A journal of questionable quality

Friday, June 30, 2006

The week of my discontent.

School holidays
Upon us again. Seems rather too soon. Yvonne has children in care over the holidays - it's the same as having them before and after school, but they're here for the bit in between as well.

The noise levels are stunning. They get taken out every day - somewhere that they can run about - but they all tend to miss the Playstation.

It is a blessing when the day ends and they all go back to where they came from. Yvonne, sensing an opportunity to be care provider of the year, and mum of the month, has naturally managed to invite one to stay for a few days as well. So much for the silence when they all go. They don't. I remain sure there are other ways to beatification. It's not hard to get the impression she cannot be without children.

the fitness thing
Grinds to a halt during the holidays. The bike is still ok - not many school children do anything as arduous as ride a bike. The weather, however, has managed to conspire against me - we have had a few damp days. Not rain as such, just damp. Damp enough to give me grief with traction.

Swimming was looking good for the wet days, but it appears the fitter of the species use this time in squad training. There is naturally a lack of lanes when that is happening.

what you do inside
Damp weather - no swimming. Back to the web. Back to the wholesomeness of software. I feel better already.

Nothing like an hour or two of crawling the web to get your juices going.

Investigations into Jabber continue, woven in with long bouts of video hook up with the mariner himself, Fanning.

The Jabber clients nearly always support 'transports', a method of cross connecting with the likes of MSN, IRC, and others. Spent a few days figuring the methodology of setting up 'rooms' and things. Seems I may need more tutoring on some of the protocols.

Veered off, as you do, into webcams again. Obviously. Not content with having direct contact I had been looking at putting a web cam on the site - all the better to bore people with, but investigations into the 'scene' show an amazing degree of sleeze, enough, in fact, to make me think there is little alternative purpose.

Once past the sleeze, it's apparently all about the software for the capture and upload of the images; and there exists an incredible collection, all promising, as all software does, to do everything for you.

Today we have been running several programs on the spare '98 beside me, the theory being, if it will run all day on a win98 system it must be able to handle an XP.

The pick of them, so far, is 'webcamXP' by an outfit called 'darkwet.net', which is enough to make a bloke want to try it.

It's hard not to notice that I am not a very good look on camera.

and more indoor fun
Torrents. Talked about before. Torrents are good fun. The rest is up to you. Use uTorrent, even I can use it.

Portable apps. The list grows. Now we have added a portable version of Nero. Handy for the times when you just can't live without a CD burner. Soon I will have an entire suite I can carry about with me.

That's the perils of school holidays and wet days.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Duplicitous machinery

I love the smell of duplicating fluid
You're probably all too young to remember the humble spirit duplicating machines that were in most schools around the time I was actually attending them.

Duplicating machines were a rather serious invention that managed, usually, to reproduce a document made prior to the event by typewriter, in a rather unusual shade of purple, and with a smell similar to methylated spirits. The exact sequence was to type the information onto a 'master' which was then attached to the printing drum. If there was any justice at all the master would lay some of itself onto a sheet of paper wound past the drum.

Most people remember the smell more than anything else - the logic being that sniffing deeply would stone you for the rest of the day. Unfortunately this was not true.

Why does this assume such importance as to be the subject of this very blog? Because I ran across a site, The Dead Media Project, which is devoted to such things.

The Dead Media Project has gone to all the trouble to document these things, and I just happen to have a hankering to get one of these old buggers going.

Nostalgia and stained clothing - what more can you ask for?

If you have one lurking around somewhere give me a shout.

School holidays start next week. The solution would be to sniff Ditto fluid until I change shape, till my brain spills out my ears.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The trouble with inactivity..

too much time on my hands
And, out of nowhere I decide we should have a monument of some description, aligned to the sun - we're talking Stonehenge here, or, more specifically the burial mound on Anglesey which I ran across while luxuriating in the wonder that is BBC World News. I am informed that it is aligned to catch the sun rising on the summer solstice.

Seemed like a good idea to me.

Yvonne won't let me build a burial mound in the back yard - not even when I explained it would be a major discovery in 5000 years or so. Looks like I'll have to a higher power.

If the people who maintain the lake down the road can commission a scrap iron dragon that sits in the lake and spouts water they can surely be talked in to a monument that will only be worth visiting in 5000 years.

This has naturally caused a flurry of activity on the internet while I go about the process of finding an easy way of finding when the sun is in the right place.

The idea is that I should set about designing a 'thing' that I imagine will be set in stone - lets say bronze should be cast into a rebate in the stone, and this bronze structure, cast into the stone, should somehow form some sort of aiming device. An aiming device which, at pre calculated times in the future, would allow the sun to indicate an exact place on.. something else.

This is why it is necessary to keep me busy with things that expend energy, like biking and swimming, the better to keep me from bouncing around and discovering ridiculous things that need planning / designing / huge money spent on them. I was not designed to be left in charge of my own mind.

I have long fancied the idea of a Krytos sculpture - complete with an encrypted message, but follow the link and you will find how many others pieces the artist has done.

Back to the sun, and it appears that many people have an interest in knowing the position of the sun at times in the future and past for there is a massive collection of software available promising to do everything I want it to do and more - naturally.

The requirements are, obviously, knowing the angle the sun is shining from, and knowing the azimuth, (yes, I do know what that is) then, the way I see it, all that 'the artist formerly known as Wilson' has to do is line the bugger up at the precalculated angles and wait for the time when it will reveal the rest of the installation.

If you're around in a few thousand years and at a loose end you might want to call in and see it when the time is right.

I only hope it's a fine day as we have yet to formulate something that will work without the sun.

You see what happens when I have to sit inside too long?

We are currently taking (large) donations for the construction of this piece - naturally.
You feel the need to speak, grab your microphone and leave me a message at Odeo.

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Still raining

One day of rain - I can handle that. The fact that my strict regime allows for no rain at all is able to be ignored for one day - especially if I manage to achieve something - but I don't know what to do with two days rain.

It's the bike. The bike and I are not good in the rain. We didn't do any biking yesterday, but this is another day - the rules say....

Then a blinding flash of inspiration; Swimming. That was what we were locked onto before we managed to swap it for biking. Swimming - something we are uniquely equipped for, having three pairs of Speedo's, serious goggles, serious everything a swimmer might need.

Saved, the day is livable again. No bike, but at a push I can can get my arse down to the pool and 'comply' with the self imposed edict to actually do something.

However, the serious looking graze on my knee, courtesy of a rather public fall off my bike (stopped - forgot the cleats) is still not recovered enough to survive in water for any real time, and images of the last 'hole in the leg' drama play in my brain. That time I simply ignored good advice and swam on, infecting the thing so bad I still have the scar. Then we are reminded we have just managed to get over blood poisoning in my arm.. no real need to go through that again.

Another day at home. I can handle that - even if it is against the 'obsessives manifesto'. I have plenty to play with.

That's the trouble
Too much to play with actually. It won't be a complete redesign of our site - I seem to have lost it a bit there. It won't be a complete redesign of anyone's site - last time I looked everyone owed me money so work on anything has been stopped until we get some common sense.

Still plenty of new apps to play with courtesy of portableapps.com, the supplier of all portable goodness. I'm using a portable version of Thunderbird locally on my machine - brilliant. Even more brilliant will be the fact that I can now travel with familiar applications that I use on a daily basis all loaded on a USB stick.

So, I can carry my own email client, and my own address book with me, along with a browser with all my bookmarks and AbiWord, a wonderful little word processor. No need to suffer the aguish of trying to make sense out of someone else's machine - just plug in the USB and on with business. How smart is that?

All I need now is some place to go where I may find a use for it. I am not inclined to go too many places, especially if there is a chance of other people being involved.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Rainy days

catch up time
The week has started with rain. We need rain more than anything right now - Brisbane has enacted some rather odd laws to save water, including only being able to water your garden by bucket, no hoses.

I am easily confused. A wet start to the week flies in the face of my avowed schedule: Biking Monday, Tuesday, and nearly always Wednesday for several hours, then home, shower, restart the day. Get the mail, find out what's blown up in the last 24 hours, get some project work done...

new club, new outlook
If it rains I am left without the plan. Doesn't matter, needed to go and check out an alternative pistol range with the collapse of the original outfit. Found what looks like a good one out this side of town, closer by far than the other one. No toll roads, no toll bridges.

The place looks ok, so I have a new membership. Pleased to see they stock a reasonable collection of rebuilt and second hand weapons including refurbished Beretta's from the Italian police. Looking at $450 for one of those - make a good IPSC starter, good heavy handful, unfortunately with a somewhat smaller magazine than the Glock, but that's a minor problem.

Membership arranged, Monday has then become a day which doesn't fit in the plan. Bugger, but at least I have cleaned up the thorny little problem of getting a new club which should keep the police off my back for this year at least.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006


vast doses of suspicious potions
I still think the cure was as bad as the problem.

'Are you allergic to anything?,' he asks, 'well, pretty much everything except opiates,' I explain. Nothing doing - I can tell that look.

Shuffles the conversation away from opiates, back to mundane stuff, some of which may have a chance of fixing me.

Penicillin just happens to make me sick. The way it goes; you get sick, you tell them what makes you sick, they prescribe it - in giant doses, you take it, you get sicker.

Blood poisoning. How can that be?

Who cares, the situation is under control, I am sick from the cure and back on the bike this week. Two days - 40 klm a day, that's plenty in my 'weakened condition'. Pathetic but true.

Tired. Probably the penicillin. Should be used to it by now. Winter and sickness collude to make me feel older, badder, perhaps even baddest.

Next week for the broken tooth. That will be a big day - my teeth are known for their inability to come out without a fight; Townsville, the '80s, tooth extracted at local hospital, staying overnight - in great secrecy - with the wonderful Patsy, bled through the pillow, into the mattress and onto the floor. Woke up with the pillow adhering to my face.

Not the way to maintain security. Great drama, not the least of which was the fact that I needed topping up with some fresh blood and a few more stitches in my mouth.

Should be OK this time - at least I don't have the worry of getting sprung in the wrong bed these days.

Once that is fixed can we please get back to a better mood, with heaps of new, impossible ideas? I'm tired of all this messing about.

One bright spot - the initial launch of the Fanning yacht, detailed here.
You feel the need to speak, grab your microphone and leave me a message at Odeo.

And, first came the list..

Starting a list seemed like a good idea..
Luckily I put it on Propagandafactory so I wouldn't have to stare at it too much.

To save me duplicating it, go here, if you really feel the need to know what's on the immediate 'to do' list.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Teeth and other seafaring things

First the teeth go.. then the boat
It must be the end. It feels like the end.

If it's not bad enough that I am still trying to die from whatever timewasting bloody thing that bit me with dirty teeth managed to pass into my beleaguered bloodstream, now my bloody teeth have decided to give up as well.

It's long overdue. Even I will have to admit that. My teeth are on a collision cause with Medicare.

This was a big one. Started small - normal scenario; dinner time, munching, casually, bang. Wildly feeling around mouth for whatever made that noise, knowing that it will not be good. Wanting it to be a rock from an unwashed vegetable, but knowing that it's not.

Finally found it - a perfectly good bit of human tooth. Mine.

More digging and, blam, out comes the rest of it. Shock, horror.. why does it look to small to be a whole tooth?

Of course, it wouldn't be that easy. It would have to have broke off at gum level, just low enough to make it a pain to for a dentist to get a pair of pliers on to the thing.

Suspiciously unconcerned. What's going on here then? Where is the usual panic? Where is the usual sinking feeling?

Seems the brilliant Dentist I have been going to (whenever a tooth breaks) has cured me of my fear. Amazing.

But, sooner or later it has to happen. I have to face the dentist and get the damn thing ripped out. Rest assured I will let everyone know just how brave I have been.

Fanning puts to sea
It's official. Fanning, resident mariner, has put to sea. The 18' Hartley has made it further than the boat trailer, and he's ecstatic about it. By extension then, so am I.

A video link today - as you can see we are proud of our video setup - confirmed the details after receiving an email - 'bin sailing - cool eh!!!' from him this morning.

Maybe it was the fact that he had put to sea that made the tooth thing ok. Some sort of subliminal thing happening.

So, it's done. It's been under sail. It performs, according to Fanning, well, real well.

All that's left then is to convince him that I am completely 'marinised' and ready to take to the water.

Hell, all I need is a complete change of clothes, a porta potty, a washing machine, television and net access. Can't be too hard.

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

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Free? How can that be?

portable applications - how to get well by doing nothing
It started with Gaim, a jabber client, which, so I was told, would run happily off a USB stick. It wouldn't on my machine, but managed to on the other one. Seemed no need to worry about it not running on mine - after all I would be using an embedded version if I was at home anyway, wouldn't I?

Then came AbiWord - an open source word processor I have been meaning to look at for some time. A self contained version; Portable AbiWord, complete at only 15Mb, runs well, saves into most any format I would need, and has a spell checker which I don't have because I refused to upgrade this thing to the complete version of Office.

If you settle for the pre installed 'Works' package with XP, you get punished by not getting a dictionary or spell checker, and things like that. Because you are bad.

Saves me cranking up the 'big gun'- InDesign - which makes even this machine grunt to launch it. It weighs in at 175Mb, a far cry from compact.

And, in the flurry of checking out the free and portable software, I ran across a port of the very popular OpenOffice.org suite which removes the need for anything to do with Microsoft's bloater 'Office'.

Find it at Portable OpenOffice.org if you feel the need to carry a complete office suite, word processor, spreadsheet, visualization package (think PowerPoint), calculator, and a 3D drawing app, all together on a USB stick. Handy if you're going someplace where they don't have what you want.

I will stick with AbiWord at the moment, meaning I have a word processor and an IM traveling with me all the time.

You can even get FireFox as a portable application - load it up their on your stick and you never have to deal with Internet Explorer again.

Bagged and tagged under:

crashed, burned, stopped..

how to slow down quickly
Sunday. Sunday evening. Bitten by something as I rummaged around in a box in the garage.

Bites from mysterious creatures don't make it on to my list of pleasures. I have visions of being bitten by a white tail spider (don't ask) and watching my limbs rot off.

Slowly. In agony.

Monday - painful arm overnight. Investigation shows a red spot down near my wrist. Biking - a tour of 50 klm expected, 60 klm managed. Legs wobbly. Pleased with self.

Arm getting redder. Could it be the recent excursion making my blood flow a bit quicker?

Tuesday - painful arm overnight. Manage 50 klm on bike, headwinds and lack of interest slow me. Arm redder than is normal unless you are a lobster.

Local doctor. A sign that things are not feeling good is when I visit a local doctor. No able bodied person would willingly take themselves of to a medical center where appointments are made so you can tell how late they are running. Inept, over booked, unpleasant. Compared to GLLD's (Good Looking Lady Doctor) method of being on time all the time.

Prognosis time. Blood poisoning. From an insect bite. Running rapidly, unchecked, up my arm.

Penicillin time. Large doses of it. Large doses of penicillin always make me sick. Dilemma - be sick from blood poisoning - be sick from penicillin. The choices I have to make. Medication wins.

Friday - today. A follow up visit to the medical center from hell. Running nicely late, as expected. Stay with the penicillin, add this ointment. Should manage to stain your clothes, but think of how much better you will feel. Hmmmm.

That was the week - how quickly they go now.

Thank you for the flowers and best wishes.
If you feel bad about not sending me flowers you can atone by sending me a voice message which I will ignore.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

IRC made simple.. sort of

This is what you do if you have no idea what you're doing, or you don't own mIRC, which you should anyway.

Opens a java applet in a pop up window. Can't get through? No one home? (you're looking for 'sabrepilot'), could be I'm offline. Make a time to chat by clicking here.
(change the [A] in the address to the correct symbol)
Can't dig it - don't have the mental capacity to manage it? Use this instead:
You feel the need to speak, grab your microphone and leave me a message at Odeo.

Winter software

things to do inside
It seems like a lot of posts on one day, but I have to confess I had them sitting as drafts and forgot about 'em. Bugger.

On matters of blog; comments, you may have noticed, have taken a major dive, all the way to zero usually. Too much spam, and too many fools caused me to moderate them. The trouble with that is that as moderator I don't see a lot of merit in any of them, so out they go. (Just in case you wondered what happened to your last comment.)

We road tested a couple of applications these last few days;

Luxology Modo
If you're into 3d programs you will know that the blokes who made LightWave, a wonderful piece of software, sold out and became Luxology. Luxology became the vehicle for their new project - Modo. Modo had good write ups and I have been rather keen to try it.

For the first day of winter we actually got to try Modo out. It drives as smooth as a babies arse - beautiful rendering, beautiful modeling. First thing I found is it doesn't have a text tool. Major bad. And, because I am stupid, I didn't notice for several hours that it lacks animation ability. Well, any that I could find.

Running out of time, with the license owner hovering, I must admit I didn't give it a decent workout, but found that it is a hell of a good renderer, same as LightWave.

It's off and gone now, but I can always console myself by cranking up the beautiful, the one and only Maya. What was I thinking? Why would anyone need anything else?

the absolutely necessary feed demon
Feed Demon, now owned by NewsGator, but designed and developed by the author of Top Style Pro, our main CSS application, Mr Nick Bradbury.

Feed Demon was listed in PC World's best 100 products of the year, describing it thus: "With FeedDemon's options, you're just a step shy of having news injected intravenously."

It's true. For a newsaholic such as I am Feed Demon brings everything I need (and everything I read) into one package. I crank up in the morning with news feeds from all over the world, just to make sure there is still a world.

No sense in getting going if we're the only people still alive on the planet...

on communication
It's been decided.


Jabber gives us Google Talk, Gmail chat, and plays nicely with most other things including ICQ and, naturally, IRC.

The jabber client of choice: Psi, the address: zoetrope@jabber.org, or zoetrope@jabber.org.au. Simple.

An alternative, on IRC, sometimes, we can be found at chat.plastic.com or #zoetrope on Austnet but don't expect too much.

Jabber - like I told you.

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

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First day of winter.

so, that's why it's cold
Winter is here. It got here before today, but we call this the first day of winter anyway. Have to start somewhere I suppose.

I'm not into the cold we get here. It's not supposed to be cold here if you read all the brochures. But it is. Sometimes it's very cold. Other times it's reasonably cold.

I know I vow to take up skiing everytime I see snow on the news, vowing the cold in the snow will be different to the cold here, and I still maintain that. Just.

You know, if you go outside and stand in the sun it's actually quite warm.

Inside the house with it's concrete floors is a different matter, it's cold all the time. Concrete is not good for winters. The cat and I live in here, heater on, rugged up, bitching about it all.

We have here, for our extreme discomfort, a Westerly wind that turns up on a daily basis - sometimes it doesn't go away at night, just so it can get us in the morning.

I would rate it as the worst thing that Brisbane has to offer.

Not only does it make it bloody cold, it's blowing the wrong way for any serious buggying. We may have a cure this year however, with the yet to be tested by me, recreation ground at Murrarie, where the banished kite club holds it's get togethers.

Should that park be a success I imagine the perils of winter will seem far less. A 6m JoJo in a westerly gale will definitely take your mind off being cold.

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Long ago
And far away, there existed a place called 'Suck', famous then for it's daily commentary, famous now for being merged with Feed Magazine and spawning Plastic.com, and promptly collapsing - signaling the end of the 'dot com' era. A very expensive end.

That had nothing to do with what I am here to tell you.

Do you have mIRC? If you do click here. If you don't I'm not sure what you're going to do - hang on, yes I do - no mIRC? Click here then.

Real chat is alive and well - see?

You don't have any idea what I'm talking about - do you? Neither do I - it was something to do with IRC, but I don't remember what.

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

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