A journal of questionable quality

Thursday, April 28, 2005

incentive vs rain

Biking began. Biking ceased. Rain. Me on a bike and rain nearly always ends with tears and the need for a new bike jersey, after the one I was wearing at the time gets seriously worn by being ground along the pavement.

What to do? All day aside for biking, maybe even a buggy blast on the new, vast oval discovered on the weekend.

Could risk certain trojan infestation by cruising porn sites. Boring.

Maybe track down a few more recordings of numbers stations.

Could continue on the Maya project, now that I have become a little more proficient in the use of this truly magnificent program. I'm so could at it now that I don't hyperventilate when I tell anyone who will listen that I am 'Maya savvy', an embarrassing habit I have fallen into.

Could gain some serious inspiration by cruising the Hillman Curtis site, as I often do. This guy is doing stuff with video and Flash that has to be seen to be believed.

Interviews with some of the greats, in all fields - the latest the great Milton Glasser, also typographic guru and designer Paula Scher, and many more, filmed by Hillman himself in most cases, with some of the cleanest editing I have seen.

Inspiration gained, appetite whetted, sent off an email demanding to know what sort of camera he is using for all this stuff. I figure I might as well ask. An interview on flashstreamworks.com, he did wasn't much help with that question, but it did confirm what I have been banging on about for the last year: video via Flash is the thing. Not the coming thing, the thing, the thing we should be doing. All corporate sites could do with a multi edit, multi angle Flash vid - explaining what they do, what the want... you all know the story, you just don't get it though.

Interactive, engaging, engrossing. What more is there?



Wednesday, April 27, 2005

biking begins..

Biking begins again.

A tentative 20klm trip around the suburb. Making sure everything is the same. Breaking in the new jersey.

Breaking in a pair of legs that have done little more than hold me up for the last month.
Breaking in the bike after a layoff, brakes still as dangerous as ever. One of these days I'm going to get me a brand new bike. A road bike. I'm over mountain bikes.

Fitness and weight loss, supposedly in earnest. Waistline measurement is the new way of checking out general health. Mine is too large. I'm still blaming the Tryptanol - might be good for the head, but it sure as hell doesn't do a thing for weight control.

Solution: trade pills for another strain, one that shouldn't cause weight gain, then get the existing weight off.
Swimming.
Biking.
Buggying. (unbelievably doesn't help with weight loss)
Wild sexual encounters with petite asian women. (no, no weight loss)

Looks like it's back to the things I was doing to total excess before I left for New Zealand.

Should be easy to remain motivated. A pending visit by the in-laws will see me well distracted, required to bike at least three hours a day, or swim, or just keep the hell out of the way.

Hmmm, no head pills and an in-law visit. Hope I have the new ones up and running before they get here, least we have blood splashed all over the house. I presume in-laws bleed don't they? They don't look like they do. I might get some stakes sharpened up ready.

Any incentive to get out of the house is good. In a perfect world the buggy would have caused enormous weight loss, indicating that I should continue to tear up and down beaches far and wide, but it didn't seem to happen.



Gus Wing dies.

Legendary skydiver, camera flyer, and mentor to many skydivers, Gus Wing, died skydiving on the 23rd of March. Gus collided with a plane while under canopy.

I have a photo by Gus Wing on the wall beside me. A skydiver standing on the aircraft wheel, hanging on to the strut, as the aircraft flies above the clouds.

It's there to remind me that I can. That's it - just that I can.

I had been in contact with Gus's wife Lydia about getting another copy. She had explained that Gus was deeply suspicious of email and things electronic, but would have a look through his massive collection to see if he could find it.

Gus Wing was an icon in the sport - known world wide for his flying and photographic abilities.

Skydiving will be less without him.



Monday, April 25, 2005

Prothiaden vs Internet Explorer

Firefox ready to install. A double click does it.
A double click gets rid of one of the more irksome areas of life, the dreaded crashing browser.

Prothiaden ready to take over, from Tryptanol, the delicate task of presenting me as less mad than I possibly am. Old style medication for an old style brain. The change should get rid of another irksome area of life - the inability to lose any weight.

Changing head pills is not as easy as a double click. Seems you don't just switch from one to the other. Nothing as simple as that.

The thing you have to do is gradually cut down on the originals, and, when they're done crank up the new ones.

Exactly what happens to your brain during this process is similar to Internet Explorer - you crash a lot.

Preferred method of getting around this bridging process? A great deal of physical activity. Enough to make you tired. Very tired.

The bike is standing by, ready.

Physical activity and a notebook. I need the notebook to keep track of ideas that seem to come from everywhere. On any subject. It gets distracting. That's one of the reasons why I take mad pills in the first place.

All that biking and swimming over January and February produced a weight loss of zero. Made me feel pretty damn good about myself but still produced a zero effect.

Forgot to take in to account the well documented effect that Tryptanol has on me - weight gain. It happened once before. When I lowered the dosage of the damn things and maintained the riding I lost 14 kgs, peaking out at a weight loss of 1kg to every 100 klm. I don't really know how much that is because I am so bloody old my brain got stuck in good old Pounds and Ounces.

So, the weight loss regime is stalled while I swap out of the current drug, into another of the same family, but with possibly less weight drama. Can't go around looking like a bloated beetroot forever.

The upside is that to counter the effects of dropping dosages, to get to the much sought 'tired' mood, will require the use of the bike. Use of bike will cause good mood, and good sleep, and, if all goes well, will be the loss leader for the new assault on the weight.

Meanwhile back at Internet Explorer the stage is set. Crash and I double click the install exe right next to your shortcut, simple as that, and you're replaced.

Strange that the thing hasn't crashed since I issued the threat.

Meanwhile, I have been consumed by number stations, pirate radio and suicide cults, but to save your brain I rammed it in to the propagandafactory blog.



Wednesday, April 20, 2005

and yet another day..

OK, another day passes.

Internet Explorer lives another day. This time I needed it to be working. A working Internet Explorer is about the only way you can track down and kill everything associated with the wondrous, all pervading - vipsearch - to use one of the many names the bastard uses while casually getting hold of IE and generally driving it anywhere but where you want it to go.

Doesn't matter how hard you try these little buggers keep coming back and getting at IE. IE loves it.

So, it had to survive another day while I did the 'search everywhere and remember to save the registry entries you delete in case the entire thing fails to start'.

Removed the 100's of registry entries, pulled them apart, tracked down the dll's that needed removing, searched anything to do with Microsoft products and removed any other references to odd URL's. Essentially did a slash and burn through the entire machine.

What I want to know is how does 'joe blow', the normal everyday user of a Microsoft product, get on. Does he spend the time rooting about in the hopelessly outmoded registry? Does he even have the time, let alone the knowledge?

Or does he throw himself on the mercy of the Microsoft help center - the 'let's begin by reinstalling everything you ever had', that everyone knows about but tries to avoid?

I'm lucky, all I had to do for the day was go buy another vacuum cleaner, something we use in the cleaning contracts, as well as $500 of vicious chemicals for the very same thing, buy a new biking jersey, and spend considerable time eyeing of a fine looking bike that may well have to be mine one day. That's my busy day.

What happens to people who really do get up in the morning, do a full days work, come home, eat, and want to spend an hour or two telling lies in a chatroom or looking up new and novel pornography sites? Where do they have the time, energy, and inclination to get rid of some hideous piece of badly coded shit that they managed to pick up on their way around the web.

No wonder IT support staff are so popular - that must be what they do all day. Mindless stuff.

Meantime I still get to spend the rest of the day disassembling a Windows installation to get rid of a bug that the replacement browser won't even think about interacting with, but that I have to get rid of 'just in case' the bloody thing does try to do something.

Internet Explorer indeed gets to live another day, but the time is coming, the time is most definitely coming...



Tuesday, April 19, 2005

another reprieve..

Internet Explorer gets another few days reprieve.

mindful of the well known Windows law that states if you attempt to install software designed to replace or enhance any Microsoft product on a Friday you will spend the entire weekend trying to get things going again, I left Firefox until Monday.

Monday just happened to be the day that I needed to get rid of a nasty trojan that kept popping up when I least expected it, something I had put up with for more than a week, so installs were out until we had done the Microsoft dance - dump system restore, scan, remove, scan again, remove again, enable system restore.

Not only this one needed doing but the family one had a few 'safe mode required' issues that I needed to track down and kill.

Naturally that took care of Monday. Also brought about the long forgotten install of a firewall for kiddies to hide behind, lessening the requirement to disassemble the bloody thing every few days.

Kids, I have decided, draw viri to them, viri, and malware. They must have a technique for doing it because, as much as I try, I cannot reap such a glorious crop of shit. Not even if I try hard.

Loosening the trojans grip on things seem to make IE run a bit better, but not well enough to gain it any real life. It still crashes. Well, it hasn't for a while, but it will, we all know it will.

Today was the day but the pressing need to have the site in white rather than dark grey took most of the day, having to add a background sound of recordings of number stations dragged it out more, and now we're here. Not here per sey' but lurking, waiting for an inbound communication to arrive.

Seems this late in the day the expected inbound may well not make an appearance - probably because of another Windows problem somewhere else. It has been known to happen.

Whether I get Firefox on today, or even this week is getting doubtful, shopping tomorrow, doctor Thursday, and back to the 'no installs' Friday again.

Are these weeks getting quicker as I get older? I still have some swimming and a quick shakedown ride on the bike planned. Where is it supposed to fit?



Friday, April 15, 2005

it's all about the numbers..

Number Stations. Simple as that. Number Stations.

They're what caused Internet Explorer to get at least another day of life, another day to get hopelessly tangled, crash, drag everything down with it...

Number Stations and the fact that the kids machine has been taken over by some incredibly virulent malware intent on slowing the thing down to a crawl. Scratch 2 hours out of my day while we try and figure just how Damien could have managed to let that many things get past him in such a short amount of time. Search bars, porn dialers, you name it 'dilbert' managed to get them all neatly installed and running.

Curing that left the unfortunate connection with Penelope Cruz - as you can imagine. Penelope Cruz came to mind when I was checking out some of the links the latest ad ware search bar offered - 'nude celebrities', naturally.

From Penelope Cruz we veer wildly to Vanilla Sky - her and Tom Cruise, although I never seem to see him, just her.

Vanilla Sky, and the soundtrack. The soundtrack that contains the person reading lists of numbers in the background whenever he gets into some serious headspins.

Which leads us to Number Stations. For the background in the soundtrack of Vanilla Sky contains recordings of Number Stations, so that's how we got there and not to the bit where we replace Internet Explorer (but don't uninstall it so it's forced to watch a superior browser go about it's job).

Got all that?

So, that's how it all happened.

So, remembering the Number Station thing caused me to wonder if it was still in vogue, and I'm here to tell you it is.

What it is, see, is radio stations all around the world are picked up broadcasting sequences of numbers, over and over. Some voices are female, some even children, but the common denominator is the broadcast it always in sequences of numbers.

Many have been recorded, in fact so many that a recording company made a 4 CD set which they market for people interested in such things. So far the interest has extended to the director of Vanilla Sky, and to Steven Spielberg, amongst others.

I'm not going to repeat this entry, it already exists at http://propagandafactory.blogspot.com, our ever so slightly twisted propaganda blog in all it's glory, complete with links to all the relevant places.

So, that's why Internet Explorer gets to live another day.

Just in case you wondered.



Thursday, April 14, 2005

goodbye IE, thanks for nothing

Some homecoming. Main machine has not been running over the time I was away telling New Zealanders how to run their country.

Cable modem and wireless hook left on for the other machines.

First day back at the keyboard and IE decides it has to crash. Repeatedly. Not always, just enough variance to get 'ya thinking.

Windows Explorer starts the same thing. Randomly. Anything that ends in Explorer and is a Microsoft product is failing. There have been no changes since I last cranked the thing. What is this that happens when you leave a Microsoft product alone? Does it fret? Are these crashes a sign that it missed me?

Naturally we have to try the 'restore' function. Successfully restore ourselves to just before I left the country. Almost had me convinced it was cured until all hell broke out and I couldn't get anything to work - this while trying to remain hooked to Microsoft.com to download any likely looking patch that might help. Any patch, that is, except the dreaded SP2.

Can't keep hooked long enough to read the details of all the patches available, can't even console myself with a local store of heavy porn, kept for looking at in these circumstances, (It works for me - you use whatever method rings your bells.) because the double click on any folder produces a fatal on the Windows Explorer.

Give up, just give up. Microsoft have rejected our advances. The last solution - the dreaded reinstall.

CD at the ready I am struck by the memory of constant raving, lashings of praise, all for the wonderful Firefox. Why did I not remember this sooner?

Download Firefox with a smile, reading rave reviews from where ever I can find them, all to bolster my belief that there is indeed another browser, a browser that works, a browser that is helpful..

Download complete. Just a few quick visits to make on what's left of IE before I consign the thing to the wreckers yard.

What is this? IE performing flawlessly, Win Explorer happily opening folders, all operating as if it were a different critter.

Where are we on this now? The wonderful Firefox is parked in the 'things to install on a good day' folder, and I'm still hanging off the Microsoft product.

It appears that just the download of Firefox forces IE to have to lift it's game. I don't remember any software that could do that.

I'm a Firefox convert before I even have the thing running. Stunning.

I want Firefox running on this machine - anything powerful enough to exert influence on a Microsoft product by merely existing on the same drive must be a thing of beauty and awe.

All I have to do now is get around the little thing I have where I consider installing new gear on Fridays to be about the same as stepping on cracks in the pavement.

Go there, to the links above, read what they have to say, read what others have to say, and then threaten your browser and see how quickly it looses the attitude.

Back 1 day and already doing the great Microsoft shuffle.

Welcome to the real world.



Wednesday, April 13, 2005

home, as such

Two weeks away in native New Zealand. Packed for an Arctic trip. Although it's advertised as being in the early throes of autumn you can never trust New Zealand weather.

It was the warmest I have found New Zealand for years, especially compared to the previous trip when I arrived in the middle of winter.

New Zealand is one of the prettiest places on the planet - even non Kiwis seem to think so. I tend to agree.

New Zealand is also where the people who pass as my family live. A Mother, a Sister, sister's remaining (the other daughter safely domiciled in Sydney) obnoxious and loud child, complete with child of her own.

The plan was to spend the time visiting old haunts, the places I grew up in, got schooled in, got laid in. Standard nostalgia trip. For Mum and I. Day trips, overnight trips, checking the place out.

Christchurch, Waikari, Hanmer, Ashburton, Hinds, Flemington, Longbeach, Timaru,then across the dividing alps, Hokitika, Greymouth, Runanga, places beyond. Checked out the skifields that proliferate the Arthurs pass region.

Observation: Ski fields with no snow do not look like ski fields. They look like hills with no snow.

Two weeks not swimming, not riding, local doctor consulted re refusal of leg to heal confirms a burgeoning ulcer, infected as well. All the better to have something to show people not seen for a decade.

It was great to see the place again, arriving, after a 3 hour flight from hell, on a cold rainy evening. Not the best first impression. An impression hastily revised the next morning bright, warm, and clear. Such is the changeable nature of the New Zealand weather. You regularly get to experience all seasons in one day, honing the art of layered clothing.

Observation: All cities look the same.

Two weeks of no internet, no e-anything. Hard to do in New Zealand with such a huge uptake of technology over there empowering everyone but my Mum to get connected. Technology - phones, net, satellite tv, all well advanced, more so in most cases than Australia.

Two weeks of great scenery, too much food, too little exercise, too much outlay. Two weeks of holiday from the cleaning, from the cat, from the rest of the family.

I wondered about the possibility of living there again. Yvonne was undecided when she and the boys went over last year. I have returned undecided. Cannot see a valid reason for living in a city. We do that already. If it were easy enough to make money while living away from the major cities I would be keen for a look, but there is not the population there to create the opportunities that we take for granted here.

Kite buggying would be a breeze, kite anything is practiced on a daily basis over there, Ashburton being the home of Peter Lynn Kites, the man who started to kite buggy revolution.

The kite surfing community is huge as well - how they handle the water temperature is beyond me, way beyond me, but they do, and they do in big numbers.

The two weeks is up. The observations catalogued for Yvonnes perusal, the bastardry of repacking to go home again, the goodbyes, the terminally boring bit at the airport: all done, New Zealand fading behind, Australia looming, holiday over, normality presiding.

Is it a place to live in? I think, conditionally, a possibility. But I couldn't do a probability on it. Maybe something to look at when the boys are old enough to look out for themselves. Assuming the place still exists.

In the meantime it's is really a beautiful place full of amazing adventures. And, for us here in the Southern Hemisphere, a place we can be with just a three hour plane ride.