Friday, 31 March 2006


You know when you open up a program and for some reason all of your settings are gone? This morning it seems that Thunderbird has forgotten which newsfeeds I like to read. It has, in fact, forgotten that I like to read newsfeeds at all, and presented me with the standard request to create a new account. That kind of event does not bode especially well for the day to come. If I were superstitious I'd cross my fingers or something. Spit on a frog, I don't know. Not being superstitious, I'm not sure what gestures one makes to ward off software bad luck.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Fortunately I had a backup of the feed locations.
PPS - They are, however, no longer sorted or named as I'd like.

Thursday, 30 March 2006

Programmer vs Technology

For a few weeks now, I've been treated to an almost daily spiel from Brad that I've entitled "Go Ruby, Go". Ruby, for the uninitiated, is the programming language at the heart of the significantly productive Ruby on Rails web programming framework. The speeches have made me slightly more disgruntled with Microsoft's .NET every day, and it's also made me realise why I sometimes get frustrated and bored with programming: it's when I'm solving technology problems that are getting in the way of the rest of the solution. I don't want to be figuring out how to get some program state logging working right when I really just want to get some online forms submitting.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Unfortunately, for now, I'm kind of stuck with .NET.
PPS - And solving some technology problems.

Wednesday, 29 March 2006

Greatly Exaggerated

Back when the VCR came out, the movie industry forecast its own death at the hands of this new and powerful technology. Now, at an estimate, the home entertainment market is about half their income and they wouldn't give it up or ask to have it outlawed for all the world.
Think about that whenever someone says that the Internet means movies will be gone once and for all.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - All they have to do is re-think their strategy.
PPS - Their current strategy, producing bad movies and prosecuting their patrons, cannot hold up forever.

Tuesday, 28 March 2006

Customer Turnover

Tobacco companies walk a thin line between selling a deadly product and keeping their customers alive long enough to get more money out of them. I can't imagine doing business when I expect a 33% customer mortality rate on top of government lobbying to keep the product legal plus advertising to get more customers to replace the dead ones. It's not an industry I could work in, even peripherally.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Don't smoke.
PPS - ...says the guy who never puffed a single cig.

Monday, 27 March 2006

A Process of Dumbening

Recently I've begun to worry that I'm getting stupider. Most of the time I can rationalise it as a lack of sleep, too much stress, boredom, hunger, whatever. Sometimes, though, no reasonable explanation presents itself except that I must be growing dimmer just a little bit more each day. For instance, I find myself looking up the spelling of words about which I used to be rather confident. That feels like the tip of a big, stupid iceberg where my mind will be wrecked. It's not a comforting thought.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's been this way for a little while now, not just a couple of days.
PPS - It'd be good to get some decent time off work.

Sunday, 26 March 2006

The Sunday Mok - Work at Home

Sunday - After the morning church service, Deb and I did some grocery shopping, then came back to my place. I worked in my room on the staff appraisals database for three hours while she played City of Heroes. After the evening service, several of us went to the Coffee Club, and Tim was there. It was good to see him and chatter inanely again.
Monday - Thanks to the work on Sunday, I was able to get a minimally functional appraisal database up for demonstration. I had a rather large dinner at home with Dad and Ug and also bible study at Deb's.
Tuesday - I felt much less pressure at work after getting the database done as far as I did. At karate in the evening, I felt a bit off balance. Pizza for dinner then City of Heroes until 21:30. I had an early night.
Wednesday - Our internet connection at work was playing up a bit. I'm not certain all of my email got sent. I had dinner at Deb's, then we watched a few Stargate: SG-1 episodes.
Thursday - I went looking for AJAX code to add name suggestions to the appraisal database. After dinner at Dad & Beth's I helped Dad with getting photos off his digital camera and looked at his TV/DVD/digital receiver setup that had gone wonky.
Friday - I finally got the AJAX code to work with Brad's help. At youth group in the evening, we played beach volleyball which wasn't as tough as I remembered it last time.
Saturday - I slept in, then watched Dances With Wolves, since I'd hired it for the bible study earlier in the week. I played City of Heroes into and beyond lunch, then went shopping with Deb. In the evening I went alone to Bronwyn and Steve's place for a housewarming. I stayed until shortly before midnight.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It was good to see those friends again.
PPS - I see them far too infrequently.

Friday, 24 March 2006

Holy Conception Day

Happy Holy Conception Day! Tomorrow, counting backwards nine months from Christmas, is the anniversary of the day Jesus was conceived. Make of it whatever you want.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Proper celebration of Holy Conception Day is yet to be finalised.
PPS - Suggestions are welcome.

Thursday, 23 March 2006

Dead net

This morning's post is late because, for unexplained reasons, our internet connection was dark until just now. A few times during the net blackout I thought about this post and how it would be nice to let my blog readers know there was a problem... But if I can post to let you know there's something wrong, then I don't need to tell you anything, 'cause nothing would be wrong.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Paradoxes are fun.
PPS - Except any that involve killing.

Wednesday, 22 March 2006


Last night's City of Heroes session involved my first experience with the crafting system there. I made a temporary power. Never mind that it's only useful during base raids or that I have never participated in a base raid - I constructed, from bits of junk that fell off thugs I defeated, a new power. I think that's pretty cool, and I plan to do more of it.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'd like to be able to sell or trade what I construct, though.
PPS - Perhaps that's coming later.

Tuesday, 21 March 2006

The Call

Often enough, the call of God sounds like church people complaining about how the church needs to do this or that better. We can argue and debate as long as we like, but unless we are personally ready to pick up the slack and do it ourselves, we really have no right to do so. As Ghandi said, "you must be the change you wish to see in the world". Stop complaining about how "nobody does this" or "we should do more of that" and go do it yourself, whether that's in a church or anywhere else.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's not going to be easy.
PPS - But if change was easy, we'd be living in a utopia by now.

Monday, 20 March 2006

Constructing new words

One cool thing about English is that it is a living language. We can construct new words from old roots like dys (Latin: bad), theo (Greek: God) and ist (Greek: agent) to create "dystheist", a cousin to the word "atheist", meaning someone who believes/advocates an incorrect view of God. I guess at some point in history a dystheist would have been called a heretic. "Dystheist" would have to be a judgement from someone else, though, because I don't think a person would never voluntarily identify their own current beliefs about God as incorrect.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Everyone at the Coffee Club last night should have known this was coming.
PPS - Credit for the construction of the word goes to Anna, as requested.

Sunday, 19 March 2006

The Sunday Mok - Another head cold

Sunday - After church in the morning, Deb and I watched Cube 2: Hypercube and Cypher. I sang in the evening service and many of us had supper at the Coffee Club afterwards.
Monday - There was an unexpected problem with timesheets at work: a changed file format. Bible study in the evening was at my place and involved only four of us in total. I finally figured out how to wipe Ug's hard drive for him, and did so.
Tuesday - I worked on the appraisals database at work, including setting up some automated tests. In the evening I installed Windows XP for Ug just to help get him off my PC and back onto his own. He still had network trouble afterwards.
Wednesday - More appraisals work and some on Asset Knowledgebase. Deb and I saw The Pink Panther. We came back here and watched one Stargate: SG-1 episode.
Thursday - I had my yearly performance appraisal at work and also got into the thick of a head cold. I'm not a fan of head colds. I attended a youth group meeting in the evening, followed by dinner at Dad & Beth's with Deb.
Friday - I realised that the Wednesday deadline for the appraisal database might be difficult to reach, so I borrowed the section laptop to bring my work home. Brad's been using it exclusively for long enough that it felt like borrowing his personal laptop.
Saturday - I watched Galaxy Quest on DVD, just because I felt like it. I found that I couldn't work with databases on the laptop without a password I didn't know. Deb and I saw Aeon Flux, then went to Erin's for a housewarming. We left early.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm feeling a little better now.
PPS - Just not very much better.

Friday, 17 March 2006


I often wonder how much benefit is derived from getting angry about things. Aside from the attention that is often received, the only gain I can imagine is some exercise from jumping up and down and shouting.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - You're not going to change the world with rage.
PPS - Not for the better, anyway.

Thursday, 16 March 2006

Superman and Jesus

Consider the following half-remembered quote from the Superman trailer I saw last night:
"They can be a good people, Kal-El. They only lack the light to show them the way. That's why I sent them you, my only son."
I'm not sure about the rest of you, but that sounds a lot like stuff I read in the Bible. Thus I conclude that, under the surface, this Superman story is about Jesus.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I still think Jesus would win in a fight against Superman.
PPS - Why the two of them would fight is an exercise left up to the reader.

Wednesday, 15 March 2006

Fragmentation of the distribution channels

Media and its distribution is changing, and the evidence is all around us. Consumers have greater power than ever before to communicate to each other how good or bad a product is before anyone even buys it. We see symptoms of this in the digital rights restrictions and anti-customer technology being foisted on us by big media - they're deathly afraid of the changing marketplace, and so they enshrine their old ways with restrictive technology and attempted new laws. When the snap finally comes, it won't be back to the media companies' "good old days". It will be a new age of digital media where the Sonys of the wold have less control, less power and, yes, less money. Small-time distributors and media producers will rise, unhindered by the spectre of high-cost publishing and regional distribution models with production batch limits. That is the world the big media machines fear: the one where they have to be good to survive.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Apple's iTunes Music Store should have made it possible for tiny bands to get worldwide sales distribution.
PPS - Instead, big music companies are in charge and it is too restrictive.

Tuesday, 14 March 2006

Broken record

For the past several days I've had a short song stuck in my head. It's from Family Guy, when the family moves to the South to avoid a murderous criminal, and Stewie takes up the banjo. The song I've been mentally subjected to (lyrics here) is the result. It's pretty funny the first time. After thirty or forty thousand times through, it's starting to lose its charm.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Most of the lyrics I found on the net are slightly inaccurate.
PPS - At least according to my memory.

Monday, 13 March 2006

Three quick reviews

Elektra: Thin plot, interesting effects, interesting superheroes. Includes ninjas, which is cool.
Cube 2: Hypercube: Not as good as the first one. Slightly interesting, but too many mummified bodies.
Cypher: I suspected the twist about half an hour before it was revealed. Too light on the details, which makes it seem like lazy scriptwriting.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Why do I always arrive at work on Monday wishing I'd had more sleep?
PPS - I can't still be in caffeine withdrawal.

Sunday, 12 March 2006

The Sunday Mok - Yard work can be fun

Sunday - I spent the afternoon finding rainbow pictures online for use in the evening church service, as well as watching the Spore video I blogged about on Monday. Many of us went to the Coffee Club for supper after church.
Monday - Once again we had some troubles with timesheets at work. I really don't like that this happens every Monday. More changes were introduced later in the week, so I've started refusing to do updates unless they're tested offline. I'm choosing quality over speed.
Tuesday - I missed karate because of a meeting (about timesheets) that ran until 18:00. I went for a run when I got home, then filled the car with petrol and got home again just in time to meet Miv dropping back my senior jersey. I played City of Heroes for the rest of the night.
Wednesday - I had dinner at Deb's in the evening, then we watched some Stargate SG-1 at my place. We finished season 2 and started on season 3, then talked for a while.
Thursday - I started work early and got some good coding done on the data access layer of the appraisals database. I started on unit testing, too. Dinner in the evening was at Dad & Beth's, where I signed them both up for GMail accounts.
Friday - I continued on unit testing in the morning, then got onto the new changes for timesheets in the afternoon. They won't be ready for Monday. For youth group in the evening, we went to the Ashgrove Bowls Club for a night of barefoot bowls.
Saturday - Dad came over in the morning and together we cleaned up most of the fallen dead tree in the front yard. It'll take a chainsaw and a mini-skip to get rid of the rest, though. Deb and I went shopping in the city, mostly so I could pick up a copy of Windows XP for Ug the Caveman. We rented Elektra, Cube 2: Hypercube and Cypher on DVD, too, and watched Elektra.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The other movies will have to wait.
PPS - I'm very gradually catching up on Prison Break, too.

Friday, 10 March 2006

Ghostbusters, the Next Generation

It's about time someone took a second crack at Ghostbusters. Expect a supermodel on the team, plus probably a companion spook. I also expect Jack Black to be involved somehow and cameo appearances from Harold Ramis, Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Though I expect it's coming, I also expect it will suck.
PPS - Perhaps that feeling will keep it at bay for a while.

Thursday, 9 March 2006

Do Not Disturb

I'm starting work early today, and planning to finish late, so I can finally make some significant progress on the other super-urgent project I have. It's recently been edged out of the usual workday by a different super-urgent project, simply because there are more people concerned about the second one. Since they can just walk straight into my open-air cubicle and slap me around (as they often do, metaphorically) I think today will entail a few odd conversations along the lines of "I'm not in right now. Please leave a message."

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I did consider placing an actual "Do Not Disturb" sign on my back.
PPS - But that would be weird.

Wednesday, 8 March 2006

Online concerts

This article from Slashdot, about musicians playing concerts online demonstrates a fundamentally right understanding of the opportunities the web brings. Ordinarily, a budding artist would find it difficult to get a public space to perform, let alone drum up an audience from the local area. Online, you don't have to be big to broadcast and your audience can be all over the globe, from Austria to Zimbabwe. An artist who would normally spend many years gathering a following can very quickly, through word of mouth (and those other things the web is good for), grow a fan base significant enough to make a real go of a musical career.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's good to see some people understanding the web as an opportunity, not a threat.
PPS - Especially in the music business.

Tuesday, 7 March 2006


I once heard a conversation between co-workers that included the instruction: "just open up the internet..." and suddenly decided that I did not want to live in a world where Microsoft Internet Explorer is known as "the internet". To me, that sounds just as if you called a window in your house "picturesque mountains". They're not the same thing - one is a tool and the other is the collection of information it can display to you.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I do hope it's a minority of people who speak that way.
PPS - I am in the minority of people to whom this is a problem.

Monday, 6 March 2006


Over the weekend I saw a video (35 mins, very large) on Spore, a game that is still in development, but looks extremely cool. Building a lifeform from microsocopic level up to interstellar megapower somehow appeals on so many levels. I spent the rest of my time dreaming up new creature configurations to try ... when I get my copy of the game, after it is finally released.

One thing that impressed me was that the game designers have essentially focused on the game dynamic and algorithms and have left actual content up to the players. The enemy creatures you fight against will, in all likelihood, have been designed by other players and be automatically downloaded to your machine for the game to use. That's sneaky in a way, but also very smart, because it will give the game vast variety for virtually no cost.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - If you have a high-speed connection and thirty minutes, the gameplay video is really worth it.
PPS - I definitely want this game.

Sunday, 5 March 2006

The Sunday Mok - Major Ick

Sunday - I was running late for the morning service, mostly because I chose to post The Sunday Mok before heading off, and it took a little longer than usual. I spent the afternoon alone playing City of Heroes and helped in a drama in the evening service.
Monday - As always, there were troubles at work with timesheets. I did all I could to fix it, but didn't quite test it thoroughly. We had bible study at Erin's new place that night.
Tuesday - I got sick after lunch and headed home, which unfortunately meant a walk into the city centre. I slept for the rest of the day when I got home.
Wednesday - I stayed home from work, but even at home I get calls and nightmares about timesheets. I tried to help Brad and David sort out the timesheet issues over the phone when they called. I slept a lot and watched some Fullmetal Alchemist and Family Guy too.
Thursday - I was home from work again, but I made sure not to just sleep the day away. I watched Prison Break and Family Guy and also played City of Heroes. Dinner at Dad & Beth's.
Friday - I went back to work and had to finalise the timesheet changes, then I skipped youth group that night, to avoid infecting the kids if possible. I didn't much like doing that, but I had little choice.
Saturday - Went shopping with Deb, and that seemed to wear me out more than I expected. We had a pyjama potluck dinner with the 18-35s from church which went until after 11pm. I possibly should have left a bit earlier than that.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm not sure whether I should be eating more or less.
PPS - Often I find out that the answer is "less" when I've started eating.

Friday, 3 March 2006


I've decided to head back to work today, and I started regretting that decision shortly after I stepped out the front door. It's not the dreary weather, though that helps, but I started feeling ill again. Maybe it was breakfast. Right now I can't even tell if I'm too hot or too cold. I've come back to an office with several urgent projects in stasis or chaos and I'm not at all sure I can help.

Just so you know.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - At least my new USB drive has arrived.
PPS - Protected by impenetrable force-field "blister" packaging.

Thursday, 2 March 2006

By your technologies combined...

Take wireless broadband internet and add VoIP (internet telephony like Skype) and you could have a dirt cheap mobile phone setup. Of course, with the current hardware for such services, "luggable" is probably a more descriptive term than "mobile".

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It could work.
PPS - I'd be surprised if people aren't doing it already.

Wednesday, 1 March 2006

The sickness

I'm ill today, and I won't bore you (or gross you out) with the details. Suffice it to say that it's unpleasant. I left work early yesterday and on the bus home I was seated in front of a couple of high-school students, one of whom had apparently been recently suspended. She had written a very creative story or poem about it, and was reading it to her friend. It was colourful and clever (for a teenager) and included a calculation of the time she'd be stuck there, in whole hours, in just minutes and also in seconds.

My point is that this was clearly a creative, intelligent girl who was being sidelined and victimised by our school system. I won't deny that she did something wrong to be suspended, nor will I assume there aren't other circumstances driving her to that behaviour. All I want to say is that here is a girl who has a creative gift that is being ignored and possibly even discouraged by our traditional schools. Doesn't that mean there's something wrong?

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I also have a feeling this is what is happening to Bart Simpson.
PPS - Though, of course, he's not real.