Wednesday, 31 May 2006

Blogger display bug

I'd almost come to accept it as part of the interface, but this morning it struck me again. There's a bug in the Blogger interface when viewing draft posts, which makes it look as follows (in Firefox):

My only theory involves the fact that these posts don't have titles associated with them, though why that might cause such a bug I don't know. Also, that one post that's indented far to the right is always indented, so there must be something special about it.

The last point to make is that this effect goes away after refreshing the page, so it is apparently not fundamental to the display code.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm not even sure how to find out whether the folks at Blogger know about the problem.
PPS - I might go looking for that.

Tuesday, 30 May 2006


The difference between improvisation and creation is the zero time delay between imagination and performance. Personally, I like to think things through before I let them out of my mouth. Call it the "crazy filter" - it's there to keep most of you from thinking that I'm nuts. Sometimes it even works. But my crazy filter is why I'm not so good at improvisation. I have to remember to turn it off, and that can take a little while.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Half of the time I forget the crazy things I filter out.
PPS - It's probably for the best.

Monday, 29 May 2006

What's on?

I would think that television stations would have a good incentive to provide free weekly program guide information to their viewers. Unless they currently sell that information to third parties, it wouldn't impact on their income, and I expect it would help to attract viewers, too. Before long, someone would concoct a service to aggregate the various program guides into one regional multi-channel guide.

At the moment, in Australia, the only options of which I am aware are IceTV (a pay service) and yourTV, whose guide is only available for a quarter of a day at a time.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I long to be able to program my personal video recorder by keyword or show name.
PPS - Then I'd never miss another stand-up comedy festival.

Sunday, 28 May 2006

The Sunday Mok - A camera of our own

Sunday - I was still in Adelaide, and we had to start early to get to the airport in time to catch our flight back to Brisbane. I listened to stand-up comedy again during the flight. I slept in the afternoon, and spoke very briefly about the Adelaide conference in the evening church service.
Monday - I worked all day on appraisal database security and ran into an old friend at the bus stop. In the evening at bible study, we talked about spiritual gifts and Erin handed me a copy of The Barbarian Way. She tells me she bought about five copies to hand out.
Tuesday - I couldn't focus at work, and it was only when I got home that I figured out that I was coming down from the conference high. I had dinner at Deb's, then spent an hour gathering info to place an order for RAM for Jenny and Trevor. After I got what I needed, I watched some Stargate SG-1 with Deb. I skipped karate.
Wednesday - A really cold morning, and I don't need to tell that to anyone who lives in Brisbane. More appraisal database security work, then the bus was about an hour late. After dinner at Deb's with several guests, we went to watch the State of Origin game 1 at Stu's.
Thursday - I found out why the appraisal database is upsetting our regional manager so much. I've been told it's not really my fault, but since I'm part of the project, it's tough to believe. I picked up and installed the RAM for Jenny and Trevor in the evening.
Friday - I caught the late bus into work, just because the week had been wearying so far. I haven't played City of Heroes all week, which usually means I've had no personal time at all. Youth group was cancelled in the evening, so Deb and I went to see X-Men: The Last Stand and ran into Miv and Julia there, which was cool. The movie didn't have much plot to speak of.
Saturday - After feeding Meg at her insistence at 06:00, I went back to sleep until 09:30. I watched some recorded TV in the morning and then picked up Deb to go to Indooroopilly to buy a digital camera. We wound up with a Kodak Easyshare V530, which seems pretty good so far. We watched some more Stargate in the afternoon, then went to Bridgit's for dinner.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Our internet connection may have been speed-limited.
PPS - Then again, my router is blocking a large number of incoming connection attempts.

Friday, 26 May 2006

More Force theology

A good kind of manager recognises potential savings in the future as well as potential savings now. The bad kind of manager recognises only savings related to cost-cutting right now. Temporary expenditure for massive savings later will never get past a manager like that, no matter how many orders of magnitude of savings we are talking about.

It's another Light Side/Dark Side difference. A good manager is focused on the long term greater good. A bad manager tends to see decisions in terms of what it will mean immediately.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I've only known a few managers in my time.
PPS - It seems the Dark Side kind are more common.

Thursday, 25 May 2006

A maroon-coloured soul

I've mentioned previously that I care very little for spectator sports, but I do watch the State of Origin matches every year. I only managed to see the second half of last night's game, but that was the exciting one, so it's okay. Unfortunately for Queensland, a missed conversion meant that the scores were tied with three minutes to go, and a simple field goal from New South Wales effectively ended the match. I was interested to see the excitement the game generated in me, shouting gleefully at good plays and tries. It's not something I usually do, but I now understand why spectators can have so much love for a game they never play.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I need to buy Meg a little kitty clock so she knows when is too early for breakfast.
PPS - For future reference, half past four is too early.

Wednesday, 24 May 2006

A night at the supermarket

Last night I was doing my shopping at the supermarket, as I often do. When I turned the corner into the confectionery aisle, I saw every centimetre of shelving being methodically ransacked by a platoon of people, like locusts on a crop. What confused me was that most were not wearing the supermarket employee uniform and were not carrying any calculators or portable barcode scanners. This meant it wasn't a stocktake.

So what could it be? I wondered quietly to myself. Perhaps there's been some kind of chocolate recall and these people need to sift the shelves looking for certain brands and certain batch numbers. Many packages lay on the floor. This was a feasible explanation. I also theorised that there may have been some kind of printed barcode scam, and they needed to check each product in the store to make sure its barcode was intact.

I kept wondering as I shopped, and only when I got to the checkout did I learn that it was a stocktake after all - those people were counting, then would write the total number of items next to the barcode on the shelf. Someone else was following behind and doing the traditional scan-and-multiply job, but without the hassle of counting items himself.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I wonder if the process was experimental.
PPS - I guess this story wasn't that exciting.

Tuesday, 23 May 2006

Flashy Messenger

In MSN Messenger, when you're in a conversation and your counterpart sends a message, the toolbar button flashes to show you something has been said. If you click in, then click out again quickly, the button continues to flash, thereby indicating that something new has been posted - the same new thing you just potentially read. This happens to me all the time, especially when the message I receive is something like "okay".
I think the reason that I get bugged so much by the continued flashing is that Messenger is making an assumption about me and getting it wrong. It believes I cannot have read the message that quickly, and so continues to display it as unread. It's telling me "You didn't read this yet. You clicked in, but you didn't read it." and that's not true.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I do, however, understand why the mis-feature was introduced in the first place.
PPS - I just don't think it should have been introduced.

Monday, 22 May 2006

Google Speculation Update

I noted in a previous blog post that Google don't have a calendar application. That's no longer true, as some of you may know already. At the risk of sounding like a spambot, you can find out about Google Calendar here.
The one thing that disappoints me about this particular calendar application is that it's not possible for me to use Mozilla Sunbird to manage my Google calendar in a seamless partially-connected fashion. As nice as the application is, I'd just like to be able to use it offline sometimes.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm a fan of partially-connected applications.
PPS - They allow the user more freedom.

Update: It's been some time since this post, and there are now ways to use Google Calendar with either Sunbird or Outlook.

Sunday, 21 May 2006

The Sunday Mok - Live From Adelaide!

Sunday - After the morning church service, I ate lunch at Deb's, then came home to do laundry and dishes. I took a nap while Deb played City of Heroes. Baby Eli was at the evening service and getting lots of attention. Deb and I got some ideas from Michelle about things to do in Tasmania.
Monday - At work we had a presentation about some software we may be purchasing. I still don't know exactly what it's all about. I had dinner at home before heading to bible study, thoroughly unprepared, as it turned out. Deb and I watched another Stargate SG-1 episode afterwards.
Tuesday - I ate leftover taco filling for lunch, which was all meat and cheese. Somehow I doubt it's good for me. I went to install some hardware for Jenny and Trevor, and that went on way longer than I planned.
Wednesday - After a couple of days of planning, I got down to the more-interesting details of implementing a security framework for our performance appraisal database. It's coming along nicely. Deb came over in the evening and made enchiladas for dinner while I packed to go to Adelaide. We watched more Stargate.
Thursday - I had an early start to get to the plane in time. The flight, apart from being hurled through the air in a metal tube, was nothing extraordinary. I listened to stand-up comedy because I couldn't sleep. Erin, Gwen and I spent the afternoon at Glenelg Beach before the evening conference session, which was great.
Friday - The day was full from start to finish with five conference sessions and short breaks for food. I learned a lot about God, myself and our youth ministry. There will likely be more on this later.
Saturday - Just like Friday, but more tired. As an example, imagine that I had writted "tireder" right there, and you might get the picture. By the evening, I just needed a quiet place to sleep, away from humans and traffic.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Sleep still eluded me on today's plane trip.
PPS - Back in my own bed, things were different.

Wednesday, 17 May 2006

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blogging

From early tomorrow morning until Sunday afternoon, I'll be in Adelaide, and it's likely that posts will temporarily cease over this period. I keep meaning to write a program that can post a pre-prepared entry automatically in my absence, but somehow I never quite get around to it. If I ever did, you wouldn't have to know that I was gone at all, unless you notice that I'm not around or not answering my landline.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I considered leaving you a "thought for the day" for each day I'm gone.
PPS - Maybe I'll do that later.

Tuesday, 16 May 2006

Esteem modifiers

It is interesting that one of the goals that occupies my Light Side is to boost everyone's self-esteem up to a self-sustaining level, and that one of my favourite Dark Side games is to make people feel bad about themselves by tearing down their hopes and dreams. I don't give in to that Dark Side urge too often, but sometimes it slips in there like the Octopus of Evil, squeezing through tiny gaps simply because that's what octopi love to do.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I think that's a more apt analogy than I intended.
PPS - Because, you see, the Octopus of Evil has to be spineless if it's an octopus.

Monday, 15 May 2006


Meg, the cutest cat in the whole wide house, decided this morning that breakfast would be 15 minutes early. She declared this rather loudly in her limited vocabulary from the other side of my closed door. My "calm" counter-offer involved asking her to wait patiently elsewhere until I got up at my usual time of 06:00. I came out on top of these negotiations primarily because I have thumbs and a bigger brain.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I got the impression, however, that there was a slight communications barrier between us.
PPS - That might have been the door, too.

Sunday, 14 May 2006

The Sunday Mok - A cult of plastic kitchenware

Sunday - I received the first actual news I've gotten from Dad & Beth overseas, which summed up to "we're in Frankfurt". I watched last Sunday's Big Brother, then played City of Heroes for most of the afternoon.
Monday - Work seems to be quieter recently. I did some appraisal database documentation and fixed a bug in Asset Knowledgebase. I booked accommodation for the Hobart trip, and had dinner at Gwen & John's with the rest of the bible study group.
Tuesday - Timesheet transfer dramas held the process up, so it didn't happen on Monday or Tuesday. In my spare time I updated my WorkDiary note-taking program to include a project tag for easier searching. Karate in the evening was a tough leg workout.
Wednesday - My legs got progressively more sore during the day. I had dinner at Deb's and we watched three Stargate SG-1 episodes. I had to do the dishes when I got home.
Thursday - I worked on gathering info for the switch to a new accounting system at work. As it turns out, to keep our peripheral services running, we'll need full access to their database. I had dinner at Deb's, then helped Rachel look up some info on setting up an online forum for a university assignment.
Friday - I got word that I'll need to work out lots of complex security requirements for the appraisal database. At my current estimate, though the site is otherwise ready to be used, it will take a month. For youth group we took everyone to the Oxley driving range. I think I could get to be an average golfer if I took the time or had much interest.
Saturday - I tried to help Jenny with her PC, but in the end it seems that the hard drive is dead. That took all morning to find out, because it wasn't dead yet. I bought the next two Stargate seasons and Deb and I finished off season 5.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The "cult of plastic kitchenware" has likely invaded your kitchen, too.
PPS - I won't mention the name, but I think you know who I mean.

Friday, 12 May 2006

A steaming pile of unposted thoughts

I'm looking over my draft blog posts (there are a lot of them) and I don't see any that are particularly worthy. In fact, with very little discomfort, I would use the metaphor that I have amassed a huge pile of manure, and now I'm digging through it for the bit that's not smelly. Most of the half-formed thoughts that sit here, waiting to be posted, sound like the things I've already said before, numerous times. Am I running out of steam? Is it possible that this long road of blogging has been steadily sapping my creativity and ideas so that now, in one sense, I'm finished?

I doubt it. However, if you see too many more meta-posts like this one, let me know and I'll try to dig something up.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I should produce an essay on television in the internet age.
PPS - That alone would eat up half of my unposted entries.

Thursday, 11 May 2006

FOX Shows Added to iTunes Music Store

You can now buy (some) FOX television shows on iTunes, including Lost and Firefly. While iTunes has its DRM issues, it's good to see television producers gradually embracing the web. Link via digg.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I haven't checked it out personally, but they might be US-only.
PPS - That sounds like something they'd do.

Wednesday, 10 May 2006

Introvert Disease

I'm a little bit tired of people treating me like I'm not a proper functioning human being just because I'm an introvert. It's not a choice, nor is it a disease. It is not even - shock! - a problem that has to be solved. It's me. I'm now imagining organising an introvert pride parade, but it would have to be online - say, in World of Warcraft or something.

So here are some things you need to know:
1. Yes, I do like people, actually. I enjoy conversation, too, and I regularly seek the company of others. This is, however, a way I choose to spend my energy, not regain it. I will grow ever more weary if forced to spend my entire day interacting with people.
2. I may be thinking more than I say. The fact that I do not immediately pipe up with my thoughts on a subject does not mean I am not paying attention, nor does it mean that I have no ideas. It also doesn't mean that I'm the deepest and most profound thinker you know.
3. In just the same way as you think I'm strange because I spend time alone, I find it entirely alien that you spend so little time alone. This is just something we will have to grow to understand about each other.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm not abnormal, just different.
PPS - That's different from the majority, not necessarily from all of you.

Tuesday, 9 May 2006

Separation of concerns

When people separated from the actual work make unreasonable time demands, they usually get substandard work in response. As the saying goes, "faster, better, cheaper: pick two". If you want it faster, you need to spend more or sacrifice quality. Many managers are of the opinion that if they just crack the whip harder, they'll get the work done faster, which also means cheaper.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Beware of managers who don't also work on projects.
PPS - I'm aware that some people have the simpler motto "Beware of managers".

Monday, 8 May 2006

The internet and television, again

Looking over my posts and drafts for this blog, I find that I think a lot about television and the internet together. This is clearly the area of the world where I want to see the most changes made. Some public broadcasters are starting to provide interesting services over the internet, which is a good start. They are free to do this because the viewers own the station, so to speak. They are therefore more likely to engage in pro-customer behaviours and to lead the way in that area of innovation.

In other words, they put the customer/viewer first and are at the forefront of information-age television services.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's not just a coincidence.
PPS - "Customers first" leads to goodwill, which leads to profits.

Sunday, 7 May 2006

The Sunday Mok - Krappenfest

Sunday - I was handing out bulletins at church in the morning. I was meant to be on the previous Sunday too, but I forgot. Deb and I did some grocery shopping, then I spent the afternoon alone sleeping and playing City of Heroes. After the evening church service, several of us went to Erin's to watch The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on DVD.
Monday - Because it was a public holiday, I slept in and then caught up on Big Brother. After dinner I went to Deb's, where we watched Stargate SG-1 and talked about our upcoming Tasmania trip.
Tuesday - I overslept in the morning, so skipped breakfast in order to make it to work on time. During the day it felt like interruptions were constant, so it was hard to focus. Karate in the evening was good - all about basic techniques.
Wednesday - I worked on the appraisal database all day, finishing off the initial security code, then started on some changes. I started reading a book by 37signals about leaner, simpler, lightweight programming. I ate dinner at Deb's, followed by more Stargate.
Thursday - I spent all day working on the appraisals database except for a presentation after lunch. Because Dad & Beth are away, I had dinner at my place with Deb, followed by Stargate and a brief chat about our Tasmania trip.
Friday - We had a section meeting about consolidating the company data stores that deal with employee information. Right now there's no really good authoritative source that we can access. Youth group in the evening was a separate boys/girls event. We boys stayed up in the auditorium playing games while the girls did whatever girls do.
Saturday - I slept in until 09:30, which is 3.5 hours, according to my regular get-up time. I was at Deb's from lunchtime until late, and that time included booking our flights to Tasmania and picking up Rachel from the domestic airport. We watched four Stargate episodes in the evening, then talked for a while.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The post title is a reference to the big rubbish pickup going on now.
PPS - Some of it is being picked up and taken back inside other houses.

Friday, 5 May 2006

MS Office / OpenOffice Co-operation

How long will it be before someone produces a plug-in for MS Office 12 that allows importing and exporting of OpenOffice documents? My guess is not very long at all. Microsoft is doing all they can to prevent interoperability with, unfortunately for their customers. If Microsoft had any confidence in their software at all, they would be happy to support the open document standards, secure in the knowledge that they are providing a superior product at a reasonable price that will still turn a profit. Instead, they are locking up Office 12, refusing to natively support the public open XML document standard (recently voted in as ISO 26300) and patent-licensing their own XML document standards in order to close off as many interoperability pathways as possible. Somebody at Microsoft is scared. Very scared.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - If you serve your customers well, they will reward you.
PPS - If you lock up your customers, they'll try to escape.

UPDATE: Seems I am unconsciously in tune with Slashdot - this story appeared there just recently, detailing someone working on exactly the problem I've detailed above.

Thursday, 4 May 2006

Moral Ambiguity

In City of Heroes, I've never been asked to choose between two actions that are both a bit good and a bit bad. There is no moral ambiguity in the game - it's all black and white. Every time I go off to fight someone (or something) I know that it's the right thing to do, even if it's breaking up a gang war that would seriously diminish the numbers of both gangs if allowed to continue.

In a way, I long for some uncertainty about what I'm asked to do. I'd settle for being asked to choose between two equally good, yet mutually exclusive, actions - like there being two people in trouble and time enough to save only one.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I guess there doesn't seem to be enough struggle in the hero life in Paragon City.
PPS - It would help keep me engaged in the story a bit more.

Wednesday, 3 May 2006

I'm Learned-ing

With a little guidance, I'm getting the hang of leaner, faster, simpler software development. Software is changing. Over the past couple of decades, we've managed to formalise our tools so that the main merits of any one language over another are syntactic sweetness. Some effort was made to study our processes, mostly in the light of traditional engineering practices.

As some of our brothers and sisters on the front lines have noticed, however, building software is a bit different to building an oil rig or a stadium. They've taken that blindingly simple observation and transformed it into a family of methods, practices and philosophy broadly called Agile Methodology. Less code, unit tests, smaller teams and flexible specs are all part of this. Slowly but surely, Agile methods are turning the software world on its head, and now it's making its way down to me.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I imagine it will be a little while before these ways start being taught at schools or universities.
PPS - But that's the way it's always been.

Tuesday, 2 May 2006

No Places in Firefox 2

I was very excited about a new feature coming to Firefox, my web browser of choice. Version 2.0 of Firefox was to include a feature called Places, an innovative bookmarks and history manager. Very few people are still using bookmarks effectively, because our needs and web browsing habits have changed since the original design of that ancient feature. Places was set to bring Firefox bookmark functionality into the present, with searching and tagging. Sadly, according to this article, the Places feature will not be ready for the projected 2.0 release date.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I guess I'll have to keep using for now.
PPS - Places would have been much like that.

Monday, 1 May 2006

Non-Labouring Day

Honestly, it gets tough to keep up with all of these public holidays at the beginning of the year. I keep feeling like I'm going to get an angry phone call asking why I'm not at work. I'd hate to have nearly eight hours to catch up in a single week.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - My only excuse so far would be "everyone else said it was a holiday".
PPS - The calendar does too.