Thursday, 29 May 2008

No Shit, Airlock!

Maybe the headline should have read "Space Station Disconvenienced" instead? Anyway - hopefully they'll get something to go on, if they can repack the shuttle.

The "bombs away" approach to disposing of the wastes is also a bit of a worry - has anyone else noticed a funny smell in the ozone layer?

Friday, 23 May 2008

Ha-i-ku, Badly.

I write haiku (badly) -
took years to work out
that haikouldn't.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

What's commendable, what's condemmable

Watch the clip. Hmmm. Yes a neat idea, that camp stretcher. Meh, not so impressed with the "room divider" attached to the bunk bed, after all, you just need a cardboard box, and if you were homeless you wouldn't have a Martha Stewart like compulsion to add floral wallpaper, because let's face it - homeless by choice people seem to prefer the rough look, and homeless by acccident people will get out of the homeless situation as fast as they can, and wasting time making prettyfied cardboard boxes is not in their best interest, getting out of the situation is.

The "pram canopy" attached to a bed I have no idea at all what purpose that serves other than to keep the sun from waking the sleeper, and that again leads to the "by choice" / "by accident" thing above where if you wanted to cease to be homeless you'd probably be better off not sleeping your days away..

But the camp stretcher idea, now THERE is a 100% total commitment to fuzzy logic! For a start - I just know that every homeless person will find themselves a deckchair, a spare bolt of material, and a bunch of glass fibre reinforcing hoops - aren't they found in every pile of rubbish in your city? Nah, mine neither... But the clincher which tells me that this is done by a bunch of people who have a limited frame of reference for thinking things through is this:

"...can easily be made with material and a sewing machine..."

And I suppose homeless peoples' first order of importance is to cart a sewing machine around with them, and an extension cord.. riiiiiiiiight... Yeah I never leave home without mine, even...

I was waiting for something at the end of the clip to tell me it was just a joke, but it seems they are serious about providing no help at all and making a virtue of it.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Kangaroo Court, Too.

The hugely beaten-up and over-hyped kangaroo cull. *sigh* What can I say?

I wish the poor bleeding heart nurturing caring activists would look at things from a slightly more realistic perspective. Every year in my growing up years, there would be a carload of tourists in the Northwest that had died, rolling their car to avoid kangaroos. As far as I'm concerned, if it comes down to one family losing their lives or 400 kangaroos being culled, hand me the rifle cos human life is precious.

I'd like for each of those protestors to have to drag one child's body out of a wrecked car along the roadside, and then tell me they still prefer to save the cute fluffy oversized bunnies.

I'd like for each of those protestors to go and see a decade of someone's hard work building up farm and grazing land, only to see it vanish under literally acres of kangaroos.

And I'm so glad they made total idiots of themselves distressing a pen full of kangaroos that were recovering after sedation following medical fertility treatments... In front of everyone in Australia, they showed themselves to be the ***wits I suspected they are.

They fight crime...

He's a sword-wielding amnesiac cat burglar haunted by memories of 'Nam. She's a mistrustful French-Canadian museum curator from aristocratic European stock. They fight crime!

Monday, 19 May 2008


Today I had a prick of a day - flu shot, blood sample for antibodies, blood sample for possible allergies, I feel like a pincushion.

Friday, 16 May 2008

The Acremaster Diplomat Strikes Again

President GW "Diplomat" Bush is in his second home, Israel. Or so he'd have you believe. According to this article, the man I consider the most unsuited to ever be in charge of anything larger than an Acremaster has been saying he will broker peace between Israel and Palestine and see all the Middle Eastern countries united and at peace.

Look, I don't know what he's on, but come on - the Middle Eastern bloc has inter-religious wars within factions of the same religion. Like they are going to go peacefully and obediently when told to do so by a leader of a different religion? As with all such things, you have to let that kind of tension burn itself out, while making sure the edges are damped down to prevent it spreading. About another, ohhhh - about another 2000 years should just about do it...

Lastly George - a word about diplomacy. If you set yourself up as "Israel's closest ally" then you're by definition the rest of the Middle East's "most detested enemy" - it's how factions and diplomacy work.

Just saying....

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Second Life gets Second Place

When Second Life goes down for the count, there's not a lot one can do. One's virtual life is just gone. As some of you know, I have an island in SL, and at some point when you do that, you realise you're spending way too much time online, but by then it's too late... hehehehe...

Those people who are in SL and WOW online and the other MMORPGs are a scouting party, a foretaste of what's to come. I know one person in SL who recently announced they were leaving because Real Life (RL) was making demands of them, we assumed a significant other had been applying a bit of pressure so we said goodbye to another person we'd gotten to know well, and moved on.

But a week later this person was back on. Apparently there's a draw to these VR worlds, a bit of an attraction. I could have told you that... %)

What this mainly makes me wonder though, is - what will happen when these VR sites become "homes" to some people. I can foresee when there will be a growing collection of people who can only live through VR (many people are disabled and use this as their primary therapy and social outlet) or even the first AI entities. Will this be the equivalent of the Cyclone in Burma, the tsunami in Banda Aceh?

Will such people have a right to sue the operator for breach of services? I'm waiting for the first person to succeed, because it's just a matter of time...

Sunday, 11 May 2008

The Long Dark Teatime Of Your Soul

There's no doubt about it. Some sites seem like a really weak idea when you read the first article, and you think to yourself "I've seen enough sites like this, I'll just forget that URL and not bother."

Then you read another article, and the pure awfulness starts to sink in. You realise that in some deep, Twilight-Zone-esque way, you *know* these people and have dealt with them yourself... if you want to know.

Filmaka - dark dark short film

When this happens, what do you do? The shadiest among us draw their shade closer, the ideas people want to know that recipe, and the Matrix sends out another Agent software.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Rabbits In Da Zoo. Not Monkeys.

One of the things which is always sad to watch, is a hidebound organisation trying to prevent the sun rising and setting without a signed release from the Secretary of The Manager For Sun Movements countersigned by the Officer For Resisting Changes. And it's even more sad that in this case I'm watching rigor mortis (or catatonia, it's always hard to tell those two apart in extreme cases) engulf two of my favourite things.

One is an little simulator (a "sim" in SL terminology) on a computing Grid called Second Life running a little island called ABC Island, the other is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation or "Aunty" as the national broadcaster is known to us.

At the moment there is a lot happening on those fronts, unfortunately it's not the ABC doing the running but a bunch of unconnected people (including, now, me...) who are all trying to achieve the same thing but with wildly different approaches. Here goes my approach...

ABC Island was one of the first places I landed in SL, due partly to my searching for sandboxes to build on. See, you don't automatically get your own land in SL, and letting anyone build just anywhere would be chaos and anarchy. So you need tokens in world to "buy" land and "pay" the monthly rates, and of course you generally get those tokens either by buying them or earning them.

Since everything in SL is made by someone, one way to get Lindens is to build something and trade it for Lindens. But in order to have something to build, you have to build it, and that would need you to own land - you see the problem here?

So sandboxes are a place almost every resident of SL visits at least once in their time inworld. I found a few dozen, and saw that one was Australian. The rest is history. (But see at the end of the article...)

Once I got to ABC Island's sandbox, I was struck by the multifaceted community of people there who socialised, exchanged tips, and generally made the place feel like home. And crikey! - there were a lot of Aussies on the island. Strange that...

But over time, things changed, and things stagnated. Displays that had been meant to be temporary and replaced by newer ones, were still there. Directions from on high (somewhere in the folds of Aunty's voluminous Skirt Of Authority) failed to materialise to change the exhibits and displays. And worse, it seems that someone almost brought the island to a halt by placing so many scripts and CPU chewing things that over night, the place turned from somewhere where one could move with relative ease, to a hell that any players of Quake or UT online would recognise, the dreaded vomit-inducing shuddering nauseating phenomenon known as lag.

I registered a complaint with the Friend Admins (for a huge "corporation" there seemed to be an extreme paucity of real ABC staff around) and they did their best to try and attract the attention of someone in Aunty's organisational chart with enough clout to get this investigated and fixed. It's now almost six months later and that person still hasn't been found.

With the irritation of the lag problems, and the hands-off approach taken by ABC staff who were supposed to be managing this asset, cracks began to appear and if you've read the two articles I've linked and followed the comments then you know exactly where this all stands as of about a few hours ago.

Most of the cohesive force that the Friend Admins represented has been lost to resignations of many of the people who (against the odds and against all the apathy and lack of support by the ABC) never the less managed to create a community and hold it together in the year that ABC Island has been running.

To see what has otherwise been a very progressive organisation wallowing and floundering in slo-mo has been enlightening and distressing. Rather than forge ahead and make changes, the people in charge have been sitting like rabbits caught in the headlights, hoping that by doing nothing, maybe they could avoid that most evil of evils, Change. I'd suggest to the upper management of the ABC that they need to put these rabbits back into safe hutches and find themselves a few new killer bunnies to take the job on.

Honestly - I have rarely seen any of the ABC administrative team who are supposedly managing the island in SL. In fact, I have to say that in eight months of being a daily visitor to SL, I have seen one of them, once. How is someone like that able to make a decision on anything related to SL? That would be like asking a deaf person to create radio commercials, a shipping clerk to manage a salvage dive.

So my thought and approach is that the ABC needs to find suitable people or train the existing ones appropriately. Either find people who take an active interest in inworld presence, or recruit your people from those who already are inworld, because what's there now is not optimal...

The sandbox isn't a zoo, and the monkeys aren't running it they are just over-running it. And I am now a regular at another sandbox, where there's less community but also a lot better management.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Death! By Blogging! With A Herri... *ahem*

Death by blogging! Overwerked jerks! OMG dont blog, leave news to the professionals!

The amount of pure schmitt-schtirring in this article is mind boggling, never mind blogging. It's not so much the good shit as pure.

"Some write for fun, but thousands write for Web publishers — as employees or as contractors — or have started their own online media outlets with profit in mind."

Yeah yeah. I write for Helium occasionally, also for several other pay per piece blogs, write on my own blogs, and keep up with a fairly full life in Second Life - which is blogging in 3D once you get a sim of your own. (Like my little island of Catsylvania...) The sim costs me $75/month, and the blogs, well none of them have gone over the point where a payment would be triggered. Big deal.

You want blogs, you support them. Click the damn links, follow a Google ad. It's that simple. It's like clapping someone on the shoulder and saying "good job!" One clap on the shoulder is just that - but if everyone does it, you end up with a concrete confidence boost for the blogger.

And bloggers - if you want to blog, don't expect to get paid for it. I only know a tiny handful of diarists of the last few centuries who got published. (And some of them, only posthumously. Don't let that be you...) You're keeping a diary. An extremely valuable (no doubt) and incisive (obviously) and relevant (of course) diary, but that's what a blog is. A diary.

And just as some people's musings turned into newspapers and magazines and books, so perhaps your blog might pupate and turn into a multimedia butterfly. But by then you're out of the territory of diaries and into the world of publishing. And I can't even begin to count the number of newspaper, magazine, and publishing people who have died of stress and/or one of the many other perils of their particular lines of work. And THEY had a whole organisation backing them.

So let's get it straight Mr MATT RICHTEL (his all-capitalisation, not mine...) of the New York Times - it's not *bloggers* who are dying of stress, they're your fellows in journalism and publishing. They are no longer a diarist sitting at their blog, they are journalists and publishers and editors. If it walks like a duck quacks like a duck and floats, it's a duck. And don't let it stress you too much...

Tetris the musical

Apparently I've never owned a game of Tetris that has sound, or I'd have recognised this theme.

And I can tell you Tetris has never interested me so I've definitely never pwned at it either...

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Social Networking Beggars

Here's something I've scrubbed friends out of my buddy lists, my Facebook, my social networking contats, and my life for: (Facebook notification in this case but it applies to a few other social ntworks as well)

"Xxxx Xxxxxx joined the group 'Social networking makes even more money for you. Too good to miss!' "

There's a good reason for the scrubbing you'll get if you hit me with one solicitation using one of these sites. One of my early longtime (and presumed until recently to be) friends joined this "social networks are your cash cow" things and since then all I ever get from him are "Xxxx Xxxxxx has just put new stuff their PayMeYouBastard site" and when I go there it's a thinly (or indeed not at all) veiled soliciting letter asking me to pay towards his "son's second tooth, putting on a pasteboard and sticking to the fridge" fund.

No longer fun. Or Iget told that "Xxxx Xxxxxx has published their new e-book, "Ripping Off Your Social Network For Profit And Profit!" and I'm supposed to make the book a self-fulfilling prophecy by paying for the damn thing. As a friend, you understand.

Things that strike me about all this are that 1)- Xxxx Xxxxxx doesn't actually send me that spam so he feels quite chuffed about it. When I say "please stop spamming me" I get told it's he way that site works.

2)- I also asked Xxxx Xxxxxx about that cargo cult attitude towards money.

"Don't you realise," I asked, "that this money has to come from *somewhere*? And in general since these sites target your friends, you're just taking money off people you claim are your friends?"

It was his answer though that convinced me there's just no way to proceed with these sites, no way that I could bring myself to use them. He said

"Well it's not like I make all the money off you, it's all my friends, little by little, that it all adds up."

In other words, he's prepared to screw all his friends "little by little" - and from there it's only a relatively small step to a full scale bend-over shafting...

I'd rather keep my friends I think.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Broke Toe Memory

Just remembering that in late 2004 I was just getting over a broken (as in, snapped almost clean off) toe and how easily the pin had come out despite all the horror stories people told me. What sticks most in my mind to this day is the plaster room tech's lousy job.

See, when I went into hopsital to have my toe sewn back on and the boken bone pinned, the surgeon's staff put a hasty old school plaster stabiliser on the calf and foot, to make sure things didn't move too much.

That plaster was comfortable, and as it was just plaster of paris and stuff and crumbling fast, I was looking forward to a lightweight fibreglass cast. So a week after I was discharged I was invited back to have my new cast.

The technician removed the old cast and made some disparaging remark, cleaned up the leg and foot, and started to lay up padding. I asked if it had to be quite so tight and he grunted but - yeah well, the padding would take up slack y'see and it would all come out fine, trust him.

It felt a bit different going home, I had this feeling my ankle wasn't quite straight, but then again I'd gone from a halfway around cast to fully enclosed so I wasn't too worried. Until that evening, when the ankle ached all the time and my toes were not quite the healthy colour I was used to.

By the next evening Iwas about ready to amputate. So that evening I sat down with a pair of garden secateurs and a lot of determination and chopped right down the left and right sides of the cast, a job that took me over an hour of straining and nicking myself and ouchies. But in the end I had the thing off, and you can't imagine the pins and needles I experienced.

Which was nothing compared to how my ankle felt when I tried to place it normally again. The cast had put my ankle about 1/2 an inch rolled-in at the bottom, and had I left the cast on for the whole five or six weeks I would have probably had a defect that would need surgery to cure.

So my question is: Why was that technician getting paid a good salary to make such a total botch-up of the cast? I'd actually said something to him and he ignored that. He was not a newbie, in fact he said he was several years in the job. Plaster room was NOT overworked (I waited two hours to get in and in that time they dealt with three other cases between two or three techs.

Spoke to my GP about it and demonstrated where my ankle (which was undamaged before the cast) had been placed and he agreed that a few weeks of that would have left me with long term problems.

I actually phoned that particular hospital and spoke to the technician and asked him if the surgeons paid him a spotter's fee fro bringing extra work their way, explained what had happened and how my ankle had amost fused after just two days. And he basically said get stuffd he knew better than me what that cats would do or not do. Anyhow - what I'm trying to say is not that I was right doing what I did - but if you ever have a medical procedure and something doesn't feel right then definitely make noise and get it attended to.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

How NOT to report a shark attack.

It ranks amongst my most disliked journalistic misrepresentations of the truth. Imprecise terminology that conveys an initial impression which is wildly different from what is actually going on. Case in point: "Authorities used baited hooks to catch sharks " - if you read the rest of that article, there is no mention of these authorities wading out into the surf in top hats and regalia muttering "Right! You have killed a man and I will bring you to justice, shark!"

In fact, a Naval COmmander issued an order, which was relayed down a chain of command to probably a seaman who did the actual hook and line setting. Even the headline is bullshit: "Mexico hunts sharks after attack" is NOT what has happened. The land itself hasn't risen up in a mighty protest against shark's inhumanity to man, nor has the entire population (not even a majority, unless the majority of Mexicans happen to be "authorities" who all hit the beach with fishing line and hooks in their hand, causing South America to tilt) risen up against the tyranny of the cruel sea.

Nope. Someone gave an order which was passed down several rungs of the command chain and then some poor sod got the job of catching a shark that can be suitably dragged through the town square behind that authority's horse. Or destroyer. Or whatever other fact the journalist forgot to actually report on.