Hidden Dangers

(The below is a speech that I wrote last night for my Rostrum speaking club – the topic was ‘Hidden Dangers)

Humans are fragile things. You hit them with a car – they die. You feed them teeny-tiny chunks of arsenic – they die.  You lock them in a room without oxygen – they die.  And of course, if you expose them to a new, never-before-seen virus – they die.  Their crumpled little shells crinkle, crack and creak until – poof – they turn to dust. 

Some dangers are obvious – for example, diving headlong into a vat of broken glass has clear consequences.  Other dangers are hidden away from our ever-alert, ever-nervous eyes.  For us humans, hidden dangers lurk everywhere – in what we breathe, what we eat, and what we touch. 

An apparent hidden danger is of course the coronavirus and the associated disease, Covid-19.  The normal rules of ‘keep away from danger’ don’t apply with a virus.  You can’t smell or taste it – so you don’t know to avoid breathing it in or eating it.  And you can’t see with your eyes if a surface is contaminated – so you could be touching it RIGHT NOW and not know it!

It does spread through the air – but fortunately that is not as easy to catch it as you might think. 

It appears so far to require direct contact with an infected person or respiratory droplets.  And it needs to be for a fairly prolonged period of time – about 15 minutes face to face contact – anywhere – for the 24 hours before the onset of symptoms in the infected person.  Or, about two hours of sharing a closed space (about two or more hours) is a problem (Yay for lectures!).  But the virus does not seem to spread through air conditioning – it only survives in the air for a short time.  So – if an infected person coughs with you in the direct path, and you breathe in the droplets in the air, then the hidden danger is revealed and you can get coronavirus.

To stop this, you can use a face mask – I guess, though that’s not foolproof, you need to replace the mask often, and is better if the infected person wears it.  Better – respect personal space, avoid close contact with coughing or sneezing people, and give yourself plenty of space to avoid droplets – say, 6 feet :).  Personal space is important!

As for getting Covid-19 from what we eat, that seems unlikely unless you are actually eating an infected animal.  Still you should probably avoid preparing food for other people if you think you have Covid-19.  And… maybe avoid the purchase of food from places that look a little… dodgy (though that’s good advice for all of the time). 

The hidden danger is that you can pick up the coronavirus from hard surfaces.  The virus can last on surfaces for a few hours, or several days. Current research says it depends on the type of surface, temperature, and humidity.  That benchtop could have had someone sneeze on it yesterday and you’d not know it!  Ick! 

An alcohol-based wet wipe – more than 70% ethanol, isopropanol, or 2-propanol – will kill the virus within about a minute.  So that’s good news – maybe instead of toilet paper, we should stock up on those?  If you have visions – as I did – of killing it with Glen20 – well, that won’t work.  At all. 

So, maybe carry around alcohol-based wet wipes for this purpose. 

If you have skin-on-skin contact – such as shaking hands or – cough – something more, intimate – then you probably can’t throw someone into a vat of hand sanitiser.  So, in such cases, maybe just avoid touching your eyes, or mouth.  Or you know, licking the desk in front of you…

The other clear and related advice is to wash your hands with soap.  For the full 20 seconds – Happy birthday sung twice is about right, as is, thankfully, the main chorus to Mambo No. 5:  ‘A little bit of Monica in my life, a little bit of Erica by my side… all the way through to Number 5 when those 7 girls make you their man.’


So – the danger is real, but it is hidden.  Fortunately, although humans are fragile, they do tend to survive.  Humanity will continue.  For such fragile little shells, we are robust enough.  The hidden dangers – well, we can’t see them, but we can do things about them.  Covid-19 is not as dangerous as Ebola, where half the people that get it die!  But it’s not obvious that you are in risk of getting it, it’s not obvious if you have it, but it can be most unpleasant to have. 
We should all be vigilant as to what we breathe, eat and touch. 


Covid-19 is not as dangerous as Ebola.  With Ebola, 50% of people who get it, die!  With Covid-19, that number’s about 1% – maybe more, maybe less.  Still, it’s more than the flu, which is 0.1%, and measles, which is 0.2%.  But the trouble is that the ‘reproduction number’ – the number of people that one infected person infects – is actually higher than Ebola.  Ebola is 1.9, Covid-19 is 2.8.  Unllike Ebola – which kills quite quickly – Covid-19 is merely uncomfortable and people spread it around until they realise they’re sick.   You tend not to do that with Ebola…

I sold my old desk today

I wrote three theses, countless reports, and far far too many emails and games of Baldur’s Gate and World of Warcraft.  I sold it for $10.  I know, right?  Last of the capitalist geniuses.  Glad to see it go to a Masters student.  

Here is my Gumtree Ad for posterity.  

This is an old – 60s? 70s? – desk with a green vinyl top and three drawers and a ‘hidden’ back cupboard. Dimensions: 136.7cm long x 83.7cm wide x 73.2cm high. 

Solid, very used but fair original condition. I wrote three theses and edited one book at this desk over 30 years but apparently it no longer ‘matches our decor’. Use as is or get your craft on to restore it properly and role-play being a state bureaucrat in the 1970s.


Fun Times with IS Audit Exams

When you do this job of mine, you have to amuse yourself where you can. Now that the deferred exam is over, I can share my creative masterpiece that is my IS audit question for Cool Cruzin’ Crazy Concerts:

(a) The principal of Cool Cruzin’ Crazy Concerts, Barry ‘Baz’ Tpzelzki, has the contract to sell all Australian tickets to Tina Guo’s worldwide Classical Crossover music tour, ‘Arthas to Zelda: Game On Gear Grinding’. The concerts are to be held in multiple venues throughout Australia, and every ticket sold is allocated a seat.

Tina Guo is an internationally renowned electric cellist known for her distinctive sound, videos that showcase her talent, and her classical takes on popular gaming music. Her shows have theatrical backdrops and elaborate costumes, and she has a mastery in a wide range of genres including major motion picture, television, and game scores.

Some concerts will be held in large concert halls in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. However, some concerts will be held in the more intimate venues such as the Hall of Arts in smaller regional towns such as Ballarat, Miles, Gundagai and Snowtown.

Barry wants to sell the tickets through his agents located in gaming stores, internet cafes, and backpacker hostels in regional Australia. Some of these agents have limited access to the Internet. Barry will also sell these tickets at the door of each venue on the day of the concert for walk-up patrons.

Describe the three ‘database distribution methods’ discussed in lectures that might apply here. Explain for Barry the advantages and disadvantages of each database method in relation to the sale of tickets to Tina Guo’s concerts.

Social networks and their importance in eCommerce gateways

I’m a lecturer in information systems at the University of Queensland, and, quite frankly, avoiding the notion of social media is really hard these days.

I teach the IS for Management course to post-graduate students and the IT for Business Value courses for our MBA courses. Karthik Reddy at LearnMedia forwarded it to me. I’ve found a pretty good infographic on social networks and particularly how they relate to electronic commerce – it is done by the good folks at http://www.16best.net/. And indeed it’s a lot of work.

16Best’s brief seems to be all about internet marketing and becoming a ‘go-to source for reading buyer’s guides and product reviews’ (see here:  https://www.16best.net/about-us/).

Actually, I’ve described it as an infographic but it’s really one big infographic that is made up of a series of infographics – e.g. top e-retailers, social shoppers, percentage of social commerce revenue, history of social commerce. What I particularly like given my academic bent is that it lists all the sources that support the infographic at the end – not something that you get too often with an infographic. I immediately forwarded it to colleagues – and their feedback was quite positive.

So with all that said – here’s the link to the infographic https://www.16best.net/blog/social-networks-and-their-importance-in-ecommerce-gateways/ and below is the actual infographic (be warned:  it’s quite long!):

Cyber-Security for American Chamber of Commerce

Today I was a member of a panel (with Scott Wilkie, Louis Abdilla and Lani Rafiti – and Kristen Devitt facilitating) at Stamford Plaza. We were all speaking to the topic of Cyber Security for American Chamber of Commerce. An interesting panel and a fun opportunity to speak to a captive audience (I’m sure they locked the doors).





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