Friday, 30 July 2004


The signalled pedestrian crossings here in Australia, for the most part, include an audible signal as well as the visual "Walk/Don't Walk" sign. We presume this is for blind people, but it could just as easily be a way to weed out those of us without higher-brain functions. I have come to this conclusion because we have been conditioned to start crossing the road when we hear the beeps - a Pavlovian response.

The problem comes when the same sound is heard at an intersection for a different direction, which usually means the traffic would run you over if you tried to cross then. I see many people start to take steps when they hear the signal for the wrong crossing, and I've even seen someone start on their way, then run the rest of the way across the road to avoid looking stupid. Personally, I don't think that plan was quite successful, even if he didn't get hurt in the attempt.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The safest bet is probably to recondition yourself to cross on the combination of audio and visual signals.
PPS - Or just close your eyes and trust to luck.

Thursday, 29 July 2004

Just like regular money, but it's ... uh ... fun!

Birch, Carrol and Coyle gift certificates and pre-purchased discount tickets are (for reasons best known to the money-grubbers themselves) not valid on Saturdays after 5pm. I could almost understand it for the discount ticket books, but arent gift vouchers supposed to be just like store-specific cash?

Their prices are also alarming. At Cineplex, the most you will pay for an adult ticket is $AUD7.90. That's absolute maximum - they get cheaper at certain times. At BCC, the only way to get into a movie for the same price is to gather up four hundred and ninety-nine of your closest friends, all with student concession cards, and buy your tickets in bulk. Then you get in for $AUD7.80. If you need adult tickets, it can't be done. The absolute minimum adult ticket price at BCC is $AUD9.00, and that's if you buy ten thousand tickets or more.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - For mentioning their name in this post, I owe BCC $AU 4.00.
PPS - This has been a community service announcement from one cheapskate to whoever is listening.

Wednesday, 28 July 2004

To Protect By Not Serving

While reading the latest P3P working draft I started thinking about online privacy and how it could be enforced by a browser. My first thought is that the browser could just keep a list of personal information that you want to be kept private (so that it's never sent in any outgoing packets at all) or that you want to be warned about.

It sounds simple enough, but there are always issues. Two that come to mind are a potentially significant performance hit as the browser scans outgoing packets for personal information, and the local storage of that data which may be vulnerable to cracks and exploits in another branch of the information privacy war. Though I doubt that the majority of the information would be of much use to scanners, email addresses would definitely be among the protected strings, and these are very highly prized by bots. One more possibility is the accidental blocking of legitimate packets that just happen to include blocked strings by accident - a false positive.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's an idea, all the same, even if it's one that could use some work.
PPS - It's probably small enough to be made as a browser plug-in.

Tuesday, 27 July 2004

I Dream of Zombie

It's not the best feeling to be outclassed by random street thugs in City of Heroes. Especially when they only attack you in passing. Just running through the city region of King's Row last night, I was beaten two or three times by some kind of zombie surgeons. Don't know their story yet, but when one is dealing with zombies, they rarely have complicated motives.

If I had any delusions of grandeur, I was certainly put in my place then. I think my character Dire Sun is getting moderately respectable, but I know there's plenty of room to improve yet.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I wonder how many characters players usually end up with?
PPS - I have plans for at least three.

Monday, 26 July 2004

Power Sniffle

I would have liked to stay home sick today. I do have a genuine cold, but it's hardly severe enough to prevent me from working. I'm breathing at about half capacity - my nostrils are taking turns at being blocked up.

Anyway, yesterday I started playing City of Heroes and had spent four hours before I knew it. It's been a while since I've lost my time sense to a game like that. My experience so far has been quite positive, though I've run out of empty enhancement slots in my inventory. I can't use them, can't throw them away, and I can't trade them fast enough. Even if I could, I'd be getting others that I can't use in return. I've really got to find this alleged shop where I can sell them.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - My first character is known as "Dire Sun".
PPS - I forget which server he's on.

Sunday, 25 July 2004

The Sunday Mok - Truth Therapy

On Sunday, I helped Tavia perform a skit at both morning and evening church services to promote Missions Weekend, the big event in the missionary committee calendar. Apparently, it went over quite well. I also registered to go on the Wintercamp early next month.
Monday was slow progress at work. I ran into a performance dead-end in my program. I noted that, in a way, I'll be glad when Big Brother is over for the year and I can have six more hours per week for games.
Tuesday I did a little bug hunting at work, which was good to break up the monotony. I also started designing a completely new user interface for my program, because the existing one is too slow and cumbersome to be useful. I wouldn't use it if I didn't have to, so I'm sure others will keep away, too.
Wednesday I continued tinkering with the new interface, taking the time to get it right. I don't really have that time to spare, so progress is slow. I saw I, Robot for free, thanks to Murrae and Stu, and loved it. It's not entirely true to the stories, but it should at least appeal to today's audiences.
Thursday I decided I should write a book. Specifically, a personal management and good-practice textbook for programmers. I think I've learned enough in two years of real-world work to write some of it down.
On Friday, we took the youth group kids to see Shrek 2 in the city. Unfortunately for us, various factors combined to make it one of the most expensive things we've ever done with them. They paid only $5 each, and we spent just over $10 per kid.
Saturday was a huge night out, by my recent standards. I helped Kym celebrate her birthday at the Sit Down Comedy Club, starting at 7pm. After the show, we stayed around the pub until about midnight, then four of us went to the Elephant and Wheelbarrow to see cover band Blah Blah Blah. I got home at about 2:15am.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I seem to be functioning well enough on only a little sleep.
PPS - We'll see how well I'm doing later tonight.

Friday, 23 July 2004


My section leader forgetfully left his newspaper behind at my desk a few days ago. I was about to throw it out when I noticed the following headline:
Microsoft Wants To Shave Your Dog
I haven't read the article, because I prefer to let my imagination run wild, starting with a picture of Bill Gates, a pair of clippers and a maniacal grin.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I think I'll pin this particular nugget to my cubicle wall.
PPS - It should at least spark some conversations.

Thursday, 22 July 2004


I got a chance to see a preview screening of "I, Robot" last night. Of course, since today is the official opening day, it wasn't much of a preview. I enjoyed it more than I anticipated, because my hopes were low after seeing the trailer. It turns out that this movie is not the actionfest portrayed by the trailer - this one's all story. I heard a fellow previewer afterwards complaining that there was "too much story and not enough action". To me, that's absurd, because movies should be about story, and this one is.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - "You are the dumbest smart person I know".
PPS - The producers want you to buy Converse shoes.

Wednesday, 21 July 2004

Someone let a snake out in the grain

Perhaps an award for "Least observant music fan" - I honestly didn't realise that the Black Eyed Peas' song "Let's Get It Started" was just the clean radio edit of "Let's Get Retarded". In my defence, I hadn't heard them both - that would have really been bad. I'd heard the Started version and had heard my friends mention how awful Retarded was, but just didn't make the connection until Channel Ten started using Retarded over their promos for The OC.

As for the title of this post, I usually prefer to leave these references half-said. This one is a misquoted song lyric.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - You could call me a prude or whatever, but I prefer the clean edit.
PPS - Maybe I'm just biased towards the one I heard first.

Tuesday, 20 July 2004

Won't somebody think of the children?

Maybe I'm biased, but I consider human life more valuable than animal life. So, naturally, when I hear some woman on the radio complaining that a baby whale has drowned while trapped in a shark net, I get on edge. When she advocates that we remove the life-saving shark nets so that our marine wildlife will be safe, I stop listening.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The relative values of human life to animal life are not negotiable to me.
PPS - Just my 2c.

Monday, 19 July 2004

Programming the programmers

At some point in your life, you will probably need a computer programmer to do something, and you will need to be more specific than you think. Make sure that you say the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

If you make an assumption when telling a programmer what to do, you must, at the very least, tell the programmer that you have made an assumption. Consciously assuming, say, that report columns can be rearranged by the user, is a problem for the programmer, because we can't read minds. We can't read the documents you write to explain your requirements to us - how can we possibly glean extra information from your head?

The rule is this: if you think of a requirement that is obvious and need not be stated, write it down anyway. It's going to take you five seconds and save both of us at least a week of development time.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Our project is now one year late because of "obvious" unstated requirements.
PPS - We hates them.

Sunday, 18 July 2004

The Sunday Mok - 18 July 2004

Last Sunday I missed Ashalea's eviction from Big Brother because I forgot to check how long the double eviction would run. This upset me a bit, because Ashalea was my favourite of the remaining housemates. I also thought that it's not fair for someone (not saying who) to be so great, still single, close by and completely uninterested.
On Monday I felt like I achieved very little at work. I should have taken a longer break back when I could, or should have grabbed more sleep. I wanted to spend more time around my friends, just to relax and chat.
Tuesday I tried chicken teriyaki sushi for lunch. I got three rolls, though one and a half would have been enough. I struggled through all three and felt quite ill. I got a little break from my regular work routine when I had to hunt down a bug in our graduate application website. Apparently the frame that Hotmail uses to display external links prevented the site security from working, so we had very few applicants proceed past the registration phase.
Wednesday I missed the Brisbane auditions on Australian Idol because of a bug in the VCR software I use. I did set it to record for an extra hour, but that only takes effect after another change has been made. I also came to the conclusion that the Professional 2 project at work is possibly too all-encompassing to actually work.
Thursday I realised I'd been getting carried away thinking too much about Kym, though it was nice for a while to have someone else on my mind besides ... my previous interest. I got frustrated with my part of Professional 2, also, because I find it difficult to truly reach harmony between the design and the execution. I often find this is true of projects where I am responsible for a user interface.
Friday I discussed a security model with Brad and started knocking out some new code to handle it at a low level. I'm not sure it will be entirely capable of carrying that load, though. Also had the first night of youth group, and the kids were definitely a handful. They just could not sit still or be quiet to hear instructions.
My entire Saturday morning disappeared before I knew it, what with sleeping in, exercise and television. For most of the afternoon I played KOTOR and watched movies. We also went to the local Thai restaurant to belatedly celebrate my birthday with just the family.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Overall, I felt tired and unmotivated this week.
PPS - Now I have more sleeping to do.

Friday, 16 July 2004

Crossing Over

Well, it's happened: I've officially stepped over the line from adventure gamer to RPG player. Last night in my KOTOR session I went hunting for experience points purely to level up. Then I kept going because it's extremely cool to see someone fight with a lightsabre, casually deflecting blaster bolts while closing the distance to cut you in half. I've only clocked just over 11 hours of play time and already I know this game is going to be very good to me.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I think it will at least hold me off City of Heroes for a while.
PPS - Although I will inevitably end up playing that, too.

Thursday, 15 July 2004

Dead End

I dreamed last night that I had to evacuate the office building and I wound up in a concrete fire stairwell with no exit. I was still one floor too high, and I could see that there were other stairs that kept going down, but these ones just ended in a brick wall. I'm sure it means something, in a subconscious way.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Today I am tired, run-down and unmotivated.
PPS - Those probably all count as synonyms.

Wednesday, 14 July 2004

An urge to wear tights

I've been debating whether to order a copy of City of Heroes. Undoubtedly it would be plenty of fun and worth the money - the question is whether I have the time to play it. As I've mentioned before, internet time is currently a scarce commodity in our house, and my suggestion to buy a router was summarily dismissed on the grounds that Final Fantasy XI (and, allegedly, all MMOs) won't run through it. It makes little difference anyway - there's only one box in the house that is equipped both to play the game and connect to the net. Sigh.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I could, of course, buy it with the hope that I will one day get a chance to play.
PPS - At least the manual would occupy me for a while, but I've already downloaded a copy of that from the CoH website.

Tuesday, 13 July 2004

The Code Project - UI & UA Changes on the road to Longhorn - .NET

It's always dangerous for me to read things like this: The Code Project - UI & UA Changes on the road to Longhorn - .NET. I classify it as danger because I almost get excited about Microsoft products (a definite hacker no-no) and I start developing grandiose software design ideas. These ideas can easily overtake all my current (more important) work, purely in a search for a way to get programmers to write better software.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I hope this doesn't mean I'm becoming more of a manager than a programmer.
PPS - Because it will still be a few years before I even get near a grey suit.

Monday, 12 July 2004

It's gotta be a trick

I celebrated my 25th birthday on the weekend and planned to get together with everyone I know. I intended to accomplish this feat by taking them to a movie and paying for everyone. Apparently, though, some people were confused or wary about the words "free movie", and only eight showed up. In one sense, I'm okay with that, because it cost me less. On the other hand, it annoys me, mostly because I have no explanation from anyone who didn't show up.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I suppose, in their defence, I only advertised the event rather late.
PPS - And I never followed up on anyone, either.

Sunday, 11 July 2004

The Sunday Mok, Late Edition

Hehe, uh, yeah. Forgot to do this on time, but it's still here:

The Sunday Mok

I got only a few hours sleep on Saturday, and still somehow managed to get through the day. I expected to have trouble staying awake, especially during the sermon at church in the morning. Played more KOTOR in the afternoon, and got more into it still. After supper at the evening service, it seems everyone had gone home early, so I had to walk back home.
Monday, just by chance, I heard about the wrongful Big Brother eviction at lunchtime, got some details on the web, and saw the re-entry that night. I resolved again to try to get into the next Big Brother house.
Tuesday there was more KOTOR on the cards, and I got stuck at the rancor in the sewers. I felt a bit of acid reflux all day, which should have stopped me having lunch, at least. It didn't. I don't want such a big gut, even if it's not grossly prominent.
On Wednesday the head of our corporate IT team, Dean, arrived in Brisbane for some reason or other. I was never quite sure what it was all about, though I assume internal politics had something to do with it. We've started having to defend our budget to the board of directors, since our schedule keeps on slipping. Got an invite to Kym's birthday bash, and my Rookie CD arrived. I was definitely looking forward to seeing Kym more than anyone else who might show up to my own birthday on Saturday.
Thursday I felt very near the end of my work on the project, which would be a huge relief to everyone. I also spent some time tweaking our test harness for usability. It still needs work. I looked for a CSS way of doing rounded border corners in web pages and learned that it's a CSS3 feature - CSS3 is still a working draft and not yet implemented by anyone.
Friday night there was no youth group, so I took the chance to check out Jake 2.0 on TV and play (guess) more KOTOR. Had pizza for lunch and forgot to ask for no anchovies because I had trouble pronouncing the Italian name of the pizza. I also found the Mozilla-specific CSS extension that allows rounded borders.
Saturday I took some friends out to see Spiderman 2 - my shout. In the morning I had my hair cut by Renee at the local barber shop. I went to school with her, though she doesn't remember me. She's cute & petit; I've always liked that. At the movie I was so glad to be around Kym that I followed her like a puppy or something. It was weird to see, especially when it seemed like I had no control over my own behaviour. She had to leave before dinner, which we ate at a place called Noodle Obsessions. Quite good Chinese food, especially the Mongolian beef.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'll try to remember to do this on time in future.
PPS - I've just got to make it part of my regular routine.

Friday, 9 July 2004

Prepare to engage sneezing mechanism

I've come into the office this morning to find my desk and its various paraphernalia covered in a thin film of dust. Looks like I've been gone for years. I imagine it's quite like Rip van Winkle must have felt. I have yet to properly identify the cause of the dust invasion. My first impression is that somehow the air conditioning vent just nearby has had a large pile of dust gathering inside it, that has just been blown out overnight. That would have looked kind of cool.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It also looks like several ceiling tiles have been replaced, which probably knocked down a lot of dust.
PPS - It's clogging up our computer case fans, too.

Thursday, 8 July 2004


Just one of those moronic things that occur to us at the office: betting on gambling. Some of my colleagues gamble on sports for reasons I won't go into here (m'hay) and apparently one of the "sports" they can place wagers on is poker. Poker being a gambler's game, it seems odd to gamble on it. It only took us a second to come up with something more ridiculous: placing bets on the final bookie's odds on horse racing.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I wouldn't want to be the one trying to run it.
PPS - But, as has been pointed out, people would still place bets even if they knew it was fixed.

Wednesday, 7 July 2004


Do accountants celebrate the financial new year? I'm imagining midnight parties, noisemakers, maybe costumes.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Since the rest of us don't hear about these parties, it'd be like some secret society.
PPS - Probably not.

This wasn't in the brochure

I made a little time to play Knights of the Old Republic last night and I've just encountered a giant rancor beast that far outclasses my entire party of adventurers. It struck me (an idea, not the rancor) just then that I'm two or three steps removed from my primary goal on this mission. In short, I am trying to sneak past a rancor to get into a gang hideout to steal back an already-stolen swoop bike so I can enter a race in the hope of winning as a prize the person for whom I am searching. There could be an easier way in real life.

As for the rancor, it seems only one character I control has the skills to successfully sneak past the beast, at which point I am again outclassed by two shielded gang members in a confined space. The rancor is still behind me, a guarded door in front of me, and I have to stay invisible to stay alive. I'll figure it out eventually, of course. It's just that it always seems confusing and frustrating until I do.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Until real life gets more exciting, this is probably the kind of post you can expect.
PPS - Except for The Sunday Mok, of course.

Tuesday, 6 July 2004

I Watch Too Much Television

Last night, due to a voting mis-count, the latest Big Brother evictee, Bree, was returned to the house. The phone company that handles the phone voting stated "human error" as the cause. I'm sure it's cost them plenty in bad press, time and cold hard cash, but they did act with honesty and integrity. I like Eddie Izzard's comment on admitting wrongdoing - sometimes we do it just so people will think "My, what a strong personality that person has. I like to have sex with people with strong personalities.". I doubt the phone company is similarly motivated, though.

I also watched Faking It - the second episode I've ever seen. They turned a shy junkyard worker into a catwalk model. I wondered later if they ever choose a profession that doesn't involve some performance aspect. I wouldn't think so, because it takes a bit of performance to make good television.

At the enthusiastic recommendation of a co-worker and the fact that Foxtel is currently giving away the Comedy Channel for free, I watched Conan O'Brian and I don't think I'll bother in future. Having not had the pleasure before, I'd have to say he's a very strange looking guy. His face is just about flat from the front, like he was pressed hard against a wall until his head reshaped. He only made me laugh with "If They Mated". The rest was hardly worth my time. I expected a little more energy. I hardly think the opinion of one Australian will matter, though. Especially since I didn't watch in the first place and don't have the chance to watch later.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I left after that, just as Naked News was starting up.
PPS - I wonder how long my Dad watched that before changing channels or switching off. Doesn't seem like his kind of show.

Monday, 5 July 2004

Unexpected Fun

I've had a bit more time to play Knights of the Old Republic now, and I'm getting to enjoy it far more than I expected when I started. The Star Wars backdrop is probably helping me get into it, but it's more than just liking Star Wars or puzzle-solving. Before too long I may even go hunting for experience points just to advance levels and skills. Truthfully, I don't make that much time to play. I spend my free time on Big Brother or movies, and at the moment my free time consists of Monday nights, Saturdays and Sunday afternoons. I sleep on Saturday mornings and Sundays, and I've been seeing plenty of movies lately, which I usually do on Saturday afternoon. Monday nights is Big Brother weekly nominations for eviction which takes an hour and a half, and Saturday evenings is often a video night. Any remaining free time in the week is typically needed for sleep.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The game says my total playing time so far is just under six hours.
PPS - And I'm pretty sure I bought it over a month ago.

Sunday, 4 July 2004

The Sunday Mok

I've decided to start summarising my paper journal here every Sunday partly as a way of keeping any of my friends appraised of my current situation, but also for added content. So I give you the first ever edition of:

The Sunday Mok

Routine church service on Sunday, including Dad's stage fright performance. In the afternoon I attended the farewell service for Richard. At the evening service, I sang and performed in a skit. That's three services, and it made me miss my usual Sunday afternoon sleep. My LED light inside my computer has broken, so now the window on the side of the case just looks in on a few boring circuit boards. It could be a while before I replace it - I've got heaps of other stuff I'm saving for.
Monday I watched "Faking it" and Big Brother. I liked Faking It enough to keep watching in coming weeks, and observed some familiar behaviour in BB - a last-ditch romantic effort to get someone's attention that just ends up with humiliation.
Tuesday I felt like I got back into the work routine after two days off, but still felt like I was doing less work than I should have been. Made a little progress. Bus ticket prices went down by $4.80 per week for me.
Wednesday - still feel like I'm slacking off at work. Decided to start the Sunday posts here. Bought "Fallen" by Evanesence and "Peach Pit Politics" by Rookie. Still waiting for the Rookie CD to arrive by post. Had a youth leadership development meeting tonight with Jane and the rest of the youth group leaders. Noticed how Michelle is getting energised for the church.
Thursday I felt like I'd temporarily run out of ideas for my weekday blog posts. Until then I'd had a backlog of ideas that I'd been running through at the rate of one per day. The "rich client" software started to fall to bits. It's a massive tangle of data, events, controls and rules. I don't want to have to keep working on it. I noted my tendency to use any and all change in my pockets to buy food from the vending machine.
Friday I managed not to buy anything from the vending machine. I bumped into Lyn, a friend from church who has since moved to another church. Her kids are both getting married, and she seems to be always interested in my love life in a way nobody else is. It's nice to be able to talk about it sometimes. Planned out the coming term of youth group programs along with the SLAM leaders. Ate way too much pizza. Found that Star Wars: Attack of the Clones is playing on Showtime on Monday night, and planned to record it.
Saturday I bought Buffy season 2 on DVD and stayed out until 02:00 watching videos and playing Bomberman and Tetris - good retrogaming. Saw Chris for the first time in ages and learned that he's hooked up with a girl he mentioned ages ago. I've been a bit out of touch since he stopped writing to his LiveJournal.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I think this will work well.
PPS - The format may change a bit as I get more used to this.

Friday, 2 July 2004

...And they all lived ever after

Things seem simpler in fiction. Social interaction can come down to just saying the one right phrase at the one right time. We have missions or adventures which, though difficult, are easier to deal with than day-to-day life. There are rarely more than three people involved in a love polygon. If there are more than three, there are lots, and it's played for laughs. Everyone knows how everyone feels, and love blossoms in the blink of an eye. We overcome the odds. Complications iron out. Villains lose, heroes win. There is never a long and arduous cleanup operation after the victory.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I am rarely certain which one I prefer.
PPS - Probably fiction.

Thursday, 1 July 2004

Slipping Schedules

I think I've worked out why this software project is (a) taking so long and (b) sucking the life out of me. We were supposed to be delivering a beta product this week, and we're still taking requirements even as we continue coding. If you believe my university lecturers, any changes we encounter here will cost about 1000 times as much to fix now as they would have if we'd got all the requirements at the beginning. And we always find new changes to make when we go through another round of late requirements.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Today my eye started twitching involuntarily.
PPS - Not kidding.