Monday, February 28, 2005


I Like Stories...

So the other day I started thinking. I've been enjoying various web comics on and off for years - I recently got back into Sluggy (and was able to read through a year-long storyline in one go - much to the annoyance of Richard), I'm catching up on Megatokyo and I keep meaning to check out Errant Story, Clan of the Cats and Everything Jake again (especially since Strings of Fate seems to have been abandoned altogether - I can't even find the website any more). I'm a sucker for a good story, but I always find the worst bit of a really good book is the end - you don't get to "be with" the cool, interesting characters anymore. So something episodic is great - you get a small but drawnout fix.

So I started thinking about some other episodic stories. There isn't a great deal on the TV at the moment - I'm loving Lost, and Desperate Housewives keeps threatening to turn good, but otherwise there isn't really anything. So then I thought about online serials. I had a bit of a look for some several years ago, and didn't have much luck. The trick with online stories is that they have to be in really small bites, and most of the fiction I could find online was fairly chunky.

But I started to think about stories told through blogs. It seemed perfect, so I took a look to see what I could find.

The first thing I found I kind of already knew about. Hitherby Dragons is by Rebecca Borgstrom, a really talented (if really strange) writer. Her stuff tends to be pretty mind bending - it always reminds me of bright, colourful, sereal artwork. Hitherby Dragons is no different. There's apparently a story in amongst all of the posts, but I haven't gone back far enough yet to really find it.

The second site I found was called "...She's a Flight Risk". It's meant to be the blog posts of a woman who's on the run from *something*. Again, I haven't read far enough back yet to get much of a sense of the overall story, but it's pretty cool. Plus, she seems to have an audio stream of the music she's currently listening to.

I managed to find a blogspot site that linked to dozens of other "story blogs", but unfortunately I can't find it again. And blogspot doesn't seem to have a search function. So until Google throws something at me, that's all the stories I've got.

But I did stumble on the blogs of two authors I quite like - William Gibson and Neil Gaiman. Gibson is pretty much the father of Cyberpunk. Although somewhat dated, Neuromancer is one of my favourite sci-fi books. Gaiman is pretty awesome as well - he co-wrote Good Omens with Terry Pratchet, and American Gods is based around a really cool idea.

If anyone knows of any great story-blogs, the blogs of any cool authors or even just some great webcomics, please let me know!

Monday, February 21, 2005


This is amusing

Thursday, February 17, 2005


CD of the Quarter

Abattoir Blues and The Lyre of Orpheus by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Gordon made the comment that I seem to have a chicks-playing-piano thing happening with my music. It's a reasonably fair comment (although to be honest it's probably more of a chicks-singing thing), but it certainly doesn't cover all the music I like to listen to.

So to show how varied my musical tastes are, I'm going to talk about a piano playing guy.

Towards the end of last year, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released a double album - The Lyre of Orpheus and Abbatoir Blues. Being a fan of Nick Cave, I'd been wanting to pick up the album for a while, but never quite got around to it. So Karina decided to get it as my Valentine's Day present. How awesome is my wife?

This is something of an interesting album for the Bad Seeds. Blixer, one of the founding members of the Seeds decided to leave the band just after the release of their last album (Nocturama). But I'm not really one to get to much into the background behind an album, so I'll just stick to comments on how it sounds.

The first stand out track for me is the first single released - Nature Boy. I heard Nature Boy several weeks (maybe even months) before the album was released, and like Bring It On from Nocturama and I Sat Sadly By from No More Shall We Part, it was an excellent choice for a first taste. It was one of those songs I immediately wanted to hear again so I could listen more closely to the lyrics. And really how could you not love a song with the line "I was like a lepper coming down with some kind of nervious hysteria".

Other tracks that stand out after only a couple of listen are There She Goes, My Beautiful World also off Abattoir Blues, and from The Lyre of Orpheus, Breathless and Supernaturally. Supernaturally in particular I really like - to me it feels like it should almost be sung in Spanish somewhere in Central America. I think it would be a great pair for Red Right Hand - it has that wild west/cowboy feel to it.

The two CDs stay true to the three themes common in most of Cave's music - God, Love and mental instability. Several of the tracks have an almost gospel feel to them - expanding on what the Bad Seeds did in And No More Shall We Part. As always there's a mix of huge, energetic songs filled with sound and music and low key, simple songs.

The Bad Seeds albums almost always seem to follow a similar pattern for me - there are a handful of songs that I almost instantly love and the rest of the tracks seem pretty ordinary. But as I listen to the album more and more, I find that more and more of the tracks are actually really cool. While I'm not falling in love with the Lyre of Orpheus and Abattoir Blues as quickly as And No More Shall We Part, it's certainly happening a lot quicker than Nocturama. Even after only two or three listens I'm finding more and more tracks I want to listen to again.

All the music I talk about here is shared by iTunes - if you work with me, take a listen and tell me what you think.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Crazy Diarrhea

So in my random surfings, I stumbled across this site. I've always been amused by the badly translated English you sometimes hear about especially coming out of places like Japan. It's not really surprising that it goes the other way too, it's just harder for me to laugh about (since it's harder for me to get the jokes). Fortunately this site makes it a bit easier.

Plus the idea of someone getting something tattooed on them that they don't fully understand is bloody funny. Check out the "Pervert" and "Testicle" t-shirts. But I think my favourite, both for the Tom Waits reference and for the translation, is the "I'm Big in Japan" shirt.

Monday, February 14, 2005


News Paper Clippings

Tower Software Morns Loss of Developer

Australian software company TOWER Software is today morning the loss of one of their developers. Michael “Mikal” Still had been with the company for four years, and was in Seattle on a person trip. According the a Tower spokesperson, they are still unclear about what happened to Still.

“We had a message from him on Friday asking for luck, and that was the last we heard from Stillbert!"

Staff at Tower have been offered grief councelling

Open Source Community Warned About “Pied Penguin”

Rumours are circulating the Open Source communities – in particular forums related to the Linux operating system – warning developers to beware of a giant penguin. The penguin – a long time mascot of the Linux operating system – is a symbol of free and open software development to many. Recent sightings of a giant penguin around the Seattle area have sent warning bells ringing. The “Pied Penguin” as the creature has been dubbed is rumoured to be a omen of death, much like the black dogs of English and Welsh mythology.

Microsoft Announces Successful Test Run

“We’re very pleased with the results” a Microsoft spokesman said at the press conference the company called late yesterday afternoon. Microsoft’s latest project – titled Closed the Door – apparently had its first successful test run on Thursday. After analysing the results and reviewing the process, Microsoft report that they are confident that the project is ahead of schedule

“We experienced far fewer problems than we were anticipating. Of course, there are still a few bugs to work out of the process, and there have been a few information leaks, but overall everything when fantastically well.” The spokesman reported.

While Microsoft seems elated, the press conference has left many confused. Despite the claims of information leaks, nobody is sure what exactly project Close the Door is about. The current speculation is that it has something to do with Longhorn.

Thursday, February 10, 2005



I've just spotted someone in a Tower shirt playing cricket on the driveway. Small world.


Not Comfortable Yet!

It's been a fairly exciting week, professionally speaking. Having decided I wanted to get into Linux and the whole Open Source thing, I managed to convince Rory to send me to And then today I found out I'm to become the Java umpa lumpa for Tower. Which is cool (learning new stuff is always a good thing!), but there's still a bit of an "ahhhhh!" factor involved. Keep in mind that I haven't even been with the company for 6 months yet. The most "real coding" I'd done in the the two years before that was some SQL (I did some pretty nifty things with it though).

So Java will make the third language I've started to learn in six months (well, I did a bit of it at uni, and I've got a copy of Complete Java 2 sitting on my bookshelf). I'm really happy about it - I wanted to be a programmer, and Tower's giving me the chance - but at the same time I'm aware of how far I am from the other developers. So I guess I'm a bit worried that maybe I'm going to run out of fingers to stick in all these interesting pies, but not actually end up being good (or more importantly, useful) at anything.

But when you stop and think about it, I've got 10 fingers. So I can probably deal with a few more pies yet.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Physics and Dreams

There was an episode of the TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation that started with Data (the android character) playing poker with Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. Obviously Newton and Einstein were actors, but Hawking was playing himself.

Apparently Hawking is a Star Trek fan, and so jumped at the chance to appear in an episode. The story goes that they game him a tour of the set, and when they got the bridge, Hawking asked if they could put him in the captain's chair. This was a huge deal, since Hawking never asks to be taken out of his wheelchair.

I really like this story, because it reminds me of two very important things. Firstly, no matter how famous or smart of whatever someone is, they still have hopes and dreams just like everyone else. Deep down everyone's the same - human.

The second thing I always think of when I think about this story is that no matter where your life takes you or how successful or famous you get, you should never be afraid to jump at a chance to full fill a dream when it appears. You should never loose that child-like part of you that wants to be the captain of the Enterprise.

Monday, February 07, 2005


Linux Developers Beware

After some pestering by Stilly, I wrote this up. He was originally going to post it on his blog, so made me get a blog so he could link to me. He then decided that Word was a horrible HTML editor and so couldn't post it.

I've got no fears about putting ugly HTML on my blog, so I'll post it here.

Microsoft’s Answer to Open Source

Microsoft is worried by Open Source. More worried then they’d like you to believe. Why would people pay the hundreds of dollars for their products, deal with the annoying copy protection and put up with the bugs if they didn’t have to? Microsoft believes that within the next five years, Linux will be more stable and secure, better looking, easier to use and more popular than Windows. Other than government and business contracts that haven’t expired yet, Windows market share will be virtually non existent.

Their normal avenues of attack have served them well in the past. They gave IE away for free and convinced everyone that it was an essential part of windows, all but killing Netscape. They convinced everyone that Macs were silly children’s toys, while still managing to force most Mac users they needed to buy Office. They added a calendar to Outlook and told us that made it better than Eudora. And they “bought out” the Internet King, thus stopping us from taking advantage of the Homer’s amazing product.

But a new enemy needs new tactics. Microsoft views Linux as a disease (a “computer disease” if you will), and there are three steps to counter an epidemic.

Stage 1 - Stopping the Vector

With a disease this wide spread, Microsoft reasons, it’s useless to try to cure it while there are so many carries still out there. Think of the monkey from the movie Outbreak, except this time there are thousands of them, all across the world. While Microsoft still hopes it can rehabilitate/cure the minor developers, they know there are many who are to far gone.

Some time over the next six months, all of the key players in the Linux community will be invited to Microsoft HQ in Seattle with lures of job offers, hardware promises and white flags. Once there, they will be taken into a specially built free standing building - referred to as the “Detonator” by Microsoft employees in the know. After all Microsoft-loyal individuals have been moved to a save distance, the building will be exploded.

Stage Two - Isolating the Infected

Once the vectors have been removed, Microsoft will move onto stage two. For years Microsoft has been establishing “collection centres” around the world. These collection centres will be activated, and a bounty will be offered for every PC with Linux installed. Individuals will be encouraged to convince their friends to hand over their computers. Prizes will be offered to citizens who round up the most penguin boxes.

The surrendered computers will all be shipped back to the United States, where their hard drives will be erased by an electromagnetic field. Once wiped, the computers will be inoculated (see below), refurbished with the latest version of Windows and donated to schools and disadvantaged groups around the world.

All Linux development and distribution companies that have survived the purge will be bought entirely by Microsoft and disbanded. Through the use of partner companies, subsidiaries and free agents, enough work will be generated for any individual expressing an interest in Open Source to keep them too busy to pursue the idea until they loose interest.

Stage Three - Inoculating the Survivors

The inoculation plan has two fronts. First, the various Microsoft applications are being adjusted to detect open source applications. Internet Explorer will not allow open source code to download. Windows will not read any Linux CD. Outlook will carefully ignore any email sent by Thunderbird. If it hasn’t been created by Microsoft or one of their “partners”, it won’t exist for a Windows user.

The second prong of the inoculation will target the hardware manufactures around the world. After 2008, the majority of all hardware produced will be physically incapable of running Linux. Warranties will contain disclaimers that installing non-Windows operating systems may cause catastrophic failures. Several instances of people being killed or serious injured while attempting to set up Linux will be well publicised around the world.

By 2010 the UN will announce that Linux has been eradicated from the world, except for two computers held by the US government for “research purposes”.


CD of the Month

During my second year at uni, around the time my disposable income had hit record levels, I decided my CD collection was serverly lacking. Part of this was because my CD collection was actually very small, but the main reason was that my best friend had (and still has) a collection bigger than God.

So I came up with a cunning plan. I decided that each month I would purchase a CD. Of course, this didn't stop me from getting other CDs, but it would be at least one a month. I came up with a few rules for my idea. The CD couldn't be more than $25. Since part of the point was to take some "musical risks" rather than just buy the CDs I know I'll love every track on, I couldn't have heard more than a few of the tracks. The CD had to be an actual album - no "best of"s, no sound tracks, no compilations. And lastly, I couldn't already have an album by the artist.

My first purchase was Under the Pink by Tori Amos for $14.95. While I was initially disapointed with it, over the years it's grown on me, and I'd now rate it very highly. But this isn't meant to be a review of every CD I own. Maybe later...

My plan worked really well. Since I'd be in the CD shop (usually the sadly missed Impact Records) buying something at least once a month, I'd usually pick up one or two extras. And I'd always be seeing more stuff I was interested in listening to. By the end of the year my collection had gone from pathetic to reasonable.

CD of the Month has long since stopped - trips overseas, having to deal with real bills, a morgtage and getting married have all meant less money to throw around. But I still get to the CD store every few months or so. So why am I telling this story? I'm glad you asked.

Simon's CD of the Quarter
The Overture & the Undertow by Sarah Blasko
This is a great album. I picked it up a few weeks after my birthday last year. I'd heard All Coming Back and Don't U Eva (but I didn't actually realise Don't U Eva was Ms Blasko until I listen to the CD), and figured I'd give some new Australian music a listen. The first half of the album is probably stronger than the second, with both the tracks I mentioned being my favourites (particularly Don't U Eva). But it's certainly not an album you'd turn off after track 5. If you did, you'd miss Perfect Now and Counting Sheep, both of which are fantastic.
The Overture & the Undertow is also the one CD I've ever had trouble with copying songs onto a computer (so I can listen to them through Media Player or iTunes). I suspect this has more to do with a glitch on my CD rather than anything clever done by the record company, but I still thought it was interesting. Any computer I tried to play the last track on would crash, so I haven't given Remorse much of a listen to.
In one of those random "wow, the world really is a small place!" things, I discovered last month that one of my friends actually knows Sarah Blasko. He met her in Sydney and was telling me all about her album run. Apparently she's a really cool person in life, and I'm hoping that I'll get the chance to meet her at some point. It's just another thing that makes this album really great to me.

Just as a side note, anyone I work with can have a listen to any of the music I talk about here. It's all shared through iTunes. Hopefully you won't think my tastes suck too much...

Friday, February 04, 2005


Okay, a Little More Info

I'm Currently Reading:

The Skin Trade and the Books of Blood are both books of short stories. The Skin Trade currently lives in my work bag, so I read it when I'm on the bus. The Books of Blood is what I read when I need a break.

Ulysses I've discovered nees to be read in large chunks - parts of it are like reading someone's random stream of consciousness. I'm hoping to get through another big chunk this weekend.

The Brother Karamazov (at least the penguin copy I have) is surprisingly easy to read, but it's kind of on hold until I get through Ulysses.


I Have a Blog

So I have a blog. Stilly wanted me to create this so he could link to it. So here it is.

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