Friday, December 30, 2005

Good Reads - Kim Harrison

Sometimes when in a large bookstore with lots of SF and fantasy, I'll buy a random new author. There are a lot of names I don't recognise, and I don't pay enough attention to any news group to have some idea of who is deemed good of the newest authors to hit the shelves. So I buy a book, and depending on my reaction, may buy more or never again with that author.

The randomly chosen book this time was Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison. Modern day trappings but witches, vampires, pixies and fairies live alongside humans. An excellent read and the other two books by the same author: The Good, The Bad, And The Undead and Every Which Way But Dead are on my 'to buy' list.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Great short clip

This is a short but funny animated video clip. Timing is everything.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

New Toys after the holiday

I'm now the proud owner of a new Casio digital piano. The keyboard is a full scale, normal look touch and feel piano keyboard. The particular model is one of the simplest that Casio produces, only 5 voices and a few effects. My favorite effect is that you can combine two of the voices so one is the undertone the layer effect. Combine any of the piano/keyboard sounds with the strings as the second layer and you have an instant orchestra.

Now that I have the keyboard, I need to practice. I never really played piano, just played at piano. I can still read treble clef but the bass clef is going to need a lot of work. Interestingly enough, though it has been some years since I last touched a keyboard, there are a few songs that I can still play portions of.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Chronicles of Narnia

Distributed by Walt Disney Productions...I fear for the story that should be told. So often Disney turns a classic into trash. Frequently names are the only thing that remains the same after the Disney boot has been by.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

anime art

Blatant plug coming up. My niece is putting her Anime art online for purchase. Not very much there yet, but promising looking.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Good Reads - Garth Nix

I became aware of Garth Nix at AussieCon when he presented his new fantasy series at a panel about humour in SF/Fantasy. The presentation was hilarious, I've been waiting for him to get serious about writing full length humour but so far, no luck.

Since the convention, I've been regularly purchasing and reading his books. Sabriel was the first book of his I read. Since then, I've read most of the works listed on his site down to the chapter books for young readers. THE OLD KINGDOM TRILOGY and THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM I would recommend to anyone who wants to try this author's style.

I find that many fantasy books for younger readers are more entertaining than the bog standard epic fantasy so much in vogue for adults. There's more imagination used in many of these stories instead of mere variations on a theme.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Web accessibility

Attending OZeWAI last week. Web accessibility should be a major consideration of web design but it's frequently relegated to a last minute patch after the web design is already in place. Why should it be a major consideration? Well, an accessibility site helps people get to the information on the site. It also means that technologies such as search engines can better scan your site for indexing purposes. It means that your site is more likely to work on a cell phone browser, or a car-based web application.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bagging a mouse

Of late, there have been unauthorised four-legged housemates, namely mice. We had snap trapped two of them and thought that might be the end.

No such luck, last night I saw a tail vanishing into the pantry and just knew it was a mouse. Slowly removed items till the mouse was exposed. Had a think about what to do. Mouse realised it was exposed and scrambled behind something else. I went and got a big shopping bag. While hold the bag along the edge of the pantry, shifted things till mouse was exposed again. This time, it tried running up the back of the pantry, fell and decided to dash off the front edge. And fell right into the bag. So I took the bag and mouse downstairs, outside and released it on the street. Cute little thing it was too.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Way too much travel

I knew I had spent too much time travelling of late. I've been upgraded by Qantas to Silver Frequent Flyer status. Going into the frequent flyer site and I have more than enough points to fly from Brisbane to Auckland - Business class - in frequent flyer points. Nice.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Airport terminals

Having recently flown half way across the world, I must say that, in general, airline terminals are pretty bleak. They are rarely distinguishable from each other, many have no comfortable waiting areas and they are general the dullest places on earth to be.

A few things I'd like to see

  • Areas within the security zones with larger comfortable chairs

  • Decor beyond 'airport terminal'

  • Quiet zones with no announcements and no cell phones allowed

Granted, some of this is available if you are an airline club member. But memberships are rather expensive and when you only fly a couple of times a year, the cost is hard to justify.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Back and blogging again

Being overseas and too lazy to attempt to remember my user id and password means that the blog has been neglected of late. Perhaps I will do better now that I'm back.

Nothing like being away to make people appreciate you more. Back 1/2 a day and had a couple of meetings and several emails that needed to be dealt with.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Car Troubles

There are few things worse in modern society than having a sick car. My car suddenly began stalling. The first time I was in a car park and didn't quite realise what had happened (other than it stopped). The second time, it was at a traffic light, the idle speed dropped a bit, then a bit more and just about the time I thought 'if it gets slower it will stall', it slowed a bit more and stalled.

I must have stalled at every traffic light between home and work last week at some point in the day. While I was getting better at it, to keep the car going required a foot on the brake and one on the accelerator. I was taught so strongly this is an evil thing to be avoided at all costs that it was very difficult to do.

All's well that ends well, the car went to the mechanic and has been fine since. But that was a very bad week when it just couldn't idle.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Yet Another Hurricane

My sympathies to all those effected by one or more of this very active hurricane season. I still have a friend from New Orleans that hasn't answered email since Katrina. I'm also worried that northern Australia might be due a very active cyclone season and we are going to have similar sorts of stress around here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Magic box

The magic box is the box kept in one certain place in the computer room with all the system documentation and software in it. Need to reinstall system software? Go to the magic box. Need the receipts? Magic box. Want a manual on the monitor? Magic box.

Now the interesting thing is that I got a new computer system yesterday. And it came with a magic box! It's not labelled as such but one box contained the manuals, system CDs and a few miscellaneous items. Ready to move to the magic box location in the computer room.

Hint: never ever put things in a safe place. Safe places are so safe, you may not see it again for years.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Birds of Townsville (2)

Female Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii. Females have more yellow in their tail than the male and have small yellow spots on their bodies.

Mini game review

Like matching games but a bit tired of Bejeweled? Try Big Kahuna reef for a change of pace. Levels are far more challenging then Bejeweled because there are time limits and each level is more complex then a square with some matches difficult to make. As you progress, you unlock fish for a screensaver that comes with the game.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Mini game review

If you like jigsaw puzzles, you should check out Peter's Jigsaws. At the moment, he is offering a free subscription to anyone who wants to try them. The nice thing about a subscription based puzzle is that you'll just automatically get a new challenge once (or twice if really keen) a week.

A few hints. Press the 'h' key to get the full help screen. Press 'z' to either reveal or hide all pieces. Press 'e' to just do edge pieces. And the moving jigsaw puzzles are very very evil.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Birds of Townsville

Don't know if it will catch on, but here is the first in a potential series of bird pictures from Townsville, QLD Australia.

The bird is a Bush Stone-Curlew Burhinus grallarius. The location is James Cook University, Townsville.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Dog Friendly Car

Honda is designing dog friendly vehicles. The dog gets to travel in style in a compartment that is the glove box on normal vehicles. Or there's a bigger crate integrating into the back of the vehicle that can pop up when needed or fold flat against the floor when not.

Nice to see pets getting more attention from car manufacturers.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Truly Stupid Ideas for Reality Programmes

Currently I regularly see advertisements for "Australian Princess" One of these girls will get to live the dream of becoming a princess.

Hello, how is that going to compare with a modern life princess story? Mary Donaldson from Tasmania married Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark. Now how can a mere reality show which awards a 'princess' with a gala ball with a prince compare with a normal girl actually marrying a crown Prince?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Take that Bill Gates

Google and Sun to team up. According to the article, Sun will start making Google toolbar part of the Java runtime, and the companies may work together to enhance OpenOffice products. That last is certainly going to cause some squeals of protest from the Microsoft Office camp.

Microsoft has too long had domination of office software. Competition from other office suites will do them a lot of good. Perhaps they will realise that software bloat and resource hogs are not what the consumer really desire. Google has made such amazing inroads into people's lives since it was first introduced. My site earned $15 by being part of the original Google referal campaign, oh so long ago.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Update on our tenants

The sunbirds are still in residence. We saw the male Sunbird fly in and feed a chick on Sunday. I assume it was a chick, just looked like a big gape when he put food in. Nice to know we have another successful family.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Finally went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Glad we went while it was still on the big screen. The factory is definitely going to lose impact on a normal tv. Johnny Depp has an amazing range as an actor. His somewhat bizarre Willy Wonka is very believable.

While I do regularly read children's books, I haven't actually read any Roald Dahl. I should fix that someday. Especially while waiting for the final installment of Harry Potter or any new novel by Garth Nix. Listened to Garth once at an SF convention on the subject of humourous fantasy and still hope that someday he'll write some.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Cascading Style Sheets

All of my web designs feature cascading style sheets. My home site uses them extensively, and I've done most of the coding behind the primary styles of my Work web site as well. Style sheets do allow you to do some really nice design. Like none of my sites require a special "Print version" button. They have print style sheets which automagically remove navigation and change the colour scheme to black and white.

What else do style sheets do for you? Well, if I want a change of pace, I can change the style sheet and move the navigation to the other side of the page. I can change the background colours, font colours...

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Just Stop it Already

Once upon a time, sending an automatic response to an email with a virus attached made a bit of sense. The person may well have had an infected computer and not realised that there was a problem.

In these days with spoofed from addresses, it no longer makes any sense whatsoever to send a response to the official From: address. NONE. The IP address shows a completely different domain was the origin of the virus, nothing at all to do with the computer or IP that I'm using.

So stop sending those damned automatic responses. They are a waste of bandwidth, they don't get to those they need to get to. They could cause some people to panic thinking that their computer is infected when it isn't. And they annoy the hell out of me. Obviously I believe that the last is the most important reason of all.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

On being a dip

In specific, part of a DIPS couple. Stands for Double Income Pet Substitutes. I originally heard this acronym as part of the introduction for a speaker at a conference. Since it is an accurate description of our household, I've adopted it permanently. Our dogs have special toys, beds, and get lots of attention.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Weird Wacky and Wonderful

The animations, images and games from Albinoblacksheep are a wild mix. Some are great, others interesting and some you wonder why they were ever created.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Relaxed Dog

This is one very relaxed dog. He has had a hard day sleeping, barking, and going walkies. Obviously a bit much for him.

The Uncyclopedia

So are you tired of reading boring and correct information from online sources. Try the Uncyclopedia for all your disinformation needs. It's a wiki so you can even help edit it to create more fun.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Site of the day

George W Bush quotes.

The president of the US says "One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'."

Scary, the man seriously can't count.

Bad tenant

We have a very bad tenant at our place. She never pays rent, she works on an unauthorised extension to the house, she disappears for months with no warning.

Here is her picture, along with her unauthorised extension.

Isn't she just too cute? We love having her come and use the little nest under the house

Worthless collections

On one computer I have 4 versions of Netscape, 3 versions of Opera, 2 versions of Mozilla and 2 of Firefox. Only one version of IE though, it's too tied to the operating system to muck about with beta tests or anything.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Addicting games

Luxor is my current addiction. I can get to the final level of the final stage and have done it at least four times now. But the very last level is a real killer, I had 14 lives and still didn't make it through.

Link of the day/week/whatever

This is a real scream. How to buy a computer. The animation is pretty funny and the instructions show a deep understanding of real computer issues.

Ads by Gooooooogle

It's kind of amazing. They show up absolutely everywhere these days and yet you can still earn money from them. I don't understand how that can work but I like that it does work.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Tea Room Theory

A new theory about the conditions of working place coffee/tea/lunch rooms. The special conditions in these rooms means that the utensils (spoons, forks and knives) all evaporate after a number of uses. Within a few weeks of someone bringing in a new supply, numbers are back down to just a couple of each.

Doodle Monsters

So far, the only of my mildly commercial web enterprises which has failed completely. It is a bit of a pity, I am very fond of how some of them came out, but it is very difficult to stand out at CafePress because of the sheer number of shops.

Playing with XLST

Very wild wacky and powerful. You can get it to turn a document inside out. Which is amazing but I still need to work on understanding how it does what it does.

To blog or not To Blog

That is the question. Whether 'tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of oppressed creativity or by writing express them. To type, to talk, to talk perchance to think. Aye there's the rub, for what may come of thinking one never knows.

Damn, can't remember any more.