Friday, 29 April 2005

The Useless Nonfiction Section

I am building up a very small collection of completely useless nonfictional books. Perhaps a better term is "farcical reference". Currently that part of my bookshelf contains:
A dinosaur field-spotter's guide
A Klingon-English dictionary
The Zombie Survival Guide

I have yet to obtain a copy of the travel guide to Molvania, a fictional Eastern-European country.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Suggestions for further additions are welcome.
PPS - Perhaps some alien anatomy textbooks would be good.

Thursday, 28 April 2005

Electronics thought for the day

If we turn volume up and down, why does the bar on the TV go side-to-side?

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Most remote controls have the buttons vertically aligned, too.
PPS - There's probably a really good, simple reason.

Another Brilliant Idea from MokalusCorp!

People these days are so used to ignoring advertising that it's subconscious. Anything that even looks like an ad just makes our eyes slide right off it. It's wetware that's been built up over decades and now, thanks to the internet, it's a pretty darn solid part of our mental landscape.

I believe this effect of "ad-blindness" can, therefore, be used as a kind of camouflage. If I were to cover myself in enough advertising and advertising-like images, I should be able to stroll through an urban centre completely undetected! A field trial is yet to be conducted, but laboratory results have been promising.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Patent Pending.
PPS - This effect is closely related to the Somebody Else's Problem field, first described by Douglas Adams.

Wednesday, 27 April 2005

Freaking out

Being an impressionable young man who is slightly disconnected from reality can have serious consequences sometimes. Satire and fantasy are particularly dangerous. The Zombie Survival Guide starts its chapters with "genuine" accounts of zombie incidents, presented in a frank, straightforward, no-nonsense fashion. Knowing that the rest of the book was humour-oriented still left me in doubt about these stories. Were they genuine events that had been misinterpreted in some way? Clever hoaxes? Individual hallucinations? I couldn't be sure. What finally grabbed me was a mention of the "Lawson Film", an allegedly-genuine silent home movie of a zombie attack and fruitless escape attempt. I had to search for this artifact on the internet immediately, just to know one way or the other. I was extremely relieved to discover that all the pre-chapter stories in TZSG were entirely fictional.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Now I can sleep again.
PPS - But the door is staying braced.

Tuesday, 26 April 2005

First Class or Casket?

Heard on the radio this morning about a funeral company that's just introduced a new hearse to carry the mourning family as well as the casket. It's so you don't have to think about driving at such a stressful and emotional time. Twelve facing leather seats in a refitted minibus. The kicker is that it comes complete with a minibar and DVD player. I'm sure plenty of families have thought "Gee, what I need right now is to watch The Truman Show again."

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Word is the next model will be equipped with a PlayStation 2.
PPS - And wireless broadband internet.

Monday, 25 April 2005

Anthropological Studies

It has become customary recently for The Boys to go bowling after church on Sunday night. I've mentioned this before. Over the past couple of weeks, however, we've been joined by girls. Erin insists on treating it like an anthropological expedition, and has been emailing her "findings" around to the group the following day. She attributes us with simian qualities, negates any possible higher-brain functions, etc. It's quite good, very amusing, but at the same time somewhat insulting, so I put together this rebuttal and sent it around to all the same people:

The anthropological studies thus far undertaken by the below quoted researcher have been interesting, if somewhat misguided. She appears to be under the impression that her observations are objective and aloof. Her research assistant has proven incapable of observing without interfering in the bonding activities, though this is most likely due to the presence of her mate.

The researcher appeared to be attempting to blend in to her surroundings, participating in the bowling games with a style best described as "static". Clearly the game was a stressful situation, and engaging the males on their own territory put her on edge. While she managed admirably, it is probably for the best that she is unaware of the danger she placed herself in. If she had panicked at an inopportune time, the pack, smelling fear, could have attacked.

The researcher seems also to be unaware of the most basic elements of pack behaviour, offering not a single "high-five" during the entire course of the night. Butt-slapping was also noticeably absent though, once again, this is probably for the best. A poorly-executed butt-slap can result in the untimely and violent removal of a limb.

The researcher (and assistant plus mate) will be kept under observation, blissfully unaware of their participation in an intricate and ingenious social experiment, the extent of which could only be dimly perceived by them.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This rebuttal followed the first week of Erin's actual participation.
PPS - She has not yet made a full reply.

Sunday, 24 April 2005

The Sunday Mok - 24 April 2005

Last Sunday we went to lunch with some old family friends and I got to spend some time with Joanne, who's like my adopted cousin. I didn't want to leave when we did. Bowling at night, I barely managed to break 100 in each of two games.
Monday Jeff said he wanted me to do part of our presentation on Tuesday - the part about Cornerstone, our .NET software framework. I prefer to get more notice than that. I managed to play a little City of Heroes, something I've been unable to do recently. Ug's been hammering on FFXI a lot.
On Tuesday we did our presentation, and I had to do more in addition to talking about Cornerstone. That was definitely bad, because I only speak well in public with a script and had no time to prepare one.
Wednesday I started work on a new project: a database to keep track of staff appraisals, plus its web front end. After work I saw Assault on Precinct 13 and watched Battlestar Galactica when I got home.
On Thursday the appraisals database project was made official, I had the (very simple) database table structure ready and finished most of the data access layer. I did very little else that day.
By Friday I estimated that I was 75% done with the appraisals database. With Cornerstone, it's pretty much just turn-the-crank programming. Nothing too challenging. My books finally arrived from Amazon, including the Zombie Survival Guide, obviously essential reading in my world.
I spent most of Saturday watching television, which is not something I generally recommend. I did get out of the house in the afternoon, partly to look for American Idiot on DVD, because I noticed that the Holiday video leads directly into the Boulevard of Broken Dreams video, which follow in that order on the CD. I didn't find it.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm pretty sure it's not out yet.
PPS - It will be, though.

Friday, 22 April 2005

Elbow Etiquette

Over at Simplebits, there's a post about sharing armrests that I thought was interesting. However, my more common problem is how close I can sit to strangers on the bus. Too close and we're snuggling, too far and I fall off around sharp corners. Usually I manage to remain in place halfway on the seat by shifting down and jamming my knee into the seat in front. It's relatively safe and I don't have to worry about when the corners are coming up, so I can read. There is usually still a negotiation phase with my allotted seat-buddy.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The factors determining our sitting distance are usually gender, body mass and attractiveness.
PPS - Deciding their relative importance is left as an exercise for the reader.

Thursday, 21 April 2005

Assault on Precinct 13

I caught Assault on Precinct 13 last night, thanks to a free ticket. Here's what I thought of the individual performances of the main cast:
Gabriel Byrne: Portrayed a very calculated villain.
Laurence Fishburne: I don't think Fishburne showed his range in this film. He didn't have that criminal touch - even scowling slightly most of the time would have made the difference.
Ethan Hawke: Performed pretty well. I got the impression that the role was not a major stretch for him. What that means is open to further interpretation.
John Leguizamo: Really quite good. I was impressed.
Maria Bello: Not a difficult role overall, and a decent performance.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The movie, overall, didn't suck quite as much as I expected.
PPS - There's not too much to bother with, though.

Wednesday, 20 April 2005

That was unexpected

Last night I cut myself with an old toothbrush. I didn't even know that was possible. Granted, I was using it in a slightly unorthodox way, cleaning under my fingernails. Still, it's not something you expect to happen. I imagine that, even if you've prepared for all kinds of situations, you'd forget to include "getting cut by a toothbrush".

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The brush has been locked up for its own protection.
PPS - My recovery is expected to be brief and easy.

Tuesday, 19 April 2005

Who's online?

Sometimes when I open MSN Messenger I wonder to myself "Who's online?". Immediately, without fail, a response comes to mind: "No, Who's on first. What's online."

Mokalus of Borg

PS - "I-Don't-Know's on AOL."
PPS - All of this makes no sense at all.

Monday, 18 April 2005

Dead on my feet

I've had hardly any rest since Friday morning, so now I'm shuffling around half-awake and hoping I can make it through a work day, because I don't think I can call in tired. Our work is not too stressful right now, so I think I can manage.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Perhaps a delivery from Amazon will energise me.
PPS - I'm currently awaiting two packages.

Friday, 15 April 2005

There's a reason it sank

Blogger be buggin' this mornin', yo. Fo' shizzle. I think that means something. Anyway...

I caught my first episode of Stargate: Atlantis last night, and while it's a bit interesting, I'm not sure how long it will be able to ensnare me in it's tentacles. The producers have clearly gone for the "minimise spending, maximise profit" business model. This forced the director to suggest that visually interesting things are happening off-screen rather than showing them. There was also a cringe-worthy scene between two characters outside clearly standing in front of a blue screen. I wasn't that impressed with the acting, either.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The story was okay, it just could have used better dialogue.
PPS - We'll see how it goes next week.

Thursday, 14 April 2005

The Rules of Cool

I've come up with these general rules for being cool. Let me know what you think.

1. If you start out uncool, trying to become cool is powerfully uncool.
2. If you manage to become cool, you must never speak of your old,
uncool self again.
3. Cool is defined by the subculture.
4. Cool is being just like everyone else, but different enough that
you retain your identity.
5. For some subcultures, "just like us" is a very broad category indeed.
6. Cool is not your clothes. It's how you own them.
7. Faking it is not cool, unless it's a joke.
8. Uncool people cannot produce cool stuff. Someoone who produces cool
stuff is, therefore, cool by definition.
9. Being different can be cool, as long as you started out "cool like us".
10. Cool is always fresh - becoming something new all the time. Because of this, what was cool yesterday is not quite as cool today.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Feel free to suggest additions.
PPS - Remember rule 10 before you suggest a specific item of clothing.

Wednesday, 13 April 2005

It's all falling into place...

Darth Gerard's PlanTM for the Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith premiere is coming together. He now has the Gold Class cinema booked. Imagine my frustration when, just days ago, I agreed to book tickets with other friends instead of, say, bringing them along with me to Gold Class to finally meet the Dark Lord of the Office.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I should really have got a photo of Darth Gerard before he left.
PPS - One of the ones with his lightsabre would have worked well.

Tuesday, 12 April 2005

Cheque me out update

As it stood, my previous electronic cheque proposal required widespread changes to online businesses, presumably at great cost. Those changes that catch on most quickly require change only from one end and are backwards-compatible. Therefore, I'd propose that the banks issuing electronic cheques verify those charges through the same external interface by which they perform ordinary credit card transactions. That is, an electronic cheque for use online becomes a one-use, quick-expiry very-low-limit credit card, with its own valid number, but linked to its parent account.

Here's an example: I want to buy something from, an online store that is not particularly reputable, but is the only place I can find the goods I want. I go to my bank website and log in to get access to my credit card account. Let's say, for argument's sake that it has a limit of $4000.00 - clearly more than I want to risk in dealing with I instruct the bank to fill out an electronic cheque for $50, the amount of my purchase, and it issues me with a temporary card number in my name and with an expiry date 2 months from now (since card expiry dates are by month and it might be right near the end of a month). I can now go to and enter the temporary card details, knowing full well that they cannot take more than the purchase price and cannot hold my card details for later fraudulent use.

The disadvantage of this system is still the same as before - it's very slightly harder to use than just giving out full access to my $4000.00 credit card. It also means that banks will issue lots more credit card numbers than they currently do, but since they expire so quickly, they can be re-used now and then.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It turns out that my original idea is not too original.
PPS - I think this is a resonable compromise.

Monday, 11 April 2005

The Great Nerd Drive of '05

Supanova. There are three kinds of people who stink: those who are covered in something smelly, those whose sweat naturally stinks, and those who smell bad because they simply do not wash. This third type is the kind you will meet at a pop culture convention. I carried deodorant and was sorely tempted to use it on more than one occasion, if only to mask the smell of these other people. Fortunately, not everyone was part of the mass of the unwashed - some were costumed instead.

The best reason to go to a convention is if you are a comic book or figurine collector. I am neither, so most of my time was spent wandering around pretending to be interested in such things. I did catch Ray Park talking about Star Wars and teaching some people to spin lightsabres, at least in theory. I also saw the first three episodes of Full Metal Alchemist, and I think I could get into anime, as long as it's about good stories. I'd definitely be interested in a Fullmetal Alchemist MMORPG.

It's good every now and then to remind yourself that there are people who are sadder than you. Seeing fourty-five-year-old men dressed as Spiderman, The Phantom and Batman really encouraged me that I am normal. The fact that I had no interest in the trading card games and could not identify most of the merchandise for sale lifted my spirits. I am, relatively speaking, grounded in reality and have normal interests.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm bringing nose plugs for next year.
PPS - And possibly a Jedi robe.

Sunday, 10 April 2005

The Sunday Mok - Concentrated Action

Last Sunday morning was the first time since the Easter play that I'd walked into church and seen the chairs moved back to their usual configuration. That was, somehow, a little sad for me. I caught a bus home, and I saw a bus that had collided with a ute just past my stop. I would have been on that bus if I'd left church a few minutes earlier.
Monday at work was just more of the daily routine. It's getting a little bit tedious, I suppose. I played City of Heroes in the evening and got to level 14 with my second character - she can fly properly now, rather than just hovering.
Tuesday I skipped karate to attend the final church fair meeting, which started rather early - 6pm. They ordered pizza and I couldn't recall hearing in advance that there would be food. More CoH in the evening.
I spent Wednesday mostly in design mode, so the amount of code I wrote was minimal. I'd like to hear concretely exactly what we want out of this Venture system. I felt stressed, and it's the kind of stress that doesn't go away just by relaxing.
Thursday was bits and pieces of everything. Work, phone calls, leaflet delivery (for the church fair) and signing up for Relay For Life.
Friday I knuckled down at work to get the broad strokes of Venture up and running, because we want it going by next week, even if it's basic. In the evening I went to Bronwyn's farewell party and got home about 02:30. It was good to see people again, since I'm way too slack to organise such a thing myself.
On Saturday I went to Supanova. The best bits were seeing Ray Park (AKA Darth Maul) and Fullmetal Alchemist, about to be released on DVD. I'll post a fuller report tomorrow.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Tired now.
PPS - Today promises to be as busy as yesterday.

Friday, 8 April 2005

It's gonna be a long weekend

And by "long" I don't mean that there's a public holiday on Monday, either. I mean I've got a party tonight, Supanova and another party on Saturday and two church services plus a lunch and training event on Sunday. I'll probably stumble into work on Monday still asleep.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - That's assuming I catch the right bus while asleep.
PPS - Maybe I should wake up for that part.

Thursday, 7 April 2005

It looks easier on the ad

Every couple of months a responsible cat owner treats their pet for the various kinds of worms that can somehow invade their bodies. We previously used some chewy meat-flavoured tablets to treat for heartworm and let the vet handle the rest. The heartworm tablets were good. Our feline friend enjoyed them. She would appear and happily wolf it down, just barely remembering to chew.

Last time we went back to buy more, they were unavailable and we got some vials of poison that treat for fleas plus four kinds of worms. That is the only sense in which they are better. Now the cat can smell it coming, and she hates it. When we can find her, she turns into a spinning vortex of razor blades and it takes three of us to hold her still long enough to squeeze out the tiny drop of liquid onto her skin. She's not even that big and she usually manages to show all three of us the colour of our blood by the end.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The vet assistant said these things were "better".
PPS - Maybe other cats are different.

Wednesday, 6 April 2005

An interpretation issue

I saw a brunette girl wearing a t-shirt that sported the slogan "Blondes do it Better" and I am at a loss how to interpret it. Is it self-deprecating humour? Can she not read? Is she in denial? Does she dye her hair? Better than what (or whom)? These mysteries and more, I suppose, will have to wait for another day.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Your planet is a confusing place.
PPS - Er ... I mean our planet, obviously.

Tuesday, 5 April 2005

The Big Brother Black Hole

The hype machine is gearing up for Big Brother '05 already. Next month I will drop off the face of the earth, once again slave to the glowing box that makes noises. I'll still be posting here, and I guess I'll still come to work, but only out of habit.

One ad proclaims "35 000 people applied for Big Brother 2005. Think you know how many are going in? Think again." Sam, upon seeing this, immediately theorised that all of them would go in. Just seal them up and say "no food - you'll have to eat each other". Mmm, cannibalism. Now that's entertainment!

I took the idea just a few steps further and imagined the biggest, most expensive, least real reality TV show ever: ZombieTown. Cordon off a massive playing field, hide food and foam/paintball weapons, hire about a thousand actors to play zombies. Last one "alive" or first one to reach the military-controlled safe zone wins, depending on which happens first. Prize is dependent on how many people arrive at the safe zone together, to encourage cooperation.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - You must have seen the zombie link coming.
PPS - Seriously, what else do I ever talk about?

Monday, 4 April 2005

A dark sense of foreboding

We have a "staff briefing" on today from 9am until who-knows-when. Last year the topics of discussion included:
  • How much money our hard work is making for other people.
  • How long certain people have been working hard to make lots of money for other people.
  • How much the public opinion helps us make money for other people.
I fell asleep last year. This year I may bring a pillow.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The "other people" mentioned are the company shareholders.
PPS - Our managers are all shareholders above a certain level. They give the presentation.

Sunday, 3 April 2005

The Sunday Mok - Another Short Week

Last Sunday I was still at AGMF, which is why no Sunday Mok appeared then. I suppose I could have done it later but, er, I didn't. It was a good day, I saw some good bands, and that's about it.
Monday we packed up and left Toowoomba. My own luggage had decreased in volume, and the girls had managed to expand. I was horrified at the way their tent was packed up. Our late breakfast at McDonald's would have been the second-last straw in a weekend load of fatty food. One more day there and I think I would have taken ill.
Tuesday was back to work, where I achieved some positive things. Karate in the evening meant being separated from the group to work on my kata. Since kata is one of the more strenuous aspects of karate for me, I was sore for a couple of days following that.
On Wednesday, besides the office grind and watching myself on video, I played City of Heroes as my defender and completed a zombie-killing mission that was giving me trouble.
Thursday the weather turned colder. Cold for sub-tropical Brisbane, that is. It's not like we can see our breath or anything. I got some real user feedback about DailyDownloads, one of my personal projects, so I spent my lunch hour fixing it up for a new release. I played more CoH in the evening.
On Friday I worked more on DailyDownloads, just up to the point where it needed debugging and tidying up before a release. I missed the first night of youth group in order to attend a cast & crew party for the Easter play, which was cool. I like hanging out with musicians and actors.
Saturday I succumbed to a kind of madness - I went into the office to finish off DailyDownloads and also scan some more of my university notes. In the afternoon I slept and cleaned out a backlog of recorded television on my PC, as well as finally getting the internal audio connector cable working for the TV tuner card. That's much better than the external version for several reasons.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - DailyDownloads is a program I wrote to get my web comics daily and make sure I don't miss any.
PPS - Available on request. ;)

Saturday, 2 April 2005


Okay, this right here contains the funniest stuff I've seen in over a month. It's from Mitch Hedberg's standup comedy, which is cool, coz he's funny. Watch the video clips in order if you've got the bandwidth. If you can only watch one, watch the last one.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Tragically, he's dead now.
PPS - That was one funny dude.

Friday, 1 April 2005

Empathise this

Checking the Big Brother site just now (because I have no life) I found this under the other info about house building status and housemate background checks:
  • Ten pregnancy empathy bellies ordered.
Now either that's going to be one of the house challenges or the builders and producers are gearing up for a really bizarre launch party. It'd be really interesting to see even more detailed info there, such as "Fired the sandwich lady".

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Or "Stubbed my toe on new house foundation".
PPS - "Tested InsanityCorp 'Icy-Cold(TM)' bedroom sprinkler system".