STATIC DISCLAIMER: All the stuff in here is purely my opinions, and they tend to change depending on what mood I'm in. If you're going to get bitter if I say something about you that you don't like, then maybe don't read. I avoid using names as much as possible, and would request that people who know me do the same in their comments. Basically, I often vent my frustrations on here, so if you happen to be someone who frustrates me, expect to read a description of someone very much like you in here!

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Useless weapon in new game

The above link will take you to a description of a weapon in the upcoming game Hellgate: London, which looks to be a fairly epic 1st person shooter. However, when I saw the description of this weapon, I had to laugh. Quote:

The Cricketbat

Max mod slots: 1 relic

A common item used for generations on pitches around the world, these sanctified versions can crush the skull of a demon as swiftly as England winning the Ashes.

So... use this weapon and die? :) Probably not the most choice of description, seeing as how England almost never win the Ashes, and we flog the pants of them on a regular basis. Maybe we should revise it to read "...can crush the skull of a demon as swiftly as England getting absoluely trounced by Australia in the Ashes." Probably would better convey the imagery they're aiming for...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Church of Faith-Based Science

I've been struggling lately with the emergence of science as a substitute for a belief in God, and the promotion of said belief system. While adherents will deny it adamantly, the belief that humans have the capasity and facility to understand the universe from an external perspective I believe requires as much faith as a belief in God, as if you follow the logic of that idea through, it very quickly becomes infinitely recursive, as it would require us to have a capasity to fully understand ourselves and all our understanding, which in turn would require us to have the capasity to understand ourselves and all our understanding, etc. etc. Presently, the issue of this recursion is resolved with a simple "it just is", which people choose to believe. The same result is used to explain away the advent of life, and the understanding of what it means to be concious, as well as my personal favorite, where did the empty space come from? Whenever something is finite, it must be contained by something else yes? So what contains the now-believed-to-be-finite universe? Ah, we don't know - but obviously something does.

The argument against the existance of God is that his existance can't be proved using experiments which produce consistant results. Possible results are all-encompasing, and therefore aren't real experiments, which leads scientists to believe God to be "made up" as his nature isn't testable. However, that doesn't prove God doesn't exist.
In a recent video I watched of a Q&A with Richard Dawkins, someone said to him:
"The problem is that you're applying natural laws to God, when He claims to exist outside of them."
Dawkins' response was: "Well that's awfully convenient, isn't it?"
While Dawkins is suggesting that the inability to apply natural laws to God's existance is ultimately evidence of his non-existance, that is not necissarily the case. It's just a fairly typical humanistic stance to take when faced with questions that don't fit in with our current understanding. It's just as convenient to ridicule an avenue of possibility simply because you find another more appealing (and in Dawkin's case, I'd suggest "comforting", but that's another discussion...).
Here's an example:

The rules of this universe are as follows: There are three school boys - Billy, Timmy and Freddy. Billy's mum and dad work overseas, and so Billy has to talk to them on the phone. Timmy and Freddy have never seen Billy's mum and dad, and so don't believe he has parents. Billy can talk to his mum and dad on the phone, but they screen their calls and will only answer phone calls from his home phone. Timmy and Freddy can't go to Billy's house, because they told their parents that Billy lives on his own, and thus are not allowed. Obviously Timmy and Freddy are school children, and can't travel overseas to verify Billy's parents existance. For the purpose of this experiment, the boys' universe is their town.

Timmy says to Billy: "You don't have parents Billy. I've never seen them."
Billy: "Yes I do. I talk to them every night, and they talk to me. Just only on the phone. But they send me presents and stuff."
Timmy: OK then, ask them to send you a scooter. Then I'll know that they're real.

Billy goes home, asks his parents for a scooter. They send one.

Billy: See, I have a scooter. My parents are real.
Timmy: No, see, that could have been a coincidence. You might have already had a scooter, or maybe you went out and bought one, or maybe another one of our friends sent it to you. Hang on a sec. (turns to Freddy) Freddy! Come here!
Freddy: What?
Timmy: Billy says he has parents, but I don't believe him. I got him to ask them for a scooter, and he got one, but now I need you to verify my findings. Get him to ask for something.
Freddy: OK... Um... Billy - ask your parents for a soccer ball.

Billy goes home, asks his parents for a soccer ball. His parents say no, as sometimes parents do.

Billy: My parents said no.
Timmy: No they didn't. They don't exist. You're just pretending they're real. You didn't get a soccer ball, so they're not real.

Timmy doesn't believe Billy, because Billy's parents exist outside of the confines of Timmy's explainable universe. This is a simplified analogy of why the science vs. religion argument will never be resolved. Science likes problems with mutually exclusive answers. You have to find an experiment that will either come back positive or negative. This doesn't work with God, as he doesn't necissarily choose to respond the way we want him to, and in particular he's not so big on being tested. Imagine if Billy's parents were getting calls from Billy every night asking them to provide evidence of their existance? What's important to Billy's parents here? Meaningful conversation with their son, or the belief of his friends? I'm going with option one. God isn't really into satisfying sceptics, and while sceptics will say that's evidence of his non-existance, logically that doesn't work. If I choose not to answer a question for you, that doesn't mean I don't have an answer.

I'm going to take this one step further - I don't think it's the place of science to be suggesting that it can answer these kind of questions. Science might be able to tell me that sometimes my wife acts in a way I find irrational because of her hormones, it can't tell me the right thing to say to make her feel better every time. It's just not a "science" question. In the same way, science can make observations about the laws the govern the universe, but it can't answer the question of why they did, do, and will behave that way. It's just the way it is, and that's as far as it can go.

This is why I think it's important to recognise the growing number of faith-based science adherents who believe that ultimately, science holds all the answers. That our current scientific understanding shows the existance of God to be false. And most scarily of all, that steps should be taken to stop people being allowed to think, speak and act based on a belief in God, as they're "obviously deluded/irrational/unintelligent". The general consensus from the reading I've been doing seems to be that these faith-based science adherents (who would cry out in disgust at being called that, by the way) see people's right to hold a religious belief as a right to believe in something imaginary if that's what you want, but ultimately it IS imaginary, and the law, education, etc. should treat it as such. Well, I'm not up for that. I believe that God is real. Not just in my head, but that he's real in your world, even if you don't believe it. And believe me, I'm starting to get fired up about this. A short read of the forums on will show there's plenty of support for this idea, and as a Christian, I can see this as a possible threat to my freedom to continue to be a Christian in the way I can today.

Having just watched some short video on the above mentioned site, I'd like to prove the existance of what I describe as faith-based science adherants with the following quote from Richard Dawkins himself:
It is, of course, a very difficult question to ask how things began at the very beginning of the universe. It's very difficult to even know what the word 'beginning' even means with respect to the universe, that any scientist, any biologist, any reasonable person would accept. However, when you ask what is the
alternative - if the alternative that's being offered to what physists now talk about; a big bang, a spontaneous singularity which gave rise to the origin of the universe - if the alternative to that is a divine intelligence; a creator that would have to have been complicated, statistically improbable, the very kind of thing which scientific theory such as Darwin's exists to explain, then immediately we see that however difficult and apparently inadequate the theory of the physist is, the theory of the theologians; that the first cause was a complicated intelligence, is even more difficult to accept. They're both difficult. But the theory of the cosmic intelligence is even worse.

Well, Dick, that's your opinion. And that's just the thing - it's just opinion. Not science. But because it's a scientist's opinion, that makes it gospel in the church of faith-based science. Believing in the unprovable option you find most easy to rationalise is as much faith as believing in the one that you persieve offers the least rationalisation, but is the most universally applicable solution (which is why it's seen as being "convenient"). You want to believe that something sprang from nothing, even though it flies in the face of the rest of accepted scientific theory? Go ahead. I guess we'll all either see for ourselves or not exist in the end.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

And then, there were four.

It is my wonderous pleasure to inform you, oh reader of my blog, that my lovely wife is currently just over seven weeks pregnant. :D

YAAAYYY!!! I'm going to be a Dadda all over again!!

More to come, but right now, I'm off to bed...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

ICQ makes me mad

I can't remember how old I was when I first starting using the internet regularly, but it would have been during my early teens. We had a 33.6kbps modem, and an internet package where we recieved a certain amount of hours per month, and after that we started paying rather hefty by the hour charges. It was the ungolden age of the internet - before Google, MSN Messenger or MySpace. However, there was ICQ. ICQ was, from my understanding, the first really accessable IM program. Everyone I knew who had the internet also had ICQ. So I signed up for a number, and started meeting people. I've made some great friends over ICQ, and there's been periods where I haven't connected to my account, and then remembered it was there, and would connect and chat with people I hadn't spoken to in ages. Having a ICQ number in the low 2,000,000s was kind of a status symbol for me - I've been in this since the beginning.

Well, all that is now gone. About a week ago, I logged on to my Mac at work on which I run Adium. I have all my IM accounts linked up to it, and it's quite handy. Anyway, it springs a message telling me to enter my ICQ password. This kind of thing is not uncommon, so I figured it must just have lost my password locally and need updating. So I enter it. It prompts again. After a couple of attempts, I decide it must be a server issue and leave it for the day...
Today, it's been a good week since then, and I've been trying every password I've ever used every day since then. Nothing is working. The password retrieval page won't accept any of my previous email addresses either. My password changed itself, and now I can't get back into my ICQ account, which contains a list of all my old friends who occasionally come online. The only solution I'm offered is to register a new ICQ number. But a new number won't carry with it the history the old one did. It's all gone, and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. *sigh* Not only that, but all my details are still in the old one (you can look it up online) but I can't get access to it anymore. It's not very fun.

Gah. Don't you hate it when stuff like this happens?

Monday, November 20, 2006


I was thinking... what constitutes professionalism?
See me - I don't wear ties. I don't own a pair of dress trousers. I don't take many things very seriously, and I talk to myself often while I work. I take great plessure in pursuits some would describe as immature, or even childish. I don't seperate the work me from the not-at-work me - if I'm having trouble at home and am upset, I don't become happy-go-lucky guy when I get to work.

However - give me a Windows server to admin, and I'm a machine. I might change the background to an image of an animated Japanese girl in a costume that resembles a skimpy school uniform, but that server will run as smooth as silk. And if something goes wrong, I'll fix it. Because I'm good at that. That's what I do. Do I need to be Mr. Conformity? Do only conformists really succeed in life? I don't know... This is a concerning thought. I'd rather not change who I am to succeed profesionally. But I'd like to be successful, because I think I'm good at what I do.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Old Draft: "My life blows"

I was digging through the list of posts that I'd made previously on blogger, and came across this one, saved as draft. While it is increadibly negative about my situation, I read through it and thought "Wow, that's really cool!" just because of it's style and oddness. So I present it for you all to read. So you know, I don't feel like this at all now. Things are generally goodness. But yes - like I say, very clever I think. It's unfinished, and I'm not really in the same place so I can't really go back and complete it, but hey - enjoy. Or not. Or be dragged down into it's beapfam-ish depression. You'll see... ;)

Hi. I'm sure some people still read this, but I know things have gone downhill as far as readership goes. So here's a quick... ah, thing...

Someone commented once that the tone of my blog seems to be somewhat downcast, and wondered if maybe I only blog when I'm unhappy. Sans technical stuff or random weirdness, my answer would be:

Yep - absolutely.

Only blog when I'm unhappy.

Which is why I'm blogging now.

See, that long wide corner on the rollercoaster that is my life has just straightened out to throw me down the biggest crapstick of a downhill.

Anything serious? Not really.

Things just generally suck. Or blow. Or whatever. I feel like crap - but the worst part is the hopelessness.

Black. And dark.

I don't see a solution. To any of it.

I'm screwed.

Metaphorically of course; I'm screwed as an imaginary description of how bad things are. Although, if I was being screwed - that would normally be a good thing, yeah? I mean, not to bring the moral tone of my illustrious blog down too far, but "screwing" is normally considered to be a good thing, isn't it?


That metaphore is not very apt. Instead, why don't we say I'm being eaten alive by piranah-faced monkeys. Actually, let's make an acronym. Being Eaten Alive by Piranah-FAced Monkeys. BEAPFAM. I'm totally BEAPFAMed.

There. That's a better metaphore.

So my life is beapfamed at the moment, and I feel I'm very quickly losing places of comfort to which I previously might have retreated. My life now revolves around being involved in nothing.

What? What do I mean?


If my lovely wife was to spend the evening in front of a riverting TV show, while I wandered around her general vacinity, aimlessly bumping my head into hardwood cupboards, that would be OK by her.


If I was to spend an evening engrossed in something I enjoy which she finds to be uninteresting, and she also was unable to find something to keep her amused, that would NOT be OK by her.

So in order to prevent large bumps on my head, I spend most evenings sitting on the couch watching crap on TV that I honestly couldn't care less about. Some nights the TV is good.

Or OK.

But mostly, it's less about me watching TV, and more about me not doing something that I would enjoy.

Crazy? Yes.

Yes I am.

And I think perhaps this is the issue. I am crazy.



I, in the not so distant past, moved from one job I didn't really enjoy to another job I don't really enjoy. Different reasons for the non-enjoyment, but the warning signs were there. Why did I not heed them?




I had always thought to myself that the money controlled man would never be me.


But he is! And I am! Money is a funny thing like that. I mean, really, why is buying a house the epitome of a family man's financial life goals? I mean, he might have more after that, but that's the top of the hill - the one that makes it all good. Anything after that is a bonus.


Like making squares with red orbs around blue orbs to get gold rings.

From my perspective, buying a house has increased my stress levels. It has enouraged me to take a job based on just one factor. It has stopped me from having dates with my wife, as even though people say you can do dates on the cheap, no one likes a cheapskate. And no one likes a cheap date. You know what rhymes with dates?


Mine came today. Never paid rates before. Yesterday, we were celebrating the fact that thanks to my tax cheque, we could live a limited number of days without enourmous overdue bills hanging over our heads. True, they'd only be a week or two away, but perhaps just a few days of ignorant bliss. Just a few days... How many?


I paid all our bills this morning. Our rates arrived this afternoon. It's like this is some collosal TV show where everyone is laughing at my rollercoaster of hope.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Je te ve te ve!

I've always had a less then favourable opinion of the French in general.

But all that has changed...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Not Your Place

NOTE: This post is ultimately about circumsision, so if discussion of that kind of thing urks you, you might not want to read.

I have some interesting quirks. One of these, is that I cry pretty easy. For a guy, that's not something that's particularly admirable, but I don't care - it's who I am, and I like it. However, there are very specific things that get me emotionally choked up. One of the absolute worst for making me an emotional mess is things to do with family and children. For example, we were watching season 5 of 24, and without giving too much of the story away for those who might like to watch it, there's a bit where some nerve gas gets released into a shopping mall, and a handful of people die. The main character, Jack, knows this is happening and has raced out to try and get people outside, but for some people he's too late. He runs up and sees this little girl, possibly around 10 years old, collapse on the ground and so picks her up and runs outside while telling her to stay with him and all that usual stuff people say when they're trying to stop someone dying. They get her outside and inject her with... something, I dunno, and eventually she comes to. Anyway, as you'd imagine, it's done with that TV drama intensity that you'd expect in a scene like that. The point of the story is that by the end of that scene, I was a blubbering mess. My wife was sitting there having a bit of a giggle, not sure how to respond to my sudden display of emotion, but there was nothing I could do, I just was honestly drawn in to being concerned that the little girl might not make it, and how increadibly sad that would be if it were real.

Anyway, this is not the point of my post.

I stumbled across this site about circumsision the other day, and emailed it to myself so I could read it later. Why? Because the tiny bit that I read at work really hurt me, and that's the point of this post (and of the preceeding diatribe, btw). I had my son circumsised, and I am, and my father is also. I'm pretty sure his dad is too. When my son was born, my wife and I discussed whether or not we would. We researched, we spoke with people. It was important to us that we didn't make a decision on this based on false understanding and information. The understanding we came to was this: opinion on whether circumsision is OK are pretty much divided down the middle. There are plenty of people who will argue that you shouldn't for a variety of reasons, primarily that it's unnecessary in a number of ways. Some argue that it's a positive thing, that it prevents disease and has some other medical and non-medical benefits.

The thing that fires me up about the site above, is that it basically calls me a child abuser. It says that I've mutilated my child. I'm fine with people having opinions, I really am, but this isn't about opinion - it's about someone trying to put legislation in (admittedly not in australia, but that's not really my point) to call illegal actions that I and many, many others made a rational decision on based on weighed up evidence. More then that, the only option that is allowed for a parent not to be an evil child mutilator, is if you were misinformed. So the options are: ignorance, or abuse. I LOVE my son. My priorities in life start like this: God, Wife, Son... and then proceed on from there. I have given up a lot of things for those three, and I have already made the decision that if it was ever needed, I'd give my life up for any of them. I will protect my son from things that will be detrimental to him, but that doesn't mean that I will never let him be hurt. The day he was born, I watched a pediatrition bend his hand over flat against his arm and shove a needle into it. As it turns out, it was completely unnessisary - the needle was antibiotics in case he had an infection, but he didn't. He was just dehydrated because he wasn't feeding well. Should I resent that man for doing what he did? He caused my son unnessisary pain - surely I should feel some anger? The answer of course is no. He was doing what he believed, and we still believe, was best for our son. The same is true of my decision to have him circumsied.

How dare you, writters of that site? Your opinions don't justify the stigma you place on people who actively disagree. Nothing you've said on your site about the physical and mental side-effects of circumsision apply to ANYONE I know who is circumsised. I've never "missed" that part of my body - I don't care that it's not there. Who would? Oh, I know who would - those who would also say you shouldn't discipline your kids, because they need to make their minds up for themselves. That you should expose them to everything you possibly can, because then they'll be able to make decisions based on a full experience. That religious beliefs should be kept out of everywhere except churches with their doors closed, and that you shouldn't teach kids about them because they need to decide for themselves. Loving discipline makes good kids. Direction produces leadership and purpose. Religious beliefs produce and understanding that there are things more important then YOURSELF. And I think that's what this comes down to. The movement of people who says that we need to legislate against circumsision are those who are looking to blame something for their own lack of direction and purpose, and it might as well be this. There are things far more important then your foreskinless penis! There are people dying in your own country for lack of food and housing, and yet you're busy looking at yourself. Grow up, I swear. The same people will happly put half a dosen holes through their kids ear if they feel like. And don't say those just heal - I'm yet to see a person who had pierced ears who isn't left with a scar. A little hard pea-like piece of scar tissue in their earlobe. But you know what? No one will ever rally political support against piercing kids ears because everyone recognises it DOESN'T MATTER. In our sexually-focused society, where your own pleasure in life is all that matters, blaming your missing foreskin for your feeling of emptiness or incompletion might seem like a good idea. But let me put this to you: If it was there, you wouldn't feel any different. How do I know? Well, I don't have a foreskin - but I don't feel empty. Or hurt. Or abused. Or incomplete. I'm just one person - but I'm a 100% bonafide example of someone for whom this has had zero negative impact. My son will be exactly the same, because I'll teach him there's far more important things in life. He's circumsised because it's a reminder that he is a part of something that goes beyond the here and now. He's a part of our family. He's a part of God's family. I don't mind if people don't agree and don't want this for their kids - that's fine, and not a bad thing. Having a choice is a good thing. Just as long as they're willing to accept that there's two sides to the coin and not everybody has to be on your side.

OK, I'm done speaking to people who will never read this anyway. Needless to say, family is a big deal for me. When I get my faux political party policies written, family will feature pretty solidly. Not that I know how to write policy - it'll just be more a collection of what I think should happen politically. However, I've come to the realisation that family as I know it is being erroded and attacked, and I could use that to sound like we should rise up against the oppressors or whatever, but the fact of the matter is it's not going to get any better. People will redefine family based on their own agendas, and legislate to try and tear honest families apart. Eventually I'm sure they'll make it illegal for parents to talk to their kids about God, because that's indoctrinating them, and they have the "right" to make up their own mind. The generation of children who's parents are prevented from raising them - those children I feel sorry for. From where will they draw their direction? Being taught nothing of meaning, they will have to start with nothing, and try and build from there. They'll probably fail for generations to come as they try and regain what their greatgrandparents just took for granted.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Moon, consider yourself barked.

Ozzy Osborne eat your heart out. Actually, maybe I better rethink that comment - he may actually do it.

I have, just this evening, completed Guitar Hero on the expert difficulty. Here, lookit:

Not the best of pictures, but you can definatley make out the important bits. My legendary show will be talked about for years.

So yay - mostly because now I can focus my attention on Kingdom Hearts II which I preordered so I could play it as soon as it came out, and yet for some reason I was completely distracted by the fact that I was yet to master Guitar Hero. Oh well - consider itself mastered.

w00t! I am a GUITAR LEGEND!!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Telemarketing = FIREY HATE!!!!!

Here's a roughly acurate transcript of a conversation that just took place on my phone this afternoon:

{ring ring.... ring ring....}

{I pick up. Background noise.}

Me: Hello?

Phone: Hello sir, my name is Raj, I'm calling from (didn't hear company name) and I'm just ringing to congratulate you. Your phone number has been randomly selected to win a free LG #### flip phone. Now before I ship the package to you, I'd just like to ask you a couple of questions. Is your current phone pre-paid or on a contract?

Me: Pre-paid.

Phone: And how much would you spend per month on phone credit?

Me: Oh, not much. About $20 every three months?

Phone: {pause} $20 every three months?

Me: Yep.

Phone: {beep... beep... beep... beep... beep...}

I am quite cranky about this, and if I could remember the name of the company, I'd ring Fair Trading and get them to give them stick. It's so SO wrong. Telemarketing sucks when they're selling you stuff, but when they pretend you've won something free, and then hang up on you when you don't meet their "minimum spend" it's just gone to the realms of completely not right.

This probably will achieve nothing, but if anyone reads this and then gets the same phone call, could you please let me know the company name, and I'll ring the Department of Fair Trading about it? It's about time I took a stand about some of this stuff - it's just not right.

In other news, my next post will be about my political party. I'm adding a new thing to the party agenda - national, enforced, telco independant, do-not-call list that is easy for consumers to opt in to, and where the responsobility rests with the companies doing telemarketing to not call those people, else hefty fines. Like, "go out of business" type fines for repeat offenders.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

My boy rocks out!!!

In the midst of completing "Bark At The Moon" on Expert difficulty, a sudden flash from a camera momentarily distracts our protagonist, but he quickly regains his composure, and completes a blistering solo without so much as breaking a sweat.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

They're On To Me!

Well, it seems Apple now hate me. Awesome. :D
Check it:

This is what I was greeted with when I followed links on Apple's website to their knowlegebase. I guess they must be on to my scheme to free the minds of deluded computer users from the grip of Steve.

Seeing I'm on a Mac-bagging train of thought, can I just sing the unpraises of Apple's iTV? While I entirely agree with bringing the computer to the living room TV, there are so many products out there that do such a better job of the small feature set this product is set to provide, and they do it without locking you into ONLY being able to use iTunes and ONLY letting you play content bought from the iTunes store. Not to mention they offer you a much, much broader feature set. Steve himself calles it an "iTunes player" in the keynote, and basically that's ALL it does. Plays stuff shared in your iTunes library on your TV.
Now, I've done a little bit of talking to people, and it seems to me that the number one problem that needs solving in the living room is not how to get your iTunes library onto your TV, but how to cut down on the number of devices, and therefore remotes, that you have to deal with. So wouldn't it be sensible to make a box that can do everything via just one remote? Not only that, but if that one remote had like a stupidly limited number of buttons on it, it would even fit in with Apple's "we make stuff for idiots" mentatlity that seems to permiate all their products.

But see, they won't compete there - because Windows Media Center already does the whole all-in-one thing, and does it INCREADIBLY well. It's just silly the way Apple go about things. Compete, Apple. Make a media center that does everything Windows MCE does, but better. I dare you. But they won't... the pansies. :P

Monday, September 25, 2006

Like Pr0n Through The Internet, So Are The Days Of My Life

The first thing that came to mind that moves in greater quantity, and thus higher speed then sands through an hourglass...

Anyway, this is one of those posts where I unload about the blunter points of my existence, and in particular, my day today. The saga begins last night...

My son has been ill for a bit over a week with some virus or other that has had him coughing like a crazy person, particularly at night. Well, I've caught it. And last night, we were both coughing like crazy people into the wee small hours of the morning.

Feeling generally ill, and like my brain was about to explode thanks to all the coughing, I commented to my wife that maybe I'd call in sick to work today. Spend a day in bed destressing and healing. My doctor tells me I'm over stressed, and that's what is causing some of my recent physical ills.

Anyway, when I woke up this morning, I contemplated for a while and decided that the extra push of the snooze button I'd just finished enjoying meant I was now able-bodied enough to join the rest of the rat race in resuming normal employment for the week.

The next thing that happened was that the phone rang. It was my boss, letting me know that I should probably work from home today. Power was out at his house, and living in close proximity to our workplace, he assumed that the office would be the same. After organising to move an appointment I'd organised this morning, I mused on the wonderful fortune that had just befallen me - I now had an hour before I needed to start working, and I didn't need to commute home either! Overlooking sickness, this might turn out to be a reasonable day.

However, this was not to be. As I began working, the first thing I discovered is that neither of my two computers was able to connect to the office network. Figuring this must be the power, I shrugged and kept on working. However, as the hours wore on, and people from work began popping up on IM, I realised that this was not the case.

During the course of coming to this realisation, the phone rang. It was a client, who I couldn't help due to the fact I was not connected to the office. Then the phone rang again. And again. And each time, it was the same story. I sensed the unspoken frustration of my boss and coleagues as I had to hand off every single call to someone else.

I started trying to fix my problem with connecting to the work network as the phone thankfully took a rest from it's relentless ringing. I was feeling decidedly stressed because I'd fielded several support calls, and actually helped none of them. As I tried to resolve the issue, I got more and more bermused by the lack of logic apparent in the problem's continuing existance. It was at this point that one of my workmates, whom I was talking with via IM, suggested that perhaps it was an issue with the telephone exchange due to the recent blackouts.

Aha, I thought, that could well be it! However, we never lost power, and the phone works fine! I picked it up to check my supposed tautolegy, and was greeted by deathly silence. I hung up, and tried again. Again, the phone screamed silently in my ear. By this point I was getting increadibly stressed and frustrated about the lack of things that function and also exist in my vicinity. I rang our phone from my mobile, and without even ringing the phone beeped loudly in my ear, and displayed "Connection Error" on the screen. I tried calling the phone from Skype, and was connected to a constant beep, which didn't sound at all like the kind of language my phone would normally use.
Great, I thought, no phone, no VPN. My boss will never let me work from home again.

It was at this point that my wife, who had recently returned home from shopping, emerged from having put our son in bed for his afternoon sleep, and commented: "Is that my mobile ringing?" It was, and in my wife's answering it my day got profoundly more crazy. It was a friend of my wife's who has been going through some pretty full-on personal stuff, and for reasons I won't disclose, needed urgently for someone to drive her to Wollongong. Faced with the prospect of trying to keep Jake amused while working while being sick and very tired, I decided it was time to fall back to Plan A, and take the rest of the day as sick leave. So I messaged my boss, and he responded that it was OK. I had previously mentioned to him that if I couldn't sort out my connectivity issues, I may need to do this, so at least he was prepared. Only problem is that my boss is very non-readable in these situations, so he may be wildly frustrated at me to the point of near dismissal, or he may be completely fine with the whole arrangement; I just don't know.

So, I desperately try to sort out handing off the phone messages that had accumulated unnoticed while the phone wasn't working, and my wife starts hunting down directions to an unknown location in Wollongong. I then tried to call the phone company from my mobile, and after several layers of push-button phone menus, followed by several layers of those annoying "I can understand what you say!" voice menus that never actually can understand what you say, I finally arrived at my destination: a young woman by the name of Bree from AAPT. After asking me to confirm the same information the "speak to me!" menus had just asked me for, I described to her the situation, to which she replied that I should do an equiptment isolation test so that I can be sure its not my problem, because if it is, they'll charge me a bunch of money for a service call. Remembering previous dealings with Telstra, I ask if she can test the line. Yes she can, but I'll need to disconnect my ADSL modem. I do. My wife frowns at me disapprovingly as her Whereis search times out.
"Oh I'm sorry," Bree says flattly, "I can't seem to test it. I'll need to call Telstra and get them to do it. Do you mind holding?"
"Sure" I reply, "But I'm on my mobile, so I might run out of credit."
"If it does, I'll call you back." she replies swiftly, and without waiting for a response places me on hold.

We seem to have neglected the multi-digit key required to jack me into your intellegence-deficient matrix.

Sure enough, within a couple of minutes of annoying electronified Bach, my phone beeps rudely at me, signalling that I have an inhumanly short quantity of time left to wrap up my conversation. Seeing as how the only conversation I'm engaged in at this time is the one with my inner psycho killer, itching wildly to get out and modify the popular venacular from "going Postal" to "going Justin", I sit in silent stupor until my phone promptly beeps again, notifying me my call and my sanity are now at an end. My inner psycho killer promptly gives up and caps himself, restoring me to a state of defeatest apathy. However, there's still the issue of not having a phone...

Thankfully, through some twist of fate, my ADSL connection continues to work. So I jump on Skype (who's creators are my official "Heros of the Day") and give AAPT a call back on their "13-" number, which should mean it's charged like a local call. Well, I was paying 32 cents a minute, and it took me two and a half minutes to navigate through the previously mentioned menu system, even though I was interrupting the annoying "you can talk to me!" woman at every chance I had. Finally, I end up speaking to some guy whose name I now completely don't care about, who once again reconfirms all the information I've just provided.

Yes yes, he can see that I was speaking to Bree, blah blah... Oh wow, there's a fault. Really?? No way! Who would of thought? Technician will be dispatched, etc... expected resolution is close of business tomorrow.

That's right boys and girls, I am officially without a phone for a day and a half for no good reason I can see. It was working, and then it wasn't. And now it won't be for another day and a half. The worst part is that I was working from home today and tomorrow, and now, I'll be driving to the office tomorrow. Not only that, but I'm pretty convinced my boss doesn't like me working from home anymore, but doesn't feel like he can now withdraw the offer. Well - the truth is that he can't. Thanks to rising petrol prices, we only have enough money to pay for the petrol for me to commute the 3 days in 5 I now do, and there's no public transport. If my boss were to change his mind, I'd be forced to find a new job.

So that brings us to now. Having dispatched my wife to Wollongong with the only working phone that still has credit, and being home sick with my sick son who really should be asleep but is right now coughing like a crazy person, I'm now about to reformat my perfectly good computer because I didn't believe the Vista upgrade advisor when it said "these things will cause you untold trouble!", and proceeded to upgrade anyway.

I guess I still have a lot to work on...

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
- John 16:33 (NIV)

EDIT (much later that evening): As it turns out, I'd also forgotten for the third time that I promised a client that today, I'd upload some system updates I'd done for them. So at twenty to ten on a Monday night when I'd called in sick to work, I'm working. I think I'm going insane.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Small PS3 Happiness

Some of you may have shared or at least noted my recent angst over the delay of the Playstation3 in PAL regions. Extending the wait until March makes it feel very much like an eternity away, and knowing that people in the US and Japan will be playing their PS3s for months before I get mine is a little... devaluing? As a consumer, Sony's Playstation division consider me less important then their US and Japanese consumers. It's not nice. However, it's obvious they had to shaft someone due to assembly issues, and hey - it's not really worth getting too cut up over a product delay.

Some small amount of previously unnoticed goodness suddenly caught my eye about the PS3 today, and renewed my confidence in my selected gaming platform. On the newly constructed Playstation3 website for us "Europeans", I was checking out the specs on the version of the console I am intending to purchase. Now, the console comes in two different versions - one with a 20Gb hard disk, and the one I'm getting: the 60gb version. However, there's one small note in the tooltip for the hard disk on the spec page that made me happy. It says this:
"However, it is possible to upgrade the storage still further by using a standard 2.5" hdd."
Did you see that? A standard 2.5" hard disk. No modding to store TV episodes on your PS3 - just throw in a bigger hard disk. ANY bigger hard disk - not Sony's proprietary PS3 branded hard disk at twice the normal cost, but a standard 2.5" hdd. I can see that being incredibly handy, myself. But hey, most people probably wouldn't care. It's just me I guess.

Alright - that's it. Go about your business, citizens.

PS: I think it's funny that Blogger's spellcheck wanted to replace "Playstation3" with "fluctuations."

Monday, September 11, 2006

My life doesn't suck

...but that doesn't mean bad things don't happen. In order to maintain a sense of balance, here is a post where each thing I want to complain about is balanced by one I think is awesome.

1p.) GUITAR HERO ROCKS MY WORLD!!!! This game is so much fun and I've been playing it like mad. Love it to bits. It's like they took my daydreams, and made a GAME out of them! Now, if they just could release Drum Hero with a drumkit controller...
1n.) PS3 has been delayed until March. SO SO bitter at Sony. Why? Primarily because it's not delayed in the US or Japan. See, if they'd delayed the world-wide launch by 3 months, I'd be OK. It's because they chose to snub us specifically.

2p.) My son is the most gorgeous amazing child to ever live. I love him to bits, and the other day I took him out for the morning, and bought him a babycino, and he was so appreciative, he kept saying "Babycino?" over and over again for the rest of the morning, and it was EXTREMELY cute.
2n.) My son is "terrible two", and drives my wife crazy, and then she's unhappy. He's wonderful, and I love him, but he knows how to push his Mumma off the edge, and does so on almost a daily basis. As you might imagine, this makes coming home from work a not-so-fun experience for Dadda, as Mumma just wants a warm, dark corner to curl up in and sleep, and me being home is the first opportunity for such things to happen. Not so tops.

3p.) I'm still employed! I have a job where I get paid holidays and sick leave, and they pay me well.
3n.) My job isn't much fun. I really don't enjoy the work, and *most days* I drive an hour to the office so that I can sit here on my own, or with one other guy who isn't really big on talking, and work. However, I am able to work from home, and do so a couple of days a week - so why am I coming to an empty office? I honestly don't know. I mean, from my boss's perspective, I guess it's some assurance that I won't be distracted by home stuff - except that there's this thing called the internet that constantly lures me away...

4p.) I'm currently trying to pimp a multi-level marketing system in order to make myself some extra cash!
4n.) I'm having to pimp a multi-level marketing system in order to make myself some extra cash.
But seriously on this point - it blows that Amway in Australia has made everyone wary of MLM systems. Amway was a huge unweildy unrewarding monster long before it ever hit Australian shores in force, and as a result, people would jump on board and then find they had to work their butt off to get any payout at all. Those people taught their kids that these "direct marketing" things are a waste of time and money, and now when I tell someone about Club Freedom they're extremely negative before they've even heard what it's about. Meanwhile, I've mentioned this thing to a couple of my friends thinking they might just be interested (travel and cash for next to no effort? If it works, who wouldn't be?) and got some serious cold shoulders. It's like "Whoa, hold up. If you're going to talk about this stuff, we can't be friends." and yet all I'm doing is putting it out there as an option to get some extra income. I'm cool with "Oh, cheers but not for me" but it's the embedded addition of "you are evil for trying to succeed" that gets me unhappy. Bah. Suxx0rs.

5p.) I'm really enjoying being involved with music at church, and we go to an awesome church.
5n.) My personal relationship with God is at an all-time low, and it's entirely because I can't pull my finger out and do the things I need to do. It's the same as me getting exercise - I KNOW I need to do it. It'll save my life. But do you think I'm going to make time in my day? I have no idea why I'm so adverse to doing the truely important things with my time, but if I ever figure it out, I'll let you know. I spend occasional moments in prayer, but all in all there's just not a lot of effort from the Justin camp on this one. I feel distant from God, and like I'm slacking off. The thing that is truely bad about this, is that we go to a really great church and I'm in a great place to flourish spiritually. I probably would if I could pull my finger out...

6p.) Last time they took a scan, I had a healthy spleen. That's good. :)
6n.) I have had a headache for 6 weeks straight. Nothing to do with my spleen, or other abdomonal organs. Not sure why, but get the feeling it could be to do with a combination of a non-ergonomic work environment, and an aging mattress. The wife is suffering from some muscular/skelletal pain as well which she swears is due to the mattress, hence that idea. Must see the doctor about it all...

7p.) I'm at lunch
7n.) Should probably get back to work...

Friday, August 25, 2006

Time for some drool

Just in case I haven't mentioned previously, I have a Playstation 3 on pre-order, and I now actually have enough money to pay for the thing. The more photos and stuff I see, and games I see footage/screenshots of, the more happy I am with my choice to layout the dosh for a new PS3, and wait until the Xbox360/Wiiiiiiiii come down in price. If there's one console I want to be playing, it's this one.

I had a discussion with my gamez 'n anime pimp (aka local game shop attendant) last night about the possible play-out of next gen domination, and he's actually putting his money on the Wii. Why? Because parents will buy it for their kids for Christmas. AU$350 vs. AU$849 (for the cheaper version of the PS3) is not a hard choice in a non-gaming parent's mind. Then again, maybe they'll buy their kids that "Leapfrog" thing that pretends to be a gaming console so it can trick kids into learning stuff... :P

Just as a post-script, my understanding is that although the above image has an IGN watermark on it, it's actually an official press picture of the PS3 and thus freely available. If I'm wrong, and you stumble across this page and are all upset about me stealing your image, just leave a comment and I'll remove and replace it with a different one. Cheers.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Shameless (and once only) Plug

Note to first time readers: The presence of an ad banner does not imply my blog is full of advertising. This is my one-and-only post about my newly acquired "buisness"/MLM-scheme unless it makes me craploads of money. If you're offended by advertising, then dig a hole and hide in it for the rest of your life.

Well, I've gone and done it. I've joined up with a multi-level marketing program, and now am looking to pimp my business to anyone who's interested. Kind of. I'm not really the right kind of person for these things, because I hate selling stuff, but I did want to blog about it for that reason...
I'll explain:

I was having a conversation with one of my colleagues one day at work about how money is pretty difficult for my family at the moment. Rising cost of fuel, and multiple debts with increasing interest rates makes keeping on top of things quite difficult, even though I make a decent salary. I was also lamenting the fact that the things I really love doing are completely unrelated to the job that I do. My workmate said that he might be able to offer me something, and would explain it to me sometime when I'm not at work. Straight away I suspected something Amway-ish, but this guy is so far from being Anthony Robbins that I couldn't imagine it being something where you have to sell like crazy...

So he explains this Club Freedom thing to me. Apparently, his family know the people who are starting it, and it's legit and legal and all that jazz. Not only that, but it doesn't kick off in earnest until September, so if I get involved now there's a massive advantage to be had.

So I do some reading, and sure enough, the whole concept makes sense, and the total workload for your average freeloader (like myself) is putting down a deposit on some travel of US$150, then finding two people who are interested in making some money, who think they can sign two people up as well. Payoff? US$3500 in travel, and the same in cash. The premise behind this is that you're earning your travel/cash by marketing the product to your two people. Now, there's a little more to it then that, but basically that's the gist. You wait, then the money comes in. Now if that's all the work you ever do with it (and it is all I'm planning to do), you're not going to get rich off this. As more people sign up, you'll cycle through their system slower and slower - and we don't even know how quickly it's going to go when it starts. I might not get any return before the end of the year - but hey, I decided it's about time I started taking some risks instead of just wishing someone would pay my way.

So this is my one-and-only shameless plug: I think this thing makes sense, and could make me (and you if you're interested) some money. US$150 approximately is equal to AU$213, and someone has said to me "If you get in, you'll get paid at least once this year" - they might be wrong, but it's not so much money that it's an unreasonable risk. If you're interested at all, let me know, or click the banner at the top of this post and do some reading for yourself.

I'm sorry if you're offended by the blatent advertising in this post, but to me, being involved in this thing is fun and interesting, and might make me a buck. I'm quite happy to share that with people. If you want to know more, the banner at the top of this post will take you to the site, and the "Travel Plan" button tells you all about how it works.

That's it - plug done. Go about your business, citizens.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Link: Wow...

If this turns out to be true... wow...

On a side topic, dark matter has apparently now been proved to exist. Mind you, a lot of this is based on inference and supposition, but that's good enough, isn't it?

Now in my wallet, I have some "dark money". It's completely invisible, and although it's effects cannot be demonstrated through conventional means, I can demonstrate to you in my computer simulation and with the use of ultra-high-tech equiptment that it's just as real as real money. Anyone want to sell me a 30" LCD monitor? I've got more dark money then I know what to do with!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ask The Readership #1

I don't know if I still actually have a readership, but assuming for a moment that I do, I've decided I should ask you all to help me answer a question.
Today is the 3rd day in a row that I've been completely dismotivated at work. There are things that contribute to this about the work and the buisness's practices, but ultimately I just need to pull the metaphorical finger out.
So what do people do to get/stay motivated? When you're in a rut, how do you get out? Are there things you find help? What about things that hinder that you can avoid? Please make comment - I'd be quite keen to hear how people get through periods of no motivation.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Politics and Religion

Got a religious belief? Want to maintain the right to base your personal beliefs on your religious beliefs and then speak in a political forum? (sounds sensible, right? Saying the stuff you believe?) Go here:

Can I just say "flippn' Democrats" before I say anything else? They seem to be forever causing trouble for people who like to base their personal convictions on something other then popular culture. If you believe that open relationships are tops, and gays and lesibians deserve more rights then the average joe, and that being of Aboriginal descent means that all the European-descent people in Australia have done you some horrible wrong and so should give you land/money, then your choice is clear: join the Democrats! Forget that all those things have 50 bazillion inheirent problems - they're popular! Don't step on me, man! Live for the now! I guess if you're an Aboriginal lesbian in an open relationship, you've got it MADE!

I added this to my survey response:
In question 7, the question's text puts Intelligent Design as an opponent of "scientific process". However, supporters of Intelligent Design propose it as scientific theory and regardless of whether or not you as the surveyer agree with that, the wording of question 7 biases your sample's response to question 8. That is, you've just stated Intelligent Design opposes science - so why would anyone suggest it should be taught in science classes? However, this is incorrect, as the fundamentals of Intelligent Design are based around it being a scientifically valid theory for the creation of the universe and life. This kind of obvious bias has no place in a survey of this nature, as you are attempting to direct your audience to prove your point. Just because someone bases their personal beliefs on their religious beliefs doesn't make them less valid then your personal belief that religious beliefs don't belong in politics. You are trying to direct politics based on YOUR personal beliefs - why are mine any less valid if I follow a religion? I'm rather put-out at the obvious anti-religious leading apparent in what presents itself as a non-biased survey, and unless I hear of a change in your policies, you can be sure I'll be exercising my belief that the democrats don't deserve any political power at the next election.

See, that question 7 really irked me. I'm not a big advocate of Intelligent Design, personally. My personal belief is that public schools shouldn't teach stuff about the origins of the universe or of humanity - including evolution. With so many different people and different beliefs and no sure way of anyone ever proving anything, you're always going to offend someone so why is it necissary? In order to study a pig's eye, you don't need to know anything about evolution. It might be interesting to contemplate from a scientific perspective (ie: natural selection producing particular biological features in different species) but for a high-school level education, it's completely unnecissary.
The survey is trying to lead the public who respond towards answering in the manner that the surveyors, being the Democrats, desire in order to prove their point. The questions are worded to appeal to popular misconceptions - for example, the question about "church and state" is worded to bring to mind people's TV-knowlege of American law (most Australian's would know about the U.S.'s 1st and 3rd ammendment to their constitution: their right to "free speech" and their right to "bear arms", even though it has nothing to do with Australia or Australia's law/constitution). The idea of "church and state" coexisting is always shown to be negative in American media due to a legal sepration under American law, and so by wording the question to include that phrase, people automatically respond negitively. Forget the fact that the phrase "church and state" comes from a time where churches had significant authority amongst the general population, hence the need for the seperation. In Australia, no one cares what the church thinks unless they've made some mistake. Why the need for the seperation? To give those who follow the church of Popular Culture the freedom to rule as they see fit.
It sucks, and I don't like it. I think it's about time I did something about it... to work out what...

Wasting Time

I'd just like to note that I've been at work for 2 hours now, and aside from catching up on my emails, I've done very little. That sucks, because I had no intention of wasting that much time - yet that's precisely what I've done.

On a side note, if anyone has an ingenious idea about how I could get a job like Rich Gallup's or Carrie Gouskos's (who wrote this piece of genious), I'd like to know about it. Playing, and then writing/talking about video games sounds like a pretty sweet deal...

On The Virtues Of Killing Children (link)

This would have to be the scariest and most profound thing I've read in a long time. I don't know that I can say much more about it, but read it yourself and consider what this guy has said because personally I believe that he's right. I think conflicts like the war in Iraq will never see a conclusion, simply because people are denying the fact that you go to war to kill people. Innocent people. Why? Because they're the ones whose lives carry the most weight. No one cares if 100 soldiers die in war, but if 100 innocents - that's an attrocity. So our "enemies" will kill our innocents. And we will kill theirs. Look at how World War 2 ended. The US killed hundreds and thousands of innocent Japanese citizens. Devestated by the colossal loss of innocent life, Japan was forced to surrender. Why did they surrender? Because the US demonstrated it had the power to kill their innocents in staggering numbers. I mean, they nuked cities - places people live and work; not millitary facilities. But who would suggest in retrospect that they should have NOT ended the war? It was us or them, and we chose them. A terrible and tragic choice, but one that needed to be made. How many lives were saved by that choice, on both sides? It'd be nice to have a "what if?" machine that could answer that question for us, but I guess we'll just have to think about it for ourselves.

Anyway - something worth pondering I guess in a world where the media will bring the horrors of war to our living rooms. The horrors were always there - we just didn't get to see them. Maybe it's time we wised up and realised what we've gotten ourselves into...

Monday, July 31, 2006


The comment below was left on my blog by one Mr Philip Walsh, teacher of computing-type subjects at my old workplace:

Hi Justin, showing Yr10 blogs and thought I would show them yours. Cheers, Phil Walsh

In light of this, I say howdy doody to all possible St Paul's people who occasionally visit my blog. I have to comment that I can't vouch for the content being particuarly responsible or interesting, but I appreciate the thought. ;)

While I'm speaking of St Paulites, I should also appologise to "luke" who commented (off topic, I should add) on this post and asked me to contact him in regards to some IT questions he had, and then I never did. Sorry man, but seriously... It was never going to happen. In the credits of my life, you would appear as "Random student with question #1295", and I've got a job and a wife and a kid and stuff. Keeps me busy. But hey, feel honoured that I now, multiple months later, have mentioned you in the context of another blog post. And remember, most IT problems can be solved with a suitable application of excessive physical force. Or of money to my wallet. That works too.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Interface Design

Pop a copy of Filemaker Pro 8 in your CD drive, and you'll be presented with the following screen:

Now, these buttons don't have tooltips or text labels. So you tell me - what do they do? Now, one assumes that the first button will be "install" and so that makes guessing that one pretty easy. But what about the other two? Without some substantial pondering, their purpose is about as clear as Turkish coffee.

Yay for form over function!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Year in the Making

Last year in September, I posted this post which contained a small number of fairly useless crazy facts about myself. Note that point number one was:

1. My current location in the StarOcean:TTEoT universe: The town of Whipple, Elcoor 3.

Do you know, I was about 15 hours into the game when I posted that. I finished that game about 2 weeks ago. Nearly a year later. It took me over a year to get through Final Fantasy X-2 with 100% story completion. I was like 80% through it when my son was born and then didn't finish it until almost a year later. As in, there was playing during that time. I maxed out the play timer.

Conlusion? I'm REALLY SLOW at playing RPG games. Changing games once every 12 months is just plain wrong when there's so many good games to play.

Decline in value

Some of you may (or probably "may not") notice that I've removed the "how much is your blog worth?" box from the sidebar of my blog. There are two reasons for this. Number one: the image, which was hosted on Flikr, is no longer available so it looks a little odd with a "image not available" picture in it. The other reason, is that when I noticed this had happened, I went back to the original site to see if maybe they'd updated the code they provide to retrieve the image from another location. So I typed in my blog's address, and was shocked and dismayed by what I discovered: My blog, which was worth $2,258.16, is now worth less then a quarter of that amount. True, the methodology by which this value is calculated is based on external links to your blog from the Technorati website (which I think hosts other blogs...) and therefore if Technorati suffered a decline in popularity, so your blog's value would fall, but personally I believe it's probably more to do with the marketability of things like photos of mouth-ulcers. Mind you, I had a photo of me as a ninja, so I'm not really sure why my value didn't go into the millions following that one. After all, ninjas are the epitome of cool.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Small Helpdesk Rant

So I just got an email from a client with some files attached. The message went along the lines of :
"Here's our <....> module. It's not working, and we need it fixed urgently."
Problem is, this module isn't actually part of our product. It's something one of our developers here built specifically for this client, and that guy is currently on holidays. There is no developer documentation, no user documentation - heck, I don't even know what it's supposed to do. However, my boss tells me I need to fix it for them. See, I don't boast a bunch of industry experience, but if I was running a company and one of my developers built a client an undocumented database module, and the client then rang up for support on that module while the original developer was on holidays, I'd apologise to the client that we couldn't help them at the moment, and then fire the developer. Or at least give him a warning. How on earth am I supposed to support something that the client knows more about then I do? It's worth saying that there's no policy in regards to developer documentation at my work, but personally I think it's a bit of a given - especially where you're doing something that's client-specific.

OK, end rant. If you're reading this and you're a developer: DOCUMENT YOUR WORK, BUGNUT!!!!! Some poor schmuck will be supporting it long after you've forgotten you wrote it.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Ninjas and pirates = cool

I just thought I'd try something different, and title a post something completely unrelated to the actual content.

So what is this post about? It's a musing on Apple's Universal binary... thing. Idea? Concept? Standard? Framework? Whatever. It's about Universal binaries.

So you might be reading this as part of the sensible 95% of the world's computer users, and you might say to me "Justin, oh man with a rant, what pray tell is a Universal binary?"
To which I'd probably reply "Well, first we need some very quick history..."

Apple Macs have run on PowerPC chips now for many years. I've asked around, and it appears that when they changed to the PowerPC chips from the Motorolla chips, the compatability issues were all but overcome by embedding a Motorolla emulator in the ROM. Nice idea, but apparently it still caused some issues because it didn't do any of the floating point stuff. But hey, this was before Quake, so who needed floating point?
Anyway, the PowerPC architecture is RISC and likes to sort it's bytes using a different "end" to the rest of us Intel/AMD people. PowerPC likes the big end of Ian, and Intel/AMD prefer the small end of Ian - whoever Ian is. That's why they call these different approaches Big EndIan and Small EndIan. So writing a single piece of code that will run on both is nigh impossible - and seeing as how the computer can't tell one end of Ian from the other, it does make life difficult. There is other... stuff... involved but this isn't a technical blog per se, so I'm not going to bother explaining. Basically, if you write and compile code for one, it sure as heck isn't going to run on the other.

Fast-forward to today when suddenly we have Apple's OSX running on both PowerPC AND Intel CPUs. There's a bunch of software out there that was written for the PowerPC chips, and so cannot run natively on these new fangled machines. However, see people don't get that, and wouldn't get that. So the first thing Apple did was bung in an emulator, and give it a trendy name. Why? Well, because that's what Apple do - give things trendy names. It's not an MP3 player - it's an iPod (C)(R)(TM)(Patent will bite you in the ass). It's not an internet Macintosh, it's an iMac. Are we seeing the sparkles here? I know I am. Sorry - tangent.
So Rossetta. Named so after the Rossetta stone, although from my limited understanding, the stone helped translate between 3 almost forgotten languages, and Apple's version only seems to translate the one: Macintosh software. Now you can go out and spend double what it's worth on a new Mac, and have it run most stuff SLOWER then your old one. "This will never do" says Steve. And so, he comes up with a brilliant idea. (note that I can't support Steve Jobs actually comming up with this idea personally...)

(You knew I'd get to my point sooner or later, right?)

The first Apple product with a name less-then-vaguely related to it's purpose! What is it?
Well, at first glance you might think "Binaries, that are universal". And hey, that actually was my first guess. But from our discussion of Ian's ends earlier, you may remember that this is "nigh on impossible". You can't just take once piece of compiled code, and have it run on both platforms, can you? Well... no. Or yes. Or maybe.
Apple simplifies this as follows: From a user's perspective, a Universal program such as Filemaker can be run on either a PowerPC or an Intel Mac and for all intents and purposes they use the same set of files on either architecture. However, what isn't obvious is that it's not the same code. Actually, each executable file contains two seperate applications - one compiled for PowerPC and one for Intel chips - wrapped up together in a nice compiled Universal wrapper so that they can't be seperated. This, for your average user, works fantastically as anything carrying the Universal logo can be run on any recent Mac.
However, here I come to my gripe with this. Most Mac users will bandy about the term "bloatware" in reference to Windows and Microsoft software in general, and on occasions I can see their point. However, I have never seen something so wasteful as using double the necissary hard disk space for an application, simply so that your users don't have to remember the word "Intel" when they're buying software. Doesn't this seem like going a little too far with the "It Just Works"(C)(R)(TM)(Patent will bite you in the ass) mentality? If I were to say fill 100Gb on my Intel Mac with executables, (on avaerage) 50Gb of that would be useless padding that will never be referenced. Ever. Seems just a little wasteful to me.

So why would I write this post? I mean, the Mac users seem happy enough - what's the problem? The problem is that the arguments that I hear from Mac users on a daily basis about why Macs are so much better then Windows PCs are based on bad computing practices. Inefficientcy, supported user ignorance, data hiding. The Mac OS is like one giant rootkit, perminantly hiding files in the GUI that Steve doesn't think users should need to see. There's no option to show them - they're just never there. And Mac users are fine with this, because why should the graphical representation of files on your disk actually represent the files on your disk? That would just be confusing. And now with Universal binaries, you can fill 50% of your hard disk with superflous code, just so we can continue to support the users' right to be completely ignorant of their computer as a computer. Because your Mac isn't a computer - it's like a trendy 20-something guy in jeans and a t-shirt who starred in that "Ed" TV show. I don't know about you, but that guy always seemed like a bit of a useless dork to me, and I prefer my computer to be useful, even if it doesn't come in indigo.

Alright - through writing this post (and viewing the link immediately above), I've become so fired up about my anti-Mac-ness for the day, that I'm going to write another post.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Here, here.

The link above is to a political party that has just set up in the US, following in the footsteps of Sweden's own Pirate Party - a party who are advocating reforms to copyright and IP law, amongst other things.

Now, this whole issue is something I feel quite strongly about. In this article, it discusses how the US government used the threat of trade sanctions against Sweden in order to get their government's ministries to take unconstitutional action against The Pirate Bay; a bittorrent tracker that is extremely popular - and most of my tiny readership are quite familiar with ({cough}Tam{/cough}).

See, the thing that makes me really quite angry about this, is that they weren't tracking down terrorists who'd killed hundreds of people. They didn't force the hand of the Swedish government against it's own constitution to protect anything of real value. They did it to protect the potential profits of a multi-corporate conglomerate of media labels. They did it to stop individuals from being able to obtain something for free, that these corporations would like to be able to sell them - that is assuming of course, that someone would like to buy it. Is it something they produced by the labor of their own hands? Ah, no. It's something which they obtained by contracting artists - artists who they then underpay and exploit for their own benefit.

Anyhow, just thought I'd mention - if anyone ever bothers to set up an Australian party supporting the same ideals, I'd be more then happy to send my votes in their direction. I'm appalled that the US used the Free Trade Agreement with this country to enforce portions of the DMCA onto us; legislation that has been universally acknowleged as significantly flawed. What Australian laws did the US adopt? What concessions did they make on our behalf? I'd hazard a guess: none.

Grrrr... OK, stopping now.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

t3h n1nj4!!

What happens when I get bored while working from home...

(Taken yesterday with my DV camera while busily fixing someone's mundane support issue)


Today is my son's 2nd birthday, and while I've only really had half an hour before work to share it with him, it's been really exciting to see him be aware for the first time that this is a special day all about him. We made the mistake of breaking out the good present first, and so it was hard to break his attention for long enough to give him the others, but in the end he has some shiny new toys to add to the mountain of stuff that he owns. When we (eventually) have our next child, they're getting 100% hand-me-downs for toys until they're old enough to know the difference. Either that, or we'll have an enormous eBay sale at some stage...
Anyway - I'll post some photos of the big day on here tonight when I can get at the home PC. For now, this is an internet-enabled "happy birthday" to my special little boy. Feel free to leave birthday wishes in the comments, and I'll pass them on to him.

Monday, June 05, 2006

American Political Awesomeness

The following quote is from this article in the New York Times (registration may be required) which was spoken by Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr.:
"There is a looming threat. There is a threat of a capacity to be able to demonstrate a real threat to the United States and our allies down the road, but there's nothing imminent at this point."

Oh my gosh. Have you ever seen a less specific statement? A threat of a capasity to demonstrate a threat. I think Australia poses a threat of a capasity to be able to demonstrate a real threat to the U.S. I mean, there's people here. So that's a threat of a capasity to demonstrate a threat, isn't it? Crazy. Pure crazy.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Cross-platform Blues

OK people - new idea. Let's all use the same desktop platform. Let's stuff off this choose your prefered OS idea, and play OS Survivor to see who wins:
And the winner is WINDOWS with 19 votes to 1*. Too bad other OS's - the tribe has spoken. Get stuffed.

Awesome. Everyone uses Windows on their clients from now on. You can screw around with whatever OS you like on servers, and hey - I know *nix has it's place in the world with developers and server farms and whatnot - but the people who use those machines for those purposes can deal with the differences between the two platforms, and generally acknowelge that you're a tool if you try and put linux on your mum's PC and expect her to be able to use it. It's only the fanboys who cry out that all is equal. Let's be honest: it's SO SO not.

And hey, don't get me started about Mac OSX. I now work with OSX on a daily basis and all I've had my eyes opened to is that Mac users are increadibly fanatical to the point of blindness.
OMG!!! It has a MAGNIFYING GLASS in the top corner that lets you SEARCH FOR STUFF! This craps all over Windows!!!! LOL!!!

Ah, who cares if they've put a search button on your menu bar? All OS's have had search capabilities for a very very long time. Yes, Spotlight does search in places that the current itteration of the Windows OS search doesn't, but that, a new desktop skin, and widgets is so not impressive for a major OS release - and isn't worth the money that all the fanboys farmed out to aquire it. Also, if you want to pick nits, there are a myriad of little add-ons out there (Google Desktop Search, MSN Desktop search, blah de blah) that do more even then Spotlight does. They don't count because they're 3rd party? OK, then Mac blows because they don't have globally-available video and audio CODECS!! Quicktime supports codecs, but hey, Quicktime is about as 3rd party as MSN desktop search, isn't it? No? Could that conlusion perhaps have been reached beacuse you're a complete fanboy?

And this is what I have ultimatley discovered: The reason that Mac users think that Mac rocks, and that iTunes/iPhoto/iChat/iMovie is the best music/photo/IM/movie editing software ever, is because Steve told the Mac users that it is. It all comes bundled, it works well with other Apple products (well DUH!), and as long as you're happy to be told how to do things, you'll be completely happy. However, if you perhaps don't want to work within the tight framework of Steve Job's fandom, you're screwed. What if I'd like something other then the included templates on my web-based iPhoto slideshow? I CAN'T!! The Javascript that makes the trendy little reflective shelf under your photos lives on the .Mac servers, and is completely static. You can only choose what they tell you that you can choose. Not only that, but if you publish to somewhere besides .Mac, you don't get the trendy Javascript effects. Why? Well... that's a good question. Why would you make the prettyness specific to only .Mac? Unless of course paying for .Mac was built into your OS, and also into every single bundled application, and you weren't offered the choice of using a different service. That sounds a bit like... anti-trust... to me. I sure as heck don't see a "Select your web-based storage/publishing service" dropdown list. You see, "It just works" means "If you only use our services, and our software - exactly the way we say you will - and pay us money, things will work. Mostly. And we'll lock you out of using the trendy stuff anywhere else but on our products and services."

Anyway, this whole rant was spawned by the fact that I got abused by a client because I'd done some work for them in Filemaker (which is supposedly 100% cross-platform happy) and when I uploaded it to his server, some elements were just the tiniest bit out of alignment - but enough to make the whole thing fall over. Yay for cross-platform compatability hey.

*Because yes, Windows has 19/20ths of the market.

The Internet sees all

Due to a couple of not-fun things that have happened this morning, I was all fired up to get on my blog and have a little chat about my life, and in particular my current state of employment.

It was at this moment, that I realised that at least one of my colleagues has my blog address, and has read it on several occasions. In a small company, this would mean that if I said anything about how I was feeling about my job, I'd probably end up discussing it with my boss - not necissarily in a bad way, but in this particular case I'd prefer just to feel generally angsted about it, and then get over it on the weekend. Lets just say I'm my job satisfaction is having a bit of a trough at the moment for various reasons. Not the least of which is that non-work things are hard, and my company is under a little bit of presure to get through a largeish quantity of work, so I'm feeling the push to put work before things that work shouldn't go before.

Anyway - recovering from a rather nasty headcold that my whole family has experienced, so I'll leave it at this. More angst to follow, I promise.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Filled with hunger, I sink my teeth into the soft flesh,
Juices drip from the lifeless form in my hands, as with vigor,
I extract my fill

Bite after bite, I rip and tear this raw meat,
enjoying the sounds it emits as I tear it ravenously away,
satisfying my need

Finally, only the very core remains and I am fulfilled,
I survey the destruction wreaked by my ravenous onslaught,
and muse:

"Damn, that pear was tasty."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Casting Pods

So I finally bit the bullet and upgraded the firmware on my PSP to the latest version. The reason that this is such a big deal, is that previously I could load things like emulators onto my PSP and play, for example, Sonic 3 while out on the town. However, I decided that ultimatley I don't actually do a lot of retro gaming on the go, so I can forfeit this feature for the sake of some new ones.

The feature I've aquired that I find the most intreguing to date is the RSS option. Using this new nifty option, you can add RSS "pod"casts (no iPod here) to your PSP on the go - anywhere there's wireless access. I like it, because I've never felt the need to setup synchronisation between my PC and my PDA so I can download podcasts, but when I use my PSP it all just happens in the one place. Simple, easy, and until the radio in my car died yesterday, I would listen on my hour long commute to and from my workplace. How sweet is that? :) The only thing that would top it, is if my car could drive itself and I could watch videocasts on the way to and from work. Now that would be SAHWEETAH!

Anyway, I thought I'd put it out there that if you know any podcasts that deserve a honourable mention, chuck the URL in the comments of this post, and I'll check it out. I'm keen to find new (good, professional sounding, not complete bollocks) content to listen to, and I might as well make the most of having people read my blog on occasion to help me discover it.

Thankyou, and namaste.

Console Wars

(Note this post is a little old. I saved it as a draft and decided to not finish it, but just post it pretty much as-is.)

Ah, I love the E3 time of year. It's a time when the fanboys all run to their closets and pull out their rabbid devotion to any of the major console brands that they've been secretly hiding away for the major part of the year. This is true more so for Nintendo's crowd of zealots then the other two camps. Actually, I'd like to compare Nintendo zealotry to the kind we see exhibited by Apple's most loyal fans. Nintendo can do no wrong. Nintendo are on the edge of a market take over. Even though they're the lowest market share holder by a long shot, their next big release will be the giant-killer that every Mario-fanboy has been dreaming about. Oh, and Nintendo's "innovative" stray from the traditional interface methodology will win them new gamers.

OK, can I suggest that after a couple of decades of experimentation, *perhaps* the game controllers for all the major consoles look much the same for... some... actual... REASON!?!?

I always find this kind of zealotry interesting, and in the case of Nintendo zealotry, its' interesting to see various groups getting on board. Slashdot's community, for example, seem to be majority Nintendo-lovers. I think this is due to the mentality of "If you're successful, then SCREW YOU!!! HA HA!" that seems to fuel their Microsoft/Sony hatred.

Anyway, should probably just wrap this up by saying that despite the sudden massive hype, I really don't think that Nintendo's new console is going to be a sudden market killer, but I guess we'll see. If you believe the most vocal supporters, then I'm sure we'll all be having a Wii by the end of the year. Actually, I think I could go one right now... :D

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


If you click on the link above, you'll find yourself looking at the new ads that Apple have released to promote the idea of getting a Mac. I have a number of issues with these ads (specifically, that most of the claims are either false or are based on the opinions of Mac users about Macs [and therefore most likely false also]). But one problem I have is that as a PC/Windows user, I object to the fact that Apple is in a position where they can indirectly have a go at my computing platform because it's not wholey owned by a specific vendor, but a manufacterer who makes PCs - like Dell - can't have a go at Macs, because Macs are all made by Apple. So when Apple produces an ad campaign that presents "facts" like "PCs crash all the time" and "Macs are better at media stuff" and "Macs come with awesome applications that are way better then anything you can get on your PC", there is no one to tell the public masses, that the information being presented may be the opinions of the company presenting them rather then fact, and in some cases it just might be downright lies. The whole "Windows crashes all the time" thing was specific to earlier releases of Windows (like 95, 98) and at that time, Macs shipped with OS8 or OS9 - OSs that most Mac users are now ashamed of, and if not, they should be.

Anyway, the best rebuttal ever to these ads belongs to the webcomic Ctrl-Alt-Del, who came up with this gem.

Now THAT'S the truth.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Feelings of disenchantment

There's not going to be much to this, because I only want to spend about 30 seconds at my computer right at the moment.

I feel pretty disenchanted with life. I just relalised the other day that I have no real goals now, or at least none that I can reach in the forseeable future. I have no career ambition, I've started a family and found that a lot of things I desired are probably going to be a life-long struggle rather then something that's finitely achievable. I really need some time to just "be me" for a bit, and I don't know if I'm actually going to get the time I need now until I retire. It's really quite sad.

Anyway - blah. Don't know what to say, just feeling a bit underwhelmed about life in general.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

My Square Enix obsession

Anyone who has played a Final Fantasy game since FF7 will know that Squaresoft's - and now Square Enix's games often have opening cinematic sequences that set the tone and provide a prelude to the game. The first time I saw the opening sequence for Final Fantasy VIII I was blown away by what increadible CG cinematography it was. In just three minutes and fifteen seconds, it had me so hooked on that game that I played it non-stop for hours and hours at a time. It had me completely roped in to the characters and the story: it gave you flashes of pieces of the story that at the moment you first watched it, you knew nothing about. Not only that, but it established an idea that flowed throughout the story and didn't come to completion until the very end of the game, so that you had the moment of "Oh WOW, THAT'S what that was all about!"
For me personally, I get very attached to games. For some reason, it's very easy for a game creator to make me feel a part of the game - to make me actually be the protagonist rather then just play the game. As a game creator, that's what you'd want really, isn't it? You want to make your game so emmersive that people feel that they are the person in the game, and in the case of story-based games, react emotionally to the story as it unfolds. I tend to be the easy catch - if it's got ANY emmersive qualities, then you've got me.
Well, this morning I fired up Kingdom Hearts II for the first time, and I have to say Square Enix are the MASTERS of game openings. I was hooked on this game about 20 seconds into the opening sequence. It tells the story of the game from the beginning of the original through to the point at which the sequel opens, but also throw in elements that lack an explanation so that you are left sitting there going "What?!?! What was that?!?" and more importantly, you want to find out what it all means - and so are drawn into playing the game. least until your pirated downloaded copy falls over about 4 hours into the game. Turns out that if you're playing the game off a hard disk (which I am) there's one particular essential componant of the game that causes the whole thing to crash. Now I need to wait until they get around to releasing the game over here - which could be whenever. They've already released in their primary markets (being USA and Japan) and made more then enough money to not be worried about how it does in "Europe" (Australia being part of Europe, obviously). Bah. There's another rant for another time...

Midazolam rocks my... um... I forget

Well, part 1 of my aforementioned worry is now out of the way. I'm sitting here with a bandage across part of my neck where they extracted a "chain" of my lymphnodes from next to my jugular vein. Apparently they had shrunk a bit, which I think is a good sign. Now I just have to wait for the results... :s

However, there is one thing about this whole operation bit that has totally piqued my interest, and that's midazolam. I think that's what it's called - I asked my doctor and I remember her saying "miazopan" but I couldn't find that in the medical encyclopedia, so maybe I heard wrong. Anyway, this is the drug that makes you forget stuff, and I can remember the exact moment where it hit my brain yesterday. I said to the anesthesiologist (sp?) "Am I supposed to feel dizzy?" to which he replied: "Yes." From that point on, things get mixed up and blurry. Like, I remember that at one point they had a mask on my face and were feeding me some kind of gas, and I said "That tastes funny" but I don't remember them putting the mask on my face specifically. I also have very, very vague recolections of the operation itself but nothing concrete - so much so that I wonder if my brain just made them up. And this is why I find this so intreguing. After my wife's families' car accident last year, her step-father was in an induced coma for a while. It was during this time, talking to doctors and whatnot that I realised that the idea of concious/unconcious is nowhere near as black and white as we non-medical people tend to think that it is. Even in a reduced state of conciousness, you remember stuff and can respond to things - hence the midazolam in operations. You don't want people to remember that kind of thing, so you give them a drug that inhibits their ability to store short term memory. For me, this whole concept is quite interesting... It's like if you don't remember it, it never happened. That's... not entirely true, and yet also not entirely refuteable. Hmmmm...

I'd like to just think and type about this some more, but I could be here all day just typing random thoughts as they come to me, so I think I'll leave it at that. Suffice to say I find the whole idea/concept quite thought provoking. Hmmm....

Monday, May 01, 2006

I'm a big sissy girl

Now, I'll bet I've roped most of you in for this just with the title... Thanks for your vote of confidence.

This will be short: I'm really quite worried about my operation tomorrow. I'm having a lymphnode biopsy (they're removing the sucka) and having never had a full-blown operation before, the concept of being knocked out for a couple of hours and waking up sans-lymphnode is somewhat of a worrying proposition. Added to that the fact that the reason i'm being "sans"ed of my lymphnode is to determine whether or not I have cancer, and you've got the ingredients for a big fat Justin worry-fest. The possible outcomes range from "nothing to worry about, nothing we can do - they'll just be like that" through to "it's giant cell cancer, and you won't see next Christmas." The problem for me is that they wouldn't be doing this unless there was a fair degree of concern that it's not the "nothing to worry about" variety of lymphnode we'll be extracting.

So hey - there's nothing I can do about any of this personally. Just have to wait and see. Those of you who both read and also pray, perhaps include me next time you do the latter. Just that everything will go fine, and that the results will be favorable. Thanks, I appreciate it.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Quote of the Moment #2

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
- George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Slander and malign

It's becoming more and more clear to me as time goes on and I'm forced to have ongoing dealings with my previous employer, that something rather evil is going on. I'm receiving occasional emails from my ex-employer's IT department, whether addressed to me or to my current employer's support email address, that say something along the lines of the following (paraphrased for clarity):
Before he left here, Justin did x and now we're experiencing problem y. We believe the two are related, and thus this is his fault. Could this be the case?

My first reaction to these emails would be to reply with a scathingly vile deluge of nastiness, which ends with "It all worked when I was there, so it's pretty obvious who the problem is, isn't it biatch?" However, I can't do this, because my ex-boss is now my current customer, and to call him a "biatch" may well put our business dealings with him on an off-footing.

Basically, none of this would be a problem except that my ex-boss's management "style" is the only reason I didn't like my old job, and so I said to the big boss when I resigned: "When my boss leaves, I'd like to interview for his job" (my ex-boss has mentioned he's got some other plans in the not-too-distant future), so staying in their good books is kind of important to me. However, it appears that it's now kind of important to my ex-boss that I look bad. And I think I can guess why. I'd imagine that people probably started complaining that stuff wasn't being done, and things weren't working, and that Justin could have fixed it without a problem. How do you combat this? Start blaming Justin for things that go wrong. People can't very well say "if only Justin was here" if Justin is the cause of untold catastrophe.

Anyway, to finish this, there's been a couple of times when as part of my current job I've had to look in to error logs, etc. on a couple of my old workplace's servers, and there are things that are deteriorating that aren't being dealt with. If I was there, I would have noticed (because I do things like check error logs regularly) and dealt with them. But I'm not. And so what will happen is that at some point the wheels will fall off one of these deteriorating things, and then they'll blame me for it falling over, and pay some consultant hundreds of dollars an hour to fix it. The question is, what can I do to prevent myself from becoming my ex-boss's new blame-body? His old one was the previous IT manager, who although he's less competent then he perhaps should have been, is nowhere near the vile, evil, moneywasting, unplanning monster that my ex-boss made him out to be on a regular basis. So I guess I just have to hope that at least some people remember that I poured my heart and soul into making the IT at my old job as workable and stable and excellent as I possibly could. Then maybe I can work there again someday.

Oh, and Meg - if you're reading: I know this is probably a non-issue, but just because I know you know all the people involved, it's probably best if you don't mention my angsty ramblings to them. I considered speaking to them directly, but it could affect my new employer's business relationship with my old employer as a result, and it's very much a personal issue. Not wanting to cause trouble. Thanks for understanding. :)