Friday, 29 August 2008

Friday Zombie Blogging - Zombster

The other night, Deb and I were walking between dinner and the movies when I noticed a sign in a shop window announcing a new tenant "coming soon". The shop was otherwise empty, of course, but the sign intrigued me:

That appears to be a zombie hamster, or "Zombster", the name of the shop. They plan to carry anime, comics and so on.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Sorry for the bad phone-cam pic. I didn't have time to do it right.
PPS - The store is on Station Road, Indooroopilly, Brisbane.

Musical chairs, yet again

Our team has been shuffled on to new desks more times than I care to recall. Yesterday it happened again - the coal terminal team needs extra space because the project is ramping up, so we are forced to move. In some ways, I guess I don't mind. There are always positives and negatives to a new location. What I enjoyed about the old one was a close proximity to the city centre. Oh, well. It was good while it lasted.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I had to haul my Box-O-Stuff up the hill myself.
PPS - It wasn't too heavy, but it's not something I want to do regularly.

Thursday, 28 August 2008


I wonder how many industry-specific uses of the word "product" there are. I know the hair care industry uses "product" for gels, mousse, wax and other substances you use to style hair. I know the intelligence community calls information "product". There are probably many more.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Most dictionaries wouldn't bother defining them all.
PPS - And that's if they are known outside their respective industries.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Television vs relationships

There's a problem in the relationship world. Long-lasting, committed, stable relationships are nice to hear about, but they don't make good TV. So everyone on TV has screwed up relationships. It's more interesting to watch, and it's much easier to write. So most of the examples to which we are exposed are broken homes, problem marriages, dysfunctional families and promiscuous singles. We don't get good examples, so we don't produce good behaviour. We are more familiar with train wreck relationships, so that's all we know how to have for ourselves. The cycle continues as these people grow up to make bad examples to the next generation, but they get it progressively worse than their parents.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - And, presumably, make worse television than their forbears.
PPS - Or better, depending on your point of view.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Bar bet skills

I wonder how many talents in this world started as drunken bar bets. As in "I bet I can build a stack of coins higher than you" or "I bet I can balance one egg on top of another". At some point someone gets it into their head that this could be really impressive, if only you devoted a few hours every day to training in it. From ther, a life disappears, but an amazing skill is born (or just a skill, in some cases). Years later, someone takes a photo or a video and we all get a few seconds amusement out of it.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Seems like a bit of a low payoff.
PPS - Still, for some people it's worthwhile.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Arsenic for corns

The Scared Weird Little Guys' song Christmas Day, also known as The Bawdy Song, mentions using arsenic as a home remedy for corns. Is that medically accurate? Not that I'd take medical advice from musical comedians, but it seems equally likely to me that it's a common old practice or that it's just words that fit the song. The indication from the first page of Google results is that arsenic can actually cause corns, not help reduce them.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Now I wonder if that's a coincidence.
PPS - It's a many-layered problem.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Communications as a public service

The communications system of a country needs to be held in the common interest. Private companies are not going to invest thousands of dollars to connect remote users to high-speed broadband unless the user foots the bill. A public service would be able to spread those charges over all users with a flat rate. The other option would be to have the infrastructure itself owned by the taxpayers with private companies leasing it from them to provide services like internet and telephony. It does sound a bit communist, I suppose, but the fact is that private companies have different goals than public services, which can operate at a loss for the greater good.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Private companies sometimes take a loss for good PR.
PPS - But in general they'd rather not.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Dilbert

This one doesn't technically mention the word "zombie", but I found the imagery of this Dilbert strip to be rather zombie-like.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Sometimes, that's all it takes.
PPS - And occasionally not even that.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Ninjas repaired my phone

Yesterday afternoon I took my phone with a black screen to the 3 Service Centre at Milton. The place wasn't busy, and they gave me a loan phone so they could call when it was ready. Deb picked me up and we started to head home. Before we got a quarter of the way there, the service centre called and said my phone was repaired and ready to pick up. I was not prepared for that, since the last repair (with the exact same problem) took two weeks. I expected to have to wait at least overnight. So, well done to 3 on their quick, efficient service centre. I'm glad to have my phone back in working order.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - One of the sales reps told me I could get a free quote there.
PPS - They were wrong, however.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Walking upstream

Some days I have to go to the train station to put credit on my bus card. I've started doing this in the morning, because it's less trouble than going out at lunch. Most people in the morning are headed out of the station, so I am occasionally struck by the idea that I'm a salmon swimming upstream. It doesn't last long.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Mostly because I'm only walking 50 metres or so.
PPS - And it's not super-crowded, either.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Bars of Gold-Pressed Latinum

In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, they often deal in the hard currency of "bars of gold-pressed latinum". The main problem I have with this is that it's a lot to say. If people of the future are anything like people today, they'll create a shorter name for them, or at least say only "bars" when the context makes it clear.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - "Latinum" is completely fictional.
PPS - It's a currency only because it can't be replicated.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Post-apocalyptic survival skills

What basic skills would you personally need to bootstrap society after an apocalyptic collapse? Start with fire and hunting - the ability to find and prepare food. Then add basic agriculture and animal care, shelter building and maybe pottery. You'll want to know how to make clothes and tools too, so tanning and leatherwork initially, plus woodwork and small-scale blacksmithing too. It's not an easy task.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This assumes you're on your own, too.
PPS - But a total societal collapse should imply that.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Contact information kept semi-private

To keep my contact information personal, I need a few things. First, I need different identifiers that I can pass out to different people and companies - a different one for everyone. Next, I need to know what identifier was used to contact me when it happens. Lastly, I need the ability to expire an identifier on my end if I decide it has been compromised.

This is how it looks in practice: I give out a phone number to a company because they request one. No problem. They pass it on to another company I do not wish to be in contact with. Now when Company B tries to call me, I recognise the number they used as the one I gave to Company A. I decide then that I no longer wish to deal with Company A or their associates Company B if this is how they treat my contact information. I terminate the number and it can no longer be used by either of them to contact me because my phone never bothers to ring for that number any more. Everyone else, who has a different number for me, can still contact me.

In theory, the same system would work with ordinary old caller ID and caller-specific blocking, but then a pest can keep calling me as long as they call from a different number every time.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Somehow I got un-listed from telemarketer call lists a while ago.
PPS - I'm not sure how. I never registered on the Do Not Call list.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Kitty

Via, this is possibly the cutest Friday Zombie Blog ever.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'd embed the image here, but that feels like stealing.
PPS - Only because the image is the entire content I'm after.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

My phone breaks every six months

Can I get free repairs on my phone if its express warranty has expired but it is faulty? I didn't damage it, and the fault is not expected wear and tear, so I think I'm in the right here. However, I was told that I would have to pay for repairs due to the warranty expiry. I don't think I should have to pay to repair goods that were sold to me and exhibited a manufacturing fault just weeks after the warranty expired. Right?

This is the same phone that was repaired back in January, and 3 Mobile was very helpful then, given that we were just six months into the warranty period. Now it seems this Nokia 6288 is designed to fail after six months or so, and I'm not on board with that. If I am sold a phone on a two year plan, I expect that handset to last for two years without the need for repairs, especially if it is well cared-for.

I guess if it develops a fault after the warranty period, that might not be considered a manufacturing problem.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - My next port of call is the service centre in Milton.
PPS - They will at least give me a free quote on repairs.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

People's Day, but no Ekka

Today is a public holiday, but only in the small area around Brisbane. It's supposed to be so that people can visit the yearly Ekka event, but Deb and I chose to drive up to the Sunshine Coast to Underwater World instead. I hadn't been there in years, but Deb had never been at all. The thing that struck me most today were the lips of the sawfish. The thing looks like it has a goofy grin from underneath. It's weird, but quite amusing. We also took the behind the scenes working area tour where we saw turtles in "dry dock", a young octopus and touched a little baby shark.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Shark skin is surprisingly soft.
PPS - At least while they're still babies.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Everyone's booting Linux

I've decided to install Ubuntu Linux on this other work machine, since it seems we might be here a while longer. My co-workers are also at least considering it too. I've been meaning to install it at home for some time, but haven't managed to free enough space yet on the old hard drive. Also, because the drive is old, I'm not that confident about its ability to survive a re-partitioning.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - If I get a new PC, I'd be less anxious about it.
PPS - That might be sooner rather than later.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Pushing buttons: finger or thumb?

Do you push buttons with your index finger or thumb? I only noticed that I had started using my thumb after Cory Doctorow mentioned it somewhere (I think). He claimed it was the result of using our thumbs to write text messages on our phones all the time.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It starts feeling funny when you start noticing.
PPS - That's probably true either way.

Friday, 8 August 2008

To work from home

Today, since I am sick, I am running an experiment. Can I actually work from home, given that all our significant work artefacts are online? Well, I'm going to give it a shot. The things I will not have access to are my work email and the timesheet I'm supposed to fill out on Fridays. I'll probably survive it.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I will be dressed for work, in an attempt to keep me focused.
PPS - That's part of the experiment too.

Update: It turns out to be technically possible to work from home, but if I want to do it again, I'll need a much better computer.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Haiku

I find this amusing.

It's zombie poetry recited by zombies, presumably for zombies.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It also seems to be an ad for a book.
PPS - I think I've got the gist of it, though.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Low-cost music transmission

I was thinking a while ago of getting an audio streaming device for home. It's like a private radio connected to your digital music collection on your PC. They're relatively expensive and most of them are more than a little trouble to set up. Then I got to thinking: what if I just got an FM transmitter and had it play my music on shuffle all the time? I already have radios around the house to receive that signal, so there would be no further cost on that end.

The disadvantages would be that I'd have no remote control over the music, so I can't skip a song I don't want to hear right now. However, that's the same as what happens with the radio right now, except that they're not always playing music I've personally selected. There may also be a problem of licensing, since I would be technically re-broadcasting music without permission, and other people could listen in.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - They may even ask me to pay royalties.
PPS - I probably won't bother.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

A thought about Facebook

I'm not much into Facebook as a social place. I'm mostly using it to collect and categorise my friends like Pokemon. Gotta catch 'em all.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Now if only I could send them into battle...
PPS - Knowing Facebook, you probably can, but I don't know how.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Nappies for Russia

Before Sunday I didn't know there was any such thing as a "nappy nerd". Apparently, though, there are women who gather on the web to talk about their preferences and experiences with various nappy brands and types, their own practices when changing nappies and so on. When these women (and possibly some men, I don't personally know) heard about poor baby hygiene conditions in Russia, they got the word out and did something about it. They got companies involved to donate goods and services, provided many cloth nappies themselves, and are currently shipping them to Russia under the straightforward charity name of "Nappies for Russia". Chances are good that the word will spread further and other mothers in need around the world will benefit from this nascent charity.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This is what happens when a passion collides with a need.
PPS - For those who speak US English, "nappy" = "diaper".

Monday, 4 August 2008

The Corporation

Yesterday, Deb and I watched The Corporation, which I realise is five years old now, but it did get me thinking. I liked the analysis of the mindset of corporations in general that likened them to psychopaths - if they are legal persons, they need to be treated more like a responsible, thinking adult, and the shareholders need to be accountable for its actions.

The other idea that hit me was that of going "carbon neutral" as an organisation. It may be a noble goal, but if everyone else is producing carbon on balance, and you're neutral, well, you're not actually helping, are you? You're not making it worse, but that's like standing to the side of a street fight pointing at yourself to say "See? I'm not fighting!" while doing nothing to break it up.

In general, I think the film did a good job of demonising corporations, which I assume was the goal. I didn't expect even-handed treatment of the subject matter, of course, so I don't consider myself well informed now, but maybe I'm half informed.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I don't know where you'd go for even-handed treatment of this subject.
PPS - Maybe an encyclopedia.

Friday, 1 August 2008

An idea for a t-shirt

I want to print these runes on a t-shirt:

Anyone who can read it should be mildly insulted, but they only have themselves to blame.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Oh, alright. It says "You are such a nerd".
PPS - It may be slightly non-standard runic spelling, by the way.

Friday Zombie Blogging - Full body tattoos

A guy called Rick is getting full-body tattoos to look like a zombie. Extreme and permanent.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It does look pretty cool so far.
PPS - But it might limit his employment opportunities.