Monday, January 31, 2005

Lack of posts

Just a quick note for those that check in occasionally for fresh content. Unfortunately a particularly eventful past week has kept me from posting and will probably keep me away for a while more. Last Wednesday the network went 16:9 widescreen for News and Current Affairs, which includes my new area in ABC Online. I've been working like a mad man putting out spot fires and helping to build the new publishing system while assisting the journos with their Avid editing antics. The best bit has been trying to answer questions about a new system that up until a week ago I didn't know even existed. I had a particularly bad weekend where I forgot to build the Saturday Evening news area, meaning that nothing got published that night. Even with the extra hours overtime I put in on Friday to get it finished I still felt awful when I realised what I'd done.

I spent the whole of today creating news slots for the stories to be published, making sure that every day has enough to get well and truly by and keep me out of trouble. One of the most mind numbingly repetitive jobs I've ever had to do. The worst bit was that every element was slightly different, even if it's just the difference between am and pm in a filename. One mistake can throw it offline.

Did I mention that my boss, the one that created the system, is in Sydney for two days? I felt a little out of my depth a couple of times today.

Anyway, next up is the launch of the DTV channel and I get to figure out how we're going to maintain audio levels to keep our internet clients happy while at the same time keep them at a level that doesn't breach network policy for television broadcast. With any luck I'll get back on figuring out some of this stuff, and how I'm going to teach the journos to care about editing and technical levels, tomorrow. It's going to be an interesting few weeks. Hopefully I'll get back into it soon. After Uni starts back up. Uurgh, I'd forgotten about that. It may be a while.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Sick and tired of "Are We There Yet?!?"


I swear I was born thirty years too early.

As a means of keeping the kids engaged during those long holiday drives, John Paul Bichard, Liselott Brunnberg and Oskar Juhlin at the Interactive Institute in Stockholm have developed the "Backseat Playground." Basically it's an augmented reality video game that references the real environment via GPS and a digital compass. The players (in the back seat of the car) are able to take part in various challenges based on what's going on around them outside the car.

Backseat Playground - If all the world were a game...

Better Sound Design

Another great article from byJay Rose, C.A.S.

"My Brain Doesn't Work Right" - think like a sound designer

Well worth a read for thinking about adding sound to your production to make it feel right. As always, requires registration. They only send a newsletter filled with the most recent articles so it's worth the hassle.

Friday, January 21, 2005

My Ultimate Roleplaying Purity score

Many years ago, I was an avid role-player. Hell, I even ran games for the Camarilla live action Vampire game here in Brisbane and wrote a live action game based on the Shadowrun setting. Before that I was a real geek, getting stuck into AD&D in a big way. Well, my buddy Col sent this link to a bunch of the old gamers to test out roleplaying purity. It seems that the lower the score, the bigger the geek, so while in my early days I tended to max out characters and go for the loot, my later, more sensitive, gaming makes up for it.

The Ultimate Roleplaying Purity Test

Ultimate Roleplaying Purity Score
CategoryYour ScoreAverage
Will kill for XP
Sensitive Roleplaying44.3%
"But what's my motivation for this scene?"
GM Experience43.48%
Puts the players through the wringer
Systems Knowledge91.95%
Played in a couple of campaigns
Livin' La Vida Dorka63.22%
Goes nuts on the weekends
You are 59.48% pure
Average Score: 68.7%

Aah, what the Hell. Now that I have weekends free there's this Shadowrun campaign I've been wanting to run for a few years now...

Doonesbury this week

Anyone who has read this blog knows that I love my Doonesbury. In particular I'm enjoying this week's story arc regarding the choice of Alberto Gonzales to replace John Ashcroft as U.S. Attorney General.

According to Human Rights Watch
As White House counsel, Gonzales is known to have done the following:

* He drafted the original military commission order signed by President Bush on November 14, 2001, which would have allowed suspects apprehended in the global campaign against terrorism to be secretly charged, tried, and even executed without the most basic due process protections. This week a federal court halted military commissions because they violate the Geneva Conventions and fair-trial standards.

* He provided the legal basis for President Bush’s decision on February 7, 2002, claiming that, as the president, he has the constitutional authority to deny protections of the Geneva Conventions to persons picked up during the war in Afghanistan. In his January 25, 2002 memorandum, Gonzales argued that the Geneva Conventions protections—including its “strict limitations on questioning enemy prisoners”—were rendered “obsolete” and “quaint” by the war on terror. Gonzales ignored the warnings of senior military officers that his position on the Geneva Conventions would undermine respect for law in the U.S. military.

* He solicited the August 2002 torture memo from the Justice Department, which contended that the President has “commander-in-chief authority” to order torture and proposed potential legal defense for U.S. officials accused of torture. Gonzales has never publicly revealed his views about the memo.

U.S.: Attorney General Nominee Undermined Rights

This week regular cast member and CIA intern Jeff Redfern is off to Torture school to learn the intricacies of the modern warfare techniques of negotiation and diplomacy. The story arc starts here on Monday and continues through to Saturday. Today's strip in particular caused me to post this.

The Human Clock - A New Picture Every Minute

Some people advertise a picture a day. This place gives you a new picture every minute. Every minute it updates with a new pic sent in from people around the world, keeping you up to date with what time it is. You can even choose your colour background and whether you prefer digital or analog.

The Human Clock!

Monday, January 17, 2005

IPod Shuffle

I so want one of these.

Time to mix things up. Meet iPod shuffle, the unpredictable new iPod. What will it play next? Can it read your mind? Can it read your moods? Load it up. Put it on. See where it takes you. Choose from pocket-size 512MB or 1G models starting at $99 and surprise yourself.

iPod shuffle: Smaller than a pack of gum and much more fun.*

Please note the footnote marker after the quote "Smaller than a packet of gum and much more fun.*" The footnote reads, and I quote directly, "Do not eat iPod shuffle." It's that kind of stuff that just cracks me up. Thank God for Apple and their legal department.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

This Mobile Will Change Your Life!

Do you ever feel like you're a slave to your mobile? Does it send you messages and calls at the most inopportune time? Well you ain't seen nothin' yet.

The Benrikland website is offering a special deal for 2005 to really help you feel enslaved to your technology. For those of you in the U.K. you can subscribe to their list to have 10 SMS messages delivered to your phone each month. Each message contains orders for the participant to carry out from the straight forward to the ridiculous to the possibly dangerous. In return, the owners of the site guarantee a "life-changing" experience. You can leave tales of your exploits on the Benrikland message board and read what others have been up to.

This Mobile Will Change Your Life!


Saturday, January 08, 2005

Sqirlz Water Reflections freeware

Here's one to go with the Terragen 3D scenery generator.

Sqirlz Water Reflections is a way of adding a pool of water to any image. The pool can be animated to give gentle rippling reflections of the scene above it. Choose from a variety of ripples, and control details such as wave size and perspective. The pool can be of any shape. Animations can be saved as Macromedia Flash (SWF) files, and AVI video clips.

Sqirlz Water Reflections freeware

Review: Firing Up Mozilla's Firefox 1.0

Still wondering whether to make the switch to the Firefox browser? Here's a pretty comprehensive review on the pro's and cons.

Scot's Newsletter | By Scot Finnie | Nov./Dec. 2004 |

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

What do you believe but can't prove?

Via the Douglas Rushkoff blog.

It's an interesting question and one that I'm going to have to think about before answering. In the mean time, John Brockman, Publisher and Editor of the science web site asked that question to over a hundred scientists and intellectuals. Some of the answers seem to be just an excuse to show off how much they know about their chosen subject, but most are wonderful to get your brain moving.

I think that the thing I believe, but cannot prove, is that there is a meaning for life. I don't necessarily believe that it is based on any divine purpose, nor do I expect to understand what it is.

Some years ago I remember hearing a basketball colleague state quite openly and brazenly that the sole purpose for humanity was to maintain and propogate the species. No reason, no outcome, just "go forth and multiply." I couldn't stand the idea. I felt it to be hollow and purposeless. If the whole purpose for life turned out to be the creation of more life, then I could see no reason not to just pull the pin, drop the bomb and do the Universe a favour.

Since then I've thought about the issue, in particular a paragraph towards the end of "A Brief History of Time" where Hawkins writes about the work towards a Grand Unified Theory of the universe and the increase and specialisation of scientific knowledge through the 20th Century. He commented that in the 19th Century, most scientists had a fair understanding of other fields of knowledge. However, when Einstein published his Theory of Relativity there was a lack of understanding by even the most brilliant minds of the time. In modern times, however, the concept is taught in Secondary Schools. In the same way, scientific knowledge today is highly specialised such that the only people that can understand most of the recent breakthroughs in any detail are, themselves, specialists in the same field. As time goes on, and should a Grand Unified Theory be realised, it will only be understood by a few brilliant minds. However, as time goes on it will take the artists and the philosophers in society to take that knowledge and explain to mankind what it means to us as humans.

I believe, but cannot prove, that mankind's reason for being here is to maintain until that time; to push towards an understanding that may not come in our lifetimes, or even our children's lifetimes, but rather to understand that the path to enlightenment is multi-generational, and that to maintain a world that values the work of scientists, artists, philosophers, you need to create people that value people.

It may wind up that the Buddhists have it right, and that when we find the answer it turns out to be creating such a world that values the here and now, and looking after the life around us.

Well, we can dream.

What do you believe is true, even though you cannot prove it?

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Holograms in your cell-phone?

Not too long ago, Terrence Daniels, also known as MutantX over at, came up with a nifty effect of a hologram coming out of what turned out to be a fold-out calculator. Strangely enough, such things are not too far away.

Via SmartMobs is reporting a new technology that will allow small, mobile technology such as PDA's and even cell phones to project the contents of the screen as a holographic image onto a surface such as a wall.

The Balance of Nature

Let's start the New Year on an up note.

Courtesy of We Make Money Not

The memo paper pad with the canned plant
Green Cycle, by Taiwan-based designers Wei-Ran Lee and Bo-Chin Chu, is a memo paper pad that comes with a small plant hidden in a tin. Each time you take a paper out of the pad, it reminds you to water the plant. When the plant grows up, you have to transfer it in another suitable container, and it will become a potted plant.
The concept is that when we use the paper, we're also destroying the greenness from nature, but we can still create another green life instead.
Silver prize winner at the Taiwan International Design Competition.

At least it's a little more tasteful than the Playbot calendar.