel free to participate in this discussion board so we can all share our personal experiences of our academic journey.  Watch this discussion board for more to come.

~ Adrian McGlinchey

Preparing for University Study – Reflections

Sun, 23-Feb-2014_[02:34 AEST] Leave a comment

The PREP03 (Preparing for University Study – Intensive) unit has been all that it promised to be in helping people return to formal study at tertiary level, especially for those of us who have never studied at university before.  This is evident from many of the blogs posted to the online forum on the OUA Moodle website at  Most of the students enrolled for this unit come from a diverse set of backgrounds and education levels, and, without such a primer, it would be difficult for us to be aware of university conventions and requirements for our projects and written assignments.

On a more personal level, I have, over the years, engaged in my own private research into history, philosophy and literature, which has enabled me to maintain good written communication skills, although it has been a long time since I have applied these skills in a formal study environment.  Having said this, we can never do enough to sharpen up our writing skills, as this in an ongoing process no matter how much prior experience we may have, and I am always happy to keep going back over old ground to search for the gems of wisdom I may have overlooked the first time around.

The topics of research and referencing were a real eye-opener for me.  Before commencing study at Open Universities Australia, I already had my own personal method for referencing sources, but I soon found that this does not meet university requirements.  Referencing university style is far more technical than I first anticipated, and I am glad I had the opportunity to learn from my mistakes in this ‘pre-course’ unit, before moving on to the accredited units that will count towards our final results.  Also, some of the reading and writing techniques were familiar to me; some were not.  I am now confident that all of this material will make me more efficient and effective in research and in preparing my written submissions.  Any remaining defects in my methodology can be ‘ironed out’ by constant revision and practice.

After having revised my study notes to take into account the feedback from my tutor, I am ready to continue my efforts in Study Period One with the units “PREP04” and “Engaging in the Humanities”.  My aim is to be at a standard where I can proceed with the remaining units for the Bachelor of Arts – Internet Communications.

~ Adrian McG

Cloud Backup Scams – Be cautious before accepting a plan

Sun, 19-Jan-2014_[01:43 AEST] 1 comment

If you receive an email or pop-up ad on your PC/laptop inviting you to try a free demo of a Cloud server backup plan or software program, decline and delete the email and any forced installation attempts from your system immediately.  While there are many good Cloud backup plans available, the amount of shonky operators seems to be on the increase.  Don’t be pushed into hasty decisions.

A case in point is that I recently accepted an offer of a free trial of the MyPC Backup software utility, and during the installation process the program did not even ask for my consent to proceed.  Instead of taking me to a dashboard to allow me to choose some settings and click OK when I was ready to go ahead, the program launched straight into uploading files from my PC to a Google server.  This was while it was still in the setup stage!  I managed to kill the program before it got far and to clean it off my system, and also ran a full virus scan for good measure.

Now this sort of activity may not, in legal terms, be a scam but it borders on some very unscrupulous practices.  Firstly, the program commenced the file upload without pausing to allow the user an opportunity to choose what files to back up or to select OK or Cancel.  Secondly, the free offer is for such a very limited amount of storage space that most users would probably need to commit to one of the Pay-for Plans that we’re not told about until after we agree to the “free trial”, not to mention the many hidden fees and charges that I have heard other dissatisfied customers complain about.  Thirdly, I began to receive emails informing me that the free account has insufficient space to back up my files, and then pestering me to sign up for a paid plan.  The emails even had threatening undertones with comments like:

“I know it would be really bad luck if your computer crashed 2 days after you signed up for backup but I really don’t want to see you lose your files, so I have personally extended your 35% discount for another day for you.”

I quickly replied to this person that I had not consented to anything more than trying a sample piece of software and I certainly did not give you permission to commence uploading files from my computer.  I insisted that they purge and cancel my account immediately… I wonder what these people are going to throw at me next.


After doing some further research into cyber-fraud and internet scams, particularly in relation to MyPC Backup, the best explanation I can find runs along these lines:

The program MyPC Backup is not a scam; it is simply a utility that manages the upload/download of your backup files to the Cloud server, and some reviewers hold this program in high regard.  The issues seem to be with the way this product is marketed; through a vast network of affiliates.  I don’t want to name names here in case I haven’t got all my facts right, but here are a couple of links to what other reviewers are saying:

Personally, I’m staying clear of MyPC Backup and similar products because it is too difficult for me at the moment to tell the scammers and the trustworthy ones apart!  Having said this, I do have an account with Microsoft SkyDrive, but at least Microsoft have been up-front about their fee structure.  At SkyDrive no upload is ever actioned unless I place my selected files into the SyncFolder, which makes me feel a little more in control.  I also recommend running regular backups, both system and data, to the WD or Seagate portable hard drives that are now quite affordable and they come in 2TB, 3TB and 4TB.  Of course, this method is not perfect either, but when combined with a Cloud solution that you can actually trust, it can be an effective way to protect your precious computer files.

I’m not trying to scare people away from the Cloud here, but stay away from the solutions that are presented to us in the form of overly slick advertising and read all the reviews carefully before making a choice.

~ Adrian McG

PS:  MyPC Backup ~ Credit where Credit is Due

After complaining to the people at MyPC Backup (by email), they did make it clear to me how to purge and close the account myself, and this was an easy process.

I still believe that the main problems we find with this service are marketing issues.  The service providers could be more up-front about pricing before a prospective commits to try the service.  Also the demo sends alarm bells ringing for most people because it proceeds to upload files from our computer without asking the the customer to make a selection and click “OK”.

Once an account is established, the user can then log in and select what he/she wants to place in their “syncFolder”, much like Microsoft’s SkyDrive, which is fine.  A better approach to the introductory free offer would be to take users straight to the online dashboard (or control panel) and let them choose a small selection of sample files to upload themselves to the free account.  The customer can then be advised of space limitations on the free account and the pricing of paid plans that they can upgrade to.  This is a more honest way to deal with potential customers.

I have emailed these comments to the service providers in the hope they will be aware of the distress their methods have caused some customers and possibly will make some improvements in this area.

Adrian McG

The Shaedandu Review ~ August 2012 [Monthly Issue #01]

Thu, 02-Aug-2012_[03:05 AEST] Leave a comment
Each month The Shaedandu Review will bring you some short articles on topics that are relevant to the website and the activities that it supports.  In this first issue, we will begin with some background on the Shaedandu name and its significance to the owner of this site.


The name Shaedandu is taken from Irish mythology.  Shaedandu, [pronounced… Shay-‘dan-duh], was the son of the legendary Irish hero Cu Culain [Pron. Koo ‘Kul-in], about whom we will say more in coming articles.  As for Shaedandu himself, his name has been phoneticised to make it easier for modern readers to pronounce.  In old Irish Gaelic texts, the name was spelled ‘Setanta’ and pronounced Shay-‘dan-duh.

The story goes that one day Cu Culain’s young son was attacked by a vicious dog owned by the village blacksmith. Without going into all of the gory details here, the boy, in self-defense, killed the mad dog.

Seeing the Blacksmith was so grief-stricken over the loss of his dog, the lad made amends by pledging his loyalty to the Blacksmith, and also promised to be Blacksmith’s ‘guard-dog’.  Cu Culain’s son became known as Shaedandu.  The name Shaedandu (or Setanta) actually means ‘guard-dog’ in Gaelic.

These little stories are often hard for the modern reader to digest and I don’t have the space here to offer a full interpretation; suffice to say that I will be gradually introducing more material on the understanding Gaelic mythology.



So why use the Shaedandu name for a website, we may well ask?… What does it have to do with the internet?  The short answer is, “Nothing!”.  The real answer becomes apparent when one considers the purpose of the Shaedandu website.  All technical considerations aside, the only connection to computers or internet is that modern writers are exploring the new electronic media as a means of getting their message out to a broader community.

Shaedandu is primarily a writer’s website and has been put together as a vehicle for the owner to share ideas about life, philosophy and writing techniques with anyone who cares about such matters and, along the way, to showcase some of the owner’s work.  We also need to consider the fact that most writers, whether amateur or professional, draw their inspirations from somewhere.  Some draw from the present; some from the distant past; others from projections of the future (as in Sci-Fi).

Much of my inspiration comes from the ancient world, either historical or mythological.  This doesn’t mean to say that I don’t care about what is happening in the present, but I think our present and our future are shaped by the past, and I firmly believe in learning the lessons of history and also in gaining wisdom from stories that the Ancient Ones have passed down to us.  This is why I am so passionate ancient history, culture and mythology, with a focus on Celtic folklore… hence the name Shaedandu.



Tue, 17-Jul-2012_[01:57 AEST] Leave a comment
clip_image002 Author: Michael Allin

Publisher: Bantam Dell Publishing

Publication Year: 1999

ISBN: 0-7472-6209-8

Category: Non-fiction

Genre: History

Media Format: Hard Cover (Print)

People often make remarks about how much they hated history lessons during their schooldays… how boring it was, and how it seemed to be just a dreary collection of facts that no one cares about these days. Yet, in our heart of hearts, many of us feel a need to know where we and our forebears came from and what influences made us what we are today. Historically-based drama and reconstruction can help to explore these issues in a way that never seemed possible when we were confronted by pedantic educators and their textbooks. A modern storyteller can breathe life into history and make it more accessible to us by helping us get into the hearts and minds of characters that had first-hand experience of a particular era.

While the Michael Allin does not use characters in the same manner that we would expect from an historical dramatisation, this real-life account of a giraffe being transported across Africa and Europe is what connects all the people who we encounter along the journey. I see the story of Zarafa as an allegory that entertains as well as informs. Zarafa the giraffe, the object of Michael Allin’s poetic fascination, turns out to have more historical connections than initially realised. This is why, in pursuing his mythical vision of a giraffe that possesses almost magical properties, Allin also embarks on a journey through time and history. The book is as much a re-living of French-African colonial history as it is about the tale of a giraffe captured in the highlands of Ethiopia and taken to Paris, France.

Allin has taken an interesting and refreshing approach to looking at history and, for me personally, this made the experience more enjoyable than reading some dry and dusty historical textbook. Having said his, however; the book meanders through a vast terrain of diverse historical sources, to the point that one wonders where all this is heading. Even Zarafa the giraffe doesn’t show up until almost half way through the book. This was off-putting for many readers in our discussion group, who found Zarafa [the book] to be ‘very busy’ if not too confusing. Having a passion for historical investigation myself, I appreciate Mr. Allin’s ideas and his original presentation, and yet, for many readers, he did not quite pull it off.

WRAP-UP (with star-rating out of 5):
***  … A complex maze of historical curiosities… short on analysis, but quite engaging for those who care to ponder the machinations of famous people of the Enlightenment era.

Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living

Mon, 16-Jul-2012_[11:57 AEST] Leave a comment
clip_image002 Author: Carrie Tiffany

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Aust Pty Ltd…

… a Picador Book

Publication Year: 2005

ISBN: 0-330-42191-3

Category: Fiction

Genre: Human Interest

Media Format: Hard Cover (Print)

The 1930’s… people in most western nations were suffering the effects of The Great Depression and times were particularly harsh for rural Australia, as they were during the Dust Bowl Migration of California in the United States of America. The Lyons government tried to bolster up agriculture by encouraging a more scientific approach, in ways that were strange to an older generation of the man-on-the-land. Some of these new approaches included the use of modern fertiliser chemicals such as super phosphates. The Australian government of the day sponsored travelling agricultural shows that moved across the country by rail, complete with a team of agricultural experts aboard who would propagate their scientific method to farming communities. In Carrie Tiffany’s novel, Jean Finnegan is a sewing instructor on the Better Farming Train, which chugs its way through the wheat fields, grazing lands and orchards of the Mallee and Wimmera districts of Victoria. On this project Jean meets her husband-to-be, Robert Pettergree, agricultural scientist, a man who has a great dream of improving the production and quality of wheat crops throughout the land.

Against this backdrop of domestic problems in Australia, World War II is looming… as dreams are tossed and blown on the swirling dusty winds, Robert, like most of the men, is ‘called’ to war. To some men, the war front is an adventure, to some merely a patriotic duty, to others a ready-made escape route away from their already harsh and uncertain circumstances. Whatever his reasons for enlisting to fight overseas, we are left with an overwhelming sense that Robert never realised his full potential, while Jean is left to draw upon her inner strength and carry on the farm at Wycheproof.

The Pettergrees’ neighbours may not have shown enough depth of character for some readers. For example, with Doris and Ern McKettering, was it just the problems on the farm that made them leave, or were there other things happening between them? Also the ending was somewhat abrupt, leaving us to only wonder whether Jean succeeded in her intentions to persist with the farm, and I was left wanting to know more about the fate of Mr Ohno. Perhaps there is a sequel in this.

Despite these shortcomings, I thought Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living was well worth the read. It gives us an impression of life in the Victorian Mallee during the Great Depression years, and Carrie Tiffany has touched on the issues of irrigation and land management from a uniquely Australian perspective. Don’t go past the part on Ern McKettering’s water tank. Personally, I feel this is emblematic of the ‘Australian dilemma’ What good is a water tank if the rain doesn’t fall in the right places to fill it? Why, for that matter, keep building more dams that don’t catch the rainwater anyway? In a more modern context, should we be investing in smarter water recycling or desalination technology? Whatever your viewpoint, these questions are as relevant today as they were back in the 1930’s.

WRAP-UP (with star-rating out of 5):
  … not a particularly gripping plot, for those who prefer adventure, intrigue or romance, but this book raises some thought provoking questions about the land and it’s European inhabitants.

Star Maker’s Apprentice

Mon, 16-Jul-2012_[10:07 AEST] 1 comment
SMA_FLSzot_BookCvr Subtitle:  A Novel Exploration into Higher…
Dimensions and the Nature of the Gods
Author:Francis Louis Szot

Publishers: Amazon Book, FeedBooks

ISBN: 978-0-9799023-0-7

eBook Ref: B004EPYT2M

Copyright: 2007

Category: Philosophy / ReligionMedia

Format: [Paperback or eBook]

Author’s Website:

The author introduces himself as a philosopher who is also the ambassador for a higher cosmic order that holds the keys to the evolution of humanity. Despite the reservations I have toward F. Louis Szot’s claims to be in touch with ‘Higher Entities’ who live beyond our own 4-dimensional existence, some of his opening remarks are the perfectly natural and reasonable concerns of any enquiring mind. Since human kind first walked the earth, great thinkers and simple folk alike have often wondered whether ‘the Universe is the result of a meaningless accident of inanimate physics’ or ‘Is the Universe guided by the intentions of a Higher Being?’.

I really don’t wish to disparage anyone’s spiritual beliefs and experiences here, and if the accounts presented in Mister Szot’s work ‘click’ with some people, I’m OK with that. My main difficulty with this book, however, is that Mister Szot seems to be asking the reader to take much on trust without citing any evidence for what he experienced on his rather fanciful journey. I say ‘fanciful’ from my perspective, even though I have no doubt that Francis Louis Szot believes in his own veracity.

Although I like to keep an open mind on the possibilities of alternative dimensions of reality, I personally can’t say I have experienced them yet. Perhaps one day I will be released from Plato’s Cave and see all these marvelous things for myself, but until then, I only have sense and reason at my disposal… and also the hope that there really is some higher purpose to our worldly existence.

WRAP-UP (with star-rating out of 5):
***  Star Maker’s Apprentice is well worth the read for anyone who enjoys exploring ideas on cosmology, but I have to conclude that I did not exactly find ‘The Holy Grail’ here. I also wonder how much of the content of this book was inspired by Mister Szot’s excursions into ‘psychedelically altered states’? I’m sure he must have been smoking some pretty good stuff at the time, but I don’t recommend the reader get involved with this kind of thing! I admire F. Louis Szot’s ideals but I question his methods.

ADDENDUM:  To gain an even deeper understanding of the concepts that F. L Szot has touched upon in Star Maker’s Apprentice, go to the author’s website at and download this title to read for yourself.  At the moment it is free unless you want the printed edition, but who knows how long Mr. Szot can keep giving it away?  Don’t forget to read my article The Works of William Olaf Stapledon and any subsequent reviews I post on the topic, which might help put things into context for the general reader.

~ Adrian McG


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