This is not a New Year’s Resolution

It began as long as a year ago with a bit of anti-sugar advocacy from Denise, my mother-in-law… She suggested I read Sweet Poison, which is basically an Australian pop-science rediscovery of John Yudkin‘s Pure, White and Deadly — published in 1972. 1972!

My curiosity was reignited when Garrett recently tweeted a link to this fantastic lecture:

So I have a new analogue hacking project: I’m going to see if I can massively reduce the amount of sugar in my diet. Obvious targets #1 and #2: soft drinks and sweets.

Although they probably represent the vast majority of my sugar consumption, the rest of it is the ugly, insidious, sand-in-your-budgies sugar you’ll find in the strangest of foods… especially if you’re in the USA, given the HFCS damage.

The Great Australian Internet Blackout

The Great Australian Internet Blackout is a combined online and offline demonstration against imposed online censorship. We’re collaborating with Electronic Frontiers Australia (and hoping to bring on similar organisations soon) to make sure every Australian knows why this draconian policy is unacceptable.

We’re gathering steam within the online community opposed to this policy, then broadening our audience with offline outreach efforts. Our first big demonstration will be during the week of Australia Day… websites across the country with go dark for the week, and we will celebrate the national holiday by joining the traditional Australia Day public parties across the nation, wearing black (hey, it’s a “blackout” after all!) and informing our fellow citizens about the threat of imposed online censorship.

Check out the website for more info, follow @OzNetBlackout on Twitter and get involved via Facebook group and events.

Internet blackout to protest Australian Internet filtering

Update: Check out the Great Australian Internet Blackout project… now we’re getting serious about online/offline protests! :-)

Please, black out your website and online profile images in protest against the Australian Government’s Internet Filtering policy.


It may seem cheesy to turn your website or avatar black for an online protest, but it can form a part of a good online and offline campaign, particularly for Internet-related protests.

Many of my friends in New Zealand turned their websites and online profile images black to protest a proposed “guilt upon accusation” copyright law (Section 92A), providing massive online “Internet Blackout” support to the Creative Freedom campaign. I, and plenty of others around the world, also participated.

The most important bit: New Zealand media took notice, bringing a level of awareness to an Internet / copyright / online rights issue that would otherwise never have materialised. Ultimately, the new government chose to review the entire bill, and while the issue is still being fought, at least one battle was won… and now, there are more people informed about the issue to fight ACTA.

Now it’s Australia’s turn. Our current (otherwise pretty bloody sensible) government has adopted a terrible policy of mandatory Internet filtering, which Australians have been fighting against for many, many months. A technical report about the feasibility of the filter has just been released, which (on first glance) appears to validate the policy against technical challenges, and the government has announced that it is pursuing the policy to legislation.

Now, I’m not suggesting that turning stuff black will have a direct impact on government policy… However, I am suggesting that we can use broad-based online protest to increase awareness of the problem, and help those attempting to fight the good fight offline.

If Sunrise (a breakfast news show in Australia) or other news outlets note that “Australians are turning out the lights in protest against the government’s Internet filter”, that’s awareness value we’d never be able to raise by, say, marching in the streets. If it causes Tony Jones or Leigh Sales to ask a government minister why Australians are so upset about this policy, that’s incredibly worthy opinion-leader influence… and very likely cringe-worthy interview fodder. :-)

So yes, blacking out your websites and online profile images alone would be tilting at windmills. But as an online component of a complete No Clean Feed campaign… very useful.

For my readers who are not in Australia… consider how this western, English-speaking democratic country might be the thin end of the wedge — that’s why I supported my New Zealand friends against S92A. Please participate, and support Australians in their embarrassment about this terrible Internet policy!

Remember: This is only useful as part of a broader campaign to raise awareness of the issue and pressure politicians to put a stop to this filter. Go to the EFA’s No Clean Feed site for all kinds of other things you can do. The best thing? Write in your own words by snail mail, call by telephone or meet with your local MP.



The easy Twitter option:

  1. Use Twibbon to put a #nocleanfeed blackout layer on your avatar.

More creative options… You could start with some handy templates I have made:

With layers: PSD for Photoshop · XCF for GIMP

Modifying your avatar, if you’re au fait with Photoshop or The GIMP:

  1. Download the PSD for Photoshop or XCF for The GIMP
  2. Copy your existing avatar into a new layer
  3. Move that layer between the #nocleanfeed and Background layers
  4. Desaturate the coloured avatar layer (so it’s just black and white)
  5. Set that layer to between 30% and 50% transparent
  6. Flatten the image (combine all the layers)
  7. Save it as a PNG or JPEG, ready to use on Twitter, Facebook, or… wherever :-)

On Twitter:

  1. Download the blank image or modify one of the templates above
  2. Make sure you’re logged in at
  3. Click “Settings” in the menu at the top right of the page
  4. Click “Picture” in the links under your current avatar
  5. Click “Choose File” and select your blacked out avatar
  6. Click “Save” and you’re done.

On Facebook:

  1. Download the blank image or modify one of the templates above
  2. Make sure you’re logged in at
  3. Click your name, next to “Settings” in the menu at the top right of the page
  4. Move your mouse over your current avatar and click “Change Picture”
  5. Click “Upload a Picture” in the drop-down menu
  6. Click “Choose File” and select your blacked out avatar
  7. Wait for your photo to upload, and you’re done

On Gravatar (for blogs and lots of other websites):

  1. Download the blank image or modify one of the templates above
  2. Make sure you’re logged in at
  3. Click on “add a new image” beneath your list of registered emails
  4. Choose “My computer’s hard drive”
  5. Click “Choose File” and select your blacked out avatar
  6. Click “Next”
  7. If your image is already square (like the templates), just click “Crop and Finish!”
  8. Add a rating… probably G :-)
  9. Now select the email addresses you want to use this avatar with
  10. Click “Use for selected addresses” and you’re done