Monday, 31 December 2007

Why apologise for being late online?

I read a few online comics and I often see some artists apologising that the images will be up late on a certain day. Either these guys are extreme punctuality perfectionists or they have rabid fans who hoot and throw poop when their comic is 0.006 seconds late. It's not all artists, just a few, and I have no real way of verifying either conjecture. Maybe it's both.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This is where I apologise for being very late with my post for today.
PPS - Happy New Year!

Friday, 28 December 2007

Counting smiles

If you're out and about today, try counting smiles of strangers. If you're like me, you'll find yourself wanting to smile in response.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Smiles in public usually come in groups.
PPS - Most of the ones I saw were grouped.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Octopus figure

At, they sell posable octopus sculptures. This one is a zombie, complete with greyish colour, exposed brain and torn tentacles.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Via BoingBoing.
PPS - I'm not sure exactly how flexible the tentacles are.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Procrastination vs laziness

The difference between procrastination and laziness is that procrastination at least achieves something, but it is the wrong thing at the time. Laziness is just sitting back and saying "I'll do it later", while procrastination is saying "First I'll do some laundry, then wash the dishes, then clean my room...".

Mokalus of Borg

PS - So if you have to choose, take procrastination.
PPS - But obviously choosing to do your work is better by far.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

The shortest sleep experiment ever

I've mentioned before an interest in polyphasic sleep, and I had decided that this Christmas/New Year break would be a good time to try it out. So after Deb and I got home from Christmas dinner, I took a short nap from 21:00 to 21:30, intending then to be awake until 01:00, take another half hour nap and be awake until 05:00 and so on. However, at 22:30, a mere hour after waking up, the committee decided that the general crabbiness of the adjustment period would not be worth the trouble. I slept through the night.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I did have an odd dream about being a ninja chasing someone in a rabbit suit.
PPS - I played Killer Bunnies a lot the past two days.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

It's Weasel Stomping Day!

I mean Christmas! Hooray!

Now, I want to know from the few of you who are still reading over the holidays: what was the best gift you gave this year? I enjoy giving and when a gift is just right, it feels really good. When you get all hung up on receiving, you're bound to get disappointed and cynical.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Better to focus on the positives, eh?
PPS - I'll accept stories of birthday gifts too.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Rejection more common than acceptance

Given that percentages are low of compatibility between people for the purposes of dating, rejection happens much more often than acceptance in this world. If you're looking for a TV or movie romance, the most you expect in the way of complications is possibly a triangle situation and one major misunderstanding. In reality you know a large number of people who count as romantic prospects, but all our lists don't overlap quite the right ways. For every person who wants to go out with you there are a minimum of nine hundred others who won't. That's just the way the population and attraction factors work out here.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - If this is not borne out by your experience, you were probably very popular in high school.
PPS - Few people place any importance on that later, though.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Finishing very early every Friday

I figured out this week that if I go in early every day and take a short lunch break, I could come home at noon on Fridays. Our Friday afternoon is usually just 3 hours long, and starting 30 minutes early every day makes 2.5 extra hours. Now, the main problem with this plan is that officially the company does not allow flexible working hours. Unofficially, as I understand it, just about every manager allows some flexibility. I haven't asked anyone about this possibility just yet.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Another option is starting early to come home a bit early every day.
PPS - That would be easier to swallow for a manager, I think.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Christmas tree ornament

Just in time for Christmas, here's a zombie tree ornament to give your festive celebrations a touch of the undead.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - That is assuming you want that kind of thing.
PPS - It probably wouldn't arrive in time for this year anyway.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

The standby gift idea

To buy gifts for people to whom you are not really acquainted, I recommend classifying them into the "sweet" or "savory" group and buying them chocolate or mixed nuts respectively. This does require that you know a little about someone's tastes first, but it's quite possible if you try.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Being a sweet-tooth myself, I tend to assume everyone wants chocolate.
PPS - So this is as much a suggestion for me as for you.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Risk assessments and learned behaviour

I was in yet another safety training session the other day when our instructor mentioned that people do risk assessments all the time, such as when crossing the road. He claimed it was an automatic response to dangerous situations - something built in to us as a species. I disagree, because babies and children don't do that kind of assessment automatically at all. A crawling baby presented with a gap won't hesitate to tumble right over the edge the first time. A child playing with a ball near a road will happily chase it into heavy traffic. So humans do not automatically do risk assessments until they've been hurt or taught. It's a learned behaviour. And presented with an unfamiliar situation, humans cannot recognise the inherent risks.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I guess that extends to investments too.
PPS - You might never know what you're getting into.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Spelling is important online

My main argument for correct spelling online is that we either have to spell correctly or build search engines that can understand your gibberish. If you can't spell, you can't search, you can't find information and you are left far worse off than those who can spell. The old standby argument of "you can still understand me, so what's the point?" won't fly with a search engine.

If your spelling is merely bad, search engines can cope. If your spelling is awful, Google will choke on it and you just don't get your results. I have tried making this argument to people who seemed to simply not care at all. The exact response was "and yet I find myself unmoved".

Well, you should be. Bad spelling puts your information further away from you, whether it's you doing the search or you publishing the text. If you can't find what you're looking for and your search engine can't make sense of what you're saying, you don't get your information. Now look at it the other way. What if someone tries to publish an important medical study, but misspells a keyword. That study might be critical to your work, but you'll never find it if you search correctly.

I may be overstating the case a bit, but if the English language degenerates to a state where nobody even spells anything correctly any more, the benefits of the global communications network we have striven to build start to dissolve.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Spelling for names is particularly important.
PPS - Compensating for bad spelling wastes energy.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Spelling memories

I've encountered three types of spelling memories in my time. That is, three different ways of remembering the sequence of letters to correctly spell words. I am personally a visual speller: the shape of the word looks right to me. Some people I'm aware are auditory spellers: the letters sound right when read out. I have just recently encountered a muscle-memory speller: words feel right when written out cursively. I find that quite interesting. I can't think of any other possibilities, but then I hadn't anticipated the muscle-memory one at all.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Perhaps some people can smell words.
PPS - I wonder if Braille can "feel" like it's spelled correctly.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Building a little fort

With the office move going on now, I'm packing up all my stuff into boxes and strategically placing them in a wall around my cubicle from which I can (in theory) wage cubicle war against similarly unbalanced employees. No others yet seem willing to construct their own forts or declare themselves kings of tiny nation-states. Well, there's still a little time yet.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I realize this would have fitted better as part of an earlier post.
PPS - Traffic was bad and time is short this morning.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Attacks on Ancient Egypt has an article suggesting evidence of zombie attacks in ancient Egypt. Of course it's all tongue-in-cheek stuff, but amusing nonetheless. The evidence hinges around tombs found with beheaded bodies.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Because nobody as weird as the Egyptians could have beheaded someone for no reason.
PPS - And the reason had to be to prevent the spread of zombies.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Google Address Book and Facebook Privacy

I wonder if Google will ever make a separate address book application to be shared across their various services. I think it makes sense. Identity data is a generic and widely-applicable information source. When I respond to an email about a party at a friend's home, schedule an event in my calendar then call to check some more details on the day, those actions all involve contact details belonging to my friend. I guess in a way what I'm talking about is a social network tool, but less focused on finding and ranking my friends than maintaining my address book. I'll have to see what Google's Orkut is like one of these days.

Let's say Google maintained a central address book of contact details and each person was responsible for keeping their own details up to date. That's a lot like Facebook, but I imagine more granular control over who can see what. Define various groups of people and define what those groups may access. Work contacts can see my work address and work phone. Family can see all my phone numbers, postal addresses and email addresses. My crazy ex co-worker is only allowed to see my name.

I don't think Facebook will last forever, whether it gets too bogged down with applications or just your creepy ex-co-workers. In the second case, I think having more control over who can see what would help alleviate the problem, at least for a little while.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Privacy concerns can force many issues.
PPS - See this article for some similar thoughts.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Musical chairs

Our section is moving offices again. We moved to this building less than a year ago, and now on Friday the 14th we'll be all packed up to go back where we came from. Then it's possible we'll be moving in March to a third building to make way for other sections in Building One. Finally, in mid-2009, everyone in all three buildings will be moving into one large place for the next ten years. That doesn't mean we'll avoid annual shuffles, though. That seems to be about the norm, and I expect to be at a new desk once every twelve months. It keeps things interesting.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I think my distance from the windows has been fairly constant.
PPS - Our recycling bin will need to be emptied many times before Friday.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

GrandCentral phone system

I like the idea of the GrandCentral consolidated phone system. It's old news to the tech sector, but I only got excited about it the other day. Not only does it mean you can start screening callers to your different phones automatically (directing business contacts only to your work phone and so on) it also means you can change any of those underlying numbers without having to inform all of your contacts.

For businesses, unfortunately, this means that key employees might leave with a large number of customers that automatically follow them to their new, rival company. It also means I can shop around for the absolute best mobile deal, changing my plan every year if I want, and I never have to inform anyone of my new numbers. I can move house - even interstate or overseas - and still get my home calls. If I go on holidays, I can temporarily redirect all my numbers to voice mail and check it when I get back. The possibilities for taking back control on Mr Bell's fiendish device are staggering and very interesting.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Now I just want the same ability with my paper mail.
PPS - Though that would look a bit different.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Faking sports skill for YouTube scouts

I've heard that sports scouts are starting to use YouTube to look for new talent because it's easier than travelling all the way across the country to look at one kid who might be worth your time. The problem there is that the video can be doctored in very subtle ways, and it doesn't even have to be edited. For instance, you could mark a football field in nine-metre increments instead of ten to make kicks and throws look longer than they really are.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - That's just one example.
PPS - You could also use non-standard equipment to enhance the performance.

Friday, 7 December 2007


I've watched a few videos of Parkour exploits and been quite fascinated. I was similarly enraptured by the early chase scene in Casino Royale. The practice of vaulting, rolling, falling and landing gracefully is either very impressive or very silly, depending on your point of view. I'd like to be able to do some of the things I've seen, if only to perform better in various youth group games, but I don't know where I'd go to learn such a thing. Perhaps you just have to watch videos and teach yourself.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Youtube has a large selection of videos.
PPS - I should start by attempting much smaller things than I see there.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Dead Rising on PC?

There is an unconfirmed rumour that popular XBox 360 zombie stomping game Dead Rising will be ported to the PC. I will surely buy it.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Given its current platform, it's likely to become a Windows Vista exclusive.
PPS - In which case I will not be able to play. Ever.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

A world without oil

If we run out of crude oil, what will the world become? We'll be entering the Second Iron Age, having come through a very brief period of high energy oil fuelled growth. Maybe the Steampunk visions will come to pass and most of our machines will be gears, pulleys and cables rather than silicon. Or maybe we'll start using wind, solar and wave power more. Our planes turn to zeppelins, our ships go back to sails or nuclear batteries and our cars become solar-electric-pedal powered multi-hybrids. I don't doubt we will survive, but the oil won't last forever and now it's become such a part of our lives that the transition to extreme high prices or no oil at all will be very difficult indeed.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I did recently watch Crude.
PPS - It's possible rising prices will mean we run out less quickly.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Polyphasic sleep

Recently I've become fascinated with the concept of polyphasic sleep. The idea is to sleep for 30 minutes every four hours instead of sleeping through the whole night. Leonardo da Vinci did it for a time, and Kramer tried it on Seinfeld too (without much success). The reasons I think it would work well for me are that I'm an introvert who likes a bit of down time, and if I was sleeping only 3 hours per day, I'd get plenty of that. I could catch up on all my reading and television pretty quickly, get some extra exercise, all kinds of things.

Apparently the adjustment period is pretty rough, though, and I wouldn't want to try it unless I'm on holidays. If I do give it a go, it will be just after Christmas so that I'm still away from work and all the parties are over and done with. Going back to work would be a bit tricky, since I'd need at least one good half-hour nap at lunchtime to stay functional. Still, as I said, this is currently fascinating to me.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - If I try it, I'll write about it here.
PPS - Even if I fail.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Games culture around the world

A recent conversation between Anthony, Deb and me:
"In Korea they have dedicated StarCraft [TV] channels."
"Games are really big in Korea."
"You'd think I'd know that. I'd have thought China would be big."
"China is all gold farmers."
"What about Japan?"
"In Japan they're all too busy dressing up as game characters."

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I know stereotypes are generalisations that don't fit everyone.
PPS - I also know that to dress up as a game character, you probably play the game.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Online games dictatorships

Online game subscriptions are taxes to the dictators. They run the country and they set the rules, but your membership is entirely voluntary. Nobody makes you play WoW, unless you are a poor gold-farming slave, I guess.

So how far can the dictators go before the players start leaving in droves? Why would they want to do such a thing? Well, in the end it might not be a conscious choice the dictators make. With absolute power comes absolute corruption. They won't all turn out like that, especially because it's in the best interests of the company to keep the game fun to play rather than a steaming pile of bureaucracy or corruption, but it could happen.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I have recently suspended my City of Heroes subscription.
PPS - But that was because I didn't have time to play any more.

Friday, 30 November 2007

What makes a machine a robot?

We have a variety of machines to do our bidding that are really just electronic or mechanised versions of the same task done manually. I'm classifying washing machines and dishwashers in there. Then there are the robots like Roomba (vacuuming) and Robomow (mowing). So what makes one a robot and one "just a machine"? I think it's a certain level of autonomous action. If my washing machine stalked around the house swallowing unwashed clothes and performing its cleaning duties on its own schedule, I'd be inclined to call it a robot. Same with a dishwasher that cleared the table for you. I want both of those.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I see that iRobot now have a gutter-cleaning model.
PPS - That's pretty cool.

Friday Zombie Blogging - xkcd

Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near? Because they're vultures and you're a zombie.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I laughed.
PPS - I laugh at a lot of xkcd comics.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Note-taking and natural memory

With a habit of note-taking that's ingrained deep into your mind, you might not even notice when you start losing your memory. That is until you start forgetting names and faces. A suitably organised person could even keep track of all their anecdotes and who has heard them before, thus never becoming that old person who repeats their stories endlessly.

And even if you do start to lose your memory for names and faces, you could probably get a wearable computer and some face recognition software to solve that for you.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I look forward to being a cyborg as an old man.
PPS - With fearsome radioactive talons, poisoned fangs and a flawless memory.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Bounded creativity

Just about everyone views rhyming as creative. Rhyming is, by definition, bounded and constrained. If you remove the constraint, you're not rhyming anymore and it's not nearly as creative because you're just talking. Everyone talks and it's no big deal. So given that knowledge, why do people think it's better to be creative without constraints?

Mokalus of Borg

PS - From our boundaries comes our greatest creativity.
PPS - Because without boundaries, nothing is impressive.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Costs go up, quality goes down

As life in general gets more expensive, I think cheaper options will keep opening up by dropping the quality of goods and services offered. The average person will live in a smaller house with lower-quality goods and eating lower-quality food. This will be all the average person can afford as the costs of living increase.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Recently a study showed that poor families can't afford to eat healthy.
PPS - So, in a way, it's already begun.

Monday, 26 November 2007

An allergy medication ad idea

I have an idea for a TV ad.

Voiceover: It's Spring!
A fluffy cat walks into frame, and shakes itself briefly. With an audible "whump!" sound, the room is filled with hair, and the cat is bald. Cat sits.
Product drops into foreground, background loses focus.
Voiceover: [product name]. For allergies.

There could be a whole series of these.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I could make a million dollars.
PPS - That is, if this isn't just a dim memory from my past.

Friday, 23 November 2007

More usable sound mixing desks

I've wondered now and then about sound desks and whether there could be a higher-level control imposed on them. Because there are at least three or four points where a particular microphone could be muted on the way to some speakers, it can take a few seconds to figure out why there's no sound being produced. In a live performance, that can sound pretty bad. So what if there was a higher level of control that allowed you to specify that a particular microphone should now be making sound (or not) and have the specific details taken care of automatically? While sound desks as I know them (which is not very well) are quite versatile enough to handle any setup you throw at them, they always /look/ the same. I'm imagining a big touch screen with a diagram of the auditorium on it, with various appropriate controls to set levels and indicators to show what's happening right now.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - That kind of sound desk would be pretty expensive, though.
PPS - If they exist, that's why I haven't seen one yet.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Monroeville Mall

A little while ago, there was a zombie gathering at Monroeville Mall, filming site of George Romero's classic Dawn of the Dead. That's surely the most appropriate place that such a gathering has ever taken place, and it was a two-day festival to boot.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Too bad there's only one picture in the article.
PPS - And that's in black and white.

Update: More news here. Also, apparently this was the largest zombie gathering to date in the world: 1124 people.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Work to rule in Big Brother

I was reading recently (I forget why and where) about a kind of protest against overzealous authority figures who weigh down your work day with too many rules and regulations. What you do is follow those rules and instructions very precisely and to the letter, and do nothing more. For instance, if you are asked to clean the toilet, you go and do that, then stay there waiting for further instructions, because you weren't asked to come back when you're done.

Seeing how strict are the rules of the Big Brother house, I wondered how it would start looking if housemates behaved this way. They can't be punished for breaking the rules, but they're not doing anything interesting either, so the show kind of falls apart. The producers can change the rules and give as many instructions as they like, but if the housemates are just doing exactly what they're told and nothing more, it wouldn't be an interesting show for very long.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I am well aware that it is not that interesting a show to begin with.
PPS - I used to watch, but don't bother any more.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

The destiny of my paper journals

I've wondered what will happen to my paper journals once I'm gone. It's probable they'll be thrown out and forgotten very quickly, and that makes me kind of sad. Journals are documentation of everyday life in the time they're written, and some people find that kind of detail fascinating. However, if I am nobody of note, the reasons for preserving my life in particular are thin on the ground. Most of us don't even know the names of our great-grandparents, so why would my great-grandchildren hold on to musty old paper containing boring descriptions of a daily life they didn't know and don't care about?

Still, I keep them. Just in case.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's quite possible a few of my ancestors kept journals.
PPS - I don't have them.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Host a Murder speed dating

On Saturday night over dinner some ideas came together that suggested an interesting event possibility: Host a Murder speed dating. It would be like any other of those Host a Murder parties, but the setting is a speed dating night, so everyone only gets a couple of minutes to talk to the other guests each round. I think it would work rather well. You could even have instructions that cause an obvious and important disturbance to the usual rhythm, like one pair standing up to yell at each other.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The specifics are still only half-baked.
PPS - Maybe one day I'll write something like this.

Monday, 19 November 2007

I had a skin cancer cut out

It doesn't seem to count as a very big thing, but I had a little skin cancer cut out of my forehead a week ago. Today I get the stitches removed. The reason it doesn't seem like a big deal is that the actual cutting was most like to a trip to the dentist. And I've had conversations since then (due to the ever-present band-aid on my head) about skin cancers in general where they were referred to as "a nuisance". So it really doesn't seem like news to me, but there it is.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I long for the day when all cancers are mere "nuisances".
PPS - Or dim footnotes in history.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Transporters for pregnancy transfer

With a Star Trek-style transporter, it might be possible to beam a baby from the womb of a woman who doesn't want it to a woman who does. That should satisfy both sides of the abortion debate and save some money on in vitro research. It might also make embryonic stem cells harder to get, which would put a bit of a damper on that debate too.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Of course the solution is impractical as yet.
PPS - Since we don't have any transporters.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Zombies in Plain English

An amusing little video, pseudo-animated, on how to survive a zombie attack. I like the style.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - And the advice is decent, too.
PPS - Or would be, if zombies were real.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Abusing the supermarket express lane

Sometimes I wonder how much you could get away with at the supermarket express lanes. For instance, twelve very large packs of toilet paper that take an entire trolley to carry would technically be allowed through the 12 items lane, but I have the feeling they might not appreciate it much.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - And would they allow thirteen really tiny items?
PPS - They probably wouldn't count them right away.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Museum theft as sport

According to comedian Dane Cook, every man wants to be involved in some kind of heist, like a museum theft. The other night at the indoor rock climbing centre I was struck with the thought that you could probably set up a place to provide just that experience, but as a game. Include lasers, alarms, paintball-armed guards and all sorts of equipment for a team to use in pretending to steal some faux-valuable artefact. I think it could easily be a lot of fun, but getting such a business off the ground might be a challenge.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Men explaining their weekend sport to other men would be major advertising.
PPS - Men explaining to their wives and girlfriends would be more awkward.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Why American television exports slowly

A lot of Australians download American television because otherwise we have to wait six months or more. I used to think this was all a kind of conspiracy on the American side, but I have since formulated a theory that puts the blame on the Australian side. See, if you want to get television stations to buy Australian content even though the American brand is more popular, you have to lower demand for the American content. One way to do that would be to put a delay on imports so that the super-keen fans turn to the Internet instead. Then, by the time the shows arrive on Australian shores, the target audience has already moved on, and the only fresh thing to offer them is Australian shows.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The problem with the theory is that this was going on before BitTorrent.
PPS - Parts of it might still make a valid explanation, though.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Comparing the sizes of Australian and USA states

2:38 PM 9/11/2007
I thought it might be interesting to compare the area of various of the United States and the Australian states and territories. According to these two Wikipedia articles:
  • Western Australia is bigger than any state in the US. It is, in fact, slightly larger than Alaska and Texas combined.
  • Queensland is approximately the size of Texas.
  • The Northern Territory is slightly smaller than Texas plus California plus Montana.
  • South Australia is about the size of Texas plus Arizona plus Kentucky.
  • New South Wales weighs in at Texas plus Louisiana.
  • Victoria is slightly larger than Minnesota.
  • Tasmania is just smaller than West Virginia plus Delaware.
  • The Australian Capital Territory is not quite as big as Rhode Island.
Mokalus of Borg

PS - Australian states are larger because the same land area is divided many fewer times.
PPS - Texas would easily fit into any of the five largest states and territories of Australia.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Give and take in love

I was thinking the other night about what changed in my life just before Deb appeared on the scene. I had been going through some changes in my attitude towards love and relationships. The primary one was this: I used to have a list of demands that I made for my future partner: this tall, this colour hair, this type of body, this kind of personality. And that's maybe fair enough up to a point. But this was beyond having standards and expectations. As I said, these were demands, pure and simple. Come here and give me what I want or you don't make the cut. Gimme!

Then I started wondering about my attitude. If love was all about getting what I want, it would be a very one-sided relationship. I needed to figure out what it was I could give. Shortly after I started thinking like this, Deb appeared, and you know the story from there. So that was my revelation: when my search for love stopped being about taking and started being about giving, I was in the right place.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Incidentally, Deb did match most of my former expectations.
PPS - But that's not the point.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Photoshop contest

Via Boing Boing a while ago, a Photoshop contest to turn regular photos into zombies.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The Boing Boing post featured a zombie Mona Lisa.
PPS - It's not on the contest page.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Engineering Hubris: a haiku

Adapted from xkcd, a haiku about engineering hubris:

I can't help thinking
With all Coyote's supplies
I'd catch Road Runner.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Hubris = arrogance.
PPS - I had to look that one up.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Flip-flop vs thong

If you demand that thongs (the casual footwear) be called "flip-flops" because of the sound they make, then shouldn't equally demand that cars be called "vroom-vrooms" and tennis raquets "thok-thoks"?

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It just makes sense.
PPS - To me, anyway.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

A hostile business takeover advantage

It would be interesting to bring a vampire (a person in costume, of course) to a business takeover negotiation meeting, just standing in the corner with fangs and a cape, looking menacing. It will either intimidate the other guys or make you an object of ridicule. Either way, it would shake things up a bit.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Whether the change goes in your favour or not remains to be seen.
PPS - And I think you'd have to play it pretty straight.

Monday, 5 November 2007

I have an under-developed time sense

For someone who worries about time, I don't have a very developed time sense. I'm usually early for events because I have no concept of how long it will take to travel anywhere. In fact, my time worries are probably fuelled by a subconscious recognition of my poor sense of time. I know I'm likely to guess wrong how long something will take, and that makes me worry.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Clearly I have issues.
PPS - More than I care to admit, sometimes.

Friday, 2 November 2007

What do you wish your computer could do?

I've been asking people what they wish their computers could do better or do at all. I've been wondering because that's what we do as programmers, only we have the tools and have learned the skills to do it ourselves. But the barrier to those skills is large and too much trouble for the average Joe, so I've been thinking of ways to make it easier to program for the layman. In order to do that usefully, however, I want to know what tasks people are trying to perform with their machines. The answers so far have been more incremental than revolutionary, and most are on the way or possible today with minimal effort. Either people's thoughts have been boxed in by their limited machines already or I haven't asked the right people.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I may have to get my inspiration elsewhere.
PPS - That's fine, as long as I know where.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Hallowe'en Productivity

Productivity blog Lifehacker put up a Hallowe'en joke page featuring mostly zombies. I especially liked the article about using Google Maps to track zombies in your local area.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Unfortunately it doesn't work.
PPS - Not even as a joke.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Google SketchUp for house plan evaluation

The Dixon Homes website could be improved in many ways, but one that I think would be very interesting would be to provide 3D model downloads of their house designs in Google SketchUp format. It would allow people to get a good look inside the houses as they really appear rather than just the plans in the brochures. It seems very likely that some designers or architects would have thought of something like this before (possibly a Flash application hosted in the web browser) but sometimes a download to manipulate on your own machine is better.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I did a very shallow search for builders offering this exact service.
PPS - I didn't find any, but as I said, the search was shallow.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Ideas on the edge of consciousness

I've been having the frustrating feeling over the past couple of days that I'm on the verge of having a great idea. It's as if I would have an amazing insight if only I could figure out what I should be thinking about. There are some bits and pieces of ideas floating around, and I'm diligently keeping track of them, but no pattern or eureka is forthcoming. Maybe I need to give it a few more days yet, or maybe I'm just feeling a bit bored recently. Who knows?

Mokalus of Borg

PS - If I do think of something profound, I'll be sure to post it here.
PPS - It's the best place for it.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Faking focus

I'm a kind of restless guy sometimes. I fidget. I don't sit still at my desk all day - I'm up and down all the time, walking here and there to do some thinking. So if I need to sit down and focus on something, it's tough. A trick I've discovered recently is to take my shoes off. Because I don't want to walk around the office in bare feet, this increases the cost of leaving my desk and makes sure that I have a very good reason if I have to leave. This wouldn't work if I didn't care about going barefoot. Or if I had some slip-on sandals in easy reach.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Wearing slippers around the office might not be a great career move.
PPS - But I guess you never know until you try.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Parent-teacher social networking

If parents and teachers are connected on social networking websites, they can be in touch all the time about their child's behaviour and progress. This can eliminate the need for yearly parent teacher conferences, instead spreading those interactions out over time. It can also serve as a way for parents to deliver sick notes to teachers, as long as they keep their accounts secure from the students in question.

The caveat here is that I am neither a teacher nor a parent (or even a social networker of any regard), so I don't know how well it would work on either side. It just seems to me that reducing the communication burden between parents and teachers would probably be a good thing. A similar arrangement would be suitable for the parents of children's friends.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This is where the neighbourhood went.
PPS - Online.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Borrowing writing style for automatic story generation

I wonder if it would be possible to analyse many different stories from either a single author or many authors to produce similar stories automatically. I'm imagining mimicry of the writing style as well as common words and phrases. Generally, anything auto-generated falls by the wayside when you've explored all it's possibilities and begun to predict its results. For instance, if you had an automatic story teller that used the same five or six twists over and over, you probably wouldn't use it very long after you'd learned them. But if you can "borrow" twists, plots and styles from the vast soup of the Internet, things might not get so stale so quickly.

Then I expect the problem of feedback to enter the mix. Machines generating stories from web-scraped stories and posting them online are diluting the secret sauce, so to speak. We could try tagging machine-generated fiction and filtering it out of the raw input, but not all of it will be appropriately tagged. What we really need is an objective quality filter. You could say that Google does this already with their mysterious page rank algorithm, leaning on the wisdom of crowds, but I'm thinking of something in a more isolated sense, like a personal spam filter tuned to quality stories rather than spam.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I don't think spam filtering techniques can be applied directly to this problem.
PPS - Still, it might be worth a shot.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Yoga

Because the undead are generally a bit inflexible, a zombie yoga event was held recently, to help them limber up.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - At least it got them off talking about brains for a while.
PPS - On the downside, if they can move more easily, they're harder to outrun.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

High ambitions and realism

Not every kid can grow up to be Prime Minister (or President, or Benevolent Dictator For Life) primarily because there are too many people. If every Australian had to take a turn being Prime Minister of Australia some time after their 18th birthday, terms would be very short indeed (currently just over 2 minutes per person, by my calculations) and getting shorter all the time. It would eventually reach a point where terms would be shorter than the time it takes to say the next Prime Minister's name, even if it's two syllables like "John Smith".

The point is that it might be nice to have ambitions like that, but the world cannot accommodate all of us at the top. Some of us have to be the little people holding the others up.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Most people do not choose that position willingly.
PPS - We don't have a concept of ambitious servanthood.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Sunday Mok to be suspended

For a variety of reasons I've decided to stop posting my usual Sunday rundowns of my previous week.

Three years ago, my reasons for starting up the Sunday Mok posts were to keep my friends up to date with my life and for added content. Well, with all the little things I post there, "keeping up to date" is a bit of an understatement. It's a bit too close-up in that sense. Also, "my" life is now "our" life - Deb and me - and it's getting more difficult to separate what bits are mine to share and what is private to us. As for added content, well, if you want to hear about me going to work, watching TV and playing games, give me a call and we'll chat. And finally, I started posting from my journal as a character development exercise - I wanted to be a more open person. I think that goal is accomplished, so from my side it has served its purpose.
Of course I'll still be posting on weekdays about tech in the news, the future or whatever else takes my fancy, so the blog is still going, but I'll be averaging six posts per week instead of seven from now on.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I may use the extra time in my life to write other things.
PPS - Or I might just sleep in on Sundays.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Software courses had better be advancing

I really hope university software courses are teaching things slightly differently now than they did when I went through. There have been some new developments in software project management particularly, and some interesting frameworks come along too. Any university not mentioning agile methods, iterative planning, design patterns and Ruby on Rails is short-changing its students.

Then again, it may just have been me. Any time you try to engage in higher learning you sometimes hit a wall and need practical experience to make it real. I knew some design patterns for two entire projects before I understood them. To learn, apply and discuss, then repeat for the same material, would probably work well.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Any course that didn't advance wouldn't get as many students.
PPS - At least in theory. They don't really know enough to choose before they get there.

Monday, 22 October 2007

The Sky-Temple

A piece of random writing, dug up from the archives for your enjoyment. It's just a setting so far - the opening of a piece rather than the real meat.
The sky-temple sits among the city blocks as if it were nothing special. It is not visible from the ground, as it sits atop a building. But there, high above the streets, it is another world. The grass on the roof is lush, green and deep, comfortable to sit on. Butterflies flit aimlessly among the stunted cherry trees. There is a clear view to the ocean over the tops of shorter buildings, though some taller ones prevent a full panorama. There is a modest wooden structure in the centre of the improbable lawn. It is made of untreated pine and surrounded by a deck. Wooden wind chimes make occasional earthy sounds, and rich, moist earth is visible between the deck floorboards. The roof is tastefully decorated with curls and trestles and is tiled in red. The temple is two storeys tall and is the home of just one unusual boy. He listens, day in, day out, to the distant sounds of the city traffic far below.
Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm not totally sure where I was going with it.
PPS - It was written some time ago.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

The Sunday Mok - Slow throat infection

Sunday - I got up a bit early and went for a run before church in the morning. After the service Deb and I did our weekly grocery shopping for half the cost of the previous week. I ran the computer in the evening church service, then Deb and I went to the Coffee Club for supper.
Monday - For most of the week I didn't feel like getting up in the morning to go to work. I did anyway. I met Deb in the city to talk to MBF about medical insurance at lunchtime. While Deb was at her meeting in the evening, I folded laundry and washed dishes, then watched some television I recorded ages ago.
Tuesday - I started feeling like I had a throat infection. After work I went with Deb to Mal and Linda's for dinner with Murrae and Mia too. That was instead of karate.
Wednesday - A code quality meeting at work kind of turned into an optimisation meeting instead. Deb was babysitting in the evening, so I did some dishes and laundry.
Thursday - I had a pretty restless night which was a combination of little sleep, throat infection, cold and loud fighting neighbours. After dinner Deb and I watched The Wedding Crashers.
Friday - I was hungry when I got to work, which often happens when I'm a bit sick. In the evening we went bowling with the youth group kids, but only had time for one game.
Saturday - Finally I got to sleep in. I helped Deb with her taxes in the morning, then after lunch we took a short nap. In the afternoon we rented the first two discs of Stargate Atlantis season 3.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Taxes are not much fun.
PPS - Mostly because some of the questions are hard.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Computer generated fiction

An idea that is still many years away, but still within the realm of possibility is a movie generator set-top box. We have people working on computer generated stories and a mature computer animation industry, so mixing the two is not that unreasonable. Imagine a black box on the top of your television that can just generate fresh new 1.5 hour movies on demand.

Initially, I think such a technology would only be suitable for children's entertainment, since a coherent plot and well-developed characters are a little less important than bright colours and funny voices there.

I'd also expect movie studios to be outraged at the very existence of such devices (since they would probably cut into cinema and DVD revenues) but I also think they'd have no real recourse to argue against them. They'd have to change their business strategy again.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Maybe they could sell character files.
PPS - And there would still be a market for human-produced movies of high quality.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Spray on Pants

The "Spray on Pants" music video by Kisschasy features emo zombies. When they bite you, you become emo too. Just like in real life.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I laughed.
PPS - Then I made sure there were no emo kids hiding in my cupboard.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Senator On-Line

There are many interesting points to make about Senator On-Line, Australia's first online political party. The point I would like to make is that it neatly sidesteps the problem of rich companies lobbying for favourable legislation, because they'd have to spread their money out to every individual party member. Though they'd probably just run PR campaigns instead, it makes me think.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I wonder if PR campaigns would be more successful than lobbying.
PPS - With a mix of traditional and online senators, they'd have to do both.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

A bowling ball with a liquid centre

Homer Simpson's "bowling ball with a liquid centre" (from a catalogue he was reading once) would probably be more hype than help. A liquid centre in a bowling ball would tend to retard the rolling motion of the ball, decreasing its power and accuracy simultaneously. If it only operated side to side, it would mean the ball would tend to stay on track, but since the rotating motion is more down the lane than side to side, extra energy would need to be imparted to the ball to set up a liquid gyroscope effect.

I don't know enough fluid dynamics physics to back this up with solid calculations, but I did spend a good ten minutes rolling my water bottle up and down my desk. It didn't work very well.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Also, my water bottle is not spherical.
PPS - Nor is it as heavy as a bowling ball.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Usability on the Enterprise

Yelling status and instructions on a starship bridge seems too inefficient as a way to run a starship. It's good for the audience, but if you have to waste eight seconds in the heat of battle to hear an officer read out the numbers of which decks are leaking atmosphere, then bark back to seal them off, you're going to lose because meanwhile the hostile aliens are still firing. Someone needs to do a usability study on starship bridges and how to run them efficiently.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Better data visualisation would be a start.
PPS - And improved command interfaces too.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Getting Things Done six months on

After more than six months practising Getting Things Done as my personal workflow management, I find that I am never bored, I have more energy and I'm more motivated to get little jobs done around the house.

The biggest challenge is deciding which projects to take on.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's amazing how many little jobs are unrecognised until you gather them in.
PPS - And housework that never stops is a pain.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

The Sunday Mok - Many movies

Sunday - I slept in a bit before Deb and I went to church. Our weekly groceries were a bit more expensive than usual. In the afternoon, I played City of Heroes, then I sang in the evening church service.
Monday - I dropped the laptop in for repairs in the morning during work hours, so I stayed later in the evening to make up the lost time. Deb picked me up in the rain from the bus stop and we spent the evening watching Eight Below.
Tuesday - I felt depressed in the middle of the week for a few days. In the evening I had to dig my uniform out of the washing basket for karate. The smell was unpleasant. We watched Cirque du Soleil's Quidam on DVD and one Stargate episode before bed.
Wednesday - I picked up the laptop around lunchtime to be told that they had to replace the hard drive. The old one is still here, but non-functional. I cooked soft shell tacos for dinner and we watched Stomp the Yard.
Thursday - After work I took the train to Indooroopilly and met Deb and Mia to see Stardust which we all enjoyed.
Friday - I woke rather tired. I worked all week on data imports for Knowledge Workbench and finished by Friday. We had six kids at youth group in the evening, which was a nice change, and it was also good to have someone like Richard in charge.
Saturday - Deb was out all day dress shopping with Tracey, so I had the house to myself. I did laundry and dishes, then settled in to watch most of the recorded Simpsons episodes that have been building up. In the evening we went to Sizzler with the church crew to celebrate Murrae's birthday, and before bed we fit in one Stargate episode.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Network connection is down right now.
PPS - This post was composed offline.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Friday Zombie Blogging - Books

Here's an interview with a zombie book author. Some of the books sound pretty interesting, particularly the unimaginatively named "Zombies II: Inhuman". It's a zombie story with superheroes as the protagonists.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - And one thing I like almost as much as zombies is superheroes.
PPS - Maybe one day we'll have Friday Superhero Blogging here.

Layman's programming language

Making a programming language simple enough that any user can master it is the easy part. It's the higher-level thinking that users struggle with, because they think in an event/response loop while traditional programs work in a sequential fashion. The same requirements specification from a typical user vs a typical programmer would look very different. The user would specify a number of "when ... do ..." statements, while the programmer would say something more like "the X function takes input of the form Y and produces output in format Z, meanwhile storing results in the database". Maybe we've been doing it wrong the whole time.

A functional specification in the "when ... do ..." format can be checked automatically for overlapping conditions. It's not object-oriented or anything like that. It's event-oriented. Granted, structuring a specification this way does not automatically confer some user-centric design on the program, but it's simple and clear. Given to a novice programmer with a traditional language, it will be a struggle. Given to a user with a novel programming language, it will be trivial.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm not aware of any languages that do things this way.
PPS - But I don't know all languages.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

The Considerate Phone

Under certain circumstances, a mobile phone could be programmed to go into silent mode. For instance, if a number of calls has gone unanswered recently, either the owner of the phone is not present or does not wish to be disturbed. The phone can then be silent for a while, since continuing to ring out loud is clearly doing no good.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - With suitable software, this would be pretty easy.
PPS - As usual, I have not done my research, so I don't know if some phones do this.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

I want Yahoo Pipes on my desktop

I'm way behind the times on this, but yesterday was the first time I've played in any kind of depth with Yahoo Pipes. I took a detailed look because I was thinking about how to make a simple stream-processing desktop programming language. Pipes is exactly what I described except for the fact that it only works online. A desktop version would be able to load from Internet or local sources and produce files or effects on the machine. An appropriate module would also allow remote control of the PC, which is a potential security risk, but it's a very interesting idea. Several of the specialised applications I use daily could be replaced with an application like this.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Time tracking, diary keeping, application scheduling ...
PPS - Possibilities abound.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Weighted Amazon ratings

I wonder if a reputation system could be applied to, say, Amazon book review ratings. It would be a more complicated calculation, but what if a star rating could be weighted according to those reviewers with whom I seem to agree? That data could be gathered by what I bought in the past and who reviewed it, and could be further refined if I gave my own rating later. Then instead of every rating counting equally, ratings for new books I'm considering are biased towards the opinions of those like-minded reviewers.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Yes, it is complicated.
PPS - And I'm not totally sure it's necessary.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Paying a geek in attention

When a geek fixes a friend's computer, there might be a difference of opinion on the standard procedure. For example, the non-geek might picture the interaction like this:

Step 1. Notice broken computer.
Step 2. Call geek.
Step 3. Geek fixes computer.
Step 4. Repeat as required.

The geek is likely to include an extra step that I'll call "3.5" to slot into the correct position:

Step 3.5. Explain the cause of the problem so that it can be avoided in future.

This is the kind of payment we expect for our help. Not so that Muggles will be in awe of our skills, but so we can both avoid the hassle from then on.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Some problems are a bit too weird to explain, though.
PPS - But those ones are less likely to be fixed this way.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

The Sunday Mok - Stargate Season 10

Sunday - I went to church alone in the morning, then mowed the front lawn when I got home. Deb and I watched Stargate SG-1 until church in the evening. I ran the computer.
Monday - I worked all day on data imports for Knowledge Workbench. In the evening I visited one of Deb's Mary Kay meetings with her and Linda.
Tuesday - I went to work early because I had a dentist appointment in the afternoon and wanted to make up time before I left. It had been a long time since I'd seen the dentist, but I just needed a clean. After karate, more Stargate.
Wednesday - I was at the office for about ten hours total (including breaks) so I wasn't that focused by the time I left. In the evening Deb and I had a visit from Gwen, the minister, after which we had some ice cream.
Thursday - I've been tired in the mornings for a little while. I think I might have been a bit sick. Family dinner in the evening included cake for Wendy's birthday, and was followed by Stargate at home.
Friday - Deb and I met Murrae and Tracey for dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Aspley, followed by bowling nearby. I had two bad games.
Saturday - We went out shopping for Operation Christmas Child, then spent some time stuffing all our gifts into the shoeboxes. In the afternoon I suddenly felt queasy and broke a fever out of nowhere, so I went to bed early.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Our Internet connection seems a bit unreliable right now.
PPS - But obviously it's good enough to post with.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Personal Unit Tests in NUnit

I read yesterday about a geek who checks his daily goals via "personal unit tests", and I thought to myself that it would be pretty funny if those tests could run in an actual software testing tool, like NUnit. A few minutes later:

(click to enlarge)

Now, it's just a prototype to prove a point at the moment, but this could easily be extended in many useful ways. For one, it needs to be much easier to maintain and modify the list, because I don't want to write code every time I do that. But for the proof of concept, it's working.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I need to set more goals for myself.
PPS - Or I need to encode them here.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Brain-eating bacteria

What's more horrifying than a zombie? A zombie bacterium that eats your brain, that's what. Can't even cut off its head.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Strictly speaking, as with all reality, this is not really a zombie.
PPS - But it sounds like a B-movie plot.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Computing in Heaven

In Heaven, you never run out of hard disk space. In Heaven, your computer never needs rebooting. Everything is flawless Plug and Play. Instant messaging works on one universal protocol, and it never kicks you off. You log in only once to your PC and are then recognised on every website. That's only for personalisation, not security. There is no spam, ever. Downloads take only as long as you feel like they should, never longer, but also never so quickly that you blink and miss it. Sharing files to cooperate with someone else never means emailing versions back and forth. Scanning and printing are done from the same box that holds your hard drive and everything else. There are no power cords and no signal cables.

Playing movies from your computer on your TV is as simple as asking or using the remote - no cables or translator boxes. Your portable media player can carry your whole music and video collection no matter where you are, and never needs to recharge. It can also access your collection at home. Your camera (video or still) can upload immediately to the Internet, so it never runs out of space (or batteries). It can share storage with your home PC.

Your hardware never wears out or becomes obsolete. You can modify it yourself with only the knowledge of what you want to do. You can write new software as easily as playing with Lego. Using data from one program in another is a breeze, and if two programs need to work together, they just do. If you don't feel like reading all the news today, your computer can summarise it for you, rephrasing and picking out the important points seamlessly.

The Internet is free and without advertising. The wireless Internet connects everywhere with equal strength. It's never crowded or bogged down. You can search online with the vaguest of queries and expect perfect results. "I'm feeling lucky" is the only button on Google you ever need.

Phone calls are free, but if you prefer to receive email, your voice messages can be dictated. You can email a telephone to leave a voice message, read out in your own voice. You can conference in real time between telephones and instant messaging programs. SMS, email, pagers and IM are all one seamless communications protocol, with a bridge to live or asynchronous voice as needed. You can receive email in your physical postbox if you prefer, and send it the same way. All communication is instantly and flawlessly translated to your native language.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Now, which bits can we do today?
PPS - Some, I admit, are unrealistic in this world.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Why I am not on Facebook

I've avoided getting on Facebook up to now, because I know what happened to MySpace. If you try to tell me that nothing will ever replace Facebook as the social networking Place To Be online, I'll laugh in your face. And, with the speed of the internet culture, chances are good that Facebook is headed the way of MySpace any day now. So should I spend all my time on Facebook only to have it burn down in a few months?

Yet despite myself I am drawn to it like a siren song. Something deep within me prods now and then. "You're disconnected. You're out of touch." That's the allure, I suppose. Peer pressure of a sort. Everyone is doing it. I've never been one to follow the crowds. If I was, I'd have been playing World of Warcraft all this time, not City of Heroes (link). But the crowds are what defines a community. If there's no crowd, why would we be networking socially anyway? I know people. More people than I can track in my head or even properly on paper. To be figuratively linked to them through this medium entices me, and perhaps it's time I stop holding out.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Even without joining I've got a few friend invitations.
PPS - But that's probably the case with every non-member.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

I am a technology idealist

I think in many technological senses I'm an idealist. I find myself wondering "what is the best possible way this could work?" when I see technology that's not quite doing its job. Once there's a vision, ideas start to flow on how you'd make it happen. Then, once the steps are clear, why not make it happen? Ah, if only.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Non-idealists simply swear at their computers and carry on.
PPS - And sometimes rant about it.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Swarm behaviour for companies

When I read articles about swarm behaviour, I wonder if the same principles could be applied to companies to eliminate all management positions. Nobody would be in charge and nobody would fully appreciate the big picture because the big picture would involve every single individual. Defining the rules would be difficult at ground level, though. I wonder how the information flow would go through the organisation and whether things like hires and fires would start happening organically or even higher level stuff like mergers.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'd bet some higher-level decisions would require more cooperation.
PPS - I'd still like to see it attempted.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

The Sunday Mok - Dan and Lotte's wedding

Sunday - I slept in for a while and decided against going for a run. After the morning church service Deb and I did our grocery shopping and watched The Matrix Revolutions to finish our recent viewing of the series. We got pizza for dinner, then I sang in the evening church service.
Monday - I worked most of the week on data imports for Knowledge Workbench without making much progress. While Deb was at her Mary Kay meeting in the evening I cleaned up the house a bit and played City of Heroes.
Tuesday - I worked all morning on a Microsoft Office 2003 "smart document" solution for our requirements editing, but couldn't run it properly in the end. Deb and I had dinner at Mal and Linda's instead of me going to karate. Back home we did some work on a jigsaw puzzle and chatted with The Awful Truth playing in the background.
Wednesday - In the evening we made a second attempt to eat at Crushers Leagues Club, this time passing the dress code examination. This effectively made it Anthony's third birthday dinner for the year.
Thursday - Before and after dinner at Dad and Beth's, I watched an episode of Prison Break with Dean. However, since it was season 3 (I think) and I stopped watching in season 1, I was a bit lost. Back at home we watched more Awful Truth and worked on Deb's jigsaw puzzle some more.
Friday - I slept in a bit and had breakfast at work. When I was walking home from the afternoon bus, Deb happened to pick me up on her way to get Mia. While the girls were otherwise occupied, I did some dishes and laundry. I made some of dinner, then we watched Punch-Drunk Love, which was very surreal.
Saturday - After a morning trip to pick up my reserved Stargate SG-1 season 10 box set, we had lunch with Mal and Linda, then drove to Dan and Lotte's wedding. I thought it was beautiful all around, and we got home at about 22:20.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It was good to catch up with people again.
PPS - We left before the bride and groom.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Pre-emptive insurance claims

Let's say hypothetically that you have a number of large trees in your back yard and that it would cost several thousand dollars to remove them. Let's also say that very large branches occasionally fall from these trees with force enough to kill people. Now, as an insurer for the property, would you rather wait out the people-crushing and receive big claims for property and life damage, or would you pay the much smaller cost of having the trees removed?

Now imagine you are a health insurer. Let's say that early detection and removal of cancerous skin growths costs one tenth of the average insurance claim for one detected late. Let's also say that a yearly skin checkup costs a negligible amount per person. Would you allow small claims for regular skin checkups, or would you wait for the larger, but less frequent, actual cancer claims?

Unfortunately I think it would often be worth more money to the insurer to wait for the larger claims.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - You'd need actual statistics to prove it, though.
PPS - And the it's their job to know that kind of thing.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Bus zombies

This article defines a "bus zombie" as a person who is almost, but not quite, asleep on public transport. The dazed fatigue state where the eyes are half closed and the person is technically awake, but really somewhere between there and asleep. That's been me more often than I care to admit.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - An interesting image.
PPS - It's a good thing they don't want brains.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Mousing goofy to improve brain power

I read an article summary yesterday that said using your computer mouse with your "off" hand improves neural pathways between your brain hemispheres. So I started trying it. I was still frequently reaching for the mouse with my right hand, sometimes even when it was held in my left. I also have a tendency to turn it side-on so I can still left-click with my index finger, which leaves me right-clicking with my thumb. At the very least I hope to gain a little more practice with my south paw.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm going to keep it up at least for today.
PPS - I might be a bit too frustrated to continue beyond that.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

A small set of random thoughts

- I want to be able to take a vow of silence for a day and communicate only through signs, gestures and written words. I think it would be very interesting.
- Frame interpolation for slowing down film further. I'd be surprised if someone isn't doing this already.
- You should never believe a TV magician who says he doesn't use camera tricks. Why should we take at face value the word of a person whose job is devising new and entertaining ways to trick us?
- To keep drinking coffee because you get headaches when you stop is like staying on heroin because withdrawals make you vomit.
- What if we had hundred of tiny spider robots to maintain our cars on the go? They'd just crawl around inside the engine, fixing problems as they occur, like leaks and loose bolts.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I didn't think I could stretch any of these into a decent full post.
PPS - And they're too long for my Messenger quotes.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Offshore outsourcing is from the Dark Side

There are undeniable short term benefits (lower wages to pay) for outsourcing certain company operations to, say, foreign call centres. However, in the long term, it hurts the company by eroding their reputation. A company that cares about their English speaking customers hires native English speakers just as a company that cares about their Chinese speaking customers would hire native Chinese speakers. Short term gains at the expense of the long-term is just the kind of thinking I associate with The Dark Side.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - That doesn't mean I'm right, though.
PPS - But I like to think I am.

Monday, 24 September 2007

The increasing pace of life

Life gets faster every year. We give out "long service" awards to employees who stick around for five years because that's so uncommon. There are plenty of other examples of which I'm sure you're aware. Bottom line is that things are getting faster and we'd better be ready for it, because that trend is not going away any time soon. I don't see a future where we have longer to deal with our current situation. I see people growing more and more impatient as life accelerates ever further. Reaching your first wedding anniversary will be cause for massive celebration. Taking a six month university course would put you way too far behind your peers in work experience. Companies will give out long service awards for three-month contractors.

Or will they? By the time the world is moving at that speed, attitudes towards things like marriage, study and employment will be very different indeed. Long term goals will simply fade into the background because Now is so demanding. Taking on permanent commitments will be simply impossible. The marriage rate will drop, as will the birth rate, because who knows what your circumstances will be like next month? How can you commit to a nine month pregnancy, let alone the equivalent of an eighteen year care contract?

Mokalus of Borg

PS - We'll find another way to reproduce, I'm sure.
PPS - But the people who work it will choose another career in a year or two.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

The Sunday Mok - Man of the Year

Sunday - I slept in for a short time in the morning, then went for a run. Deb and I attended a combined church service in the morning, which meant no church in the evening. We did grocery shopping in the afternoon, then spent the rest of the day with Murrae and Tracey, including renting Man of the Year.
Monday - I did some overdue documentation at work in the morning, then discussed some new code features with Ross for Knowledge Workbench. While Deb was at her meeting in the evening, I played City of Heroes for a while.
Tuesday - Before I'd logged in for the day, Ross came to my desk to continue our discussion on code features. I went to karate in the evening, despite not feeling like it in advance. I made tuna casserole for dinner, and the rest of the evening was uneventful.
Wednesday - I worked all day on data imports for Knowledge Workbench, which was not that stimulating. After dinner Deb and I headed to Mal and Linda's with Taboo and played a few rounds.
Thursday - I've been getting some knots in my back recently, so I think I've got a bit of stress. I tried to break up the work routine a bit to combat this feeling. We went to dinner at Dad and Beth's then did a little laundry at home.
Friday - I put the car in for a service and caught the early bus to work. I was surprised by how many people were in an hour early. In the evening for youth group we just hung out, played Wii games and half-finished a game of Zombies.
Saturday - Deb and I both slept in and I did the dishes after breakfast. We went to lunch with Mal's siblings who are here on holiday and played some French cricket too. In the evening we went to the Newmarket Hotel for Miv's birthday. We left kind of early, but it was good to see everyone to catch up.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I think my Sunday Mok subtitles have been a bit lame recently.
PPS - I'll try to do better.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Friday Zombie Blogging - Marvel Zombies series 2

The Marvel Zombies series of comics about superheroes turned undead has reached a second series. I haven't had the opportunity to read either series, but it's a very interesting concept to me.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - They'd have to be fast.
PPS - Otherwise there'd be no point to them being super heroes.

A tank in the Matrix

Hey, couldn't Neo have asked for a tank instead of "Guns. Lots of guns."? Then he and Trinity could have stormed the military building in relative safety and comfort, though the scene in the movie might have been less dramatic and cool.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - And they still got out without a scratch.
PPS - Plus they wouldn't get that tank up the lift shaft with them.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Mind-mapping for general information storage

I've started keeping mind maps of various bits of information I collect or produce, just because it's a better way to visualise some things. Object design for programs comes particularly naturally this way for me, though to define a more solid data design I turn to ORM in Visio. Still, when my thoughts are bubbling and boiling, I feel rested after getting things down this way, and that's a sure sign that I subconsciously accept this as a valid information management option.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I use FreeMind to make my maps.
PPS - Generally, I like it.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Excerpts from my grade 1 report card

One thing I came across when cleaning out another part of my old room was my grade 1 report card. It said things that are still true today (good numeracy skills) and things that I seem to have overcome. For instance, I needed "improvement" in physical education, which in grade 1 consists of running, skipping, hopping and galloping. It's a bit embarrassing to think how challenging that could possibly be and yet have failed to meet the mark.

One thing particularly that stood out, though, was the statement that I was a slow worker who needed to be hurried up. I wonder what implications it has for me today, since the other things seem to be true enough. I am aware that I spend a bit of time daydreaming. I wonder if I was meant to choose a slightly different career path, like an author. Someone self-employed for thinking, not grind work. Based on my first year report card, this is not quite where I was meant to end up. The good news is that there's time to change yet.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Just about everything I write here comes in a fit of daydreaming.
PPS - It seems to be my natural state.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Time-compressing video

I recently linked to a fascinating video on image resizing. I think the same concept could be applied to video, not just to resize individual frames, but to shrink the whole thing time-wise into a more compact form.

Imagine a video as a translucent 3-D block on your desk. You see the frames as they change over time. Now, to time-compress the block, you find a wavy plane that cuts the block from one side to the other at the "least interesting" point. It will encompass the least detailed and most static portions of the block as defined by the "energy function". By applying this "curved frame" deletion many times, we can time-shrink a video to re-target it at audiences with shorter attention spans.

Compressed too far, it will start to lose some more important information, of course, the same way seam-carved retargeted images lose information when shrunk too far. I have also not addressed the issue of sound, which is tricky, because the sound portion to discard for a curved frame is not clear.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Titanic could have used this.
PPS - And Marie Antoinette, too.

Monday, 17 September 2007

The emotional pain of upgrading computers

It's tough for me to let go of an old computer. It's not just that I like having the machines around, because in that case I'd be just as happy to have a new one. It's that I spend a lot of time setting them up just the way I like them, and by that time I have to tear it up and do it all over again. It's a bit worse this time around, though, because I'm getting a new machine at work and my home box is due for upgrading too.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - At least I can put off the home upgrades if I want.
PPS - And I may have to.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

The Sunday Mok - Ratatouille

Sunday - I did two loads of washing in the morning before church. Afterwards, Deb and I went to Michelle's house warming party and brought a cake. I always eat too much when presented with lots of food in small portions. I went for a run and Deb and I watched The Matrix together. We ate dinner at the church because we were running a bit late.
Monday - I ate breakfast at work, then we had a long meeting about our Knowledge Workbench program. I took a different bus home than usual because I was in no rush. After dinner Deb and I watched The Matrix Reloaded. Before bed I did my daily Brain Training for the first time in a month.
Tuesday - I worked on ways to import old data into Knowledge Workbench. It'll be tedious to do. I skipped karate in the evening to attend a church committee meeting and left in pieces. I don't know exactly what affected me like that. I was probably just highly strung that day.
Wednesday - I started writing some code generation routines for Cornerstone, our internal .NET library, including a port of the useful "Inflector" class from Ruby on Rails. In the evening Dad, Anthony, Deb and I tried to go to Crushers Leagues Club to celebrate Anthony's birthday, but they turned us away because of Deb's rubber thongs. It upset us all in different ways.
Thursday - On the walk from the bus to the house, I nearly stepped on a snake near the creek. It didn't seem to be too active, what with the sun having already gone down, but it still gave me a start. After family dinner Deb and I finished watching a disc of Star Trek TNG.
Friday - I figured out how to get a grammar check for undesirable terms in technical writing by using and LanguageTool. We took the youth group boys to play pool, but they seemed more interested in Silent Scope and their iPods.
Saturday - I slept in a bit and watched videos online. For lunch, Deb and I took Mia to Indooroopilly and saw Ratatouille while we were there. In the evening we watched Becoming Jane and Marie Antoinette. We should have stopped the second one halfway through.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Marie Antoinette could have been 45 minutes long.
PPS - Not much substance, but lots of costumes.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Microsoft Word summarises the Bible

Having discovered Microsoft Word's AutoSummarise feature, I set it to task on the Bible. Here's the result:
How long, O Lord? says the Lord. says the Lord.
Then said I, Ah, Lord God! says the Lord. says the Lord.
says the Lord. says the Lord.
says the Lord.
says the Lord.
says the Lord.
says the Lord.
says the Lord. says the Lord.
Now, I'll admit that I crunched it down pretty hard to get this level of summary, but my reading of this is that the Bible internally is very much about what God says.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Unfortunately, it's not particularly coherent.
PPS - That seems to be common with summaries.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Crawling torso toy

This wind-up zombie toy consists of just a head, arms and torso that crawls along the ground at a decent pace. Pity it's not life-sized.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Also the distinct buzzing sound is less than terrifying.
PPS - Life-sized and with realistic sounds, this could possibly cause a crowd panic.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Organising communication: now/later/never

There are emails I want to see right now, whenever they arrive, some that can wait a while, and some that I never want to see. They are referred to as ham, bacn and spam respectively. I think the "now/later/never" framework can be applied to other communications as well. For instance, there are some phone calls that I want to take no matter the circumstances, some that I can defer and call back later if necessary and some that I never want to get. These are mostly defined by who is calling.

My news feeds is another category of communication that could benefit from some now/later/never categorisation. By analysis of my reading patterns, it should be possible to determine which stories will interest me most, which I don't mind leaving a while and which ones do not interest me at all. Then when I'm in a rush I can just go over the most important ones and come back to the deferred ones later, never even bothering to see the others that don't concern me. Physical mail could go like this too (bills, postcards, advertising) and TV (say, news, sitcoms, soaps).

All that being said, however, the three-tiered filtration must be automatic and is only a focus and time management tool, not the primary way to organise your thinking.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Too few communication programs give great control over content.
PPS - Sometimes it's because they were designed too long ago.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Free navigation info

Should navigation info be gratis? Well, perhaps. There are arguments to make both ways, and since it seems that people are willing to pay for it, that's a good indication that it will likely remain a pay service in the near future. Then again, the streets are open to everyone who pays their taxes and registration, and that should probably include maps and directions - the information side of the upkeep.

Should navigation info be libre? There's no reason to keep it locked up in my opinion.

Online map services like Google Maps and tend to be gratis but not libre. That is, they're no-cost to use, but they're a bit locked up. If you could get access to either one while on the road and had a GPS receiver, you wouldn't need a dedicated navigation device.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I don't think that particular application is far off.
PPS - As the internet's reach grows, offline applications will be less necessary.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

What's the worst birthday gift you ever gave?

We've probably all given some below-average gifts over the years, and sometimes we're aware of it at the time. Sometimes we only become aware of it after the fact, like seeing a picture frame up in a cupboard and still empty.

So I was wondering: what's the worst birthday gift you ever gave?

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Mine is probably in the shirt-worn-once category.
PPS - It's too easy to get carried away sometimes.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Legolas getting teased

Remember in the Lord of the Rings when Legolas summarises someone's description of the tactics for getting through the giant gate by saying "A diversion"? That always sounded a bit stupid to me, and it seems like the kind of thing his friends would tease him about for quite some time.
"Hey, Legolas?"
"Five across, nine letters, 'a feint intended to draw off attention from the main point of attack'?"
"Oh, yeah, thanks. What about eight down, nine letters again, 'a channel made to DIVERT the flow of water'?"
"... Diversion"
(snicker) "Ah, of course."
"Hey, one last one? British, a detour on a highway or road."
"You guys suck."
Mokalus of Borg

PS - Well, I think it's funny.
PPS - A bit, anyway.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

The Sunday Mok - Pirates, Ninjas and Dreamworld

Sunday - Deb and I went for a short walk in the morning before church. The sermon was good that morning. In the afternoon Deb did a skin care consultation while I played Heroscape with the men of the house. I sang in the evening service, then many of us had supper at the Coffee Club.
Monday - Our project at work is getting a little frustrating and hard to deal with. Anthony and I took Dad out to dinner for Father's Day, then I watched videos online while Deb was out at a meeting. When she got home we watched one Scrubs episode and read one Harry Potter chapter.
Tuesday - I've been feeling a bit of stress, and I think it's because I see most of my chores at home and spend most of my time at work. At karate we practised performing kata under close scrutiny. Deb and I watched Scrubs at home, then moved some furniture around so Deb could set up her office.
Wednesday - I started working on a small side project at work, which was good to break it up a bit. Bible study in the evening was the last one of the series, and we talked about self-sacrifice.
Thursday - I got home from work a bit later than I planned because the 17:45 bus didn't show up. Deb was out, so Dean picked Anthony and me up for family dinner at Dad & Beth's. I ran some maintenance tasks on Dad's PC which has been slowing down and having some troubles.
Friday - I had the day off work due to a re-scheduled Dreamworld trip. I decided to leave it that way so I could get some things done at home. I submitted my tax return, picked up a package from the post office and went looking for ninja costumes, but didn't find anything suitable.
Saturday - Deb and I went to Dreamworld and met Miv, Julia, Rory and Julie there. The Claw made me nauseous and the Giant Drop got postponed for safety concerns. In the evening we participated in a Pirates vs Ninjas Treasure Hunt and won by pure chance, even though we got lost along the way.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - We have a fair amount of chocolate at home now.
PPS - I'll have to ration it out carefully to myself.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Friday Zombie Blogging: Boy on a Stick and Slither

Boy on a Stick and Slither with a comic about mathematics. Almost.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's hard to think what else to say about it.
PPS - It does involve zombies.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

One of those days

Wake up tired. Miss the bus. Forget three things before even getting to work. Drop your coffee in the lift. Password expired. Scanner won't work. Leave not approved yet. It's just going to continue like this.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'd like to be back home in bed.
PPS - Wouldn't we all?

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Good audience participation

One of the coolest audience participation activities I've ever seen was a person who - without speaking a word - had the audience divide into quarters and each make percussion sounds (hand clapping, finger clicking, foot stomping and hand rubbing) that sounded together like a rain storm. It was awesome, and I'd love to try it again.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Unfortunately, I think it requires a few more people than I will ever be leading.
PPS - The original event took place with about 300 people.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Learning a language by labelling your household items

I've had an idea about learning a foreign language that I have yet to try out. The idea is based on some software called Rosetta Stone that I heard about some time ago. Rosetta Stone teaches you vocabulary in a foreign language by using photographic flash cards. For example, they'd show a picture of a tree labelled "árbol" (for Spanish) and you associate the Spanish word directly with your mental image of a tree. Learning via text-only flash cards would mean the associations are funnelled through your English grammar and potentially corrupted in the process.

So down to my idea. I would label all of the common, everyday objects in my house in Spanish (since that is the language I want to learn). Now when I pick up the phone I see the note "teléfono", and when I go to bed I see the bed frame labelled "cama". Eventually I learn these words subconsciously and they are second nature.
I have no theory on learning grammar, though, but I think day-to-day vocabulary would be a good first step. After all, isn't that how babies learn?

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It might not be how babies learn.
PPS - I tried asking them, but they won't tell me.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Idea: molded clay chess set

The idea for the day is this: you buy a full clay chess set (plus some extra clay to add on to it) and are encouraged to twist, bend and style the pieces to your liking before firing them in your home oven. Painting afterwards is optional, since the clay would already be coloured light and dark for the opposing sides. I'm not sure if there's a kind of clay that can be fired at temperatures found in a home oven.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Maybe the craft company could offer a firing service by mail.
PPS - Included in the cost of purchase, of course.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

The Sunday Mok - Cats on the brain

Sunday - Deb and I were at church a little early where a tag-team of three preachers filled in for the one who had lost his voice. We had Mal, Linda, Mia and Sam over for lunch, and it was nice to have the space to seat them all comfortably. I ran the computer for the evening church service.
Monday - The workers arrived in the morning to build us a new fence. At work I mostly did some MS Office smart tags proof of concept stuff. I walked to the Southbank cinemas to see The Bourne Ultimatum with Mal in the evening.
Tuesday - The fence guys finished the job while I was at work. In the evening, Deb and I attended a workshop on ministry to young families and children. It was informative and energising.
Wednesday - We had a meeting at work to discuss some design rationale that had thus far eluded me. In the evening we had dinner at the church and heard the consultant's presentation on a new plan and direction for the church. It felt exciting, scary and difficult, but right.
Thursday - I started a short caffeine fast to clear my system a bit, because I've been having iced coffee more as a habit than a genuine pick-me-up. Deb dropped me off at Dad and Beth's for dinner. After dinner I tried to help Dad with some printing problems he's been having, but didn't quite manage to fix it.
Friday - We took the youth group kids to Victoria Park Golf Club and worked through their putt-putt course, then finished with the driving range.
Saturday - I meant to go jogging in the morning, but never quite made it. Dad came around to help clean up some of the dirt and branches left by the fence builders. After lunch, Deb and I went to Indooroopilly to buy Tracey's birthday present and a few other things. We had dinner with Tracey and others at Toscani's and came home quite ready for sleep.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - All week I've had the music from Cats going through my mind.
PPS - Not always the same bits, thankfully.

Friday, 31 August 2007

Friday Zombie Blogging: Facebook Zombie Game

This Facebook game lets members "bite" each other and turn them into zombies, indicated by an image on their page. Not being on Facebook myself, I don't know what it feels like to be bitten this way.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It probably tickles.
PPS - But only slightly.

I can't make small talk

I'm not practised at speaking to strangers. Twice in one day someone new spoke to me, just to comment about the bus situation. Each time I made a bland sort of "Oh well" comment then went back to my MP3 player, just staring into space.

I just don't know how to handle small talk situations.
"The bus is slow today."
"Yes. Yes it is. ... It was also slow yesterday."

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's just awkward.
PPS - It seems only a small percentage of people are good small talkers.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

"Cliology" and the Singularity

While reading "In the Country of the Blind" by Michael Flynn, I got to thinking about whether the hypothetical "science of future history" known as Cliology would ever be undone by the rapid pace of change in society. For instance, if the input variables to your equations change before you can solve them, then the answer does you no good, does it? Similarly a prediction based on stale data would be no good, and data gets stale much more quickly now than it used to. That trend will increase until the predictions are stale before you can make them, no matter how quickly you make them. That's the Singularity, where the pace of progress breaks its own sort of speed barrier, makes a sonic boom and comes out the other side.

An interesting side note would be that Cliology could predict the time of its own death if the pace of change can be measured accurately.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Another possibility is that Cliology just gets harder.
PPS - And requires quantum computers.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

The "point of view gun"

Doesn't the "point of view gun" from the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie mean that the women who commissioned it were unable to communicate their points of view? The implication is that this was the fault of the men who listened to them, but it could equally be their own presentation of the information that failed to properly register with their audience.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Unless everything is the fault of men.
PPS - That depends on who you ask.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Colour matching for foundation

Watching Deb doing her Mary Kay make-up party on Saturday, I couldn't help but wonder if there's a more precise way to match a foundation colour to a face. I imagine a spectrometer to measure the skin tone exactly and some simple software to suggest a match. Better yet, it would be possible to mix a tone specifically matched for a particular face. This would all have to be packaged appropriately for a beauty consultant, though. If it starts looking like the paint mixer down at the hardware store, I think it would lose its appeal, even if the results are the same.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Wikipedia article on specrometers.
PPS - It doesn't mention paint or make-up.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Potential home 3D printing applications

Just a few thoughts on practical home applications for 3D printing:
  • Model building (ie planes, ships and cars)
  • Miniature figurines (ie Warhammer)
  • Board game pieces (eg chess, Monopoly)
  • Artificial potplants
  • Temporary replacement parts for home plumbing
  • Single-use cutting boards
  • Constructing extra plates, cups and utensils for entertaining
  • Home jewellery making
  • Download-and-print phone shells
  • Toy making
  • Perfect-fit glasses frames
  • Extra storage containers

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The equipment must get cheaper first, though.
PPS - I think that's just a matter of time.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

The Sunday Mok - Jellicles Can and Jellicles Do

Sunday - The final day of the Emmaus camp, including a breakfast gift drop and one at lunch. To pass the time between those two events, I played Puzzle Quest. I took a nap and watched Star Trek with Deb before dinner and church. I ran the computer, then six of us had supper at the Coffee Club.
Monday - I worked on database design all day at work and left at 17:00, but the bus was full. I missed the backup bus by just one second, so I had to wait fifteen minutes. Deb went to her meeting and I stayed home doing the dishes and watching TV.
Tuesday - I read Harry Potter on the bus to and from work and clarified some points of the database design with Ross and Paul. Karate in the evening was focused on self defence in sparring.
Wednesday - I tinkered with some Windows PowerShell scripting at work during down time and when I left the bus was full again. Deb, Mia, Sam and I had dinner with Linda, recently returned from Guam. Bible study followed, then Deb and I moved some tables around at home in preparation for our new internet setup.
Thursday - I got a new small project at work, but it took me two days to figure it out properly. I feel like a slow learner sometimes. Dad took Anthony, Deb and me to dinner at Sizzler and we happened to see Sam and Mia there too.
Friday - The day at work was much like Thursday. When I got home, Deb and I had a fairly quick dinner together, then headed to the church. It was raining, so our original plan of going to the golf driving range was postponed. We played games at the church instead.
Saturday - I woke earlier than I otherwise would have to wait for the contractor who is doing the fence. He didn't show up. I did some laundry, then Deb and I tried to get to a movie with Mia, but parking was too crazy and we missed the start. In the evening Deb and I saw Cats at Harvest Rain. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't what I expected.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I had a headache during the day.
PPS - I should have drunk more water.