Tuesday, 28 February 2006

A new web

Newsfeeds (whether of the RSS or Atom flavour) have changed the way I do my daily websurfing. I get all of my comics this way now, and my news. If your blog doesn't have a newsfeed, chances are good that I forget to check it for a couple of weeks at a time. The reason for all this is that I've been using Thunderbird, which aptly supports all the feeds I choose to throw at it, and presents them to me in a familiar email-like format.

That's the major change since this old post - I've found a capable feed reader, and I'm not turning back.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Some of the feeds I read are provided by third parties.
PPS - Dilbert and Calvin & Hobbes, for example, do not provide their own feeds, but other people do it for them.

Monday, 27 February 2006

Serenity says: "You're a thief"

I've learned from Brad that the region 4 Serenity DVD includes the terrible anti-piracy ad, and you can't skip it. Personally, I find the ad insulting, and that's certainly one thing I don't need from my legally purchased goods. I plan to write a letter to Universal Pictures Australia to inform them of the fact that I no longer plan to purchase that DVD. Though I don't expect it to do any good, and fully expect to be insulted further by any reply they give, I feel like it's something I've got to do.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'd put up with the ad on a rental DVD.
PPS - I haven't had the time to write the letter yet.

Sunday, 26 February 2006

The Sunday Mok - Collaborative Art

Last Sunday I went to church without Deb, who was on day 2 of her first aid course. In the afternoon I did the weekly shopping, took a nap and played City of Heroes. I sang in the evening service and we all went to the local Coffee Club afterwards.
On Monday, during repeated requests by accountants to find missing timesheets, I learned that some of them were not being given to me at all, so I can hardly translate those and send them on, can I? For dinner in the evening, Ug, Dad and I went to a local Thai restaurant.
On Tuesday I discovered a design flaw in our timesheet translation process that kept some timesheets from being sent. I started fixing it. Erin was on the bus on the ride home, so we talked a bit, then I went to karate.
By Wednesday I was finished fixing the timesheets design flaw and I got some of the missing records sent out. Apparently it wasn't all of them. I had dinner at Deb's, then a farewell party for Kirsty.
On Thursday I had to map more project codes for the timesheet system and walk into the city to buy chalk for Friday. We had our regular family dinner at Dad & Beth's and Ug stayed behind to fix Dad's new internet connection.
On Friday night, at the church youth group, we made a huge chalk drawing in the courtyard of "the transfiguration". I was (and still am) really pleased with how well it turned out. I think it's definitely something we should do again.
I slept in on Saturday, then did a load of washing and met Deb at the church to help wrap up the second day of the garage sale. We went out to Indooroopilly for lunch and to see Keeping Mum, which I liked but Deb didn't. I think it was too British for her. Dinner was the Ashgrove Baptist Church Family Feast - a meet-and-mingle deal.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Most people seem impressed with the chalk mural.
PPS - They might just be politely appreciative, though. Sometimes I can't tell.

Friday, 24 February 2006

Crazy is relative

Any time you think you might be going a little bit nuts, think of this guy, breathe a sigh of relief that you are (relatively speaking) sane, and get on with your life. You can rest easy in the knowledge that you, at least, have never spent years building a compound in Nevada to survive an apocalypse that was foretold by a muttering gypsy.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Frank van Zant, having completed his work, is now dead.
PPS - Does it seem strange to kill yourself as part of a survival plan?

Thursday, 23 February 2006


When I get a trial version of a game, install it and play it, often I find my interest completely drained by the time the trial is up. If the marketeers and salesdroids are aware of this behaviour, they are evidently more concerned with fighting obscurity than forcing a sale. The demos keep coming and I keep playing them out, then returning to my beloved City of Heroes.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - They don't quite count as full games, but check these out.
PPS - I spent a little too long on The Swarm.

Wednesday, 22 February 2006

Google Speculation

Google's goal of organising the world's information has so far not included calendars or music. I'd say it's a reasonable bet that they're looking into it.

There's nothing particularly special about calendars that makes them difficult to produce (except some usability issues) so the only reason I can think that Google have not tried their hand at a calendar application (online or off) is searching. To search a calendar that still includes all your appointments from five years ago would require two search parameters - one for the search criteria and one for the date range to search in (even if that's just "future", "past" or "all"). Google search is typically keyword-based and very simple to use. Calendar search puts a bit of a strain on that philosophy.

Probably the main hurdle in music organisation is that people want to know what song includes certain lyrics (which can already be found via Google web search) or - and this is the kicker - they want to find "that song that sort of goes 'da-da-daa, da-da-DAA'". As soon as they work that one out, Google Music will probably go live.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Perhaps they also have trouble working with all of the artificially rights restricted digital music out there.
PPS - That's probably a big factor too.

Tuesday, 21 February 2006

Urban Dead vs Kingdom of Loathing

I've played both Urban Dead and Kingdom of Loathing for a little while now, and the winner is: Urban Dead. It's not just the fact that it's focused on zombies (though that is a major plus) but I just find it sustaining my interest far more easily than KoL. It's got less to do, there are far fewer items, no quests to speak of, character stats are as basic as they get, and any humour is supplied by the players. Somehow these all manage to win out over Kingdom of Loathing in a similar way that some people prefer Pac Man and Pong over Unreal Tournament.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I prefer just about anything to a first-person shooter.
PPS - A hit on the thumb with a hammer, for instance, rates higher than Quake.

Monday, 20 February 2006

Morning Radio

I have a feeling that the appeal of the better morning radio hosts is that the banter reminds us of talking rubbish with our friends. That in itself might not be enough, so this particular banter happens in the morning when we are likely to need a bit of perking up and our friends are at home too, generally in no position to come over and start our day with a bit of light-hearted wit and chatter.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - On some mornings, bus conversation can have the same effect.
PPS - In the right company, of course.

Sunday, 19 February 2006

The Sunday Mok - There was no "sleep", just the "over"

Last Sunday it was raining by the end of the church service. I spent the afternoon sleeping, reading and playing City of Heroes. Bec brought new baby Elijah to the evening service. He was well received, as is expected.
I installed a few more of my commonly-used programs at work on Monday. The timesheet transfer process went wrong again, and the fix didn't fare much better. Dad, Ug and I went to Pizza Hut for dinner.
I broke a shoelace on Tuesday morning, and set a reminder to buy more during lunchtime. Unfortunately, I noted only the length of the laces I needed, so by lunchtime I had no idea what it meant. Deb and I watched The Phantom of the Opera on video.
On Wednesday I had a meeting to discuss some more ideas about the performance appraisal database, which should now be called a full-blown personnel management package. I also looked at Ruby on Rails as a potential development environment.
I overslept on Thursday morning and rushed through the morning routine, postponing breakfast until I got to work. I spent some time on timesheet transfer troubles and also setting up our Asset Knowledgebase software on my new machine. In the evening, we went do Dad's for dinner and took over his computer which has now been replaced by a shinier model at home.
More timesheets work on Friday, including a change of tactics to a more transitional upgrade path rather than a total scrap-and-rewrite. I watched an episode of Fullmetal Alchemist during lunchtime. We had a youth group "sleep"-over that night, where we watched Kicking and Screaming, Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Wars: A New Hope. Adding it up, I probably got a total of 2 hours sleep.
Saturday morning we had breakfast cooked for us by the friendly church folk. When I got home, I slept until lunchtime, then went out shopping alone, because Deb was at a first aid course. When she finished, she came over for dinner and to play City of Heroes.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I should get around to posting a picture of her character.
PPS - Maybe later.

Friday, 17 February 2006

Shaving robot

It would be convenient for me to have a tiny robot shave me while I sleep. That way I can wake up clean-shaven and also forget about shaving ever again. Flawless. Until it goes nuts and decides to cut an artery and attempt to take over my life. Or sell the whisker clippings for genetic research or cloning.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I don't like having to shave in the morning.
PPS - Because you have to do it again the next day too.

Thursday, 16 February 2006

When 5 minutes = 1 hour

This morning I woke up on time at 06:00, turned off my alarm and laid back down for "just five minutes more". When I opened my eyes again, it was 07:00, yet I still managed to feed the cat, iron a shirt, have a quick shower, get dressed and pack my bag (including a bowl of cereal to eat at work) and catch my usual 07:30 bus. It's not something I want to do every day, but I could get used to the breakfast at work deal.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's Sultana Bran.
PPS - The office seemed to be out of milk.

Wednesday, 15 February 2006

A game to play

I have a game for you to play. It's called "hide and seek", only because that's the most appropriate name. It's not the one you've played before. In this version, you go to a video/DVD rental place and locate all the copies of a particular movie, then hide them in completely unexpected places on the shelves. Following that, you go to the front counter and ask if they have any copies of that movie, then follow the attendant around as they check every shelf for a mis-filed copy. Hilarity ensues.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Sometimes you get a free movie at the end.
PPS - That should not, however, be your primary motivation.

Tuesday, 14 February 2006

And this for the rest of you

If you don't like Valentine's Day, you're absolutely welcome to that opinion. I'm the one who wanted to stage Anti-Valentine's parties where people burned effigies of Cupid. If it was just another Hallmark holiday designed to sell greeting cards, flowers and chocolate, it might be okay, but this one plays on the deepest of human desires: to be loved. And to those on the outside, every sickening public display of affection or red heart decorative display threatens to send you into a furious rage. You want to grab that fat little cherub by the throat and squeeze until he goes limp and the obnoxious bow and arrow come clattering to the ground.

Burn, Cupid, burn. You were a troublesome imp at the best of times, and a downright bastard with bad aim at the worst. Don't sugar-coat this day. It's bad enough as it is.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - You don't need a day for love.
PPS - Browse for some Anti-Valentine's merch.


Of all the psychic professions, I think I'd most like to be a soothsayer. I want to be able to just look at you and tell you that you're lying. Of course it's not exactly foolproof - if you've been misled or tricked in some way, and actually believe what you're saying, I won't be able to tell that from an actual lie. Still, the skill is spectacularly useful, and I would be ready and willing to ride along with my friends whenever they take their car in to be serviced.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Oh, yeah, happy Valentine's Day.
PPS - I wouldn't have said that last year.

Monday, 13 February 2006


My position on Google and other companies censoring websites in response to demands by the ruling Chinese despots is this: if the government in China wants this or that website censored for Chinese consumption, they'd better just do it themselves. I think there is a symptom developing here that speaks of the internet censorship becoming too great a burden for the Chinese government, so they're asking the companies to do it for them. If there is a general "Yeah? Do it yourself!" response, it is likely that the entire scheme will come apart, at least to a certain degree, and the citizens of China will once again have the internet they deserve.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - China may have to shut down the internet completely to get what they want.
PPS - I don't mean just locally. I mean bombing the entire Earth back to the stone age.

Sunday, 12 February 2006

The Sunday Mok - The second half of camping

Last Sunday felt really long. It started with eggs and pancakes cooked on a butane stove at a Maroochydore campsite, then packup, a long drive home interrupted by lunch at some place by the highway, then a three-hour nap, followed by church in the evening.
On Monday at work I finally got into detailed (re)design of the personnel database. It felt better than the high-level functional design. In the evening, Ug, Dad and I had dinner at Hungry Jacks.
Tuesday at work I got a call about our timesheet transfer process, and I decided to finally scrap the entire problematic thing and redesign from the ground up. It's really been a mess from day one, so hopefully (when I'm finished) we'll have something more manageable and accessible.
I had a meeting about timesheet stuff on Wednesday, followed by coding. After work there was a "short" youth group meeting that I had to leave after an hour so I could be home in time to greet everyone for Bible study. I hate being rushed.
I spent Thursday coding database access code for the timesheet transfer, later realising that it could have gone much faster if I'd just used some basic supporting code for statement generation. Dinner at Dad's in the evening.
A good portion of Friday was taken up with moving my files and settings to a new PC. We (Brad and I) asked for more memory and got whole new computers instead (without a memory upgrade, as it turns out). Youth group movies in the evening: saw Just Friends.
On Saturday I tried to donate a lot of old computer gear to the church for a garage sale, and had to bring every bit of it home, because they were not accepting computers. I also went to Koorong to buy some new music. I grabbed one Newsboys CD and one by Paul Colman.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I got significantly tired rather early on Saturday night.
PPS - I was in bed by about 10pm.

Friday, 10 February 2006

The Way Forward

We have started to see that lists and hierarchical organisation of information is no longer sufficent for our modern information organisation needs. Some of the better ideas that have emerged so far are search, tagging and "most frequently used" lists. Search lets us find things when we have forgotten where we put them (or when there is no "where" to put them in the first place). Tagging lets us remember what it was about when we find it, and what's related. A "most frequently used" list provides an ever-adapting menu whose sole purpose in life is to remember what we do and make it faster.

So here's the question: why do we have things like a hierarchical structure for our massive hard drives, no "most frequent" websites list in our browsers and have to rely on an add-on to search our own computers at any decent speed?

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm now using del.icio.us as my primary bookmarking method.

PPS - The Firefox-based Flock browser provides the most-frequent websites list.

Thursday, 9 February 2006

Evil vs Less Evil

I remarked to Erin this morning on the bus that we seem to be better at creating evil than good. It seems that the best we can do is create benign characters and beings, who mean us no harm, but do not actively do good. The exception is our usually hazy notion of angels. In every comic book there are usually three or four villains per hero, and those often have minions. Count up everyone who ever took on Batman, including minions, and you'll lose count.

I see it as our recognition that we live in a world where doing good is a struggle. Sometimes, as Douglas Adams noted, you get nailed to a tree for saying how nice it would be if everyone was nice to each other for a change. If heroes out-numbered the villains, the story wouldn't be as interesting, and we wouldn't be engaged by it. We have to identify with the hero who struggles against the evil we recognise in the world, and we want to see a triumph of good over evil, to give us hope.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I was going to write about creativity today.
PPS - Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, 8 February 2006

Creative Writing

After finishing The Santaroga Barrier this morning, I have to conclude that Frank Herbert must have taken some drugs in his time. He wrote often enough about consciousness-altering substances in his stories, and the viewpoints of those individuals who took them. The visions and sensations expressed in those drug-filled passages simply must have some first-hand knowledge involved.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - We can't ask him, though.
PPS - I feel pretty confident in my assessment.

Tuesday, 7 February 2006

Your challenge for today

Your public transport challenge for today is to see how far you can travel for free on buses. No points for trains - they're too easy - and no sneaking on board either. You must talk the bus driver into waving you on for no payment.
Anyone who gets on in Brisbane and gets off in Sydney wins.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It might work to take a pregnant woman with you, to fake being in labour.
PPS - Thanks to Erin for helping develop this idea.

Monday, 6 February 2006

Warning: You Might be a Zombie

Dullness in the eyes, an open mouth, stimulus-response behaviour, social dependence on alcohol, laughing when people fall down, repeating funny lines from movies because they were funny in the movie. You get the feeling that an original thought would split their heads open. Some days I feel like I see zombies everywhere.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I can't decide if it's disturbing or sad.
PPS - Probably both.

Sunday, 5 February 2006

The Sunday Mok - The first half of camping

Last Sunday after church Deb came over to hang out and ended up doing dishes and laundry. That wasn't my idea. We made curried sausages for dinner. I'm getting to really like cooking.
When I woke up on Monday I briefly had trouble remembering what day of the week it was. On the way to work I listened to Dane Cook's Harmful if Swallowed, eliciting a few odd looks from fellow bus passengers.
I spent Tuesday at work tweaking documentation, and went back to karate in the evening. My knee handled it well enough.
On Wednesday at work I learned a few tricks for working with MS Word documents from code. I ate dinner at Deb's in the evening and we watched some Angel episodes.
I had to be at work early on Thursday for a meeting with David, then spent the rest of the day handling small problems with other people's software. I lent my school jersey to MIV for a costume party, then went to a surprise party for Kirsty.
Friday capped off what felt like just a bad week at work, probably because it was mostly filled with high-level documentation. We went swimming for youth group, which kind of made up for it, though.
Saturday I got up early to pick up Deb for a camping trip to Maroochydore. Or it might have been Mooloolaba. I was totally lost by the time I got there. We set up and went swimming in the river with a strong current. It was all pretty cool. I was up until about midnight that night.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I forgot to actually do this post when I got home.
PPS - Thanks to the magic of Blogger, though, it still appears in the right place.

Friday, 3 February 2006


If you were sentenced to death, but were allowed to choose your own method of execution, what would you request? Let's assume that you have to be guaranteed dead within 24 hours, just to avoid the answers like "old age".

Personally, I'd probably go with being smothered, or perhaps I'd get myself beheaded just to see if that myth about being aware for a few more seconds was true.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Not that I could tell anyone about it, obviously.
PPS - This post inspired by Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.

Thursday, 2 February 2006

Catching the Worm

I am of two opinions about today's meeting, because it starts at 08:00, a full 30 minutes before my workday officially starts. The upside is that it will give me some surplus time to shuffle into a longer lunch break or an early punch-out. The downside is that I've already been feeling a bit sleep-deprived and I've had to get up just a little earlier today. I don't think I want to do this very often.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - And already it's stinking hot outside.
PPS - I shouldn't be sweating bullets at 07:15.

Wednesday, 1 February 2006

Exercising an injured knee

I went back to karate last night after about six weeks off. It was mostly a knee thing, and it's not sore this morning, which is a plus. My fitness has dropped, though, and I managed to forget some of the more complex kata moves. The knee held up well enough, though stretches, kicks and the bow-in, bow-out parts of the class were a slight struggle. In all, I call it a successful return to training.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I've decided not to be deep today.
PPS - There's only so much depth the world of blogs can handle.