this is too true for a monday morning

Politics-Oriented Software Development || The person who identifies a problem is usually blamed for that problem ... someone who points out a problem early is a troublemaker; someone who fixes a problem at the last minute is a hero.

fuck it all, that quote summarises my work life as it stands right now. periodically i forget that being right doesn't matter a damn. it doesn't matter that i know exactly when something went pear shaped and tried to stop it happening, i'm the bad guy for not smiling and saying how wonderful it all is. apparently it's laudable to cheerfully let the same fuckups happen over and over again.

*sigh* here's me signing up to "Learn To Keep Your Fucking Mouth Shut 101". apparently i think too much and i definitely say too much. i need to mask what i think and say as little as possible. the stress might kill me, but at least i'll keep my job.

plug time

i'm more than willing to complain when a company pissed me off. so it's only fair that i plug the hell out of companies which are great! :)

to anyone who wears glasses or contacts: get yourself to Iris Optometrists, Shop 12, 9 Sherwood Road, Toowong 4066. ph (07) 3870 0606. That's inside Toowong Tower - up the escalator from near the flower stand and in past the jeweller. their range, service and prices are fantastic.

last time i bought glasses i went to every shop in the city and felt like i was looking at the same shit over and over again; not to mention getting shitty attitude from most of the shop staff. i hated every minute.

this time i spent about 20 mins total and feel like i got glasses which suit me perfectly. Iris has lots of groovy frames, even their budget range is excellent. i got an extra pair made up from the cheapest range in the shop and they look great. i'll be wearing them as a 'second pair' and not hiding them as 'spares' (not bad for about $150 for complete specs).

basically their deal is stocking interesting stuff the big chain stores don't have; but their prices are as good or better. plus, they bulk-bill for eye tests. i don't even know any *doctors* who bulk bill any more.

to cap it off, they gave me a good specs case, cleaning cloth and lense cleaner; all of which cost me extra at the chain stores.

i can't recommend these people highly enough. go there!

news bits

  • The Australian: Battle over, Beazley will push reform [January 27, 2005]. Actually if you read the article there's nothing to say what Beazley himself plans to do. Gillard has made some strong statements about what he should do; Beazley himself has done nothing but apply a thin civil veneer to brushing her off. Poor journalism, or has Beazley said nothing for himself so far? Who would know.
  • The Australian: MPs' new push to ditch Queen [January 27, 2005]. I doubt they'll get far. The royal family now has a young, handsome future king and they keep sending their kids over here to ride horses and get stoned. Oddly enough that's probably enough to keep the average Aussie keen on the monarchy. Besides that, they'd have to actually show some evidence that becoming a republic would have any real benefits in peoples' daily lives. The pure concept may appeal to the intelligentsia, but you'd have to work a bit harder to convince anyone else.
  • | Media | VW to sue Polo bomb ad duo. Apparently VW thinks it's getting a raw deal from thousands of people watching an ad for the VW Polo. It was definitely shot with professional gear/methods, but I have no idea what it would actually cost. If the 40k figure is true, I'd be surprised if the makers truly did it just for a showreel. Unless of course they felt it would bring in enough money to cover the outlay. Again, I don't know - the massive turnover involved in advertising could actually make 40k a reasonable 'on spec' outlay. But equally it wouldn't surprise me if VW had actually funded it then decided not to run it.
  • - Family - Children Charged With Felonies Over Violent Drawings: Two boys, ages 9 and 10, were charged with felonies and taken away from school in handcuffs, accused of making violent drawings of stick figures.

how to celebrate

hope everyone's having a good australia day. we had a very non-aussie breakfast of pancakes, but since we commented on how it wasn't aussie i think we'll let that slide ;)

so anyway, go eat lamb, beef or tofu. whatever :)

news bits

  • The Australian: Woman on the verge [January 25, 2005]: Gillard has largely maintained her composure in recent days, ignoring the implicit sexism and double-standards inherent in some of the questions being thrown at her. Sadly it's clear the Labor party is scared of a female boss; and they think the general public are too. Are Australian voters really so lame? Well, maybe. OK, probably. I can't help thinking younger voters want younger candidates and aren't put off by a female, nor are they bothered about whether she has kids or not. Pity the grey vote decides our elections. All that said... Gillard doesn't currently handle the media as well as Rudd. She (or her advisers) will have to get better at it to get past the extra crap that the media clearly intends to throw at her.
  • The Australian: A reality check for aspirant's dream to be PM [January 25, 2005]: Rudd's backers have stressed to him that the past week has ... placed him head and shoulders above any other candidate as the natural leadership successor once Beazley finally departs the scene. Nobody is talking like Beazley will become PM.
  • Costello says inflation within target range. 25/01/2005. ABC News Online: [T]he Consumer Price Index (CPI) had risen 0.8 per cent in the December quarter. But apparently it's not a problem.
  • Abbott denies consumers will pay for PBS cut. 25/01/2005. ABC News Online. Bullshit. The companies will immediately hike prices and blame the cut. We'll be lucky if they only hike prices by 12.5%.
  • Going Dutch - what it really means - Fashion - Those who sport Von Dutch apparel today - predominantly teenage girls - know nothing of the designer's history. Something in the hive mind perhaps? decker was ranting about this the other day. It's hardly surprising that fasion victims know nothing about what they wear. I've often wanted to clobber idiot 14yo girls wearing 'PUNK!'-slogan shirts they bought in order to follow fasion. They're so pretty....vacant.

around the traps

photo time

Coffee on the stairs, Latrobe

thousands of kilometres from home, a one hour timezone difference making things feel weird, thank fuck i could get hold of a coffee despite the end of semester shutdown.

taken at la trobe university, bundoora campus (melbourne).

Update: also posted in lj:aussie_photos.


obligatory cat photo

there's a huge number of cat photos coming through photo journals at the moment. seems to be flavour of the month. so, what the hell, here's mine.

kippin cat

this shot was taken on 35mm in 1998 and submitted as part of my final photojournalism portfolio... basically because my tutor had said at the start of the year that he didn't want 'photos of your bloody cat'. i have a huge amount of respect for him, but i couldn't resist putting a cat photo in... especially for him. besides, it wasn't my cat ;) i never did get a photo of him, though (well, not that survived the darkroom - he tore up the negs of the shots of him).

grumpy bugger taught us brilliantly and if our work was shit, he told us. i'll never forget the day he said one of my shots was 'quite good'. i was so stunned - i still can't recall which shot it was. but i wanted to throw a party :)

Update: also posted at lj:photographers and lj:aussie_photos.


around the traps


comin' to ya live and loud.... hah. no. but i am at least coming to you quite fast at my end. certainly faster than my 56k modem.

hooray for dsl.

update: odd, but it seems like my isp's web sites are all down right now. that, or i can't see them. if this page is all, like, plain'n'stuff (for you)... then they are down. including this blog's css and image files.

so much for the fourth estate | Ill health ends Latham's career (January 19, 2005) ...fucking awful bit of writing, even for The Daily Telegraph (via The lead par shows tremendous bias and value judgements yet poses as an article instead of the opinion piece it so clearly is. The chosen photo implies that the cameraman didn't simply fall over and the caption is too vague to clarify it. Keep in mind that news is supposed to be reported in a fair and unbiased manner. The reader should be presented with bland facts and allowed to form their own opinion. Farr clearly can't separate personal opinion from professional output, nor can his editor.

Meanwhile the actual comment piece | Experiment proved a disaster (January 19, 2005) is a perfect example of why many opinion pieces shouldn't be printed - it's nothing but a combination ego-stroke and vicious personal attack on Latham. Akerman revels in the fact that he beat up the bullshit about Latham needing to 'respond' the tsunami - a manufactured 'failing' which nobody would ever have even noticed had people like Akerman reported news instead of politicising tragedy. Akerman should never have been allowed to use a media outlet to air his personal anger at Latham. So fucking what if Latham sought a new outlet for his column? Perhaps he simply realised The Daily Telegraph lacked the integrity to say no to people like Akerman - that it would dignify the airing of a grudge.

This is all typical of the vile behaviour of the Australian media with regards to Latham. The press hated him and so they've hounded him out of office. Then they've immediately turned around and vilified him for resigning. Then they've blamed someone else - | Premiers stuck the knife in deep (January 19, 2005). The only concession to the media's role that I've seen so far is | Headlines 'finished off' Latham (January 19, 2005), which quotes a sympathetic view of the situation.

So what can we conclude? Well for one thing The Daily Telegraph isn't fit to line the proverbial budgie's cage, but that's hardly a new observation. The Australian media are tremendously biased and getting more open about it every day. We cannot trust the media and we should not put up with them setting the nation's agenda to best suit their publishing schedule. Our politicians have failed to work in the nation's best interests, our media have failed to call them out to face scrutiny.

What can we do? Well, don't go to just one media outlet. Look up Australian media ownership and pick sources from different owners (yeah, both of 'em). Get your main news from the ABC, they may not be perfect but they're pretty damn good. Try not to get distracted by all the crap about celebrities that gets run as lead stories - remember, in hardcopy the social and entertainment pages are NOT on the front page (as much).

Above all, don't believe everything you read.

joy of opera 8

Ahh, the joy of beta software! Opera 8 beta is available and installed on my machine. True to form the works of Google react: Gmail now works, but Blogger kinda breaks. Gmail is brillian in Opera, much faster than Netscape 7 (which is what I've been using to get by).

Overall verdict: some bugs, but worth it.

news bits

  • Out with the new, in with the old - National - Kim Beazley has emerged as the odds-on favourite to become the next leader of the Labor Party, following the resignation, due to ill health, of Mark Latham. Beazley's health is suspect, but that doesn't bother the labor party or the press. Beazley has lost twice as many elections as Latham, that doesn't seem to bother the Labor party or the press. Frankly, it's a pity Latham's retirement statement wasn't "Fuck you all, I'm not putting up with your shit any longer."
  • Labor split over new leader. 19/01/2005. ABC News Online: While former Labor leader Kim Beazley is the only candidate so far to announce a tilt at the post of Opposition Leader since the resignation of Mark Latham, the party appears split over who would best lead it. Labor continues to show its complete lack of introspection - they pushed Latham out on the grounds of needing stability, but had no real idea who they would replace him with. Talk about Amateur Hour - there are student unions with more solidarity. If Labor really wants to revitalise its image they should go with a young, female leader - hey, it nearly worked for the Democrats.
  • | Firefox gains ground (January 19, 2005): Research group webSideStory said usage of Firefox, created by the non-profit Mozilla Foundation, has almost doubled in the past three months to 4.95 per cent of all internet users.
  • | Google releases photo software (January 19, 2005). Hmm. Sounds a lot like Gmail dressed as a photo repository.
  • Spotlight on ... bloggers - Technology - Web logs, or blogs, are being described as one of the biggest threats facing mainstream news organisations. If you read critically you'll notice the article goes on to discredit and trivialise blogs.
  • All beefs aside, meat rant spared the chop - National - A red-meat rant that calls vegetarians soap-avoiding, pot-smoking hippies, and suggests eating anything other than lamb on Australia Day deserves capital punishment, will be allowed to stay on television. Vegetarians: please understand, this is satire; and it's intended to sell meat to people who eat it. We meat eaters love you really (even if we don't love tofu). Save your wrath for restaurants with no vege options. Appreciate the fact that meat eaters don't attack vege restaurants for their lack of a 'meat option', the hypocritical sods.

around the traps

news bits

JAWS free from IE?

The Firefox browser and JAWS - at last! :: JAWS is arguably the most popular (or at least most commonly known) screen reader. Currently it only supports Internet Explorer, meaning that a segment of the community is tied to the worst browser on the market. Now extensions for Firefox have been released, giving these users a choice. It's worth noting that other software is out there which vocalise web content and some browsers are now incorporating speech functionality (refer: Opera 8 beta).

It's all good.

around the traps

news bits

  • Returned camera shows startling images of tsunami - Asia Tsunami - Photographer Bedu Saini took several photos of the tsunami before realising the enormity of the situation; when he stashed the camera and went to his family. Now the shots have been released.
  • | Local PeopleSoft chiefs depart (January 17, 2005): ORACLE'S takeover of PeopleSoft has had rapid consequence for the acquired company's local management team, with the majority of senior Australian executives given their marching orders.
  • Rich offenders laugh at fines - National - Rich people should pay bigger fines for speeding or parking illegally, a think tank has proposed. Basically an idea to prevent rich people shrugging off fines they can pay without noticing - the cost is no deterrent to them. Doubt it will get through though - if nothing else, the people who decide would all be on high incomes.
  • IOL: Front Page: Taipei - A shy Taiwanese woman saw her D-cup bust shrink back to an A-cup after receiving an acupuncture treatment for pimples on her face, a doctor said on Tuesday.

clark calls out six apart

Le blog personnel de Joe Clark | Time to call bullshit on Six Apart: Movable Type and TypePad, like all blogging software, fail to meet the Authoring Tools Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG). The difference here is that Six Apart has known about it for years and claims to care, yet has done nothing.

The short summary: it's not just a tool's output which has to be accessible, the tool itself needs to be accessible (most blogging tools use a web interface). Clark's particular beef is that Six Apart claim their tool is accessible, when it doesn't meet the relevant guidelines.

Clark observes that nobody, in fact, complies with ATAG and plenty of companies don't even comply with WCAG... for example, Google gets no quarter for their failure to Do Good: Google doesn't give a shit about accessibility or Web standards. Gmail is still inaccessible (see later complaint), despite one developer's promise to fix it. I challenge you to find valid code on anything Google produces. Anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time will recall my occasional rant on that topic, particularly given Google's mission statement including efforts to 'make the world better'.

news bits

  • | Labor MPs discuss Latham spill (January 14, 2005): LABOR MPs have begun meeting to discuss a possible replacement for Opposition Leader Mark Latham amid mounting speculation about his health and future. ... But Mr Fitzgibbon said Labor MPs would not turf Mr Latham out of his job just because he had suffered a second bout of pancreatitis. It's ridiculous that Latham is being hounded out of politics like this - I think they're just bad losers, they need to blame somebody more than they need to get on with their job as Opposition.
  • | Charles orders sons to Auschwitz (January 14, 2005): BRITAIN'S Prince Charles has reportedly ordered his sons to visit Auschwitz after Prince Harry caused outrage around the world by wearing a Nazi uniform to a party. Seems appropriate.
  • The Australian: Thaw sees grass take hold in Antarctica [December 27, 2004]: GRASS has become established in Antarctica, showing the continent is warming to temperatures unseen for 10,000 years. Scientists have reported that broad areas of grass are now forming turf where there were once ice-sheets and glaciers. (older news post, via linkfrenzy). I'm no expert, but that sounds like a Bad Thing.
  • How not to get people into jobs - Opinion - The Government has an interesting response when it is pointed out how unsuccessful work for the dole is in getting the unemployed into work. It blithely states that work for the dole was never meant to help people into employment. My theory: work for the dole, just like centrelink, is designed to make unemployed life so desperately miserable that people will do anything at all to get out of the system (and hence no longer claiming welfare money). Some ideas might have been an attempt to catch those few people who really do bludge off, but those people invariably figure out how to work the system anyway. The rest try to do the right thing, only to discover they are treated like they're trying to rort the system.
  • | US military wanted 'sex bomb' (January 14, 2005): Declassified documents reveal the Pentagon toyed with the idea of an aphrodisiac chemical weapon in 1994. ... The weapon's developers said homosexual behaviour among troops would deal a 'distasteful but completely non-lethal' blow to morale. Perhaps they should have chosen their words more carefully.

around the traps

  • GameDevBlog: Notes on X-Com: Well, it has probably been some of the best gaming pleasure I've had all year. And I mean 2004. That's right, the best game for me in 2004 was originally published in 1993. The curmudgeons are right, games aren't actually getting any better. Another aspect of the same thought: a really good game will remain entertaining and engaging long after it's an "old game".
  • Getting the Girl from 1UP.COM, discussing the role of female characters in gaming - and not just the usual rant: So with men designing approachable leading ladies of realistic proportions and women enthusing over the feminine aspects of Playboy and goth queens, I realized that the issue might have less to do with gender and more to do with how sexuality is perceived in today's games. 'It's wrong to single out female characters when their male counterparts are usually just as superficial,' argues Amy Hennig, game director for Naughty Dog.
  • Turn any iPod into an iPod Shuffle in 3 easy steps! on Flickr - Photo Sharing! (via nick via kottke)
  • Clean your screen for free! (needs sound for full effect)
  • Ananova - Dr Who cut short : Filming of the new series of Doctor Who has been hit by a shortage of dwarf actors. ... Executive producer Russell T Davies said: 'It's very difficult to employ persons of restricted growth when, as our producer Phil Collinson says, `Bloody Gringotts and the Chocolate Factory are filming at the same time'.' Quote of the day :)
  • The Redhead Cluster Phenomenon (Joe Clark:; 2002.07.29): You happen upon redheads in close sequence, followed by long periods of seeing none whatsoever. You?ll see five in an afternoon and then none for two weeks. This, dear friends, is the Redhead Cluster Phenomenon. Old article I hadn't seen before. I wonder if Joe has explored the potential that redheads control the movement of public buses. *thinks* You know, that might be a question for a certain professor I know.
  • Comic Book Bondage Cover of the Day, devoted to scans of vintage comic book covers which feature tied-up damsels in distress. The author doesn't really say why, but then most of the stuff on the net doesn't need a reason (or have a reason you want to know about).
  • - Obi Won Buys a Car (quicktime). HILARIOUS.

opera now free for universities

Students surf safely with Opera: Opera site license free for educational institutions (2005.01.12): Opera Software today announced that it will offer free site licenses to higher education institutions. For less press-releasey information just see Opera Higher Education Program.

Hurrah! It was already very cheap for a site license, but free is better. Reactions: Slashdot | Opera Offers Free Licenses For Educational Use, Opera dangles free browser in front of universities | The Register . So far I haven't seen anything pop up in the mainstream news outlets, it'll probably come through in a couple of days (if at all).

web stuff

  • Web content management 2005 predications | January 10, 2005; by Gerry McGovern . Realistically I would see these predictions as 3-5 year forecasts, not realistic expectations for 2005. The vast majority of the web is still run by people who have no real idea what they are doing with their sites.
  • A lot is being said about going standards-compliant. I'd probably be more excited if I'd heard of them before :) Still, it adds the list of (apparently) high profile sites seeing the light. Probably the most interesting aspect is this: What?s interesting about this re-design ... is how they came to appreciate the methodology. ... [Turner] were actively looking for contractors with experience developing web standards based websites. Now that is unusual.
  • Digital Web Magazine - The Behavior Layer: Now that Web developers have a solid grip on the XHTML structural and CSS presentation layers, it?s time to consider the JavaScript behavior layer and especially its accessibility. Discusses Javascript as another layer to be abstracted/separated from the content layer, also emphasising the idea that script should be used to increase a page's usability (as opposed to adding useless crap). Further articles: Separating Behavior and Presentation & Separating behavior and structure

news bits

news bits

street art

a cluster of stick-on street arts

sticker street arts, adelaide street, brisbane. i am a big fan of these, for a lot of reasons. they are transient in nature so you always find new ones; each instance of a repeated design will be slightly different; they don't actually damage things so they seem to get left alone; and of course they can have real artistic merit. thankfully my gf is tolerant of me suddenly exclaiming "ooh! ooh! new one! hang on a sec... *click click*" :)

make good

photo of a plan detail including the instruction to Make Good opposed to all those plans which say "make crap"?

the other thing i can't help commenting on... the site in question is the Reading Pits at Griffith's Nathan Campus. they've filled in the pits to make a flat/level room, which begs the question - will they rename it? it won't be pits anymore :) which is kind of a pity. the reading pits were a quirky bit of campus fitout. seems they have something interesting planned, though... so i guess we'll wait and see. i'm sure the students won't care so long as there's still a comfortable place to fall asleep during the exam period :)

around the traps

musings on the web

Metacrap: Putting the torch to seven straw-men of the meta-utopia (by Cory Doctorow). The seven reasons why meta-data is doomed.

Here in the Info-Ivory-Tower, we understand the importance of creating and maintaining excellent metadata for our information.

But info-civilians are remarkably cavalier about their information. ... This laziness is bottomless. No amount of ease-of-use will end it. ...

Short of breaking fingers or sending out squads of vengeful info-ninjas to add metadata to the average user's files, we're never gonna get there.

Heheheheh.... info-ninja.

Accessibility evaluation practices - survey results (Dey Alexander). My gut feeling is that until we have serious AI, only a human will be able to adequately evaluate a page's accessibility. This survey provides data showing that's how most people evaluate pages, so I guess most people agree.

While you're there, you may be interested in the Web accessibility podGuide (an alternative to the Westciv one which did the rounds). I'd love to be using this, of course; anyone got an iPod they'd like to donate? ;)

news bits

  • Shareholders' group opposes tsunami donations. 07/01/2005. ABC News Online: Australian Shareholders Association ... spokesman Stephen Matthews says firms should not generally give without expecting something in return. ... He says corporate donations of any kind should not be made without the prior approval of shareholders. If he'd just stuck with the not-without-shareholder-approval line (which is actually a reasonable observation), he might not have come off sounding like a callous arsehole. While it's obvious that companies want good press from donations, it shouldn't be the only factor considered.
  • Rudd defends Latham's silence on tsunami. 07/01/2005. ABC News Online: Labor's foreign affairs spokesman, Kevin Rudd, has again defended party leader Mark Latham over his failure to make a public statement about the tsunami disaster in Asia. Mr Latham is again suffering from acute pancreatitis and has been ordered by doctors to remain in bed. This is such a fucking beat-up. At the end of the day, the Opposition should be most vocal when the Government is being lax. Unusually, Johnny is doing good things, so if Latham had been out talking about the issue he would have been criticised for trying to politicise the issue. Besides that, would it make an actual difference to have Latham agreeing (on camera) that the tsunami was a Bad Thing? The media have clearly decided to run the poor sod into oblivion, not making any concessions for the fact the guy is bloody sick.
  • | Microsoft offers free virus remover (January 7, 2005): Microsoft said the virus-removal program would not prevent computer infections and was never intended to replace the need for traditional antivirus software, such as flagship products from McAfee or Symantec. Errr.... read that back carefully. Perhaps it will make sense when you read on to... But a senior Microsoft executive confirmed the company's expected to start selling its own antivirus software, which would compete against programs from McAfee, Symantec and others. So... they'll give away a shit one which will not work and leave your computer riddled with viruses. Then they'll sell you the one which they claim will work. Should you trust this company?
  • Richard Gere's election appeal perplexes Palestinians. 06/01/2005. ABC News Online: 'I don't even know who the candidates are other than Mahmoud Abbas, let alone this Gere,' Gaza soap factory worker Manar An Najar told Reuters. 'We don't need the Americans' intervention. We know who to elect. Not like them - they elected a moron.' That's a real quote. It's brilliant.
  • Greater Union food ban is incredible, say moviegoers - National - Greater Union has defended its ban on people bringing their own food and drink into its cinemas, but moviegoers yesterday said it was unfair. There's only one solution: vote with your feet.
  • Sony outgadgets Apple - Technology - Electronics giant Sony unveiled its powerhouse entry into the hand-held gaming market, the long-awaited PlayStation Portable, [and it] is already fetching upwards of twice its retail price of $US190 ($A248) on eBay.

just boing it

news bits

news bits

news bits

around the traps

don't let the door hit you on the arse, 2004

Happy New Year, everyone. Hope you had fun seeing it in.

I have to say we had fun... some good points from the night:

  • Trading text messages with friends in England - international texting rocks. Geek though I may be, I'm still impressed with that bit of technology. Somehow I didn't really expect text messages to work between nations :)
  • Catching train to party, hence able to drink!
  • Party interrupted with host proposing to his girlfriend (she said yes).
  • Drunk people doing the countdown, tragic but amusing.
  • Not overdoing the booze on my usually-driving tolerance level.
  • Hatching Of Plans™. More details as they arise.
  • Lift home! Yay!

Many many people agreed that they weren't so much welcoming 2005 as celebrating 'get fucked 2004'. I know my life packed in a whole bad year in the last three months. That said, I'm trying to stick with the idea That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. I've emerged on the other side having learned a lot about myself; not to mention a shmick haircut after nine years with a ponytail.

I didn't make resolutions for new year's... I made resolutions a while ago and basically I'm just sticking with them. In short, various Stuff has to Change. Making that happen is the hard bit, but hey - one step at a time :)