around the trapsboingboing

around the traps

  • Startling Visa bill makes sense, cents for Port St. Lucie: PORT ST. LUCIE - When city officials went shopping for a $15 million turnpike interchange, they had two simple words for the contractor: 'Charge it.' In what is believed to be the first highway interchange ever built with plastic, the city is using a Visa card to buy materials and pay contractors to build a bridge and interchange at Florida's Turnpike and Becker Road, a two-year project that will cost $24 million overall and net the city $125,000 in cash-back awards.
  • Time for car ads to get real: ACCC - The Nation - Breaking News 24/7 - CAR makers and dealers have one week to drop advertisements that deliberately understate the value of cars by hiding stamp duty and dealer delivery charges, or face massive fines from the consumer watchdog.
  • Gothic Charm School | Tourist Season in GothyLand: Many non-gothy types, when they decide to go to the local spooky club, are doing so because they want to feel transgressive or 'naughty'. ... Going to a goth club is a lot like going to an amusement park for them, with zanily-dressed characters and the thrill of flirting with what looks dangerous, but really isn't. I'll always remember a particular night at the (pre-busway) Normanby Hotel; when some drunk normals yelled insults out the window half the night (from the public bar upstairs), then came downstairs after the bar closed and tried to pick up the same girls they'd been insulting. Poor, confused sods.
  • Dilbert 2005.11.22 ... this is the ultimate Dilbert cartoon, really :)
  • Mitsubishi has a winning hand - The Nation - Breaking News 24/7 - The newly released Mitsubishi 380 was judged best in its large car class by the combined motoring clubs of Australia. Good news for Mitsubishi Australia I guess. Sounds like their entire future is riding on sales of this car.
  • BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Door thwarts quick exit for Bush. The look on his face is priceless. You couldn't script this shit.
  • a softer world 2005.11.25

around the traps, with some news

  • Push for 'God' in national anthem - Top stories - Breaking News 24/7 - Because that's really what we need right now, christianity being rammed down peoples' throats.
  • Telstra to slash up to 12,000 jobs - Business - Telstra will slash as many as 12,000 jobs over the next five years as it embarks on a major restructure designed to cut costs and boost its revenue. By their own admission they haven't tapped into new technology at all - a gross failure for a telco. Their solution is to sack people... just like banks. You can't decrease staff AND provide better service. So service gets worse, profits go down...
  • MPAA says: pirated DVDs are the 'new drug on the street' - Engadget - Well that should make pirates easy to catch: just hang around hospitals and grab people getting DVD powder removed from their nasal cavity.
  • Dilbert 2005.11.16. Argh.
  • eMachineShop - Online Machine Shop. This is really quite amazing. You can draw up the specs for any machine part you might need; and they'll make it for you. Update: a reader wrote in to point to a similar site: Big Blue Saw. Cool! :)
  • 'No offence' in skimpy tops - Top stories - Breaking News 24/7 - MICHELLE Leslie's representatives scrambled to defend her today from allegations that she was a 'pseudo-Muslim' after she swapped her Islamic garb for skimpy tops immediately on release from prison. That was a bit unsubtle. I mean, it was fucking obvious that she was trying on whatever she thought would get her off the hook... but surely she could have maintained the sham until she got out of the country. But then, nobody has accused her of being the brightest crayon in the box. Also of note: this article references Wikipedia!
  • Boing Boing: Technorati posts major server upgrade. I can't help mentally adding "...unfortunately moments later they get BoingBoinged to oblivion" ;) Seriously though, Technorati really needed to speed things up; so hopefully this upgrade will give noticeable improvements, particularly in peak times.
  • Boing Boing: Sony insider: DRM is discredited at Sony: Some of the top Sony BMG artists who had XCP placed on their CDs are complaining directly to the label heads, furious that it will hurt their relationship to their fans and their sales as they go into the massively important Christmas season. Add that to rising number of anti-DRM voices within in the company who have been against DRM as only hurting 'the people that are doing the right thing and buying our music.' This all means that some of the label heads are finally starting to believe that DRM is just bad for business. Well, it's nice to believe it for a moment.
  • Boing Boing: MP3 player in an NES controller. Why yes, I apparently will link to any mod involving NES hardware...
  • Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things: Nicholas Negroponte and other MIT luminaries have been working on a project to build a sub-$100, hand-cranked WiFi laptop, with the objective of supplying one apiece to every child in the developing world. ... Now they've actually demoed a working prototype for the Secretary General of the UN. Doug Bowman wowed the WE05 crowd with his speech, during which he said (to paraphrase a little): There are 300 million children with no access to information. What if they had blogs? What if they could connect with the other chidren in the same situation; and with people around the world? What would they say? Now, saying things like that can easily be greeted with cynicism, but if you really think about it... well, I think there's no end to how important this sort of idea really is.

she's thought about it way too much

The Australian: Foot-in-mouth Vanstone 'must resign' [November 21, 2005]: Senator Vanstone said: 'I asked him if I was able to get on a plane with an HB pencil, which you are able to, and I further asked him if I went down and came and grabbed him by the front of the head and stabbed the HB pencil into your eyeball and wiggled it around down to your brain area, do you think you'd be focusing? He's thinking, she's gone mad again.'

I think we've all realised that you can kill someone with a broken glass, bottle or even a pencil... but I don't recall thinking it through to the 'wiggling it about in the brain' level of detail. Plus it's slightly worrying that perhaps she thinks the rest of us don't realise that most of the security measures are there for appearances only, not effectiveness.

why are users so fucking blind?

I send out an email to our user group. They have to start using sFTP instead of FTP. That's the whole thing. For most of them, that means installing a new FTP client - which actually means they just log a job and it's done for them.

My email clearly links to a tutorial covering the specific process (spoonfeeding all the config details etc). Plus it clearly states that if you need further help after the turorial, to log a help request via the usual channels (URL clearly included).

Within a couple of minutes of sending the email, I get a one-liner reply saying "I want some help with this"... too soon for them to have actually read the tutorial.

Email needs a new feature. I want to be able to set an email so that if the user hits 'Reply' within 30 seconds they get a small but uncomfortable shock.

around the traps

my work life

Blogged by Relapse, this was yesterday at work:

<indignant>"Don't steal my snake! I was using it to think, I need something in my hands."


"Stop playing with my snake!</indignant>


"Oh no I've been blogged. Don't blog me or I'll *kicks bin accidentally* ow."

"Ow! Don't hit me with my snake."

"I can't even pick my snake up."

EDIT: One last one (probably on purpose) for "the peanut gallery."

"That's it, I'm taking my snake and going home."

So.... those who know the people I work with... can you pick who was speaking? :)

i hate calculus

I'm studying for an exam on information modelling. This basically means I'm learning relational calculus. So far I've learned that I really hate calculus. Anyone who does this shit for fun is a freakdefinitely wired differently to me: Summation by parts - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. I mean look at that stuff. It's line noise! Maths geeks are crazy! :)

What's interesting is that I can often jump right to actual code, but have a lot of trouble writing out the formal theory or pseudocode. To some extent I seem to sub in brute force logic for elegant mathematical proofs and cross-checks.

I tried to explain this to my mum once. She has a maths degree and was telling me how she found parabolic acceleration mathematics fascinating. I can understand the concept no trouble: a ball rolling down a 45° slope will take longer to reach the end than a ball rolling along a curved path to the same end point, even though the curved path is longer. I'm pretty sure I worked out the theory on my own: the curved path lets the ball accelerate to a higher speed, so it reaches the end faster despite the longer distance.

I get the concept. But make me do the maths, run the actual numbers... it's bad. I have a lot of trouble making the numbers work. I also get very bored. In high school I actually had occasions where I knew the correct answer but couldn't get the equations to work.

But anyway, that won't help on the exam, so back to the books I go...

howard has the media whipped

The single letter that may save thousands of lives - Top stories - Breaking News 24/7 - the article pushes the idea that the changes will save lives, that they are 'not controversial' and really don't matter. The only hint of dissent is then watered down by quoting an Independent Parliament member. It's like the media can't raise the energy to be outraged any more. This is about as close as it gets:

[The changes have] two significant political consequences. One is that news of the suspected and immediate terror threat swamped Labor criticisms of the proposed industrial relations laws.

By declaring there was a potential, imminent strike, it also added pressure on those opposing the broader range of anti-terror laws being reviewed by the states.

But that's well down the page. The article leads with: The fight against terrorism is so finely balanced that the saving of lives can come down to the choice between a definite or an indefinite article., no it fucking doesn't. If the police have found a terrorist cell with intent to carry out an act of terrorism, to be sure of it they must have some form of evidence. Without evidence, you have no case except "they look funny". The laws are being changed so that anyone can be accused of terrorism without any form of proof, with no legal recourse and no access to family, support or even the media (the last line of defence when the law fails).

You do not need a police state to prevent terrorism. You do need a well funded police force with the ability to actually track down terrorist activity in the first place. Stuffing around with "a" and "the" ignores the fact that people planning to bomb a/the target HAVE A FRICKING BOMB which is illegal. They probably have GUNS, which are probably unreigstered and illegal (if they are registered, then registration is too easy and those laws need changing). They are likely to have committed a range of offences before the fact, all of which are sufficient to detain people under current laws.

Howard is just using terror tactics on the population to keep us from complaining. He will never have to produce any kind of proof that a terrorist threat exists right now, meanwhile he can score all the political points he wants.

The media will pass on the party line.

all out endorsement of bill bailey: part troll

I have to mention Bill Bailey "Part Troll" DVD. Quite possibly the funniest and definitely the best-produced comedy show I've ever seen. It has the rhythm and delivery of a rock concert as Bill Bailey makes use of every inch of the stage, every bit of lighting, sound gear, projected video, musical instruments... the lot.

The DVD is making its way around the office at the moment and half the show has joined our in-joke stock.

Billy Connolly has probably made me laugh just a little harder (but then the Big Yin will probably always be my favourite :)), Robin Williams Live On Broadway came close but lost by a shade. This DVD is damn funny.

End of comedy infomercial.

around the traps

beware of "goth black", it makes you kill yourself

Goths not to blame for teen's suicide: friend - National -

A schoolmate of a teenager who died in an apparent ritual double suicide has rejected the allegation that an interest in Goth subculture contributed to the girl's death.

Well, duh.

The 15-year-old had run away from home in September 2004 after clashing with her stepmother and truanting. Within three weeks of meeting her 23-year-old boyfriend, the two of them were found dead.

She ran away from home after family troubles, shacked up with a guy 8 years older than her and in three weeks later is found dead. But it was her clothes that did it.

Their bodies and faces were marked with symbols, and they were dressed in Goth black.

Ahhh, Goth Black, blacker than any other kind of black. It's blacker than normal black and makes you kill yourself.

She said when she and another friend arranged to take a trusted teacher to meet the girl, six days before her death, she looked "absolutely horrible", and appeared stoned.

But the drugs had nothing to do with it of course. It was the clothes! She didn't self-harm because she was depressed, no it was because of the music!


how convenient

'Specific' terror threat against Australia: PM - National - Australian intelligence authorities have received specific information about a terrorist threat in Australia, Prime Minister John Howard says. As a result, an amendment to Australia's anti-terror laws making it easier to prosecute people thought to be planning a terrorist attack has been rushed into parliament today. I think the worst thing is Howard really seems to think nobody sees through this pathetically obvious ploy.

I can see little Johnny now: "Terrorists are throwing children overboard! Quick! Let us shoot people we don't like the look of! Your civil liberties are my toilet paper! You voted my part into both houses, you are now my bitches BWAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!"