Monday, 31 December 2007

Why apologise for being late online?

I read a few online comics and I often see some artists apologising that the images will be up late on a certain day. Either these guys are extreme punctuality perfectionists or they have rabid fans who hoot and throw poop when their comic is 0.006 seconds late. It's not all artists, just a few, and I have no real way of verifying either conjecture. Maybe it's both.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This is where I apologise for being very late with my post for today.
PPS - Happy New Year!

Friday, 28 December 2007

Counting smiles

If you're out and about today, try counting smiles of strangers. If you're like me, you'll find yourself wanting to smile in response.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Smiles in public usually come in groups.
PPS - Most of the ones I saw were grouped.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Octopus figure

At, they sell posable octopus sculptures. This one is a zombie, complete with greyish colour, exposed brain and torn tentacles.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Via BoingBoing.
PPS - I'm not sure exactly how flexible the tentacles are.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Procrastination vs laziness

The difference between procrastination and laziness is that procrastination at least achieves something, but it is the wrong thing at the time. Laziness is just sitting back and saying "I'll do it later", while procrastination is saying "First I'll do some laundry, then wash the dishes, then clean my room...".

Mokalus of Borg

PS - So if you have to choose, take procrastination.
PPS - But obviously choosing to do your work is better by far.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

The shortest sleep experiment ever

I've mentioned before an interest in polyphasic sleep, and I had decided that this Christmas/New Year break would be a good time to try it out. So after Deb and I got home from Christmas dinner, I took a short nap from 21:00 to 21:30, intending then to be awake until 01:00, take another half hour nap and be awake until 05:00 and so on. However, at 22:30, a mere hour after waking up, the committee decided that the general crabbiness of the adjustment period would not be worth the trouble. I slept through the night.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I did have an odd dream about being a ninja chasing someone in a rabbit suit.
PPS - I played Killer Bunnies a lot the past two days.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

It's Weasel Stomping Day!

I mean Christmas! Hooray!

Now, I want to know from the few of you who are still reading over the holidays: what was the best gift you gave this year? I enjoy giving and when a gift is just right, it feels really good. When you get all hung up on receiving, you're bound to get disappointed and cynical.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Better to focus on the positives, eh?
PPS - I'll accept stories of birthday gifts too.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Rejection more common than acceptance

Given that percentages are low of compatibility between people for the purposes of dating, rejection happens much more often than acceptance in this world. If you're looking for a TV or movie romance, the most you expect in the way of complications is possibly a triangle situation and one major misunderstanding. In reality you know a large number of people who count as romantic prospects, but all our lists don't overlap quite the right ways. For every person who wants to go out with you there are a minimum of nine hundred others who won't. That's just the way the population and attraction factors work out here.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - If this is not borne out by your experience, you were probably very popular in high school.
PPS - Few people place any importance on that later, though.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Finishing very early every Friday

I figured out this week that if I go in early every day and take a short lunch break, I could come home at noon on Fridays. Our Friday afternoon is usually just 3 hours long, and starting 30 minutes early every day makes 2.5 extra hours. Now, the main problem with this plan is that officially the company does not allow flexible working hours. Unofficially, as I understand it, just about every manager allows some flexibility. I haven't asked anyone about this possibility just yet.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Another option is starting early to come home a bit early every day.
PPS - That would be easier to swallow for a manager, I think.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Christmas tree ornament

Just in time for Christmas, here's a zombie tree ornament to give your festive celebrations a touch of the undead.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - That is assuming you want that kind of thing.
PPS - It probably wouldn't arrive in time for this year anyway.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

The standby gift idea

To buy gifts for people to whom you are not really acquainted, I recommend classifying them into the "sweet" or "savory" group and buying them chocolate or mixed nuts respectively. This does require that you know a little about someone's tastes first, but it's quite possible if you try.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Being a sweet-tooth myself, I tend to assume everyone wants chocolate.
PPS - So this is as much a suggestion for me as for you.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Risk assessments and learned behaviour

I was in yet another safety training session the other day when our instructor mentioned that people do risk assessments all the time, such as when crossing the road. He claimed it was an automatic response to dangerous situations - something built in to us as a species. I disagree, because babies and children don't do that kind of assessment automatically at all. A crawling baby presented with a gap won't hesitate to tumble right over the edge the first time. A child playing with a ball near a road will happily chase it into heavy traffic. So humans do not automatically do risk assessments until they've been hurt or taught. It's a learned behaviour. And presented with an unfamiliar situation, humans cannot recognise the inherent risks.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I guess that extends to investments too.
PPS - You might never know what you're getting into.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Spelling is important online

My main argument for correct spelling online is that we either have to spell correctly or build search engines that can understand your gibberish. If you can't spell, you can't search, you can't find information and you are left far worse off than those who can spell. The old standby argument of "you can still understand me, so what's the point?" won't fly with a search engine.

If your spelling is merely bad, search engines can cope. If your spelling is awful, Google will choke on it and you just don't get your results. I have tried making this argument to people who seemed to simply not care at all. The exact response was "and yet I find myself unmoved".

Well, you should be. Bad spelling puts your information further away from you, whether it's you doing the search or you publishing the text. If you can't find what you're looking for and your search engine can't make sense of what you're saying, you don't get your information. Now look at it the other way. What if someone tries to publish an important medical study, but misspells a keyword. That study might be critical to your work, but you'll never find it if you search correctly.

I may be overstating the case a bit, but if the English language degenerates to a state where nobody even spells anything correctly any more, the benefits of the global communications network we have striven to build start to dissolve.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Spelling for names is particularly important.
PPS - Compensating for bad spelling wastes energy.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Spelling memories

I've encountered three types of spelling memories in my time. That is, three different ways of remembering the sequence of letters to correctly spell words. I am personally a visual speller: the shape of the word looks right to me. Some people I'm aware are auditory spellers: the letters sound right when read out. I have just recently encountered a muscle-memory speller: words feel right when written out cursively. I find that quite interesting. I can't think of any other possibilities, but then I hadn't anticipated the muscle-memory one at all.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Perhaps some people can smell words.
PPS - I wonder if Braille can "feel" like it's spelled correctly.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Building a little fort

With the office move going on now, I'm packing up all my stuff into boxes and strategically placing them in a wall around my cubicle from which I can (in theory) wage cubicle war against similarly unbalanced employees. No others yet seem willing to construct their own forts or declare themselves kings of tiny nation-states. Well, there's still a little time yet.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I realize this would have fitted better as part of an earlier post.
PPS - Traffic was bad and time is short this morning.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Attacks on Ancient Egypt has an article suggesting evidence of zombie attacks in ancient Egypt. Of course it's all tongue-in-cheek stuff, but amusing nonetheless. The evidence hinges around tombs found with beheaded bodies.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Because nobody as weird as the Egyptians could have beheaded someone for no reason.
PPS - And the reason had to be to prevent the spread of zombies.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Google Address Book and Facebook Privacy

I wonder if Google will ever make a separate address book application to be shared across their various services. I think it makes sense. Identity data is a generic and widely-applicable information source. When I respond to an email about a party at a friend's home, schedule an event in my calendar then call to check some more details on the day, those actions all involve contact details belonging to my friend. I guess in a way what I'm talking about is a social network tool, but less focused on finding and ranking my friends than maintaining my address book. I'll have to see what Google's Orkut is like one of these days.

Let's say Google maintained a central address book of contact details and each person was responsible for keeping their own details up to date. That's a lot like Facebook, but I imagine more granular control over who can see what. Define various groups of people and define what those groups may access. Work contacts can see my work address and work phone. Family can see all my phone numbers, postal addresses and email addresses. My crazy ex co-worker is only allowed to see my name.

I don't think Facebook will last forever, whether it gets too bogged down with applications or just your creepy ex-co-workers. In the second case, I think having more control over who can see what would help alleviate the problem, at least for a little while.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Privacy concerns can force many issues.
PPS - See this article for some similar thoughts.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Musical chairs

Our section is moving offices again. We moved to this building less than a year ago, and now on Friday the 14th we'll be all packed up to go back where we came from. Then it's possible we'll be moving in March to a third building to make way for other sections in Building One. Finally, in mid-2009, everyone in all three buildings will be moving into one large place for the next ten years. That doesn't mean we'll avoid annual shuffles, though. That seems to be about the norm, and I expect to be at a new desk once every twelve months. It keeps things interesting.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I think my distance from the windows has been fairly constant.
PPS - Our recycling bin will need to be emptied many times before Friday.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

GrandCentral phone system

I like the idea of the GrandCentral consolidated phone system. It's old news to the tech sector, but I only got excited about it the other day. Not only does it mean you can start screening callers to your different phones automatically (directing business contacts only to your work phone and so on) it also means you can change any of those underlying numbers without having to inform all of your contacts.

For businesses, unfortunately, this means that key employees might leave with a large number of customers that automatically follow them to their new, rival company. It also means I can shop around for the absolute best mobile deal, changing my plan every year if I want, and I never have to inform anyone of my new numbers. I can move house - even interstate or overseas - and still get my home calls. If I go on holidays, I can temporarily redirect all my numbers to voice mail and check it when I get back. The possibilities for taking back control on Mr Bell's fiendish device are staggering and very interesting.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Now I just want the same ability with my paper mail.
PPS - Though that would look a bit different.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Faking sports skill for YouTube scouts

I've heard that sports scouts are starting to use YouTube to look for new talent because it's easier than travelling all the way across the country to look at one kid who might be worth your time. The problem there is that the video can be doctored in very subtle ways, and it doesn't even have to be edited. For instance, you could mark a football field in nine-metre increments instead of ten to make kicks and throws look longer than they really are.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - That's just one example.
PPS - You could also use non-standard equipment to enhance the performance.

Friday, 7 December 2007


I've watched a few videos of Parkour exploits and been quite fascinated. I was similarly enraptured by the early chase scene in Casino Royale. The practice of vaulting, rolling, falling and landing gracefully is either very impressive or very silly, depending on your point of view. I'd like to be able to do some of the things I've seen, if only to perform better in various youth group games, but I don't know where I'd go to learn such a thing. Perhaps you just have to watch videos and teach yourself.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Youtube has a large selection of videos.
PPS - I should start by attempting much smaller things than I see there.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Dead Rising on PC?

There is an unconfirmed rumour that popular XBox 360 zombie stomping game Dead Rising will be ported to the PC. I will surely buy it.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Given its current platform, it's likely to become a Windows Vista exclusive.
PPS - In which case I will not be able to play. Ever.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

A world without oil

If we run out of crude oil, what will the world become? We'll be entering the Second Iron Age, having come through a very brief period of high energy oil fuelled growth. Maybe the Steampunk visions will come to pass and most of our machines will be gears, pulleys and cables rather than silicon. Or maybe we'll start using wind, solar and wave power more. Our planes turn to zeppelins, our ships go back to sails or nuclear batteries and our cars become solar-electric-pedal powered multi-hybrids. I don't doubt we will survive, but the oil won't last forever and now it's become such a part of our lives that the transition to extreme high prices or no oil at all will be very difficult indeed.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I did recently watch Crude.
PPS - It's possible rising prices will mean we run out less quickly.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Polyphasic sleep

Recently I've become fascinated with the concept of polyphasic sleep. The idea is to sleep for 30 minutes every four hours instead of sleeping through the whole night. Leonardo da Vinci did it for a time, and Kramer tried it on Seinfeld too (without much success). The reasons I think it would work well for me are that I'm an introvert who likes a bit of down time, and if I was sleeping only 3 hours per day, I'd get plenty of that. I could catch up on all my reading and television pretty quickly, get some extra exercise, all kinds of things.

Apparently the adjustment period is pretty rough, though, and I wouldn't want to try it unless I'm on holidays. If I do give it a go, it will be just after Christmas so that I'm still away from work and all the parties are over and done with. Going back to work would be a bit tricky, since I'd need at least one good half-hour nap at lunchtime to stay functional. Still, as I said, this is currently fascinating to me.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - If I try it, I'll write about it here.
PPS - Even if I fail.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Games culture around the world

A recent conversation between Anthony, Deb and me:
"In Korea they have dedicated StarCraft [TV] channels."
"Games are really big in Korea."
"You'd think I'd know that. I'd have thought China would be big."
"China is all gold farmers."
"What about Japan?"
"In Japan they're all too busy dressing up as game characters."

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I know stereotypes are generalisations that don't fit everyone.
PPS - I also know that to dress up as a game character, you probably play the game.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Online games dictatorships

Online game subscriptions are taxes to the dictators. They run the country and they set the rules, but your membership is entirely voluntary. Nobody makes you play WoW, unless you are a poor gold-farming slave, I guess.

So how far can the dictators go before the players start leaving in droves? Why would they want to do such a thing? Well, in the end it might not be a conscious choice the dictators make. With absolute power comes absolute corruption. They won't all turn out like that, especially because it's in the best interests of the company to keep the game fun to play rather than a steaming pile of bureaucracy or corruption, but it could happen.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I have recently suspended my City of Heroes subscription.
PPS - But that was because I didn't have time to play any more.