Monday, August 27, 2007

Kitty kard

This card is the top loot for the new WoW card game set (Fires of Azeroth).

I bought a box from my favourite games shop (infinity games, adelaide) and opened Spectral Tiger, which is shiny, pretty, new and selling on ebay for around $US500 !!!

... Looks like I'll be selling it soon :D

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Never Mind the Pillock

I've been honoured here with the company of "MICKY", he of the stuck capslock key and a penchant for spamming other people's blogs with nonsense. Apparently I'm not his only victim.

I'm sure blogspot will be interested in this activity. It's one thing to come to another blog and make a post, it's another to spurt random crap in the comments, especially when this said crap has no relationship to the post.

Friday, June 29, 2007

self-conscious blogging

Someone at my work found out about this blog and, being a twit*, comments on it constantly.

Some of the joy of blogging is just getting the post out there; and having someone looking over your shoulder so to speak can be disconcerting to say the least.

I've found Marc Andreessen's blog now, from a link at, and a great post on productivity -- I love the bit on the inbox, as well as the "don't keep a schedule" idea. The best tip for me was the lead to stuff on using procrastination as a tool. Since I'm a world-class procrastinator I'll have to give it a go.

* yeah yeah, you're not a twit.... much :D

Thursday, June 21, 2007


I've grown a beard. Or, more accurately, I haven't shaved for a while, leaving the hair on my face to become more prevalent.

I quite like it. I haven't grown much facial hair before, except when being lazy for long periods without shaving, but until now it just formed facial mess, rather than a beard. Must be old age doing it.

A double-blind experiment is when, for instance, the pill given to a patient may contain the new experimental drug or instead just sugar, and the patient and the doctor giving out the pill don't know which it is. The doctor records that Patient X got the pill in box Y. The results over a large population are assessed. Some people just get better by themselves, and by using a placebo this effect is taken into account. If 15% of those on placebos get better, and 20% of those on the other pill, then it can be assumed that the pills effectiveness is 5% better than a placebo. If 1% on the placebo get better, but 40% on the real dose do, then that pill is a good one. If 2% on the placebo die during the trial of a heart attack, but 10% on the real dose do, that isn't a really good sign.

The doctor doesn't know which pill is which so that the doctor (consciously or not) doesn't influence the results either way.

Any experiment that tests for a result needs a control group (those on placebos, for instance) and results have to be compared to that control group to make sense. Otherwise, you get things like homeopathy or Reiki. Sure, some people are apparently healed, however how much of that is due to the placebo effect? How many would have been healed over time without it? How is it better than NOT doing it, or using something else?

Double-blind methodology made me think of a thought experiment.

You are God. You made everything, the universe, all the people. You want people to be good, and you will assess them after they finish with the first stage of their existence, that of 'mortal life' within the physical universe.
If you tell them what to do, you have directly influenced their behaviour. Are they being good, or doing good things, or treating each other well because you asked or told them to, or would they have been good anyway? If they did good out of fear or to personally gain, are they truly good?
If you don't tell them what to do, when it is time to assess them you can see them as they would have been. Those who have done good did it out of themselves alone. Are they good, then?


Due to popular (err.. one person) demand, I've added a pic. Sorry if it hurts :D

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

And now the next book

Amazingly I just found the sequel to Old Man's War, Ghost Brigades, on a trolley waiting to be shelved at the local Borders, here in Adelaide.

There's one less to shelve now :D

I found Old Man's War to be a very good read. If anything, it was way too short -- that's more my problem than the story, I just read so fast that anything of average size just doesn't last me long enough. If only I could write as fast as I read. I don't remember running into anything that made me step out of the story (although I did guess what "ghost brigade" meant before it came up).

I found the Ghost Brigade part interesting, but superficial: I don't know, maybe I wanted more detail on how they were 'developed' so quickly. This might not make sense if you haven't read the book (or maybe even if you have) but I don't want to ruin anything for the one reader of this blog who came here via the "Next blog at random" button.

If you did, buy the book. It's good. Actually, buy both books.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Old Man's War

Seen in the Wild in Borders, Adelaide, South Australia. There is only one left now.

Oh, and Android's Dream there too...

Not too impressed with the layout here... Sorry, I just can't seem to get these pictures where I want them.
Left a note on John's blog

Friday, May 18, 2007

aqr / hacker

I've been toying with a story idea for some time, where hackers -- those people who through their dedication to knowledge, geekiness, hardware and software -- have become in the future a sort of community, that of "Aqr". These are the people who fix problems but who have difficulty in conversing with the norm. Highly intelligent folk who may not have the best in social skills.

Aqr'i live in closed community groups, with their own laws and society. They are seen as being.. valuable. Sometimes. Aqr formed due to persecution and overreliance -- coming together because they were blamed for system failures, and also to pool skills. The result is a bunch of hardcore geeks that the outside world relies on, but otherwise disdains and treat as abnormal (ie, same as it ever was).

Okay, other than wishful thinking on the part of a geeky guy, this idea nugget was more as background to other stories -- I could have an Aqr in the story, with some background but not the main storyline.

This came to mind when I read this: From FijiTimes via BoingBoing

BUSINESSMAN and information technology specialist Ulaiasi Taoi says he was punched and kicked by eight soldiers while he was kept overnight at the military
He was arrested and detained over allegations that he was involved in anti-military blogs on the Internet.
Mr Taoi was held in a cell at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks for 24 hours after soldiers escorted him from his office in Toorak about 2pm last Friday.
The military took him over its suspicions that he was behind one of the resistance blog sites that have been very vocal against the takeover. He had earlier had a "heavy" and "very abusive" telephone exchange with Colonel Pita Driti in which he was blamed for instigating the blog sites.

So... blaming an IT guy for bloggers attacking an illegal regime. At the same time, the military are trying to use IT guys to block the sites -- Aqr'i can be on either side of a problem, because they are there for a PROBLEM, not for a CAUSE. It's a failing -- most people, including hackers/coders/geeks, hate spam, for instance, but who do you think wrote the programs that do the spamming?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Waiting for Scalzi

Day 43. We've run out of pancakes. The dog is looking edible. Still waiting for Scalzi to return.

Actually, I don't remember my comment on his site as it dropped into the moderation queue never to be seen again. At least *I* thought it was funny.

Edit: Turns out that, because I was viewing his site through Netvibes, I never saw all the updates he was making to his tour thread. Doh.

Friday, May 04, 2007

On syndromes and disorders

On wikipedia, I wasted some time by looking up some facts, which led to other links (as usual) which led to Attention-Deficit Disorder. Since my attention span is quite often sadly lacking, I followed a link to Adult Attention-Deficit Disorder. Hmm.. I'm certainly not "hyperactive", but inattention, impulsivity, restlessness... sounds familiar to me.

A link elsewhere took me to tics. When I was younger I used to sniff constantly (although, I did have a diverted septum so it could be related to that), I had a 'thing' with my right eye, where it moves up to the top right (well.. that's my top-right. I guess from the outside, it would be me looking to the top left). Apparently sniffing can be a "phonic tic", while the eye thing could be a motor tic. Hmm. That led to Tourette Syndrome which surprised me, as the uncontrolled swearing aspect that it is famous for is really something that only effects about 15% of sufferers. And also, these tics are not truly involuntary, but more "unvoluntary" -- the inflicted gets an overwhelming urge to swear, jerk, move. If concentrated on, it can be supressed, but eventually they have to release it. Interesting, because the sniffing is pretty much gone now, my eye only jerks when I think about it (damn it) and now I swear like a sailor.

Some more links take me to Asperger's. This mild form of autism occurs in people who test with superior intelligence (that rules me out) but some of the markers include not reading the social and emotional message from eyes (I find I often don't look people in the eye, which is a bad thing apparently), being considered rude (that's definitely me!), being "too honest", difficulty in being deceptive (certainly). Inability to recognise boredom in others (no comment :D). I hit most of these targets more or less. Damn, I'm just re-reading these and this is from the page:

15. Coping with criticism - people with AS are compelled to correct mistakes, even
when they are made by someone in a position of authority, such as a teacher. For
this reason, they can be unwittingly offensive.
Oh my... Not only do I do this (correct mistakes constantly) but I get stressed about not pointing out a mistake, and then I stress about how I will be perceived if I do point it out (Should I point out the mistake? They might think I'm being picky. But its a mistake. What if they don't notice? Will they think I'm a smartarse?) which can cause me problems.

On the other hand, I'm way way not totally ignorant of other's feelings.

So. ADD. Tourette's. Asperger's.

Good thing I didn't look up hypochondria.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Can't find a book

Went looking for another 'atheist' book to go with The God Delusion, but surprisingly couldn't find one. Borders Adelaide stocks TGD in the "Science" section, which is where the other major booksellers put theirs. Although I saw a copy of The Atheist Manifesto the other day, no such luck today.

But what else IS there? And where do you put Reality-Based books? I found twelve bookshelves for religion, spiritual and alternative medicine books in Borders, and yet only a couple for science topics. I could get the Satanic bible, books on the Kabalah, books on the medicines THEY don't want me to know about (the all powerful "THEY" who apparently weren't powerful enough to stop the publication of the book...) and yet I didn't find a non-fiction reality based account of the world. Maybe I was looking in the wrong place.

Patrick, Get an Appointment


Thursday, April 19, 2007

slight update

Not much to see. Go about your business.

Had my teeth cleaned last week. Exciting stuff that.

I've been reading up on some Atheist sites, seems that you aren't allowed to be an Atheist unless you can not only give post-doctoral dissertions as responses to theist/creationist/Intelligent Design proponents, in multiple subjects at that; but you also need to be a doctor of theology to respond to scripture quotations. Meanwhile, any theist with a hat is allowed to put forward the "God said so" argument and gets an auto-win. Pointing this out, by the way, isn't allowed either.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Some dental fun

I had a three-in-one dental job done yesterday.

Two broken old amalgam filings were replaced with ceramics. On a third tooth, I had a full crown done to replace the long-gone filing. Amalgam filings have a definite lifespan and they tend to break or fall out. I had one snap in half when eating some muesli.

The dentist (Dr Richard Huebl from Riken Dental) was very good. Richard was recommended to me by a couple of fellow employees and he certainly was worth seeing. But DAMN crowns cost a lot. If I didn't have health cover I'd be a much poorer person.

The three were done in one hit, which was a good thing but my back teeth were flooding by the end. I needed to see a man about a dog? Some other euphamism for "I needed to wee".

Anywho, the new filings are ceramic, and Richard used a 3D camera to take a shot of the hole, then he drew a line around the gap on the computer screen. The program they use filled the picture of the hole with a filing and Richard adjusted it. Once he was done, he printed it! The "printer" uses computer controlled bits that carve out the filing from a block of ceramic. Water is sprayed over the block constantly (at a guess, to stop it getting really really hot and shattering). After its done, Richard 'glued' it in place and it was done.

My jaw is still hurting a bit (from having to keep it open wide for nearly two hours) but other than that I don't have gaping holes where I should have teeth now.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I'm a bright, in that I have a naturalistic view of the world and don't consider any supernatural explanation for any of it. This doesn't mean that I wouldn't, under stress, wish for something or "pray" for an outcome. This is apparently human nature. Oops.. wrong link. This is better...

The use of "bright" is not meant to have a meaning of "you aren't a naturalistic atheist, therefore you are NOT bright", but rather just be a noun... this hasn't stopped theists from accusing brights of being elitist -- the correlation between intelligence and atheism isn't proven as far as I know...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Intel Viral Marketer fails own advice

On the Chronicles of George board, we had a new user (owenpdx) whose one and only posting seemed ... spammish.

When I get tired of dealing with the constant stream of stupid computer questions (which is almost daily) I do two things: drown my sorrows in the chronicles of George, and visit this site:

Enjoy, my comrades of the help desk!

After a number of welcome posts, board regular Marlo Vino noted that there was a similar post here. Uh-oh... spammer??

Not so, because owenpdx then posted:

I'm a legit new real member... as I live and breathe. I'm new to these types of
forums, but I'm for real. Thanks for the welcome!
A round of apologies begins... before I put on my Sam Spade hat... and go to.. err..

A whois shows the pebkactranslator site was put up by an 'Owen Jones and Partners' company. Hmm... maybe the site is advertising based, or popups... so I go there.

The site is okay, if you like overly garish flash animations. There is a rather prominent intel logo on the site, and either a while after clicking it (or it was a set refresh timer?) and the site refreshes over to:

What a surprise! It really IS spam!

So... I go digging, and find a few other posts by owenpdx

A search for Owen Jones and Partners just finds the (actually well done) front page of the company with little else on it.

A search for Owen Jones Intel finds this as the first hit

And while the Multiply campaign is the main thrust of advertising to this particular target segment, Intel has quietly launched its own version of an in-joke for IT managers in hopes it will go viral. With the help of
communications agency Owen Jones and Partners, Intel has developed a Web-based widget available at
The phrase PEBKAC stands for "Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair," and is slang for IT managers being asked less than intelligent computer questions by their clients. The Pebkactranslator is a Flash animation that will "translate" an IT manager's predictable answer to such questions into a more acceptable format, said Bhagat.
"You input your own version of 'go take a leap' and it spits out a politically correct version of that," she said. "It's developing an emotional connection in understanding the frustration that IT is going through, which helps our relationship with building a brand with the IT community."
The Translator itself features a "machine" with alternating devil horns or angel halo that spits out questions like "I haven't been feeling well today. I think my computer gave me a virus. Is that possible?"
Although the Translator features branding for Intel's vPro chips, the company is not actively spreading the word about the site. Instead, they first reached out to the Flash developer community to discuss the combination of the Flash front-end tied to a query database of answers, according to Rusty Grim, creative director and partner at Owen Jones and Partners, and then just let things spread by word of mouth.
When you do something viral you have to respect what that means. You have to release something in a way that is not overly heavy handed. People can smell a fake when you try a viral attempt," said Jones.

Unintended irony in bold.