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Ethical hacking and game development at STC Open Day

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STC Training hosted an open day that showcased the requisite hard work and innovation required for a career in IT. Andrea Gonzi tours the open day and discovers first hand that the steroetypical picture of a sleep deprived computer techie labouring away on his computer is not all too far from the truth.

 

Upon arriving at the STC complex on a hot Saturday afternoon, the first thing that immediately caught my eye was the impressive architecture of the building which in essence serves as a hub for knowledge. Borrowing heavily from the British influences permeating around the area the building was a spectacular series of elaborate arches creating a style which is not commonly seen throughout the Maltese Islands.

The open day hosted several workshops related to Robotics and Game Development. Two robots built by students were also on display and seemed labouriously crafted to working perfection. Workshops and discussions were also the order of the day and took place throughout the entirity of the event to anyone who was interested.

Most peculiar were the Ethical Hacking competitions that were also being held throughout the day. The latter, as explained by the lecturers present, consisted of the practice of hacking into a network on behalf of an organisation with the aim of discovering any potential exploits or security vulnerabilities. Hacking done upon be given permission of the owner of the specific network is not considered a crime but the permission granted must be explicity.

Speaking to Insiteronline, Marketing Manager Daniela Micallef highlighted that the main aim of the open day was not to promote STC itself per se but to promote the academic achievements of its students. She also highlighted that a lot of the courses have shifted towards an industry based approach rather than purely theoretical, citing the ‘Ethical Hacking’ course as one such example.

Luke Parascandolo, a student studying for a BSc(Hons) Internet application Development degree at STC, took the opportunity to showcase his thesis project throughout the open day. Standing next to his green retro looking video game which was likely inspired by the iconic 1980s arcades which were popular at the time, he emphatically explained to me that throughout his 4 years the school had been a great experienceciting the vast amount of support he received throughout the aforementioned years as being of a particular benefit to the students at STC.

Seemingly influenced by the legendary roleplaying game Diablo, the main aim of his thesis was to create an experience where each and every playthrough created a new experience for the player. This meant that the enemies, weapons and dungeons that were generated were completely different through each and every playthrough, thus eliminating that sense of repetitivity prevalent in many mainstream games. Probably owing to this lack of repetition a young child, who probably played the game all throughout my roughly 1 hour stay at the open day, couldn’t keep his hands off the system.

Throughout our conversation he highlighted that the support of his lecturers played a crucial role in helping him complete subtely alluding to difficulty that his chosen line had presented to him throughout the years. However, after reminiscing upon his past 3-4 years at the institute he then explained that even though his experience was a very challenging one it was one that ultimately reaped a lot of rewards and a couple of fonds memories.

 

Posted in Events

JCI conference about to commence

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Junior Chamber International (JCI) Malta will be hosting this year’s conference, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the organisation’s inception on the island. The conference kicks off on the 11th June with an opening ceremony at the Mediterranean Conference Centre. The conference will come to a close at the Granaries on Saturday 14th June.

Over the span of four days, JCI will be hosting official courses, invited trainer courses, workshops, and talks by keynote speakers. A business networking event will allow JCI members to create contacts for future opportunities, as well as involve themselves in activities regarding communication, active citizenship, achievement, and leadership qualities. During the event, a ‘Members’ Lounge and Tradeshow’ is also being organised, allowing organisations to showcase their work.

The conference will also include a sport programme, part of which will consist of the ‘Row 4 Nets’ challenge aimed at promoting the JCI charity that donates towards the provision of malaria-preventing nets. All this will be hosted at the chosen JCI village in St. Julian’s. Most of the events will be taking place at the Corinthia and Radisson hotels in St. Julians.

 

Insite spoke to Mariella MacLeod, the COC Honorary Chairperson for this year’s event.

 

Q: What is JCI in Malta and what is its aim?

A: JCI in Malta is celebrating its 20th year anniversary this year. Members are between the ages of eighteen and forty. This organisation promotes self-development as well as community work, based on internationalism. The aim of this organisation is to create a positive change. JCI was first started in the United States, and will be celebrating its centenary next year. Some past alumni include J.F Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Albert II, the prince of Monaco.

JCI brings together young people in a setting outside their comfort zone at work. It allows people to gain confidence.

The idea of voluntary work is promoted; in learning by doing we also show people how important it is to volunteer, as by volunteering one also learns new skills. We want to create lasting positive change and improve the community we live in.

Over the past twenty years, we have shaped the experience of many members here in Malta. Our aim has been to create young leaders, entrepreneurs. It’s not just for business people though. When I joined JCI I was a secretary, but over the years it gave me the confidence to be able to stand up to speak in front of people, to have the confidence to introduce myself to people… so through the experience, getting involved with things outside your comfort zone, you learn how to try something else.

 

Q: Why did you choose to get involved?

A:  I did not choose to get involved; I was introduced to the organisation by a very good friend. I chose to remain involved because I found it very enriching. I met very good friends through it, and it opened the world to me. I was encouraged to travel to conferences where I had the opportunity to attend training sessions, similar to those being hosted throughout this week. As a young member, I had the opportunity to do things which maybe I wouldn’t have been able to do just by working in my office. I also loved the idea of volunteering, of helping others but learning at the same time.

 

Q: Could you provide a summary of what this conference will consist of?

A:  This conference happens every year. JCI is a very large organisation and, in May and June every year, each area; that’s Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific and Africa, all have their own area conference. In Malta it has long been our dream to someday host a conference here, and we won the bid this year. We have been working on this for the past three and a half years, and we’re all volunteers. We have volunteers who just come in for a couple of hours to lend a hand. What is going to happen in this conference? The chief delegates of all the European countries in JCI will travel here and have their official meetings; they’ll have a general assembly.  At the same time, all the other delegates will come here to network, to attend all the workshops we put together, and to enjoy the opening ceremony as well as the Gala dinner and awards night that will close this year’s conference. During the awards night, outstanding projects which have taken place over the past year across Europe will be awarded a prize. So there’s a lot to celebrate, there’s a lot to learn, and lots of networks and friendships to create. At the same time, JCI Malta members will gain the experience of being involved in organising a conference for almost 1300 people. The skills they will learn will last them a lifetime.

 

Q: Are any parts of the programme open to the public? If so, how can they apply?

A: It’s a no and a yes. They’re not open to the public unless they register for the conference between the 10th and 11th. If someone wants to register they’re subject to a fee, but the price covers all sessions, so it will be money well spent. There’s a special fee for people who are already members and a separate fee for non-members. To become a member, one would have to call and register. If they’d like to join between the 10th and the 11th, the opening ceremony will be held tomorrow evening, so they’ll be able to receive their conference pack and attend. The beauty of having it in Malta, for the Maltese, is that they don’t have to fly anywhere, and that they don’t have to pay accommodation.

 

Q: Which part of the programme are you most looking forward to?

A: I am looking forward to all of it, because I just want to make sure that the delegates have a good time.

Posted in Events, Interviews

ELSA Malta hosting the 65th ELSA International Council Meeting

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ELSA Malta, the national branch of the European Law Student Association, the world’s largest independent law student association, shall be hosting the 65th ELSA International Council Meeting. The International Council Meeting is the biggest statutory internal meeting of ELSA, with an attendance of around 400 law students, young lawyers and alumni-members of the association.

Throughout the week, the participants will gather in order to make decisions concerning the internal regulations of ELSA, adopt guidelines for future activities and present new projects. Several plenaries and workshops will be organized to discuss on the mentioned topics.

The International Council Meeting (ICM) of ELSA will be hosted at the Suncrest Seashells Resort in Qawra from the 16th to the 23rd of March 2014. ELSA Malta shall be hosting approximately 400 delegates (law students and lawyers) from 42 European countries participating in a jam-packed schedule which includes 3 plenary sessions, workshops, a conference, a sightseeing tour, a gala reception and a social programme in the evenings. We are also pleased to welcome several distinguished speakers and attendees including the Honourable Parliamentary Secretary for Justice Dr. Owen Bonnici and a host of MEP candidates, amongst others

More details to follow.

Posted in Events, News

MEP Candidates Debate on Campus: Live Updates

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Watch live streaming video from insitemalta at livestream.com

With just over 2 months to go to the next European Parliament elections, Maltese MEP canditates are taking their message to campus today in a bid to convince students to vote for them.

MEP candidates Arnold Cassola (AD), Kevin Plumpton (PN), Stefano Mallia (PN), Cyrus Engerer (PL) and Miriam Dalli (PL) will be on the panel discussing the EU’s most pressing issues.

12:25pm: Address by Ryan Mercieca President of the Debate.

12.27pm: Introduction by Julian Caruana, Insite Media Officer and Moderator of the debate. It is explained that the debate will be made up of questions asked by 5 different student organisations: We Are, Pulse, SDM, GUG and Jef.

12.30pm: First questions by We Are are asked by Paul Caruana Turner and Romina Tolu.

1. ILGA-Europe’s Come Out Pledge ILGA-Europe, a organisation working to promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex people in Europe is asking candidates to sign a pledge which focuses on 10 key areas future MEPs can work on to promote human rights. Two of the candidates on the panel have signed this pledge (Cyrus and Arnold) (and Therese Comodini Cachia and Roberta Metsola have also signed the pledge).

The pledge (link here: http://www.ilga-europe.org/home/how_we_work/european_institutions/ep2014/candidate/pledge and print copies of it to hand to the 3 who hadn’t signed it) includes pledges to complete EU anti-discrimination law, and promote an inclusive definition of family in EU policies.

Why haven’t you signed the pledge? And would you be willing to sign the pledge to show a firm commitment to the rights of LGBTI individuals?

2. On the role LGBTI people’s human rights should have in EU’s external policy Following Uganda’s strengthening of laws against homosexuals Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the World Bank suspended or diverted aid to Uganda. In your opinion, do you think that the European Parliament can and should take similar actions by pushing for an external policy which prioritises human rights and makes agreements conditional on the respect of these?

12.35pm: Answers done in alphabetical order, and all candidates are given about 2 minutes each to answer. The first to answer is Arnold Cassola who has signed the pledge, and is followed by Miriam Dalli who is also in support of the pledge. She makes special references to Uganda.

12.37pm: Kevin Plumpton also adds that he would be very comfortable in signing the pledge, and agrees with what has been said by the other two candidates. He also mentions that sanctions should be made in Ukraine, and he appealed that Europe should be faster in fighting human rights. He adds that this policy should go through the European Parliament, but there are other committees which should also fight for this. All politicians should fight in favour of these human rights.

12.39pm: Cyrus Engerer adds that the government is working on equalities, and the consulting council is also working n a gender identity bill. There are still other issues that surround this topic that still have to be addressed such as intersex people, and equality in marriage, which should be the first step.

12:43pm: Stefano Mallia is aware of the pledge and is looking forward to signing it as well. He emphasizes that orientations should never be an issue for a person. He also refers to Uganda but says that there are other cases where human rights are still not properly observed.

12:45pm: Questions by JEF Malta are on Federalism:

1. X’tahsbu li jrid isir biex jigi eliminat/mnaqqas in-nazzjonalizmu estrem u ewroxetticizmu?

2. JEF Malta temmen li fejn hemm l-unita hemm aktar sahha. Ghalhekk hija ghal din ir-raguni li ahna nemmnu f’ewropa federali. Tahseb li wasal iz-zmien li jkollna stati uniti tal-ewropa?

12:46pm: Stefano Mallia starts by saying that nationalism is a natural reaction. Member states should not built barriers between them and other countries. Barriers should be overcome. The model of the EU is good, but we should not lose faith in the EU as seems to happen sometimes. We are sometimes not capable in showing why the EU is useful, and this our challenge if we get elected.

12:46pm: Mr Engerer adds that first of all we need a better EU. The fact that Euro sceptics are growing in number, shows that people are actually losing faith in Europe. We have to understand that we cannot have a one size fits all Europe, because all countries have different needs.

12:50pm: Arnold Cassola says that national politics is sometimes egoistic. Complaints are made to Brussels, thus encouraging Euro scepticism, but once something good happens they take the credit. This must top. The implementations of policies should be taken more seriously, and we need a better unity in the EU.

1pm: Questions are taking from the audience and these are about illegal immigration, the Gozo-Malta link and diversity within the EU.

1.10pm: Plumpton starts by saying that discusses illegal immigration and says that a lot of people do not know what we are really talking about. We have to be familiar with what Frontex really is. Plumpton is once again asked for his solutions, and mentions diplomacy. The EU should solve this problem, but this should be tackled properly locally as well.

1:14pm: Engerer brings up the issue of different treatment towards Malts within the EU, because we are the smallest country. With regards to immigration he also emphasizes that there should be an EU effort that those who have no rights to be refugees should be repatriated.

He also mentions that GOzo should be recognised as a region within the EU. He believes that Gozo needs this to be able to receive more EU funds, and that Partit Laburisti believes in this as well.

On diversity, he also adds that we should preserve the cultures of every country.

1:18pm: Cassola strongly emphasizes that a change needs to be done on the Dublin rules. He also refers to Gozo and says that things should be done now, such as the catamaran between Gozo and Valleta. He is also against the permanent link and he said we should look at things within their context.

1:22pm: Miriam Dalli brings up the fast ferry service and also brings up two other things: statistics on Gozo to identify problems, and an office for Gozo in Brussels. On Immigration, she emphasizes that we have to focus more on burden sharing.

1:25pm: Actions must be taken on illegal immigration, says Stefano Mallia. He says that more things have to be done within the EU and mentions a number of solutions, such as actually going to the source countries to understand the real situation. Things can change if you actually come in contact with these people. So we have to be careful before generalising and taking decisions.

He also refers to Gozo again, and says that we do not have a good working plan or programme.

1:30pm: Plumpton says that although Eco-Gozo was perhaps not the solution, we have to work on a policy for Gozo. We need a proper vision but not just some patching.

1:30pm: A question by SDM:

Riċentament il-Gvern ħabbar dettalji dwar l-iskema ‘Garanzija għaż-Żgħażagħ. Nixtiequ nistaqsu għall-pożizzjoni tal-kandidati dwar din l-iskema… fis-sens taħsbu li jista’ jkun hemm min jara din l-iskema bħala opportunita’ biex jieqfu mill-iskola obbligatorja u ma jkomplux, għax jafu li hemm garanzija li se ssibilhom xogħol?

1:33pm: Question by Pulse:

What are you planning to do in order to encourage a higher rate of youth entrepreneurship?

1:34pm: Stefano Mallia answers first and says that if the economy is growing, we have to be innovative to create new sectors that will have new opportunities for our youths.

1:36pm: Guaranties for youth should be youth, training or education, says Miriam Dalli. We are not encouraging youth to leave school, but a lot are leaving school without knowing the proper basics. So we need initiatives to solve these problems. This should be the first step. We need things to happen, to just to be written down on papers. She also adds that we need change our mentality that taking a risk to get out of your comfort zone and start a business is not bad.

1:39pm: Plumpton says that all these youths looking for jobs means that the problem is not yet solved. He calls out to the politicians to come up with a proper job plan. There are laws which are in Malta that should be acted upon.

1:42pm: The weather was a particular factor during the debate with the MEP candidates being brought hot chocolate to protect them from the cold air, despite the fact the elected MEPS are going to the North of Europe and the Bahamas.

Cassola once again strongly emphasises on a number of issues that must be tackled within education and youth employment.

1.46pm: Engerer gives the last comments, and refers to a number of opportunities that were available in the past few years, but says that still, more has to be done. The guarantee of youths is important and the government will working towards something better. He also adds that the budget for entrepreneurs will double this year, and that the aims and goals of the youths should not be suppressed due to financial issues.

1:50pm: Conclusions by the moderator, Julian Caruana.

Thank you for following our live updates on insiteronline.com

Posted in Events

Our visit to the PBS studios

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On Wednesday 19th February, a number of us, as members of Insite, were given a thorough tour around the Public Broadcasting Service building in Gwardamangia, now known as the modern creativity hub of Maltese media. After seeing first hand the amazing high-quality technological developments that have taken place in a building, which only a couple of years ago was an eye sore inside and out, one particular question continues to resonate inside my head:

Why do we still consider local television to be mediocre, even in the midst of this state-of-the-art refurbishment?

Could it be that the viewing public has not yet given PBS the opportune chance to use its newly attained tools to provide better quality television? Perhaps the current staff lacks the necessary experience to use the latest machinery? Or is it still too early for these improvements to actually give better results?

While all these guesses may be equally  true,  it is also practical to consider the possibility that the Maltese population, by being exposed to worldwide programmes, has mistakingly maintained the mentality that foreign material is always better.

While roaming around the building, particularly the behind-the-scenes areas such as the control rooms, editing suites and the quality control room, and when hearing the words of the staff members themselves, it is quite clear that there aren’t enough employees to deal with the magnitude of the work.

In order to carry the burden of moving PBS forward in technologically, more people need to be present. For instance, something already being done is encouraging young people interested in media, including students still undergoing their education, to use the new hub as an opportunity to work and learn in an inviting environment. This would give them a wide introductory vista to this ever-growing industry, and an absolutely reliable platform towards making a job in media a permanent career option.

Nevertheless, when comparing it to the past few years,  PBS has gone a very long way. The variety of programmes and channels ranging from television to radio, as well as the importance given to online transmissions and on-demand facilities, have contributed to getting Maltese media one step closer to reaching an international standard.

By branching out to events televised abroad, such as Eurovision, football championships and talent shows like the X Factor, PBS is continuously attempting to broaden its audience and provide it with as much of an interesting mixture as possible. While many of us prefer a Sherlock or Breaking Bad marathon, it is undeniable that TVM, Radju Malta and Magic Radio are a source of both information and entertainment for the whole island.

A mention and heartfelt thank you goes out to Rodianne Caligari who was our tour guide at the PBS premises, and also to the Insite executive for organizing this educational visit. Keep your eyes peeled for other similar events held by the Insite team in the near future.

Posted in Events, TV

School-aged drug abusers and desistence: What’s the catch?

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Drug abuse amongst youngsters is definitely not a new social phenomenon. Still, it is shocking to read statistics regarding substance use by school-aged children. Moreover, many associate drugs with criminal activity and desistance from such activity need to be promoted. This was the subject matter of the Work in Progress in the Social Studies (WIPSS) seminars series organised by Professor Paul Clough, Professor Peter Mayo and Doctor Michael Brigulgio.

The main goal of these seminars was to provide any researchers with a forum to obtain feedback for their ideas through discussion and to act as an interface between the University community and civil society in Malta. This seminar did just that, with Dr. Damian Spiteri, a senior lecturer at MCAST, and Leon-David Madden, a facilitator at the CARITAS New Hope programme sharing their views and expertise.

The first part of the seminar consisted of Dr. Spiteri putting the participants in the sociological context of the subject. This served well for attendees such as myself, who were not familiar with sociology and other related theories to be put into perspective and who did wholly understand the matter at hand. It is remarkable how many theorists and researchers have written about the matter with each and every one of them presenting a variety of opinions and theories as to what works in resolving this issue of drug abuse amongst school-aged youngsters. These mainly included the notion the labelling, dialogue between the victims and the people around them as well as the link between desistance and the criminal image associated with drugs.

The second part, which I also found  to be quite innovative involved Dr. Spiteri and Mr. Madden conversing between themselves regarding the subject. Madden pointed out how drugs abuse amongst peers is recent, it has been part of our society for years. In spite of this, the number of school-aged people who are abusing of drugs is continuously on the increase since such substances are more available than ever. Throughout the dialogue, it was pointed out how challenging it is for youngsters to open up and trust the guidance teacher made available in educational institutions. Moreover, the speakers highlighted how many peers are influenced by the media as well as their peer group. The parent’s role is also crucial to the peer’s education. Parents should be well informed to put their children on the right track. Interestingly enough, it was pointed out that society associates drug abuse and criminal activity with people who come from poor backgrounds. This isn’t a rule engraved in stone since even people from the high end of society can fall victim to such abuse and criminal activity.

The discussion that then followed focussed on the participants, mainly students, who gave their feedback related to what had been said. Many pointed out how the criminal image which is associated with drug use might motivate peers to actually try out such substances. Others argued that the media, ironically as a source of education, seems to glorify alcohol and drugs with some programmes blowing the issue out of proportion and looking at the issue as an opportunity for promotion. Inevitably, the hotly debated topic of decriminalising drugs also came up. The latter fit in perfectly with the seminar topic and many seemed to argue in favour of such an incentive, posing well-worded arguments and giving examples of other countries such as the Netherlands where this decriminalisation has taken place. On the other hand, there was scepticism of such decriminalisation amongst school-aged youngsters.

Such activities serve as a ground for informing oneself on subject matters outside the ambits of one’s particular course. As a law student, I am mostly interested in the legal perspective but this seminar has given me a completely diverse outlook on drug abuse and desistance. It is a pity that many people don’t attend or appreciate such initiatives since in reality, they are extremely informative.

Posted in Events