Wednesday, 30 November 2005

Random computer-building thought of the day

I'd love to be able to build a computer into a Pepsi can. Something that small is truly portable, but couldn't include any peripherals. However, it could have a dock interface that looks like a wired coaster, and that's just plain cool. It would probably use a flash drive, or a very portable notebook drive, plus the world's smallest motherboard and integrated network, graphics, sound and several USB ports.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Yes, I was drinking Pepsi as I wrote this.
PPS - No, I don't think it will actually happen.

Tuesday, 29 November 2005

Carry your things in a guitar case

Carry your things in a guitar case. Not a guitar, because that would be too obvious. Things like books, files and your lunch. If someone asks if you have a guitar in there, you can say in a really sarcastic tone "No, I keep my books in here, as well as my lunch". They'll probably laugh until you open the case and show them. Then it'll be your turn to laugh as they back away awkwardly.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Life can be fun, if you let it.
PPS - I know a great many jokes are aided by having a wooden leg.

Monday, 28 November 2005

The Monday Mok

Yesterday's regularly-scheduled blog post was cancelled due to Bible Camp, so here's a brief run-down of my week:
I worked, I watched a little Buffy with Deb, then I went on a weekend retreat to finish off the Disciple Bible studies I've been doing on Mondays for about a year. Dad is still honeymooning and we've run out of food (temporarily).

Mokalus of Borg

PS - We're going grocery shopping tonight.
PPS - The fun never ends.

Friday, 25 November 2005

Swear Jar

If I had a swear jar at work, I'd be a millionaire by now. And that's just in a few months of being here. The morning conversation that I overhear would easily cover lunch.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Some mornings, a very nice lunch.
PPS - Three courses.

Thursday, 24 November 2005

I wish I was a plumber

It's Mario music, live. If you've got a Nintendo history like me, you'll like it.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The rest of you, I guess, can wait until tomorrow.
PPS - Link via Boing Boing.

Wednesday, 23 November 2005

The Girl Gamer population

Designing games for female players has always been an adventure fraught with danger. Sometimes an enterprising designer might seek out these so-called "females" and actually ask them what kind of games they'd like to play. I expect that the answers vary from the younger marks' terse and nondescript answers ("Barbie" and "ponies") to the older girls' standard "I don't want to play games because they're all stupid". Basically there's an entire untapped half of the market out there if someone can figure out what girls want. Good luck with that.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The Sims seems to be the closest to the mark so far.
PPS - That is, if there is just one mark. I expect the market is richer than that.

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

Should have tried it on a small file first

I have written a program to post in bulk the blog entries I have written down hastily and offline, and last night it made its first test run on several weeks of accumulated nonsense. Unfortunately for me, it seems that every half-finished post was immediately published, meaning that I had to manually save each one back as an unpublished draft via the Blogger interface. Perhaps this will be a lesson to me.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Or perhaps not.
PPS - I have plans to use a similar program to make blog posts while I am on holidays.

Monday, 21 November 2005

Maybe wrong guessing is in the profile too

I guessed that my Myers-Briggs type indicator was INTP, but the official results say INTJ, with very little room to argue. I do have a routine that I tend to stick to, but other parts of the profile say things relating to Js that really don't correspond to me.

For instance, the profile says that decisions come easily to me. They really don't. Ask anyone. It also said that I am less comfortable with systems of rigid logic where the rules are clearly defined. I loved logic at university. I can tell because I wrote computer programs to handle it and did my own tinkering and informal research.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Though I may like being organised, I can't seem to do it for myself.
PPS - That's a bit of a dilemma.

Sunday, 20 November 2005

The Sunday Mok - Profilin'

I drove Debbie to church last Sunday, since the family car would have been a bit squashed. After the service we went to a barbeque lunch and swim gathering at Stu's. I sang in the evening service, then had a late dinner at the local Coffee Club.
Monday at work meant debugging and model-building, and both of them got rather tiresome pretty quickly. I'd rather be building a user interface in .NET than trying to put stopgap fixes into the Access version. I played some City of Villains in the evening.
I went back to karate on Tuesday and felt fine, though I did take it a bit easy. I take this as a sign that my glandular fever is gone. I spent my lunch break in the park outside the office with Deb and her siser Mia.
On Wednesday I took Deb to see Kelly Clarkson at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, backed up by Rogue Traders. Both were pretty good, but the show was kind of short.
My dinner on Thursday night tried to kill me. It was a frozen chicken chow mein, and there was a broken shard of plastic inside it that turned out to be just wide enough to evoke a choking response. By the time I coughed it back up, I wasn't so hungry anymore. I also saw this and laughed.
On Friday night, we took the youth group kids to the local school oval to play netball and tennis and ended up with a little "indoor" soccer and low-net volleyball. I brought the half-time oranges.
Dad's wedding on Saturday went well, with despite me as MC. It means a few things, including that I now have grandparents again, I'm the middle child now, and I'm no longer living at home, but I haven't moved. It was good to see many of my uncles and aunts come out for the occasion.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I keep saying I'll have to change all my neuroses to middle-child ones.
PPS - But that's wearing kind of thin now, so I guess I'll stop.

Friday, 18 November 2005

Testing positive for personality

All us youth group leaders had a training session last night to learn about our Myers-Briggs personality types. Unfortunately, our test results were not present, so we took our best guesses based on the information Sue presented. I came up as INTP, which means the following for you:
I - Introvert. I can get away from the computer games for a while to spend time with you, but then I'll need to spend a longer time alone to recharge.
N - Intuit. I'm an ideas man, not one for facts and figures, and I don't need to see it for it to be real.
T - Thinker. I'll make my decisions (eventually) based on my head, not my heart.
P - Perceiver. No, I won't clean my room when you ask.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'd already done this in a basic way before.
PPS - There was no questionaire last time.

Thursday, 17 November 2005

Sony: Aiming for the foot

I just love the Boing Boing use of the phrase "Sony Anti-Customer Technology" to refer to the recent debacle. For those not in the know, Sony shipped some CDs that installed malicious, dangerous and intrusive software when inserted into a computer, and, as a result of their shortsightedness and hubris, been subject to a very large backlash, including lawsuits.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - For any big businesses reading this: customer does not mean criminal.
PPS - I like the phrase "anti-customer" so much that I think I'll start using it all the time.

Wednesday, 16 November 2005

Google zombie alert finally pays off

According to this story, a singing, androgynous, child-sized zombie called "Pinkie-Pinky" has been hanging out in the toilets of a few schools, terrorising students. It's not quite the zombie outbreak I was expecting, but I'm glad to be in the know.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I certainly didn't expect the invasion to be musical.
PPS - I guess I don't know much about the undead's musical taste.

Tuesday, 15 November 2005

Open standards vs proprietary tech

Microsoft and Yahoo are starting to get the idea that cooperation is more powerful than competition. They are planning to create partial interoperability with each other's messaging networks. In an ideal world (my ideal world), there is one instant messaging protocol - just one network - and many different clients to connect to it. Obviously I'm not blindly and naively advocating that Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL and ICQ all join hands and start skipping around in a circle in peace and harmony - I'm suggesting that we get ourselves a standard.

Proprietary technologies and vendor lock-in are the enemies of progress, and they have no place in your world if you are looking towards a brighter future. Unfortunately, they are also terms that make management and marketing drones salivate with anticipation. If you make a good product, however, you do not need to grab your customers by the throat and hold on to make sure they stay with you. If your product is good, your customers stay of their own free will.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - If your product is really good, they voluntarily tell their friends about it.
PPS - If your customers are not doing this, you're not producing Quality yet.

Monday, 14 November 2005

Out of thinking points

The exertions of the day have numbed your clouded brain. You stand where you were, swaying slightly.
I am amused by this text from Urban Dead that is displayed when you, as a zombie, run out of Action Points (and can thus no longer perform any actions).

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I believe it's the "swaying slightly" bit that gets me.
PPS - I'm a zombie again, by the way. They got me.

Sunday, 13 November 2005

The Sunday Mok - We love Alabaster Box, but we love our sound guys more

Last Sunday, Alabaster Box came to our evening church service, backed up by our own band Contagious. It was very cool. Our sound techs got big cheers for handling a little microphone glitch.
On Monday I was bug-hunting in the user interface of the databse, hopefully meaning that my time down in the Ann Street office is coming to a close. I don't want to be the one who has to stick around to operate the database. That would be very under-stimulating.
I skipped karate on Tuesday, which will mean I've been away for three weeks if I go back this week. I'll have some work to do to get back into shape. After dinner I went to Deb's to watch Buffy.
I ran some benchmarking tests on the database on Wednesday, as well as formally recording the tests I had performed, which made it easier to see whether I had yet succeeded at fully debugging the interface. My copy of City of Villains arrived via courier.
By Thursday, my test list indicated that the database was complete, but I still notice some quirks and occasional oddness in the interface. It's enough to make me want to spend the time to translate it out of Access entirely, because it's really no good as a complex interface package.
The turnout at youth group on Friday was a grand total of three, so we cancelled the planned activity and watched a movie instead. That was probably good for me, because a night of running all over the suburb would probably not be the best idea I'd ever had.
Saturday morning was shopping with Deb. Besides just general browsing, I wanted to find some white laminate for the front edge of the top of my bookshelf. I didn't find it anywhere, though. The evening was a string concert at the church, and though I enjoyed it, I could see that others were more enthralled than me.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I haven't had much time to try out City of Villains yet.
PPS - I probably won't have very much time very soon, either.

Friday, 11 November 2005


Paranoid people and those who need near-100% uptime from their computers use Uninterruptible Power Supplies: external devices - batteries, really - that plug into the mains and provide plug points that look just like the ones in the wall. They convert AC power to DC (for the batteries) which is converted back to AC (when needed) and finally converted back to DC by the computer's power supply. Does anyone else see the problem there? To me, it makes absolute sense to build a battery into every computer's power supply, thereby cheaply, easily and efficiently ensuring that momentary power losses do not result in dead machines and lost work.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - A few enterprising companies do sell power supplies fitting this description.
PPS - But only a few.

Thursday, 10 November 2005

Calendars and schedules

My big software interest at the moment is calendars. It changes from time to time, of course - a little while ago I could only think of blogging and note-taking, and before that it was personal information organisers. But right now it's calendar software - how it should operate, how it should communicate, and what it can be used for.

All the technology exists right now for us to create an online service that allows us to share calendar and schedule information in a totally cross-platform, transparent way, at which point we can figure out new and interesting uses for the information. Imagine an online service like Blogger that allows users to create calendars and publish them as RSS feeds with vCalendar files enclosed for each entry. Now imagine that you can point your copy of Outlook or Mozilla Sunbird at such a feed and show the events on your own schedule.

Now think a bit beyond club meetings and letting your spouse know about doctor's appointments. Think about other applications working with this information. Imagine setting up a personal TV guide with shows or keywords you're interested in, and having a TV card in your PC read that feed and record your shows for you on schedule, whether they change times or not. Imagine scheduling maintenance actions across a whole network of corporate PCs by publishing an event to an internal maintenance timeline. This is technology with powerful potential.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I will probably grow bored of it in a while.
PPS - Give it a few weeks.

Wednesday, 9 November 2005

The Drake Equation

The Drake equation is meant to predict the number of intelligent extraterrestrial civilisations we can expect to encounter (including our own). People, being people, argue about the values of the various factors and show their results of hundreds or very few.

In my mind, they've got it all backwards. We have a known solution to the equation: one. Any factors that, put together, produce a number other than one must be seriously called into question, because they simply do not fit with the observed evidence so far.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The Drake equation is based on evolutionary assumptions that I do not share.
PPS - That, however, is unrelated to my mathematical objections.

Tuesday, 8 November 2005

That's private milk

I have boxes of cereal on my desk at work. They're for snacking. I used to buy my own milk to use with them, because I go through more milk that way than my coworkers who just have a bit in coffee. I labelled these private bottles of milk with my own name to make sure people knew that this was not their milk. The problem arises when we run out of office milk. Someone makes their coffee then goes to the fridge for the final touch - the dash of milk - only to discover that there is none left. But wait, there's some over there. It's got someone's name on it, but I'm only using a little bit, and he won't mind.

Multiply that little bit by everyone in the office, times two cups of coffee per day (average) and my milk disappears completely in little bits that I "won't mind giving up". So now I don't bother buying my own milk.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I have considered labelling it differently to deter people.
PPS - Something like "Spider poison" should work well.

Monday, 7 November 2005

It's like LEGO for big people

Yesterday afternoon Debbie and I assembled a bookshelf from Ikea. Following the printed instructions reminded me of constructing a LEGO model, only bigger and with no knobby bits to just click together. That could easily be what led to the one mistake: the top shelf is on backwards, exposing its bare chipboard edge.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Unfortunately, it's nailed in place.
PPS - Turning it around would involve dismantling the entire unit.

Sunday, 6 November 2005

The Sunday Mok - Fever of glands

Last Sunday I skipped church in the morning so I could rest and finish my Disciple readings for the week. In the afternoon, Deb brought The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Guess Who and we watched both.
I had Monday off work, on the doctor's "orders", though I felt fine. I got the word that evening that I had glandular fever. During the day I watched Street Fighter and repaired my mysteriously-damaged installation of City of Heroes.
I went back to work on Tuesday and various people asked how I felt. Apart from a decreased ability to handle late nights, I wouldn't even know I was sick. I didn't go to karate, but did end up at Bridgit's, watching bits of Brainiac interspersed with Dancing with the Stars.
On Wednesday at work, I hit a few snags, so I was slowed down a bit. I had to walk up to the Boundary Street office to unpack some boxes that were still sitting around from the move. I went to Deb's in the evening and we started watching my Buffy DVDs from season 1, episode 1, for her sake.
Though I was at work on Thursday, I felt overtired, and decided to take an early night. I spent part of the evening cleaning out my free-standing cupboard, playing City of Heroes and I also checked out to see if I could learn any cool new pen-spinning tricks.
On Friday night, I skipped dinner at home because we were going to have a barbeque at youth group that night. We went swimming, even though it was a bit colder than we anticipated months ago when we decided on the program. I didn't swim, just in case it's possible to transmit glandular fever through an entire group of people just by sharing swimming water.
I slept in until 10:00 on Saturday, then watched a Simpsons episode and went shopping briefly in the city. I played City of Heroes for a bit, then went to Deb's and watched Buffy before getting dressed and heading to a formal dinner at Ashgrove Baptist Church.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm still tired.
PPS - This is probably going to continue for a while.

Friday, 4 November 2005

Best served cold

Revenge is not a reason to live. It's a force that will continue your existence, true, but that existence will be emptier every day, and when your revenge is taken, it will be smaller than you expected and you will be so hollow that you'll be lucky to survive out the other side to a normal life again.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Revenge is from the Dark Side.
PPS - The Light Side equivalent is forgiveness.

Thursday, 3 November 2005

Several people whose surname is Adams are awesome

Today's Adams is Scott, of Dilbert fame. Just reading this blog post about why he loves Technology has made my day. Really, almost anything could happen to me for the rest of the day and I'd just think back to Scott Adams and his love of technology to bring a smile to my face.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Future featured Adamses will include Douglas.
PPS - I should probably find a third one, too.

Wednesday, 2 November 2005

Time to see if I'm naughty or nice

I have ordered a copy of City of Villains as a complement to City of Heroes, which I have spent a reasonably significant amount of time playing. So, when it arrives, I will begin creating evil characters to terrorise the city, and keep playing my heroic characters to undo their dastardly deeds. Which side will win the battle for my mind? I have a feeling I will enjoy being a hero more than a villain, but I'd like to see both sides.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Sounds a bit like The Vanishing.
PPS - That will make absolutely no sense if you haven't seen that movie.

Tuesday, 1 November 2005

Mountains of email

The problem with being unable to check your work email for a few days is that it builds up to a massive pile that takes you the entire morning to process when you get back. The bigger problem is that most of it is rubbish, to be thrown out straight away. The big problem for the company is that they still have to pay employees for the time they spend sifting through this useless email. It must be costing somebody a fortune.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Fortunately for me, I'm on the side of being paid, rather than paying out.
PPS - I do sort of resent the time I have to spend for this.