Sunday, 31 December 2006

The Sunday Mok - Thus spake the sheriff

Sunday - I had to sort out my Christmas schedule because I wasn't at all sure where I needed to be and when. I had a rehearsal in the morning for Christmas Day, then lunch and presents at Deb's place. After the evening service, we all went to McDonald's for supper because the Coffee Club had closed for Christmas.
Monday - After singing in the morning service, I had Christmas lunch at Dad & Beth's place with the whole step-family. We came home during afternoon nap time and returned for dinner. In the evening, Deb and I watched some more Stargate Atlantis episodes.
Tuesday - Deb and I had lunch with Mal, Linda, Dad and Beth to talk about wedding reception plans. I think it went rather well. After a quick dinner, we saw Happy Feet. Since we were early, we chatted at the nearby Cold Rock.
Wednesday - Atlantis season 2 got finished in the afternoon and returned via a nearby mailbox. I helped (watched) Deb make a lemon meringue cheesecake for the engagement party and we watched Disney's The Return of Jafar just for something to do.
Thursday - I went jogging in the morning, which I hadn't done in some time. I took Deb and Mia to Brookside to pick up some items for their Philippines trip, too. In the evening was our engagement party. It turned out rather small, but at a density that could just as easily be characterised as "intimate" and "friendly".
Friday - Since Deb is away, I spent most of the day reading news and watching recorded television. I also watched some of my Fullmetal Alchemist DVDs, where I had fallen quite behind. Deb called in the afternoon, missing me already, and I also tried to work out what I'd do for New Year's Eve.
Saturday - I woke early to drive to the airport and see Deb off. For the rest of the day, I did much as I had on Friday: reading news, watching recorded TV and DVDs and also playing City of Heroes. It's strange playing games on a monitor (my old CRT) that occasionally doesn't display red.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - "Thus spake the sheriff" is an accidental mis-reading of part of the Christmas carol "While Shepherds Watched".
PPS - I caused some significant laughter at rehearsal that way.

Friday, 29 December 2006

The Engagement Party

Last night was the engagement party and I think it turned out pretty well. We only managed to get a few guests, though, because we announced the party at such short notice and started with a small guest list to begin with. To the best of my knowledge, everyone had fun, we got a few gifts (I wasn't expecting any, due to the short notice) and I now have a best man too.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - There were lots of laughs to be had.
PPS - I'm calling it a success.

Friday Zombie Blogging

A new twist on the old formula: Black Sheep is an Australian movie featuring zombie sheep. The trailer looks pretty high-quality, so I think I'd like to see this one when it comes out in March.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Technically it'd be a comedy.
PPS - From the trailer, though, it looks like a gory and relatively deadpan comedy.

Thursday, 28 December 2006

Yahtzee and algorithmic intelligence

I've played a bit of Yahtzee over the past couple of days. I keep getting distracted by calculating odds and average scores. Basically I'm informally designing an algorithm that a computer could use to play. I realise it must have been done before many times, but that's no fun for me. I think I've settled on calculating an "expected score" for each square and maximising the total score at each turn.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Yes, I realise this reinforces my nerd status.
PPS - Try not to judge me too harshly.

Wednesday, 27 December 2006

Out of the time line

This change in routine from weekday posting at the office is affecting my posting regularity. It's because I'm at home and forget which days are weekdays. I'm sure I'll get enough into the swing of things by the time I'm back at the office, which is hardly helpful. Also, I'll be away for a week in mid-January, so I think my posting during that time will be handled by a program. I'll try to do better in the meantime, though, even if not many people are reading right now.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Actually I'm getting just about the same number of hits now as before.
PPS - Or so I recall from my site statistics.

Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Hap-hap-happy Feet

Tonight I saw Happy Feet. Robin Williams steals the show, as he tends to do, and the little penguins are definitely cute. Aside from the environmental moral (stop over-fishing now) there's little else to say. I liked it, and I'd probably go again if the rest of the gang was going.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I was surprised to see Steve Irwin's name in the credits as an elephant seal.
PPS - It seems like the kind of thing that would have been noted along with his death.

Monday, 25 December 2006

Christmas vs Xmas

I've decided to separate the Christmas festival into Christmas and Xmas. On the Christmas side, we have all the Christian celebrations and trappings, such as nativity scenes, songs about Jesus and church services. On the Xmas side (which should be pronounced "ex-mas" to be clear) we have the secularised festivities: trees, tinsel and songs about Santa Claus.

Now I know that if you dig deep enough you can find a Christian root for lots of things about items I'd place in Xmas, so here's the guide: if a non-Christian would be perfectly comfortable with a particular element of the celebrations - say, decorating your house with lights - then that's Xmas, not Christmas.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - If you need an abbreviation for Christmas, write "Cmas".
PPS - I automatically read "Xmas" as "ex-mas" thanks to Futurama.

Sunday, 24 December 2006

The Sunday Mok - Who is "Christmas Eve"?

Sunday - Deb was feeling off-colour in the morning, so we stayed home and did some bible study on our own. Chores in the afternoon were followed by a sausage dinner at church in the evening and a set of nativity monologues. I was Joseph.
Monday - I've just been tinkering with my programs at work for some time now, waiting for real work. I deposited some of my coins that I'd accumulated and in the evening I watched Kenny with Deb.
Tuesday - I had dinner at Deb's and then a meeting with Gwen to do a pre-marriage questionaire. Deb and I discussed the questions later after two episodes of Stargate Atlantis.
Wednesday - At work we had lunch as a farewell to Brad. For dinner, Dad, Beth, Anthony, Deb and I went to the Ashgrove Golf Club to see their function room, but it had been locked up for the night.
Thursday - The office Christmas party in the park delayed lunch by 2.5 hours. I was keen to get started as soon as possible because Deb was waiting for me in the city. We did some last minute Christmas shopping. Later that night we went to see a movie, but ended up doing yet more shopping instead.
Friday - We checked out the Keperra Golf Club function room in the morning. After dinner at Deb's, we went to the local Coffee Club for their regular jazz band on Friday nights. Unfortunately these guys were so jazzy that they didn't show up. So we watched Miami Vice at Erin's place later. Don't bother with it yourself.
Saturday - I helped Deb finish collating binders for Mal and did my grocery shopping. In the evening we ate at Toscani's with Murrae and Tracey, then watched one Stargate Atlantis episode before heading home.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Perhaps Christmas Eve is Santa's daughter.
PPS - Just like Mary Christmas is his wife.

Friday, 22 December 2006

Daze off

Let the Christmas break begin! I'm on holidays as of today, which may be a bit odd. The company set a break period this year that curiously covered days from today until a Tuesday in January. When we figured out that this mandated period involved exactly ten days of annual leave, it all became clear: they're trying to even out leave during the rest of the year. If we're not allowed to accumulate extra leave at Christmas, we can't take as much later. I'm not too worried about it, though. I figure I'll still have enough saved up around May for the wedding and honeymoon.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Today I plan to do as little as possible.
PPS - Within reason, of course.

Friday Zombie Blogging

I require this shirt. Immediately.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Unfortunately, they're out of my size.
PPS - For now.

Thursday, 21 December 2006

I've been had

A few days ago I watched Kenny, all the while thinking I was watching a real documentary. Only right at the end, when the actors' names are shown, did I realise everything was not as it seemed. Then, as I thought back over the movie, I recognised that some of the situations in the movie were absurd, and of course they're not real.

Then, discussing this very topic with Anthony last night, I learned that the family depicted on screen was made up of an actual family (father, sons and grandson) and that the main actor may actually be a toilet cleaner. His name's not Kenny Smyth, though. So now I'm not sure what to believe. I guess it's halfway between a scripted movie and a real documentary.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The term "mockumentary" doesn't quite cover that.
PPS - I'm not sure what term would describe it accurately.

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Discriminatory Clubs

This morning I heard on the radio that a particular men's club in Brisbane has voted to keep excluding women from membership. Is that discriminatory? Unquestionably. Should it be allowed? Well, that all depends on your point of view. For example, take Curves, a gym catering exclusively to women. I doubt they would admit a man as a member, since that's what they're all about - excluding men so women can exercise in peace. The only difference with the men's club is that they are not a gym and the gender roles are reversed.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Apparently that doesn't make it okay.
PPS - And what if the men's club was a gym too?

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Bill Gates should move to a poorer country

Seriously. If Bill is determined to make the world a better place through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he should make the world's problems his personal problems. Move to Uganda, then just make himself comfortable. It will involve a significant amount of personal spending, and it would also result in massive infrastructure upgrade projects so that, for instance, clean water, sewage systems, electricity and health care can be put in place. In the end, of course, Bill would be just another billionaire in a fortress somewhere, but at least his money would be going to a country that needs it instead of circulating further in the US of A. How about it, Bill?

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Actually he couldn't use Foundation money for this. It would have to be his own.
PPS - This plot twist brought to you by the Bible.

Monday, 18 December 2006

Tupperware in the microwave

I have learned that not all Tupperware is microwave-safe. Although I thought I'd heard someone mention that it was, apparently I was mistaken. For instance, if your Tupperware happens to pre-date electricity as does some of my inherited collection, it is unlikely to be safe for use in any electrical appliance including ovens, toasters and light bulb sockets. The particular container in question is still usable, but is now a bit more bulgy than before.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - So perhaps that's the tip: microwave your Tupperware to increase its volume.
PPS - The exact results are unpredictable.

Sunday, 17 December 2006

The Sunday Mok - Everything is Christmas

Sunday - After the morning church service, Deb and I went to Brookside to do some Christmas shopping. I took a nap in the afternoon and ran the computer for the evening church service.
Monday - After work I went to a supper at the church for youth and study leaders. It was nice to hang out with people since bible study won't be on again until February. Deb and I watched one Stargate Atlantis episode before I took her home.
Tuesday - The karate class in the evening was small and we worked with kick pads and a punching bag for a change. I cooked dinner at home, then went to Deb's to discuss wedding plans briefly.
Wednesday - I was a little rushed in the morning, so I took breakfast to work. I had dinner at Deb's where we watched some more Stargate, courtesy of Quickflix. I mailed the disc back on my way home.
Thursday - I misunderstood a request to pick up Deb in the evening, so was delayed a few minutes at the wrong location. Deb cooked dinner and we watched yet more Stargate. We finished the discs I had, and will have to wait for more to come in the mail.
Friday - I met Deb in the city after work for more Christmas shopping. We also rented two movies: Click and Kenny. We watched Click, and it's sadder than I expected.
Saturday - A full day. Deb and I went shopping for Secret Santa presents as well as looking at wedding bands and invitation supplies. We went to the church young adults Christmas party, and I had to miss most of it because of a rehearsal.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I haven't much enjoyed Christmas shopping this year.
PPS - Could be because I left it a bit late.

Friday, 15 December 2006

Friday Zombie Blogging

DARPA wants an army of zombie sharks to do it's bidding. No word on whether they will be equipped with laser beams.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Bonus: Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears as zombies.
PPS - They look a bit too smiley for me, though.

Re-thinking open plan offices

When planning a wide-open cubicle farm, executives will naturally place themselves in the corner offices with the nice views and the fully enclosed walls. And that's fine, I guess. They've earned something and they're the ones in charge. I just want to suggest that they might consider placing their busy (=loud) assistants in more private surroundings too. Not only is it better for security (since it makes it harder to overhear them) but it's better for productivity in the surrounding area. If their phone (or their secretary's phone) rings off the hook all day, how is that affecting Joe Ordinary in the next cubicle?

Of course it's all done in the name of practicality, which means "money-saving" in manager speak.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I work in a fairly open-plan office.
PPS - I'm right next to the communal photocopier/printer.

Thursday, 14 December 2006

Beam me up

The transporters in Star Trek were always (as far as I know) used to transport whole objects. I wondered whether it would be possible to focus the effect on just part of a body, and what applications that could lead to. This is what I came up with:

- Removing cancerous growths and other nasties from a body without any incisions or secondary trauma risk.
- Incisionless cesarean sections.
- Accurate and incisionless implantation of pacemakers, replacement heart valves, cochlear and retinal implants.
- Non-invasive stomach pumping.
- Liposuction.
- Hair removal.
- Arthritis-relieving artificial cartilage insertion.
- Organ transplants.
- Colonic irrigation.
- Kidney stone, gall stone and blood clot removal.
- Artery scrubbing.
- Ear wax removal.
- Blood transfusions and donations.
- Drug administration.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'll admit some are a bit frivolous.
PPS - Especially the ear wax and hair removal.

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Google partial omniscience

I read an article yesterday on "10 things Google knows about you". I then performed a search using my real name and nothing actually about me showed up in the first three pages. Since only something like 0.0001%* of people ever go past page 1, I think I'm safe for now.

*This statistic completely made up. Your results may vary.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Google knows who you are.
PPS - But only if you're famous.

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Agnostic believer

If an agnostic is defined as believing that you can neither scientifically prove nor disprove the existence of God, then I am an agnostic believer. It also follows that there are a large number of agnostic unbelievers in the world. Being "agnostic" doesn't define one way or the other whether you actually believe in God, so it's not really a valid answer to the question "Do you believe in God?".

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I guess people use the word because it sounds more acceptable than "atheist".
PPS - It's less confrontational, because it expresses little about your beliefs.

Monday, 11 December 2006

Turn left where?

I'm starting to prefer Google Maps over, simply because links to Google maps are free. Unfortunately, while Google Maps does provide driving directions, it doesn't work with Brisbane. It can't even give me directions from my place to next door. I guess that means it's coming later, but it's still funny from a human perspective.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - So for now I'm using Google Maps for locations and WhereIs for directions.
PPS - I haven't looked for third-party Google Maps directions sites.

Sunday, 10 December 2006

The Sunday Mok - Collage by Numbers

Sunday - Deb and I were still being congratulated in the morning church service. I wonder how long it will go on. In the afternoon, we went out to Invitation House in Fortitude Valley to get ideas for wedding invitations.
Monday - Dinner with Deb at my place followed by Bible study at Tracey's. That will be the last study until February.
Tuesday - I left the office early. I needed to be home in time to teach the karate class in the absence of the usual teachers. Only six students showed up. After dinner I watched Day of the Dead alone.
Wednesday - I went Christmas shopping at lunchtime and found that the Queen Street Mall is about five minutes closer than from the previous office. Deb and I had a meeting with minister Gwen in the evening to sign our declaration of intent.
Thursday - Mal and Linda came over for dinner so we could evaluate the downstairs area of the house for transformation into a granny flat. Afterwards Deb and I tried to finalise our guest list. I think we still have work to do.
Friday - We took the youth group kids out to Sizzler for a formal dinner in the evening. Afterwards I played with a Nintendo Wii for the first time. It's an impressive piece of hardware.
Saturday - I had a rehearsal for a church Christmas event in the morning, then Mal, Linda, Deb and I drove around looking at reception venues. In the evening several of us saw Casino Royale. It was very good. Recommended.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - My LCD monitor's ON button broke on Friday.
PPS - This post comes to you courtesy of my trusty laptop.

Friday, 8 December 2006

Friday Zombie Blogging

Apparently it's common practice to send chickens to the gas chamber and turn them into compost when they're too old to lay eggs anymore. But some of them manage to return from the dead and stagger around, in search of tasty chicken brains.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Creepy.
PPS - Night of the Living Chickens.

Join the Federation

Lately I find myself thinking a lot about instant messaging and why we have so many different incompatible networks. Why should it be that way? What is standing in the way of instant messaging federation - turning all the networks into one?

Control. Each provider right now has total control of the network and that's going to be tough to give up.

Power. There's a certain political game going on where one network vies for bragging rights over another network based on various crowed features and statistics. In addition, they have the power to tweak the network and add features as they see fit without negotiating with anyone.

Fear. If we open up the network and let people choose how to connect, we may open the whole world up to spam like we've never seen before on instant messaging. That's one of the primary problems with email and it's caused by cheap inter-operable access and greed coupled with gullibility.

In counterpoint, what is there to gain?

A larger user base. If there was only one IM network (or seamless interaction between all of them) then the number of chat buddies available to any given user vastly expands. There's no buddy barrier - everyone is free to choose your program to access the network, even if their buddies all use another program.

Bragging rights. When people are free to choose any of hundreds of IM clients to access the network and they choose yours, that's worth bragging about. There was no vendor lock-in to force them and they came anyway. That's definite street cred.

Gratis protocols and servers. Instead of having to define, code and maintain a messaging protocol as well as the servers to provide it, you are free from this particular programming burden. You can still run your own server with your own back-end software on it, but you really don't have to. You can even contribute to the further development of the protocol if you like, because it would be open-source.

If you can email anyone on any provider from any other provider, you should be able to chat with them on IM too.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - If email were like IM, Hotmail users couldn't send to GMail users.
PPS - All the barriers are artificial

Thursday, 7 December 2006

Crazy invention of the day

The Avatar Phone: an android you take with you everywhere so that you don't look crazy talking on your hands-free mobile phone. They actually are the phone - microphones in the ear, speaker in the mouth. Sure, it's a little inconvenient, and the battery life is a worry, but would you rather seem like a crazy person talking to nobody? I thought not.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Unfortunately you have to buy an extra ticket on trains.
PPS - And you have to switch it off on planes.

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Day of the Dead impressions

I watched Day of the Dead for the first time last night. Now I kind of feel like I should clean my ears out with soap. I'm sure someone has done a profanity count on that script, and I'm sure it's very high. Anyway, besides being a little dated, I found it interesting in a car crash kind of way.

Zombie movies are typically about the best and worst of humanity, and this one certainly gets that part right. It seems these survivors have much more to fear from each other than the undead. I also liked the way the zombies were learning to be civilised as the humans drifted further into barbarism. Apart from that, though, it's pretty standard fare.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I don't think zombie movies need to be about gore.
PPS - This one was definitely gory.

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

I believe that you are ninja too

Happy Day of the Ninja! According to Ask A Ninja, today is the Day of the Ninja, much cooler than "Talk Like a Pirate Day". Go ninja crazy - wear a full shinobi to work, do backflips down the mall and leap backwards up into trees. It's probably best to avoid killing anyone, though. Real ninjas get a little upset about that, and you don't want to make ninjas upset. It's a lot like making the incredible hulk upset, but with less green and you die faster.

In the spirit of the Day of the Ninja, here's a picture of me with a t-shirt wrapped around my head ninja mask:

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Check out
PPS - I'm wearing my ninja-black business shirt today.

Monday, 4 December 2006

Upward-focused employee assessments

The people who work for a manager are also qualified to assess that manager from their viewpoint. They should be allowed to do so rather than relying on upper management to make the right assessment and decisions without the input of those in the trenches. An assessment of a manager is a way for the subordinates to make their voice heard at higher levels.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This does not happen at our company.
PPS - It probably does not happen at many, if any.

Sunday, 3 December 2006

The Sunday Mok - Can't walk down the street without being offered a job

Sunday - After the morning church service I had lunch at Deb's. We skipped dinner because we weren't that hungry, and I ran the computer for the evening service. By the time we got to the Coffee Club afterwards, the kitchen was closed.
Monday - We had some unpacking to do at work, but then very little else for the rest of the day. I found I couldn't use Thunderbird for email in the new office. Bible study was at my place.
Tuesday - Deb met me for lunch in the courtyard outside, which was nice. After karate in the evening, I logged on to City of Heroes for about an hour. It's the first time I've played in a while, or at least it feels that way.
Wednesday - I got to Deb's for dinner about 20 minutes before anyone else got home, including Deb, so I sat outside and contemplated the weather. We watched the end of Stargate Atlantis season 1 and were upset at the cliffhanger ending, especially since we didn't have the next disc.
Thursday - I spent the day at a seminar instead of at the office. In the evening, I showed up a week early for a meeting. What can I say? I'm enthusiastic. Following that, there was a farewell party for Scott, who is now overseas.
Friday - The company put on a lunch for our section, which was good. In the evening for youth group, we took the kids to Southbank for a photo scavenger hunt.
Saturday - I went for a jog in the morning and got offered a job on the Santa sleigh that does the rounds of the local streets handing out goodies. Towards the afternoon I went shopping with Deb, accompanied by Murrae, Tracey, Mal and Linda.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - In the end, it wasn't that successful a shopping trip.
PPS - Not as much as we'd hoped, anyway.

Friday, 1 December 2006

Friday Zombie Blogging

Custom zombie portraits available from this guy. Expect to pay 80 USD for your own portrait.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It would certainly be a unique Christmas gift.
PPS - Link via Boing Boing.


Here's my question of the day: if sporting events have corporate sponsors who pay to put it on, what's the ticket price for? And if the ticket price pays to put the event on, what are the sponsors doing there? Either the sponsors are recouping their advertising costs by making you pay to see their logos or they shouldn't have such high exposure.

I can accept that there will be advertising at sporting events, because it's an excellent opportunity to reach a large group of people who are all interested in sport - a clear and attractive demographic. My point is that they are either the entire reason for the event (in which case they're paying for the lot and the tickets should be heavily subsidised if not free) or they're an afterthought (in which case they shouldn't get their name on the stadium).

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Just my 2c.
PPS - It just seems to me that we're paying twice.