Andy Clatworthy – GPS Rowing

Every successful team has a guiding force driving them over the line and after his team’s recent GPS State Rowing Championships domination taking home two gold and a silver, coach Andy Clatworthy has shiny new reasons to be proud.

Last month, the Under 17s youth development high performance squad at Brisbane and GPS Rowing Club were in preparation for their upcoming GPS championship at Wyaralong Dam. They took a nutritional cooking lesson with practising sports dietitian Sally Baumann from Inspire at West End’s Urban Rowing to give them an edge over their competitors. It seems Andy was the ideas man on this; the West End local and coach who found his just desserts in the shining medals his boys brought back to the West End club.

“About seven months ago I set out with a view of coaching athletes with a holistic approach to their training versus just coaching rowing,” explains Andy. “I want to develop an athlete who can train in any sport at top level and apply the skills I have coached. The aim is to develop a culture to training which involves understanding food, training loads, strength and conditioning and flexibility. The last few months have all been about planting the seeds which will pay off in the long run for the boys.”

Together with three bronzes in the Under 19s team, the Under 17s won the Double Sculls, Single Scull and placed second in the Quad Sculls each stretching for a 2000m finishing line through rounds of heats and finals. Not an easy feat at all. While these young athletes bask in their success, the coach shines as a beacon of discipline, a mentor who encouraged these boys to exhaust themselves to the limit even during training sessions six days a week. Andy provides the motivation to persevere beyond their limitations. “I ask my crews to go out and give me their all. So as a coach I have taken that same approach. I commit to the squad and when I show up to training, I want to do my best, motivate my crews to perform and go even faster,” says Andy.

A former schoolboy rower for Brisbane State High School, now an Associate Private Banker, Andy picked the oars back up again at 30 for leisure, joining the Brisbane and GPS Rowing Club’s Learn To Row program and within a few months was asked by the club to be their Transitional Rowing Coach. He now coaches the club’s Youth Development U17 and U19 Squads and BSHS’s Boys’ First VIII and Year 10 First Quads.

“For my first season as the Transitional Rowing Coach I had a record number of new members join the club. We raced in the Winter Season, at Rowing QLD Regattas and I took the approach that once you were in the door I was going to find a way to get you on the water as much as possible. I just throw myself into the role and was on a mission.”

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Words by Kirk W Wallace
Image by Jacky Kao & portrait supplied by Andy Clatworthy

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Facebook Reshaping Our Worldview.

Are Facebook’s algorithms changing our worldview and through its decisions what this means for society.

By KIRK WALLACE
[September, 2016]

This report investigates how the new ecosystem developed from the peripherals of Facebook’s trending system are reshaping the way in which we build a worldview, building newsfeeds based on our own fields of interests and trending activities through the social media giant. To demonstrate the new shape that is being constructed based on users’ online behaviours, a study behind Facebook’s new Safety check feature has been used as a prime casting of this as it develops through global events as they arise.

MECHANICAL TURK (or Automaton Chess Player)

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To gain an understanding of where the development of algorithmic processes behind the simple functions of technologies in computing was first conceived, one must present its first incarnation from the 16th century, in what was referred to as ‘The Mechanical Turk’.

The Turk was an early conception of a computer-operated illusion made out as a chess-playing machine able to compete against a human opponent. It was operated by a human chess master sitting inside a hidden compartment in a cabinet and exhibited in public as an automaton through various owners until it was eventually revealed to be an elaborate hoax. First unveiled by Wolfgang von Kempelen in 1770, The Turk remained in operation until its destruction in 1854 from a fire.

The skilled operator inside the Turk won most exhibition games competed around Europe and across the Americas for roughly 84 years, defeating most notable statesmen such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin.

Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk)

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk web service allows for human participation to assist with computers in order to perform menial tasks that proves to be too laborious and time consuming for people to undertake.

“A crowdsourcing Internet marketplace enabling individuals and businesses (known as Requesters) to coordinate the use of human intelligence to perform tasks that computers are currently unable to do” most notably exemplified by Amazon Web Services.

Here, employers (also known as Requesters) can post jobs (known as Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs)), eg. selecting the best photographs from a collection, adding to it the product descriptions, labelling artists/producer credits on music CDs. Workers (also called Providers or Turkers) can take on existing jobs and complete them for payment as set by the employer. This program takes on the modern illusion of a mechanical process actuated by human labour likening it to The Mechanical Turk.

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EDGERANK

What is EdgeRank?

“the Facebook algorithm that decides which stories appear in each user’s newsfeed. The algorithm hides boring stories, so if your story doesn’t score well, no one will see it.”

The newsfeed is the first feature shown after a user logs onto Facebook, which is a summary of recent activity among friends off the Facebook account listing.

Every time a friend makes a comment on a post or posts a status update, tags a photo, RSVPs to an invite to an event or joins up to a fan page, these are actions which generate a potential story to a friend’s personal newsfeed. These actions are what Facebook refers to as ‘edges’.

From this step, to prevent every story from being created to a newsfeed, which would be overwhelming, Facebook designed an algorithm to predict the interest to each user, building a system that ranks the edges – this algorithm is referred to as ‘EdgeRank’. These are then put through a filter of each user’s personal newsfeed to end up as a top-ranked story for that particular end user.

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Safety Check Feature

Facebook’s Safety Check feature was originally designed for friends and family to check in on those who have travelled to or are in close proximity to locations under a natural disaster.

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After the Paris attacks this past November, which had killed at least 129 people, FB had added to its function the use for terrorist attacks (LINK). However, in the wake of the recent attack at Istanbul, Turkey’s Ataturk Airport this July the network drew suspicion when the feature was not available for this tragic event that left 36 dead and 147 wounded (LINK). Users had accused the social media giants of ‘waiting for a Western disaster before switching the check-in system on, while terrorist attacks in Africa and Middle Eastern countries were ignored.’ (www.ibtimes.co.uk), Facebook and its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg were made to defend the policy to not switch the feature on for this event (LINK) while having it readily available for a select few terrorist attacks, namely those affecting the Western world. A recent case arose when a family sought to use the feature to check in on both cousins in Paris, France during the Bataclan and Stade De France attacks who were marked as ‘safe’ after news feed refreshing enabled the feature to work. However, the same family, after twin suicide bombings in Burj al-Barajneh, Beirut, Lebanon, with cousins residing in the region, had found comfort in hearing of their safety through WhatsApp messaging service than Facebook’s Safety Check which had not been activated for this event, (Tuysuz & Almasy, 2016).

General Facts of Safety Check

Roughly 36 times that the Safety Check has been activated.

2016 Mina Stampede crush @ Mecca. (September 24, 2015) 2,400 + deaths. NO activation of Safety Check.

During tragic Paris attacks – The Huffington Post reported 24 hours after the attacks, 4.1 million people marked themselves safe by using the safety tool.

Inspired by 2011 earthquake/tsunami in Japan – “more than 12.5 million people were affected nationwide and more than 400,000 people were evacuated, Facebook took notes on how people used social media to stay connected with those they cared about. Thus, the beginning stages of Safety Check were born.

New feature introduced last month, “community-generated Safety Check,” a process initiated following a “critical mass of users are discussing a crisis on the network”, as opposed to having an operator from FB start the process.

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Beirut Suicide Bombings

Series of suicide bombings in Beirut Thursday – 43 people were killed and wounded 239.

Facebook has received backlash for not implementing the Safety Check tool.

Vice President of Growth Alex Schultz addressed the reasoning of Safety Check being turned on for Paris and not Beirut, “where violence is more common and terrible things happen with distressing frequency.”

In the statement he points out that every time Facebook has launched the tool, they learn new things in order to improve it. We can only hope that disasters like Paris and Beirut don’t happen enough for Facebook to master Safety Check.

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After Baghdad Bombing

July 3, 2016 – truck bombing in Karrada, Baghdad, killing 250, (25 children + 20 women).

Safety Check activated within hours of attacks in Istanbul and Dhaka – activated 30 hours late from the actual explosions in Baghdad.

Razbar Sulaiman, a hackathon organizer and UN specialist who lives in Iraqi Kurdistan, wrote in a blog post, echoing frustrations on social media. “Did it seriously take 30 hours after the explosions to create/consider the safety check-in? I’m extremely disappointed.”

Initially, a Facebook spokesperson told Politico that the feature was not deployed following the bombing on Sunday, because “she noted the feature is not used during longer-term crises, like wars or epidemics, because such emergencies have no clear start or end, making it difficult to determine when an individual is ‘safe.'”

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My Own Story

On the morning of Thursday, 7 July 2005 The London bombings, also referred to as 7/7, happened in the United Kingdom’s capital city. Four purported Islamic terrorist suicide bombers set off a series of coordinated attacks across central London during rush hour targeting the public transport system. Three bombs were detonated in quick succession aboard the Underground rail system with a fourth on a double-decker bus at Tavistock Square. The attacks left 52 people dead and over 700 injured. This was Britain’s worst terrorist attack since the 1988 Lockerbie, Scotland bombing of the Pan Am Flight 103.

In 2005, I was living in North London with my girlfriend although at the time I had flown home for a month for a family event. My girlfriend remained in our North London flat and on the morning of these attacks was travelling to work on the Underground to the corner of Hampstead Road and Drummond Street. [51.526543, -0.138868]. After it happened, all mobile communications were disabled as were all landlines. In Australia, when news broke, it was after seven pm and I had no way of ringing her to find out if she was OK. This was before I was connected to Facebook and when mobile communications had limited internet access. I was worried for several hours before I could get an email to my brother (also living in London at the time, working at News Ltd, at Katherine’s Dock) through which I asked if he could visit her workplace “Lawrence Corner” to inquire as to her safety. He had to wait several hours to get through roadblocks.

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She informed my brother that she was safe, which he relayed back to me. He told me that she thought the bomb blasts were earthquakes as she experienced the whole building and floor around her shaking with several rumbles of what sounded like thunder. This was the only method of a safety check on loved ones ten years prior to Facebook’s initiative was put to action.

Inkahoots with Nature

Imagine walking through your environment and capturing the wonderful sounds of human life and nature into song. Jason Grant and Jordan McGuire are proud to introduce Open Song, the new application brought out by longstanding West End design studio, Inkahoots. What a novel idea.

“Open Song started as an idea to create a geo-located user-generated soundscape,” designer Jason Grant of Inkahoots described. It is a way to get people engaged in a deeper creative engagement with the space around them. We are a design studio, so our natural environment is a studio, this is a breakaway from that.

The public sound art project was developed from musician Jordan McGuire, producer Corey Enggist, programmers Bhu Vidya and Mat Johnson, and co designer Ben Mangan all bunkered in at Inkahoots, the well established West End design studio sandwiched into Princhester Street between West End Mosque and Moo Brew craft beer bar on Vulture Street. What started out as a community based screen printing business by Jason Grant 26 years ago, Inkahoots has bloomed into a staple illustrator of the Australian creative arts sector. Open Song is simply the latest installation to come from this local stalwart, as commissioned for the Gold Coast Arts Bleach Festival.

“Open Song is a technology-based installation and it is on for the duration of the festival 24 7. Anyone with a smartphone and headphones can rock up any time day or night and participate in Open Song,” Grant said.

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“It is a bit of a collaboration between the kids at Mudgeeraba State School and the writing of Kev Carmody coming together under this project, Open Song,” said McGuire, who is a former student of Grant at Inkahoots and one third of the local rap group Tailor Made. “We wanted to get the community involved and what we did was we went to these schools and got them to use a bunch of sounds that we could use in the foundational track.”

After listening to some of the music produced from these sessions with grade six students, McGuire explains how the catching beat was built.

“We asked the students to make these sounds in the classroom like pencils on sharpeners or hitting the desk with magnets, squeaking blackboards. The kick drums are the bouncing ball, the shakers are a charm bracelet, the sound of the ring of the snare is someone smashing toys together,” McGuire said. “You work with that you can. The vocals are of some of the kids singing, just chopped up and looped. You tell a kid that anything can be an instrument and they respond well to that. We took them outside and let them hear their own environment and let them think about what they can then make.”

The Open Song app enters new paths of possibilities into the public sphere and makes being aligned with Inkahoots, whose website states that they create for community, culture and ecology, a good fit.

“We are one of the first studios to have a strong social and political focus so that is what we have been known for over the years,” said Grant.

As a multimedia organism, Inkahoots has maintained a working relationship with various community clients on projects with a specific focus in mind that upholds the ethos of the company.

“A lot of our clients are valuable members of the community as well. We see what we do as a way of advocacy and advocate on behalf of those clients,” admitted Grant. “We only work with community based, arts based clients.”

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By Kirk W Wallace
Images supplied by Inkahoots

Interview with Gareth David-Lloyd

While Torchwood’s Ianto Jones has long since left the fantasy franchise, Gareth David-Lloyd’s character is immortalised forever more at Supanova.

“The sci-fi fantasy is the biggest and best way to visibly escape our real lives,” explains Gareth. “When you have great, three-dimensional human characters set in that fantastic fantasy background it makes it so much easier for people to put themselves in and once a fantasy genre becomes popular it finds ways of reinventing itself over and over again. And, because of conventions like Supanova science fiction fantasy will always pay off and they will keep revisiting novels or keep getting people being re-written back to life.”

The Welsh-born thespian who is currently performing Tennessee William’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in a regional theatre production has long made the science-fiction genre home having come through the halls of fantasy film through Doctor Who’s spin-off Torchwood playing the factotum-cum-administrator, Ianto Jones in its first three series giving him a great following among the Doctor Who and Torchwood faithful – those who took it hard when Gareth’s character was killed off. At cosplay events, like Supanova, Gareth finds himself having to recite the same response to the much-asked question of a comeback.

“Yeah, and for a good few years nobody knew what was going on so a lot of people, sort of, connected with my character were slightly outraged by him being killed off and wanted to know when or if I would be back,” he said.

Thanks entirely to the revival process of many sci-fi shows Gareth is able to leave fans rested warm with the notion of Ianto Jones comeback via the franchise on mediums such as comics, audiobooks and radio.

“Recently, the audio drama production company who do a lot of work for Doctor Who had just commissioned new stories themed on Torchwood released on audio which involves all the characters in flashback episodes. It was very cleverly done where Ianto was brought back so a lot of the fans were very happy about that.”

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Supanova brings together the talents involved in the world of sci-fi fantasy and it’s worldwide following of fans, coming to the Gold Coast Convention Centre this April. Having previously brought his band Blue Gillespie over for shows at Supanova, when asked if he enjoys the working trip to Australia’s event, Gareth was excited.

“Absolutely. My answer will always be yes, I will always find time to come to Australia. [Supanova is] a company that looks after me so well. They brought my band over before and they’re bringing my family over this time. They always make a working trip feel like a holiday. So I am very much looking forward to it.”

Being a fan of sci-fi fantasy himself, Gareth admitted to being quite starstruck himself, empathising with many of those who attend cosplay events to seek the elusive autograph from those who illuminate the escape on screen.

“I still get nervous and very starstruck, especially as a teenager I was very much into Star Trek: The Next Generation which has always been a big escape of mine, he says. I didn’t have the best school-life and I was very much like a lot of the fans who go to the conventions. So, because of that escape to this day I still get hugely starstruck by Brent Spiner, Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes or any of the cast members for Next Generation. To the point where I haven’t even approached them for an autograph because I am too nervous.”

Words by Kirk W Wallace
Images supplied by Supanova

Rowing for Health

Rowing remains one of the toughest sports of attrition and in the lead-up to the Queensland School state titles one schoolboy team has been introduced to a nutritional cooking class to grab an edge. Students Will Phillips and Sean Bartlett explain how they’ve taken this on board.

For these year 10 students of Brisbane State High School, rowing six days a week, there is a need to repair the muscles exerted daily. The Under 17s team has been made aware that the right preparation is of paramount importance for peak performance.

We’re expected to eat the right foods at the right times, for example, good amounts of carbohydrates leading up to the big day,” says Sean. “And also to get heaps of sleep so we don’t die halfway through a race.”

Practicing sports dietitian Sally Baumann from Inspire at West End’s Urban Rowing was brought in to teach the eight-man crew cooking certain meals such as beef and vegetable stir-fry, chicken fajitas and even sticky date puddings for the purpose of replenishing sustenance within a half-hour of coming out from their evening workouts. Sally’s instruction of eating one gram of carbohydrates and 20 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight has since instilled in the crew a firm understanding of the measure of output needed for competition.

“It’s pretty simple when it comes down to it, you need to have a decent amount of carbs in your system to last a session or race, but too much beforehand or too close to the race will leave you feeling bloated and will just be extra weight to carry,” explains Sean. “After the race or training session you need to refuel your body with carbs, and protein to repair your muscles.”

However educating year 10 students on how to cook and prepare the most efficient meals during their training schedules can often be a tall ask.

“The majority of us could already cook a few meals before the lessons with Sally, but I think we were all pretty enthusiastic to have a lesson with Sally anyway because it was something to widen our knowledge of the right kinds of food to eat while having a bit of fun,” says Sean.

After a single cooking class from Sally the team has put it into practise from which they have found quite enjoyable, taking turns to bring in pre-prepared ingredients chopped and ready for the pan, cooked up and served to eat within twenty minutes, explains Will.

“The aim being that after Head of the River and Nationals we will have a few more and have to cook for the squad when we go away for camp in April. It is quite enjoyable and is actually bringing our crew closer together,” he says.

What it has also done for these teenage athletes and sons of the school mums and dads who help out with their slaving away at preparing meals for their training sessions has given them a renewed sense of appreciation for their contribution to the team’s preparation.

“Cooking takes a lot of time and effort,” admits Sean. “So I think cooking more often and for a larger amount of people than just my family helps me be more grateful for the parents who give their time to cook for us.”

The benefit of this dietary change in their training regime has certainly been felt by the team, according to Will.

“Certainly, I thought I was eating well before but I didn’t realise how much this helped.”

With the Queensland State Titles looming in less than a month, this State High team is more than equipped to stroke over the finishing line first.

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By Kirk W Wallace
Images provided by Andy Clatworthy

Petris Rows for Inspiration

“I was recently given three months to live. And it was about facing one’s own mortality and working out what matters in life and when I came out of surgery I just thought I should do things that matter from this point forward.”

This switch of focus saw commerce lawyer Petris Lapis go from saving multi-national corporations to people’s self esteem. This saw her become a professional of many titles – Master Results Coach, Master Performance Consultant, Master NLP Practitioner and Mindfulness Practitioner. Helping others break through their personal barriers is a challenge that Petris finds incredibly rewarding.

A renewed zest for life finds Petris exuding a heightened motivation that bodes well for whom she mentors. And what’s close at heart are the programs she runs for teenage girls that self-harm, giving back to the future generation of women. “Now I make as much money in a month that I used to make in a week but I’m doing something now that has far more purpose.”

Above all else, Petris is a super mum of two. Both her children have gone through a rowing program for Brisbane State High School, an incredible discipline which Petris has taken on in full stroke.

“At one point, I worked out I was spending 28 hours a week at rowing sheds for kids. I was the breakfast mum and camp mum and the person in charge of catering,” recalls Petris. “Each week I would spend time making 300 pancakes at a time and what we see from these kids, despite the fact they get up really early and they suffer extreme pain, is just the love for the sport. So I wondered why they do that and if I would enjoy it if I tried it, so I did. And now I really get why they love it.”

Womens VIII rowing - Tennyson

Women’s VIII rowing at Tennyson

Petris relishes tackling new challenges, every year finding a personal satisfaction from the growth they provide be it learning a new musical instrument, and taking up a martial art. Now, still on her quest to overcome, Petris takes to the water over five times a week from 4.30 am for a two-hour workout with a passion.

“I have never felt better or found more peace,” she says. “You row down into the city and you’re right beside coronation drive, there is something absolutely serene like you’re in a cocoon in a boat in the water at that time of the morning and in really simple language you get to partake in the day before anyone’s had a chance to shit on it,” quips Petris.

“There’s a focus and mental concentration you go through and you can’t think about anything else when you’re in that head space. It’s like a meditation in action. And that’s why I like it. And the people who are rowing are just amazing.

“It doesn’t matter what you do for a living – I row with surgeons, engineers, an international women’s leader organiser, bio-medical researchers, all sorts of people who never talk about what they do they just talk about ‘how is the water, how was your row’ and it’s like a psychic connection of human beings without ego and that bit for me is really lovely.”

Petris competes as part of the Brisbane & GPS Rowing Club and at this year’s Pine Rivers Regatta, with her teams, took silver in the Double Sculls, bronze in both the Women’s Masters Four and the Quad Sculls but it’s the accolades she has collected from her peers of which she is most proud.

“I got the Most Cheerful Person at the Club award and the one they gave me which (the club) think is very funny is the Captain of the Swimming Club because I’ve fallen in so many times,” adds Petris with great laughter.

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Petris and friend, Carolyn in double sculls

 

Young West End Entrepreneur

West End’s young entrepreneur, Monica Davis, has put the very real answer to the world’s food wastage problem at our fingertips.

In a worldwide market space where over one billion dollars of food produced is discarded, Monica’s findings has equated this to a third of the food being produced on the planet. While research on the home-front is a little sketchy at best, a more comprehensive study based on figures from the United States (where they throw away up to 40 per cent of all the food that they produce), paints an alarming story about food wastage. This is where Monica’s newly developed application, Rumbl comes into play.

“I decided to tackle the food wastage issue from the retail perspective. We’re wanting to put a really easy way for suppliers to connect to customers who want their surplus food,” says Monica. “So how Rumbl basically works is if you’re a retailer you can sell your good-to-eat surplus food on the app for a discount and if you’re a customer you can actually browse your local listings, purchase this food and pick it up in store. So what we’re wanting to do is really empower food suppliers and empower food customers to take upon the issue of food waste in their own hands.”

Monica won the Australian Innovation Challenge award in 2015. To concentrate on reaching her target to make this application viable, she has deferred from her undergraduate studies to tackle Rumbl full time. At just 20 years old, the budding entrepreneur started toying with the idea as part of a social entrepreneurial course. Monica has now gained full financial support from Uniquest’s iLabs who are helping her and her team to develop and market Rumbl before the official launch early next year.

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“I was studying business and I.T. at UQ but in the middle of this year I deferred because I wanted to work on school time. And university is the best time to start a startup because you’ve got the least commitments now that you will ever have in your life and I am really glad I did because it’s been such a productive couple of months.”

Growing up in Brisbane and working in the food service industry during her first year studying business and I.T. at The University of Queensland, Monica noted first hand the amount of daily wastage.

“I was aware of how much food was being thrown away, and it’s just interesting to put statistics behind what you’ve seen in an average store that you’ve worked at before.

“Retailers are able to sell their good to surplus food for a discount price and they can earn revenue from food that would otherwise be tossed in the trash.”

Capturing a slice of that food wastage is exactly what Monica’s new app is designed to do. Making this happen sees her day-to-day schedule anything but typical.

“Every day’s different, you know, I will work out of a co-working space in the city and I actually spend a lot of time flying back and forth between Brisbane and Melbourne. It’s really hard to say what a typical day looks like.”

Words by Kirk W Wallace