A journal of questionable quality

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A jabbering 160 klm

Bruce=1, wildlife=0
Bad day for birdlife at the lake. Managed to run over one of the silly bloody things in masochistic pursuit of some sort of record for biking in temperatures more suited to maintaining the freshness of food.

For the week - already,, and finally - 160 klm. Bitching weather for it this week though. Constant, gusty, cold winds. Somehow they manage, by virtue of the lake layout, to present a headwind on every sector. The present total will do for the week.

The bird life has been looking at me with a bit more respect after the incident today - sort of a 'watch that guy, he doesn't give way' thing. Only on that side of the lake - they are the only ones that know I managed to off one of their slower members. Wait until the word gets around. Should keep them on their toes.

fanning's boat leaks
News just to hand.

OK, news gleaned from a video conversation last night - beamed out of downtown Mulllumbimby to us here in coldsville - Fanning, owner of previously mentioned boat, finds, much to his dismay that some lowlife has been at his boat, parked on it's trailer, and stolen the petrol tank.

In doing so they seem to have managed to rock the thing back and forward so much as to weaken a spot where the vessel sits on the rollers.

Result; boat to repair people, and procurement of another petrol tank now a necessity. Nice that sort of thing should happen in the supposed haven of all things good.

on video
This new video set up is excellent considering the camera is not right up there with Panavision quality. A delay occurs every now and then - ok, quite a bit of the time, and sometimes the thing locks up altogether, causing unscripted moments of hilarity (me and hilarity are mutually exclusive), but in the main it works well. Hell of a lot better than trying to get him on the phone.

A small visual problem in that I look like a dried beetroot with no hair, but sources tell me that in fact that the image is a faithful representation of the real me.


Should you feel the need to speak, grab your microphone and leave me a message at Odeo.

Friday, May 26, 2006

And the week..

the best of the outdoors
150 klm, again, in three days, this week. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. This time no punctures to disturb the flow.

Thursday and Friday - anything.

Catch up on some half completed stuff - mess with Jabber (explained below), note a few more locations for the weekend foray into YellowArrow and Flagr territory.

Video hookups with Fanning inform me his boat is a functioning unit now - complete with keel and things.

The interesting thing has been to observe the change in my own attitude after figuring that the boat thing can be done.

It's a good feeling.

I can see myself out on the bay, the whole place to myself - the reason for a small vessel - one that one person can operate. The obvious handicap of no bathroom (essential for obsessives) seems to have been overcome - mentally anyway. Amazing what the mind will do when it's on a good thing. The mere whisper of the unavailability of a toilet has been enough to make me stay away from many things.

All this rhetoric, I notice, while sitting indoors, window closed, heater on behind me.

A worrying trend. Where do they plug electric blankets in on those small boats? Or do we just wait for summer?

Meanwhile, is that really Jimmy Hoffa under that barn?

You feel the need to speak, grab your microphone and leave me a message at Odeo.

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Where was reality again?

inside / outside
What's happening here? We seem to have had a brush with reality. Not something that happens too often around here. There seems to be a formula; inside, internet, not reality - more like a worldwide version of Big Brother, played in real life. Outside, sunshine, real air, possible vitamin D, A, whatever, uptake.

I sometimes wonder if the people who feel most knowledgeable about the web are the very ones we should be protected from. Do they ever go outside?

This weeks web has involved a video conference link with the Southern based Fanning, so I may more often prompt him to organize his boat.

In a desperate race to find an alternative to MSN for this machine (don't ask, it's a Wilson thing) I lucked onto the Userland setup - more fully demonstrated here - which is simple enough for the likes of me to set up without great hassle.

The other way of getting around MSN, having already organized video, is to set up a 'one application does all' for the normal text messaging thing.

Enter Jabber. From within Jabber I can surveil MSN, Yahoo, and ICQ.

Yes, this can be done using Trillian, amongst many, but anything out there is too big, too full of itself, too convinced it is a world beater. Too wrapped up in itself. You ever notice that about software? Sometimes it seems to think it's the 'one', the only 'one'. Bring on the bloat.

Like the wonderful, unassuming IRC (AustNet, #zoetrope), the backbone of all messaging systems, Jabber simply does the job. Doesn't get complicated. Doesn't blind you with flashy icons, just gets the job done.

Fanning comes on MSN, or Hotmail, I know about it. Same with Gmail, and Googles Talk (based on Jabber). There's no escape.

Check it. I use, as a client, Psi, which I finally settled on after running the gauntlet of all the available clients out there. As of this morning I found there is also a IRC transport available, which just about covers the range.

Job done. Live video and audio. Messaging systems.

Which brings me to my question; With all the 'experts', 'gurus', and style police patrolling the web, and with the plethora of software available to connect to other people, are any of them taking a look out the window - the real world out there? I'm beginning to think that a lot of them are stuck behind a screen somewhere, scared to come out.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

the old man and the sea

the Hartley trailer sailer makes an appearance
Sunday, Mullumbimby, did all the cleaning jobs on Saturday together so we had the Sunday clear to get down there, catch up on what was happening, get home.
Historical note:
First Flagr sticker for Australia makes it's debut at the Mullumbimby turnoff sign, an occasion of gravity. Photographed the event to report to uncle Dave, Dr Flagr.
Arrived, new address, no need to check the street number, it has to be the place with the little 18' on a trailer outside, with Fanning standing in it.

He had mentioned he had got himself a boat now, what with being a capitalist and all now. The full kit - credit card, personal loan, you know the stuff.

A Hartley TS18 - probably the most popular budget boat around. Even I knew them - having researched vessels when I was trying to get myself schooled in the art of sailing.

He's done well. Needs some work here and there (him and the boat), but for all intents and purposes the thing is a runner. More so the boat than him.

(Assuming the drop down keel was working - arriving just in time to experience the joy of wrestling a huge hunk of plate steel into the vessel, down a slit, all without losing any part of my body. Apparently the keel had decided it didn't want to deploy on his last trip and he had done some savage alterations to it.)

an old salt, as I am
Fanning has considerable experience with things that travel the oceans. He used to crew fishing boats, prawn trawlers, all sorts of things, as a chef. He also managed at one time to own a 40' yacht, out of Dunedin, in lives gone by.

All I can claim is an afternoon of madness on a maxi that was competing in the weekly club race out of Mooloolabah, an afternoon that saw three other entries dismasted, and me with a new respect for yachts. And sea sick.

The Hartley is going to be the boat that I learn to sail on. That thing is something I could drag down to the bay and sail quite safely between here and the Gold Coast with that string of islands protecting me from the real sea. Perfect.

Being someone that doesn't do excitement - I am 'mono-emotive' - I still feel a rather warm glow at the thought that he is going to drive the thing up nearer Brisbane and put it in the water so that we can groove about on it.

So, the moral of the story is; I will now require people to prefix my name with 'captain', I may have to grow a beard to look more the part, and, the only things you are likely to hear about for some time will be my pontifications on the art (yet to be learnt) of sailing.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Cartography 101

google maps get real for Australasia
How cool is that. Google Maps now go to street level mapping for this side of the world.

Unfortunately I discovered this after spending a fair part of the day getting latitude /longitude off Google, putting them in Google Maps, using satellite view to locate the place, and then finding the same place on Flagr.

The change has been so dramatic I have even managed to Flagr my Mum's birthplace.

On maps, flags, stickers, I only managed one YellowArrow entry, proudly arrowing the poppy crop. Already drawing comments.

the outdoor week
150 klms over three days. Complete with head wind. Cold headwind.
That will do for the week - my legs are still burning.

Feeling good. Not entirely sure it's dong anything for me. The buggered knee is making it's status known - usually in the middle of the night - with a dull pain which feels like it's in the bone. Odd feeling.

They have a weed eating machine in the lake - looks like a World War 1 tank, with paddle wheels out the sides - big elevator arrangement in the front drags all the weed up.

I want to drive it.

It looks like a job for a mariner such as myself.

Dilemma - should I wait, continue riding my bike past 20 times a session, until the operator somehow 'divines' my amazing aptitude with his machinery, or should I actually stop and tell him I want to drive the thing? Bit hard to look keen in bike nicks, cleats and bike jersey. Bit hard to look serious in that get up - more like a mobile warning sign - something serious - avalanche ahead or something. He sees me coming he'll probably go for the shotgun. I'll preempt him, take my own shotgun. Dressed in biking gear, carrying a shotgun. I'll have to think on that a bit.

what caused it - the madness
AJAX. Simple as that. AJAX caused anything that is wrong with me. Let's refine that to: AJAX caused anything new that is wrong with me this week.

AJAX - go look it up yourself, I'm over it - is a buzzy name for conglomerations of various javascripts all coming together in one page load so that you get the seamless content trip - little boxes jump up, new content arrives - all without leaving the page. It may well bugger your browser back button, but there is an AJAX 'widget' for that too.

Google, my beloved behemoth, have happily supplied me with their SDK, which I think is downright generous of them. Runs under Java and compiles back out to javascript. The thing is I don't seem to have the intelligence to make it work for more than a minute or so.

We have another - less complicated thing from Adobe, which seems to consist of a bunch of examples which will do me - I must be able to cut and paste something out of all that.

Is AJAX good? Is it the next big thing? I don't think so - seems to be like DHTML on steroids, and the uses I have seen for it so far, while pretty, do tend to be easy to break. People will throw rocks at me for saying that.

Do I need it? Hell yes! I need bells and whistles, I always need bells and whistles.

Week End.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

If people disagree with you - nuke 'em

Forever willing to help.

Autumn arrives, thoughts turn to home.

the process
Chlorophyll gets to be a hard to find commodity at this time of the year, on this side of the planet. So, the leaves get without the stuff and start showing the other colours. Hence the red, brown, things like that. Hence the mood too I guess. Maybe I'm losing chlorophyll.

the effect
Thoughts, at this time of the year, invariably turn to home, my real home, New Zealand. Christchurch, New Zealand, with it's damp autumns, hideous winters with a temperature inversion that will kill anyone foolish enough to venture outside.

I hate the cold. I've always hated the cold.

Therein lies the paradox. Why do I bother to think at all of a place famous for it's bitching cold weather, rain, sleet, even snow if you get really unlucky?

I sometimes wonder if I have done my time here in the land of Aus. Having been here now longer than I've been anywhere, including New Zealand still doesn't seem to have made the place 'home'.

It might just be Brisbane - the semi tropical paradise with it's wickedly cold winters that does it. It has uncomfortable winters because no one ever believes there is a winter, until it arrives.

But, thoughts do wander to New Zealand. My avowed intention to learn to ski would be fulfilled there naturally. Some of the finest skiing in the world, a few hours drive from Christchurch.

The roaring fire is another drawcard. Not something you see a lot of here, for obvious reasons, I still adore a good fire - and a reason to have one.

And, when you do deal with cold on a constant basis you obviously make adjustments to your attire. Wool has always been a favourite.

Seems that each year, around this time, when Brisbane's insipid attempt at winter appears, I find myself thinking that maybe a real winter would be a damn good thing to have. A real winter in Christchurch, or, preferably somewhere locally rural.

Seriously good kite buggying beaches, always a predictable wind.

A selection of the finest scenery in the world.

My dear old Mum somewhat closer to hand - hopefully instructing me in the finer points of painting with stretched patience well evident.

A true rendition of autumn leaves from truly English trees.

The beauty of the Christchurch Botanical Gardens. Hagley Park in Spring, with the thousands of daffodils blooming straight out of the ground.

The amazing North Westerly foen that sweeps through the place, making everyone's hair stand on end, palpable excitement. Electric.

It's not looking good for Brisbane.

And, to top it off, I would be able to learn to sail, and the place is flat enough that I could ride all day if I felt the need.

But then, there is major buddy, true brother, who resides in Canada, another cold climate set up. What's happening with all this cold weather thinking?

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Cure the famine - eat an orphan.

I like to do my bit.

The Friday Post™

Radio Zoetrope speaks
The news today is arriving in two columns. The reason is because I can do it. The reason is because I had to prove I could do it. I had intended to make it nice and neat with DIV's, but Blogger resisted, and I have been forced to return to the old, weary, and not very Web2 (oh no - sinned again), tables. Bleech!!!

Celebrate Yvonne's birthday by letting her do all the housework. I am so good to that woman that I surprise myself sometimes.

The new barcode format for the next location campaign will almost certainly be Semacode. The reasons? Semacode stands a chance of being understood quicker than the other candidates. The reader seems to be able to be installed on more phones. You should now go there an download the correct reader for your phone.

Inconvenient that my own, A Razr V3 is in fact not supported.

Not to use this layout anymore unless I feel like punishing myself. Consider this test done, dusted. Div's from now on - it must be easier. Ever notice how Blogger kind of 'grudgingly lets you', while giving off a disapproving air? It's giving me the willies.
Where we're at with this thing is to be able to load external stuff - hopefully with the good old standby, the i-frame.

Consider this then proof of concept. Would you like chips with that?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

glorious high tech.. fading

Web 2 - ubiquitous computing
Last Friday I was over it. Today I'm still over it. Almost every site I am visiting is embellished with AJAX and the 'must have' gradient, or 'shiny' look.

It has helped make up my mind about how the new zoetrope will look. We hesitated, almost swayed, got damn close to adopting, the 'new look', but, in retaliation it will indeed morph into a user nightmare, a Flash based, obscure video menu, bitch of a thing that will fail any validation test. It's time. I'm over being good.

Now, all I have to do is lay the thing out - the hard bit because nothing seems to be coming to mind - and wack it together in Flash. Pleased that's over.

the upside to Web 2
Flagr - the application silly enough to encourage me to add 'flags' indicating places of interest, may collapse under the strain of my efforts. I am slowly managing to map out what is beginning to look like my entire life. Until last week I was unaware of the rather considerable life I seem to have managed.

We are about to embark on a (to use a bling word) 'mashup' of Yellowarrow and Flagr, a dual thing, crisscrossing the city - arrowing some places that we overlooked in Yellowarrow, photographing other locations mentioned in Flagr but not yet illustrated. Perhaps web 2 in action in an obscure way.

Do you want audio with that?
Audio experimentation continues. I know why I was never a rock star. There is no application out there that can help my voice. A major tangle involving Talkr, Odeo and Feedburner leaves the propagandafactory blog adorned with two more buttons. The theory is that Talkr (go there - look for 'propagandafactory') are reproducing the blog in audio - a serious implementation of what I geared up to do here, and still intend to continue with - text to voice - which gets around my voice.

Instead you get a stilted feminine voice doing the business for me. Much sweeter.

However - however, vanity may yet see the introduction of my voice.

Sad isn't it? You'd think I have no life.

Did you go to the Museum of Broken Relationships?

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

flat tyres will do that

you know you're being punished
When your bike gets a flat tyre the first ride after getting the previous one fixed with much drama and hype.

Conspiracy theories were in the air. I even became suspicious of the cat. Straight to the bike shop. We take the whole bike. I am a qualified mechanic, I've changed tyres, repaired punctures, everywhere, on every known type of vehicle, but I can't work out what to do with bikes. Seems way too complicated to me.

Other thing, being a bit on the obsessive side, if I don't manage to get the wheel back on in exactly the same position all hell would break loose. And, how would I be sure it was in the right position? That's what makes it a good idea to go to the bike shop.

120klm total
Managed, in between flat tyres, 120klm for the week. I know it's for the week because I'm over it for the week, spending today disillusioning myself with more shiny new 'start up', world beating companies. Application overload again.

Tomorrow I'll probably do the same thing too. Nothing beats repetition. But at least I won't be out there scaring the locals on my bike.

You feel the need to speak, grab your microphone and leave me a message at Odeo.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

however..an exception.

well, it may be new tech, but what can ya do?
Got a relationship you need to bury? Want to destroy everything that was part of it? Don't do that. You will live to regret it.

You need the Museum of Broken Relationships. The Museum is a place you can put all your pain - photos, emails, you can send in SMS messages. The Museum allots you space to store these things for any period you specify - 3 months, six months, whatever you think it will take.

The Museum also has 'real', tangible space as well - a shipping container in Zagreb, Croatia, which holds items that people have handed in.

That's all I'm telling you about it - you either need it or you don't.

Brilliant idea. Great site design.

Thanks to Pixelsurgeon (again - see below) for this. And, because, as I explained below, I am a total prick, I have to steal something else from the Pixelsurgeon collection of one liners - the final words on Blade Runner - a movie I loved, love, will always love: It's too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?

Again - sorry Mr Arber, Mr Rich. What can I say? I'm a Kiwi? I'm lower than shark shit? Airbag once called me an arsehat when I complimented him by suggesting I steal his entire site - does that help? Probably not, (Made me feel good for a week) I think he suffers from USA'ism. How about I promise I'll send my first born to you in the post instead?

You feel the need to speak, grab your microphone and leave me a message at Odeo.

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a day off, a week off

the perils of compulsion
I'm sick today. Really. It was a shit weekend and I'm sick today as well.

A hangover from an obsessive 'event' on Thursday as well - I got a flat tyre on my bike, just as I made up my mind to do 50 klms. I was at 40 klms. Once I have made up my mind anything else is unacceptable. It can be a real shit sometimes. Thursday it was.

Limped home, unable to deal with the fact that I would have to face a human being to get my tyre fixed (sometimes I go off the human race) - unable to deal with the fact that Yvonne developed a sudden aversion to bikes. Happens. Sometimes I see why people lose it - sometimes the small things do it.

The weekend was earmarked, tentatively, for us. Tentative because we never really know. Turned out tentative was a good thing. We weren't going to get the Saturday to ourselves anyway. Best I could do with it was to claim it for myself. Get out there by myself and relax. Forgot the bike drama. Time to myself sometimes does that. The worry is that time to myself will become more important that anything else. It's happened before. I simply never went home.

Sunday, back in public land, bike sorted by convincing self that humans are ok. We both did the bikeshop. It was easier. Didn't alter the fact that the weekend was fucked and it was suspiciously unimportant anymore.

Smart obsessives work around things. Wanted to get those lost kilometers back. I had a backup plan as well. Bike dead, snow, ice, death on the streets - off to the pool. Already set in head.

I'm sick today. I'm sick for no reason. Waited for some form of control of roiling stomach and made for the streets on the bike. I don't recommend biking when you don't feel good. Works for me - probably not for you. Dizzy on corners can be a problem. I know the track so well it doesn't really matter. I have probably calculated the angle the bike should be at midway through the corner.

Managed what I wanted. Made it home. I'm still sick. Gave myself the rest of the day off.

A day free of startups, free of secrets, free of arrows, free of flags, free of audio, video, barcodes and email.

I'm with Jason Arber, who in a recent opinion spot he did for Computer Arts, questions the hype surrounding Web 2.0 and the sudden explosion of 'creative notions bootstrapping off each other and in to the wider world'
(©Jason Arber www.pixelsurgeon.com - used totally without permission because I'm a prick.)

Some days I can take all the hype, some days I'm sick, so what I do is give myself the day off. A day off the new, the shining, the next big thing, a day to cruise along with the technology I'm happy with.

I spent an entire day on Friday checking new, shiny, world beating applications. I got application overload. I got disillusioned, and I got tired.

Maybe that's what made me sick?

Send me a message if you feel the need

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006


bloody seasons
Seem to me that the entire world changes as we slide into Autumn. The whole place looks sadder, or something.

Now, I notice it occurring in the world of the web to;
waning - the leaves are coming off
It's interesting to note the way the web, or web oriented entities rise and fade over time. I wonder if there is any way of measuring it?

Seems YellowArrow is waning at present - the number of posts has slowed to a trickle, the opposite of what I expected with the Northern Hemisphere summer coming up.

We have a communication disaster with it down here in Australia to - ever since the short number 'fell off' we have been unable to gauge interest. At least we know one keen young man gave it a go last night having run into one of our arrows while placing one of his own geocaches. He valiantly tried the SMS number, and, receiving nil response posted on YellowArrow which I thought showed considerable effort.

Lucky indeed that we can repurpose the arrows for our own ends.

On the subject of the timing of the web - here's the latest web design trend indicator.

waxing - is that blossom buds I see?
Incredibly, at the same time on the opposite coast of the US, a similar project, but this time involving Google Maps, is taking off. Flagr - mentioned before here, seems to be exploding.

I have spent considerable time logged on there while I build myself a bit of a presence, and it amazing to note the frequency of posts coming from all over the World.

In the last few days I have not only built myself a presence, I've just about logged my entire life - spanning across to New Zealand as well.

There is no requirement to add an arrow to the spot. A photo is good, and the application is set up to allow mobile images to be uploaded straight from the phone. Naturally that doesn't work in Australia - yet - but I simply upload an image from the PC. The cache of Yellow Arrow images has served us twice now.

Flagr will soon be defined in Australia, Brisbane at least, as they are sending over some stickers for us to promote it. Since these don't need to point to a specific location you will find them all over the place - trust me. Keep your eyes out, find a Flagr sticker location, contact me here using the comments. You never know what might happen to you.

Look for the logo above.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Autumn - blah!

How does this happen so often?
What is it with Autumn - do we get two of them a year or something? It seems like I was putting up with this joint pain, this cold, this discomfort, just the other day.

Has someone been messing with the calendar again?

I never know what to do with myself over the Autumn / Winter period - it actually gets very warm during the day but it dies off quickly in the afternoon.

A bloke never knows what to wear, and as a result the entire back seat of the car is covered in items of clothing (as much as an obsessive will allow to be covered I should say) that I 'might' need. Hell, there's even a pair of wetsuit pants - harking back, I think, to when I used to slide along the Sandgate beach at insane speed hanging on to the kite. That was until I knocked myself out and destroyed my knee by going up, not along.

could be a way through winter
The sudden cessation of buggying was only to break me in to the idea of biking regularly. The weight thing. It extended far too long. That's another disadvantage of obsession - locking on to one thing. Until it's dead. Buried. Buried deep. Concreted.

I was also going to use the time to redesign our real site. Didn't happen. Had so many designs, waiting for one to shine through like it always does, and it didn't.
The favorite seems to be some ultra complicated video compilation. Video menus, done badly, grunge. Easy to get of the little Canon.

Seemed like it might take a long time. Didn't want to deal with it until it was clear in the mind. I'll get there.

Time to get the buggy out again. Even Lady Doctor mentioned I was getting particularly weird and perhaps I should go play with my kites.

A quick check of the weather indicates that the prevailing wind will be from the South West, naturally. We know we like North East. Only 180 degrees the wrong way. We do however have a new location that should be immune to prevailing winds. Time to go check it out?

What is this thing that makes me feel odd when I am inside - do I really need that much vitamin D? Wouldn't it be OK to keep some skin on my ears and nose?

Apparently not. The biking makes for a (sore arse for one thing) good day.

Buggying as frequently as I was caused me to feel quite sublime. I thought it was the fumes of the sunscreen. The sea breeze perhaps? Pheromones drifing across the canal from the houses of rich people?

Seems it might have been simply the outdoors.

So, the winter then; turn it into an outdoor sport. Bike, buggy, swim when it really gets cold, but stay active. Least my blood thicken up and quit flowing.

Look for a power kite near you. Underneath it should be me.

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