Friday, 29 January 2010

Black or white

To call something a "black name" or "black music" bothers me. I don't think the subculture from which these things come is inextricably linked to the skin colour of the people who typically comprise it. Furthermore, I think that using terms like that is going to perpetuate the false idea to our next generation that there is a "white world" and a "black world", and the people who come from these places are very different from each other. I don't believe that will have positive consequences.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I just don't think these are healthy distinctions to draw.
PPS - Variations within people groups are bigger than variations between them.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Zombie wedding

A zombie-themed wedding, with many photos. Just to pre-empt, no, I would not have attempted this.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - You'd both have to really love zombies to do this.
PPS - Though I suppose that's obvious.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

True Blood questions

Having watched True Blood, both seasons pretty much back to back, I was left with a question or two about the "TruBlood" (artificial blood substitute) product featured in the show. First, was it a product of medical research, or was it designed specifically as an alternate food source for vampires? Personally, it makes more sense to me if the former is true. In that case, it wouldn't have been packaged in bottles until after vampires came out in public.

Next, why is it available in all human blood type varieties, rather than just O-negative? If it's the result of medical research, it would make more sense only to make O-negative rather than all varieties, since it's the universal donor. The varieties make more sense if it were made directly for vampires, but then I'd expect it to taste a bit better to them.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I realise it's just fiction.
PPS - I'm just trying to fill in the blanks and make sure it's internally consistent.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

A villainous threat and a rational response

TV or movie villains often threaten the loved ones of a hero, demanding something in return. They sometimes assert that "their fate is in your hands" or some similar idea, claiming that the hero is in "total control" of what happens next. I would find that hard to swallow as a hero. The villain has made the threat, the villain has their own finger on the trigger and makes the decision to follow through on the threat, but is taking zero responsibility for that action. Not that I expect villains to be morally responsible, but I keep expecting to run into a more rational hero who calls them on their nonsense.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Then again, such a hero wouldn't seem very heroic sometimes.
PPS - Maybe that's why it's never written that way.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Permanently installed Firefox extensions

I have noticed I have three separate Java Console add-ons in Firefox, presumably automatically installed by Java updates, and I can't uninstall them. I'm sure the older two are not necessary, and I can disable them, but they're stuck there for good because they have been marked as not uninstallable. Why is it possible for Firefox extensions to be marked as unremovable at all? That doesn't sound like a browser I own, but one partly controlled by Mozilla. It seems somewhat at odds with the concepts of openness and ownership that such an open-source software project is supposed to embody.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Though I suppose the answer would be that I'm welcome to build my own version.
PPS - That's more trouble than it's worth.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Re-learning to tie my shoes

Every now and then on Lifehacker I come across an article like this one: Ditch the Granny Knot to Tie Your Shoes More Efficiently. I'm not sure how much more "efficient" it is, but it does make more sense and looks nicer to tie a reef knot on my shoes. The only change I have to make is going over the loop rather than under it, but it's surprising how hard it is to fight the muscle memory of years of shoe tying.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I've been doing this for maybe a week now.
PPS - It does seem to work better.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Shared experiences and friendships

Do people need to know exactly what you're going through to be your friends? I'd say no, mostly because there's only one person who knows exactly what you're going through. If that's the only place you can get your friends, you'll be lonely for your entire life. It's also the fact that our different experiences make us interesting to each other. How many stories do you think conjoined twins can tell to each other? We do need shared experiences too, because that's a huge part of building friendships, but when you meet someone for the first time, you've been through none of the same things, not exactly, and you need to be able to move on and up from there to become friends.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Someone who's been through all the exact same things as you would be boring.
PPS - Though someone who understands nothing about you won't relate to you at all.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Short audio story

What Dead People Are Supposed to Do by Paul E. Martens is a story about an undead father working off his credit card debt and his son trying to show him some life before he's paid off and switched off.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I found it kind of funny.
PPS - And despite being on a horror podcast, not scary at all.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

The web vs localisation

I often get this weird feeling that the world is stretching apart, being pulled in different directions by different forces that both have tremendous value to add. The web is taking over the world of commerce, but I feel like bricks and mortar distributors are required more and more for local business. The web does automatic globalisation, but the one thing it tends to fail at is physical localisation.

If you want to connect with your neighbours, you don't go online, you go to their front door. Local focus is the future of physical presence, while global presence is the focus of the web. If there's more than enough demand locally for your fruits and vegetables, there's no need to sell them online and ship them, besides which they're fresher and more easily available locally.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The same goes for many other local businesses too.
PPS - And limited-interest businesses have to be global to reach enough people.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Why is iTunes only partly DRM-free?

If Apple still puts DRM on TV shows, music videos and movies bought over iTunes, then they are in favour of DRM in general. They have the industry clout to flip off the MAFIAA and say "our customers want DRM-free, so we're getting rid of DRM", but they aren't.

So here's my question: what made them start offering DRM-free music in the first place? If it was customer demand, then why not for all media? It wasn't industry demand. If it was an experiment, it's proved overwhelmingly that DRM-free is the way iTunes customers prefer their music, and that opens the door for a similar experiment on video. If it was just an altruistic internal decision, then (again) why not for all media? I don't get it.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - They weren't sued into that situation either.
PPS - Perhaps they were competed into it by direct sales from independent big bands.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010


Last night I watched Fanboys with Deb, and I recommend it for anyone who has any affinity for the Star Wars franchise. References abound, of course, but it goes beyond that. The group of friends razz and joke with each other brilliantly, and the cameos are something special too. I personally didn't recognise Billy Dee Williams (who played Lando Calrissian) at the time, but I did spot the three others. I don't think William Shatner portraying himself quite counts.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The only disappointment was the apparent lack of special features on the DVD.
PPS - Not even a gag reel or commentary.

Monday, 18 January 2010

3D printing as a service

Every time I see news about 3D printing, I get briefly interested. I would like to have figurines printed of, say, my City of Heroes avatars. I probably won't have 3D printing equipment in my home any time soon, and that's fine, but what if there was a shop I could go to with a 3D model on USB and have it printed for a few dollars?

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I expect it would be available as an online service first.
PPS - But I also don't think there's much demand for it yet.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Poorly targeted Facebook ads

I am married, and Facebook knows I am married, so why does Facebook present me with ads for online dating services? Someone is poorly targeting their ads.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Not that it costs them much to display a wasted banner.
PPS - But it's a lost opportunity for something that I'd be more likely to buy.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Zombified Pink tattoo

Pink's husband Carey Hart has had a zombified image of her tattooed on his leg, and shared the results on Twitter.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Not sure of the exact message he was trying to send with that gesture.
PPS - It could be interpreted a number of ways.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Stalking to find parking spots

It seems to be not uncommon for people to follow shoppers out of the shops and back to their cars to take parking spots, but the car park as a whole is never designed to allow for this. What if the entrance to the car park was close to the shop doors and there were pedestrian walkways beside all the major car paths to allow for easy following?

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Parking is easiest when everyone arrives at once to an open-plan parking area.
PPS - Then you can just file them into rows as they arrive.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Netbook video performance

The one thing keeping me from buying a tiny Eee PC or a similar netbook is video performance. I know there's a relationship between power and price here, but if your netbook can't keep up with YouTube, there seems little point in having it at all. One of my primary motivations would be to keep movies ready to watch whether I'm commuting, a passenger on a long drive, on a plane or on a break. Video performance is essential to me, and even an iPhone can manage YouTube. This shouldn't be hard.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The iPhone screen is too small for my liking.
PPS - And newer netbooks that can handle video cost the same as a low-end laptop anyway.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The problem with Y2K success

Ten years ago, IT departments and companies worked around the clock upgrading hardware and software to avoid the Y2K bug. I wasn't there, so I don't have first-hand knowledge of the work that went on, but I do know this: afterwards, when nothing happened, a lot of blame and finger-pointing went on. People were asked why the hell we spent so much money on such a fizzer. The problem is that, in this case, success looks like a total non-event, so it's hard to prove you saved the day.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The threat was probably overstated in most cases.
PPS - But that doesn't mean 100% of the money spent was wasted.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Stargate Universe cancelled in Australia?

After showing just 3 episodes here in Australia, Channel ten seems to have decided not to show any more of Stargate Universe. It's a bit disappointing that SGU was not rating as well as, say, "Accidentally on Purpose" or "The Cleveland Show", but surely 3 episodes is too small a sample to say for sure.

Whatever the reason, what are our options as Stargate fans in Australia now? Well, we could subscribe to Foxtel at $70+ per month, wait for the DVDs (that is if region 4 is deemed worthy of publishing them here), or download them legitimately or otherwise. The siffy SyFy channel website has the first five episodes, but you can't watch them from Australia. The iTunes Music Store reportedly has the show, but that too is often region-restricted.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - So it looks like our legitimate options are to wish for DVDs.
PPS - Which doesn't always turn out well.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Build an indoor deck

Crazy idea of the day: to get around body corporate restrictions on building additions to a house, build a deck indoors, turning, say, your spare bedroom into an "outdoor" entertainment area. The only problems I've come up with so far are ventilation, lighting (to make it look like you're outdoors) and the fact that a raised wooden floor would collect a lot of dust underneath. So pretty much everything, I suppose.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I don't even have any "artists conception" sketches to show you.
PPS - But that's about as far as the idea would likely go anyway.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Zombeat

Do you like zombies? Do you like rhythm games? This is one just for you.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Staying on rhythm keeps the cartoon guy shooting.
PPS - Missing beats causes him to miss, of course.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Due for a win

"Due" is not a statistical concept. If you've won four hands at cards on a table of five people, what are your chances of continuing to win this hand? What are the odds of any given random coin coming up heads when you toss it? What if that same coin has come up heads sixty-three times in a row beforehand? The answers, in order, are "the same as before", 50-50 and 50-50. Past events do not have an effect on current outcomes. The denial of this tends to manifest as thinking "I'm bound to win sometime". You're not. Your losing streak is not statistically bound to come to an end, ever, because your odds are the same every time you play every game. How likely is the sequence "head-head-head-head" on a coin compared to "head-head-head-tail"? They're equally likely. You are never "due" for a change of outcome.

However, the chances of some tail turning up somewhere in the sequence at some point does rise as the length increases, compared to all heads, but that doesn't affect the individual chances of each run. To illustrate, picture the same coin tossed four times in a row. The chances of "HHHH" (head-head-head-head) are 1:16, but the chances of "HHHT" OR "HHTH" OR "HTHH" OR "THHH" are 1:4. And if you're not worried about more than one tail result, the chances of getting at least one tail in the sequence are 15:16.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It can get tricky to hold the two concepts in tension.
PPS - If you only consider part of the sequence, the probabilities change again.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Signing musicians on per-song contracts

The music industry should now be free to support artists that are signed for individual song contracts rather than whole album deals. The slow death of the album format (masterpieces like American Idiot notwithstanding) is no secret, and since it's so easy to sell individual tracks over iTunes now, the market is ripe. I'd be surprised if some of the one-hit wonders we've seen lately were not signed on a single-song contract.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Of course, artists don't need music labels to sell their tracks directly.
PPS - That's the beauty of the internet.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Security guards that actually guard

When you hear about this or that business being robbed and the security guard fighting off the attackers, you tend to think that it was a dangerous risk to take. But I started to wonder: what is a security guard for, if not to do exactly that? Any of us can roll over, get on the ground and say "take what you want, insurance will cover it", and if the security guard does so too, then he might as we,ll be one of us. Granted, there are lower-risk threats that they protect against, and you have to draw the line somewhere, but a couple of idiots with cricket bats are probably below that line for a paid security guard.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - As long as he's wearing some kind of helmet.
PPS - Or can fashion one quickly from nearby objects.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Welcome to the future

Since it is now the year 2010, it is officially the future:
- We can carry a whole video store's worth of movies in our pockets
- We use lasers to fix people's bad eyesight
- We have video phones thanks to the internet
- Machines in space can tell us where we are and how to get where we're going

Mokalus of Borg

PS - There are other examples, I'm sure.
PPS - Happy new year!