Tuesday, 31 May 2005

Reintroducing the human factor

It was not too long ago that most bus tickets were disposable magnetic strip cards, read by the appropriate hardware. The various rules about expiry dates and valid times were enforced automatically by The Machines, issuing their judgements by sequences of beeps.

Now many tickets are just receipts, printed in the same way as everything else. It takes a little longer to get on the bus, but now we have some human fallibility back in the system. If you catch a driver early enough in the day, it's sometimes possible to pass off an expired ticket, walking confidently onto the bus as the driver blearily waves you by. This is the kind of system that can allow real experimentation.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I have personally managed to get on a bus with an expired ticket.
PPS - I have yet to try a shopping docket or Subway serviette.

Monday, 30 May 2005


In a few months, I'm going to have to get used to terms like "step-mother", "step-sister" and "step-brother". How far exactly does the step-relative terminology extend? Am I gaining a step-grandmother? When my step-sister has children with my step-brother-in-law, do I get step-neices and step-nephews? Are the children of my step-mother-to-be's brother my step-cousins? These are among the many questions I'll need to answer.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - For those who tuned in late, my father is re-marrying later this year.
PPS - Um ... that is all.

Sunday, 29 May 2005

The Sunday Mok - "Hold this so he doesn't run away"

Last Sunday was standard as far as Sundays go. Coffee Club instead of bowling after the evening church service. Though I say that, we haven't been bowling in a few weeks now.
On Monday my desk was moved back to its old position, which made the other move completely pointless. I worked on the staff appraisals database and also on tracking down a memory module for the Controls guys.
Tuesday at karate in the evening Mark and Deb had brought some kick pads and a punching bag for a change. I was surprised by the amount of power I could get out of my kicks, because it's just not obvious when you're kicking air.
Wednesday was Towel Day and I missed it. Troubles with the computers at work and home. Queensland won the State of Origin first game, so that (mostly) made up for a missed Towel Day.
On Thursday I spent most of my time on Venture (project management software) and Homer (safety management software). We finally met our new fearless leader, David, whom we had begun to think might not have been real. Dinner at a South-side Thai restaurant with the relatives.
Most of Friday I spent on Homer. The code itself is uncomplicated - what will take up the most time is getting everyone sorted out so they can log in easily. What makes it difficult is what's going to happen in a few months to our office login system, and we have to be ready for that.
I bought an MP3 player on Saturday - a Creative ZEN Micro - and it's pretty cool. I also went to see The Taming of the Shrew at Harvest Rain because the ticket was free and a friend was in the play. Also went to dinner at West End for Adam's birthday.

If you're on the North side of Brisbane and it's not too late to change your plans for tonight, come to The Gap Uniting Church to see Contagious.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It'll be great.
PPS - Belly-dancing is not my calling.

Friday, 27 May 2005

The Spanish zombie says...

"Brains" is a pretty simple word in English. I imagine even zombies that are somewhat lacking in verbal skill could manage it. If a zombie spoke another language in life, however, things could easily get more complicated. "Cerebros" and "cervelli" - Spanish and Italian respectively - are considerably more complicated. The German "gehirne" has to be my favourite so far, and this morning I discovered the Welsh word "ymenyddiau". I can't really imagine being stalked by a pack of zombies in Wales all saying crying out for my "ymenyddiau". It just doesn't fit.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Besides which, I probably wouldn't recognise the word at the time.
PPS - I couldn't find a Klingon word for brains.

Thursday, 26 May 2005

Happy (Belated) Towel Day!

I missed Towel Day again - the memorial day for Douglas Adams, celebrated by fans who carry their towels around all day in memory of our favourite author. I've missed every one since 2001 when Mr Adams died, and not on purpose - that would just be mean, and I am rarely (deliberately) mean. This year I even set a reminder on my phone so I couldn't possibly forget. Every now and then something that can't possibly go wrong does go wrong. The reminder slipped and I trotted off to work as if yesterday was a day just like any other.

Then again, anyone who's seen it will know that I have a towel that I carry in my work bag every single day, inspired by the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, so in a way, I didn't miss Towel Day at all. I'd just rather have remembered properly.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - On an unrelated note, it's a good day to be a Queenslander.
PPS - I also forgot to wear my maroon shirt yesterday.

Wednesday, 25 May 2005

Today's post is brought to you by...

Suspicious Fires Incorporated. Have you recently purchased a block of land for development, then found that the existing building on the site is heritage-listed and can't be legally torn down? You need Suspicious Fires Incorporated. Our "operatives" will show up one night and burn the place to the ground for a nominal fee. Specify "no accelerants"[1] to avoid the phrase "police are treating the blaze as suspicious" in news reports.

[1] The "no accelerants" service is available at our inspector's discretion. A surcharge applies.

This post is satire. Suspicious Fires Incorporated is another of my little jokes. A few times over the years, this exact thing has happened to buildings in Brisbane, and it's got to be more than a coincidence. Mere days after a land developer discovers the heritage status of an existing structure, the thing "mysteriously" burns to ashes. It's only logical to assume a shady organisation is behind it.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The joke, of course, is that these people could not incorporate.
PPS - And they probably wouldn't get much business with this name anyway.

Tuesday, 24 May 2005

Take a penny, leave a penny

Following the suggestion from yesterday, I have placed a single 5c coin in the "free money" container. It would hardly be worth anyone's time to take it, so I predict it will remain for the whole day.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - If it lasts a week, I'll add to it.
PPS - This could, however, turn into an expensive experiment very quickly.

Monday, 23 May 2005

Is this funny?

I have an odd sense of humour. Every now and then I'm the only one laughing. Recently I put a small plastic container on top of a nearby bookshelf at work and wrote on it: "FREE MONEY! Please take some". It started empty and, of course, is still empty. Is that funny? Sometimes I can't tell.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I was partly inspired by people who steal from charity.
PPS - It has not yet raised a comment.

Sunday, 22 May 2005

The Sunday Mok - 22 May 2005

Last Sunday I watched TV, slept and finished my Bible study work for the week. I went to the Ashgrove evening church service rather than the combined Pentecost service, partly to promote the service being put on by new band Contagious, now one week away.
Most of Monday at work was unproductive: I had to install some new software, which took all morning, then I had training in the afternoon. Bible study in the evening and more TV.
Tuesday at work I went to a presentation about computer-simulated physics for engineering applications. A sandwich lunch was provided, and I ate probably three times as much as I would usually eat for lunch, then nodded off during the presentation. For this reason, I think it would be better to serve the lunch after presentations.
Wednesday's big event was, obviously, the Revenge of the Sith midnight screening. The robe of my costume was only finished (by Bridgit - thankyou!) after we got inside the cinema. Most people were upset by the number of trailers and ads played before the movie. I got home around 3am.
I slept in until 09:00 on Thursday, went through the usual morning routine and missed the bus by one minute. In the afternoon, when I got to the bus stop, a hailstorm started, but let up by the time I got home, so I didn't need an umbrella at all.
Friday Dad announced he's re-marrying. He told us by saying "You might like to know: [Beth] and I picked up an engagement ring tonight. So ... I guess we're officially engaged." He's a funny one sometimes. We took the youth group kids to play pool at QMasters. Matt is an absolute star at that game.
I went for a run on Saturday morning with my 1kg weights and just kept to a maintainable pace. I watched Starship Troopers 2, which is basically a sci-fi slasher flick. Went to Miv's for dinner and saw Star Wars again with him, Julia, Rory, Julie, Rich, Lyd and Adam.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I only picked up a couple of things in the second screening that I missed in the first.
PPS - I found I kept focusing on the costumes most of the time.

Friday, 20 May 2005

I've just been playing with Picasa, so now I give you: Holiday snaps from Paragon City.

Musical desks

Yesterday my desk was moved about five metres across an aisle. Now it's going to be moved back because of an oversight. The whole story goes that half of the ground floor downstairs is being refitted at the moment, so those sitting there have moved into other positions around the office. Those that are supposed to move in right beside us are from upstairs where they have perfectly good spots. I don't know where this edict has issued from.
I'm not certain all of this will work out fine, because the end plan seems to involve two occupied desks magically disappearing. One is ours and is loaded with servers, PCs and test equipment. The current word is "find some place for it".

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Perhaps we can get it upstairs where these new people are moving from.
PPS - I'm worried by how much time our management is personally spending on this.

Thursday, 19 May 2005

I want a lizard like that

I caught a midnight screening of Revenge of the Sith last night, and was suitably impressed. There was still that undefinable something missing, however. The lightsabre duels were excellent - I'm really glad George doesn't use slow motion in Star Wars movies. The Trade Federation accents were further toned down to something quite cartoonish and stupid. Some parts dragged (cityscape panoramas, for instance) and others felt like they deserved more treatment.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Overall it was a positive experience.
PPS - It's just too bad you already know who's going to survive.

Wednesday, 18 May 2005

Horrifying thought

I just thought of something: I finished a conversation with Stu about going in costume to Star Wars tonight, completely forgetting that my only transport is by bus, followed by a five or ten minute walk. It's fine to be in costume when you get where you're going, but the trip there is a killer.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Semi-relevant "travelling in costume" comic strip.
PPS - I may need my extra-large coat.

You must be patient, young padawan

I had hoped to grow enough hair by now to wear a Jedi training braid (behind the right ear) to the Star Wars premiere tonight. Unfortunately, an attempt to do so would only result in an invisible strand that's hardly worth the effort.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I also never completed my lightsabre and Jedi robe.
PPS - If by "completed" I mean "started".

Tuesday, 17 May 2005

The Petition to Get Mokalus to Shut Up About Big Brother Altready

Just in case you're sick of it already, or feel you're likely to get sick of it sometime in the future, I thought I'd provide an opportunity for you to voice your dissent at the amount of Big Brother talk on this site.

"We the undersigned, etc, blah blah, shut the hell up about BB." Just leave a comment to force me to find other things to write about.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I promise I won't start watching Survivor.
PPS - Though that would hardly last long now.

Monday, 16 May 2005

When Twins Attack

It seems my prediction about the BB Logan twin switch was off by a few days - the twins have been discovered. It makes sense, though. The fake tattoo started to fade, as did the fake tan, and the whole situation was definitely not helped by Logan (David) going through one of the glass mirrors and injuring himself. Glenn, who spent the most time with Logan, was the first to notice.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Gianna is likely to be the most affected by the news.
PPS - She and Logan (David) were getting cosy.

Malicious Mouse

I think the moment from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie that will stay with me the longest is the sight of a tiny mouse yelling "TAKE HIS BRAIN!". Yeah, the more I think about it, the more likely it is that it will fulfil my nightmare quota for a few years.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Though last night I dreamed about a road trip in vans.
PPS - We pulled over to fill up and spilled petrol everywhere.

Sunday, 15 May 2005

The Sunday Mok - An Unhealthy Obsession

Big Brother is already taking over my life. This is not so good.
Last Sunday I had a busy day - two church services, lunch with friends, bowling and the BB launch. I didn't watch all of the launch, because of the video/audio sync problems I was having. I was up until 00:30, though...
...so on Monday I was tired. I made a release of A+ for HR and had to mess around with the database connection a bit, and watched BB at night. To keep things simple, just assume that I'm watching BB every night.
On Tuesday I was back to working on Venture. I should really put up a screenshot or something so everyone knows more what I'm talking about. We sparred again at karate, and I felt like I got back into the groove of it - a proper guard and relaxed, waiting to move faster than my opponent.
Though I spent Wednesday bug-hunting in the Venture code, I felt it was a bit pointless, since we're working on a new interface that will probably make lots of the previous work obsolete.
On Thursday I was still sore from the workout at karate on Tuesday, which is something that doesn't happen often there. I played my first City of Heroes PvP Arena match, and got thoroughly whooped, since I was a level 14 character fighting against a level 25. Besides practice, there seems to be little incentive to do that again.
On Friday, after installing some (apparently) dodgy TV software, I had to use Windows System Restore to get my sound working again, just in time to record BB for the night. At youth group, we played dodgeball (among other things) but had only deflated basketballs to use.
Saturday I went and bought four "practice volleyballs" that are so soft you'd have trouble breaking eggs with them. These will be used instead of basketballs for dodgeball matches in future. I also went out with Miv, Julia, Kym, Lydia, Rich and Adam and met Tania and Tara. Just missing the last bus home meant approximately 45 minutes in a taxi queue. I hardly noticed.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - That bus was at 00:20.
PPS - We need more, especially on Fridays and Saturdays.

Friday, 13 May 2005

Go Directly To Hell

Michael Miller, 47, was arrested today in his Bundaberg home, charged with impersonating God. Police say Miller had been conducting worship services from his garage, suckering faithful locals into believing that he was The Almighty.

"I can't believe it," said one worshipper who wished to remain anonymous. "He seemed like the real deal. There was smoke and bright lights and harp music and everything."

Police were tipped off when one worshipper grew suspicious of Miller's demands for offerings of pretzels and beer. The final clue was a request for a copy of Hustler magazine. "I just knew God wouldn't be into that," said the tipster.

The maximum penalty for deity impersonation is eternal damnation, though the state has never handed down such a sentence. God Himself has made no statement on the incident.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This story is, of course, completely false.
PPS - Fictional news is fun.

Thursday, 12 May 2005

Imagine a post here

This morning's post has been eaten by the Blogger Beast. The text is gone and only its ragged flesh on a skeleton remains. You'll just have to entertain yourselves today.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It was about my TV card software.
PPS - I guess it wasn't that interesting.

Wednesday, 11 May 2005

Logan's Fun

BB'05 introduced a pair of twins playing an amalgamation of their personalities as someone called "Logan" (which is their middle name). Every now and then, Big Brother calls a switch and the twins have four minutes to change clothes and swap information. The other housemates aren't aware of the situation ... yet.

There are several factors nudging their chances either way for noticing or not. Some of the most significant, in my opinion, are the following:
+ No set of twins is absolutely identical.
+ They won't have perfect information, so slip-ups will occur.
+ The twins can't keep it up forever.
+ The switches may eventually become suspicious.
- None of the housemates know "Logan" very well yet.
- They are unaware that anything is going on at all, so they're not looking.
- People are incredibly self-involved.
- There are some other distractions in the house to divert attention away...
+ But not that many

I'm betting it takes at least one and a half weeks for anyone to notice.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I remember it took me about a month to start being able to distinguish between twins I know.
PPS - Two months was probably when I could do it reliably.

Tuesday, 10 May 2005

I'm officially jealous

In the US, Land of The Dead is premiering a full six months earlier than here in Australia. A new zombie movie from the king of zombies himself, George A. Romero, and I have to wait six sodding months after it's first release to see it legitimately at all, let alone on a big screen.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Bronny, you see this?
PPS - I may need you to bring me back a DVD.

Monday, 9 May 2005

Big Bother (sic)

Have you ever tried to watch television with the audio lagging a full 90 seconds behind the video? It's nearly unwatchable. This is what has happened on my PC recording of the Big Brother launch. The sound keeps skipping ahead, trying to catch up with the video which is, unfortunately, also skipping ahead every few seconds, maintaining the gap. I've watched the first hour now (up until about eight housemates had entered the waiting room) and then stopped. This was partly due to the audio/video sync problem and also because by then it was 00:30 this morning.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I warned you it would take over my life.
PPS - It's already started.

Sunday, 8 May 2005

The Sunday Mok - A funny mood

Last Sunday I went to the Uniting church for both services, because of the skit I mentioned last week. I spent the afternoon playing City of Heroes. At bowling after the evening service, we had twenty people, so we took up four lanes - our biggest group yet.
I spent most of the Monday holiday sleeping, trying to catch up on what I must have missed somewhere. I think I need some proper time off work. Bible study and more City of Heroes in the evening.
Tuesday at karate, we sparred for the first time in months, and I'd gotten decidedly rusty. Sensei Mark asked me to give blue-belted Alex a workout and I just wasn't up to it. He competes in tournaments, though, so I already know he's good.
On Wednesday I was hunting bugs in Venture, our project management website. We've just installed a proper bug-tracking program, which works well. Played CoH for a while and also watched some stand-up comedy videos on ComedyCentral.com.
Thursday was more Venture bug-hunting, interrupted by various PC issues at work. City of Heroes Feature Update 4 went live, too. I have yet to try any player-vs-player battles.
Friday I showed our HR head the staff appraisals database I'd been working on. She liked most of it, but the reports needed lots of work, so I came away with a TODO list of about twelve items. I got eleven and a half done before I left for the day. I also saw HHG2G again.
For most of Saturday I was in an odd mood, like I was tired but didn't want to go to sleep. I went to a barbeque lunch, and I wanted to hang around and sleep afterwards. I don't know how best to explain it. The closest I'm able to get is that I wanted to go to sleep in company.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm still sleepy now.
PPS - I'll probably take next week off work.

Friday, 6 May 2005

The strong, silent type

I'm not exactly the go-to guy for conversation. This morning I spoke not a word to my travelling acquaintance, preferring to work out a formula for the surface area of a torus in my head.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I only got halfway done.
PPS - I couldn't carry a conversation if it had handles.

Thursday, 5 May 2005

A violation of bus etiquette

There are a few rules that govern polite behaviour on buses. One of them relates to seats that are three berths wide. Normally the first individual will take one end, and a second person may take the other end. The seat is now full, despite the fact that there is a third position still technically available. This is the normal procedure for operating such a seat. This morning a passenger (not me) sat between two gentlemen who were already occupying that seat in the accepted manner. Though no verbal complaint was made, the two original occupants were obviously distressed at the newcomer's lack of consideration for bus etiquette.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Part of the reason for this rule is the smallish size of the three-wide seats.
PPS - Taking the middle position first is also a definite no-no.

Wednesday, 4 May 2005

Where do you want to go today?

[blink, rub eyes]
Okay, Microsoft is working with Ford on a car that can't crash? Forgive me if I am under-enthusiastic about the possibilities.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Link via Slashdot.
PPS - I barely trust Microsoft with my data.

The Least-Aggressive Bus Driver Award

I have met a variety of bus drivers over the years, and this morning was one of those who took a very peaceful attitude towards the road and the schedule. We were stuck behind two other busses, each making more stops than us, so the sensible thing to do would be to go around them. It took a while to find a break in traffic, so naturally there was a long period of waiting. When we finally managed to pull out into the second lane, around the first bus, our driver chose to change immediately back into the bus lane, rather than continue around the second bus that was stopped a few hundred metres down the road. A few more minutes of waiting for a traffic break ensued.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This enraged my fellow passengers somewhat.
PPS - There was, however, no cheering when we finally got moving properly.

Tuesday, 3 May 2005

Free Chocolate (if you're evil)!

Last week I brought a fundraising box of chocolates to work and left them in the kitchen with a sign and a coin receptacle. $1 each. You would not think this is a difficult concept to grasp, especially for adults, and especially for engineers, known for mathematical ability. I came up nearly three dollars short when the cash was counted afterwards. There are several scenarios that are plausible explanations:
1. People counted their change incorrectly.
2. People believed the sign was just a suggested donation price.
3. People did not read the sign at all, and just took what they wanted.
4. People put in what they had and intended to pay the rest later, but forgot.
5. People deliberately underpaid, relying on others to make up the difference.
Or, the most evil of all:
6. People steal from charity.

Now that is a totally foreign mindset to me. Who would steal from a fundraiser just because nobody's looking? I'm honestly baffled.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I have another box this week.
PPS - I may be locking it up overnight.

Monday, 2 May 2005


I feel like something's wrong somehow. Stress, anxiety, tiredness or something else maybe. Whatever it is, I'm probably not in much of a state to make an accurate self-diagnosis, so even my speculations would be suspect. My best guess so far is that I've been under-socialised lately - creating a distance between me and the world. The walls are coming back up.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I probably just need more sleep, though.
PPS - It's worth a shot.

Sunday, 1 May 2005

The Sunday Mok - Suits

Last Sunday I wore my $3 pinstripe suit to church, because I felt like it. Afterwards, it might have inhibited my bowling game slightly.
Monday I had a barbeque lunch, played City of Heroes, went to bible study and slept a bit during the day. I did nothing very ANZAC-y at all, unless you count the fact that I set a goal not to kill anyone in senseless violence and stood by it.
Tuesday I managed to get into work on an expired bus ticket. The drivers are never too alert early in the morning. I probably could have shown him a shopping docket. I worked on Venture at the office and bumped into a high school acquaintance, Bhavishna, during karate.
On Wednesday I was finishing off "A+", our staff appraisals database system. I also finally received my hoodie from wigu.com: I Am Made Of Poison.
I spent Thursday rounding off the edges of A+, getting it ready for release. I dropped in at church to pick up a script for Sunday, then played The Sims 2 until sleepy-time.
Friday I worked some of the bugs and annoyances out of Venture and also set up an automatic nightly build process, so we'll always have the most recent version available for debugging or demos.
Saturday five of us went to Shelley's 21st dressed as some anonymous Secret Service operatives, protecting Mr Present. So that was another suit day. Also, me and my towel checked out The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Two words: Mostly Different.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The script I picked up on Thursday demands that I wear a suit again today.
PPS - Either this becomes my new thing or I get sick of it very soon.