Hear Ye! Since 1998.

Archived Posts for November 2001

Please note: The posts on this page are at least 3 years old. Links may be broken, information may be out of date, and the views expressed in the posts may no longer be held.
29
Nov 01
Thu

Summer

Tomorrow begins the final month of the year and marks the start of Summer. The
holiday season starts to ramp up, as do the temperatures. Summer is quintessentially Australian: constantly fanning away the incessant blowflies, watching the colony of Bogong moths gather on the flyscreen in the evenings. The sticky fingers from the melted icecream cone you didn’t eat fast enough. The submission to lethargy in the torrid Summer sun. The ability to iron clothes without turning the iron on. Melted plastic objects that have disintegrated from having been left in the car for too long. Late sunsets. Diving into the refreshingly cool water of the local pool or beach. Tossing and
turning in bed at night, clothes clammy from the sweat. T-shirts, shorts and thongs. Guys around the barbie, women inside preparing the salad. Cringing around the house trying not to let anything touch your sunburn. Warm water coming out of the “cold” tap in the shower. Sudden but brief floor-shaking thunderstorms.

Cousins

Ever wondered what the heck “second cousin twice removed” means? Or what about a half-cousin or double cousin? This page will explain to you what a “second double cousin once removed” is.

Also, can anyone recommend a good, easy-to-use piece of software that can draw up family trees? Mail me.

Cloning

A large site regarding cloning, and all the opinions surrounding it. I believe human cloning (as opposed to therapeutic cloning) is not a good thing, and should be outlawed. There are valid reasons wither way, but I think that the issue of cloning “devaluing” human lives (as an irreplaceable resource) is a big reason why it should not occur.

Trek Tech

So warp drives and transporters may never be developed this century, but already some areas of science are more advanced that some things depicted on Trek. Read the Wired article. Being the trekkie that I am, I will say that the second last paragraph is erroneous (isolinear chips, anyone?), and the final paragraph should also be noted :)

“Scientists could synthesize a gene that carries the recipe for this hybrid hemoglobin, and through gene therapy, insert it into Captain Kirk. Kirk would begin to produce the hybrid hemoglobin in his blood, and the next time he encounters aliens who live underwater, he can spend enough time in their environment to negotiate a peace treaty and make a new girlfriend.”

Boat, Lake and Anchor Question

Responses to yesterday’s post:

Nothing would happen to the water level. When you put the boat into the water, water is displaced depending on the weight of the boat and what is in the boat. IE The water rises when the boat is placed on the lake. When you then drop the anchor overboard, nothing will happen. The boat itself will displace less water, and will float higher. But the anchor still displaces water itself, so the overall displacement of water has not changed. There in regards to the lake system, nothing has changed.

Hopefully this helps.
- Mike

—–

The level of water will generally rise, but this really depends on the size and shape of your boat. The amount of water displaced is equal to the volume of the body immersed in the water (Archimedes’ Law) – ie. the anchor. The amount displaced by the boat is equal to the volume of the section of boat that is underwater. The size of this section is such that forces pushing the boat down (gravity) and forces pushing it up (buyoancy, which increases the more boat is underwater) are in equilibrium. If your boat is a huge flat-bottomed barge, the amount of water it displaces probably won’t change very much from losing the anchor, so the water level will rise. If the boat is a small rowing boat, the amount of water it ceases to displace when the large anchor is thrown overboard will probably be smaller, so the water level won’t rise as much.

It would be intresting to see some exact calculations to do with this …
- Victor

—–

I think the water level would go down. When the anchor is on the boat, its weight pushing down on the boat’s hull would cause its own weight in water to be displaced. When the anchor is thrown in the water, its own *volume* in water would be displaced. Since I’m assuming the anchor is steel or iron, the water displaced by the anchor weighs less than the anchor itself, hence the water level would go down.
- Dennis

—–

It will go down.

When it is in the boat, it displaces its WEIGHT in water, making the level of the lake go up a bit… but when it goes into the lake, it displaces its volume. Because it is more dense that water, its volume is disproportionately small for its weight, and thus the lake would go down… right? i think… anyway… good to see you’re posting again

- Kev

This is my opinion on the matter: The water level would fall if the anchor is thrown overboard.

The answer mainly stems from Archimedes’ Principal, which legend purports was discovered by him trying to figure out if a King’s crown was made out of gold or pyrite. Discovery was, as poetic license has it, celebrated by him
jumping out of his bath and running through the streets of Syracuse butt naked screaming, “Eureka!” But anyway, moving on from promiscuous Greeks…

In our case of the boat, an object that is submerged will displace water equal in volume to the object. If the anchor has a volume of X cm^3, it displaces X cm^3 (X millilitres) of water.

Now, an object that is not submerged, but is floating in water, is held up by two forces – buoyancy and surface tension. The effect of surface tension in this situation is insignificant, so we’ll ignore it, given that boats generally have a keel and are never flat bottomed. By Archimedes’ principal, the weight of water displaced by an object floating in it is equal to the weight of the object floating in it (incidentally the force of buoyancy on
the object is equal to the weight of water displaced). So, the object’s density is important. If the object is denser than water, it will displace a volume of water greater than the volume of the weight. Vice versa for an
object less dense than water. Obviously an anchor is more dense than water (if it’s less dense, it will not sink and that sort of defeats the purpose of an anchor), so lets say it weighs Y kg. Thus, when floating, it displaces
Y kg of water. Volume-wise, more water is required to form Y kg, than is required of the material the anchor is made of. Thus, when the anchor is floating on the boat, a greater volume of water is displaced.

Throw the anchor off, less water is displaced, and the water level falls. It would be rudimentary to mathematically calculate a roughly accurate figure of how much the lake would fall by, if other variables were given.

If we were dealing with objects on a much smaller scale, and of different qualities (perhaps a small pebble lying on a flat sheet of plastic floating in a swimming pool), surface tension would play a part in keeping the object
afloat and then it can’t be conclusively determined if the water level would rise or fall if you chucked the pebble into the pool. I think, anyhow.

28
Nov 01
Wed

Hehe I just thought it was ironic and somewhat amusing that this Singaporean was theming his blog’s layouts on the seasons. They don’t have seasons in Singapore. It’s permanently Summer there. Mmmm… Summer… it is but two days away!

Fellowship of the Ring

Once past the prologue, the book is easy to get into. Tolkien has put an incredible amount of thought in creating his planet. The Lord of the Rings is apparently set on our world in an imaginary time period in earth’s distant past (hence “middle-earth” really does refer to earth). There is an incredible depth of history and intricacy of detail in middle-earth that sets the scene for the LoTR trilogy. The 100+ pages of appendices, maps, family trees and the creation of several fictional, albeit linguistically valid, languages (especially two of the Elven languages, Sindarin and Quenya) and accompanying scripts (runic script etc.) seem to point out that Tolkien planned out an entire world before starting to write the book.

Nonetheless, The Fellowship of the Ring can be read without any reference to the voluminous appendices, or even the prologue. It is a single-plot book that follows closely a single band of adventurers (the Fellowship) without much reference to the developments elsewhere in the world. Because the LOTR “trilogy” is not actually three separate books, but one large book split into three volumes for readability, Fellowship does not really have any large climaxes. In fact, in the end parts of the book, the Fellowship is unsure where they’re meant to go and what they’re meant to do – the buildup of events will occur in the next two books I’m sure. The interesting thing about this is that, very little is seemingly achieved in Fellowship, apart from journeying a few hundred miles to the South-East. I suppose the story is all in the journey. The history of the Ring and also of the diversity of races of the world are very engaging to read about. Tolkien spends a lot of time describing the surroundings as the characters trudge onwards. The description is very detailed, but I feel it does meander a little. It takes a little effort to picture the scenes Tolkien describes. However, it’s easy to see now why much fanfare was made about the settings of the movie in New Zealand. The rich landscapes will be spectacular I’m sure, and to be able to “see middle-earth” rather than imagining it, will lend a new perspective on things. Of course, 2-3 hours is not enough time for the movie to retell everything the book does, so obviously the book will be “better”, but I don’t believe that the movie should ultimately be judged against the book, except for accuracy of storytelling. (Books always win anyway.)

People lucky enough to see advance screenings of Fellowship of the Ring have been reportedly blown away by it.

Joke

A Chinese man decides to move to Australia after 50 years of living in Shanghai. He buys a small piece of land near the outback. A few days after moving in, the friendly Aussie neighbour decides to go across and welcome the new guy to the region. So he goes next door, but on his way up the drive-way, he sees the Chinese man running around his front yard chasing about 10 hens. Not wanting to interupt this “Chinese customs”, he decides to put the welcome on hold for the day.

The next day, he decides to try again, but just as he is about to knock on the front door, he looks through the window and sees the Chinese man urinate into a glass and then drink it. Not wanting to interupt another “Chinese custom”, he decides to put the welcome on hold for yet another day.

A day later he decides to give it one last go, but on his way next door, he sees the Chinese man leading a cow down the drive-way, pause, and then put his head next to the cow’s bum. The Aussie bloke can’t handle this, so he goes up to the Chinese man and says “What the hell is it with your Chinese customs? I come over to welcome you to the neighbourhood, and see you running around the yard after hens. The next day you are pissing in a glass, and drinking it, and then today,you have your head so close
to that cow’s bum, it could just about shit on you.”

The Chinese man is very taken back and says “Sorry Sir, you do not understand, these aren’t Chinese customs I am performing, but Australian customs.”
“What do you mean mate” says the Aussie, “Those aren’t Australian customs.”

“Yes they are”, replied the Chinese man, “for you see, in order for me to become a true Australian, I must chase chicks, drink piss, and listen to bull-shit.”

27
Nov 01
Tue

Banknote Scans

1.6GB worth of scans of banknotes from all over the world. Over 7000 notes scanned, apparently.

AM broadcasting via Computer Monitor

Use Tempest radiation to broadcast music through your monitor! {src: /.}

Question

What would happen to the water level in a lake if I drop a big anchor overboard from a boat floating in that lake? Mail me your answer and reasoning.

26
Nov 01
Mon

Weight

Interesting SMH Article. A study of Iranian women vs their Western counterparts has shown that womens’ obsession about weight may not stem from the media.

25
Nov 01
Sun

Enterprise: Fortunate Son (Ep 1.10)

Probably the most original episode yet, this week really accentuates the fact that these are humanity’s early days in space – that they are currently pioneering a new frontier. It’s also the first episode where Mayweather plays a major role. The Fortunate is an old Y-class freighter that has been set upon by Nausican pirates. However, when the Enterprise comes to lend a hand, the crew of the Fortunate is not as welcoming as you’d expect.

I guess this episode harks back to pioneering days in general. To pioneer a “new frontier” (new lands, etc.), people would often have to go it alone and be self-sufficient. Not only that, but people who were pioneers chose that lifestyle. So, there must be something appealing (and something to be proud of) about the solitude and self-sufficiency. In today’s world, everything is connected and very few places in the world are isolated anymore. The world is “smaller”, so to speak. Perhaps there is something to be said about the pioneering spirit, in a culture where it is all but extinct? But then again, being a pioneer and being independent doesn’t mean you also lose your roots – in this case, human values and common sense.

Civ 3

I made the mistake of starting to play Civ III last night. Good-bye sleep. The game is every bit as addictive as the previous two.

Joke

A Kiwi was sitting with an Australian and a Malaysian in Saudi Arabia, sharing a smuggled barrel of beer, when all of a sudden, Saudi police entered and arrested them. They were initially sentenced to death, but they contested this and were finally imprisoned for life. As it was a national holiday, the Sheikh decided they should be released after receiving 20 lashes of the whip.

As they were preparing for their punishment, the Sheikh suddenly said: “It’s my first wife’s birthday today, and she asked me to allow each of you one wish before your whipping.”

So the Malaysian guy thought for a while and then said: “Please be tying a pillow to my back.” This was done but the pillow only lasted 10 lashes before the whip went through.

The Kiwi, watching the scene, said: “Please fix two pillows on my back”. But even two pillows could only take 10 lashes before the whip went through again.

Before The Australian could say something, the Sheikh turned to him and said:
“As you are from a popular country, and your rugby team are terrific, and your
women beautiful you can have two wishes!”.

“Thank you, Most Royal and Merciful Highness”, The Australian replies. “My first wish is: I would like to have 40 lashes.”

“If you so desire”, the Sheik replies with a questioning look on his face, “and your second wish?”

“Tie the Kiwi to my back,” the Aussie answers.

Cloning

First human embyro cloned. The goal is therapeutic cloning (cell generation), as opposed to reproductive cloning. Meanwhile, Australian scientists are looking at bringing back the Tasmanian tiger.

Soccer

What a tragedy.

24
Nov 01
Sat

KK

Kill’s Back.

Rumba

The weather cleared up yesterday nicely for Rumba! It’s a beaut day today as well. Ahhh… almost Summer.

Update: A more detailed account of Rumba.

New Header

New raytraced logo. Thanks Shish!

22
Nov 01
Thu

Interesting read: Gamespot’s Behind the Games features.

LOTR

I must have tried to read Fellowship of the Ring four separate times back in school. Unfortunately, each time I found it just too boring. In the end I got so put off that I just gave up. Last night I decided, after a few years, I’d give it another go. I’m currently struggling through the 30 page prologue, which reads like a history textbook.

Tel$tra

Another reason why Telstra sucks.

Student Book Offers a Twisted History ‘Coarse’. There are some real shockers in there… actually, they are all shockers! Thanks Jamie.

21
Nov 01
Wed

Of Memes and Zines

I was just reading about eZines and I came across an article on memes and zines.

A new Douglas Adams novel, A Salmon of Doubt, will be released posthumously May next year. It forms the final book in the HGTTG series.

The Western World has often criticised the Singaporean government for its tight authoritarian control of the island-state. Political freedoms are minimal and laws are restrictive. Yet there is no doubt that the country is prospering and lacks the political turbulence of its neighbours (especially the muslim countries of Malaysia and Indonesia). How then, do the Singaporeans themselves feel about the government? This is one teenage girl’s views. Intriguing.

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Ricebowl Journals is a directory of an assortment of blogs/journals kept by Asians around the world.

20
Nov 01
Tue

Did You Know…

The launching mechanisms of aircraft carriers that help planes take off (the catapult), could throw a 4WD ute over 1.5 kilometres. Thanks Pro. I’m bored again.

Weather

The skies have been overcast for days now. All in all, it’s not all that unusual. Summer is known for its blustery storms and long periods of rainy days (it’s almost Summer!). The only thing is that the temperature is chilly, which is uncharacteristic. This of course is compounded by the wind chill factor. Man does the wind whip up in the eastern suburbs, especially around uni. Well, it’s perfect weather for those still studying for exams. Not so good for those who have finished. It better clear up by Saturday.

Shards of a Broken Crown

Warning, there may be spoilers in this post. Shards of a Broken Crown is not one of Feist’s best works. As the concluding book of the Serpentwar Saga, it has a host of parallel plots – more than any of the previous books. And, it turns out that all but one of these plots are inconsequential, save for the apparently meaningless deaths of high ranked characters that actually have little importance anyway. This in itself isn’t a big a problem as the fact that we know very early on that most of these plots are relatively unimportant. That doesn’t do wonders for maintaining interest. Yet, Feist spends so little time developing the “A-plot” involving Nakor and Pug. Actually, because he jumps between so many plots without really converging any, he has little time to really develop any single one. The story is somewhat anti-climatical, and as the book finishes, we leave a kingdom in tatters with a wrecked power structure in the West. There are no heroes left. Very few of those in command have much battle experience, and it looks as though political bickering will rule the day. It is an interesting development, such a bittersweet ending.

Chronologically, the Serpentwar saga is not Feist’s latest series, but in the history of Midkemia, it is the most recent one. I wonder what Feist will do with a kingdom without heroes?

Enterprise: Civilisation (Ep 1.09)

There’s no prime directive. That means Starfleet can go sticking their nose into alien cultures (resultingly, Captain “my translator broke” Archer can go sticking his tongue into alien cultures too :). Well, they keep violating the directive in the future anyway, so to do away with the pretence in Enterprise is an interesting move. Still, other things haven’t changed: In my opinion, the casting staff made an error in judgement by making Jolene Blalock a vulcan with a bad hair cut. The shieldless Enterprise is once again beaten up by another ship. Phlox and Mayweather are shafted for the 9th episode in a row (they haven’t had anything but supporting roles since the series started). This was an entertaining episode, but it’s really nothing we haven’t seen Kirk do… the Enterprise writers sure like their underground facilities.

World Cup Qualifier

Australia Wins over Uruguay 1-0!!! Muscat scored with a penalty. Second leg screens next Monday 6am from Montevideo.

  10:12pm (GMT +11.00)  •  Sports  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
19
Nov 01
Mon

Soccer

World Cup Qualifier tonight – Australia v Uruguay. Australia haven’t been in the World Cup Finals since 1976.

3 New Phones

Nokia officially release three new phones: 5210, 6510 and 7650 (due out Q1 & Q2 next year). The 5210 has a thermometre. The 7650 has a VGA digital camera. The 6510 has FM radio but seems to lack Bluetooth. It also seems to be lower spec’ed than the 6310, but it is now almost as small in size as the 8310. Meanwhile, the looks of the 6xxx series continues to decline. All phones are WAP capable. All of Nokia’s phone lines seem to be converging in terms of capabilities.

18
Nov 01
Sun

Zoo refuses to name tiger cub Osama bin Laden

To do so would be an insult to the animal.

New Nokia Phones

Here are a couple new Nokia phones on the horizon. The 5210 seems like it will revive the old, but popular 5110 line. The 7650 is in colour and looks very interesting. As the article points out – a reply to the Sony/Ericsson T68? I’ve never given much attention to Ericsson – Nokia always seems to produce better designed phones. However, I must say that the T68 looks quite appealing. Nokia as usual is going to the market later than its competitors, so once again we will have to wait and see what they come up with in response.

Star Trek X

Wil Wheaton will be starring in Trek X. The actor himself has aged about five years, I wonder how they will weave him into the story? This Trek move had better turn out well – I don’t forsee another one for a long, long time. DS9 and Voyager can’t really be turned into movies. At least, being numbered ten, it won’t be under the “curse of the odd numbers”. The odd numbered movies tended to suck.

Looking for Alibrandi

Gee I wish Looking for Alibrandi was our English text for the HSC. I finally saw the movie on Foxtel tonight. High school never got that “exciting” for us, but everything depicted in that movie is something any Sydney high school student could relate to (especially Eastern suburbs private girls schools!). The locations the film are shot at are instantly recognisable to Sydneysiders. Being an Aussie production, it is typically frank in its delivery. No twenty-something year old Hollywood actors portraying 17/18 year old school kids. No schmaltz.

The movie itself is bristling with relatable themes – personal and cultural identity, relationships, school politics, you name it… The gf tells me I should read the novel (as usual, the novel is better than the movie), and I guess I should get around to doing that soon. Regardless, this movie is recommended.

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17
Nov 01
Sat
16
Nov 01
Fri

Training Day

Going into Training Day not knowing what to expect, I wasn’t sure which direction the movie was headed until halfway in. It’s an interesting look at cops and corruption, and there’s some excellent acting by Denzel Washington in it, acting out a type of character I’ve never seen him do before.

Bank Notes

Bank notes of Belorussia: 3 and 10 rubles. Most countries put famous people on their money, Belorussia decided to put animals. There’s a very special way to fold two notes

Writing

This is something I realised yesterday that I never got taught in English back at high school (or maybe they did but I wasn’t listening…). When working on my travelogue, I had the problem of continually switching between present and past tenses. In the end I decided to stick with retelling the events in the past tense. I didn’t really notice that there was any difference except consistency, until I was reading a couple diaries. These North Korea and Japan diaries are both written in the present tense. If you compare the resulting writing style to past tense diaries (which is the more utilised style, eg: this), the “feel” is different. Retelling everything in the present seems to create a more vivid atmosphere. There’s a sense of immediacy and clarity conveyed with it. For travelogues, the aim is to try to immerse your readers in foreign lands and cultures and get them to relate to your feelings and experiences. If you can “place” them in those situations, those locations you’ve visited, as if they were “physically following” you around, as if they were actually there, then the writing will be more effective. The present tense works towards accomplishing that. Compare these two:

The monk emerged from the temple, bowed to us and ushered us in. I took off my shoes and followed him in. The air in there smelt strongly of incense, mixed with the musty odour of the centuries old stonework.

The monk emerges from the temple. He bows, then ushers us in. I take off my shoes and follow him in. The air in here smells strongly of incense, mixed with the musty odour of the centuries old stonework.

And it could just be me, but I feel that diaries written in the present are generally more polished (better written and more interesting) than those in past. Too bad I chose the past tense for mine…

Responses:

Random bit of info re the past/present tense thing: a lot of ancient languages would legitimately switch to present tense in bits with lots of action to make them more vivid, in mid-sentence if necessary. (Like everything, we learnt more about this in Latin than English. Go the classics. :) F’rexample the Bible does it all the time, in both Old Testament Hebrew and New Testament Greek, and it’s usually changed to a consistent tense…
- Shish

15
Nov 01
Thu

Mobile Phone Transmission

Finally the weekend is here. Today would be virtually the most boring work day this year.

Bored?

As some of you have no doubt realised, I haven’t been very busy at work. There hasn’t been any of it to do over the last two days. I have 5 weeks left at EDS and will resume working again next January at OneSteel for another six months. So meanwhile I’ve been surfing and reading, but there really is a lack of interesting material to go through (it doesn’t help that EDS’ application gateway filters out Flash and Java applets from web pages). Or maybe I just can’t find it. Boredom will drive you to do weird things. Anyway, this morning I have discovered:

That the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo are two entirely different countries. I’ve worked out that “Great Britain” refers to the union of Scotland and England and that “United Kingdom” comprises of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. I know all six Balkan nations. I have read about Mongolia only to find out that no one says anything about it because it’s a really boring country. I’ve know all the capitals of the ‘stans. I’ve tried to look for the world’s poorest nation and it seems to be a toss up between Mozambique and Sierra Leone. I know why Sudan is sometimes referred to as “The Sudan”. I know a little history about the shifting geography of Indochina. I know what a “bicameral” and “unicameral” government system is. I know where and what the heck “Western Sahara” is. I’ve learn what the word “katabatic” means.

Yeah, I’m just a little bored. But my geography now is kick ass.

Meanwhile Jamie, sitting next to me, is bored too. I interrupted her reading of a really exciting book (on Java) and got her to translate the page I linked in the post below for me. Apparently it’s a shareware/freeware site. Hehe, so it claims. But normal shareware sites do not include serial numbers and registration codes in their program archives! Jamie is now as bored as me apparently, cos she’s just requested the links to those pages on Africa I was reading a moment ago.

Go. Now.

“Free” software. Hmm… I need to find someone who can read Chinese…

Real Estate

Buy your own island.

14
Nov 01
Wed

Harmattan, Mistral, Chinook, Nasim…

What do the above words have in common? They are all names of winds.

Earthlight

A high-res map showing concentration of light on Earth. Also, an article on light pollution.

The War

Kabul falls, what now? This is what’s next.

Every Wednesday or Thursday, people selling copies of the Green Left Weekly newspaper declare outside Central: “stop the war in Afghanistan!” I can not see anything wrong with the US’ decision to go to war with the Taliban and al-Queda. I do not understand the vehement condemnation of the war. The moral argument that asserts that even the loss of one innocent civilian’s life renders such an action as unthinkable is akin to having tunnel vision. Loss of innocent life is certainly reprehensible and thus it would seem to not engage in war and to not endanger innocents is the morally correct thing to do. But, in reality, is declaring war upon the Taliban a morally incorrect thing to do? Is protecting the welfare of the Western world from terrorists a bad thing? (You may not stamp out terrorism by eliminating Osama, but does society let murderers go free because imprisoning murderers will still not eliminate murder?) Surely the liberation of the Afghani people from a government that only one country in the world even recognises is a good thing? Liberation from a “government” that has implemented such an oppressive version of Shari’a that even its citizens detest it?

You just have to look at all the media footage screened yesterday and the almost too-common reports of the music playing through the streets of Kabul, or people dancing, men shaving their beards off and women removing their purdah and burkas. Is this a bad event? Could this have happened without the US’ action? No. In a world that harshly condemns China for its poor human rights, it should be noted that in a country like Afghanistan under the Taliban, the concept of human rights is laughable. Yet when the US seek to depose the oppressors, the harbourers of terrorists, people cry out in objection.
(Don’t get me wrong, countries like Saudi Arabia are similarly strict in implementing their brand of Shari’a, but they have fallen in the US’ good graces because of trade. I never said this was a good thing – it is just the way things are. And they don’t harbour terrorists, of course.)

Clockless Processing

Interesting article about asynchronous CPUs that covers both technical and economical issues. {src: /.}

I’ll Pay That

Funny prank. {src: Scripting News}

Memes

I found this link trail from TW on a few people’s comments about memes (click that link, you’ll need to understand the dictionary definition before you continue reading this post) – 1, 2, 3. I do believe there is an underlying flaw with the point Simmons (1) makes: that cultural ideas spread through memes seems to imply that there is no truth in thought (that it is all “propaganda”). That assertion turns out to be somewhat true, but not for the reasons he is thinking of. Truth of thought is not necessarily necessary.

Firstly let’s deal with the issue of culturally-based practices. Truth is an irrelevant concept here because culture is neither “right” nor “wrong” – it is simply how a society has evolved. Evolution is a key part of the concept of memes. The stronger memes rise to the top and influence society’s practices. There are no absolute right and wrong practices when it comes to culture. (This point is slightly arguable on moral and ethical grounds, but even morals and ethics are culturally influenced.) For instance, if we take the idea of arranged marriages. For most in Western society, the idea would seem somewhat repressive, or unfair. The connotation is negative because freedom of choice is highly valued in our culture. If you judge arranged marriages from the perspective of our culture, then it becomes wrong. But you cannot do that – it’s called Cultural Relativism. (See this excerpt from Barad & Robertson – it’s a good book). So truth and memes do not come into play for this aspect.

What about cultural ideas, then? Or how about, just ideas in general? Surely there must be “truth” when it comes to solid ideas? There are many schools of thought on this issue, but when it comes to science and putting forth ideas, there is one school of thought that declares there is no truth. Positivism, specifically the theory of falsification, states that nothing can be absolutely proven. Theories are never completely true. They may be supported by evidence, yes, and they may be used to formulate other theories, but they can never be completely verified. On the other hand, theories can be conclusively rejected if there is evidence that they are wrong, or there is a better theory that explains the same thing. Many scientists, including Hawking, subscribe to this theoretical perspective.

So Locke’s (2) attempt to point out about western biologists being unable to agree on the truth is flawed because, working on a positivist view, there already is an agreement that there IS no truth! The real problem that exists is mainly political. Ok, let’s take evolution again. When research takes place that produces evidence to reject it, the theory is often not rejected. Why? Because, the supporters of that theory reject the research that produced the contradicting evidence. They are enabled to reject the rejection (so to speak) by saying that the research of those that disagree with them is invalid/flawed and thereby not capable of invalidating their theory. But who’s correctly rejecting what? That is hard to tell through the political smokescreens. (I’m not going to mention Locke’s point on relativism… which enters the realms of epistemology.)

“But I still hate memes. They’re used by people like Locke to take control of things we care about” (3) seems to be a misinterpretation for what a meme is, or maybe I’m a bit hazy on the definition myself – any ideas that are disseminated within society may be considered as a meme. They are not inherently evil. The idea of a meme is simply applying evolution of the physical (Darwinism) to evolution of thought (culture and ideas). You can’t say Darwinism is inherently evil – it just explains things the way they are. However, just as evolution has not been proven conclusively (but there is enough scientific evidence to support it!), neither has the idea of memes. It’s interesting to note that memetics may itself be a meme. So is this a post on meta-memetics?

In this case, I suppose that you could consider all thought propaganda. If so, then the thought that is accepted in society may be considered as propaganda that has been assessed by the community, and found acceptable. Propaganda has negative connotations, that’s why it’s hard to see it in that aspect. Memes shouldn’t have the same connotations.

(Uni is having a bad influence on me…)

Responses:

Well, I read your post about memes and it reminded me of something I learned in my classes and that I whole-heartedly believe in.

You were talking about cultural relativism and how there is no absolute truth because in different cultures, people believe in different things. The same is true about people. There is no “absolute truth” because each person views things thorugh their own filter of their experiences and ideas, so everyone can view the same thing differently, even from the same culture.

I once had a quote on my page that said “truth is relative; perception is everything. ” I believe in that. Our individual perception on things is our “truth” and everyone’s perception is different.

The scientific theory can help us to look at things objectively, but be that as it may, we all have different past experiences and differing amounts and kinds of knowledge, so our perception, our truth, is different.
- Fallen Angel

13
Nov 01
Tue

Revived

Dark Magnet is back! I was wondering why they dropped off the net so suddenly…

Gambling

Just a plug for SolosBets. It’s a tipping site. Win no (real) money, but hey, lose no money as well. Too bad I know nothing about American sports :)

Shadow of the Hegemon

Orson Scott Card is responsible for ruthlessly disrupting my sleep patterns this week. Straight after polishing off Ender’s Shadow, I picked up the sequel, Shadow of the Hegemon (“SOTH”) and polished that off in a day.

SOTH takes up where ES finished. However, everything has changed. For the start of the novel, the characters are the same people we know from ES. That is probably the only commonality between the novels, for the different settings of both novels causes the focus of SOTH to peal off sharply from ES.

SOTH is no longer a science fiction novel, but a historical one. Through it we witness the tumultuous changing face of the world – world history in the making. Now that the threat of the Buggers is gone, nations are vying for world power, each falling back on its age old beliefs that ruling over a global kingdom is their birthright. SOTH is almost like a history book, albeit with a few crucial differences so that it doesn’t read like one (these thoughts being echoed and confirmed in the book’s Afterword). Non-fictional history for us has always been seen as at a distance. We know what events have occurred, and the key figures who enabled them. We may even know the personalities and life stories of these figures, but one thing the history books do not know is the true character of them. What makes them tick, their motivations, their thoughts. Of course, this is impossible to do, and both Bean, Petra and Peter all realise that they cannot truly understand the character of others, because they cannot even truly understand themselves! The thing is, this is a novel. All these characters are a fabrication, but in weaving this tale, OSC is enabled to instill them with his own character. We know their true thoughts and motivations, why they do things. As a result, why things pan out the way they did all over the globe is put into context. This allows us to gain some insights on how things interact on both a tactical and strategic scale, both close up and at a distance (Locke) and on both a military and political level.

Bean as a character changes over the course of the novel. He becomes more human. He has feelings of compassion and guilt. His “selfish” instinct to put his survival as paramount priority is overridden by a higher cause. He learns to care about people, to make real friends. Of course, back on the streets of Rotterdam he saw traits like this only as weaknesses. But, it is these very “weaknesses” that give him the conviction to do what he eventually does. And on the last page of the novel, we see yet another character development – something we’ve never yet seen in any of the battleschool children, actually…

I do think, however, that OSC has placed too much reliance on kids and their brilliance and influence. In his site, the Ornery American, he has an essay whereby he hypothesises that the only way to destroy terrorism is to destroy the very foundations of what the terrorists are trying to protect (or take back). If they have nothing to fight for, then why fight? He calls for an invasion of any Muslim countries not in the US’ support. This is an extreme point of view, and racial/religious ramifications aside, going to war with the middle-east is a battle even America and its allies will suffer greatly for. Unless, of course, you had a team of battle school kids at the helm. Kids who are so brilliant, they can negotiate a non-aggression pact to calm a centuries old dispute between two neighbouring nations (read the book, you’ll find out) — when Germany and Russia took weeks to negotiate a similar pact in WW2. Kids so influential that even though they are European, Asian powers allow them to have such high levels of command within their own country. So visionary they can forecast entire war strategies and plan entire campaigns. A country would need people like this if you wanted to do what OSC suggests in his essay. Clearly in reality, however, this is not the case for any country in the world.

Nonetheless, the world as it stands in this ficticious future is plausible, and OSC gives us an insight into how politics and the military play together. What nations want, and how they wheel and deal to try and out-manuever each other. His knowledge of historical events and people is blended into the novel quite skillfully, fleshing the details out and adding feasibility. (Then again, I am not a historian, but it all seems quite convincing.) It is interesting to note that in this world, America is no longer a superpower. It is described as being in China’s pocket. Complacent. A nation where true patriotism has died, and patriotism that exists is all for the wrong reasons. The US hardly features in this novel. OSC is clearly disillusioned with America and its current leadership. History has shown that superpowers all must fall at some time, so why not in the world of this novel?

SOTH is the second book in a series of what OSC says will be four books (working titles are “Shadow of a Giant” and “Shadow of Death”). If they are anything like the first two of the series, they will be both great reads.

Maps

The Perry-Castañeda Library has an extremely comprehensive collection of all types of maps. There are too many people around today that have a woeful knowledge of where things are in the world. Myself included – I only found out last night exactly what and where the Caucasus are.

Refugees

The Washington Post has a sombre but engrossing series of articles on refugee migration. They are a must read:
• Fleeing Afghanistan
• From Pakistan to Europe
• From Turkey to France

Around the World

weecheng.com is the name of the site kept by
Tan Wee Cheng, or TWC, as he shortens his name to. TWC is a Singaporean with wanderlust, having been to a wide array of countries. His site contains a series of travel journals (of sorts) which are more than speckled with intriguing observations on the history, socio-political and culture of the countries he’s visited. Unfortunately, his site is not structured or designed very well, and it does become a chore to find which link continues the page, and what page belongs to what section.

Dynamic SMS

Ok, moneywhoring time. Dynamic SMS is a company that’s an advertising intermediary. They match advertisers to participants’ profiles and send them SMSes. You get money for your troubles. The payment system is referral based (up to three levels under you). Of course, they will go bust in the future, but it’s not going to hurt getting in now while you still can, right? If you’re worried about SMS spam in future, just remember that it will never proliferate as much as e-mail spam, simply because at 20 cents an SMS, they might as well send out snail mail. Dynamic SMS direct deposit any amounts earnt over $1.50 into any bank account. Here’s the standard company spiel:

Check out this website, they pay people for receiving SMS’s on their mobiles and pay the people who referred them a commission as well.

The network (called DynamicSMS) charges advertisers for sending advertisements to their members. The examples on the website are that if you introduce 10 people who each introduce 10 people who each introduce 10 people, you can make $826.70 per month – not bad for introducing 10 people. If you introduce 30 people who introduce 20 people who introduce 10 people, you could be earning $4,893.70 per month or $58,724.70 per year!

They also let you setup a lifestyle profile so that you receive ads best targetted to what you are interested in.

To find out more or to join, click on the link below which will take you directly to their website (and put me as the referring person).

Click here to sign up. (My referral ID is in that link.)

12
Nov 01
Mon

Removing ICQ 2001 Ads

I got this link for the manual procedure to remove ads from ICQ 2001 from Sylence. She (he?) also requests if anyone knows where to find an auto-autho patch for 2001b. I’d like to know too. Thanks!

Tablet PC Pics

Pictures of implementations of Microsoft’s Tablet PC concept.

Real-time Counter

PHP + Flash to give a real-time visit counter.

Ender’s Shadow

On 18/10, Fuzzy raised objections regarding the sequel to Ender’s Game. Although I haven’t read the other books in that series, I have heard similar viewpoints from other people that the vast tract of time between the first and subsequent books means that the character of Ender we have grown to know has changed. I gather the impression that the other books are much more introspective, measured and passive. This did not go unnoticed by Orson Scott Card (OSC), either:

I have never found it surprising that the existing sequels – Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind – never appealed as strongly to those younger readers. The obvious reason is that Ender’s Game is centered around a child, while the sequels are about adults; perhaps more important, Ender’s Game is, at least on the surface, a heroic, adventurous novel, while the sequels are a completely different kind of fiction, slower paced, more contemplative and idea-centered, and dealing with themes of less immediate import to younger readers.

Recently, however, I have come to realize that the 3,000-year gap between Ender’s Game and its sequels leaves plenty of room for other sequels that are more closely tied to the original. In fact, in one sense Ender’s Game has no sequels, for the other three books make one continuous story in themselves, while Ender’s Game stands along.

That’s from the foreword of Ender’s Shadow (“ES”), which is a parallel story to Ender’s Game (“EG”). It’s not a sequel. It’s a parallel story. We are retold the events of EG from the view point of Bean, which gives us a new perspective on everything. The story is wonderfully told in the manner made familiar to us by EG. This novel may be science fiction by genre, but it delves into sociology and psychology as much as science and the future. The psychoanalysis is readable and doesn’t get clogged by intricate language, or overly complex reasoning. Yet, it is highly insightful and thought provoking.

One aspect of EG that I could never get used to was the fact that a child of Ender’s age could be so brilliant. In the end, I just learnt to accept it. Ender was obviously special, and one of a kind. For that, I was willing to suspend disbelief. However, along comes ES where we soon discover that Bean may be just as brilliant as Ender, only younger. His ability to so precisely judge personality is unnerving, as well as his Holmesian capability for deduction. The fact that he is genetically engineered does little to assuage the freakiness of it all, because despite the engineering, he is still human. It is interesting to note that Bean is rarely portrayed to be in error, or in any situation of real weakness in this novel. While Ender was a genius, he had his physical limits, his flaws. Bean, on the other hand, even through the final Bugger battles, remains physically alert – and for someone so diminuitive! As the novel progressed, I was, as a reader, culturing a growing resentment against Bean. How can he have made insights that Ender never saw? How could he appear to be more astute than the great Ender? Moreover, how could he dare criticise Ender’s tried and tested (from EG) teaching methods? Surely Bean must have a weakness of sorts. But the more breakthroughs he made that Ender never did, the more I felt frustrated. I only realised all this when I finished the book. I had experienced the same resentment of Bean and respect of Ender that the battleschool kids felt. The same frustration and disbelief of the adults when Bean found out what no one else could, from so little information. I guess I got pretty involved in the story, but that’s what a good novel does. When you’re among an elite group of people – no matter what the field, sporting or academic or musical – when someone stands out from that group as being more elite, it does cause resentment. And you don’t have to be arrogant about it. Excellence alone is enough to create ill-feelings. The resentment can eventually turn into respect, given time. However, when you throw a second person just as good into the mix, allegiances and the respect formed are most likely to remain with the “original” person. This is one of the few interesting observations OSC makes about group dynamics. There are a lot more subtle ones in there.

Of course, in the end, Bean does have his weaknesses. As in the launch shuttle in the early part of the book where Dimak points out that there is no real “best” person when you combine all factors, Bean excels in areas where Ender does not (as much), and vice versa. In the final battle, Bean for once does not have an answer. He merely speaks a sentence which appears to give Ender the inspiration needed to implement a plan. Ender is both a strategist and tactician, as is Bean to a lesser extent, but Bean seems to be the strategist’s strategist. In the end, Bean gains our acceptance. He makes “friends”, he cries, and he no longer appears cold and calculating. He is “stung” by comments aimed at him where on the street he merely ignores them. In other words, he appears more human. That puts us at ease.

A lot of small nuances are covered in this novel. The witty, sharp, banter between the adults running battleschool displays this at the start of each chapter. OSC’s Mormon upbringing no doubt influenced the character of Sister Carlotta and the numerous references to religion. Then we have an interesting scenario of politics in the world – the idea of humanity degrading back into bickering when the unifying force of an interspecies war is no longer present. The breakup of powers into the lapsed-into-complacency US, a superpower China, a unified Europe and a scheming New Warsaw Pact (Soviet bloc, basically). This was all covered in EG as well, too of course. I’m not going to write about any of the other major themes or issues (there are more than a few salient ones) as I read the book within the last day and haven’t really had time to ruminate on it.

ES, at 550+ pages, is thicker than EG and thus delves into things with more detail. It’s written in the same style as EG which makes reading easy, but a lot more of it is narrative on the characters’ thoughts and less on describing the environment and surroundings. It’s not necessary, as people who have read EG already know how everything fits together, but for those who haven’t read EG, EG will flesh things out a lot more in terms of getting a better picture of the world. OSC has produced a first rate novel in ES which uniquely complements EG.

  10:18pm (GMT +11.00)  •  Books  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 

Spank the Monkey


… on an optical mouse(!)
Update: There is a way to get speeds in excess of 900 mph, regardless of mouse.

11
Nov 01
Sun

Bin Laden: I did it

News article here.

Free CD

Turns out that HSBC did end up giving me that Free CD.

Brain Museum

Brainmuseum.org:

“This web site provides browsers with images and information from one of the world’s largest collection of well-preserved, sectioned and stained brains of mammals. Viewers can see and download photographs of brains of over 100 different species of mammals (including humans) representing 17 mammalian orders.”

Enterprise: Breaking The Ice (Ep 1.08)

The first half of this episode didn’t seem like a conventional one. It sort of meandered along with an A-plot that could have been a B-plot. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t boring. The scene where Archer sends a message back to the school kids is amusing, and actually informative (we all wonder the same things as those 4th graders). However, the plot emerges in the second half of the show and we see once again that it is once again another episode developing the Vulcans. It strikes me as odd, that after a century of relations, Vulcans are still so cold and demeaning to humans. Odd, because only a century later, relations have warmed up (as much as you can describe a Vulcan as being “warm”) and the humans have surpassed the Vulcans in galactic influence. I wonder if the arrogance of Vulcans will be maintained throughout the course of Enterprise, or will they start to gain their respect? I’m taking more of a liking to Tripp meanwhile, he’s showing that he’s not just some hick from the South. Mayweather is another thing altogether. Who is he? What is he there for?? He’s like a tourist – everytime he gets sent on an away mission he’s wide eyed and can’t stop smiling. Yet, he serves no real role on the ship that we have seen yet. He’s always in a supporting position. He seems to be more “useless” than Harry Kim, and that’s saying something!

Enterprise: The Andorian Incident (Ep 1.07)

This episode was good for a bit of old-fashioned brawling, but Archer’s shirt never gets ripped like Kirk’s. But anyway, this episode we see an encounter with the antennae-wiggling Andorians (Jeffrey Combs, Weyoun from DS9, guest stars as the punch-happy Shran). Can’t say too much about this fairly solid episode other than that the writers have a big fixation on the Vulcans. I like the interplay between Tripp and Archer – their personalities really go hand in hand. They definitely gel as CO and 2IC. However, it is interesting how the transporters, when relied upon to work, always seem to. I mean, TNG had more transporter accidents than this. Hmm…

10
Nov 01
Sat

Election 2001

As predicted, Liberal stays in government for its third consecutive term.

9
Nov 01
Fri

Hay Gaan?

How to say greetings and common phrases in hundreds of languages and dialects. Fascinating. A bit of tongue-in-cheek when it gets to English (specifically, the Strine dialect). The title of this post is in Strine, and I doubt Aussies will have trouble interpreting it but any non-Aussie would be saying “oddo nunnerstairn”.

8
Nov 01
Thu

Gadgets

Just some interesting new toys:

Trains

Sydney-siders, be aware. Major rail maintenance in the city circle over this weekend.

Jung-Myers-Briggs Test

The JMB Test is one of those personality gauging tests, 72 questions. My profile comes out to be eStJ (1/1/11/1 %), or supervisor. I’m not sure that I’m as tight ass as the description makes the profile sound like. I find these descriptions are better.

Statistics

I’ve always been curious about statistics and I’ve never seen a stats listing on any e/n or weblog site before. So, I generated a page of them about this site. Due to the number of database queries required, I’ve decided not to make the page dynamic. I’ll either set up a cronjob to run a script that will regenerate the page everyday, or just run it manually… If you have any other stats you’d like to see, drop me a mail.

I honestly don’t know how I managed to fit in 183 posts in May ’00.

Bangkok

So, there I was today watching a couple of little kids rumbling with each other in the park, watching a bunch of schoolkids grabbing lunch from Westfield… and I realise that after this Friday, my third year of uni is over. I hand in the 64 page research design document I’ve been slaving on and that’s it. (I have no exams, woohoo!) It’s a little depressing, I guess it’s something that depresses everyone – growing up in general – but life must go on. This post, however, isn’t about growing up. When I saw the little kids going at it with each other, I remembered this incident in school…

It was back in Year 8 when we were still tiny. We always used to get into brawls amongst ourselves to keep amused throughout lunch. It kept getting us into trouble everytime a teacher went past, but since each time it was a different teacher, we just kept attacking each other (punching, kicking, tackling, strangling, ferocious slaps that left angry red marks on legs, chinese burns, nipple gripples, etc., it was all there). I had a friend, let’s just call him Pip. Back then he was overweight, missing a neck and seemingly waddled around. Easy target. Even so, nature still provides the most vulnerable of animals with some sort of defence mechanism. So what did he do when there were people picking on him that were twice his size? Hit em back, naturally. Hit em back where no self-respecting boxer would hit. No, hit em back where no self-respecting man would hit. And it was effective.

In the interests of the Geneva Convention, we made him warn us whenever he was going to pull that stunt. The, uh… “safe word”, he’d yell out when he’d had enough off people laying
into him was “Bangkok!” (or derivations of it, eg: “Now departing for Bangkok!”). Upon yelling that word, people would vacate his vicinity like illegal boat people from a ship about to be boarded by the Australian navy, lest they feel the pain. From a safe distance we’d then resume the attack with verbal comments about his questionable sexuality. We were so mature for 13/14 year olds :).

Anyway, one day we were having lunch in the place that was our area for the six years we were at the school, when this rather large-sized Year 12 guy wandered in. I don’t know how it eventuated, but things led to an exchange of bag outs. Pip was sitting down, and the Year 12 was standing up. When Pip ended up paying the guy out for his prowess in squash (he was the school champion). The Year 12 guy took particular offense and gave him a swift knock on the head. Pip wasn’t
happy. He cleared his throat and asked, “Hey, have you ever been to Bangkok?” The guy stopped, bewildered by the inexplicable change of subject. The rest of us, however, froze. What happened next was a scene from a Hong Kong-made action movie. Slow-mo, with action replays from multiple angles.

We all immediately knew what was going on. The year 12 guy didn’t. The year 12 guy was twice the size of Pip, and in a valiant attempt to prevent serious injury occurring to both parties involved, I screamed out, “Coverrrrr yoooouuurrrrr diiiiick–”

But it was too late. The year 12 guy’s face barely had time to register a quizzical expression at my comment, before the sickening sound of fist on flesh slapped out. Totally unexpected, it was a perfect hit like never before. Quizzical turned to abject horror, followed immediately by one of ultimate pain.

The guy instantly doubled over, clutching his crotch, shuddering convulsively. We all stood there, stunned, and a few people started gathering around to see what the commotion was about. If I was Pip, I would’ve ran the hell out of there. But he didn’t, he stayed there, I speculate it was to admire his “handiwork”. After a few seconds of moaning, spluttering, muttered profanities, clutching and coughing, he recovered enough to lift his torso above the 3:30 position. He shot out one hand and grabbed Pip around the neck and squeezed his throat. The other hand hit Pip in the chest, ramming him hard into the wall behind. Pip started gargling.

Fortunately for Pip, the pain was just too intense for the poor guy, who needed both hands to tend to his troubles. He let go and doubled over again. Still very much in a world of pain he hobbled off for the bathroom. The rest of us
made a discreet exit.

To this day I regard him lucky that his pre-emptive strike was so devastating, because had the hit been not so dead center, I’m sure Pip would be rolling around in a wheelchair today. He stopped with his low blows soon after that when everyone henceforth declared it very much against the “rules of engagement”.

  7:10pm (GMT +11.00)  •  Life  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
6
Nov 01
Tue

Erased Drives

Horror stories of Mac users having their hard drive partitions erased by iTunes2. This is even worse than a bug that came out with Myth II a few years ago – if you installed in into a non-default directory, when you uninstalled it, it would uninstall your operating system and files along with it.

Good Morning

The weather is beautiful today… if you’re working, or you’re stuck at home studying for exams. Rain and overcast skies for all of today it looks like.

RegBarc is back with ResponseCheck. It’s been awhile, but welcome back!

Link

Link This Page. Creatively displaying a referrer log… Thanks Soon.

Surprise Surprise

This show is just too funny!!! Judging from the preview, next week looks to be an even bigger cack. Seems that Surprise Surprise has been run elsewhere in the world, but Australia is the first English speaking country to run it.

5
Nov 01
Mon

Learning Genes

New Scientist: Academic prowess seems to be linked to genes. IQ is hereditary? I can believe that. Physical stature tends to be hereditary, so why not intelligence (in an academic, IQ, sense)? Sure, environment affects development in both, but genes still play some sort of role.

Brookdale Chipset

The Register reports that Brookdale, Intel’s DDR mobo chipset for the P4 is being released earlier due to increased competition from other chipset makers. Consequently, Brookdale G is being released earlier and may mean that the new P4 with 533MHz FSB may arrive sooner as well. Competition is good.

Mobile Phone Transmission

Mobile phone posting… it’s back. Found the time to integrate it into the
backend today.

Crucial Ram

Hmm, looks like EYO is selling Crucial DDR Ram in Sydney.

The War

For incredibly biased “coverage” of the War, see here. I would like to see one article, one link… just one, on what America should have done in response, instead. Instead of the 100% one-sided cynical non-constructive criticism splayed out all over the page.

Election 2001

Federal Election happens this Saturday. Some links: ABC coverage, ABC’s weblog, AEC site. Also, most school kids learn how votes are worked out for the preferential voting system for the House of Reps (which is what all the election day action concerns), but for the Senate, things are slightly different.

I need to find a site that will give live updates on results come Saturday…

Graphs

Alex wrote in to tell me he develops Touchgraph, which translates network architectures into visual, conceptual representations (graphs). After viewing Picture of Weblogs (see yesterday’s post), he decided to adapt his program to mapping blogs. Touchgraph XML was provided for the graphing data to produce this.

He also told me about the googlesque-design-inspired Daypop, a search engine that trawls through weblogs. The top 40 is pretty nifty for finding reading material and the idea is somewhat akin to Blogdex.

Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup is on this afternoon. I have no bet, I’m clueless when it comes to horse racing.
Update: The favourite, Ethereal, won.

Photography

Been reading various photography techniques that produce some neat effects.
Prolonging shutter speeds to capture motion of lights at night, using flash to freeze the foreground with a longer exposure time to blur the background. Combining the two. Shooting fireworks, the moon and lightning. General guide on night photography. High speed photography. Canon’s guide on photography. General guide to aperture and shutter speeds.

These are all fairly usual techniques I gather, but unfortunately impossible for automatic cameras to do. Digital cameras are great for experimenting with this sort of stuff because results can be viewed immediately, instead of snapping off a roll, waiting for them to be processed and hoping it turned out ok. What would be great is an SLR digital, but for the same price you could get a more than decent normal SLR camera with lenses to boot.

There are now consumer-level 5 megapixel digital cameras being made available. The Sony DSC-F707 rated well and looks good, but unfortunately you’re locked into using proprietary memory sticks which aren’t cheap (not that any solid-state memory is cheap, but relatively speaking). The new Nikon Coolpix 5000 looks like it could be a real nice one to get. Donations, anyone? :)

Worm

Another one of those simple but strangely highly addictive online games. Thanks Renai.

Amex Black

Everyone knows what an American Express platinum credit card is, and what it means. You can’t apply for it – Amex has to invite you to sign up for it. There is, however, a card placed above the lofty status of the platinum – the enigmatic American Express Black Card. Apparently, if Amex deems you worthy of this card, they just send you one out of the blue. This Time article sheds some light on the black piece of plastic, which carries no credit limit. Here is one lucky girl’s epinion on the card after scoring one off her daddy. “My review on AMEX Optima card is at the URL: http://nyscramble.epinions.com/content_8512310916.
Note that I wrote this negative review BEFORE I obtained my Centurion [Black] Card. My impression on AMEX is positive now,” she declares. Well, obviously if you’re carrying that colour of plastic around, life is good.

4
Nov 01
Sun

Entangle

Entangle is an experimental Java program that graphs linkage between websites. It was originally written as a java applet to display links between weblogs. When e/n was going link crazy last year, and I was doing Data Org in uni, I was thinking about writing a similar program to plot who was pimping who but I never found the time. Still, it’d be an interesting exercise to do. It’d be cool if you could print it out onto a big poster much like those maps of the Internet. I wonder if you could separate e/n sites into “sub-clusters” that tend to group together and see this visually?

Food Quiz

I did the food quiz Denise posted up. I got 17/20. It does seem that the number of girls who know how to cook these days has rapidly declined compared to my mum’s generation. Not that I’m claiming I can cook, but I’m a guy :)

3
Nov 01
Sat

Western Digital HDD

Western Digital released a 120GB 7200rpm hard drive onto the market. A couple of those would be nice.

2
Nov 01
Fri

Gateway Auction

The now non-existent Gateway Australia is auctioning off $5 million worth of equipment right now. I told a friend attending it that if they sell off a 15″ lcd for under $500, to bid for me. I’d imagine that they would go for more than that, though.

Zoolander

Comedy about dumb people can be really stupid (like the awful Dumb and Dumber). Anyhow, we handed in a 17,000 word group assignment today and decided to head into the city and catch a movie that would require zero brain activity. Which is funny, because the movie’s tagline is, “3% Body Fat. 1% Brain Activity.” Zoolander isn’t a bad flick. It’s one of those “you have to be in the mood” movies, and some of the gags are fairly decent. A nice touch is the truckload of cameos thrown into the movie.

1
Nov 01
Thu

Requiring Respondents

I’m pilot testing a survey on m-commerce adoption for uni. If you are an Aussie, I’d appreciate it if you filled it out. It should only take 5-10 minutes. Thank ya.

ICQ 2001b

Much better than 2k (I never upgraded from 99 because 2k, the “kitchen sink version”, is really clunkified.) The filesize is reduced from 2k, which is always a good sign. Download here.

Wizardry 8 Demo

A demo for Wizardry 8 is out! Thanks again Phil!



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