Saturday, 29 September 2007

Vanity Googling Result Vaguely Amusing

Sometimes, vanity Googling has amusing results:

Web Results 1 - 10 of about 4,750 for teddlesruss. (0.15 seconds)
Did you mean:

Yep - that's me - eternal kid...

Oh yeah - and found places I've created accounts (obviously under the influence of cheap red plonk) that I couldn't remember joining, and which I last visited "1275 days ago" as one site accusingly told me... (Lucky my password file is current and was backed up often...)

Thursday, 27 September 2007

They Could Call One Of Them "Prep H"

... and the other one "Anusol..." hehhehehehehe

UPDATE: They called it Dawn. Which used to be a brand of toilet paper. So it's kind of fitting. Why? Asteroid, haemorrhoid - what's the difference.... (Oops, "UPDATE" that's a "date" joke as well!)

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Secrets to Writing Secrets Of Writing

I love articles like this one but - geez - I just get so hacked off with "apostrophism" and "redundant, excessive, and unnecessary, comma use," especially where said flaws actually remove the meaning from the headline:

"The 7 Secrets to a Fiercely, Loyal Community of Readers"

Ummm. Actually. No...

I don't need "7 secrets to a fiercely and 7 secrets to a loyal community of readers" - I need "seven secrets to a fiercely loyal community of readers." The comma has actually weakened the whole meaning of the header.

The way it's written just creates two sentence fragments connected in a vaguely hopeful fashion by a comma. Just take out the comma.

Remember, kids, never, ever, should you, like, uh, use, yeah use, that's it, an inordinate amount of commas, unless they actually help, um, help to parse the sentence, into, like, you know, logical parts...

Played Facebook TV Trivia Yet?

A few weeks ago, life was hard, but not depressing. I was sick with the killer flu, but there were a couple of good shows on TV (like Doctor Who and Torchwood the anagram) and a lot of quiz contest shows around, like 1vs100. Then someone invited me to Facebook TV Trivia and life changed...

To begin with, I bravely tackled any question that came up, doing my best to guess at things like what X's secret identity was in "The X's Secret Identity Show" or whatever else.

After dozens of valiant guesses, I discovered something. Formula. Formula, formula, formula. If the choice of a character's name in a sitcom was between Charlie and Zander, pick Charlie.

Every time. *sigh*

If there is a choice of a believable and boring scenario and an outlandish bizarre and unusual one, go with the strangest one.

Yes Betty did lose her hand because she got it stuck in the S-bend while trying to retrieve the engagement ring she had from her college romance.

Not in a car accident or work related machinery accident. *sigh*

If anyone asks a True or False question, no matter how bizarre and unlikely the "True" scenario is, pick "True."

The person that wrote the question is trying to impress you with their knowledge of "strange but True" trivia, not ask a serious question, anyway.

Then I spotted the "block xxxxx show" link which stops you getting questions on sitcoms that were only ever aired in Bumcrack, Idaho for half a season in celebration of the Idaho Potato Board Comedy Festival.

Much judicious use of the link followed, with me reasoning that if I stuck to the shows I've seen, and block the rest, I'll get to a situation where eventually I'll know most of the answers.

Almost two weeks later, I'm still playing daily. Still blocking around 20-50 shows a day, and still every day there are new crapcoms and shitshows that apparently have enough of a following around the world to warrant a question or two in the Trivia quiz.

Apparently we have an almost unlimited capacity for creating crap.

And that's why I'm now so thoroughly depressed...

What's With Online Office Suites?

I use a few. Correction. I used a few... I'm used to working with PC based office suites, more especially the ones that are integrated tightly with everything else on the computer (yeah that MS one, and an Open/Star one too) and I have gotten used to a few features. Some of those features don't translate well into the online experience...

For a start, because this takes place within a browser window, I've lost count of the number of online suites I've abandoned because my perfectly laid out document printed like a Big Piece Of Poo. Or printed perfectly on that PC, then printed like a BPOP at the client's office because their browser had a different idea of where the margins were supposed to be.

The next thing that drove me away in droves from an otherwise reasonable suite has been document management. Come on OLOS developers, how hard is it to provide aome DMS-like facilities and stop relying on the old "here you go - go crazy with the folders" mentality? I'd love to have a folder restricted to read-only for three people, read-write for me and a collaborator, and able to keep track of the printed version in real life too. I'd LOVE to have project-level management of documents. Almost every online suite I've tried fails this one. And it's not like you can just find a DMS and pop your documents into it, because then you've suddenly lost the convenience of accessing your documents at the OLOS site from anywhere.

There are other online suites that have their brilliant facets - and then a string of missing stuff. Like, GREAT online WYSIWYG editing. But no calendar, scheduler, notes or to-do. Or really nice intuitive document handling, but an editor that makes you long for edlin. Others format and print my documents really quite acceptably - but woe betide I try and take a copy for download and use in some PC-based editor.

Almost all of them also have commercialitis, they are either free and thus tell you not to expect too much in the way of reliability, document security, and surviveability; or else they have those features and would like to charge you for them - but they don't have all the other requisites I've mentioned.

The best OLOS I've found so far, ZOHO, has almost every feature I want. A whole swag of handy tools like a Wiki for collaborative notes, calendar/scheduler/to-do, notebook integrated with browser, and more. But try and just create a single project with each of these components integrated, or get the format on screen to look like the format that ends up printed...

Google Documents is GREAT for importing and exporting various formats, and surprisingly even preserving some of the features across those formats. (If you've ever craefully crafted a spreadsheet in Star Office and then tried to export it to Excel you'll know what I mean here. Dammit, it shouldn't be this hard to produce documents!)

But just try and equate what you see on the screen with what you will see in the Word document you export... Also, Gooogle Docs has no real integration with the rest of the suite of Google Apps or Google Groups or Picasa Web - they are solitary little islands of text and formatting with no way to connect my prize chapter to my editor's calendar. And as for Tasks or To-Do lists, forget it. I get around the limitation because the convenience of being able to export a PDF and attach that to email is tempting, but I'd rather not have to.

How about making YOUR online office suite more like a document and project management suite? With ability to create groups and teams for different tasks, provide a workflow path for the projects, and bulletproof security for the data?

Instead of labouring away to produce the perfect web interface, provide a PC based client instead? Or hooks into popular office packages so they can save their documents into your online DMS?

Yeah, that would be good - how about - instead of trying to develop in 500 lines of code an Ajax version of what has taken 150,000 lines of code and years to develop already - you just stop re-inventing the wheel and concentrate on the strengths that Internet-enabled documents have?

There are dozens of things an online office suite could do to get my vote and become The Last App I'll Ever Need. How about using OpenID so that my collaborators don't need to go through the rigmarole of joining yet another online network? A simple download and address I can give those collabs so that they can access the documents with their OpenID and not have to worry so much about learning a new set of procedures and applications?

That's the problem - every OLOS developer thinks that their userbase will ALL make the switch to their suite and become exclusive converts - but in truth and in fact, there will always be people with Macs and people with PCs and, increasingly, people with Blackberries and online PDAs and even Java enabled mobile phones, needing to get to documents that someone uploaded from their Wordperfect files of 20 years ago. Solve THAT babel and leave the design of document creation and editing software alone.

Here's a final thought: if, using your online document management suite, I could just put a plug-in into my OpenOffice suite and then access documents on your site AND on Google Docs and on ZOHO and everywhere else - and have the choice of where to save them back to and in what format - that would be worth paying for. The current offering are not.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Cyberbionic Critturs in your future?

just watching some robot clips over on YouTube and suddenly I have had this revelation, this epiphany moment, where you could see the large span in capabilities between these machines, even with the vast amounts of technology available to the builders.

The little guy doing flips and cartwheels shows what a bit of clever hardware with fast servos can do, and shows what the bigger robots will be capable of. It's a machine that applies balance and fast actions to a level, idealised surface.

The "doggie" robot shows what happens when you take software that teaches itself as it goes, but isn't particularly good with balance, yet recovers well from a non-ideal surface and remains shiny side up throughout the two exercises.

And the "kitchen robot" needs idealised surfaces, a painstakingly programmed representation of the objects it's using, and a program to perform the actions in sequence.

I'm watching these clips and it's almost irritating, it's embarassing, that so many different capabilities can't exist in the one robot, that it can't fluidly move within a non-ideal environment and deal with objects on an "as met" basis. It's very frustrating, and I realise that it's the same feeling I get when I watch some of the more prototypical animals out there, when I see an insect that can decimate any organic matter in its path - and it's stopped because of a few pieces of gravel in the path.

What these three (and other) videos represent are the "prototypical animals" of the robot species, the fusion creatures will be made from these, and they will be fast and balanced and precise in their actions. And they aren't far away now.

I keep harking back to nanotechnology one day being used to replace the systems of our bodies one molecule at a time, with "biggerbetterfastermore" materials. That once we replaced the neural systems of the body, we will be able to download a person from one enhanced body to another. And, given the feedback and task-performing capabilities of our brains, these will be very good work machines.

Additionally I have a vision/spatial awareness system for robots which would see a Cybionic that was as graceful as a ballerina, as deadly as a martial artist. A vision/spatial system that could augment our own abilities, and the abilities of any machines we've given some of our programming to.

So I'm watching today's robots knowing what they will be in another few years' time, and I'm impatient. Bring on the cyberbionics please!

Monday, 24 September 2007

Peaceful Pill? Snake Oil?

I am soooo in split mind about this. I'm one of the people who could benefit from this towards the end of my life, but ewww...

To begin with - it's still a dangerous process. Say what you like, it's likely to kill you if you make a mistake. Yes yes, that's the whole idea, but I doubt that while making it is when you want to go, with who knows what unpredictable results. Yes the aim is to die - but while you're able enough to perform a fairly sophisticated chemical experiment is probably not the time you were aiming for.

Then there's that whole thing about storing drugs - we know that even if you store some things under refrigeration, they change and become deadly, so why not the other way around? You store your Peaceful Pill in the freezer against the day you fee you need it, that day comes, you take the Pill - and the bloody thing cures you instead! (Or leaves you stuck in an even more painful state of some kind. Toss a coin, go on.)

And just calling something a "Peaceful Pill" doesn't make it so. Note the end disclaimer, that the result has "not been tested yet." Has anyone ever come back and said "Shit yeah, that was a piece of cake! Too easy..."??? And if someone did come back to say that, that would kind of void the Peaceful Pill Experiment, no?

Some scariness involved here, and a bit of creepiness, too. I don't want to die in misery, but I'm not sure I want to test my backyard chemistry lab ability to quite that extent, either.

I hear that there are several very good poisons in use by various three-letter-acronym organisations around the world that work much more positively, are (apparently) totally painless, and act within seconds. One in particular just unhooks your brain's neurons from one another - one microsecond, personality and memory, then next, gone. Make that available, it's already been "field tested.."

A country where the average age of the population is rising should be looking at research in these directions, and legislation to make euthanasia legal. We have such a funny attitude to death, we take people who are too mentally unstable or in too much pain or too old and infirm or too unhealthy, and we prolong and prolong their lives and place them in a situation where they must exist in misery. But let one group of old folks make a pill, and it's all "let's shred these pink monkeys!"

At least with voluntary euthanasia legislation in place, we'd save hundreds of thousands a year in care, money which could go to saving the lives of people who are in hospitals wanting very much to live but not able to do so because the resources to do so are being squandered keeping suicidal souls alive...

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Dawdlered for too long already

I saw this reference to on Twitter and I thought I should just...

Ummm... Errr.

Never mind...

Friday, 21 September 2007

Result of diesel-lubricated slide along bitumen road

That circular patch with "Ouchies!" written over it is on my left hip/buttock and is about five inches across. It's taken about seven hours after the accident so the redness has settled down a lot. So has the pain and the embarassment of coming a cropper... Well, I guess falling off was kind of not really my fault, one doesn't expect a river of slippery diesel fuel oil on the road.

I wonder - the driver couldn't have helped but realise they'd spilled a LOT of fuel on the road; and that it would be an environmental accident if it got down a storm drain; and that it was a danger to vehicles. Why then did they not report it and get the local council of fire brigade to clean it up? There's a lake on the other side of the road, an environmentally sensitive area.

And I was lucky not to have been run over by the following vehicle, if they had been a bit closer they would have run right over the top of me with no hope of stopping in time.

Diesel spill causes me personal pain in the butt.

Sorry - no pictures, I was a bit shaken up. Around midday today I had an appointment in Cannington and took advantage of the glorious weather by scootering there. Appointment over, I rewarded myself by going to A-Mart Sports and Bunnings off Albany Highway for a bit of a good poke around. Then headed back to Albany Highway via Carden St and Liege St, because it's in the right direction for home.

As I got to behind PVS Jobfind and around the corner, the wheels just kind of slid out from under the scooter without a hope of stopping it, and next moment I'm sliding along on my left butt cheek watching poor ScrappyV precede me, spinning in lazy little circles as we both ended in the middle of the road. Two things struck me at about the same moment - one, the road was VERY slippery, I seemed to just never slow down, and two, as I was sliding along there was a thin spray of diesel oil coming from my left butt cheek.

A third, unbidden and unwanted thing also struck me about then - skidding along on your arse in a pair of cargo pants presented NO protection from all the suddenly very impressively bumpy lumps in the bitumen and the friction was making things really really HOT! I currently have a third butt cheek, in the form of a swollen abrasion on my thigh.

So then I noticed that all of one side of the road was saturated in diesel fuel oil, for as far as I could see. Someone is going to be really pissed off at losing an easy 50 to 150 litres of fuel, at today's prices. Serves them right.

I got myself and the scooter off the road just in time, as a car came around that same corner and also got a bit of a wobble up as it hit the diesel with the left wheels, and had I still been on the road he couldn't have stopped in time to prevent an accident. I counted my lucky angels and rode along the footpath and the kerb. That fuel spill ran for over a block, around a roundabout, and right up to the lights at Albany Highway. A LOT of fuel, and if it had been on a major road, there would have been dozens of incidents and perhaps even loss of life.

I looked for the number of City of Canning in the book, found the office of the Member for Tangney and called them. Conversations proceeded a bit like this:
  • Tangney Representative? "Not our responsibility, but we'll call the Police."
  • Police? "Oh. Here's the number for the City of Canning"
  • CoC? "Umm okay will put you through to Engineering"
  • CoCE? "Might call the Police or the Fire Brigade, sounds like it's a traffic hazard"
And since I was the first person to inform them of the big spill, I've had nothing but calls back wanting to know my address and shoe size and everything else - but not one of them asked if I had a complaint I wanted to take up about my accident or if I was okay or not. As it turns out - sitting gingerly on a nice soft cushion - I am okay.

C'est la vie in WA...

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Zencookbook Has A New Home!

After countless dropped-out connections thanks to the total crap Telstra are allowed to serve up and call phone lines in a capital city, I've moved Zencookbook to a hosting service, and while I was at it also changed from the rather ordinary HTML only pages to a a CSS based and hopefully compliant format. That means that only the front page is there as yet, but that's a start... Rest of site is now just a matter of transferrinf text to the new framework.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Radio Rally Racers

Found this weekend outside Canning Vale Markets - these people go really reall hard, I was amazed how much air they get under these powerful little cars!

Take a look their website for the next fixtures. Definitely a fun watch for half an hour or so.

Friday, 14 September 2007

FWD Voicemail For Facebook - Great App!

Facebook got another new toy in the form of the FWD Voicemail application. According to the email I received, they are integrating it so that you can send and pick up Facebook messages from your FWD phone and this is in beta now. I haven't looked that deeply at it yet but have already received and sent an audio poke - the FB equivalent of the old "Hello World!" programming example.

The inteface is very nice looking and schmick, I love the player/recorder already. I expect to be using this as an alternative to laboriously typing in FB messages, and let's face it, you don't need to look your best or have good lighting to send a voice message. I think this has possibilities...

What can I say? The app installed easily, and is not difficult to use. Sound quality is excellent, and I was able to download an incoming message to my laptop no problems.

The folks at Free World Dialup are known for their innovation so I would keep an eye on this one - I'm sure a load of improvements and features will creep in over the next few months.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

It was a Steppenwolf moment.

Beginning of the week, (Tuesday when we had our one day of sun,) I had an appointment in town and, as per usual, rode the VMoto to the appointment. On the way back home, I was riding through the fairly new roundabout in Vic Park and because I was leaning the scooter way over, cafe racer style, and I was feeling pretty good, I launched into what I call song.

Unbeknownst to me, someone on a huge monster bike with cherry red paint and chrome all over it joined the roundabout just behind me and over took me as I was "singing." Here's a bit of a chronology:

  1. I hook left, right, left, at a screaming 60kmh.
  2. The Mood overtakes me and I launch into a rousing few bars of Steppenwolf.
  3. Just as I'm bellowing "Booorrrrnnnn toooo bee Mii-ii-iilld!" the snazzy bike overtakes me.
  4. The snazzy bike wobbles as the rider turns to look back and think "fark - did he just sing what I thought he did?"
  5. We both stop at the Mint St lights, side by side. I look over and there are tears streaming down Snazzy Bike Rider's face.
  6. The lights go green and since it's now beyond the point of worrying about dignity, I lay down into a streamlined racing position and "whhhrrrrrr!" my way outta there.
  7. Seeing no Snazzy Bike, I look back. Snazzy Bike Riber turned off on Mint St, still wobbling and laughing.
Oh well...

Funny Quote of the Day

G. Gordon Liddy - "Obviously crime pays, or there'd be no crime."

So... Why is there a government?

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

He Reminded Me Of A Cornered Rat

"never been one to back away from a fight" Howard's posturing on TV today was just so damn reminiscent of all the worst megalomaniacs dictators and misfits we've seen in the world.

He is actually scaring me now, with his grim tooth and claw cleaving to the position. What is such a man capable of, in order to enforce what he thinks is "right" upon us? I mean, even his own team feel that "it's time," - and here he is vowing to not listen to a word anyone, including them, (and therefore by extension, us,) has to say. Why would I vote to elect a dangerous megalomaniac like that?

There was also a good touch of Gollum in the performance, and a smidgen of good ole Joh Bjelke Peterson. Defiance dissonance and denial, more defiance.

And yeah, he reminded me of Ratatouille's less sophisticated cousins...

Monday, 10 September 2007

The right direction for Facebook apps!

I have a Facebook friend to thank for pointing me at this, and it could easily become my favourite application of facebook.

It lets you put webpages, videos - pretty much anything - into the dropbox for a friend or group of friends.

On the wishlist: That invites would work properly, that there was a browser link or add-on so I could "drop this now" and some way to drop to a Facebook group.

I've just manually invited a bunch of people to take part, and see if anyone has found an application that includes the bits missing from drop box. I'll also email their development people and see what happens...

It's still an application to keep an eye on.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

You Let Your Son Drive A Company Car?

No-one seems to have picked up on this yet. Katie Hodson-Thomas' government car is in impound. Because her son drove it at excessive speeds. I don't know what that says for her abilities as a parent, and quite frankly I don't care - she's employed as an MP and a spokesperson for tourism etc.

But I do know that if I ever had a company car and had let anyone else drive it and be spotted - let alone arrested and have the car confiscated - I'd be fired or disciplined severely.

This is not just a company car we're talking about here, but a company car paid by taxpayer funds and which we entrust to Katie to perform her duties as an MP and spokesperson. I don't think any of those duties involve giving the keys to her son, do you?

So my question is - what discipline will be meted to yet another politician caught rorting the system in yet another small way? Not forgetting that for each transgression we let slip through the cracks, the cracks will get bigger and bigger, the rorts more and more brazen, the abuse more and more open....

Friday, 7 September 2007

What did Twitter get?

What did Twitter get?

As the whole Twitterverse know, Twitter spent time in surgery and recovery yesterday, a two hour outage blowing out into "well here I am almost eight hours later and I still can't get anything except the maintenance screen" type of experience that saw thousands of people flock to the competing short messaging sites.

One positive thing I have to mention - that godawful twitter birdie was absent at all times, and about halfway through the outage we got a kitty back as the maintenance screen, even if not a lolkitty.

Negative things that I have to mention - what changes plz? There's a very obvious new random link in the top of the sidebar and "Explore Twitter" leads to a page with a 3rd party app heading the list, followed by all the other apps that people have written for Twitter. A reload still brings up a flurry of data requests from assets0, assets1, assets2, assets3, and it still takes four times as long to load as the original Twitter pages took.

The other link that randomly appears there, "Search Gmail Contacts," I'm sure will do as expected, but honestly, we've probably all already done that and this is a feature few people will need or care about.

Blah things that I have to mention - after all this time, the single biggest useability issue with the site has not been addressed: I mean, how bloody difficult would it have been to put a "newer - most recent - older" set of links at the top of the page?

Blahthing 2 - after a previous update, the contact list got out of alphabetical order, which renders it mostly useless for anything other than wasting page space. Selecting a particular person for a direct message is bloody near impossible if you have more than about 70 contacts, thereby removing a sizeable percentage of the usefulness of Twitter.

Blahthing 3 - upgrades that I KNOW hundreds of users have asked for - nothing. I'm talking about being able to group your contacts, and being able to segragate conversation into channels or groups.

Blahthing 5 - (because there are two in the paragraph above) the other long time useability issue that everyone has asked about that I know of, that of putting a meta refresh into the page so that it reloads every five minutes or so. How difficult is this, really?

Blahthing 6 - Twitter only has ONE set of servers? So they have to bring down production machines, install the new software, and cross their fingers? That's hardly professional, definitely not very inspiring. I could design a better mixed dev/prod environment than that, come on Twitter, at least look at virtual machines!

All in all it looks like the only thing Twitter garnered themselves out of this latest upgrade has been a lot of negativity, and while I like Twitter and still use it rather than their competitors, you have to wonder how many more times they can do things like this before people just don't come back after such a seemingly pointless hiccup.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

The scent of an asymptote.

Some years ago "the singularity" first passed into common useage, in fact Vernor Vinge is the person I credit with being the first person to bring the singularity concept to my attention with the linked article.

For those of you not up to speed, there is a geometric trend to the advancement of our knowledge and capabilities in all fields. For instance, Mendel first described the general principles of genetic inheritance back in 1865 or somewhere thereabouts, but it took almost 100 years for Crick, Watson, et al, to track that down to DNA - the "master plan" of life.

DNA is one of the most largest and most compact datasets we know, and it took the next 25 - 35 years to begin unravelling some of the more interesting parts of DNA and that in turn brough about quantum advances in medical technology that would be magical to Crick or Watson let alone Grigor Mendel.

In the last ten years, advances in the computing power of computers has made possible large scale decoding of DNA sequences and in fact the entire genomes of various species, a task that if started in Mendel's time and performed without the aid of computers would still be ongoing - for the first species...

Technology itself is described pretty well by Moore's Law, which says that the computing power of computers will double every two years. A corollary of which is that the same amount of computing power will cost half as much in that same period, and I would even amend Moore's Law to read that "the power, reach, and/or availability of our technology doubles every 18 months."

I read Engadget and other gadget blogs and I've noticed a trend - gadgets are being developed and released at a staggering rate. What was once a trickle of new devices released each week is now a steady stream, day in and day out.

From what I see, either the number of gadget blogs will have to increase exponentially to cover all the new gadgets, or we will soon not be able to keep track of all the new technology being released.

And if that's not a textbook example of singularity, I don't know what is... Halp halp! Gadjits be fluddin mah intarnets!

Monday, 3 September 2007

1 Tool For 7 Ways.

I'm going to expand and expound a bit on this lifehack article about 7 ways to recognise opportunity. And I'm going to simplify it, too. As it stands those seven rules can be simplified down, the tools (creative friends, contact, notebook, camera) can be reduced down to just one, maybe two.

One of the major points, made several times, is to write everything down. That's great advice for the steam age, as is carrying a notepad and camera with you everywhere. I always carry a camera in a spare pocket, don't you? And yeah - I carry a steno pad, because that's the smallest you can really go with a notebook and still get an idea to fit on one page rather than 3/4 filling a notebook with one idea, I have HUGE bottomless spare pockets, what do you mean you have a Hugo Boss?

First thing about the paraphenalia is that it's bulky bulky bulky. Second thing, specifically in regard to the notebook, is that eventually your notebook gets - yep, it gets full. And then you put it down and it ends up in the pile of paperwork you stick in a box and put in the garage and that's it - yep, those ideas are now as gone as if you'd never bothered to write them down.

With the camera - are we talking about a film camera here or a digital? Does Steve Olson think there are no such things as rolls of exposed film that get taken to the photo lab years after being taken, that get returned back with a sorrowful shake of the head? Or that there aren't hundreds of camera memory sticks out there that get silently erased and re-recorded without ever getting near a computer or printer? And then of course, those pictures are, yep, gone and will never tickle your memory to life again...

Getting a record of things is definitely important, I've lost track of how many times I get up in the morning and think to myself "that was a great idea for... for... ah bugger! Done it to myself again!" over some thing I had mapped out in my mind the previous evening and which is now gone for good.

Tell me what one tool do most of us have on us all the time, usually has a camera, usually has voice recording, and usually has some form of brief notes? Score bonus points for realising that you're probably sitting within a meter of your mobile phone as you read this!

If there is no voice recording facility, your carrier will generally provide a voicemail service - and there's no law against sending yourself a voicemail...

So if you're one of the lucky 80% of people with a mobile phone with the aforementioned facilities, then you're excused the half kilo steno pad and the battery-chewing "pocket" digital camera.

When you get an idea, record a voice note, or type in a text note if you can't speak right then. Take a picture and associate it with your thoughts. Use the phone - to call your creative friend(s) and discuss it with them.

And remember that now you're down to only four rules - much simpler to remember:

1. Record record record.
Just record anything unusual. Anytime, and where possible right there and then.
2. Contact Contact Contact.
Your friends and contacts are everything. They are your source of inspiration, your sounding board,your counterweight to overly buoyant optimism.
3. Everything is possible.
Nothing is too sacred or too stupid, nothing.
4. You can!
If nothing else, you should now realise that you can do this. You've reduced the extra equipment you need to carry from three extra items (pad, PEN, camera) to one item you already carry anyway. You've reduced the rules from seven down to four, and now that you realise it, you can throw away rule 4 so you've just reduced it down to three rules!

Oh - and I realise that stuff on a phone is just as likely to get recorded over, but at least instead of ending up in the garage in a box, you have all the information in one place. Besides, what with Bluetooth and all, I find it easier to copy stuff off my mobile than to find the card reader and empty the memory card of my pocket camera. At least you don't have to think too hard about where your notes are.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Multiculture + & -

Sometimes, we're a very open-minded and multicultural country, and I get all proud and choked-up about that, especially on Australia Day Skyshow where we see our European and American aircraft and helicopters, with an Australian flag printed in some Aussie shop on Korean cloth and dyed with Chinese dyes, illuminated with light globes that were probably made in India. The scents of a dozen countries' favourite perfumes wafts over, we eat satay sticks and cotton candy washed down with a Coke or Dr Peppers, find soft spring rolls and paratha side by side with cheese kranszky and bratwurst and pies and sausage rolls and pasties.

Kids are meanwhile running around waving little plastic Australian flags made in Hong Kong, attached to glow sticks that came from who knows where - little Asian and Indian and African and Arabic and Caucasian kids ranging in age from toddling right up to the elder and more pissed versions of themselves. And then the fireworks made with ancient Chinese techniques by cool multinational teams of firework builders are set up and launched expertly by pyrotechnicians using the latest software running on laptops assembled in China or somewhere similar using parts from all over. And our world is, for that brief beautiful half hour, united into one voice, one roar, one bellow of appreciation and awe after another.

But this article claims that that's it - that's where integration stops - when it comes to our phones, we want them to talk back in Australian English please! Actually I think we don't care about an Aussie accent, as long as it's an understandable one. I think the research article overthinks it a bit and attaches too much significance to the wrong things. I also think that whoever researched may have wanted us to sound a bit more parochial than we are, that there's some agenda in there.

Because, I'm wondering if they surveyed a true cross section of Australians or just our English-speaking European-descended white Australians. That would do it, but that is not the only section of our population, not by a long chalk these days. By not telling us exactly what groups that sample was composed of, I tend to disbelieve the whole study.

Some of our citizens have a lot of trouble understanding the Aussie accent and if a few of them were surveyed the survey might have come out differently indeed. Also, I doubt that anyone would like the thought of jobs going offshore, and that might be more of a contributing factor than "well, they talk funny!"...

What we could really do, if we really cared, and really really wanted to do something about it, is to have our help desks right here in Australia (what a radical thought!) and pay them what they're worth. And train them so that they could do a job that a villager in a third world country can already do. You know?