Friday, 29 September 2006

Friday Zombie Blogging

An on-campus game at Cornell University that's a lot like live-action zombie apocalypse role-playing.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - These things are always so far away.
PPS - And those people nearby are uninterested.

Class of ninety-[mumble]

So I've got my 10-year high school reunion on Saturday night, and I'm alternating between apathy and curiosity. I've seen most of my friends since school, but there are other people that might be interesting to catch up with. I don't think there's anyone there I'd like to avoid. If so, they'll want to avoid me too, so that should work out fine. I don't feel a particular need to show anyone that I've made something of my life despite their predictions because, for one, I don't remember anyone bothering to put me down much.

On the off chance that I need to get rid of someone, I've compiled a list of conversation-stoppers to use:
"So five years ago I had a psychotic episode, but I'm feeling better now."
"I just got out of prison yesterday. They don't know yet, of course..."
"I keep cats. I think I've got about 37 now, but it's hard to count them."
"I'm just standing in for one of your actual classmates."
"Do you have anywhere you could hide a gun for me?"
"You're sitting in it now."

Mokalus of Borg

PS - With any luck, I'll never need them.
PPS - I'll be sure to take photos.

Thursday, 28 September 2006

Frames by Converse

My glasses were ready yesterday. How come nobody mentions how expensive new frames are? Also, the phrase "my glasses" when applied to me absolutely spins me out. Though I've basically known it's coming (both the parentals wore spectacles) it's still a trip and a half to think that now I have to wear bits of glass to make my eyes work properly. They're only for reading, really.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - And watching TV and driving at night and using the computer...
PPS - I'm picking them up tonight.

Wednesday, 27 September 2006

The Evidence

My belt is an exceptionally good one, and I've had it for over ten years now. It's still going strong. However, there are now a series of obvious black marks where my waist has gradually expanded and the buckle has moved up a notch. Since I was still growing when I first got the belt, that's not much of a surprise. I've since stopped growing taller and continued growing wider in tiny increments, as documented on my Tactical Pants Retaining System(TM).


PS - Perhaps I should get a new one that doesn't advertise the fact so plainly.
PPS - But I doubt I'd find one quite so good.

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Pool Mobile

Today and for most of this week I get to car pool in to work which results in either tasty overtime or sweet, sweet sleep-ins. I got picked up at the same time as the bus would arrive and got in about 20 minutes early. It would be nice if it was possible all the time with, say, company-sponsored parking spots for car pools, but we've got too many cars and not enough spaces to make that happen.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I will enjoy it while it lasts.
PPS - I wonder if I can doze on the way instead of chatting without being impolite.

Monday, 25 September 2006

Load limited

Yesterday at about 17:30 I plugged in my new battery backup power supply and hooked in all the equipment. I've got my PC, Anthony's too, and his monitor on the battery backup outlets and other peripherals on the three surge guard outlets. Then at about 22:00 I was transcoding video and Anthony was on Final Fantasy XI, the thing starts screeching at us like a smoke alarm in panic mode. Turns out the battery outlets are overloaded.

Now, if I were more electrically-minded, I probably could have predicted that a UPS like this couldn't handle two PCs running hot, but I'm not a sparky. I'm a softy with a screwdriver at best. So now I've got to make the difficult choice of how to arrange things. Only one PC gets to have battery backup now, but the choices for the other outlet are my monitor (pointless without the PC up and running), the modem (with no router to keep it on the network), the router (with no PCs to connect to) or Anthony's speakers.

It seems like the speakers are the most logical choice, in the same way as smooth peanut butter, of all the peanut spread varieties, is the most like dairy butter. It might be true, but it's still a long way from right.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Of course, I could boot Anthony's PC off backup.
PPS - Since I own the UPS, after all...

Sunday, 24 September 2006

The Sunday Mok - The hand-me-downs of high fashion

Sunday - In the morning, the Uniting Church had a combined service of both morning and evening congregations, so I went to that and sang out front. In the afternoon I played City of Heroes and the evening activity was bowling for René's birthday.
Monday - Work saw the end of the major recorded bugs in the performance appraisal database so I started working on the timesheet transfer system and did that for most of the week. Alpha in the evening was all about the church, then we discussed the course as a whole. It was the final Monday night session.
Tuesday - I aimed to have an early night, so I just went to karate, cooked dinner, folded laundry and went to bed.
Wednesday - Dad had taken delivery of the new washing machine and installed it himself after some dramas with the water mains. After I ate at home, I went to Deb's and watched Charmed.
Thursday - There was a practice building evacuation at work, and it might have been the quickest ever. After dinner at Dad & Beth's, we watched Charmed as well as Family Guy.
Friday - Youth group is over for the term, so we went to Stu's to watch the football. Since neither Deb nor I are particularly interested in football, we left early to go and see The Devil Wears Prada. We probably could have waited.
Saturday - I went for a run in the morning, then went back to bed until 11:00. I picked up an uninterruptible power supply and a new soundcard from Umart then Deb and I went shopping at the nearby Toowong Village. Deb cut my hair in the afternoon and we watched Charmed up to the beginning of season 4.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I thought the UPS had four battery-backup outlets.
PPS - It seems to have only three.

Friday, 22 September 2006

Loyal customer rewards

Quickflix has sent me a second DVD. That's not remarkable except that my account only entitles me to have one out at a time. Maybe I'm like their millionth customer or something. Actually, I suspect it has something to do with the introduction of their new "pay in bulk and save" plan options, and I got caught in some kind of glitch.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Their Stargate Atlantis discs must be in high demand.
PPS - They're at the top of my list, but I've only received one so far.

Thursday, 21 September 2006

Spiffy and spinny

Dad received delivery of and installed our new front-loading washing machine last night, which is much shinier than our old one. It's got buttons instead of a dial and it runs on electricity instead of little rats in wheels. The feature that interests me the most is the Delay Start, which means I'll be able to load the machine at night and set it to finish just before I get up in the morning. Then I can use the fifteen to twenty spare minutes in my morning routine to hang out washing if it suits me, rather than attempting an immediate load-and-start when I get up, followed some time later by a frantic hang-up and dash to the bus.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I imagine the cat will be slightly alarmed at the mysterious robotic cube.
PPS - But only for a while.

Wednesday, 20 September 2006

It's spelled differently to that other musical Hanson

I don't want to sound like I'm just plugging The Chaser's War on Everything again, but that's pretty much what I'm doing. I'd love to get a CD of Andrew Hansen's comedy songs. I'm a bit of a fan of musical comedy in that way, and I just loved The Prolix Songwriter and The Fan of Doctor Who. I guess I could do the CD myself, if I ever find more than those two songs.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - There are probably more on YouTube.
PPS - I haven't looked in depth yet.

Tuesday, 19 September 2006

The pirates who never get out of your head. Ever.

Over the weekend I heard the Veggie Tales song "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" and it's been on repeat in my head ever since. At first I thought is was cute. Then it was a bit annoying. Now I'd dig my brain out with a spoon if it would make them stop.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - They might not have been to Boston in the fall, but they do something.
PPS - They've probably driven many parents to damaging CDs and DVDs.

Monday, 18 September 2006

Entitled to it

Are opinions a right or a privilege? I think a good argument can be made for the idea that some opinions have to be earned - you aren't automatically entitled to them. For instance, would you say that you're entitled to your own medical opinion? How about a legal opinion? Theological? Political?

Some opinions are worth more than others. That's why we have expert witnesses in courts - their opinions are worth more than others in the same field, and are worth more than those of most other people in the room. It is that way because they've worked for it. So perhaps next time I'm about to spout an opinion on something, I'll stop to think whether I've earned the right.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - In most cases, I probably haven't.
PPS - This may be why I'm already pretty quiet.

Sunday, 17 September 2006

The Sunday Mok - Down and up again

Sunday - After the morning church service, Deb and I helped Wendy and Dean (step-sister + husband) babysit for the newcomers lunch. While most of the kids were happy watching Veggie Tales I talked computer games with the eldest. I sang in the evening service and then we all went to the local Coffee Club for supper.
Monday - I spent the day in tedious data cleansing which really zonked me out. Alpha in the evening was about telling others. It's more about being open about faith rather than keeping it a secret or beating people over the head with it.
Tuesday - All day at work on performance appraisal bugs. I've been getting pretty tired of that routine, so I took a couple of chances for diversions. Karate was okay, all combinations and kata.
Wednesday - After work and dinner at Deb's, we started watching Charmed on DVD. At the moment I'm ambivalent about it. Maybe I'll get into it later.
Thursday - Damien, HR head, wanted a version of the performance appraisal database to put on a laptop and take to Melbourne to demonstrate. But he didn't have a laptop for me to work with. Dinner at Dad & Beth's included some hearty after-dinner laughs.
Friday - I got the laptop version of the database done and started to feel better about myself. It was good to have a different goal that was verifiably achieved. Youth group in the evening was a murder mystery party to finish off the term. The attendees really got into it, which was good, and the costumes were quite entertaining.
Saturday - I went to see the optometrist to get my eyes checked, because I've been noticing some trouble with long distance vision recently. She told me to drink lots more water and wash my eyes morning and night. I cooked chicken enchiladas for dinner, with a bit of direction from Deb, and I think over the course of the day we watched eight episodes of Charmed.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I have some half-formed thoughts about Charmed that I might write later.
PPS - After they're fully-formed, of course.

Friday, 15 September 2006

Chase This

I really like The Chaser's War on Everything. It's terrifically Australian (making fun of, well, everything) and clever without being inaccessible. And the public pranks (like driving a big wooden horse to the army barracks, the Turkish embassy and a university history department) just make me think "Wow. I wish I had the guts to do something like that. And the time. And the money. And a camera crew and television station. And a sandwich."

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The whole show is available for free download.
PPS - If you don't already watch, give it a go.

Friday Zombie Blogging

Carrie-Ann Moss and Billy Connolly have appeared in a Canadian zombie comedy called FIDO.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Domesticated zombies.
PPS - Sounds kind of like "wild poodles".

Thursday, 14 September 2006

How to pronounce "Mokalus"

I've had a couple of conversations with people where it sounds like they're mis-pronouncing my online moniker. Since it's more usually written than spoken, this is understandable. But since it's one of my names, it puts me off-balance somehow. So, for anyone who's been wondering, here's your one-stop guide to pronouncing "Mokalus":

Mo: First syllable, as if short for "moustache", or like the Stooge.
Ka: As an Australian would pronounce "car" - without the "r".
Lus: Short "u" sound and traditional consonants.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - That's approximately "moh-KA-lus".
PPS - I've heard "MOCK-less" and "MOCK-al-us" in person.

Wednesday, 13 September 2006


I love making things better. It's a pleasure second only to raw creation in this world. The problem is that the world is flawed, so that each new solution brings another problem. Every answer begs another question. So you can never get it totally right. You can't cover a square with a circle of the same area. When you move it, another bit of the square pokes out. The game is to decide where it fits best and get it there.

I'm currently in a game of perpetual improvement with a project here at work. I could take forever and make it a little bit better every day, but then it will be tremendously complex. It would also leave the client a bit peeved that it's never finished. So I have to strike a balance between features and time.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It would help to have another person working on the program.
PPS - Right now my only help is someone else filing bugs.

Tuesday, 12 September 2006

Hoaxing by proxy

I don't understand how hoax emails get passed on beyond the first iteration. Surely people look things up before trusting their email. Has spam taught us nothing? How easy is it to just web-search for "hoax [email subject]" before passing on some dire warning about killer porpoises or poisonous vitamins? Really, just take a second and read something from the source instead of forty-eighth-hand email.

John Nickerson

PS - I guess it's like urban myths.
PPS - "I heard it from my friend's cousin's accountant's aunt."

Monday, 11 September 2006

We have incoming

Security experts tell us that, among the other thousand things you have to remember, you must not trust incoming phone calls, because that could be anyone on the line. The problem is that every phone call is "incoming" to one of the parties involved. There was a case recently where a man managed to get the phone for a pizza place redirected to his phone, where he started taking credit card details for "pre-payment". So who's to blame? The phone company trusted the incoming call to make the changes, but if the phone line in question is broken anyway, they can't call out to confirm. And what if they did? The pizza place shouldn't trust the incoming phone call either and we're back to square one.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I don't know how to solve this one.
PPS - Perhaps we need more couriers.

Friday Zombie Blogging

Night of the Living Dumb. Zombies aren't real, but sometimes it's hard to act like it.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I do that kind of thing all the time.
PPS - I guess that classifies me as "fantasy-prone".

Sunday, 10 September 2006

The Sunday Mok - The horrors of Rocky

Sunday - After the morning church service, I had my Dad & Beth around for lunch as a Father's Day event. In the afternoon I went to Deb's place and we watched Angel, which finally included the much-hyped episode Smile Time.
Monday - All this week at work I've just been bug-hunting in the performance appraisal database. It's good work, but I worry that I'm spending too much time on it. After Alpha in the evening, Deb and I watched one more Angel episode before I drove her home.
Tuesday - I started reading The Screwtape Letters on the bus and had a good workout at karate in the evening. For dinner, my brother and I had pizza as we watched one episode of Star Trek Enterprise. It was his birthday.
Wednesday - I spent half of my lunchtime on an automatic blog posting program that will (in theory) let me set up future posts and have them automatically published when I'm off the network for long periods. Dinner at Deb's followed by three Angel episodes and chatting.
Thursday - Dinner at Dad & Beth's had a significantly reduced attendance due to new work shifts and other sibling commitments. Deb and I watched yet more Angel and chatted some more about what we've been reading lately.
Friday - For youth group in the evening we went indoor rock climbing. The kids were all pros, because they have a climbing facility at school. It's not as tall as the one we went to, though. Following that, I dropped in on a welcome home party for Glenys which was themed after the Rocky Horror Picture Show. During the Time Warp, I felt like I was having a series of aneurisms. Still, it was good to see everyone again.
Saturday - This was the episode of The Mokalus Show where he thought he would be in a zombie movie, then it turns out they're full. Besides that disappointment, I spent a little more time on the Gold Coast and had dinner with Dad, Deb and Rani at a little Italian restaurant.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Attempts at consoling me about the movie feel a bit patronising.
PPS - After all, I've got nothing less now than I did before.

Thursday, 7 September 2006

Friday Zombie Blogging

Today, tomorrow and Sunday if you get down to the Gold Coast, you can be in a zombie movie. Costumes and make-up provided.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I wouldn't bother watching the "trailer" myself.
PPS - Thanks to Stu for tipping me off about this one.


I just thought I'd share an insight I've had (or rather that I've been handed) when reading The Screwtape Letters. Humility is not belittling myself or thinking less of myself than I am. True humility is, as C. S. Lewis puts it, "self-forgetfulness". It is to accomplish something great, to know it is great, but to be no more (or less) proud of it than if someone else had done it. The book has a way of putting simple truths about daily life that make a lot of sense. It would take some time to fully internalise it all.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Most of the insights are just a shift in perception or focus.
PPS - And they're so simple it's a wonder I didn't come across them before.

Wednesday, 6 September 2006

Artists on music and file sharing

I've downloaded and listened to Weird Al's Don't Download This Song and, just to be different, I may go and buy the single of MC Lars' Download This Song. Both make a very good point.

My stance on the issue of illegal file sharing is this: it's not right. I did it for a while, but I don't anymore (and I purged all those tracks from my library). The other side of the coin is that the big music companies are not properly embracing the web. This is probably because they're less important now. Any band with a PC can put up a website (or MySpace page, or blog) and get their music out to the world without any assistance from the music biz. That's terrifying if your whole business model is being the arbiter and curator of public music trends, and it's only going to get worse.

The RIAA are suing music's biggest fans and biggest spenders (check the statistics) and that's just not going to last. Judging by the number of bands that are publicly distancing themselves from the RIAA, it's not in anyone's best interests.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The one exception is that it's doing relatively well for the RIAA.
PPS - iTunes gets less money to artists than physical CDs, again thanks to the RIAA.

Tuesday, 5 September 2006

Picasa Web Albums

I thought about signing up to Flickr to share photos, and then I remembered that Google have their own (trial) photo sharing site at Picasa Web Albums, and that I wouldn't have to create a new account to use it. I don't like creating accounts or spreading my name around the net too much, so that's a plus. On the downside, Google are now in control of my blogging, email, photos, calendar and news. That is a concern.

Anyway, the point is that you can now view online the photos (or the best of them) that I took at Southbank the other night.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Most of them are between 4 and 8 seconds exposure.
PPS - It would have been handy to have a small tripod.

Monday, 4 September 2006

Wikipedia = fame

I'd say the height of internet notoriety is to have your own Wikipedia entry. That's presuming you didn't create it yourself. Or incite someone else to create it on your behalf.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The closest I've got is a partial match in an entry about squash in the 2005 Southeast Asian Games.
PPS - And the linked entry (for bronze-medalist "Fanny Mokalu") doesn't exist.

Sunday, 3 September 2006

The Sunday Mok - Everyone Else's Schedule

Sunday - The second and final day of Alpha camp. I tried following Mal on the drive home, but lost him somewhere in bad traffic on the freeway. I sang in the evening church service and we went to McDonald's afterwards, because the Coffee Club was crowded.
Monday - I worked mostly on the performance appraisal database and a little bit on timesheets. Dinner in the evening was at Deb's place with Sam's family too, celebrating their engagement. Deb and I watched one Angel episode before I went home.
Tuesday - Much like Monday at work. I started redesigning our basic personnel database to better represent the org chart. Karate in the evening was good, then Ug the Caveman cooked steak for dinner. I played City of Heroes after dinner and did the last ever load of washing in our now-dead washing machine.
Wednesday - I had a demonstration of the performance appraisal database which went a tiny bit worse than the last one. There were some security bugs to work out. I took Deb to Southbank for dinner and we took a few photos of the city lights. Back home we had time to watch one more Angel episode before saying goodnight.
Thursday - All performance appraisal database at work. We had Thai for dinner at Dad & Beth's and had to leave early so Ug could get to an online event on time. Deb and I watched more Angel and chatted.
Friday - More performance appraisal database work. In the evening we had a retirement party for my Dad, featuring coffee & dessert. I also called Glenys, who's just recently returned from many years in the UK. She sounds English.
Saturday - Slept in a bit then read news online, took some laundry to Deb's and went grocery shopping. Following that, we went Father's Day shopping. I took a nap in the afternoon, then we went to Tracy's birthday dinner at Toscani's at Newmarket.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I may have put a bus ticket through the laundry.
PPS - I'm not sure, though, because I can't even find the remains.

Friday, 1 September 2006

Business as usual

I'm intrigued by a certain fact: the recently-introduced graphical anti-smoking notices on cigarette packs have (probably) not resulted in a decrease in smoking. Rather, they have opened the door on a new market - coloured cardboard covers for your cigarette packs. For about 80 cents you can have a re-usable colourful cardboard sleeve to slip over your disturbing images of brain cancer. Bargain.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - That's capitalism.
PPS - People will pay to avoid targeted negative images.

Friday Zombie Blogging

George A. Romero is to produce a fifth movie in the "Dead" series. Nice.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Apparently this one is going to be a bit like The Blair Witch Project.
PPS - Except, you know, less awful and with zombies.