Friday, 30 September 2005

I also hate the crazy frog

Another reason I hate mobile phone ringtones: people have phones here at work and sit them on their desks. In that position, they can answer immediately, but some people are often away from their desks, which means the phone can ring as much as it wants and it will not be answered. So, my problem is mostly a people problem: you're either so close that you could hear your phone on vibrate anyway or you're too far away to do anything about it.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - For your own safety, switch your phone to a silent mode while in the office.
PPS - Otherwise someone might snap and try to murder you.

Thursday, 29 September 2005

The good kind of priceless

The vending machine just gave me $2 of change from $2 after I purchased a can of Pepsi MAX. I guess I'm the one millionth customer or something.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Either that or it's just my lucky day.
PPS - Could be both.

I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours

Most of our financial transactions rely on trading secrets that are, as a result, not that secret. How many people, agencies and companies have your credit card number on file? Can you get it back if they abuse it? No, you can only stop it completely, then get a new number and give that out to everyone you *do* still trust. You shouldn't have to trust anyone like that - they should make requests of your account that is kept under your control.

Requests would be denied by default, except where you have explicitly noted that a request is expected. Regular requests could be set up to be accepted automatically, but when something bad happens to a regular request (eg it is six times the size it should be and starts happening every hour instead of every month) then it can be cancelled with no adverse effect on other transactions. Naturally there would be a "speed limit" on regular requestors, so they can only extract cash at a previously agreed maximum rate.

Of course, I know people would mess it up. Legitimate requests would be denied all too often, simply because Grampa forgot to tell the bank that it was expected. Still, that's better than Grampa losing his life savings just because someone finds out his credit card number.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It makes sense to me.
PPS - Lots of nonsensical things do, though.

Wednesday, 28 September 2005

Imposing assumption

Some people refuse to check email based on the idea that if it was really important, you'd call. I wonder how people would react if you said you refuse to answer your phone because if it was really important you'd come in person?

I understand the temptation. In these days of information overload, it would certainly be nice to say "no" and just close off one of the most polluted information streams coming my way, but I can't. I rely too much on it. To pare it down to a useful trickle rather than a river of refuse, I just need a reliable way to indicate what is actually interesting to me so I can ignore the rest.

Now if only I could do the same with my phone.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I already refuse to answer "Private Number" calls.
PPS - If you don't want me to know who you are, I don't want to hear from you.

Tuesday, 27 September 2005

It's not very musical at all, actually

Today we're playing musical desks again. I have been moved back to my small desk, but in a new location. Someone neglected to tell me exactly where it would be. My phone is still on the old desk, too, but I can't say I'll miss it. On the plus side, I have a new LCD monitor as a concession to the fact that my desk is just too small for a traditional CRT.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I no longer have room for the plant Linda gave me last night.
PPS - I hardly have room for my own elbows.

Monday, 26 September 2005

They lower stress

Sometimes I think it might be nice to have office pets hanging around, like a ship's cat or something. Of course then we'd get arguments about whose responsibility it is and whether we can swap the cat for a dog or vice versa. The people with allergies would demand its removal and the others who never see it might ask to be moved closer to its usual territory.

The general point is that we go to some significant lengths to create a sterile, dehumanised working environment, then wonder why our workforce is stressed.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I advocate a friendlier work environment whenever possible.
PPS - That means personal touches.

Sunday, 25 September 2005

The Sunday Mok - Mystery Illness

Last Sunday we had one service at the Uniting Church at 11am rather than one in the morning and one in the evening. That left the evening technically free for a surprise birthday party for Renè. Before I heard about the party, my plan was to go to Ashgrove Baptist for the evening service.
On Monday I started feeling sick in the afternoon - gut cramps, fever and queasiness. I was glad to get away from work at the end of the day. I spent the evening watching Family Guy at Deb's.
I stayed home from work on Tuesday in order to feel miserable in friendly surroundings. Deb brought me chicken noodle soup for lunch and Gatorade to keep me hydrated. I skipped karate.
By Wednesday I'd regained a normal body temperature, but the other symptoms remained, so I stayed home again. Deb brought tomato soup for lunch and I spent most of the day just sleeping. I also started back on solid foods at dinner.
I went back to work on Thursday and found it hard to concentrate, plus the abdominal cramps interfered. I made it through the day, but accomplished very little. I probably could have used another day off. I had dinner at Deb's with Ally and Erin.
My problems still existed on Friday, but to a lesser extent. I found that my main problem with my work is discovering how to show five tables of data in a user-friendly way that can also be used for input. So far, no luck.
On Saturday I had a meeting about the Youthworx end of year surf camp, a wedding after lunch and an afternoon at Brisbane Christian Fellowship for their musical revue "The Passage Over". Lots of fun. I felt much better, but still not 100%.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I forgot to do this in the morning.
PPS - Usually it's just part of the Sunday morning routine.

Friday, 23 September 2005

Shallow Pal

I overhear friends talk about troubles occasionally, and I have to wonder why I don't find out in a more traditional way. I'm a friend, after all. I just have to conclude that I am involved only to an extremely shallow level with everyone I know. I don't know if you're in pain and hiding it because, well, you're hiding it from me. I don't know to look any deeper because there appears to be no reason to do so.

I'm hardly going to push all of my friends to reveal their deepest, darkest pains to me. That would be rather pointless. And while I'll try to see what's going on inside, it'll go much faster with your help.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I can't read minds.
PPS - Much as I like to pretend I can.

Thursday, 22 September 2005

And I'm only 30 minutes in

Having come back to work today, I regretted the decision just five minutes after stepping out the front door. I still feel ill, just not feverish anymore. Shortly after I arrived at the office I was told that I'd be moving back to my tiny desk because a drafter is coming back from leave and that the mechanical engineers are getting impatient for the vaguely-defined report they expect to get.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Depending on how I feel, today may turn out to be a half-day.
PPS - Lots of people appear to be sick around here.

Tuesday, 20 September 2005

Burn, baby, burn

I've come down with some sickness very suddenly that makes me queasy and feverish. I think you can guess whether I like it or not. There's also lethargy and some other symptoms not suitable for polite conversation.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - So I'm not at work right now.
PPS - I'm still wondering if it was a fair trade.

Monday, 19 September 2005

Narrow Markets

I like this Dilbert comic. You don't have to. It's okay.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Sometimes stupidity is amusing.
PPS - Usually it's annoying.

Edit: the link is broken because that's what happens to Dilbert after a month. I found another copy here, but I can't guarantee it will stay up forever.

Name That Car

My car needs a name, and I've only been able to come up with a few names stolen from TV and movies so far. The list of choices currently consists of:

Dead Reckoning
Innocent Fishing Boat
Slave I

None of them seem particularly suitable. The number plate provides very little guidance, too - JBR. I am hesitant to just pronounce it as is, calling the car "Jabber", because that makes no sense.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I suppose it could be John's Big Rig.
PPS - That's in the same category as Dead Reckoning, though: too much for a small car.

Sunday, 18 September 2005

The Sunday Mok - Girls don't like boys, girls like cars and money

Last Sunday the Beyond group from church went to the Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens, fed some ducks and had some icecream. It was fun.
On Monday there were some problems with the B2B software I maintain, and I had to walk the ten minutes to the other office to sort it out. After about an hour and a half, I just decided to leave it until Tuesday, because by then it was 6pm.
I got a bit frustrated on Tuesday because I was being questioned about the future of my work, which has not been fully discussed with me as yet. It was as if I was asked "When are you finally getting around to this new task I've just given you?".
On Wednesday I took a look at a car - a 2004 Corolla Seca - and I bought it. I put down the deposit right then. We had the final 40 Days of Purpose study, too.
I picked up my car on Thursday afternoon and drove it home, then caught a bus back to work to finish the day. The second thing I did with the car was take Deb to Dos Amigos Mexican restaurant, then to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Friday, since there was no youth group (school holidays), I went to Deb's and finished watching Firefly. I think we watched about five episodes that night. I highly recommend this show.
On Saturday morning, I dozed in front of the Super Simpsons Weekend, then played City of Heroes for a bit. Deb and I had lunch at the Pancake Cafe, then headed to Miv's for his 26th birthday bash. We arrived at about 16:45 - technically 45 minutes late - but were still ahead of most people. We left at about 23:30, I think, then were up until 02:00 talking.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's a good thing church is on later this morning.
PPS - I didn't sleep in that late, though.

Friday, 16 September 2005

She said, she said

A while ago, we swapped out patriarchal language (non-specific second-person pronouns were "he" and "his") for inclusive language ("he or she", "his or hers"). Now, since that seems to be too much of a pain, the pendulum kept swinging and we're moving into exclusively matriarchal pronouns ("she" and "hers"). When did it become okay to marginalise men this way? We learned our lesson. We included everyone. It was working. Now we've got to deal with the same problem all over again, but from the other side.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This rant sponsored by the Worldwide Masculist Society.
PPS - Current WMS membership is just me.

Dark Chocolate

I had prepared myself for a much darker experience in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was still a bit disturbed by the first sight of Augustus Gloop and the other golden ticket winners (except Charlie). They were deliberately touched up to look artificial and plastic. The stand-out of the movie is definitely the Oompa-Loompa songs, and also the way Willy Wonka kept dismissing Mike Teavee by just saying he was mumbling. I couldn't catch all of the Oompa-Loompa song lyrics, though - they were drowned out by the music.

When to see it: go to the cinema, then rent the DVD (eventually) and turn on subtitles.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Hopefully the subtitles won't just say "[SINGING]".
PPS - Though I wouldn't rule it out.

Thursday, 15 September 2005

It's an homage

You can't be taken seriously in a business suit that shows off your midriff, but your presentation today is awful. You need a distraction. You may have to spend some time this morning adjusting your PowerPoint slides to put more interesting points way up high, so you have more excuses to reach up and point, once again exposing your distracting midriff. The board of directors will all be suitably impressed.

Happy Midriff Business Suit Day!

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I really do enjoy the Girls Are Pretty stories.
PPS - This entry inspired by a true story.

Wednesday, 14 September 2005


You know when you get interrupted doing something rather strange? I just decided I'd take a second to try out the colour scanning functions of our photocopier/printer. My test material was my ID badge. Initially I was alone, but after placing my card on the copy surface, two fellow employees arrived to collect printouts. Since something appeared to be temporarily wrong with the printing, I figured it would be best to make my exit. That, of course, meant lifting the lid of the photocopier to retrieve my ID badge and leaving the copy room as quickly as possible with a sheepish grin. It was as if I'd just been discovered driving toy cars around my desk or doing commando rolls around the corridors with a feather duster rifle.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Nobody's caught me doing those other things.
PPS - Yet...

It's for you

One of the most annoying noises in the world has to be a telephone that will not stop ringing. In the other office where I still must return now and then, the telephones ring loudly and people are often paged to contact reception or a particular extension. Add to that the current refurbishment works and you have a noisy office.

Here in the project office, a ten minute walk away, the phones are set to a quieter volume and there is no PA system. Things are much quieter, and I really appreciate it. I do hear mobile phones ringing now and then, but for the most part it's quiet.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Now if only the work were interesting...
PPS - I guess you can't have everything.

Tuesday, 13 September 2005

Debugging what is only half my fault

This morning my task is to fix a file transfer that's gone wrong. Something has happened to a server in Melbourne which denies us access to the files we need. I didn't touch that server or our program up here, and suddenly the whole thing has come crashing down. I am not permitted to touch the server in Melbourne, so I can't fix it myself if something has gone wrong there.

Of course, I can point the finger wherever I want, but I'm supposed to be responsible for getting this done. I am almost totally reliant on other people to solve my problem.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I really wish they wouldn't scream.
PPS - I loathe time pressures and deadlines.

Monday, 12 September 2005


One thing I can't stand to listen to is bragging. If you're telling me a story about yourself with the intention of making me say "wow", chances are good that you won't get it. You'll get a disinterested yawn and you'll have to try harder to make me listen to any of your stories in future. It's because I don't care how great you think you are or how amazing your experiences have been - I care about finding out for myself.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - You don't need to puff yourself up to look big.
PPS - It usually has the opposite effect.

Sunday, 11 September 2005

The Sunday Mok - I ate a big red candle

Last Sunday was Father's Day, so I picked up a cheesecake from The Cheesecake Shop and the three boys of the step-family-to-be went to Beth's with Dad for lunch.
Work on Monday was boring, following the recent trend. Database operating is neither what I was born nor trained to do. I had lunch with Deb in the park outside the office. Pizza for dinner, then a cake for Ug the Caveman's birthday.
On Tuesday, my Firefly DVDs arrived. They had to be courier-carried between the two offices, because I gave the other address when I ordered. I started getting a strange feeling in my throat, like I had a dislocated Adam's Apple or something.
Wednesday the youth group leaders met to plan out the next term so we could hand out flyers on Friday. Bible study in the evening, then stayed up a while chatting with Deb.
On Thursday I had to take a walk between the offices to troubleshoot the B2B software for which I am now solely responsible. Soon (though not soon enough) this responsibility will be outsourced. We went to dinner at the Crushers Leagues Club for the all-you-can-eat buffet. I ate too much. I started watching Firefly, and I'm suitably impressed.
I skipped lunch on Friday because we were taking the youth group kids to Sizzler that night, and two all-you-can-eat meals in two days would otherwise kill me. I was up very late chatting with Deb, and got to bed around 04:00.
I slept in on Saturday morning until 11:45. I went out shopping in the city, then hit Julie & Rory's place to celebrate Julie finishing her PhD. At a little after 22:00 I walked up the hill to Debbie's place to see most of Hitch. I stayed up a bit late again.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - So basically I've felt pretty full all week.
PPS - I think that's linked to the Adam's Apple thing.

Friday, 9 September 2005


Superman wears a toupe. You can tell by the way he's started flying with one hand on his head, or that stupid "Krypton Rulz!" baseball cap he's been sporting lately. Come on, Superman, it's time to let go of your fading youth and age with dignity. Besides, a bald Superman could be rather intimidating if he set it off with some tough-guy shades. Also, in the middle of a fight, when someone breaks those cheap sunglasses, he can do like a slow, menacing glare towards the camera, and then kick it up a notch, 'cause now you've made Superman mad.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It was bound to happen eventually.
PPS - I wonder if he'd start losing his powers as he got older?

Thursday, 8 September 2005

A partly-remembered face

I dreamed last night of a conglomeration of faces and names of people I have known or encountered. I bumped into this person in a supermarket and she grabbed my arm. She wouldn't let go until I remembered her name, and she gave me the hint that it was only three letters long. I eventually guessed "Nobi", which I realise is four letters long, and that confused me for a while. I think the name is a fusion of "Obi-Wan" and "Niobe" (from The Matrix Reloaded).

I'm not sure of all the pieces on which my memory drew to construct this Gestalten girl, but I think I recognise a few from primary school and NCYC. There was probably a bit of the Gospel Music Festival in there, too.

There wasn't much more to the dream than that - we bumped into each other, and eventually we were separated again, like ships passing in the night.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It feels like a cop-out to write about a dream.
PPS - Maybe I'll do better tomorrow.

Wednesday, 7 September 2005

So You Want To Be A Zombie

If you can stand playing a game with no sound, no graphics to speak of and no real-time action, but you still want to play in an apocalyptic zombie world, you might like to check out Urban Dead. It's free.

Personally, I started my character as a zombie, and that might not have been my best idea ever. I imagine there's a lot more to do if you're human. I'm currently wandering around, attempting to smash my way through barricades into buildings, where (I imagine) I'll be greeted by a waiting feast of brains. Mmm.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - "Brains..."
PPS - "Graargh."

New Car Smell is poisonous

Dad picked up his new car last night - a silvery Corolla - and had to lend it to me almost immediately to drive to karate. Since he was going out, he couldn't drop me off or pick me up. His face had a look of reluctance and fear because, well, brand new car. He didn't even drive it in to work today, preferring to take the bus, so that he wouldn't be parked out in the sun.

I used to hear the Pintara approaching from two streets away. Not because it was loud, but because I knew the sound very well. I don't yet know the Corolla that well (of course) and it's also quieter. That's going to take some getting used to.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I imagine I will not be allowed to borrow this car nearly as much.
PPS - Must be time to buy my own, then.

Tuesday, 6 September 2005


I'm a routine kind of guy, as many of you will know, so the way I handle new things or remember responsibilities is by incorporating them into my regular routine. I had this blogging thing all sorted out, then I moved offices. That move has, apparently, disrupted the delicate balance that is my sanity, and I find myself often forgetting to post in the morning, or just digging through my archives of drafts for something mostly finished.

It might be because everyone appears to be already working by the time I get in here, according to my calculations, half an hour early. I feel a certain responsibility to get right to it, and miss out on my blog posting and reading. From what I've overheard, people in this office work seven hours more than I'm supposed to, and I guess they fit it in early, because they all clear out at 5pm.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I forget what my point was.
PPS - Probably just to apologise for not posting this morning.

Monday, 5 September 2005

Yahoo Groups CAPTCHA

Yahoo Groups uses a CAPTCHA images to prevent subscriptions by bots. I had to try three times before I successfully passed the test, which made me question my own humanity and intelligence. The particular images used by Yahoo include lines crossing the letters, and these make it extremely difficult to tell what a letter is, even for a human. These tests are viewed as particularly problematic from a usability point of view. In my case I was unsure whether a pair of crossed distorted lines was a letter 'x' or just a pair of crossed lines.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Apparently, I guessed wrong.
PPS - Twice.

Sunday, 4 September 2005

The Sunday Mok - You don't have to bow or curtsey

Last Sunday Dad, Beth and I went to my aunt and uncle's place for lunch, and my second-cousin Grace also showed up. We don't get to see any of them very often. Grace is 10 and amused herself making candles from a craft kit.
Monday continued the recent trend of incredibly boring work. This, as I'm sure I've mentioned before, leads me to consider programming projects outside of work hours. I'm currentle reading up on the Vassal board game engine as an alternative to Zillions of Games, which is not especially suited to games involving dice.
It was Tuesday when I found out I'd be going to the black belt grading on Saturday. I was surprised, based on what sensei Peter had seen that night and the previous Tuesday. I was expecting to wait another six months.
On Wednesday at work, Microsoft Access nearly ate all my work so far, which would have been rather bad. The step-family had dinner at a Thai restaurant for David's birthday. He's the eldest step-sibling. It had to be cut relatively short, because most of us had somewhere else to be later.
I left work a little early on Thursday to get to an extra karate class on time, but still turned up late. It was the third class I'd attended in a row that focused exclusively on kata.
On Friday at work I started on a new part of the model and determined to do it absolutely right and keep track of the abbreviated names that had to change on drawings. I met Debbie for lunch, but due to a miscommunication, we waited on different corners of the block for each other.
Saturday was the grading, which took about three hours all up. I passed, and then I wanted to sleep, but I didn't get that chance until night. Went furniture shopping in the afternoon - looking for a bookcase for me at Ikea. It's a long drive and I couldn't sleep in the car.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The grading was a tad easier than I expected.
PPS - That's either because the examiners went easy or because I'm awesome. I think it's the former.

Friday, 2 September 2005


When some new spamming technique surfaces on the web, someone, somewhere, coins a new term for it. These invariably start with the letters "sp" and use part of another word to make up the rest. For instance "splogging" = spamming via blogs, "splorgery" = spamming newsgroups via forged messages, "spim" = instant message spam. As you can see, these words are all awkward and nearly always require an explanation following them.

If someone had thought for just a second, we could have used other parts of the words "blog" and "spam" to give us "blam".

Mokalus of Borg

PS - What a world we would live in then!
PPS - I'd be moderately excited for a minute or two.

Thursday, 1 September 2005

The other good kind of worm

I can't believe there aren't more "light side" worms on the net, that seek out vulnerable computers just like the real thing, remove any infection, and then patch the hole. At the very least I'd expect Microsoft to release their patches in this form, too, since that seems to be a really effective way of reaching lots of their customers...

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I guess being a force for good by exploiting security holes is an oxymoron.
PPS - Like a burglar who breaks in and installs an alarm system.