Stage door at Festival Hall

I got to walk through West Melbourne early this morning while on my way to volunteer at the Run for the Kids fun run. There was an issue with the trains so I had to get off one stop before I wanted to and walk the rest of the way. I didn’t mind too much because the walk was nice and I got to take this photo of the stage door at Festival Hall (formerly a stadium, now a heritage listed concert and sporting venue).

Stage door at Festival Hall in West Melbourne

Hi, Dad!

Run for the Kids 2019

Run for the Kids is an annual community fun run in Melbourne that raises funds for the the Royal Children’s Hospital’s Good Friday Appeal.

What’s particularly cool about this event is that you get to run over the Bolte Bridge, one of Melbourne’s two iconic road bridges (the other being the West Gate Bridge). In fact, if you look closely at this photo of the Bolte, you can actually see people running across the top!

Bolte Bridge as seen from Docklands, Melbourne during Run for the Kids 2019

Transurban has been a principal sponsor of this event since 2006. And, every year, hundreds of my colleagues either volunteer their time as organisers and/or participate in the run with their families.

Given I’m a digital and social media person, my contribution for the 2019 run was to post content to Transurban’s social media channels and to moderate the tweets and Instagram posts that were going to be displayed on large digital screens around the event space. Both kept me busy and both were lots of fun.

It was particularly nice to see people post a photo using the event hashtag and then take a selfie of themselves in front of the big screen when their original post came up in the display rotation :)

Of course this meant that I got to spend most of the event in a marquee bent over my laptop.

Selfie in a marquee at Run for the Kids 2019

Not that I minded, of course. I wanted to contribute in any way that I could. Besides, I’m not a runner so it’s not like I was going to participate anyway!

All in all, I had a really fun day and the event was hugely successful too — which, of course, is the important thing.

Judith Lucy is fantastic

Last night Nadia and I went to watch Judith Lucy’s latest show at the 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. If you’re into an honest, brutal, hilarious, mature, and insightful comedy about love, relationships, and society, then you should go watch it as well. Judith is fantastic. 10/10 would recommend.

Waiting for Judith Lucy to come and perform her fantastic ‘Judith Lucy vs Men’ show.

Maggie's spot in the garden

On hot, sunny afternoons this is where you’ll find Maggie chilling out in the garden — particularly if both Nadia and I are there too, hanging out the washing or something.

Maggie in her favourite spot

As the afternoon progresses, she’ll stretch out a bit.

Stretching out as the shade covers more of the lawn

Oh no, I’ve been spotted!

Oh no!

Firefox extensions for privacy and security

A post called ‘A Few Simple Steps to Vastly Increase Your Privacy Online’ by Keith Axline has been making the rounds of the internet recently. It’s really good; you should read it.

In that post Keith recommends several privacy-related browser extensions. I use most of those, too, so I thought I’d follow up on my ‘Staying safe and private online’ post from a few weeks ago with the list of Firefox extensions I use to increase my online privacy and security.

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Block trackers from following your around the web

Privacy Badger by EFF Technologists: blocks trackers from following you around the web and seeing which websites you visit.

Decentraleyes by Thomas Rientjes: blocks creators of shared internet content (which lots of websites use) from tracking you every time you download their content.

CanvasBlocker by kkapsner: stops some trackers from using JavaScript to ‘fingerprint’ your browser.

Facebook Container by Mozilla: stops Facebook from tracking you around the web — essentially, lets you use Facebook and its related sites (like Instagram) in a private browser container that’s separated from the rest of your browser.

uBlock Origin by Raymond Hill: blocks ads and adware (ie malware in ads).

Keep your connections to websites encrypted whenever possible

HTTPS Everywhere by EFF Technologists: tries to upgrade all your website connections to ‘https’, which is an encrypted connection.

Stop potential security leaks when you use a VPN

Disable WebRTC by Chris Antaki: stops your true IP address from being leaked when streaming media through a VPN.

Create and manage excellent passwords

LastPass Password Manager by LastPass: generate long, unique, random passwords and then keep them secure.

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Take things up a notch by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

This isn’t a Firefox extension but, for completeness’ sake I thought I’d mention that my VPN of choice is Mullvad by Amagicom AB.

When you connect to the internet with Mullvad, we ensure that the traffic to and from your computer is encrypted to the highest standards even if you are using a public WiFi network at a cafe or hotel.

We keep no activity logs, do not ask for personal information, and even encourage anonymous payments via cash or one of the cryptocurrencies we accept. Your IP address is replaced by one of ours, ensuring that your device's activity and location are not linked to you.

If you want a really comprehensive VPN comparison, by the way, check out That One Privacy Site. One of the reasons I went will Mullvad is because that’s the only VPN listed on this site that has earned its ‘GOOD’ rating for privacy, features, and technology.

Friendly neighbourhood cat

I don’t recognise many of my human neighbours in Kingsville, Victoria, but I do recognise most of the dogs and cats that live around here :)

This is cat I’ve met a few times, but scritched only once (when it was sitting on the fence). This appears to be its new favourite spot, though, because I’ve now seen it chilling out exactly there two weekends in a row (which is usually when I walk Maggie down this street).

It’s a really friendly cat that Maggie doesn’t react to (yay!). I hope I get to scritch it again in the future.

18 months of Behaviour Assessment Training later...

Maggie, who is a rescue dog, is leash reactive. We presume that’s because she wasn’t socialised properly while growing up. This means she doesn’t get along with other dogs…like, at all. So, when you’re walking her on a leash, she’ll lunge at other dogs when they even start to get close.

But, all that is changing thanks to the Behaviour Adjustment Training (BAT) that Nadia and I have been doing to help Maggie “gain confidence and learn better social skills”.

I was walking Maggie a couple of days ago, for example, when we came across two large-ish, black off-leash dogs who had run out of a house to greet their owner as she brought her weekly shopping in from the car.

These dogs were three houses away but the Maggie-of-old would probably have freaked out, strained on her leash, and potentially lunged at them. (Maggie is scared of big dogs but knows that her best defence is a great offence. The consensus is that she ‘lived rough’ for some time and had to fend for herself in the bush or on the streets before she was rescued.)

The Maggie-of-new, however, did this quick threat assessment:

Maggie in threat-assessment mode.

After which she promptly turned to me and asked for a treat :)

That, in case you’re wondering, is exactly what we’ve been training her to do. We’re happy for her to look, assess the situation, realise that the presence of other dogs doesn’t signal danger, and then disengage to ask for a treat. The presence of a nearby dog should, in fact, make her think ‘treat!’, not ‘danger!’.

It’s taken us about eighteen months of consistent BAT to get her to this place.

We initially tried a different approach to train Maggie, but not long after that Nadia did the research and realised that BAT would be a better course of action. Nadia switched to using that method, but I was too pig-headed to change until Nadia strategically got a trainer to come and tell me what to do. That trainer, by the way, was the excellent Mia Shaw, Head Dog Trainer at the Lort Smith Animal Hospital, who also does private consultations.

Maggie is still not a fan of other dogs, but she’s now MUCH more relaxed in their presence. So much so that she’ll even ignore them at times. That is certainly something worth celebrating.