harsh but funny

a softer world | July 9th 2004: We bet him five dollars that he would drown... (harsh but funny) / a softer world | March 28th 2003: Tehre are people who believe a photo captures your soul... (interesting take on a well-worn concept) / a softer world | June 4th 2004: It wasn't radioactive... (funny)

Odd sort of photo comics. Read a few to get an idea of the style - some are harsh, some oddly moving, some disturbing and some just odd. But it's unusual and interesting, which is far more than I can say about most of the shit on the net these days (pfft, this blog for instance :P).

news bits

Raging Bull announces retirement

Hardly surprising after he re-injured his neck in that tackle earlier in the season. Without that I imagine he'd have played on for a few years yet, but at the same time it's not like Tallis has anything to prove.

Sad to see him go... question for the Broncos is who will step up as Captain?

killer attack squirrel vs. biker

Neighborhood Hazard (or: Why the Cops Won?t Patrol Brice Street: Inches before impact, the squirrel flipped to his feet. He was standing on his hind legs and facing the oncoming Valkyrie with steadfast resolve in his little beady eyes. His mouth opened, and at the last possible second, he screamed and leapt! I am pretty sure the scream was squirrel for, 'Banzai!'

This is one of the funniest things I've ever seen on the net. Go. Read. Now. Unless you are in an extremely quiet, conservative workplace... in which case, print it out and go find somewhere you can safely scream with laughter.

T2, T3, G1 lane? Detroit Fights California Bid to Open Car Pool Lanes to Fuel-Conscious Import: basically the idea is to open California's "car pool lanes" to fuel-efficient and alternative fuel vehicles - even if there is only one occupant. It's a fantastic idea, but in true American style the US manufacturers are fighting it. Why? Because the current hybrids are all created by Japanese manufacturers. Rather than get their shit together, the US manufacturers are trying to block the idea.

The American Way™: don't improve yourself, just sue the other guy so nobody can improve.

news bits

bits and pieces

news bits

i've accidentally blatted two different news posts in the last couple of days. so, um, i guess that's an indication that i've been a) busy and b) tired. so here's one of them salvaged back in raw links:

boing boing

news bits

  • Telstra chafes at discounts for poor - National - Telstra says it may be forced to scrap $160 million in support for poor customers if retail price caps on services such as local calls and line rentals are not abolished. Or to put it another way: they want to charge whatever they want and they're going to screw poor people to do it. Telstra, listen up - WE NOTICED YOUR RECORD PROFIT. We know Telstra can afford $160m, this is just their usual bullshit.
  • Tactics to blame for 'no row' debacle: official - Rowing - : A Rowing Australia board member has hosed down suggestions the Australia's women's rowing eight expected team-mate Sally Robbins to run out of steam, saying the crew paid the price for its race tactics. If they had doubts they shouldn't have put her in the team. I have to think that Robbins' only future in rowing would be as an individual rower, though. No team is going to have her after this. I certainly think the other team members acted like complete shits over it.
  • Broncos have Thorn in their side again - League - Thorn ... signed for the next three seasons as a ready-made replacement when Tallis decides to hang up his boots - possibly at the end of this season. I'd be surprised if Tallis didn't retire at the end of this year; the risks of permanently hurting his neck are too high and he doesn't have to prove anything to anyone. Suggesting that Thorn could step back into the team and be captain, however... I don't know about that. I don't think you can walk straight into a team and become captain, it's been four years and it's a different Broncos.
  • Ten things I hate about tech - Icon - . Yep.

get yer finger off that shift key

Wired News: It's Just the 'internet' Now: Effective with this sentence, Wired News will no longer capitalize the 'I' in internet. At the same time, Web becomes web and Net becomes net. Why? The simple answer is because there is no earthly reason to capitalize any of these words. Actually, there never was.

Next, let's get rid of "e-" as a prefix.

On an unrelated, navel-inspecting note; you won't see me capitalising the 'h' in 'heretic'. I stopped capitalising it sometime in 1995 or 1996, in a pendulum swing away from the stupidly complex high ascii signoff I used to use on BBSs (hmm, don't know how to reproduce it in HTML). While it did look nifty, every BBSer and their dog was going over the top with the high ascii. Along with many others, I got tired of it.

Navel fully inspected. Moving along. For the record, if you found the second part of this post remotely interesting, my condolences on your present level of boredom.

boing boing

news bits

  • One in five children stalked on net - National - Nearly one child in every five using the internet has been approached online by a stranger ... Other internet worries identified in the survey include computer viruses, credit card fraud and intrusions into personal privacy, but none came close to the child safety concerns. 'Approached' and 'stalked' are two different things - 'approached by a stranger' could mean 'had someone they don't know reply to a post on a forum'. Perhaps the full survey has a better definition, but this article doesn't actually elaborate. Maybe the facts would detract from that sensational headline.
  • Automated phone services press the wrong buttons - National - An annual survey ... found widespread unhappiness with directory information services. Almost a third of callers (27 per cent) were dissatisfied - and the biggest reason was interactive voice response systems that did not work. Well, duh. This has been known for a while. But the kicker comes later: A Telstra spokesman said the telco's voice-recognition directory assistance system only recognised 2500 names. 'Some people interpret it not recognising names as not working,' he said. If it doesn't recognise the name, it didn't bloody work. Few things are as fucking annoying as being charged to hear 'the number for (totally unrelated thing) is (number)*click*'. So you've been charged and hung up on; but you don't have the info you need. How the fuck is that different to 'doesn't work'?
  • Bear hits the beer and conks out - Unusual Tales - Workers at a US resort were stunned to find a black bear passed out drunk on their lawn after he guzzled 36 beers in a night of drunken revelry, they said today. Bundy bear's cousin, maybe? :)
  • Relocation sells - but who's buying? - League - Sydney's NRL clubs ran for cover last night following NRL chief executive David Gallop's revelation that several had expressed interest in relocating. Interesting that Adelaide has been mentioned as well as the Gold Coast. I can't help thinking it would benefit the league to include Adelaide and possibly Perth (even with the long travel times... the AFL manages it).

news bits

  • | Unwired aims for 100,000 in a year (August 19, 2004): HIGH speed wireless internet start-up Unwired wants more than 100,000 customers in Sydney in the next 12 months and may begin network deployments in the Gold Coast and Melbourne before the end of the year. Gold Coast... bastiches... Given all the problems with cable/dsl, it's interesting to see wireless solutions turning up. It makes a lot of sense to use wireless setups - customers just need the wireless card. Flip side is the security issues are that much harder for the average user to keep up with - wireless security is relatively new and it's only a couple of months since massive vulnerabilities were identified in the most common protocols. In any case, it will be interesting to see how this sort of company fares in Australia.
  • | Butler comes with $100k price tag (August 19, 2004): Former Tasmanian governor Richard Butler is asking $100,000 to tell his story, on top of the $650,000 payment for resigning from his post.

we're all web hussies

When Search Engines Become Answer Engines [Alertbox]: This changing behavior is explained by information foraging theory: the easier it is to track down new resources, the less time users will spend at each resource. Thus, the increasing improvement in search quality over time is driving the trend toward answer engines. ... Finally, Web browsers' despicably weak support for bookmarks/favorites has contributed to the decline in users' interest in building a list of favorite sites.

In short, users aren't particularly loyal to sites anymore; and they don't bother maintaining large bookmark lists anymore. Instead they rely on search engines to find the answer to the exact question on their mind at the time. Our attention spans grow ever shorter. We've become information sluts - we don't care where we get the info, or how. We just want it right now, from whoever is willing to give it up.

A creeper issue is that the faster you hit a site and grab information, the less evaluation of that source you can do. So you're not reading over the site to get a good feel for that site - do they know what the hell they're talking about? We don't really check.

news bits

  • | Inquest clears police over teen's death: Police were following Aboriginal teenager TJ Hickey moments before he was fatally impaled on a fence but they had not contributed to his death, the NSW coroner found yesterday. / | TJ's mother distraught as coroner finds no chase. In short, no surprises: Coroner finds that it was a freak accident, TJ's family don't accept the finding. Redfern's actual problems are not changed.
  • | Latham moved to St Vincent's emergency unit: Mr Latham had requested public hospital care because 'he wanted to ensure that he was treated just the same as any other Australian'. Can't imagine Howard doing that.
  • | Sexy beach antics anger athletes: Two Australian beach volleyball players, Nicole Sanderson and Natalie Cook, have spent much of their first week at this Olympics complaining bitterly that the way the Greeks are presenting the competition demeans their sport. I saw some of the coverage the other night, no cheerleaders for that match but even just the stings of boppy music were annoying as hell. No idea how you're meant to concentrate with crap music blaring between serves. It must be hard to get a sport treated seriously when it's played by women in bikinis in the first place.
  • ABC News | ATO targets businesses, property investors. Basically the tax office is going for relatively soft targets, having clearly given up on catching the really big fish.

blogger to users: fuck you and your little styles too

You may notice this blog looks different today. Namely there's a new "feature" at the top and the styles are all fucked up. I've had to remove the style switch option for now, while I figure out how to un-fuck the designs.

This is Blogger's latest bright idea. OK, so it beats the adblock, but they've overridden the BODY style settings. Which means I have to completely rewrite my CSS, without any bloody warning. Blogger's position on this: The Navbar may cause display problems on blogs with customized Templates; unfortunately we do not provide support for these issues.

I wouldn't be particularly upset about this if a) the new bar didn't break my design, and b) the new bar's own design wasn't badly broken as well, and c) I'd had a bit of bloody warning. Hell, I know this is a free service; but they must have realised this would be a Bad Thing for anyone more advanced than users who stick to the default template.

The solution? Well if I switch over to my own server, I can disable the Blogger bar. Since that's not likely to happen this week I've jury-rigged the CSS to avoid having the title bar cut off. I've left the Blogger link, but the rest will require a bit more work.

*sigh* This week is really sucking. Yea verily, in fact is does both suck AND blow.

announcing new service to landlords

Landlords of the world, I offer this service: should you want to sell your property, just let me live in it. This is apparently the magic trick.

Apparently my mere presence will make your property more attractive to buyers. In fact, even if your place is not even on the market you might get an offer (this has actually happened).

I have lived in six places in about five years; and I have just found out that for the THIRD TIME the place is about to get sold out from under me, during the lease period*. I am so over this it's unbelievable.

* yes, during the lease. nobody has rights in the world of rental properties. the lease isn't worth the paper it's written on, as far as the tenant is concerned.

stuff and/or nonsense

  • + order from rocking horse finally turned up. hurrah for Laibach.
  • + order from GUP turned up really fast. hurrah for VNV dvd and magazine goodness.
  • + went to the broncos home game on sunday
  • - broncos got beaten
  • -- by the bulldogs
  • - had a bunch of screeching bulldog-supporter children behind me who didn't shut the fuck up for the entire match. sure, scream and shout, but give it a rest occasionally. and don't try to make up chants on the fly, kids. feh. i hate sitting near kids. the parents were probably worse though. it'd be nice to get a bunch of broncos supporters sitting near me sometime :)
  • + apparently there'll be a broncos home final
  • + actually enjoyed the olympic opening ceremony. made sydney look really dicky (well, as much of sydney's ceremony that i've actually seen - i'm apparently the only person in .au who didn't watch it at the time; as i was driving when it was on). plus it was very cool to have a great dj set behind the athlete parade. although drreagan's observations about the torch/flame amuse me.
  • ++ The Dream. Roy and HG. Need i say more?
  • - can't imagine i'll get to sydney for this. it being in another state, this weekend and all.

now it's monday. meh. meh.. murflemeh.

news bits

  • | PM keeps poll options open (August 11, 2004): PRIME Minister John Howard tonight refused to rule out an election campaign during the Olympic Games ... Opposition Leader Mark Latham said Mr Howard would be considered cynical if he called the election to clash with the Olympics. While we should keep things in perspective - the Olympics are just some sports, ok? - this would still be a shitty thing to do. It'd be pretty obvious - even to the most average voter - that he was trying to draw attention away from real issues; but he's enough of a jerk to do it.
  • Govt backs down on Labor's FTA demands. 12/08/2004. ABC News Online: Greens leader Bob Brown describes the Prime Minister's comments about the United States as extraordinary. ... 'Here we've got the hallmark of this free trade agreement. Phone Washington and see if it's OK. Bob Brown hit the nail on the head there. I'm really thankful that this agreement has not gone straight through - maybe there is hope for the PBS and Australian media content after all. We could delay our total loss of cultural identity for another few months.
  • Telstra posts record $4b profit. 12/08/2004. ABC News Online. I can only imagine the rage with which this news will be received by all those people who are being fucked over by Telstra. Well actually that's all of us. Our phone bills keep going up, service quality keeps going down, yet Telstra can deliver FOUR BILLION DOLLARS PROFIT. That's half the amount of Australia's budget deficit of a few years ago - and that was considered a national budget crisis. Yet a taxpayer-funded coporation can make as much profit as the major banks...!? / 'Fix phone network with $4.1bn profit' - News - Telstra should plough its massive $4.1 billion profit into fixing problems within its telephone networks, Labor said today.
  • Alien spaceship wreck found, say Russian scientists - Unusual Tales - The scientists, who belong to the Tunguska space phenomenon public state fund, said they found the remains of an extra-terrestrial device that allegedly crashed near the Tunguska river in Siberia in 1908. Riiiight.

interesting point, don't agree with the conclusion

Hixie's Natural Log: Why document.write() doesn't work in XML. Essentially the conclusion seems to be that you can't use document.write() at all; whereas I read this as "bad code is still bad in XHTML". In the quoted example, the opening tag is delivered by the script, while the closing tag is embedded in the main document. This is a stupid thing to do since it creates an obvious point of failure. If you write in the opening tag, you should use the same method to write in the accompanying closing tag. That way if the script fails, neither tag is inserted and all should be well in a decently-formed document.

The major point still stands though: most validation does not include the output of scripts, so the output of a document.write() can easily invalidate an otherwise valid document.

The fault, dear reader, remains at the feet of the developer; with some annoyance added by the UA which only reads part of the document.

news bits

has microsoft finally noticed that people are pissed off with IE6?

Slashdot | MSIE 7 May Beat Longhorn Out The Gate: reports that a major upgrade for Microsoft Internet Explorer may be imminent. Apparently in response to the recent mass migration away from MSIE, top Microsoft developers have been soliciting for improvements in the old browser at a web log ... speculates that improvements could possibly include support for tabbed browsing, better security, more PNG and CSS compliance, and RSS integration (which Firefox and Opera Mail already support).

Interesting, although calling it IE7.0 is a bit of a stretch since it could just be IE6.1 or 6.5 if they followed the IE5.0-5.5 version model. In any case Microsoft hasn't promised a damn thing, they're just making all the right noises to try to keep users with IE.

Anyone who really cares should upgrade (and I don't mean switch, i mean upgrade) to something else like Opera or Firefox. Until Microsoft actually delivers a secure, standards-compliant browser; they don't deserve the user base they have. You have to understand that everything discussed in the article is already implemented in competing browsers. Microsoft is playing catch-up, they are not being responsive or innovative.

don't use jargon

Deceivingly Strong Information Scent Costs Sales (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox): If information scent is sufficiently pungent, people are generally convinced that they're looking in the right place. If that place doesn't contain what they want, they're likely to conclude that the site doesn't offer it at all.

Ironically, this article's title doesn't really say what it's about; since it's too technical/buzzwordy. Basically this explains why people leave your site when their categorisation of a topic doesn't match yours. That said; I'm still amazed when people can't find the search page on our site. It's linked from the word "Search" on every single page we have.

news bits

  • | Howard hints at trade compromise (August 6, 2004): A political compromise is expected early next week on Australia's trade pact with the US after the Howard Government offered a strong hint it will do a deal with Labor to guarantee cheaper generic medicines can be brought to market. Here's the key difference, not to mention the reason we need to vote Howard out... Latham is trying to get a good result for Australia, Howard is trying to score political points for himself. Howard no longer even pretends to have Australia's best interests at heart.
  • Home invasion - LiveWire - : Unwanted search engines, incessant pop-up ads, websites that hijack the browser and programs that promise salvation but bring their own parasites instead - it seems the sneaky are getting sneakier. Solution one: don't use Internet Explorer. Try Opera or Firefox instead. Then install and regularly run both Ad-Aware and Spybot Search & Destroy. Then track down the people who write malware and hire some people to beat seven shades of shit out of them. That last one is, sadly, the hardest...
  • The latest 'Bushism' - World - No one in Bush's audience of military brass or Pentagon chiefs reacted. ...that's the worst thing about it. Nobody even reacts to this sort of stuff anymore.
  • Hail to the musical thieves - Opinion -, a faux-funny attempt to mock the illegality of iPods and other MP3 players. I do not share this guy's optimism that nobody will ever be fined or jailed over copyright breaches. Although his observations are on the mark regarding the way record companies should be reacting: don't cry foul when you've made it hard to do anything legal.
  • Govt free to indefinitely detain failed asylum seekers. 06/08/2004. ABC News Online: The Federal Government has won its High Court challenge to keep failed asylum seekers in detention, even when they cannot be deported. Which is basically just a legal detail to an existing policy.

news bits

  • Cartier-Bresson dead at 95 - Entertainment - Veteran French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, who has died at the age of 95, was universally hailed as one of the most influential image-makers of the last century. ... The "Decisive Moment," he said in an oft-quoted line, "is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organisation of forms which give that event its proper expression." The concept of the Decisive Moment is fundamental to photojournalism... it's surprisingly hard to pin down, but you know it when you see it.
  • 18 weeks: Williams down for the count - League - "Danny Williams was banned for 18 matches last night, the biggest suspension in NRL history, after the judiciary rejected evidence from four doctors that the Melbourne forward had been suffering post-traumatic amnesia when he king hit Mark O'Neill. That's an enormous ban, even for a king hit like that... Hopoate only got 12 weeks for his efforts.

a bit of everything