The Human Element – An academic journey

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

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

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