Thursday, 31 March 2005

Like your voice on tape, but worse

So last night I watched the video recording of the Easter play. In my opinion, from that distance, my performance was static and tense, like a life-size marionette with arthritis. I can understand why so many actors refuse to watch their own work, as if that makes it any better. I can also see tremendous value in it - I must know these things if I am to get better at anything I do. If I'd had the benefit of a videotaped dress rehearsal between then and opening night, I'm sure I would have done better.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I started working on improving the physical expression immediately.
PPS - Then I remembered that I'll never be performing that script again.

Wednesday, 30 March 2005

Resident Evil 2

Movie Review: Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Would you see it again in the cinema? Probably only if it was free.
Would you buy the DVD? Not this time.
Will you watch it again on television? Once is enough.
Good points? Girls kicking serious zombie ass.
Bad points? Weak second half.

One of my favourite passtimes is being scared to death of zombies. In a pinch I'll take an action-oriented zombie movie instead. That's RE:A - action, not horror. Technically there's sci-fi too, but it's so weak nobody should have bothered. As long as Milla was running around shooting zombies, I was happy. I'm easy to please that way. Once the Umbrella Corp bigwig got involved the movie took a downturn. I guess that's upper management for you.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I feel this movie was worth the two dollars I paid.
PPS - Plus I get to give it back now.

Tuesday, 29 March 2005

AGMF Annual Report

There are probably only one or two better ways to spend a long weekend than camping in Toowoomba for the Australian Gospel Music Festival. I had an awesome time and enjoyed all the music I heard. The following bands/performers are awesome, in alphabetical order:

5th Attempt
Alabaster Box
Anita Thomas
Another Day Down
Brooke Fraser
Chris Poulsen Trio
Compliments of Gus
The Frugals
Half Way Out
Halfway There
Hillsong United
Joel Hockey
The Lads
Light of Love
Nikki Kummerow
Nuclear Penguin
Shrimp Shack Jazz Band
Speaking of Sarah

I got myself signed CDs by The Lads and The Frugals, and an unsigned one by Scat. I spent most of the weekend looking through the program booklet for the words "punk" or "ska", and this has served me rather well, although I did expose myself to some jazz and straight rock, too. If you've never been, and you enjoy Christian music of any style, I definitely recommend AGMF.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm now sponsoring a boy in the Philippines through the Compassion organisation.
PPS - Because I can.

Monday, 28 March 2005

Real Showers Rule

I've just got back from a weekend in Toowoomba - the Australian Gospel Music Festival. I'll have a full report on your desk in the morning, sir.

I was camping on-site, which meant portable hired showers and toilets for thousands of people. The shower trailer I chose to use had tiny cubicles separated by vinyl dividers and thin shower curtains. A shelf ran down the entire length of the trailer above head height for storing personal items like clothes and towels.

Although the quality of these mobile shower trailers was better than I expected, the first thing I did when I got home was jump in a real shower where you have room to swing your elbows and can place your belongings safely a short distance away.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The trailer was inadequately ventilated, too.
PPS - So all the steam condensed on the ceiling and dripped back down.

Thursday, 24 March 2005

The first rule of Anti-Social Club is...

Our office social club is currently holding a "hot" cross bun morning tea. I went downstairs and buttered two rolls, then came straight back upstairs to my desk. That's the way it works in the Anti-Social Club (membership: me). Here's the rules:
  • If you want in, you're out.
  • We do not actively participate in social club functions, though we are members.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - There are a few by-laws and so forth to help interpretation of the rules.
PPS - There are bonus points for being particularly ZEN and weird at social club events.

Australian Idiot

I remember being a bit disappointed with Green Day's album American Idiot at first, thinking that they had been too concerned with telling their "Jesus of Suburbia" story, but the more I listen to the album the more I appreciate it. This is not just Green Day punk rock. This is punk music. A cohesive, frankly brilliant, rock opera.

It's not packed with high-energy hits like the title track, so it takes a little more time to sink in and be appreciated. I'd say this is one of those albums that will get mentioned near the top of Green Day's discography as a defining work. It'll hang around for years, gaining fans and position in the list.

I can't speak for the future of the band, or the taste of their fans-yet-to-be, but I do believe in this album as quality, even if it's the story of Jesus of Suburbia, Saint Jimmy and Whatsername.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I often find myself queueing up the entire album for a long session.
PPS - That's really the best way to hear it.

Wednesday, 23 March 2005

That bug

After rehearsing for a little over two months and performing just two nights, I feel like it's not enough. I don't want to let it go. I can't stop the dialogue ringing in my head. I'm refining a performance days after it's all over.

I want to be doing this all the time. I want to live, breathe, eat, sleep and drink acting. I want regular rehearsals. I want to have to constantly be remembering new dialogue. I want to be on stage and on screen. I want to meet other actors and study with them. I want to pretend to be a new person every single day.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Perhaps this year I will enroll in a part-time acting course.
PPS - Or maybe I'll just memorise dialogue from sitcoms and repeat it at random moments.

Tuesday, 22 March 2005

Cheque me out

I had a thought the other day about limiting online credit card fraud: digital cheques. Imagine that I go to my bank's website and instruct them to set aside a certain amount from one of my accounts. This reserved amount is assigned a code, and that code can be given out to vendors instead of my credit card details.
Advantages: I'm guaranteed, in the worst case scenario, to lose only the amount of that one cheque. Keep credit card details safe. Don't even need a credit card, in theory. Can give cheques to others (family members, for example) to spend on your behalf.
Disadvantages: Some usability loss, still no guarantee on receipt of goods.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'd be interested to know if any banks are already offering a service like this.
PPS - I don't think anyone is, though.

Monday, 21 March 2005

Attack of the Zombies, Mate

Movie review: Undead

Would you see it again in the cinema? If it was re-released, yes.
Will you buy the DVD? Maybe if I see it on special for less than $20.
Will you watch it again on TV? At least once more.
Good points? Zombies, Aussie humour.
Bad points? Characters that will not bloody calm down.

I say to you "Australian B-grade movie" and you'd lose interest almost immediately, I'm sure. If I say "Australian B-grade zombie movie clearly written by a fisherman" and there must be a dark pile you'd relegate it to straight away. If you then watch the first five or ten minutes of Undead, you'll be certain you were right. The whole thing is on-par for a B-grade movie, with a B-grade plot, B-grade actors and shot on B-grade film stock. Yet somehow it all pulled together for me.

The panicky cop started to irritate me a bit, mostly because every effing second effing word from his effing mouth started with 'f' and rhymed with truck, and I'm not exaggerating here. It was done for comic effect, just a bit overdone in my opinion. Despite that, it seems to work, but it is definitely a B-movie, and takes itself about as seriously as that. Check it out and gasp in horror at mid-range production values!

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The aliens definitely steal the show.
PPS - I thought the shotguns bolted together was a bit much.

Sunday, 20 March 2005

The Sunday Mok - The Sick Actor

Last Sunday I definitely had the flu. My voice was failing and I was coughing, sneezing and dripping everywhere. Rehearsal in the afternoon felt all wrong to me, possibly because we jumped right in without warming up.
Monday I stayed home sick from work and spent the day watching television and sleeping. I did go to bible study in the evening and felt unfocused and lethargic.
Tuesday I went back to work, still lethargic and medicated. I was dead tired by 4pm and considered going home then, but it seemed silly to take about one hour of sick leave in a day. Brad had redesigned the application framework we were using for Venture, so I had to start getting used to that.
After Wednesday at work I needed extra sleep at home, though I did get through the day well enough. I got sick of writing database mapper classes for Venture, so I wrote one big one to take care of most of the tedious work for me and just needs to be configured.
Thursday I stayed home sick again. I think I should have taken Monday and Tuesday off instead, because that would have helped me get better sooner. I decided to cut out all my extra-curricular activities except the dress rehearsal and performance. I got through the dress rehearsal well enough, and collapsed afterwards. We did two runs right through, and the second one was the better one.
Friday I was back at work again for a relatively uneventful day. I stayed home from youth group and watched Undead on television. I didn't take any flu tablets all day and felt okay.
Saturday was a pretty big day, really. I played City of Heroes in the morning, then tried to sleep until afternoon. Dad and I went shopping briefly and I looked for the season 1 box set of Stargate SG-1, but couldn't find it. The performance in the evening went quite well, though we did skip a little bit of one scene and I left the stage too early in another, so I missed a line. Bridgit, Kirsty and Erin came to see the play, then left too quickly for me to catch them there. I cut short my participation in the pyjama party at Bridgit's afterwards due to tiredness.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - There's still time to catch the second performance.
PPS - Now I need to sleep some more.

Friday, 18 March 2005

The Rehearsal Must Go On

There is one way - and one way only - to get through a four-and-a-half hour dress rehearsal with the flu: paracetamol, pseudoephedrine and codeine. I've been sick all week, and nothing much is helping me get better. I'm swilling orange juice in enormous quantities, sleeping constantly and all the rest. Very little in the way of positive results so far, although I do have my voice back. I struggled through the Jesus play dress rehearsal last night (two full runs through) and had to be carried home in a bucket.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm surprised no pharmaceutical company has tried to name their flu remedy "pseudo-paraceta-coda-ephedrina-mol".
PPS - Well, not actually that surprised.

Thursday, 17 March 2005

Infinite sets

For those of you that sometimes wonder what goes on in my head, let me show you a bit of it. I was thinking just now "Are there a finite number of angels?" and that got me wondering whether such a fact could be logically derived from the nature of God.

Assume that God exists and is the only being that is everywhere (omnipresent), all-knowing (omniscient) and all-powerful (omnipotent). Thus, angels are limited in space, knowledge and power individually. If they were infinite in number, then together they could be said to be everywhere, even if any individual was only in one particular place. By being everywhere as a group, they could certainly observe enough to know all the important things. And by their powers combined, (hehe - Captain Planet) they could accomplish great feats beyond the reach of any individual, and beyond even their own comprehension.

That is, as a group, an infinite set of angels could be comparable to God. This would mean either that there are a finite number of angels or that there are certain places they cannot go, certain things they cannot know and certain powers they cannot possess. This obviously begs the questions of how many angels are there or what are the specific limits on their power.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - In other words, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
PPS - This is a question I am not qualified to answer.

Wednesday, 16 March 2005


Despite the unbelievable slowdown that would occur as a result, I think it would be interesting to adapt this idea to network communication between PCs. Rather than firing foam darts across the room, however, I propose developing a vacuum tube system spanning the office and using 1GB flash drives in padded cylinders to ferry data around. It would be monumentally pointless, and therefore must be attempted immediately.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It would certainly impress the managers.
PPS - At least it's something they can see.

Tuesday, 15 March 2005

Games That Have Taken Over My Life

Via Apropos of Something I present the games that have become my breath during my short stay on your planet:

Space Quest: Naturally. It was in space, and that's pretty much enough to get any young'un hooked. Lasers, aliens, spaceships, a janitor: what's not to like?

Tetris: I bought a GameBoy once. I still have it. I own six cartridges for it. The only one I plugged in more than twice was Tetris, and I'm still playing.

XCOM: The first and second games in this series occupied my entire mind for a very long time. I mapped out entire levels. I developed the Ultimate Base Layout. I cracked the savegame format and wrote programs to resurrect my dead soldiers, reveal the entire mission map, rebuild bases at will and re-equip soldiers mid-mission. 'Nuff said.

City of Heroes: I am a superhero at last. Again, I am still playing.

Goldeneye: The first-person shooter for the N64, and I rocked so hard the room would tremble with my awesomeness. At least, I thought so.

Nebulus: A relatively obscure platformer for the Commodore 64, and I never owned one. I played this game at a "friend's" house after school, and I sucked, but I loved that little green bug-eyed guy.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Honorable mention to The Sims.
PPS - And possibly to Super Mario 64.

Monday, 14 March 2005

Region Coding = Bad Thing

Here's a thought about DVD region coding: audio CDs are not region-coded and everything is well in their world. DVDs are region coded and consumers complain. DVD player manufacturers produce region-free players. People buy them. People demand non-region-coded players.

In other words, consumers don't want region coding in this age of a global economy. They are used to the internet which allows them to request and receive content on their own time from anywhere in the world. When you force a break in that model, people get upset.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Information wants to be free, as in free speech.
PPS - Pirates argue for "free, as in free beer".

Sunday, 13 March 2005

The Sunday Mok - Gearing up

Last Sunday I think I did rather well to stay awake during the morning church service, considering how much sleep I got the previous night. Then again, I used all my free time for the whole day to sleep, so I managed to get a fair amount in. I also had a rehearsal in the afternoon.
Monday's big event was the Green Day/Simple Plan concert, which rocked hard. I would have liked to be closer to the stage, but I guess you can't have everything.
Tuesday at work I just prepared some prototype screens for a web database we've codenamed "Panda". I like the idea of naming projects after endangered animals. It has a certain poetry to it. Rehearsal in the evening was focused on crowd scenes.
Wednesday I started nailing down the database structure for Panda. I played City of Heroes and The Matrix Online in the evening.
On Thursday we got a proper name for Panda: "Venture". We also named a set of old code "Cornerstone", because it's a good enough starting point for simple projects. Cornerstone needs some serious work, though. I skipped karate in the evening because I was feeling a little sick.
Friday I knew I was getting a cold, because I started up with a dry cough. At work we started actual coding for Venture, and I tried to incorporate some good design choices from the beginning. In the evening we took the youth group kids to play beach volleyball at Rebound at Enoggera, which was fun. It was indoor beach volleyball, though, which sounds like an oxymoron.
Saturday was mostly taken up with a tech rehearsal for the Easter play. It took about seven hours, so I was almost bored by the end. The whole thing went quite well, though, and I'm excited about how good the production will be.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Now, however, I'm definitely sick and just soldiering on.
PPS - Remember the play performance dates.

Friday, 11 March 2005

Would you pay 5 cents for a song?

Okay, it's a day old and linked from Slashdot, but it took me this long to get my thoughts in order about the music industry opposition to this idea. This article suggests that music could be made available online for just 5 cents per song, and that this would attract a great percentage of the current illegal download market. The music industry objections are that this would conscript artists into a 5-cents-a-song model (as opposed to a "you must be big enough to sell millions of circles of plastic" model?) and that it would destroy record company incentives to invest in new acts. I'd like to answer the second point in more depth.

If a song is going to be available online, the distribution costs are near zero. If a record company doesn't believe in an act, then just sign them on a percentage of online sales and put their unproduced demo up. People might happen to like it, and there you have free money, a phrase which is sure to make the little dollar signs light up in their eyes. If nobody downloads a single copy of that music, then absolutely no harm is done. You didn't spend a cent, and the band don't have to be paid because nobody cares. Harsh, but that's capitalism for you. If a band's demo does turn out to be popular, then you can spend the money on producing a "proper" album, and maybe you can even charge more for those tracks.

The point is this: not everything coming out of a music company has to cost money before it can make money. Instead of spending money evaluating demos, deciding if they'll be popular enough, producing an album, cutting CDs, producing cover art and arranging for hype and advertising, just sign everyone on percentage, and make higher-quality production decisions based on demo revenues. It's easier that way, and it will make more money for less outlay.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - All will bow before Mokalus' +1 Hat of Internet Economics!
PPS - This concludes today's lesson.

Thursday, 10 March 2005

Double-sided lie

I've kept notes from university for various reasons, not just the fact that I'm a packrat. Having recently discovered the scanner at work here, I now have an opportunity to turn paper into plastic and burn my notes (to CD and into ashes). However, it seems the setting "two-sided original" doesn't cause the scanner to copy both sides of the original document, so what I ended up with this morning was a file containing every second page from one set of notes.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I was interrupted from further experimentation by someone who wanted to use the photocopier for "real work".
PPS - Whatever that means.

Wednesday, 9 March 2005

Easter Play

The Easter play I've been mentioning for a little while now is on in about a week. If you want to come along and see me pretend to be Caiaphas the High Priest (in a Rather Dashing Suit) and also Doubting Thomas, here's where to be and when to be there:

Place: Ashgrove Baptist Church, 7 Firhill Street, Ashgrove (Queensland, Australia)
Time: 7pm to 8:30pm on the 19th and 20th of March (same performance both nights)

Mokalus of Borg

PS - That's a week before Easter.
PPS - It's called "Jesus: Madman? Liar? God?".

Tuesday, 8 March 2005

Green Plan

Last night I was among the privileged thousands to see Simple Plan and Green Day play at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. My ears are still ringing. I was shouting along with the best of them, showing total disregard for my own voice. That's the great thing about Green Day - for an hour or so, everyone's a rock star.

While the stage was being set between The Plan and The Day, a guy in a rabbit suit (drinking a beer) came out to keep the crowd warmed up. During the show itself there were enough explosions and stage effects to keep Jerry Bruckheimer satisfied, and enough music for everyone else, including many old classics and most of the American Idiot album.

Billie Joe kept moving his microphone stand down the front of the stage, and every time he left it for a second, a roadie would come and move it back. That amused me for a while.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - They found a few guys in the audience to play their instruments for a minute, too.
PPS - When Billie introduced the band members, he named himself "Asshole".

Monday, 7 March 2005

The Matrix Online

I'd like to tell you about The Matrix Online, but I am bound by a non-disclosure agreement. Fortunately, their people have provided a nifty program to sift through things like blog posts and remove unpostable material! So here's my initial impressions of The Matrix Online, helpfully censored by NDA-bot:

The Matrix Online ####### ## # ####### ############## ############ the ###### ###### ##### #####. The controls ###### #### #### ### a ####### #### ########## ## and ##### #####, ############ graphics ###### ######## ##### ### ########### #### ### ####### missions ### ###### ## ###### ### very large peacock feather painted orange.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I hope this has been enlightening.
PPS - Thankyou, come again!

Sunday, 6 March 2005

The Sunday Mok - Felt kinda busy

I've felt a bit overrun at times this week, and that's one of my least favourite feelings.

Last Sunday involved church, rehearsal, sleep, church and bowling, in that order. There was also some television, painting, reading and gaming in there.
Monday at work I was researching knowledge management programs, which was interesting. Bible study in the evening and also another Stargate SG1 episode.
Tuesday I was in freeform R&D mode at work, due to an absence of projects. I looked into creating Visio extensions for most of the day, and that was as far as I got.
Wednesday was when I watched 28 Days Later, and also tried unsuccessfully to install Windows XP Service Pack 2 on our net gaming box. I should try again sometime.
Thursday I noticed a problem with our secondary internet machine, which is quite old now. I had a plan for gradual upgrades, but I might just move my own PC out here instead. At work I just muddled together some tiny utilities for my own interest and use.
Friday Jeff got us started on a project information management database, because he only has access to project information he stores himself and wants a good way to do it. For youth group, we went out to a church at Redcliffe. On the way back, we went via the airport and through Fortitude Valley, which is so wrong it's not funny. Apparently we took a wrong turn very early.
Saturday I saw Hitch, played some games and went out at night with Kym and Bronwyn, which was fun.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I spent Sunday mostly sleeping in between essential activities.
PPS - I must have caught up about three hours in total.

Saturday, 5 March 2005

I want to believe

Movie review: Hitch

Would you see it again at the cinema? Yeah, probably.
Would you buy the DVD? I think I will.
Will you watch it again on TV? If there's nothing else on.
Good points? That whole thing about believing in love again.
Bad points? Embarrassment by proxy.

Hitch is definitely a good movie. It's a good romantic comedy, too. I am impressed - probably more than I expected.
There are two kinds of guys in the world: good guys and jerks. Good guys are invisible most of the time, because (a) they're terrified of messing it up and (b) they don't believe in themselves enough. You don't need me to tell you about jerks. Hitch is just a guy who knows how it all fits together and shows the good guys the ropes. It's never specific to the one situation, and it's not a lie. This is the kind of stuff that should be in the manual.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It doesn't even have to be very long.
PPS - I'll take a pamphlet, if it comes to that.

Friday, 4 March 2005


One-dimensional Tetris. You can play all day without even looking!

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's the ultimate in lazy gaming.
PPS - And they actually implemented it. Unbelievable.

Thursday, 3 March 2005

28 Days Later

Movie review: 28 Days Later, written last night after viewing.

Would you see it again in the cinema? Please don't make me.
Would you buy the DVD? Only if forced at gunpoint.
Will you watch it again on TV? No, thankyou.
Good points? Zombies.
Bad points? Now I won't be able to sleep for three days.

I didn't realise I was scared until I walked past the stairwell and disturbed a sheet of paper. When it hit the ground and made a noise, I jumped, in that my head hit the bloody ceiling and my heart stopped for six seconds. This is not - repeat NOT a movie to watch at home alone on a dark, quiet night.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm calm again.
PPS - I just watched the last fifteen minutes of Little Britain. Weird.

Wednesday, 2 March 2005

Red Pill

I have just been informed that my application to beta-test The Matrix Online was successful. I kind of wish I was at home so I could just start playing now.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I don't expect too much from the game, really.
PPS - Then again, I haven't seen it yet.


Apparently, digital music is too cheap. I kind of disagree, as I'm sure does everyone else. It seems to me that record companies have a poor understanding of economics and their marketplace. The fact that I think there is a problem with their understanding of economics means either
  • that they've learned less through real experience than I did in two weeks of university economics classes OR
  • I don't understand all the factors involved.
Despite its apparent arrogance, I'm going with the first option.

I don't think digital music has reached its optimum profit point yet. Lower prices means higher demand, and up to the supply/demand equilibrium point that means more profit. My assertion is that we are currently sitting at a price above that equilibrium point.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The usual stated reason for higher prices is to keep bricks and mortar stores in business.
PPS - Something's got to give.

Tuesday, 1 March 2005

Handsome B. Wonderful

I've received some odd spam in my time (who hasn't?) but some that sticks in my memory is what gets through all the spam filters and firewalls and claims to be from someone with a clearly false name. The first one I received of this type was from "Weapon K. Respectable". This morning I just received one from "Reconsidering L. Hardwoods". Ah, the precious memories!

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I shall print it and frame it immediately.
PPS - Or delete it without reading it. Either way works fine.