Thursday, 31 August 2006

The Toolbox

Just for interest's sake, here's a list of the programs that I use daily to help keep my life organised:

ePrompter - email checking. ePrompter can check all my various web email accounts at once and provide the results to me in a simple unified interface. It's handy.

Working Time Tracker - project based time keeping. I don't like my weekly timesheet to be an exercise in memory or fiction, so I use this to keep track of what I'm working on at any given time.

WorkDiary - stream-of-consciousness note taking. This one's my own creation and I use it to keep my work diary at the office (in HTML format) and a differently-configured copy for general note taking. It saves entries automatically when I stop typing and never bothers me asking where to save a file - it's all automatic.

SyncToy - folder synchronisation. I use this to keep up-to-date copies of my flash drive contents on my work, home and laptop PCs.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I've left out more ordinary things like Thunderbird, Firefox, Blogger and Google Reader.
PPS - There are lots, but these are the most useful and most used.

Wednesday, 30 August 2006

YouTube: talking cats

It might ordinarily be against my policy to just link to a YouTube video, but I don't actually have a policy. Therefore, today I give you: Talking Cats.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm not sure who's more to blame for that one.
PPS - I think I'll go with people.

Tuesday, 29 August 2006

The Djanglish Pidgin

If I wanted to express a regular sequence of days that went "Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and so on", I would say "Every two days". Deb would express the same idea by saying "Every other day". Conversely, to Deb, "Every two days" would mean "Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday...". Between us we have managed to negotiate the phrase "Alternating days" as acceptable to both of us for expressing "Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday...". It's a new experience for me.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I hadn't quite expected language to be a major area of compromise.
PPS - Though, of course, we do speak two different dialects of English.

Monday, 28 August 2006

Robots On A Plane

I wonder when the world's first fully-robotic passenger airline will go public. I expect we will first see this for freight - relatively small, unpressurised jet aircraft zipping here and there on autopilot, landing and being unloaded by robots, contents scanned and dispatched. RoboExpress. It would get pretty cheap, I'd bet. Before long, someone would ask why we don't have that kind of service for passenger aircraft, and a few people would put together the world's first fully robotic passenger flight. They'd gain a reputation for being just as safe as human-piloted planes (though those would still be in demand). When the world has grown up with it rather than having it introduced, it will just be accepted.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I know you're all thinking "but what about terrorists?".
PPS - Let the robots figure that one out.

Sunday, 27 August 2006

The Sunday Mok - Unusual Days

Sunday - Most of the day was normal except that Deb's sister Mia got engaged. As for the rest of the day, Deb and I started on Angel season 5 and I bought her the Veronicas album.
Monday - I spent the day at work coding new features for the performance appraisals database and examining alternative web development frameworks. Alpha in the evening was all about guidance, but I wasn't quite focused enough to get everything out of it.
Tuesday - Much like Monday at work, with a bit of timesheets thrown in. I'm gradually minimising the troubleshooting work I need to do. Karate in the evening was supposed to include a cardio workout, but one station was too slow, which ruined the rhythm.
Wednesday - Mostly timesheets at work. After dinner at Deb's, we prayed about the future, and then watched one Angel episode.
Thursday - Again, timesheets at work. I also downloaded the very latest alpha build of Firefox to look at some of the latest features. Dinner at Dad & Beth's lasted longer than usual.
Friday - My boss David, having just returned from a conference, gave a presentation on Enterprise Architecture. For the rest of the day I was working on new performance appraisal database features. Youth group in the evening was a hastily-constructed sports night after another church cancelled on us, leaving us with no program.
Saturday - An early start to get to Alexandra Headlands for the Alpha weekend camp. The day was pretty solid and full-on, and in the evening we played SingStar. I was delighted with their interpretation of the classic Pong.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Last Sunday feels like a long time ago.
PPS - I knew I could make this week go slowly.

Friday, 25 August 2006

Friday Zombie Blogging

A zombie mob in San Fransisco.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I always miss this stuff somehow.
PPS - Being on the opposite side of the planet, for instance.

Thursday, 24 August 2006


I bet the first instructions on any self-hypnosis CD are "throw out this CD and buy a new copy". Just a hunch.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - That's the way I'd do it.
PPS - You know, if I was evil.

Wednesday, 23 August 2006

Picking fights

In the original Terminator, three young guys decide to pick on The Terminator based on the following information:
  1. He doesn't seem to be entirely aware of his surroundings
  2. He's naked
  3. He has more muscle than all three of them combined
Given point 2, they must be aware of point 3. I have to wonder if this kind of thing happens in real life, and exactly when it starts seeming like a bad idea.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Probably when the first bone breaks.
PPS - You know it doesn't belong to the muscled naked guy.

Tuesday, 22 August 2006


I like the post categories/labels feature of the new and improved Blogger, but I'm not sure what my final collection of labels will be. I've used "observations" and "journal" so far, and I expect there will be some "zombies" entries, too. Beyond that, the only other label that's come to mind is "speculation". These are all rather dry and boring.

I toyed briefly with the idea of using school subject names for labels, like "history" for The Sunday Mok, and "philosophy" for when I talk about The Force or good and evil. For now, I think I'll just go with the flow.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Post labels, for now, are displayed below the post.
PPS - I expect most templates put them there.

Monday, 21 August 2006


Men are not typically known for their love of "craft" activities. For some men, this is because they would rather destroy than create, but for others it is because men favour different crafts. A man will build a sturdy computer desk rather than a pretty cross-stitch to display above it. A man build a retaining wall with nothing but a shovel and his bare hands rather than painting a landscape.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Anything that requires some skill could be considered "craft".
PPS - And "skill" can mean "practice" rather than "talent".

Sunday, 20 August 2006

The Sunday Mok - Lazy Days

Sunday - I woke to that new mattress smell and a feeling that perhaps my pillows are too thin. From the sag of my old mattress, I'm used to my head being higher. After church in the morning, I spent the afternoon at Deb's place for a change. We watched Family Guy and finished Angel season 4.
Monday - I worked most of the day just ad-hoc testing the performance appraisal system to prepare for a demonstration. Alpha in the evening was all about prayer, and the topic of a prayer journal kept coming up.
Tuesday - I updated the live version of the performance appraisal database and started downloading bits of Django as an alternative to Ruby on Rails or our current .NET setup. Karate in the evening was allegedly a hard workout. I didn't feel it as such.
Wednesday - People's Day at the Ekka. I got there around 10:00 and wandered around with Deb and Mia, then worked at the church food stall from 14:30 to 20:30. It was my first experience in food retail, and it would take me some significant extra time to get truly used to it.
Thursday - I had the day off work thanks to some forward planning. I used the day in such boring ways as doing household chores. I also played some City of Heroes which was good. Dinner at Dad & Beth's in the evening included discussion on farming and politics.
Friday - A slow day at work, including a meeting about our proposed process improvements. I investigated Django some more by implementing a database I've been considering to help manage the church youth group. I didn't finish it. Dinner at Bridgit's with the church crew, after which we watched School of Rock. It was fun.
Saturday - Just a day of lazing about at home. The first disc of Stargate Atlantis arrived in the mail on Friday, so Deb and I watched it all, including the slightly amusing behind-the-scenes feature. Youth group was on Saturday instead of Friday because we went out to Chermside Uniting Church for an event called Contact. It was basically a youth-oriented church service.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Blogger was finally able to switch me to the new interface.
PPS - It looks very similar so far.

Friday, 18 August 2006

Friday Zombie Blogging

"Mokalus of Borg" spelled out with zombies:

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Wow. Powerfully narcissistic.
PPS - And very zombified.

Good, evil and longevity

Is evil self-destructive? I'd have to say that's my opinion and my experience. Anything that's evil will eat itself up or, at the very least, create such a negative response from its environment that it cannot survive there indefinitely. That negative response may be from something equally evil, though, so it doesn't follow that the natural reaction to evil is good.

Good, as a counterpoint, creates positive responses from the environment that build up both the good thing and the surrounds: a self-sustaining cycle. It builds ever upwards to a transcendant culmination of purity, and paves the way for more good.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I saw V For Vendetta for the first time last night.
PPS - Good flick.

Thursday, 17 August 2006

The best idea I ever had

It's 09:15 and my day is just starting. This is all part of the plan. I spent about eleven hours at the Ekka yesterday, most of it on my feet, and I was exhausted by the end. Fortunately for me, I had organised to have today off work, so I can recover in peace. It's a good life.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's not costing me any annual leave, either.
PPS - This is all Time In Lieu of overtime pay.

Wednesday, 16 August 2006

Short for "Exhibition"

Today I go to the Ekka, so I thought I might look up a few showbags. Out of interest, there are six ninja-related bags available and only one pirate-related bag, so ninjas win this year. Also, the Ekka theme they've chosen this year is "Give Us All Your Money", which is nice and clear. Fortunately for me I'm getting in for free by just donating six and a half hours of my day to make hamburgers and frisbee them at strangers.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - If my time is $20 an hour, I'm actually paying $130 to get in.
PPS - That's just barely more than the gate price.

Tuesday, 15 August 2006

This is what they've been working on

Some time ago, Blogger was bought by Google. Apparently there have been some developments behind the scenes. You can (probably) take a tour of the new features. The thing that interests me most is post categories, but that's not in the tour.

Unfortunately for me, I'm not allowed to switch to the beta version just yet, even though it was initially offered when I signed in this morning. I guess they just consider that advertising or something.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It looks like some significant improvements.
PPS - The drag-and-drop template editing will help lots of people to no end.

Monday, 14 August 2006

It's a social experiment

A new game to play: try to get odd looks from newsagency employees by buying an odd collection of magazines. The temptation is to go for something inoffensive like Australian Cross-Stitch Monthly and couple it with Hardcore [Butt] Tattoos, but then it looks like a cover for really wanting the hardcore mag. You could try Business Review Weekly and Girlfriend, but then it looks like you're buying for you and your teenage daughter. It's a tricky game.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Perhaps the best bet would be to go political - far conservative and liberal together.
PPS - But then you could be a political columnist staying informed.

Sunday, 13 August 2006

The Sunday Mok - New mattress, new hair too

Sunday - After the morning church service, Deb and I stayed for lunch: soup and sausages. That was followed by grocery shopping and Angel. After the evening service, we went to the Coffee Club and I talked science fiction with Murrae and Rene.
Monday - All this week at work was just filled with bug-hunting. It wasn't too exciting. I felt hungry and lethargic all day, which I believe is due to my body fighting an infection. Alpha in the evening was pretty good and led to some good discussion.
Tuesday - I just missed my bus home, so I was too late for karate by the time the next one showed up. I'd been considering not going anyway. Dad brought dinner around, then I did our census online.
Wednesday - After work, I had to drop a VHS tape around to Michelle and pick up Deb from the supermarket. We ate home-made pizza at Deb's, then came back to my place to watch The Brothers Grimm.
Thursday - At work we discussed the broad theme of methodology: how we should be developing our software. We may have reached a vague conclusion. Deb was at the bus stop when I got home, and we went to Dad & Beth's place for dinner where the conversation was lively and interesting. Afterwards, I helped Deb do her taxes and we watched Angel.
Friday - Deb was here all day while I was at work, playing City of Heroes and helping with laundry. Youth group in the evening consisted of watching Willow and eating pizza.
Saturday - This was the full day. I had a worship planning meeting in the morning that kind of went bust, then a haircut, mattress delivery, helping Beth clean out her gutters in preparation for installing a rainwater tank, family dinner, Hoodwinked with Deb, Erin and Stu, then more Angel.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I may get around to posting a picture of my new haircut soon.
PPS - I'll have to figure out how I should be wearing it first.

Friday, 11 August 2006

Friday Zombie Blogging

This week, X-Box Live customers were treated to a free demo of Dead Rising. A few comics (Ctrl+Alt+Del, Penny Arcade) have picked up on the theme. It's a regular zombie-fest on the interweb!

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Free-for-all zombie slaying. If only I had an X-Box.
PPS - You can see a video of the game in action here.

Thursday, 10 August 2006

Restaurant managers obsolete

We now have a machine to replace restaurant managers. How soon do you think we'll have companies run by computers?

I realise that, in practice, this would be considered more of a tool for wait-staff to manage themselves. Still, it's more fun to think of it as the beginning of the end of human managers.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - That would also lead to the end of Dilbert.
PPS - That's the only downside I can imagine.

Remember your floaties

I think there's a good reason to be attracted to people with different accents than your own: spreading the gene pool. This could be programmed into us for just that purpose. It would help to keep populations genetically diverse, and would thus help our species survival just a little bit.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I started thinking about what would happen if we were just attracted to people who sound like us.
PPS - Then I stopped again. It wasn't pretty.

Wednesday, 9 August 2006

It's not news anymore

Because I'm interested in Will Wright's upcoming game Spore, I created a news feed (via Google News) to keep on top of all the Spore comings and goings until its release. The following is a summary of what I've seen via that feed since I created it:

1. Will Wright is creating a new game called Spore. He also made The Sims.
2. Every reporter in the known universe saw Spore at E3. They were impressed.
3. Spore will be available on consoles.
4. Spore will be available on consoles.
5. Spore will be available on consoles.
6. Will Wright is creating a new game called Spore. He also made The Sims.
7. Spore will be available on consoles.

Today, I finally got sick of hearing for the gazillionth time that Spore is coming to consoles, so I've unsubscribed. I know everything every reporter knows about Spore now. Go on. Ask me.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - In answer to your first question, yes, it's coming to consoles.
PPS - In answer to your second question, it's by Will Wright, who made The Sims.

Tuesday, 8 August 2006

Think on this

If humans are going to walk on Mars in the next twenty years, then the first person to set foot on Martian soil has already been born. They're just walking around with no idea what their future really holds.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'll admit that's a pretty big "if".
PPS - Not so big that I'll discount it entirely, though.

Monday, 7 August 2006

The Seeds of War

You can't wipe out war until you wipe out greed and anger, even at the lowest levels. As long as someone wants what someone else has, and as long as those people can rise to power to command armies, there will be war. It is regrettably in our nature to destroy each other.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It is from the Dark Side.
PPS - And that is a part of every one of us.

Sunday, 6 August 2006

The Sunday Mok - Shortest Week Ever

Sunday - I slept in a little bit in the morning, and installed my new digital TV card after the morning church service. I used it to record about 3 hours of broadcast that night, which used up 9GB of disk space. That's more than I'm used to using with the analogue card.
Monday - I was tired most of the day at work, and spent the whole day fixing problems with the timesheet system. I was a bit rushed getting to Alpha in the evening, and forgot to bring my book. Then I left my bible there.
Tuesday - Another whole day on timesheets, then karate in the evening. Mark, one of the two instructors, asked if I could make it to a second class during the week. My schedule is full as it is.
Wednesday - More timesheets. It never ends. Dinner at Deb's, then we started watching Stargate SG-1 season 9. I subscribed to Cory Doctorow's podcast to see what his stories are like.
Thursday - I listened to I, Row Boat on the bus to and from work, and liked it. Dinner at Dad & Beth's in the evening, and more Stargate with Deb, plus Chaser's War on Everything.
Friday - At work I was bug-squashing all day, then we went bowling with the youth group kids in the evening.
Saturday - I slept in, then went for a short run, read some online news, then picked up Deb to go shopping for a new mattress (my current one is just slightly younger than me). I finished watching my current rental from Quickflix (Star Trek Enterprise) and mailed it back to them.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It really does feel like just a day or two ago that it was Sunday.
PPS - Hopefully I can slow this week down a bit.

Friday, 4 August 2006

Friday Zombie Blogging

Scientists create zombie bacteria for cheaper, more effective vaccines. I will personally sleep better knowing that my body has been deliberately injected with thousands of microscopic undead. How about you?

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm sure this won't result in a worldwide outbreak of zombie-ism.
PPS - Pretty sure, that is.

Dream a little dream for me

I wonder if we'll need authors any more when we can record our dreams and pass them around like packaged psychotic episodes. I expect that will be a bit too raw for most people, and we'll have editors and social filters that give us the best bits of the best dreamers. I don't think it will replace traditional authorship any more than blogging replaces traditional journalism. I also imagine that the most popular dreamers will be treated just to recognition, not awe, reverence or genuine fame. You can't hold a press conference to ask them questions about their latest nocturnal hallucinations, or what they might have in store for us later. It just, you know, happens.

It will be a strange world.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I've started listening to Cory Doctorow's podcast.
PPS - I finished "I, Row Boat" this morning.

Thursday, 3 August 2006

Say "no" to passwords

The fact that we have checkboxes to get our programs to remember passwords means the system is too intrusive. After all, that checkbox basically says "Turn off security", and people still click it. People want secure data and they want to remember approximately zero passwords. Somewhere along the line, you'll have to prove who you are, so I'm thinking that passwords will be an option for a long time to come. The biometric and physical key options have many of the same problems.

If everything was stored and transmitted with strong cryptography, would we still need to identify users? To an extent, we may be able to just trust that the only person able to decrypt the messages is the intended recipient. Of course, then you have to worry about someone stealing your crypto key.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Security is not an easy problem.
PPS - Even a crypto system can be bad enough to be effectively wide open.

Wednesday, 2 August 2006

Textual bookmarks

Firefox has a feature to allow quick submissions of queries to search engines. You assign a keyword to a bookmark and add a placeholder for the query text. I've started using that feature on regular bookmarks as a nicknaming system. That means now I can just type a nickname for a website, eg "blogger" and go straight there. It's faster than selecting bookmarks from the menu, faster than Google, and easier than remembering site names too.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Of course, Blogger is a slightly redundant example.
PPS - A better one is "calendar" for

Tuesday, 1 August 2006


After seeing about my nine hundredth Superman shirt today, it really cemented in my mind the idea that wearing such a shirt is totally unoriginal. I think we need a few Lex Luthor shirts walking around as a counterpoint, or some kryptonite shirts perhaps. While we're at it, where are all the Spiderman and Batman shirts? We could use a few of those, plus anyone choosing the Batman variety gets washboard abs, fake though they may be.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Personally, I think I'll go with a Spiderman shirt.
PPS - If I go with any superhero shirt at all, that is.