A journal of questionable quality

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Penultimate to the Mother

Last day before the Mother descends on this fair city from the Land of the Long White Cloud - New Zealand for them that don't know this side of the planet.

We're battened down and in visitor mode.

We're not - Yvonne probably is.

I have been using the impending arrival as an excuse to get my arse over to the park, two days already this week.  One - a late afternoon gale, requiring the Delta, made possible after a regular visit to the best Doctor in the World, my beloved Mary-Ellen, who stubbonly refuses to alter her existence by moving over to my side of town to make things easier for me.

Naturally, once over the river I had to continue on out to the bay.

And again today - excuse - Mums arrival, what else? Had to get a quick buggy in in case I don't have the time in the two weeks that Mum is here.

Ran in to the venerable Mr Bayley, the man who started this obssesion with power kites, managing to yell at him for no real reason other than I was feeling positivly shitty. I'm lucky I found someone to take it out on.

A resonable time was had - wind was a bit patchy, damn near tearing all the muscles in my neck out with the pressure of hanging on mid gust.

Web stuff - well, there's still the bot if you really feel the need to talk to someone. It is in the process of having a few more detailed topics added to it's brain to align it a bit more with common Southern Hemisphere stuff.

They will be uploaded in about a week.

Software - check out the new version of Apple's Shake 3.5 - for PC and Mac if you want to get into the high end of compositing and visual fx. This release cements it's position as a 'I want this thing real bad'. Love it. Love it bad.

If you want eye candy in bucket loads go here www.play-create.com which will manage to amaze you no matter what your skill level.

That's it time to chill - contact by IRC will be limited in the next two weeks - regulars know how to get me.



Saturday, July 24, 2004

impending Mother, amongst others..

Stand by for the arrival of the Mother.

Touchdown on this fair soil expected to be Thursday evening. Should be good to see her. It's been a few years now, what with her always so busy getting cancers removed, scans done, all the things that you don't need your Mother to go through.

She arrives in the Winter - she doesn't do heat anymore,  so July, August is the coldest we can offer.

Two weeks and she will be glad to see her own home again. Two days and she will probably be ready to go!

No plans, except for the mandatory trip to hippie heaven to see the much loved 'other Bruce' - we were down there only a month ago, but it's always good. Show Mum that he, like me, is still alive, a fact that she can report back to Bruce's Mother, 8o this year.

No other amusements planned, that I know of, Yvonne will no doubt fill me in on some I have forgotten. We have done all the 'world' things in years gone by - The Dreamworlds, Movieworlds, Seaworlds, all the stuff that everyone has to go to.
Fed the dolphin decades ago. Rode the roller coaster years ago. We're out of there.

She will be required, naturally, to sit spell bound, while I demonstrate my buggy proficiency - a dubious honour.

She will be required, naturally to travel, aboard the CityCat, through the city, out to Hamilton, my old area, where we will disembark, shuffle up to the restaurant there and proceed to eat ourselves to death - a tradition of sorts now.

I am looking forward to the break away from the screen - seems I have been spending too much time here, I start to lose touch with the real world.

Speaking of losing touch, the splash page of the Briskites site has been changed for a week - seemed like a good idea at the time. Check it. If it's the same you will know that Jason just managed to figure out how to upload a page.

In other pretension, go and have a look at www.mistyisland.tv - no one seems to be able to tell if this is for real or not. I was a bit keen on some of the visuals.

When you're bored with that go to Jon Burgerman and sooth your eyes.



Friday, July 23, 2004

a week of oddity...and Birdman

The skydiving mag arrived, in the middle of one of those 'down' days you have (well, I have), as it always does.

It seems to be able to devine when I might be having one of those moods, so presents itself in the mailbox to make me feel even more like 'poor little lazy man' who isn't allowed (self regulated) to maintain such past times. Something to make me feel even more sorry for myself.

Sorry for myself from a bad case of stretched muscles - in every part of my anatomy - a by product of launching the 8' Delta as a buggy kite in gale force winds. Seems I took my eye off the ball somewhere along the line, the kite got power, I was facing the wrong way, major reverse U turns while doggedly hanging on - probably due to the fact the straps were wrapped around my wrists forming a rather permanent bond - me to kite.

Soreness translates to sorry for self, magazine offers respite - especially when we see there may be a possibilty for having a Bird-Man wingsuit dealership - great idea - birdman stuff is taking off in skydiving in a big way.

More sorry for self when I find that there are enough Bird-Man dealers in Australia to sink a ship - scratch that idea.

Retaliated by hacking the splash page of BrisKites to turn it into some Designers Republic cryptic madness - what can I say? I was driven to it - Bird-Man made me do it. It features some sort of propaganda poster that I have collected somewhere along the way - I like it, which will mean the rest of the world should hate it - we're, after all, not into big design risks down here in downunder. 

Had a massive flaashback when a service station console operator was talking about his job. I did that for almost a year part time, until it was mentioned that the Fleet manager of a cab company should really not be spending his spare time working something as supposedly 'base' as a console operator.

I loved it - in fact the conversation about it invigorated me. I think it might be a bit of fun to see if there's any part time stuff around the area.

An easy way to check out good looking babes, and spend time sitting on your arse raking in cash for fuel sales.

You have to wonder - well, I have to wonder why such a miniscule thing could make my day / week.

Weekend back to normal again - cleaning contracts become my sole province with Yvonne tied up pandering to the kids. Suitable indeed - gives me time to think alone - more plans - more madness. Just like old times.



Tuesday, July 20, 2004

My kite - a luff monster !

So says the local guru of all things kiting related - Jason, founder, owner of BrisKites.

Seems the Ngen's performance today, in a wind pattern that had to be felt to be believed, left some things wanting when Jas tried it out as a engine for his Dirt Theory landboard - a skateboard gone feral if you ask me.

Here's me, proudly flying the Ngen, braving what I consider to be a gale force wind with a desire to kill me instantly by ripping me out of the buggy and throwing me on the four lane highway next to the park - there to be run over by at least 20 cars, over reacting everytime the thing powered up, hanging on for dear life.

There's Jason, in full control of a 6m JoJo full race kite, all harnessed up, blithely tearing down the park aboard the landboard, attaining speeds that I dream of.

Finishing each run down the park with a flourish by doing a serious jump to turn around. The hang time had to be seen to be believed.

Not only is my kite a 'luff monster', but I seem to remember something about it having the handling abilities of the Bismarck as well - hmmm, I sometimes think he may have a point.

Still, luff monster or not, it's still good to get out from behind / under (depending on my condition) the desk and get some fresh air and another dose of sunburn.

There is no denying the fact that the landboard is an impressive way to travel, and a bloody good thing to have if you don't feel the need to get a wet arse out on the water.

We had a good time (well, I did anyway), and everytime I go out I learn a bit more baout what it takes to control the buggy.

We're entering the time frame when we will need a new kite to add to the stable, giving me more flexibility when the winds are variable.

Think we might it a vote thing - email me with your choice for a new power kite. The most mentioned one will be added to the Zoetrope stable. No multiple voting or I'll track you down and kill you. 



Monday, July 19, 2004

Getting colder, staying inside...

Right, it appears it's now official - the Southern Hemisphere winter is underway - like it or not.

Snow in the Southern states makes for a great start to the skiing season and the wind blowing up from there makes for time spent inside dozing in front of the heater.

Semi/sub tropical - who are you kidding? Why do we have to go through this every year? Will someone please admit that it gets cold in Queensland 'the Sunshine State' so that sanity may reign?

One thing about contending with a gale force wind is the ability to attain insane speeds in the buggy - even if it is nipple weather.

Inside, hiding from the wind,  creates it's own enjoyment I must admit, with projects long forgotten suddenly back on the agenda,  anything to do with web work is ok - we are fully heated in the office, naturally..

Even the cat moves in with me for the duration.

The bot http://www.pandorabots.com/pandora/talk?botid=e33e8a53fe354fd5 is running.

Still needing miles of training though, still sounds and feels too American for me.  Any more of these winds and we will see the bot become a full time occupation.

I've been studying the interactive abilities of the average Australian male - not great at the best of time, but powerfully lacking when confronted with a bot.

The conversation logs (and my own observations) point to a serious lack of imagination and common sense when interacting with something like the bot.

They appear to be incapable of typing anything other than 'fuck off' to it, as a greeting, seems they lack even the basic stuff in conversation, like 'hello'.

Only thing I can put it down to is they are threatened by the idea of a bot - worried the thing will expect some intelligent input to be able to converse, and none too sure how to do that.

So much for the idea of adding one to ex Carol's brothel site - I'll let your imagination run with that thought.

Remember these are a species that get off by ringing a brothel and hanging up without saying anything, so you can see the thing would be wasted space for any average Brisbane punter.

What worries me is the thought they may get off just talking to the bot...

I think we may need one for the BrisKites site - kite specific, which would take far less time to train, just requires some sensible planning to get everything kite related to fit - don't need it running off calculating the land mass area of Greenland, or whatever it's best at, just need some basic stuff.

Other indoor projects - having got well over my love affair with animation software The-Tab, it's back to the much admired ToonBoom Sudio - back to getting the feel of the layout, the drawing method - the eventual output being a small animation, in Flash, for the hell of it.

Subject? None too sure - what about something about how Australians interact with a bot? It would have to generate a laugh wouldn't it?



Thursday, July 08, 2004

The bot, it's all about the bot

The bot makes it's debut - in two places.

There is a Flash driven version on the site www.users.bigpond.com/zoetrope101 and the bot people are nice enough to offer hosting on their server as well http://www.pandorabots.com/pandora/talk?botid=e33e8a53fe354fd5 which impresses me.

Bots and me have never coexisted too well, but we will keep an open mind (yeh, right) and see if this thing behaves any better.
The 'teaching' process - adding our own specific stuff gets a bit tiresome, and is going to be an ongoing thing, but the base knowledge of the thing is vast, far more than I realised. Ask it anything to do with history, celebrities, geography and it spits it out instantly. I must admit I am stunned that so many people went to so much trouble to make these things.

Never let it be said that I make no attempt to stay in touch with the world at large, for here is verifiable proof that I, or something representing me, can be accessed 24 hours a day now.

Go there. Pour your heart out to it. Tell it your innermost secrets, your wildest desires. Tell it stories that would make a mere mortal swoon with shock.

And then pause for a moment and feel bloody silly for talking to a bot. You fool.

The point is - are you talking to a bot? Or, are you talking to me, or someone else, disguised as a bot?

Should it matter?

I don't even remember what started the bot thing - that's a worry - but it's a good experiment, something new to play with, and, with effort, will turn into a useful 'chatter' for them who just have to have a say.

It's a panacea for all those twats who, knowing I don't answer phones, or talk on them if I can avoid it, have to do everything in their power to make me use a phone. Odd reaction, but that's what happens.

Go talk to the bot - pretend it's a phone if that helps you.

And remember - is it the bot you're talking to?



Heater cord blues.. and the bot.

You know you're having a bad day when you notice the plug for the heater that warms the office, the sanctum, the cave, has melted down and appears to be emitting smoke.

You know you're having a bad day when it takes 2 hours to replace the plug - due to some obvious changes in the way wires are colour coded over the last 25 years - the approximate age of the heater.

Seem to remember something about wires being colour coded in a new way - something about standardisation - a decade or two ago. Could have sworn I committed the changes to memory.

The not only made new colours, they appear to have tried to make changing plugs a bit more of a trial too.

Plenty of examples litter the garage - all the ends I have lopped off when in charge of the electric trimmer thing that we all seem to need. Wasn't really a good choice having something that needs plugging in - especially when I am liable to hack through it.

It was a good day - when the wind finally made a showing - an hour after I got there.

Home to more 'bot training' - the Zoetrope bot is live on the site, and available, unstyled at present because I haven't had the time to put some 'sparkle' on the page - here.

It's coming along - a project within a project. I think we may have to have a product specific one to take care of customer queries at BrisKites perhaps. The original project was to add some voice ability to the 'special operations' thing - using a modified version of MS Agent - or something similar - even Text to Speech would be ok.

Next project - who knows - still looking at a major Flash installation, combining Flash, Toon Boom Studio and After Effects.
Clean up the Zoetrope site - don't think so - the thing is too big to simply revamp - needs a complete rebuild.

Suppose I could do that on the side.. between buggy trips, between projects..

I suppose the black wire really does go to the right hand side pin - doesn't it?



Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Software demands - I don't think so!!

Finished roadtesting The-Tab, the 2d animation gear I had been looking at. From the Italian family - Toonz.

Major blot in their copy book when they released a new version Win 2000, XP only.

I don't believe software needs to be operating system specific, and refuse to be told by a mere software author that I should change my operating system just to accommodate his programming.

Another major blot when you find that there are now three versions to chose from, the only real choice being the 'pro' version because it is the only one with the features you were waiting for anyway.

Goodbye The-Tab, welcome back to Toon Boom Studio the one I had been using.

Trying to remember why I decided on trying something else when this piece of gear is really the ducks nuts.

It does everything the aspiring animator needs, and then more. I had forgotten I loved it. Toon Boom is a little brother of the mighty USAnimation - a giant out there in 2d land, so it's heritage is brilliant.

Expect, as I keep saying, some sort of 'short' out of the Zoetrope stable one day - just as soon as I have taught the bot to have a conversation.

All I have to do now is forget I spent the last month learning a proram that would be of no use to me.



Friday, July 02, 2004

July begins, Carla leaves, and a new bot.

Friday, midway through the school holidays, all is well.

After a more than average Tuesday attempt at getting some wind to fill the kite enough to pull me around the place, I had been hanging out for today... last chance before the weekend with workk and 'homely' things.

Also had to meet beloved Carla over at the park - close to her home, and an easy place to find me.

Turns out she is quitting her marriage of 7 years, selling up, and moving back to the Mother country - New Zealand.

Soon to be ex husband Ted seems to be ok with the plan, not that there is a lot of room for negotiation anyway by the sound of it.

We go back a long way Carla and I - a long way.

Back to the days of Patrica (Carla's auntie) and little Judy, all living, sometimes, in the same place.

Carla and I were born on the same day - just many years apart, so we have a natural affinity.

More on that at another time....

The rest of the news pales in comparison, but what can you do?

We have a bot doing some training on the site - find him from the main menu. Go and have a chat and see if the thing needs more personality.

I think I'll just contemplate the affinity thing a bit .... wonderful memories ....



Thursday, July 01, 2004

Communication servers vs 9mm Glock or buggying and voice recording live

It's odd where the week can take you when you're not ready for it.

School holidays mean that the tiresome clutch of whiners are depleted, but not gone altogether, and naturally, the two that live here are still here, bitching at one another, demanding entertainment, the elder being too cool to do anything but lie on the couch.

Tuesday tried for wind out at the coast - got enough to buggy about a bit, but by mid afternoon sat, becalmed, in the center of the park, nothing happening.

Time better spent lurking around the net looking for a method, other than Flash Communication Server, to take incoming audio, record it, and allow it to be played back. More complicated than I thought. AudioBlogger started all this. Now I want to be able to do the same thing, only more, better, faster, stronger.

But, the difference is I have to be able to do it without access to CGI, Perl, or any form of database, such are the limitations of the present provider, who came free with the access. It's not an account you could use to do anything spectacular at all, and appears to reflect Telstra's attitude to all of their technology. Lucky we have a choice of providers.

In amongst this search, in the midst of chasing an auto responder script from somewhere, I did manage to fall across a community, a huge community, that deal with all things 'bot' related.

Behold, the new Zoetrope bot, available from the site menu. Go there and have a talk to it. Remember, it's still in the process of being trained, so don't expect it to remember your name...yet.

Naturally the bot has taken up the rest of my week - to date. We still have high hopes for a wind on Friday. Not that we mind having to sit it out - there is no wind, there is no anything, except the ever intrusive whine of the children, but I can block that out with a pair of headphones and some Pink Floyd.

Conducive to belting out TypePad entries (80 something days to go on the trial), Blogger entries (we like Blogger), Live Journal entries (never very sure what they are up to over there at Live Journal).

Time spent constructing a 'wish list' - something we didn't know about before - you can bet that will find it's way on to the site! Go there now and buy me expensive books and things, and I promise to be your friend.

That's how it works isn't it?

This week also saw the 'handover' of Iraq back to Iraq, so we are led to believe. Now, let's all sit about and watch as the USA begins the string pulling that they have renamed democracy. I don't know how the new Prez of Iraq must feel with the US's hand up his arse, making his head nod and his lips move. Not too well I don't think. I wonder what it feels like to be so loathsome that you are offered the job of running Iraq?

All it does for me - serves to remind me to keep my weapons licence's up to date, looks like another trip out to the range to fire some 9mm rounds through a user friendly Glock.