Tuesday, 9 January 2007

01-01-2005_01-31-2005

Friday, January 28, 2005

Added a bit
Added a TEdABOUT section. Almost completed, too....
Categories - ::/:: posted at 4:02 PM Ted
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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Nicole Kidman's "Prison"
I have only the news to go by, but I am wondering what is really going on here. If anyone has been watching Australian TV coverage of the now-famous "bugging" there are a few things a geek has to pick up.
To begin with, the listening device that was first shown as the purported device was an FM bug built into the clear plastic case of a cassette tape with a 9V battery taped to the edge. (Yeah I remember those...) Problem is, the microphone was inside the case. That would pretty much render the microphone deaf. So this was pretty much a useless bug and more of a prop.
Why pretend that this thing was a bug?
And I just saw the alleged "bug" again now - and guess what it's not even the same device! This time, it's a hand molded cylinder of silicone sealant encapsulating a different circuit, but again there's a 9V battery at the side of the device.
Now - that hand molded cylinder looks like someone just squeezed it in their hand, it's all rough and bumpy, the grooves are spaced about like average fingers and the right sort of size. Come on Detectives! It's silicon sealant, it holds prints really well! Helloooo!
All of that makes me feel that this is more of a score settling thing between Ms Kidman and certain paparazzi, and less about privacy or even listening devices.
I know, TV stations often use props rather than the real thing but - this looked more like a genuine screw-up. Who knows...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 11:50 PM Ted
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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Australia Day 2005
Got home about an hour ago, tonight was really enjoyable, very little hooliganism, thankfully few yobbos, and a very nice set of fireworks with a great finale. Photos on Flickr, even though tis a slow old camera some shots came out good enough to share.
I took 100 pictures to get just those few shots, thank God memory is cheaper than getting film developed...
Although the fires last week really gave my lungs a workout, the smoke remnants made for spectacular sunset and clouds, the whole evening was most memorable.
I'm most proud of Dragon In The Sky 2, that is a real Chinese dragon that I caught in the sky there and being so close to Chinese New Year, it has to be a good omen.
Tired... You wouldn't believe if I told you where I'm sending this from, unless I also told you that we have wireless in the house and I am using a laptop - well... - on my lap, in the smallest room... Because I want to get this blogged and then hit the hay, work beckons tomorrow...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 11:04 PM Ted
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Sunday, January 23, 2005

Cunning Linguists Indeed
I like languages. I was born speaking German, in Vienna Austria, and we moved to Bahrain Island in the Persian Gulf when I was four years old, at which time I learned to swear fluently in Arabic, and to speak Queen's English, some Latin, and some French, courtesy of St Christopher's Convent School there.
I got my French beaten back out of me by Australia's glorious educational system, and my Arabic has withered from lack of use. Meanwhile, I've kept an eye on some odd usages of the English language, and the other day when I saw this site I was excited. Until it loaded.
The premise is that linguists use this site as a forum, and that furthermore, some of them are studying language usage on the Worldwide Web, where, after all, a lot of communicating and a lot of the latest language usage takes place.
What unexcited me from the site pretty quickly was the lack of feedback or commenting facilities. These people are the *experts* and they will not let the common hoi polloi demonstrate any language usage on their Sacred Site.
What a bunch of pretentious prats.
Sorry, but the forum is for discussion of language, and they actually stifle language on the site. That's just a waste of a resource as far as I'm concerned. Because of that, they have missed out on my blinding observations.
For example, if you check their site you'll find the phrase "don't take me for granite" where "granted" has been mispronounced into "granote" and then people have believed that's the correct spelling. Or "deep seeded" instead of "deep seated." And I've been finding examples here in Australian usage, too.
Did you know, "soon as" we're discussing this, that there's alot to note? ("Seeing as" mispronounced to "soon as," and "a lot" seems to get compressed to "alot" a lot...) I could of ("could have") also informed them of a phenomenon that they missed completely, the "acronimimania" that swept in, got corrupted, and has almost passed mainstream.
Do you know what "lol" means? Five years ago in the heyday of TLAs, it meant "laughing out loud" but nowadays I notice folks in chatrooms and email using it as an accentuating device or as punctuation. So our linguists have missed an entire generation of the language, and yet they've set themselves up in this sacrosanct little enclave, it seems a bit stupid actually.
They missed the advent, abuse, and disuse of the acronym FOAD, for example. Did they see "greybar" and "404" enter spoken English? Nuh-uh... How about the "dot.com" phenomenon? I guess they missed that too. Mind you, they may only just have figured out that "groovy" came and went and briefly came back for a few comedy movies.
What I'm trying to say, I guess, is that once again, we prove ourselves to be masters of missing what we're doing until some years after. Maybe that's why we still use fossil fuels. Anyway - that's my burst of philosophy out of the way for the moment, back to the smoke and the noise...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 11:21 PM Ted
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More on the fires
Today, a week since the first of the fires around Pickering Brook. There are still fires, there's still smoke, and my lungs and chest now hurt like anything. Thanks to the daily diurnal wind cycle, there's smoke blowing over our place almost every night, and it makes sleep difficult. I generally get along very well on six hours sleep a night but lately I've been lucky to get half of that. Having emphysema, I'm also frightened for what the smoke must be doing to me.
And there are more fires. Thia afternoon Trish and I went to Bunnings hardware and there was a fire on the river foreshore only two hundred metres from Bunnings' yard. While we were in the warehouse the smoke was making it dark outside and in, the whole warehouse was filled with smoke, and the FESA (Fire and Emergency Services) appliances were licketty-splitting it toward the fire.
This is within a few kilometres of the city centre, along a major highway. It's in an area of the Albany Highway flanked by a very large shopping centre complex, with several blocks of shops, warehouses, and similar businesses. It's busy, how could anyone start a fire there and not be noticed?
Because the thing was, we were told that it was the second fire there that day, FESA had apparently only just left after putting out another fire earlier. This firebugging bastard was probably close by where we were, possibly even in the hardware store with us...
It's so annoying, that someone probably saw the person responsible, and did nothing. Because, there have been over eight fires now that I'm aware of, and they can't all have been started without anyone seeing anything. Somewhere in Perth, there's a person who doesn't deserve to be free to wander the streets, and another person who pretty much deserves to be locked up along with them because they did nothing.
I've already said that I hope the police catch the arsonist before some vigilante with a baseball bat does. I am going to correct that now. I hope the police catch them before *I* do... I would love to find them, I really would..
I also note that there's a $100,000 reward for the person responsible. And now I'm wondering - if I do get my hands on this asshole, will $100,000 buy me enough of a defense lawyer that I'd get off the assault charges? Worth considering, worth considering...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 1:59 AM Ted
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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Prawnheads
P.R.A.W.N.H.E.A.D.S. - the Perth Radio Amateur & Wireless Noodle House Eating And Discussion Society - is a venerable body of respected... What am I bullshitting about? Prawnheads is a bunch of radio amateur and wireless networking and flying geeks who get together for a regular lunch meeting once a week, and have been doing so for around three years now. Initially there were only a few of us and there was no name, just a pleasant social meal.
Now, however, the regular lunches in Northbridge are always well attended and always amusing. We seem to have a "membership" of around two dozen, which I gather is better than many branches of the RSL or Rotary these days... And with between six and twelve of that number at lunch each time, things get - well, geeky.
The usual style's pretty boisterous. Grown men and women hoot in amusement as the hop-on/hop-off doubledecker wipes out yet another load of upper-deck tourists on the trees, and while we've never had a foodfight I just know there's one in the future...
I've been involved with a number of organisations, from starting one of the first computer clubs in Newman to volunteering with the SES as a rescue teamie, and none of those ever grew as happily and organically as Prawnheads did.
Without a formal structure, without charging dues, we've still amassed over $600 in the course of a year, in leftover change from meals and coffee, and this February we book out our favourite restaurant and see how many Prawnheads and partners we can cram in there, to enjoy the Chinese New Year festivities.
We do (sort of) have officers. One is the Keeper Of The Cash, who has been entrusted with the change jar, another is the Bookkeeper, yet another the Guardian Of The Sacred Kissie Card (Dome loyalty card, gets us one free coffee in every dozen) and of course The One Who Must Sort The Money And Pay The Bill This Week.
And we do have some structure to our meetings, sometimes. Like, a meeting where you bring a design for a corner antenna for WiFi use, or whatever problem has been bugging someone most recently. Mainly though, we're in it for the social side. There are the odd meetings outside of the regular one, perhaps to resolve problems someone is having with a computer or radio or vehicle, but usually the meeting's the main contact for most of us.
"Prawnheads - The Website" can't be too far away, surely, and I'm already looking for a really really REALLY simple CMS to manage it, a machine to run it, and an IP address to hang it all from. Anyone who knows a good multi-user, multi-level security CMS with RSS and preferably pix upload and moblogging feel free to post a link in the comments, and I'll be sure to include the person whose system we use in the CMS credits.
Categories - ::/:: posted at 12:59 AM Ted
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Sunday, January 16, 2005

Pickering Brook fires
Feeling really uncool today. Smoke from the nearby fire is blanketing half the visible sky, there is ash fallout over everything, and the smoke that keeps wafting in at ground level is making my emphysema really really play up. I really hate smoke these days...
But had a good day notwithstanding.
The new me at work (new sysadmin) has been having troubles with some of the servers, and last night he called for help today. We sorted the problem out but it took a bit of time, however it's time spent in the smoke-free part of Perth so I am happy as Larry. Later, Trish and I take off for a drive somewhere outside the smoke corridor, and finish in Subiaco where we decide to eat lunch at the Pavilion Markets, where we have Turkish gozlem.
"Gozlem" is apparently a word for "tasty" but in this case the "tasties" are filled bread pockets, freshly made. Very gozlem indeed, we manage to finish one each and then continue to Kings Park overlooking Perth.
From the vantage of the Park, the fire looks grim. East of the city, a wide plume of black smoke issues up and is swept westward over the city, slightly to the south. The entire visible hemisphere on that side is dark, it looks like a storm front but this is all smoke...
Adding to the smoke load are several smaller fires, this is beginning to look like a scene out of a war movie or some impressionist version of Hell. As the afternoon winds down and we're driving home, the sun is a baleful red behind the smoke.
I manage to get home in time to catch two photos of the sun, and one turned out well. They're on Flickr under my teddlesruss alias.
Now it's almost midnight and the smoke seems to be blowing by again. The whole house smells like a camp-out, with smoke permeating everything, and it's quite pungent. Hell looks set to continue for another day, in one form or another - the fires are not out and the temperature tomorrow is predicted to be over 35 degrees celsius as well. That will be hell for the firemen, believe me...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 11:53 PM Ted Comment made, yay!
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Sunday, January 09, 2005

Tailored or Random? I was (half) right...
One year ago, in this article, I said this:
How did I bring AIDS into this? Well, it's another virus that targets specific groups, although this one does it via another mechanism. But the group it targets are people who won't be mixing it up in the gene pool, or else it gets to people who can't easily avoid or treat it, i.e. African people. And I'm almost willing to bet that someday very soon, some scientist somewhere will spot another "genetic hook" in this virus.
So now I find this. Certain groups are more likely to be immune than others. Of course it's a statistical thing, and of course, this means nothing - or does it? - but dammit I predicted that they'd find this.
What I meant above, of course, was that I suspected that AIDS was a lab product designed to eradicate certain unwanted demographics, and I was predicting that we'd find a genetic tinkering in the virus that made certain races more susceptible. It seems pretty certain to me now that the virus was not tailored to any genetic plan but it is still a pretty selective killer, taking demographics that some people probably feel we can do without.
The thing that started me thinking was SARS - it exploits a genetic anomaly which mainly Asian people possess, so it seemed at the time to be just too tailored. I'm still in two minds about that.
Just had to *cough* point this out. Makes me feel good when anything I predict comes anywhere close to happening.
Categories - ::/:: posted at 12:44 AM Ted More Comments: (2)
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Friday, January 07, 2005

Not Even Nice
Anyone else hate those Subway ads where the Subway staff, apparently having nothing better to do, make rude prank calls to a hardworking burger joint? I walked into every Subway I found the last two months and asked staff for a cheeseburger. The usual response was a blank stare and something like "Sorry Sir, we don't have those - can I get you something else?" - Ha, gotcha! - "No thanks, you're not even close. By the way, tell your manager that I walked out of here without buying anything because of the crap ads Subway are running on TV."
And hey - it seems to have worked, must be a lot of people who felt as I do, because it looks like they pulled those ads.
Categories - ::/:: posted at 9:13 PM Ted
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Sorry Okker the Fokker's Chokka...
Read it. Weep...
I think I am actually speechless over this....
Categories - ::/:: posted at 3:37 PM Ted
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SETIquette
I wonder if there's intelligent life, sometimes. Then I wonder if there's intelligent life on other planets or in space. A lot of people share my questions, notably the folks at SETIatHome, and obviously there are arguments for either side.
To begin with, we are to believe that the Universe is infinite. That leads to a couple of interesting corollaries, which make you really question the whole recursion/infinity idea.
To begin with, infinity means that there are an infinite number of me sitting typing out an infinite number of these weblog pages. It's infinite remember, so this has to follow. If there were a limit on the number of copies of this scenario then that's not infinite.
Also, it leads us atheists to have to think that somewhere there is a scenario in which a being named God really *did* create the Universe - again, to say that this couldn't happen is to put finite limits on what is supposed to be infinite. And that means that believing in a God is probably a safe way to go...
And if you argue that the Universe isn't infinite in *that* way, then the response is that it must exist within something else that IS infinite, and what's that then, huh? Hah!
So, there's also bound to be other intelligent life in the Universe. And alternate dimensions, wormholes, teleportation, the whole shtick.
Among all that intelligent life, there must be an infinite number also listening for, and sending, signals. My thought is - what constitutes a signal?
Heck electromagnetic radiation is a total waste of... well, - time, and no intelligent life form would really pin any hopes on such a signal, surely? It's what, eight years to the next system? And there isn't likely to actually be another intelligent life form within the next few thousand lightyears or possibly more?
What would I consider to be a signal if I was a hyperintelligent alien? A big sign materialising in front of me with "I am a sign of intellignet life, and I was teleported here instantaneously by the GnaxxOrg race" would probably do it. Seriously, electromagnetic signals are great for letting other life know you were here - once - but pretty damn useless for getting a weather report.
What's needed is a faster than light signal. Surely, intelligent life forms have figured this one out, so all we have to do is detect them. And how do we learn how to detect faster than light signals? By learning to make our own, of course. There's some work going on, and we know that if it's remotely possible, we'll do it. And if we reckon we can do it, other lifeforms will also be able to do it or have done it already.
Here's hoping we do it soon, and finally earn the honorific "intelligent life"...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 8:45 AM Ted
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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

People Eating tasty Animals
From a sign-up email letter I am subscribed to:
PETA Fish-friends gang up on Jimmy Carter
PETA has a beef with Jimmy Carter's fishing. He's the most famous presidential angler since Herbert Hoover, but Jimmy Carter has so far avoided the wrath of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Not anymore.
PETA's truce with the catch-and-release advocate is over, thanks to the ex-president's promotion of his new book, Sharing Good Times, the cover of which features a picture of Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, cradling fresh-caught Alaskan salmon.
Carter opened the door to a hit from the fur-and-scales rights group when he told Jay Leno about the agony of having an errant hook yanked from his face as he was held down. PETA wrongly claims that fish feel the same way.
Now they want Carter to give up his rod and reel. "Our hope is that this experience may have given you a little insight into the fish's point of view," fish-brain Karin Robertson, PETA's fish-empathy project manager, wrote to Carter. Unlike humans, adds PETA exec Bruce Friedrich, fish "can't go to the hospital."
Carter is unlikely to do more than chuckle, though. In a recent phone call, Carter said he was headed to Florida's Gulf Coast last week to fish for snook with his own flies.
I always thought PETA stood for People Eating Tasty Animals...
They *know* somehow that fish feel the same pain we do. I think they need to talk to someone with a clue. I don't know if you've seen cats or dogs fight, it seems to me that animals in general register damage but they don't seem to feel pain. Cats in particular dish out inordinate amounts of what I'd consider pain when playing, but don't even notice it.
For that matter, people also exhibit a fine resistance to pain, witness the much-publicised story of amputating one's arm to free oneself from being trapped, and others. I think pain is an invention of a species which has too much time on its hands and is busy looking for "experiences"...
But in any case. I digress. PETA (and other similar organisations) are missing the point. We *are* at the top of the food chain precisely because we learned to exploit all the food sources we could. Hello PETA can you spell "Omnivore"?
We actually need nutrients from the fish, the red meat, the white meat, as well as the vegetables. Any treehugger who says that humans can live on vegetables alone is up themselves. And anyone that says we can survive on vegetables and supplements will need to take a close look at where those supplements come from - it's a case of shifting the killing of animals from the supermarket meat trays to a pill bottle...
I know a couple of vegetarians. I work with them. The one I've known the longest has a history of skin ailments, and is not what I'd call robust. The reason is pretty simple - as an omnivore we need a range of trace elements, vitamins, enzymes and other magical chemical mixtures, and most of those are created by meat animals.
Anyone pointing out that meat causes bowel complaints and the possibility of cancers is also on short shrift with me - have they ever experienced the amount of bowel "complaining" that a bowl of boiled cabbage can induce? Or seen what sorts of nasty elements lurk in vegetables? You can give yourself several ailments on a vegetarian diet...
Point is that anything can give you cancer. Be it meat fruit vegetables or minerals. You have to balance that with the fact that your body needs the nutrients. I've been looking at the longest-lived people on record, and none of them seem to have been vegetarians. Most had a diet low in meats and some nutrients, but not lacking in them.
Ancel Keys had the diet down pat - Mediterranean, mostly vegetables and fruit with moderate meat.
Categories - ::/:: posted at 12:26 AM Ted
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Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Einstein, and Year Theories To You!
Someone on this weblog has posed a question or two to answer, like "what have you achieved in 2004?" and then sits back and acts all smug like "see? can YOU understand Einstein? gotcha lamer!"
I dunno, but first off I'd have used 2004 to learn to spell "edifice" for a starter...
And secondly, I have nothing to worry about on the achievement score. I've had a great 2004 except for one brief interlude, and even that worked out for the best.
I've had several innovative ideas, some of which my employer may develop, and several more which I am looking for interest on. I've installed a door/floor security system and programmed it, worked on the development of several industrial control/process systems, have trained a couple of work experience students, controlled a situation at work (that interlude, yes) and come out better off than before, and had a great social year.
My main theory though is that as long as you are happy with what you achieved and did and gave and received for the year, then it was a GREAT year! And while people can hold up people like Newton as a shining example and make like "you can't touch this!" you have to remember a few things:
Newton and Einstein were both what you might call prodigies. And even so, they achieved only moderate success overall. Their achievements averaged out over their lives are much the same as anyone else's. Anyone else could have got to those realisations first, made those breakthroughs first.
If you've had one great idea in the last year, and then discovered to your chagrin that "oh damnit so-and-so did this two years ago" that doesn't make it any less of an achievement. If you've had four of five of those events in your life you've had more than Newton did. So don't ever let stories like that one above get to you.
I have a friend who is intellectually handicapped, having suffered a brain inflammation as a baby. Yet she not only managed an office, she managed it brilliantly. She has had her own Eureka moments and events, and while they may not have set the world on fire she is every bit as much an achiever as Darwin was, as Tesla was.
It boils down to being happy with yourself. Go on, make 2005 "The Year Of Being Happy With Myself." You'll have a great year!
Categories - ::/:: posted at 4:18 PM Ted More Comments: (3)
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