Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Logogenesis - the creation of words

I think it would be interesting to create a database of Latin root words and have a program combine them randomly, creating new words with their definitions. Some interesting stuff would probably come out, but I bet there would also be a lot of nonsense, like "optogenesis: the creation of new eyes" and "sauroitis: inflammation of the lizard".

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It might be worth it anyway.
PPS - I'd have to get a Latin dictionary file to write it.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Pre-emptive insurance claims revisited

Some time ago I wrote about claiming on insurance for preventative measures like cutting down dangerous trees before they hurt people. The same could be done for medical insurance, but I have since thought of a good reason that insurance companies would not allow such pre-emptive claims.

The reason they might hesitate to pay up front for procedures that would save them money in the long term is that they don't know for sure that their clients will be with them for the long term. So even if paying for laser eye surgery now would save them thousands over the course of my life, I might choose to jump ship the next day, taking their expected savings with them. They would need a lock-in contract from me to guarantee my continued membership until the return on investment is met. Unfortunately for me, that means they don't have to fight to keep me after that, and can offer me terrible terms and fees for the period of that lock-in.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Maybe they wouldn't do that, though.
PPS - Maybe.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Fish is a verb

Over the weekend I went fishing at Noosa with about 20 other guys from the church. It was fun, but because I'm no angler, my activities could be more accurately described as "fish feeding". I did manage to drag one toadfish out of the river, but that was hardly worth it. My surf fishing consisted of casting a line and mistaking waves for nibbles. Still, it was good to get to the beach for a weekend and to spend some time with guys.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - And it was very good to get home again.
PPS - Oh, and I got a little sand crab at one point, too.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Wayne's World psychology

Wayne has his problems and he's a bit of a slacker, but he's also a leader. Garth, on the other hand, is a basket case and a nerd. I've always felt more like Garth than Wayne.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's possible that constitutes a psychological disorder.
PPS - As would comparing yourself to movie and television characters.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Responding to your fans

On the special features of the Stargate movie The Ark of Truth, there is some footage from a sci-fi convention. At one point a fan gets up and sings a song he wrote about the show. Most of the cast responds much the same way as I did: cringing.

There are two ways of responding to fan creations if you are a celebrity. People will write bad songs about you, bad stories, produce bad drawings and knock-off movies. You can respond directly in proportion to the quality of the product, which means sometimes you will be telling hardcore fans they suck, or you can respond in proportion to the depth of feeling behind it. People create fan art because they like the original, not because they are artists themselves. If you don't take that into account, you might come across as unappreciative.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I was going to use a more insulting word for "unappreciative".
Some fan art will be high quality.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

A simple photo backup solution

If you've got only one copy of your digital photos, or all the copies reside in the one house, you should back them up. Burning a DVD is a good start, but it won't save the photos from a house fire. Burn a DVD of all your digital photos and take it to work. That's "off-site backup", and it's less likely both copies will be lost. If you don't have a DVD burner, buy one. They're cheap, and I'll bet your photos are worth it.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - If you don't have an office away from home, give the DVD to a friend or family member.
PPS - If you've got no friends, no family and no office, you probably don't have photos either.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Naming external devices in Ubuntu

Since I switched to Ubuntu Linux at work, I was a bit miffed that all my devices (USB drive, old hard drives, mobile phone in data mode) appeared as "/media/disk" - all the same name. I looked for ages to find out how to set unique and meaningful names for them, but nothing worked, so I just put up with it. Then today I found the answer. For anyone else who has the same problem, these instructions might come in handy:
  1. Open Nautilus to the Computer area.
  2. Connect the device.
  3. Right-click the device and select Properties, then the Drive tab.
  4. Expand the Settings section.
  5. Type the desired name in the Mount Point box and close the window.
  6. Unmount and remount the device.
It's embarrassingly easy for the time it took me to discover the feature.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I just expected it to be harder for some reason.
PPS - Some other things are hard, but perhaps I'm just misunderstanding them.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Worms: Open Warfare

I've been playing Worms: Open Warfare on the DS for about a week now, and occasionally I get to thinking that a "trick shot" mode would entertain me briefly. I'd set worms on cliffs, just about out of health and ready to set off a chain reaction of explosions and flying critters. And if it didn't go just right, the trick shot mode would reset it to try again, or allow you to replay it exactly as it happened.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It might be just me.
PPS - Also, it might end up sucking all the fun out of the game by making it non-random.

Friday Zombie Blogging - A Warning

A man identifying himself as "Wesley Wyndham-Price" at a town meeting somewhere in Georgia, USA, warns of a potential zombie attack. After finishing his spiel, he fled the meeting.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It is important to note that this event took place on the first of April.
PPS - It is also true that "Wesley Wyndham-Price" is a Buffy character.

Thursday, 17 April 2008


A while ago, I believed I would never be bored again. This was based primarily on always having a list of things to do that could occupy my time. Yesterday, however, I was at home sick and, for most of the time, alone. I did not work from my list because it didn't occur to me. Usually I don't have to. So yesterday I got bored, and it was a kind of revelation. It may just mean that I need to pay more attention to my actions list at home instead of just at work.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Being sick, I may not have been able to do much anyway.
PPS - But I can see now a few achievable actions I could have done.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Sick at home

I've been sick at home yesterday and today, hence the slightly irregular blog posting schedule. You'd think it would be easier to keep a routine without work to worry about, but somehow it throws everything a bit off centre. I guess work has become a part of my subconscious routine-keeping so when you take it away I get a bit lost. It makes sense. Anyway, the sickness seems to be clearing up, so I should be back at work and back in the routine tomorrow.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Hopefully I'll have something interesting to post then, too.
PPS - I caught up on all my news yesterday, but it keeps building up.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Boastful complaining

Boasting is traditionally known as exaggerating your accomplishments beyond what really happened. There is another way too, where you overstate the difficulties you overcame. I've been guilty of that in the past, and I didn't classify it as boasting at the time.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - My opinion on the matter has changed since I realised this.
PPS - And I plan to change my behaviour too.

Monday, 14 April 2008

PC fixed

A while ago I had some trouble with my PC at home. It wouldn't turn on properly, so I replaced the power supply. That worked up to a point, but then it wouldn't stay on for more than about an hour. I was frustrated, and ready to replace all the inner bits - motherboard, CPU, RAM etc. Over the weekend, however, I made a discovery. When I had unplugged all the power leads to replace the power supply, I had unplugged the CPU fan too. Then I had neglected to plug it back in. So now I have a working PC again, and all it took was one fan cable plugged in.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's a much cheaper solution than I was prepared for.
PPS - I would have rather made this discovery straight away, though.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Semi-automatic door

I am, so far, the only one who finds this sign funny, but I'll let you be the judge:

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I just think "to open push button" is not very automatic.
PPS - It might just be me.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Zombie Dearest

Zombie Dearest is a short animated film about a vegetarian zombie called Tofu. I've heard it's rather good.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I do plan to watch it soon.
PPS - Perhaps in my copious free time.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Progress on the web

The web is tending to slow down in some ways, even as it explodes in other directions. It's gaining a kind of technological momentum, which is great if you're headed in the right direction already. But the thing about the future is that it's all a grey fog, so who knows what the right direction is?

Although we're doing spectacular new things with web applications, they're limited by the current crop of web browsers. That does tend to push browsers to greater heights, but as a web designer you need to aim across the board. That means you can't demand your users view your site with any particular browser, and so sites in general need browsers to have features in common.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - That's why we have standards for things like HTML.
PPS - But the standards tend to follow behind what people are trying to do.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

A fictional exchange

I thought I'd dig through my miscellaneous writing file a bit today, and found the following two-line dialogue exchange:

"How can you smile on your way to work?"

"I'm not at work yet. That's how."

It's a little slice of life that never happened, I suppose.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I have never asked or been asked that question.
PPS - I guess it could still happen.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

The speed of fashion

There is a limit to the speed of fashion based on the production chain. You can't wear something faster than it can be designed, produced, shipped and purchased. To break that barrier, you need something that can be designed and built right where you are, no matter where that is. I have trouble imagining such a system, but I expect fashion will become much more confusing if they ever break that speed barrier.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - There's also a certain crowd momentum, filtering for design quality.
PPS - That's why most things never appear off fashion show catwalks.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Room in your eyes

I looked up the correct medical name for that yellow crust that forms in the corners of your eyes while you sleep. I usually call it "sleep", but that seemed ambiguous to me, so I thought the proper term would be more helpful. It's called "rheum", pronounced "room". Oh, yes, that's much better, especially when speaking:

"I had some rheum in my eyes."
"Room for what?"
"No, R-H-E-U-M. You know, sleep."
"Why didn't you just say 'sleep' in the first place?"

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I do this kind of thing because I am difficult.
PPS - Doctors probably have to explain their terminology all the time.

Friday, 4 April 2008

A quick question

If desk allocations were decided at your company by an impartial optimising computer program, would you feel better about that or worse? It would probably depend on who wrote the program and to what specifications. It would be too easy to write a program that does a much worse job than a person in this regard.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Our section was going to be moved again last month.
PPS - Fortunately, that doesn't seem to be the plan any more.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Effective Brains

Technically not zombie news, but tickled my zombie sense anyway:
10 Habits of Highly Effective Brains
. Just sounds a bit zombified to me.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm sure the article has value besides a zombie joke.
PPS - Link via BoingBoing.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Why badness is interesting

I think, in the general view, "being good" and "being bad" are seen not at the positive and negative ends of the morality spectrum respectively, but at the middle and negative. Being good is usually seen as a kind of passive neutrality where you don't do anything at all. At best, goodness fights against badness, but in the absence of badness, it wouldn't do anything.

Badness, in contrast, is interesting because at least it means doing something. There's some substance to it, even if it is destructive.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Being actively good in our society is lumped in with "sucking up".
PPS - Or helping old ladies cross the street.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

So You Think You Can Act?

I'd be interested in a TV talent show based around acting. Despite bad experiences in the past with Big Brother auditions, I think I'd even go along to the auditions. I can imagine the actors working with different directors in different styles week by week and a panel of judges responding. It's all fairly plausible, but it wouldn't work very well. For one thing, it's not nearly as exciting as singing or dancing, so I would expect the ratings to be lower than those shows.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Also, there's irony in making reality TV with actors.
PPS - It's a niche-focused idea.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Freaky life narration

If you ever want to freak yourself out, imagine your day being narrated by the host of Unsolved Mysteries. If you break your normal routine, it sounds particularly worrisome.

"Instead of taking his usual route home, he decided to get off the bus one stop early walk down some back streets. Several strangers reported seeing him leave the bus, cross the road and head into the alley."

Mokalus of Borg

PS - You should stop when you start inserting "That was the last time anyone saw him alive."
PPS - Because by then you'll probably be panicking.