Monday, 31 October 2005

Not following the script

A telemarketer probably can't handle it if you don't follow the script. Keep a copy of Shakespeare next to the phone for those occasions.

"Hello, is that Mr Smith?"
"Now is the winter of our discontent"
"... Hello, is that Mr Smith?"
"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet"
(long pause)
"I'll call back another time."

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I have not tried this one myself.
PPS - I think it has potential, though.

Sunday, 30 October 2005

The Sunday Mok - Forced Leisure

I rode with Dad to church last Sunday, contrary to my recent habits. Afterwards, I had Mongolian barbeque for lunch at Deb's with her family. In the after-lunch conversation, I wound up in the local park throwing a spear with a woomera. I sang in church that evening, too.
I spent Monday at work failing to translate an Access database into SQL Server by various means. I also realised just how busy I'd be for the rest of the week. I did get to Bible study that night.
By Tuesday it was clear how bad the Access database was going to be if I left it in its current state. It was running about 30 times slower than the orignal version, which was exactly the opposite of the point of the translation work in the first place. In the evening, after karate, I took some items to Beth's for a garage sale that's been postponed to this coming Saturday.
On Wednesday, if you'll pardon the medical details, I developed a spotty rash over my entire body. Apart from that, however, I felt fine. Deb and I went to the Sit Down Comedy Club for the New Comic of the Year competition. We both thought the second place winner shouldn't have placed.
I went to the doctor on Thursday who reckons I've got glandular fever, which can present as tonsillitis at first, and can also produce a rash. I've been advised to avoid general social contact, but I've sort of gone against that advice a couple of times.
I went for blood tests on Friday, the results of which I should have tomorrow afternoon. I helped set up for the youth group Trivia Night, and then had to rest for a while. I went home and watched Saw on DVD that Deb had lent me. Very interesting.
On Saturday, I cancelled and stayed away from everything, including my ill-fated Brisbane Zombiewalk 2005. I guess I'll try that again next year. I tried to play City of Heroes, but it took all day to download the latest patch at 1.6GB in size. Now the game files are corrupted and seem unable to fix themselves, so I may have to re-install and re-download gigabytes of patches and updates.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I do hope that works.
PPS - Otherwise it could be an expensive call to tech support in the States.

Friday, 28 October 2005

Bubble Boy

By doctor's orders, I am to stay away from work and general social contact for a few days. It's a hard life, but I think I'll cope with several days of forced leisure.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I notice that Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle is playing on Foxtel this afternoon.
PPS - I guess I'm all set, then.

Thursday, 27 October 2005

Rumble pack action

For whatever reason, the bottom left panel of this VG Cats comic strip makes me laugh.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I imagine that would make it difficult to play.
PPS - Unless you're into that kind of thing...

Wednesday, 26 October 2005

The new phone

I've been given a phone on my desk once again. Apparently this was not possible for a while because there are no convenient phone points near my desk. The solution from the IT guys was to give me a VoIP (internet) phone. It looks like a regular handset, but it's plugged into the office data network rather than the phone network. The novelty factor of this connection type, coupled with the fact that I haven't had a phone in ages, makes me wish I had someone to call.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I've only made a test call to my mobile so far.
PPS - I also received an accidental call from someone else's mobile.

Tuesday, 25 October 2005

Caught a spambot with its pants down

Various spambots trawl the archives of my blog leaving comments to link to their sites (to increase their page rank and increase traffic, blah blah). They usually include some variety of generic compliment on the blog, then mentions that, by the way, they also have a website, and, invariably, it "pretty much covers" some topic. Usually the topic inserted makes little grammatical sense, but I think that hardly matters to them. My most recent spam comment must have fallen over a bit, because its comment text read as follows:
Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a buy zenegra site/blog. It pretty much covers ##KEYWORD## related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)
Obviously the link has been removed because I don't care to re-advertise for whatever the hell is being sold. The point of this spambot's complimentary style is obviously to make it appear more like a genuine comment and less like the money-grubbing, evil, soul-sucking, baby-eating spam that it is. This time, however, the script has failed to pass itself off as human and inserted its own keyword placeholder at the end. I find it mildly amusing.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Sorry, spam pig, you lose.
PPS - Not that any of the spam comments still remain, mind you.

Monday, 24 October 2005

Brisbane Zombiewalk 2005

This Saturday at 2pm, the plan is to get dressed up as zombies and shamble briefly through the Brisbane CBD, followed by a picnic. If you're only up for the picnic, meet us at Queens Gardens on George Street.

Otherwise, if you're the zombie type, come to King George Square at 2pm, dressed appropriately and ready to get made up with fake blood and dirt, then get your shuffle on. BYO blood and dirt "makeup" if you can.

The planned route is as follows: from the square, cross Adelaide Street and head up Albert Street to the Queen Street Mall. Turn uphill and go up the mall, crossing George Street at the top. Turn left and shamble on until we hit Queens Gardens. The total distance is about 660 metres.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Zombie hordes work better the more people we can get.
PPS - So bring some friends. Bring everyone.

Sunday, 23 October 2005

The Sunday Mok - Tonsils

Last Sunday felt like I was cutting activities out of my life in order to feel less tired and stressed. I chose not to go bowling after church because I felt too tired and not in the mood. Lately I seem to feel tired a lot more than I used to. It could be that I haven't had time to exercise on Saturday mornings the way I used to.
On Monday evening I went to the doctor about my throat and picked up some antibiotics. I was spitting rather than swallowing my saliva when I could, just because it hurt to swallow. That also meant it hurt to eat.
When I woke up on Tuesday my throat felt the worst it has during this entire episode, so I stayed home from work and skipped karate that night. Deb brought over some ice cream to help numb the pain. I improved during the day and watched Moulin Rouge in the evening.
I might have been able to manage work on Wednesday, but I stayed home again. I had dinner at Deb's, then watched Interview With the Vampire, after which we talked for a while.
I went back to work on Thursday and did fine. Dad, Ug, Debbie and I all went to Beth's for dinner, then Deb and I watched Shaolin Soccer back at my place. I must have been tired or stressed, because I got upset by a conversation we had when I drove Deb home.
On Friday at work, the controls and information systems section went out to lunch on the company tab. My side of potato wedges was bigger than my main course, and I couldn't finish it, but at least it didn't hurt to eat anymore. We went bowling with the youth group in the evening and my scores were less than inspiring. I'm out of practice. Afterwards, I watched Robots at Deb's.
I woke up early on Saturday, intending to exercise, but I was too tired. I went to the Youthworx meeting, then went to Brookside with Deb to shop for her sister Mia's birthday present. I went home and took a nap, then picked Deb up to go to dinner at Southbank. We had Turkish, after we waited half an hour for a table. I forgot to get them to validate our parking, though, so I had to pay for that, too. I went home relatively early to sleep.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It seems that's the main thing missing from my life right now.
PPS - It must be my own fault for choosing late nights.

Friday, 21 October 2005

I write unhelpful titles

According to Jakob Nielsen, who tests, teaches and observes website usability for a living, blog post titles should be clear and summarise the content succinctly. Jokes, puns and obscure references, as usually favoured by me, make it harder for people to use a weblog, thereby driving away readers. Therefore, from now on, I will (probably, usually) be writing clearer titles for my posts, just to see how that works out for me.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This doesn't mean I'll stop the humour.
PPS - It just means that the connection between the title and the post won't be part of the joke.

Thursday, 20 October 2005

An ever-renewing natural resource

When I sign on to Messenger, I like to use a new quote beside my name. I keep track of the quotes I'd like to use in a list inside a nifty program called 3Day Organiser. I use one quote per day and I usually come up with about six new ones. At this rate I will never run out.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I don't think there's enough of it to generate power, however.
PPS - Since I have enough power, that's not much of an issue.

Wednesday, 19 October 2005

Plastic face

Anyone whose facial repertoire only contains "stupid grin" and "vacantly serious" should be avoided.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I have known a few people like this.
PPS - I don't think I currently encounter any in my daily life.

Tuesday, 18 October 2005

Tonsils on fire

Apparently, I have tonsillitis. After my sore throat did not go away or get better for four days, I sought out a doctor who took a look of less than one second into my mouth and pronounced me tonsillated. He gave me some paper and pointed me at a pharmacy who gave me some unfashionable pills (blue and green together? oh, please) that I am to take twice a day until the bugs go away. Unfortunately it still hurts like hell to swallow.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I declined the offer of a medical certificate for a day off work.
PPS - I have since reconsidered.

Monday, 17 October 2005

Prediction: King Kong Megaflop

I have a little prediction to make regarding the upcoming King Kong remake: it'll flop. Rather disappointingly, I imagine, to any studio executives who are betting the house on it. It's a remake of a classic, and those two terms sit firmly on opposite sides of the box-office draw see-saw, and "classic" loses support every day. "Gone With the Wind" is now, by definition alone, the most classic movie ever. Ask modern under-thirties if they care and they'll ask you right back "Gone With the what?". I am confidently predicting an analogous "King Who?" response to King Kong.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - That's including the draw potential of Naomi Watts and Jack Black.
PPS - I just don't think it will be particularly good.

Sunday, 16 October 2005

The Sunday Mok - Big ol' fat rain

Last Sunday I felt hot and tired, like I had a fever. Apparently I did not, and it was probably just the Spring heat getting to me. We had a barbeque lunch with our 40 Days of Purpose small group. I ate too much.
On Monday I wasn't going to go to Disciple, then I changed my mind at the last minute and went after all. That changed Debbie's plans, too. I had to at least drop in, because I was providing supper that night.
I was informed on Tuesday that our B2B integration software had been going quietly wrong. I think they expected me to notice it sooner or later, but it wasn't quite the kind of error I would notice.
I was unusually hungry on Wednesday, despite an approximate doubling of my usual food intake. I don't know exactly what it was, because it went away the next day. I went to Deb's for dinner and we watched Family Guy from the end of season 2 up to halfway through season 3. I stayed later than I should have done.
On Thursday we started getting a bit of rain, which is very welcome. I went out to a youth leadership seminar at Indooroopilly and glazed over for a while. I'm sure I missed a good chunk of the information.
I felt on Friday as if I hadn't been very busy at work. The job isn't exactly challenging at the moment, though some bits are interesting. We played "wacky sports" games with the youth group kids, and I got into a pretty good mood.
Saturday morning was occupied by Child Safe Church training, then I took a nap and went shopping with Deb for new trousers. My previous pair, now rather old, now have a broken zip. Went to Sizzler for Murrae's birthday, then to Laura's to watch Office Space I left at about 11pm. It was raining.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's still raining now.
PPS - It will be good if it keeps up for a few days.

Friday, 14 October 2005

Hi, My Name Is...

I'm bad at remembering to take off nametags, simply because I don't wear them that often. And when I do, you can be sure that it's going to stay on just long enough for me to interact with some strangers.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's important for them to know who I am, see.
PPS - I need a self-destructing nametag that disappears when I no longer need it.

Thursday, 13 October 2005

Get Drunk and Hide Your Pants

In the morning you'll wake up without your pants on. If you drank enough, you'll only remember that you've hidden them, but not where, so now it's hide-and-seek with a vital part of your wardrobe in the fifteen minutes before work. Good luck!

Mokalus of Borg

PS - They're in the dryer.
PPS - You're going to be late this morning.

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Follow the white rabbit

Something I wish I could do is go back and see The Matrix again for the first time. On a big screen. That would involve some kind of amnesia ray, and unfortunately we only have two types of those. One is has a caliber rating and works by destroying your memories with very fast-moving pieces of hot lead, while the other is likely best wielded by Icepick Freeman. The point is this: The Matrix, when I first saw it, got so many things so right that it was impossible not to love it. The well-choreographed fight scenes had me leaving the cinema feeling not aggressive but powerful, like I could punch through steel and jump six metres in the air. I had rock music flowing through my veins and the whole world moved in slow motion. I could have dodged bullets if the need arose.

What got to me most about The Matrix, though, were the ideas. There's this whole world created as a thin disguise to keep a human population alive and deluded. When Morpheus told Neo that his eyes hurt "because you've never used them before", I got chills. Of course, a human body actually makes a lousy battery, and you still need to feed it. I've heard the theory advanced that keeping humans captive in this world is their revenge for being forced to store and display terabytes of pornography to spotty teenagers and sad middle-aged men, not for power generation. Whatever their motivation, it was done.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I don't know how much I knew in advance about the movie.
PPS - Probably very little.

Tuesday, 11 October 2005

It's Alive!

A while ago I wrote about Urban Dead, a "browser-based, grid-mapped, free-to-play multi-player game where you play the survivor or victim of a zombie outbreak in a quarantined city centre". I'd been playing as a zombie thus far, smashing barricades and generally attacking people as I encountered them. I would often come back to the game to find myself dead, which is just a minor setback for a zombie.

Now I came back to find that someone had raised me from the dead to a fully alive state, dragged me inside a building, and handed me a GPS device. At least, I think that's what's happened. It could easily be a bizarre bug. The problem is that I'm not sure how to be alive in this game. I need to seek shelter before my turn ends, or else I'll be attacked on the outside and left for dead again. All the buildings are heavily barricaded to prevent anyone from getting in, so I'd need first to clear the barricades, then get inside, then barricade the doors again. Maybe I'll just stay put for a while, listening to that GPS device beep.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Being alive in a city full of zombies is much more stressful than being undead.
PPS - I doubt zombies have many problems with stress.

Monday, 10 October 2005


AI often turns out to have a weakness that can be exploited. An oversight on the part of the designer. A blind spot. Of course, *real* intelligence never succumbs to that, does it? ;)

No, the difference between weaknesses in AI and weaknesses in RI ("real intelligence") is that RI beings can learn to recognise areas of weakness and determine to plug the holes autonomously. AI usually needs external patching, which only serves to shift the holes. The fact that game AI has been routinely outsmarted by the communities of players demonstrates the intellectual superiority of RI over AI.

The design goal of "AI that can detect and overcome its own weaknesses" is very simple to state, but so broad as to be meaningless. Naturally it would have a different meaning in particular game universes, but it is still too broad to design for.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Game AI is becoming less important as we hook up real people to one another.
PPS - Perhaps one day it will be gone entirely.

Sunday, 9 October 2005

The Sunday Mok - Fire on the hills

Last Sunday I spent the whole day with Deb. We weren't always doing anything together, but we were around each other from morning to night. I also installed my new DVD burner.
On Monday I realised that I hadn't seen any of my usual bus companions in some time, and I hadn't been reading anything on the bus either. I used to do that when I rode alone. Bible study in the evening.
On Tuesday I felt a bit lethargic in the afternoon and decided to have an early night after karate and dinner. I felt hot, too, probably because of Spring.
Wednesday morning felt great after the early night. I really should do that more often. I watched White Chicks and Wimbledon at Deb's. I preferred Wimbledon, and I'd seen it before.
I sat outside and did some reading on Thursday at lunchtime, until it got too hot. It was hotter when I got back home than in the city, though, even in the afternoon. That's because the hills were on fire. It happens every few years.
On Friday Yan and I did an informal demonstration of the database for the mechanical engineers. In the evening we took the youth group kids to Suncorp Stadium to see the soccer and unexpectedly bumped into Miv and Julia. I say "unexpectedly" only because it's a big place - a soccer game is a very normal place to find Miv.
Saturday involved a meeting in the morning (as is the new routine), some swimming and seeing The 40 Year Old Virgin, which is a very silly movie, but funny. I laughed.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I kept forgetting Steve Carrell's name.
PPS - I suspect we'll be seeing lots more of him soon.

Friday, 7 October 2005


Something that really (and I mean REALLY) bugs me is the slang use of the word "shotgun". Sometimes it is used correctly - to call the front seat on a car ride. That's the shotgun seat. It's called "riding shotgun". It's from way back when, driving a wagon, there used to be the driver for the horses and a guy with a shotgun who sat beside him. Holding a shotgun, sitting beside the driver. That's what it means. "Front seat".

So every time I hear someone say "shotgun" to call something else like, say, the last piece of pizza, the best toy, a position in a queue or, worst of all, *not* having to do something, the little rage hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Read the following phrases, mentally replacing the word "shotgun" with "front seat" and tell me if it's stupid:
"Shotgun the good couch"
"Shotgun not"
"Shotgun being on Dave's team"

I know that popular use becomes correct by definition, and we say lots of things that would sound stupid to our ancestors, like "dirt" (was originally "drit"). The point is that I'm here right now and I know what it means. You're saying "front seat" all the time when you're calling things, and as long as I know this is true and keep hearing it, it's going to irritate me.

I've heard someone try to explain it away by saying something like it's an imaginary threat with a shotgun, but this was clearly a justification he had formulated long after he heard the phrase and started using it. He didn't learn it anywhere, he "figured it out" himself by noticing that he was wielding the word "shotgun" to get things, much as you would if you had an actual shotgun.

From now on, I refuse to listen to anyone who uses the word "shotgun" to mean anything except "passenger seat".

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Or an actual shotgun.
PPS - I seem to have more pet peeves than I once realised.

Thursday, 6 October 2005


I wonder if blog comment spambots stop trying at a place that produces extremely low click-through rates, like my blog? I only got one spam comment today, as opposed to two the previous days.

What would work for me is a moderated system where I approve a comment before it goes live, because I get so few comments. That wouldn't work for larger sites unless the moderation was distributed over many people.

There's a way on the web designed to keep automatic trawlers at bay, called the Robots Exclusion Protocol. Email address harvesters obey it because of a "honeypot" script that's in place on several sites that presents them with as many fake email addresses as they can handle, with a little "robots keep out" sign on the door. When they disobey that sign, they become worthless.

Blogger already disallows robots from using the comment-making page, which means that all my blamments are coming from misbehaved robots. In other words, it is still worth the spammers' while to ignore the robots exclusion protocol. That's what has to change. I suggest meaningless depths of empty, functionless comment pages that lead to further comment pages and more and more, deeper and deeper, all the while achieving absolutely nothing.

When the spammers find their bots blindly following links and trawling around completely pointlessly, costing bandwidth and achieving nothing, suddenly the bots are a liability, not an asset, because bandwidth costs money (and even if you're not paying for it directly, wasted bandwidth is lost income). Then it becomes worthwhile to obey all the "robots keep out" signs on the web.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I've been thinking about this a lot over the past few days.
PPS - Perhaps too much.

Wednesday, 5 October 2005

Drum solo

I like to make a little noise when I get bored, or otherwise fidget with objects in my general vicinity, or make noise by fidgeting. I can see how this would be an annoying habit.
One of the habits I find most irritating in others, though, is people who hiss through their teeth relatively tunefully instead of whistling. I'm sure you've encountered "hisslers" before. Somehow it just grates on me, as if they got halfway to learning how to whistle and stopped there.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I tend to stew about these things silently.
PPS - Except for broadcasting my distaste to the world like this...

Tuesday, 4 October 2005

A new toy

I now - finally - can connect to computers in the other office from here, including my own desktop. In theory, at least, this should mean that I never have to take that ten minute walk up the hill again just to debug software or check some settings. This is how the world should be, and I'm inordinately excited about it when things like this just work.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm particularly grateful for this just in time for Spring.
PPS - 'Cause it's getting kind of hot now, and that walk is less appealing every day.

Monday, 3 October 2005

What's that got to do with the price of eggs?

I'm overhearing a conversation now that's been going on and off for about an hour whose main points are as follows:
  • The price of oil has gone up by X dollars per barrel
  • The price of petrol at the pump has gone up by 0.30AUD per litre
  • That's all we know
  • Based on these two related price increases, we can work out at least a theoretical relationship between the two
  • That's not enough information to deduce anything at all
The various points are being made by two people with slightly different wording each time. They're not going to agree. Even though one is attempting to get his point across without being agreed with ("The prices are related"), the other is not giving any ground ("You just don't have enough information").

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I think they might have agreed to disagree now.
PPS - That basically means they stop talking and keep thinking they're each right and the other is wrong.

Cannon fodder

The problem with the henchmen of evil overlords is that they might not be that evil themselves, but they're first in the firing line. You've got to kill a lot of people of dubious morality before you get to the true Dark Lord, and that's exactly the way the evil ones like it. If the king himself is there in the front line of the opposing army, you have to ask yourself if your own emperor, back in the Big Black Tower Of Perpetual Darkness And Suffering, is really as good a person as he claims.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Then again, a battlefield is perhaps not the best place for philosophy.
PPS - Wipe out the opposition with the Doomsday Device, then make an appointment with the emperor.

Sunday, 2 October 2005

The Sunday Mok - Evens Out

Last Sunday I went to church in the morning, as I usually do on a Sunday. After lunch I took a nap and did some Disciple readings. For dinner, Dad decided to use some potato gnocci instead of our more usual rice or noodles. That's the first time I've tried it, too. An unusual texture.
Monday at work took two ten minute walks back to the other office just to debug some software. I asked the helpdesk guys if there was a way I could do it remotely. Apparently I have to wait until this Monday for someone who can handle that task. I played City of Heroes a bit, too. I haven't been playing as much recently, due to changed free time priorities.
On Tuesday I moved back to my small desk to make room for Graeme who just got back from a long holiday. At least they gave me an LCD monitor this time to maximise my limited desk space. At karate we worked hard on upper body strength, and I was still sore on Saturday. Clearly I need to work on it some more.
Wednesday night I went around to Deb's and we watched Pitch Black, one of my all-time favourite movies. Deb quite liked it, too.
I got a DVD burner on Thursday and haven't quite had time to install it yet. I'll do that this afternoon. I also saw Serenity. Excellent movie in a very Joss Whedon style: snappy dialogue and well-choreographed action. Loved it.
On Friday afternoon I discovered that the bottle of milk I bought on Thursday afternoon had been used up from the work fridge. It did have my name on it, so a lot of people either ignored it or didn't see. We watched Coach Carter at youth group.
I went for a run on Saturday after breakfast, and I felt a bit unfit. I had to walk some sections and cut the whole thing short. I went to a Youthworx planning meeting, then washed my car and went shopping with Deb. After dinner, we went to Bridgit's for a movie night, where we watched Varsity Blues.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Picking up the pizza on Saturday was delegated to me.
PPS - This is despite the fact that I didn't eat any.