Wednesday, 31 March 2004

It's (almost) Alive!

Earlier I wrote about how I'd bought the final component for my new PC, but it turns out I was wrong. I managed to miss the fact that my motherboard doesn't have on-board video, so I needed a video card. I picked one up yesterday, plugged it in, and fired up my PC for the first time. There's a slight problem with the floppy drive, but apart from that, the as-yet-unnamed PC is fully functional.

I have yet to install the operating system, because: a) the keyboard is a fancy affair that needs a special driver installed before it can send function keystroke signals and b) the Windows XP installation requires you to press F8 to say you agree to the licence. I'll try plugging it into a USB port instead of its current PS/2 port tonight.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'd post pictures, if I had any.
PPS - Maybe some other time.

Tuesday, 30 March 2004

Rush Hour

How do you prioritise when everything is urgent and none of it is easy? That is, everything will take some time to do, it needs to be done really quickly, and there is more than one project behaving like this. I'm at a loss.

When things get hectic, I tend to fold over and let myself fail. I've never found out why that might be. Perhaps I don't believe in myself or my abilities enough. But when I think of it that way, it doesn't paint the whole picture. I don't think I fear success, though I do shy away from both compliments and criticism. "Let me do my own thing at my own pace, and keep your opinions to yourself", I seem to say.

Unfortunately, this is not the way the world works. I'm not supposed to make myself an island. I don't think I am. I'll ask for help when I need it and I think you can provide it. But when the phrase "my responsibility alone" crosses my mind, it's all over.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Hopefully, one day, I'll run out of introspective things to say here.
PPS - Maybe when I'm eighty or so.

Monday, 29 March 2004

It's Days Like These

Last night I forgot to set my alarm clock, so this morning I was glad that I still live with my Dad who still makes sure that meal times are family times. I was up a little later than I planned, but when I rearranged my morning routine, everything fitted in nicely and I still had time for fifteen minutes of reading before I left for work.

I'm breezing through Isaac Asimov's "I, Robot" partly because it's a classic I recently bought and partly because I've seen a trailer for the upcoming movie. It looks to me like the movie will be incredibly unfaithful to the Three Laws and Asimov's vision for the world of robots. To be sure, his stories usually involve something going wrong with a robot, but the movie shows blatant breakage of the First Law on a wide scale by thousands of robots. The story as I remember it never had anything like that. I guess the original story couldn't make much of a movie. So why try to make one?

I'll probably go see it anyway.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Well, that drifted rather rapidly off-topic, didn't it?
PPS - The Three Laws of Robotics.

Saturday, 27 March 2004

It's All Falling Into Place...

Today I purchased the last necessary part of my new PC - the mouse. Actually, it's an optical trackball, because that's all I have room for on my desk. Tonight's project will be to connect everything together, fire it up and see if it works. It's possible I've put the case fan in backwards, and I'm sure there will be some issues with the hard drive and DVD/CDRW drive living on the same IDE cable. The rest should be fine.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - If it isn't, I'll probably give up for a week or so.
PPS - But not forever, of course.

Thursday, 25 March 2004

Hi, I'm Mokalus, and I'm a Tazoholic

A few weeks ago I bought a packet of chips - I think they were Burger Rings. Inside the packet was a small metal disc that ruined my life - a Yu-Gi-Oh Tazo Metallix. I call myself addicted because I don't much care about the chips or Yu-Gi-Oh, but I've been buying an average of three packets of chips every two days, just to get more. To borrow a phrase from another cartoon, I've gotta catch 'em all.

I now own 17 discs, each of which has cost me $1.50. Yes, I got some chips with them, but I'd have been just as happy to throw the chips away and keep the Tazo. 17 discs at $1.50 each comes to $25.50 over a week or two. I'm likely to keep going.

My only hope is that the newly-opened Subway just down the road can take all my money before my Tazo collection does.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Having no control over one's wallet is an odd feeling.
PPS - This must be what it's like to be married. ;)

Wake up, Neo ...

Some days you wake up feeling good. Today seems to be one of those, despite the fact that I am, once again, turning to chemical aids to stay awake. Today's wake-up call is Milo "Energy Food Drink" which sounds very stupid when you put it like that. Doesn't taste great. Slightly bitter.

Anyway, probably contributing to the general good mood was the bus ride to work. I should start by saying that I name some of the familiar strangers I see on the bus. Today I sat next to "Lisa". I usually travel in silence, either reading or staring out the window, apart from an occasional "bless you" response to a sneeze. Today was no exception to the vow of silence. Sometimes it just feels good to be in the presence of people with whom no speech is necessary. Awkward pauses are the worst.

Everyone please raise your caffeinated beverages in a toast to silence.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - But no clinking them together.
PPS - Man, this Milo better be worth it.

Wednesday, 24 March 2004


Every man (and probably some women, too) wants to be more than an ordinary man. We want to be stronger, faster or smarter than the average man. To leap tall buildings in a single hyperbole. We want this because we love power and superiority, and superhuman powers are, to most people, power without responsibility.

The way we demonstrate our "incredible" powers varies, of course, but it usually amounts to biting off more than we can chew, then attempting to make it look easy. The results are more often comical than impressive. I have been the perpetrator of such showoff behaviour myself, more than once. I blame testosterone. I think I've learned to deal with the small doses well enough, but the big hits can still take me down to the level of parading monkey.

Here's to being unwitting victims of our body chemistry.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I really should get around to linking to this blog from my website.
PPS - Yeah, I'll do that Real Soon Now.

Tuesday, 23 March 2004

Star Trek XIII - So Very Tired

Man, I could really use a day off. I don't think I'd do anything much with it, besides sleep, but I do think it would do me a world of good. Recently I've been very bogged down outside work. Work itself is fine, really. The way I know I'm too busy is that I've had to make a schedule to cram everything in and remember it all. The kind of schedule I can handle fits inside my slightly-oversized memory. This one doesn't.

Two weeks and counting down.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The PS/PPS style is starting to feel a bit tacked-on here.
PPS - But this is what I do, so I'll just keep on doing it.

Monday, 22 March 2004

How to disintegrate spiders

This morning, as I was washing the dishes, a small spider appeared near the sink. I left it alone, but still vowed to destroy the creature should it get in my way. As it turns out, that was unnecessary.

Our young Mr Spider was drawn to the hot water, and dipped a toe in. It seems that was too much for it, as it turned around to make a hasty retreat. Unfortunately, it slipped and fell backwards into the suds. As I cleared the bubbles aside to check on the fate of the little monster, I was surprised to find that every one of its legs had fallen off. Apparently, this is what happens to spiders in hot water.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - And thus nature has presented me with yet another spider-annihilating method.
PPS - "Science again! I said science again!" - Homestar Runner

Sunday, 21 March 2004

Blog on Blogging or "The Why"

I've been asked why on earth I would do something like this, and my immediate response was "Because the world needs to hear and ignore what I have to say". That's probably pretty much it. I'm happy for my thoughts to be on the web, even if nobody's reading them. Like shouting into the desert.

So what's the point? It's psychological, of course. I can't tell if anyone's reading or not (most likely not, so far) but they could be, and that's what matters. It's not like I'm writing in a journal nobody can ever read at all, or won't until I'm dead. This one is out there for everyone to see.

Most of my need to express myself is already fulfilled in my paper journal, and that one nobody will see until I'm gone. That's probably why updates here will be so infrequent. There's not much difference between the two.

So I've got to figure out what I want to say here. Back when I knew everything, I wanted to tell people how to be better (especially my fellow males), how to design better software and how to become a person to be feared. Now I probably just want to talk about software.

I guess I'm not going anywhere with this. Best to quit while I'm still relatively coherent.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - There are some behaviours I know I should not encourage.
PPS - Usually they are the ones I allow to continue the longest.

Friday, 19 March 2004

The Joys of Code Re-use

Any programmer who's worked on a project of any notable size would like to re-use code. I certainly do, and I usually plan objects that way. I've been working on one project (in C#.NET) for over a year now, and have developed a business layer that is reasonably generic, but still needs lots of work. A few days ago I was given another small project - an online graduate job application form - and I decided to re-use my business code. That part was relatively easy, although it could be easier. The hard part was the web front end.

Okay, to be honest, the web controls code I was using was more specific to the old project, so it wasn't much intended to be re-used, but I did it anyway. That just served to highlight the point that a generic web front end framework would be really useful. Besides the hoops I had to jump through to get the thing working, it's not extensible. If I need a new control - say, a date input - then I can write it, but I need to go back to the original code and modify that, too. This makes me think there is a better way, like an interface. I think I can make it better, but it would take lots of time that the company probably wouldn't pay me for.

In all, and as usual, the more interesting job is writing frameworks, tools and components rather than writing actual applications.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - A true hacker, I suppose, is the programming equivalent of a research professor.
PPS - That is, the ideas matter more than whether this will actually be used by anyone.

Thursday, 18 March 2004

The Borg Blog has had its wish of becoming a real boy granted! Mokalus of Blog is now online at its new home, and I plan to stay here for just a little while.

Before anyone notices and gets upset, there is another Mokalus in this world. I was surprised to discover this one day when I went ego-surfing at Google. I thought, way back in 1997 or so, that I had created a unique name that would be unlikely to crop up again. Apparently I was wrong. My doppelganger (sp?) is also a blogger, and he lives at I've only given it a cursory glance, really, but he seems to love Jesus, so I've got no gripes.

I will probably post here only a few times a week, because I know how busy you all are. ;)

Peace, out.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I have yet to decide if I should stick with my "PS/PPS" post style in the blog.
PPS - I'll give it a try for a while, at least.