Monday, December 31, 2007

Current Year's Resolutions

At the start of 2007, on the recommendation of my best friend, Jeannine, I started reading The Contortionist's Handbook, by Craig Clevenger.

I made it to page 132 in a couple of sittings, before it was displaced by other, technical material.

I've thought about finishing it on a number of occasions during the year, but each time I baulked at the re-reading required to remind my sieve-like memory of "the story so far".

A week or so ago, after discussing my pathetic novel-reading record during a Skype chat with Jeannine, I resolved to finish it before the year was out. However, as of yesterday, I still hadn't re-opened it, so the likelihood was looking pretty dim.

Tonight, after returning from a walk to the post office and discovering that my latest geek book hadn't arrived, I decided it was now or never.

I'm pleased to say, I have finally honoured my one and only resolution for 2007 ... and with more than half an hour to spare!

In fact, I enjoyed the remainder of Mr Clevenger's novel so much that I'm tempted to start 2008 by ordering his second opus, Dermaphoria, which sounds equally weird and wonderful.

Who knows, maybe I'll make it through two novels next year :-) !!

Sunday, December 30, 2007


I rarely use Spotlight, because the UI is so simplistic that almost any search I want to do is easier from the command line.

The crazy thing is that Spotlight's underlying tagging and search system is very sophisticated, it's just the interface that's a bit naff.

Enter FileSpot. While I've only just started playing with it, I think I'll end up buying a copy.


While I understand that what this guy (Arthur Benjamin) does is mainly just a feat of memory, it's still damned impressive.

The most interesting part is the last few minutes, where he squares a five digit number, while thinking out loud, so you can see the algorithm he employs ... basically it's (a+b)^2 = a^2 + b^2 + 2ab, with some word mnemonics (ie, a peg system) to reduce the amount he has to remember.

Even if you're not into such geekery, you may enjoy the entire video, because he's not a bad showman.

Thanks to Spluch for the link.

There Are Some Truly Clever Bastards Out There!

If I was hit by a bus and this ended up being my last ever post, I think I'd be quite happy.

I swear, this is the cutest thing I've seen in the entire time I've been using the web!

Don't worry, unlike the image, it's 100% safe for work ... unless you're a web developer, in which case don't let your boss see it, lest they want you to spend 2008 learning enough Flash to emulate this effect :-).

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Getting "Ripped"

Who'd have thought ripping paper could elicit such levity!

Thanks to Crooked Brains for this one. There are many more in the same post.

Bugger Caffeine, I Want This Stuff!

According to this article over at Wired, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ... pardon the septic spelling) have come up with a nasal spray called Orexin A that allows one to remain awake for extended periods with none of the usual detrimental side effects.

While I don't sleep a huge amount as it is, I'm sure this stuff also helps maintain alertness, which would definitely be welcome during those long sessions of hacking code ... or watching entire seasons of QI in a single sitting :-).


I found this nice, high resolution ... 1920 X 1200 ... image to use as my mouse pad.

The friendly chap at Strathfield Plaza cropped it to A3, made an excellent print and then trimmed off the edges.

So, I now have a very pretty, flat, rectangular surface that my optical mouse tracks on perfectly!

Update: Here's a (rather poor, because it's hard to get very far above the desk) shot of the mouse pad in situ ...

The Perfect Mouse Pad

As you know, gentle reader, I bought a new desk recently, which I love to death.

However, it has one fatal flaw ... the surface is so uniform that my optical mouse doesn't track on it at all. So, I've been looking for a large, thin mouse pad.

While visiting with my dear friend Raif the other day, he suggested buying an artwork print of some kind and just sticking it to the glass.

This morning, I remembered that there's a place in Strathfield Plaza that will take any image you provide and create a large laminated printout of it. So, I jumped on to Google Images to see if I could find a picture that would be good for such a purpose.

One of the top search results was this one (NSFW).

While this seems like my perfect mouse pad, I have a niggling feeling that it would tend to draw my focus away from the work at hand :-).

Window Manipulation Made Easy

On my high resolution 24" Dell display, the width of the window edges that you need to grab in order to resize is tiny, when measured in physical mouse movement.

So, a big thankyou to Life Hacker for pointing me to WinMover.

This Windows application allows you to move and resize windows easily, by pressing the Alt key and dragging with the right mouse button pressed, anywhere within it. Watch the video to see what I mean ...

Now, if someone can just provide me with an equivalent for the Mac ... the ridiculous idea that window resizing should only be possible from one corner is one of the very few things I think Apple got completely wrong.

Riding Robots

Thanks to Neatorama for this video of a robot programmer enjoying the fruits of his labour ...

Friday, December 28, 2007

Nice Internet Speed Test

While watching a video of a hack for the Asus Eee PC to install an HSDPA modem, I discovered an excellent internet speed test site at

Parenting Bible

Crooked Brains has a nice set of images with the theme of "bad parenting".

Some of them are quite funny, indeed.

If Only My Brain Had A Right Side

This Wacom Cintiq 12WX is what graphics tablets should be like!

I'd love one, but I don't have an artistic bone in my body, so it would be a hideous waste of money.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It's A Wonderful Life

Today was truly chock-a-block full of life.

It was the day that my dear friend Paul and I had arranged, some weeks ago, to catch up, post-Humbug.

After each of us having braved holiday-timetable transport and meeting at Central station, we decided that a caffeinated beverage was in order, so we strolled down Pitt St.

Sadly, being Boxing Day, while the streets were filled with bargain hunters, hoping to recoup some of the dosh they'd jettisoned over the last couple of weeks by sacrificing yet more to the post Bah Humbug "sales", few cafes were open.

We eventually found some vaguely acceptable coffee in The Rocks.

While we rehydrated, Paul extracted details of my recent history, by means of an anecdote regarding a fellow-Teutonic acquaintance of his, who is apparently equally reticent regarding the details of his personal life.

We then made our way to the Powerhouse Museum, discussing the sad state of current urban architecture along the way.

Since neither of us had been to the museum for quite some time, the exhibits were generally interesting. Unfortunately(?), we'd not thought to pack any anti-nausea medication, so carefully avoided the "Diana" exhibition :-).

After a nice cuppa in the museum's tea room (including some rather stale cakes), we parted company across the road from Central station.

I jumped on a bus to the cinema complex in George St, hoping to catch the new instalment of National Treasure. However, the queues were longer than a wet weekend.

I figured this was likely to be an indication of the density of sweaty, noisy patrons in the theatre, so decided to give it a miss until another day.

I continued my perambulations, eventually arriving at the James Squire Brewhouse at King St Wharf.

I spent a number of hours there, enjoying a degustation menu of Jim's fine brews (including a couple I'd not come across before), matched to a smorgasbord of vicarious familial experiences ... it was quite lovely to see the number of young kiddies running around the restaurant, having a damned fine time.

Of course, I can only imagine the thoughts going through the minds of any parents who may have noticed the follicularly-challenged Bad Santa admiring their youngsters :-).

Having worked my way through a pint of each beer available on tap, I reluctantly departed for home.

All in all, a wonderful day!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Music For Lovers

This is very cute :-) ... if you ignore the fact that D-flat major actually has five flats, so this is really F major (and the flat should be B, not D!).

Anyway, click on the image to enjoy the original animated GIF.

Impressive Trailer Light Show

I posted last Bah Humbug about a house with some cleverly synchronised lighting.

Well, it seems someone has programmed a similar light show on their trailer home ... to the same soundtack!

Thanks to Neatorama for alerting us to it.

I Think My Apple Has A Worm

I've never had any of this happen to me, but it's so funny that I'd be doing you a disservice, gentle reader, if I didn't pass it on :-).

Thanks to Crunch Gear for the link.

Happy Bah Humbug

Well, the madness is almost over, thank goodness!

I doubt anyone will be reading this blog today, so more than likely this will be the only entry I bother making.

My favourite mathematical physicist, John Baez, has given us a little Bah Humbug gift, in the form of a post about some of the many free mathematics and physics texts available online.

As usual for one of his This Week's Finds In Mathematical Physics articles, the content starts out elementary and becomes increasingly complex as you proceed, so there are books in there for all levels.

Enjoy the rest of your day. Hopefully, the enormous lunch you've had won't make you feel bilious for too much longer :-).

Monday, December 24, 2007

Just In Time For Bah Humbug Day ...

... comes a two hour conversation between four of the world's most well known atheists.

Here you can find, in various formats, a fireside chat between Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens.

Thanks to Meta Filter for the link.

Yuletide Yowling

Nauseated though I am by everything related to the Bah Humbug season, I still find this quite cute. Thanks to Neatorama.

The Master Of Us All

During a chat with my good friend Carsten, he mentioned Project Euler, titled after the famous mathematician of the same name, Leonard Euler.

It's a site that provides a set of mathematical problems that one can attack either via pure thought or by writing some code.

For each problem, there is a forum page where people can discuss their approach and any code they wrote to solve it.

I plan to have a go at as many of them as I can handle. Even just thinking about a problem and reading other people's approaches should be a great learning exercise.

One Man's Junk Is Another Man's Treasure

I'm in the process of expelling unwanted junk that I've accumulated over the last five years and rationalising storage for everything else.

My spare room is getting very close to feeling like a nice place to work ... with completion due once St Vincent de Paul has picked up a couple of old tables and assorted items on the 7th and I put the other, non-giftable stuff out for a council pickup I've organised on the 9th.

In it's wildest days, my place still never looked like Steve's Weird House ... although, I must admit, I'd probably not be cleaning up if it did!

Be sure to play some of the Quicktime VRs. They're wonderful.

Oh Dear!

I'm watching an episode of QI.

Generally, the fascinating information makes me go "ooh" or "ah", or just laugh.

Sadly, one fact in this episode made me somewhat concerned. Apparently, if you find a goldfish floating on its side in the tank, that doesn't necessarily mean it's dead.

It seems that overfeeding can play havoc with their swim bladders, which causes them to lose balance.

This may explain why my two fish "died" just a day apart. Perhaps I'd overfed them and it just took a day longer for the second one to succumb to Swim Bladder Disease.

I take small comfort in the possibility that perhaps they're now happily swimming around in the sewage system ... I hope someone's keeping the pH stable :-) !!

Beefy Batteries

According to this article, a group at Stanford has come up with a way to use Silicon nanowires to make batteries that hold ten times as much power as current Lithium-Ion ones.

That would make my MacBook run non-stop for well over a day, which is pretty much as long as I'd ever need.

Of course, with every great advance comes some downside ... I reckon that, with no concern for their batteries running out, people will inevitably stop using the power saving settings on their electronic devices and end up consuming more resources.

Neutralising Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Apparently, this is an actual product.

The marketing department obviously has a good sense of humour ... with a product like this, I guess, so does the entire company.

Thanks again to Gizmodo for this one.

Good Head

If I wasn't chronically anti-festive, I'd put in an order with Satan ... sorry, I mean Santa ... for one of these.

Thanks to Gizmodo for the tip.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

"Is It Safe?"*

There's been a large amount of debate in the US, and elsewhere, over whether the practice of waterboarding is torture.

I think it's blindingly obvious that it is.

I also think that the arsehole who currently calls himself the "leader of the free world" should be waterboarded until he admits that it is.

However, it was still very interesting ... and incredibly disturbing ... to read this post from a chap who purports to have tried it on himself.

Of course, there's no hard evidence that he didn't just make all this up, but his detailed description of his approach and the effects makes it seem unlikely that he's misrepresenting himself.

I recommend having a stiff drink ready before you read his post!

Thanks to Metafilter for the link.

* In case you don't know, that comes from here

Don't Get Me Started!

Thanks to Shiny Shiny for pointing me to Startup Monitor.

It sits quietly in the background until some application you install, or run, decides it wants to hook itself into the system startup.

Startup Monitor then gives you the choice as to whether it should be allowed to. Just the way it should be!

Staying In A Hotel Over The Holidays?

Well, watch this video before using the glasses provided in your room. While this report is from the US, I'll bet the same happens in pretty much every hotel around the world!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Nice Digital Picture Frame

This Pixxa wireless digital picture frame looks pretty, but the beauty isn't only skin deep.

It can receive photos from Flickr's and Picasa's web-based photo sharing sites, displays data from Google Calendar and even hooks into an online news service.

The resolution's quite reasonable, too, at 800 X 600.

Dali Watch

While I'm still very happy with my Rosendahl, I have to admit I'm very tempted by this Dali Watch.

Mind you, I have a feeling that the image shows it in its best light. How good it would look is very likely to depend on the time of day.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Were You There?

Thanks to AppScount for the link to Were You There?, which is a web service that allows you to register your attendance at events of historical interest.

The idea is for people who were present at memorable events to provide their own recollection of it as eye witnesses.

For example, here's the page devoted to John F Kennedy's assassination.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I Love Nothing Better ...

... than curling up in bed with a good book ... or someone who's read one :-).

Well, if you're looking for good books, you could do worse than to check out Good Reads. It's a social networking site that allows you to keep a diary of the books you've devoured and to get recommendations from other avid readers.

I did find four people who had Categories for the Working Mathematician on their list, so the site seems to be of value even for a weirdo like me!

While I've signed up, just to try it out, I did baulk at providing my gmail password. I'm quite happy to add my literate friends by hand.

Playful Pandas

Thanks to Spluch for this very cute video of baby pandas at play.

Monday, December 17, 2007

They Call This Vocabulary?!

A US company is running an online contest, called the Great American Word Challenge, where the various cities compete against each other in a vocabulary test.

They give you a word, with just a single letter missing, plus the definition. You have to supply the missing letter.

According to the website, the words become increasingly difficult. I played for San Jose, just because that was a post code I knew.

The incredibly complex words they gave me? ... "dedundant" (sic), "religious", "expel", "ascend", "unpretentious", "climes", "corgi", "scraggy", "remortgage", "dahlia".

I think they should be somewhat embarrassed that the first word off the block was a typo ... and that they consider "dahlia" (or any of those words) to be a real brain teaser!

Sad, sad, sad.

Calendrical Cleverness

I pop into the local post office each year and pick up one of their free credit card size calendars.

However, the print on those is absolutely tiny, since they fit an entire year onto one side of the card.

Adam Sporka has provided a clever alternative. His Thumb Calendar places six months' worth of calendrical information on each side of the card, while reusing day numbers across the various months.

For details on how to use it, check out the calendar's page.

Thanks to Life Hacker for the link.

Please Tell Me This Is A Joke!

While it's a nice play on words, the iPond is the most hideous and cruel concept I've heard of in a very long time.

It's a small single speaker, with an embedded fish tank.

Just looking at the adjacent picture, anyone with half a brain ... which would obviously exclude the vendor! ... can see that the tank is far too constricting for even the smallest fish.

What's more, the poor creature would be bombarded by whatever music was being played. I'm not sure whether fish can hear, but I'm certain the vibrations alone would be enough to cause considerable anguish ... and goodness knows what kind of crap someone stupid enough to buy this would be listening to.

It's a piscine Guantanamo Bay!

I say go out and find any bastard who has anything to do with this device and lock them in a cupboard with Britney Spears playing on an endless loop!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Clever, Clever, Clever

Some (very clever) people just see patterns more easily than others.

I love this image I found via Core 77, taken at the Cause/Effect Conference.

It says it all!

Get Me Out Of Here!

On Linux, I'm used to shutting the system down using a command like "shutdown -h now".

However, on Windows, so far as I knew, the only way was to go through the Start menu (or use the shutdown menu in Task Manager).

Thanks to Life Hacker for pointing out that Windows has a command-line shutdown command, too.

You can bring your system to a halt quickly using "shutdown -f -t 0".

The "-t 0" says not to wait for applications to exit, but I haven't tried to track down what the "-f" does. If you want to know, Google is your friend :-).

Friday, December 14, 2007

Innovative Car Door

This is an excellent design. Thanks to Gizmodo for the link.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Corinne Bailey Rae

I just arrived home from a trivia quiz to discover a nice programme on the telly consisting of a set of live performances at Abbey Road studios.

The current one is a lovely female vocalist named Corinne Baily Rae. I was going to say I have no idea who she is, until she just started performing a song called "Girl, Put Your Record On", which I've definitely heard before.

In any case, she has a wonderful voice. I'm going to pop straight over to eMusic to see if I can find some of her albums ... you should do the same!

Head Room

I've always been able to fit everything I need into my carry-on luggage, but sometimes you need a little more room ...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fosher Brookth

I was watching a video the other day of a show at the Tennessee State prison and one of the performers was a comedian named Foster Brooks, whose act consisted of him pretending to be drunk.

I reckon it's classic old-time humour. See if you think the same ...

Digg For Music

Thanks to Gadgetell for pointing me to The Sixty One.

It's a site where the users get to vote on music they like. Kind of like Digg for tunes.

Of course, whether you will find any music on there that's of interest will depend on the tastes of the other users. For example, I looked at the top hits for classical and all but one was really rock. Similarly, one of the top hits for blues seemed more country to me.

In any case, it's an interesting idea. We'll just have to wait to see whether it becomes useful.

What A Rort!

Yesterday, I went to see Hitman, which is a movie adapted from the computer game of the same name ... although, I didn't know that until I saw it in the credits.

Yesterday was a Tuesday, when most cinemas discount their tickets. In the case of the Greater Union complex on George St in Sydney, this means that an adult gets in for $9. They even have a special little notice showing all the prices for discount Tuesdays.

So, I was somewhat surprised when the ticket seller asked me for $10. Obviously recognising the expression on my face, he jumped in to say "It's an extra dollar because that cinema has allocated seating."

Allocated seating?! It was 1030 on a weekday. They're charging me a dollar for a service I don't want and nobody needs, because the cinema is almost empty, anyway!

I think somebody should hire Number 47 to sort out some of the people in Greater Union's sales department!

I know this ridiculous allocated seating concept has been around for quite a while now, because the GU cinema in Burwood always asks me where I want to sit and gives me a seat number ... which I simply ignore. However, I have no idea how long they've been charging people for the privilege, because I normally buy a book of tickets that gives me a set, discounted price on every film.

In any case, I will be boycotting the entire Greater Union chain from now on, unless a film I want to see is on nowhere else. Until they remove this unwanted and unnecessary surcharge, I urge every right-minded person to do the same!

How To Play Rachmaninov

What is a pianist to do when the spread of his fingers is insufficient to encompass the huge chords that Rachmaninov wrote into his scores?

Here's what ...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Skim PDF Reader & Annotator

I read about Skim ages ago, but only recently got around to playing with it.

It's an OS X PDF reader that allows you to add notes. You can insert boxes, circles and lines. You can also mark sections of the text by highlighting, underlining or striking them out.

Skim provides panes for the PDF contents list, the PDF itself and the notes, as well as full-screen and presentation modes. All in all, an excellent PDF reader.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Foldable Tripod

Here's a clever idea, via Gizmodo.

It's a plastic tripod that folds up to credit card size, to fit into your wallet. Very handy, indeed!

It's called "Fozi" and comes from Australian company TimeTale for just six bucks, including postage to anywhere around the arse end of the world :-).

Will You Take This Man?

Here is a very cute story of how a guy organised for Neil Gaiman, the sci-fi/fantasy author, to assist him in proposing to his girlfriend.

The video is nice, but doesn't do it justice. You'll have to read the article to get the details.

Here's the proposal-by-proxy ...

Love Songs Of A Real Man

Thanks to Neatorama for this video of what I assume is an actual comedian, named Louis Favreau ("international sex symbol") spruiking his latest album, comprised of re-worded versions of various well known love songs.

iPhone Ad Parodies

Into Mobile has gathered together some of the best iPhone ad parody videos.

For those not familiar with the canonical ads, they feature "real" people talking about how some iPhone feature or other has saved their bacon.

Here's my favourite, but note that it's NSFW.

Helping Hands

Thanks to Spluch for showing us this very cute concept.

It's a pillow (a pair, in the photo) that mimics the comforting feeling of being held by a pair of hands, called Zaky.

Apparently, it was originally used at a neo-natal care centre in Houston, but is now available to the general public.

I would imagine there's a good idea for a horror film here, too, where the hands come to life and go on a rampage :-).

Anyone Can Have A Bad Day

I'm a big Mac lover ... note the lower case 'b' :-) ... but, I do try not to be an Apple fanboi. Just to prove that, here's a video I found via 9 to 5 Mac.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Cat Washing

I found a link to this very humourous gallery of washed cat photos via Crooked Brains.

While I feel a little sorry for him, I still laugh every time I look at this particular cat!

Make sure to scroll to the end and read the guide to washing a cat. It sounds rather cruel and I hope it was intended as a joke, because it's very funny :-).

As Victor Meldrew Would Say ... "I Don't Believe It !!"

A little schadenfreude to lighten your day ...

A couple of hours ago, I popped downstairs to hand over my laundry to the kind chap who I pay to wash it for me.

As I started down the stairs, a horrible realisation occurred to me ... the comforting bulge in my pocket that I had patted down before walking out the door was, in fact, my coin purse, not my keys!

So, I was locked out of my apartment, in shorts and a grotty teeshirt, unshaven, unshowered, without my glasses, and quite seriously hungover, having arrived home at 0230 this morning, after a night on the tiles celebrating a friend's birthday :-(.

What's worse, my mobile was also on the other side of the door, which meant I had no access to any of my friends' phone numbers ... nor their precise addresses, which would have, at least, enabled me to get the numbers from directory assistance.

I was able to remember my dear friend Susan's number, simply because it hasn't changed in years. Unfortunately, she was on her way out for the afternoon.

Dee suggested I could call a locksmith, which I decided was a better plan than trying to find someone's place to doss at until tomorrow, when I could get a spare key from the real estate agent.

A straightforward plan one would think ...

First, I discovered that public phone boxes no longer seem to accept coins (at least, not the couple I tried); you need a phone card. It took me three shops before I found one that sold such a thing.

I then discovered that directory assistance can't help you unless you have an actual name they can look up. The friendly operator did tell me I could ring a different number to get to Yellow Pages. However, it turns out that you can't actually call that number from a Telstra phone box!

So, I popped into the local football club. Unbelievably, the public phones there were denied access to the Yellow Pages number, too.

There was an ancient White Pages book there, so I took a punt and tried looking up things like "... Locksmiths" for a couple of suburbs near me, to no avail. I tried "Emergencey Locksmiths" ... no luck there, either. Fortunately, I eventually tried the bleeding obvious "Locksmiths ..." and was finally rewarded with a number I could call.

I spent another hour outside in the heat, waiting for the locksmith to arrive. He took one look at the lock and said "Shit!". Apparently, my lock is designed to be pick proof. He had a go at it, but with absolutely no luck.

Eventually, he went for the tried and proven method of sliding something down between the door and the frame. It took quite a long time and he made an incredible racket doing it (which is somewhat comforting, I guess), but eventually got the damned thing open.

So, three hours and $120 later, I am, once more, ensconced in my blog-posting chair.

Tomorrow, my top priority will be having some spare keys cut and dropping them off with a couple of friends!

Oh, and for those of you out there in the blogosphere who have never met me in person, that is, indeed, a true depiction of my physique :-).

Antipodean Podcast

I just rediscovered a show I'd forgotten about, called the Antipodean Podcast, produced by a chap named Mark Bradley, who lives in Canberra.

He covers local science and technology news on a more or less regular basis.

Quite worthwhile listening to if, like me, you live in the "arse end of the world" :-).

While searching for a link to explain that quote from Paul Keating, I came across a wonderful MP3 ringtone of him calling John Howard "a little dessicated coconut".

Get Your Finger Out!

Thanks to Life hacker for the link to Hassle Me.

This is an online service that you can configure to send you e-mail on a periodic basis, reminding you of things you would otherwise forget.

For example, if someone's birthday is coming up, you could have Hassle Me remind you every other day until you purchase a present. You could use it to remind you to pay a bill ... or get some exercise ... or catch up with a friend ... or ... I think you get the idea.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Give Me Land, Lots Of Land ...

I just realised that I have yet to post regarding my new desk!

I bought it from Ikea on Tuesday. I won't go into the saga of the delivery; all I'll say is that it arrived over a day later than they promised.

According to the website, this desk requires two people to install, but I've never been one to heed that kind of namby-pamby, defeatist advice! However, by the time I'd finished, I could see their point :-).

It wasn't a huge problem screwing the pieces together, but standing it upright was another matter. The combination of the steel frame and the tempered glass top weighs around 40kg!

Add to that the long legs, which make it quite unwieldy to move around ... I have them fully extended to 90cm, for use with my draftsman's chair ... and I reckon I won't need to exercise again for a couple of weeks :-).

As always, it was well worth the trouble in the end. For the first time since I moved in, five years ago, I can actually use my spare room comfortably as an office.

Sydney Transport Map

I've been looking for a decent map of the Sydney rail network for a long time.

This morning, I found an excellent one here. It's going straight onto my iPod Touch!

This map shows you the entire metropolitan rail and ferry network, with an astonishing amount of additional information, like approximate frequencies of trains, which wharves the various ferries leave from and estimated journey times.

Friday, December 7, 2007


This is a very impressive little game for the touchable iPods.

You draw objects with your finger, which come to life and interact, while obeying the laws of physics.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

No More Bleeding Fingers

I definitely want one of these.

If I had a dollar for every time I've cut a finger trying to open one of those ridiculous blister packages, I'd be all set for when the iPhone finally makes it to Australia!

Google Really Embraces iPhone / Touch

In recent weeks, Google has produced versions of its search, calendar and reader pages, specifically designed to work well on the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Now, they've gone one step further and have created an umbrella site that allows you to switch cleanly between these applications.

At this stage, there's a serious dearth of open WiFi hotspots around Sydney, but that situation can only improve with time. Of course, once the iPhone is released here ... and assuming whichever carrier Apple blesses provides a reasonably-priced iPhone data plan ... lack of WiFi won't be as big a problem.

Either way, it looks like I'll soon be able to get at all the information I need while out and about. Ain't technology grand :-)?

Thanks to Apple Insider for the image above.

Downloading YouTube Videos ... Reprise

Some time back, I mentioned kissyoutube, which was a nice service for downloading YouTube videos.

Well, I went to use it yesterday, only to discover that the service was down at present. They are providing a Windows application to do the same thing, but I couldn't get it to work :-(.

So, I went looking again and found Download YouTube Videos. Sadly, it just downloads the FLV file; there's no facility to convert to other formats.

However, I also discovered that VLC can play FLV files and that Visual Hub can handle them, so I can easily convert them for watching on my iPod Touch.

The reason this is of interest to me is that I realised there was a large backlog of Google Tech Talks that I'd been meaning to watch. Now that I can get them onto my iPod, I'm actually getting around to doing that!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Online LaTeX Editor

More thanks to Life Hacker for pointing me to Monkey TeX, which is an online service that lets you enter LaTeX and generate a PDF from it for downloading.

I've always been a big fan of LaTeX. Having a service that lets me use it on any connected machine sounds wonderful!

Easing Into The Day

Thanks to Life Hacker for the link to Startup Delayer.

This software allows you to organise all those programs that start automatically when you log in, so that they're not all starting at once.

In theory, this should make your PC ready to start doing real work much more quickly, with the various auto-start programs firing up over time.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Find Free MP3s

Thanks to Life Hacker for pointing me to BeeMP3, which aggregates all the free MP3s that are out there on the web.

I haven't tried it out yet, but it definitely looks useful.

Domino Theory

This new Guinness ad is excellent, if somewhat ridiculous.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sausage Sandwich

I have no idea whether this is just a well done spoof or if the film is for real, but the trailer definitely made me feel just a little bit queasy!

In theory, it's set for US release in February.

The Magic Of Life

This is just an ad, but it's very cute. It imagines a world where magic is a normal part of life. Thanks to Spluch for this one.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Night On The Tiles

I just discovered a nice little Windows utility, called WinSplit Revolution, that makes it easy to tile a number of windows onto your screen.

The tiling can be initiated via either hotkeys or a little pop-up window. You can make a given window consume anywhere between one quarter and three quarters of the screen size, in both directions.

Admittedly, this is probably only useful on large monitors, like my 24" Dell, but if such a layout is useful to you then this is a nice, simple way to achieve it.

Danse Macabre

What happens when a choreographer gets together with three excavators and their drivers? Thanks to Random Good Stuff for the link.

Scorsese Meets Hitchcock

The premise is that someone has unearthed the script for an unfilmed Hitchcock thriller and Martin Scorsese has made the film, but in the style of Hitchcock.

It's actually just an ad for champagne, but is particularly well done.

"I Thought Europe Was A Country"

I feel some sympathy for this woman, but only because the host is a sexist pig.

I can only imagine this show must be "Are You Smarter Than An Amoeba?". Sadly, in this case, the answer would be "No" :-).

Street Installations

Thanks to Crooked Brains for the link to this gallery of street installations by Mark Jenkins.

The one pictured here is my favourite, but they're all pretty good, so go and check them out!

Fine Art

I finally made it to my post office box yesterday, on my way to Newtown for dinner and beers with Socs.

I was pleased to discover that the drawing Aurin made of me a week ago was patiently waiting for me inside. Here it is, in all its glory.

Those who know me will realise that Aurin has perhaps taken a tiny artistic licence regarding the dimensions :-). That's just yet another reason for me to give it pride of place on my fridge.

Thanks Aurin!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Kinky Kookie Kutters

Thanks to Gizmodo for its article on these Karma Sutra cookie cutters from Pipparkakan ... try saying that three times with your mouth full :-).