A journal of questionable quality

Friday, September 28, 2007

opera and video

Oh no, another video
And, just to finish off the technology week....

Am I the only one having trouble uploading videos through the 'add video' button? Or is it because our ISP is so terminally slothful that I don't have the speed?
The later I expect. Thanks for your help Telstra/BigPond. (The perils of having a monopoly)

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Speaking of Bulgakov

The Master and Margarita
the things you do
A continuation of the video post below.

Declaring resumption of reading Bulgakov's 'The Master and Margarita' the only possible cure to having interrupted it to knock over Bret Easton Ellis's 'Lunar Park', I remembered the Bulgakov map project.

Yes viewers, the map—only something a true obsessive would feel the need to do.

Such is the appeal of the mighty 'Master and Margarita'.

For them who have read it, and even them that haven't, a map of Moscow with the significant locations marked.

View Larger Map
It's a show off thing; look at what I can do with Google Maps.

Oh, and things got a bit confused when I decided to add a few locations from the wonderful Le Carre 'The Russia House'. Sort of a 'when in Moscow' thing.
Be in awe.

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Luna Park—kill me

Wherein the author pleads for the part of his life that was wasted reading the book to be returned.

Begin:not a review

End:not a review

And, before I forget—when I say a true story, I mean a real story, rather than a story based on real events.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

the week

report start  
School holidays next two weeks:suicide an option. Week total biking: 110klms, good effort we all say.Much messing with Nokia N73 does not produce next  socially significant  indy movie as they promised. What to do? Could it be operator error?More success scanning barcodes. Impressed. Many plans. Guerrilla barcode sticker campaign envisaged.  Standby large buildings.
report end

and another thing

the things you need

Herewith the codes mentioned in the prior post:

.. and not forgetting:

Just so ya know..

bar code and phones

finally bar codes arrive

The problem
Two years ago, maybe more, faced with the drama of trying to tap in to a mobile phone 'keyboard' all the characters necessary for a URL would have rendered the site almost inaccessible to a mobile / cell phone.

The solution
The solution then, and now, is to encapsulate the information in to one 'image' and be able to scan that in to the phone memory. Bar codes. Naturally.

Japanese phones got into them first with the QR Code, a format for that could hold a URL, phone number, mailto address, etc. Well used and opening a whole new set of opportunity for everyone - adverts could carry the complete URL and other details - scan it into your trusty phone, no typing, no drama, instant connection.

The possibilities are endless; think sticker art, viral info—barcodes of sites, barcodes with geo coordinates, the stuff of Geo caching, treasure hunts. We ran with these ideas all that time ago—probably well before anyone had a phone capable of scanning the codes in—certainly in our case anyway. Put stickers, laminated business cards, you name it, we stuck it somewhere. Directions to various Urbex sites, several URLs, all ours, information everywhere.

This is Brisbane, Australia, home of the suspicious. Virtually no one managed to figure what we were doing. (Even with instructions clearly added.) 
European phones came next. Shotcode, a round format, doing all the same things. Need a reader? Download one from your friendly Shotcode site—at least 220 different models covered. Last seen on advertising for Vodafone, Heineken, and many other big companies. 

Dragging the chain, naturally, the USA, where finally someone managed a code called Semacode, easy to create a code, easy to read a code. (Unfortunately the bugger wouldn't work on my phone—a Nokia N73)
Enter phone manufacturers: in the only case worth looking at - Nokia. Nokia caught the bug and even set up a site where people can download the software and create codes.  Amazing—where were you people two years ago?

The future
Now, with new phone available that support the barcode idea we have to do it all over again I guess. Maybe Brisbane has staggered into the future enough to be able to handle it, maybe not. We can only try. The possibilities are endless, as before, but this time we may manage a bigger audience. 

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

tyranny of distance

It's that time of the month
The part where we contact old friends. I don't have a lot of them. Growing up I figured I didn't need kids, and I could probably do without too many friends unloading on me too. Fact is, I moved around a lot, enjoying my own company.

Today is communication day.

First on the agenda—Jumbo the man. Up till last month I had him dead. We had sporadic contact throughout all the years I have been here in Australia - him in New Zealand and me visiting sometimes when I was back there. Last time I heard from him he had been diagnosed with MS.

Not good.

Never heard another thing from him. Figured he must have died and no one bothered to let me know. He lived in the North Island and everyone I know lived in the South Island. New Zealand is not a big place but distance is distance, and islands are islands. I really did think he had died. Last month he rang me. Not from the grave.
I really did think he had died.

Last month he rang me. Not from the grave. From right here in Brisbane. Two things I couldn't believe; I actually answered the phone, because I never do, and that he was on the other end. Here, alive.

Amazing. Caught up, swapped lives, brought everything up to the present. He's doing well. Had MS for 10 years and can stand up out of his wheelchair, such is the effort he puts into keeping mobile.

Reason for lack of communication? I sent a card, for some occasion, and mentioned that I don't do phones. He doesn't do writing. Impasse.

That was all. So, new plan: get over the phone thing and ring him now and then. Easy. Today I started—the initial consultation being sent in the form of a text message to his phone. It's a beginning. Innit?

Next victim
Tom, for want of an easy anglo name. Brother in arms. An old cab campaigner just like myself. We had a lot in common, a love of money being one. Tom is a Sikh. We go back a long way. We've been through a few issues and barreled gloriously out the other side, unscathed, to do it all over again. A book will be required to fill in the details.

He moved. Really moved. Back to India for a year or so, then on to Canada where he now resides.

Last week we managed to dispose of the last asset he had still in Australia, and in his mind the last reason I had for being here and not over there with him. Checking out the place. As we do. As we did.

We have a constant battle going on—involving me going there. The agenda I think is to go, and stay.

Anyway, once a month or so, depending on withdrawal symptoms, we have a day devoted to a wide array of telephonic's; cell to cell, Skype to cell, Skype to landline, and so it goes on. Swapping methods as reception fades in and out. An arduous process, especially if he is driving, as often happens. 

It's become a ritual. Today was the day.

I feel better for speaking to him. Still miss him though.

And so, Live Writer

it feels rather odd
Indeed, Microsoft have made such strenuous claims about the new Live Writer software that I have been compelled to try it myself.

the report
First thing you have to do is take a leap of faith and actually download the MSI for everything 'live' from Microsoft.
Second thing you do, if you're me, is remember to stop it installing everything, including, a toolbar app I think I saw, Live Messenger, Live Mail, something about family safety, and so on.

By the time you get to just downloading Live Writer it looks like you have forgotten it. The download and subsequent install seemed to be painless, even for me, Microsoft-phobe that I am. (I should mention I actually downloaded and installed new drivers for the mouse last night—major stuff for me.) 

That done—if you're me, you have to reboot just to make sure that bastard doesn't launch every time you start the machine. I'm a minimalist and loath things cranking up when I don't need them.

Curing that problem, we come to the bit where we have to test it—the bit we are doing right now—well, one of the ones we are doing right now... already had to have a small play, as you do.

The thing seems to do what it says on the box—write. And it seems to do it rather well. Fact is I can, and probably will, publish this post to any blog, so from here we will head to Wordpress and so on. Why I would publish the same thing on different blogs is a bit of a mystery as they are all fro different moods - well, they were until today.

All the insert things seem to work - images from this computer locally apparently get uploaded automatically; something we will try here:
If you see nothing assume the worst.

Insert also does the video thing, where you get to put the URL in, or you aim it at Soapbox, which is where you would have been uploading your video to if you were a Microsoft man. I'll just believe that it will work for now, I'm all videoed out right now. 

It does all sorts of things. Too many to mention because I would rather be shouting at the crazed friend in the wilds of Canada, and that's what I'm gonna do. 
end report 

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Just so you know

On a mission
A required link [ here ] for the map hookup with outside.in If you have no idea what I'm on about you are a sadly lacking individual and there is no future for you on this planet.
Will it work? How do I know? One must try, one must try.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Large Friday

because I can
1I blame the outbreak of large text on the great worry of our impending broadband throttle—because we have been bad and used too much internets. We are known heavy users of the internets, and as such, are regarded as deeply suspicious people.
Meanwhile, BigPond circles the doomed victim—looking for a chance to throttle the connection.
Kate McCann has Madeleine, we have BigPond. All of us have our crosses to bear. By the end of the day they will have their way with us. But, wait, our account rolls at midnite tomorrow—will we make it? These are the tensions and intrigues we have to bear.
Worse still 9/11 conspiracy theories continue to this day—was BigPond in on this too?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

BigPond / futility /broadband

in which our hero attempts to make sense of broadband speed and usage cap

"You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am."
Telstra. A name to make any phone user shudder. People have been run over running into the streets to avoid a Telstra 'customer service center'. Telstra have their own black hole to put people in when you ring about anything to do with your account.

I know these things to be true.

I have 'issues' with Telstra, more accurately 'BigPond' (who, in hell, would think that name up?), who are our ISP. The reason they are our ISP is because they have a virtual monopoly around these parts and we are waiting for someone, anyone to come and rescue us from them.

ISP is a bit strong for the role that Big Pond plays in our connection to the internet. ISP's usually manage some sort of service, sometimes, whereas BigPond manage to avoid all of that, altogether.

We had a broadband plan that was really dial up with skates on sometimes. We're not talking any great speed here.

It came with a 10Gb monthly limit, after which we would be slowed to dial up speed. It always felt like we had exceeded our limit all of the time.

We sometimes managed our limit—once I had figured out I should leave a half a dozen torrents running all day and night to get some serious downloading done.

Desperation. The need for speed. Any speed.

'Why don't you upgrade to the 'extreme' package—12Gb monthly, and much more speed?'

'Well, that's a compelling argument you have there son, just how fast can this mother travel?', says I.

'We're currently delivering download speeds in excess of 2500Kps off our servers', he says.

'Indeed, that is true speed, and I want me some of that', from me, infatuated with that sort of speed, 'the things we could do'.

But, let me be the first to tell you, oh yes, they can and indeed they do deliver such speed, off their own servers, I have observed it with my own eyes.

But, only off their own servers. Anywhere else and they won't look at you until you get under 100Kps. Most of the time we are under 100Kps, but by the time you get them to check it out, it has miraculously risen above 100Kps.

We don't suffer in silence. The only silence in this house is the one coming from the other machine as eldest son manages to chew through 1Gb of YouTube (I kid you not) a day. So bad we have to warn them off the bloody thing halfway through the month. Remember we have a 12Gb limit and then it's dial up speed. Even though half our 'Extreme' speed has been in the region of 64Kps anyway.

We really don't suffer in silence. We yell, they pacify to the point that they unleash the 'only off our servers' disclaimer. Then the speed goes up a bit for a few days. Not that I'm saying they can do these things because as we all know they can't even run the company correctly, so the chances of someone actually intervening at consumer level are nil, zilch, not possible.

I'm telling you this on the last 900Mb that we have to consume before the thing folds itself into a dial up speed.

I'm telling you this so you have a long hard look at who you will use as you ISP.

I'm telling you this because I have my mobile with 3/Hutchison now, the first move away from Telstra/BigPond, and they do what they say on the box-they supply a service. All our other mobiles will follow, as will our land line, in time. You don't want to look after us on broadband you don't really need our other communication accounts either, right?

Right about now we should be in the process of getting slowed down to 64Kps, punishment for using up a whole 12Gb. BigPond. Narrowband suppliers to the uninformed. Beware.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007


September 11th
We, here in the center of the world actually do the date the other way around. If the US was to adopt that there would be no foundation for all the theories surrounding the significance of the date.

It was big. The biggest thing I have ever seen. I watched the television all day; same thing, over and over again. Hard to believe. Still is.

Conspiracy theorists would have you believe that there was in fact no planes, anywhere, least of all inside any buildings; it was a plot by many people, for many reasons, and none of it makes sense.

The US is shitting today; never knowing what might happen on any anniversary. Could wake up to find a 747 parked in the roof of the White House, George's lips most definitely pursed, men with ear plugs leaping about talking into their sleeves. (What happens in summer? Do they ever get to wear short sleeve shirts, nuzzling into their armpits to send a message, doesn't sound right to me)

Spring / Fall
Meanwhile, back here on the safe side of the world, Spring is making a beautiful entrance. The wisteria that is slowly choking the lattice out the back door has burst into flower. A great sight. Some well timed rain has hastened the change of season, green abounds where a month ago all was brown, brown and dusty.

Almost makes me happy, but wait, no I can't be, I'm allergic to pollen and now the air will be filled with it - woe is me. (But of course, our hero remembers that they make drugs for allergies and drugs are good, and if he takes enough of them he won't even know it's spring—so all is good again.)

Delirious from cough mixture I think.

I don't get colds and flus, one of the reasons I keep away from people. Now I'm blown off my feet by some vicious bastard of a bug given to me, no doubt, by someone of dubious personal hygiene. Antibiotics required, and patience. I don't do patience.

First ride this week is only a warm up 12 klms - just to make sure the lungs are still working. Looking at the whole week to get back up to fitness again, all due to some sniveling citizen.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

not all is lost

"in life, only sudden decisions, leaps, or
jerks can lead to progress."

Stated Kierkegaard.

one (1)There are no sudden decisions when you are struck down by a virus that has set out to kill you.
Once it gets a hold on you there are no certainties anymore. Deep depression is the way to end the week. The way to end any week.I'm sure I take pills for that.
Medication. I'm medicated.
I'm medicated out of my fucking mind.
two (2)Apple are refunding iPhone owners some money because they have reduced the price of the second tranche. Too many people got pissed off. File under 'how not to make friends'
three (3) Delirious, I joined,in no particular order, Twango, (Recently acquired by Nokia as the next stage of taking over the electronic world), and StumbleUpon (something so intense that you are required to have a toolbar hanging off your browser to operate it—or, at least, to change passwords, because I've already tried.)I'm not much into extra bits hanging off my browser so we seem to be at an impasse already.

I joined other things too, but the codeine I have managed to ingest seems to have cleared my memory today.
four (4)I am royally fucked at the moment, early evening Friday; I have actual physical jobs over the weekend. A trauma. Interest factor - oh, about nil. Yvonne will be with me, we will manage, but I'd rather be in disease free mode for it.

I am not familiar with such sicknesses—a fortunate life has guided me around such banal maladies, save one or two. I never remember sickness once I am free of it; people that do I fear are inviting more of the same.

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Originally uploaded by cbvivi.
I'm stuck on it.

Very badly stuck on it.

Soccer will never be the same. Anyone fitting the same specifications as the image should contact me immediately.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

the week, the week

Ended the week with a whimper.
Lungs and throat have not kept up.

Doctor, a practical social visit to merely make sure my heart hadn't fallen out on the floor or exploded.
Now needing serious antibiotics to stave off some hideous infection that I really don't feel like having.
Now I'm there. Sighing theatrically, sounds like to me.
Coughing, mightily, in all directions.

I never get sick like normal people. I don't have the time, or, more importantly, the patience to get with the sighing, coughing, bedridden thing. Too much for me.

Now I'm there. Sighing theatrically, sounds like to me.
Coughing, mightily, in all directions.
Feeling dull, feeling pain, feeling drained.
How do people get these things every year and believe that it's normal?

No one needs this thing. It's slowing me down.
Five days of super, nuclear, 'killers' to fix me, to make me feel sick, to cause every other organ in my body to turn into jelly.

Lying down is not a good deal.
Seems that lurgies settle and create drama, sleeping has been on the basis of snatched snathches.
Waking up is spectacular, announced by coughing fits.

Five days is what we have.
Bowie said five years.
Five days and the world will be a better place.
She promised and I believe her..

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

no wind, rain

how the day flows
It was the day for the bike.
Yesterday set it to be.
A puncture had set yesterdays tone,
broke my flow of kilometers and calories burnt.
Caused me a headache I could blame,
rather than just needing codeine head signal.
Common enough on every other day of the week
after all.

The weather looked forlorn, desperately offering
the possibility of some rain for our drought.
Still gray clouds mean nothing here, we're
professionally immune to rain and committed
to the use of our alloted, commanded even,
140 liters a day.

The bike appeared willing.
Cursory check of tire pressure, a pre-ride ritual,
finds no lack of air, the possibility of insulating
me from the pavement for a reasonable amount
of travel is evident.

21 kilometers, weather still willing, but thinking,
tire, front, steering vague.
Observation includes a wider footprint, rubber to road.
Cause, undoubtedly air, the lack of it now.
I never put any in, how can it be gone?

Home, lightly, all the better to save air
Inspection confirms initial thought; same lack of
air as yesterday.

Bikeshop—look here at my wheel,
we learned how to remove it from the bike,
just the way you showed us
Admire our talent and explain the air loss.
We suspect a replay of yesterday, do you?

Agreed indeed tire scrutinized for egress of the required air.
Several places found, one containing glass,
a sure culprit.
Remove the sliver and replace the bladder,
in effect the tube.
Apply air yet again.
Presenting a sturdy piece of rolling stock.
To be applied to front of bike, enabling wheeled travel again.

Weather losing patience, gray turning charcoal, wind rising.
Ego lusts for another 20 kilometers,
'just to round out the day'.
Weather appears to be holding for me.

Of course weather can become tired of waiting
and it did. A very wet 20 extra kilometers.
But I managed to make the total and feel better
for it, although wet, and a touch cold.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

shampoo and other essentials

the science of hair care
Every second Sunday night it happens like this; home from contracting jobs, a day spent messing with cleaning chemicals that will send you blind in both of your heads, or simply cause your arms to rot off, top up these glorious mobile birth defect causing aids, clean out all the other shit from the weekend, and then for the biweekly head shave.

It's big. It's huge. Two weeks growth of hair are removed by me piloting electric clippers around my skull using a mirror for guidance. From one eighth of an inch long to stubble takes a long time. I have to do it from all angles least I miss some.

This is followed by a serious face shave and a wash down in the shower. Shampoo plays a very important role in this procedure. You have to shampoo your head, hair or not. You'll come to the same conclusion one day. Trust me.

You have not lived until you have shampooed stubble. And, you have to have the right shampoo. I use more shampoo than anyone in the house. I have to have Matrix shampoo. It has to be the right formula. It has to be 'fortifying'. Currently I'm using 'energizing', and it's not as good. I am an expert on shampoo. You want your hair to be as flat as a turd? Use 'smoothing'—it makes your hair faint from exertion.

We have a serious time in the quest for the right shampoo, made complicated by Matrix constantly changing the formulations of their products, probably at the request of people with hair. Bastards. They never take into account the needs of the average shaved head guy who needs his skull to be foamed clean. Clean and sparkling. People of no hair but with an almost pathological need for shampoo have rights too 'ya know. No animals may have been used in the testing of their product, but can they honestly say the needs of an obsessive compulsive, shaved head, clean freak have been met? I think not, I very much think not.

I'm about taking action. I'm for making a stand. I don't wear fur. It's too hot. Matrix you swines, you owe me, ever since you bastards quit production of my favorite 'normalising' shampoo I have been unbalanced, prone to paranoia, plotting the kidnap of a Matrix executive, demand my product back, for me, when I want it.

You've been warned. I peak on Sunday mights when I get in the shower. That's the time you need to be on the defensive.

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just add air

One day I'm going to..
learn exactly how to change a bike tyre. I've repaired punctures in almost every method of transport known to man, car, truck, trailer, larger truck, tractor, once even an aircraft, albeit a small one, but, as far as I can remember, never a bicycle.

Monday morning ride. Particularly important that I get some miles up as the weather is apparently to turn against me soon. Also trying minor adjustment to the seat and a major overhaul to the speedo thing, possibly even rendering it accurate for the first time in it's life. Big things.

Lap one and the speedo discrepancy of old is clearly evident; I'm already traveling faster and further; what can I do to claim the lost miles of the weeks before, other than a series of complex equations? It appears the computer thought the tyre was some 10 centimeters smaller than it actually is.

Nice day for a ride, every thing settling down rather well, weekend dramas fading away, sun on skin, air, all the requirements.

The 30 klm mark and all is well, although the steering is a bit vague on sharp bends. Rather badly so. An odd sensation. Most people would have diagnosed a flattening tyre by now but it takes me another corner before I realize I am out of air in the front , and looking at a walk home if I don't head that way right now.

Made it home by tackling one of the worst hills known to man, bloody thing goes on and on forever until I can turn back down to the home street.

Yvonne, chief tyre repairer arrives home just in time, but without the patience to repair a tyre. Bugger. Decision: remove wheel and tear off to the bike shop, sheepishly. Bad move. Brakes don't come apart the way I expected, bike wheel firmly in place. Consult bike manual, to no avail. Entire bike to shop.

Anyone that takes an entire bike to a repair shop to get a puncture fixed must be viewed with suspicion. We were. They fixed it, right then, that quickly, giving lessons as it happened. Tyre repair 101.

Wheel on, bike back, spare tubes purchased, along with a puncture kit. We are now equipped for serious rubber repairs.

I'm 8 klms short of my target for the day. It feels rather like 'coitus interruptus', only involving a bike. If that's possible. It's probably not.

Monday, therefore, was a rather gray day damn it.

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