Sunday, March 30, 2008


I've seen this funny spelling bee clip before, but thanks to Neatorama for reminding of it.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Job

Thanks to Neatorama for pointing me to this short film, with a clever twist in the tail.

Where The Writers Are

As you know, gentle reader, I'm hopelessly slow at getting through novels.

However, I'm sure you aren't, so let me tell you about a little discovery I made this morning, via Geek Sugar.

Red Room is a new social networking site that bills itself as "the online home of the world’s greatest writers".

I have to admit, when I perused the enormous list of authors, I only recognised a couple of the names, but that's probably more an indication of my technical bent than the quality of the content.

If you're interested in books, I'd say it's definitely a site to check out. Who knows, you may just discover your next favourite writer!

Friday, March 28, 2008

The OLPC Story

The most recent ABC Science Show consisted entirely of a talk that Nicholas Negroponte gave at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In it, he tells the story of how the One Laptop Per Child project came about, and how it is progressing.

One point he made, that reminded me of my beloved MacBook Air, was that the cost to build a computer with a given set of specs will halve over a period of roughly eighteen months.

So, in theory, one would expect the price of decent hardware to keep dropping as time goes on.

Of course, that's no good for the manufacturer's bottom line. So, instead, they simply keep bumping the specs sufficiently to be able to charge the same price.

In reality, the benefit of these escalating specs, to the average user, ceased a long time ago. Most people use their computers for word processing, e-mail and web surfing. The greatest demand they're likely to place on their machine is asking it to recalculate a spreadsheet.

The reason this reminds me of the Air is not that it's cheap ... I wish! ... but the fact that while my precious has a relatively feeble processor, by current standards, it handles everything I throw at it admirably.

Anyway, I think the podcast tells an interesting story, so here's a link to the MP3 on the ABC site.

Regular Expression Service

Thanks to Download Squad for pointing me to RegExr, a browser-based regular expression tester.

There are dedicated applications out there for playing with regular expressions.

However, it's nice to have a web service for those times when you're not in front of your own machine.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sad, But True

"The Real Cost of Financial Clutter on the Road to a Remarkable Life" is an essay over at Unclutterer that holds some hard truths, indeed.

Here are a couple of quotes ...

"Every time you spend a dollar, you sacrifice a bit of your future."

"Everywhere I looked around me in that apartment, I saw stuff I didn’t need. Video game consoles piled high under the television, along with a small mountain of games for the consoles. Over a thousand DVDs. A gigantic television set that dwarfed our living room, looking almost comically out of place."

I can certainly empathise with this. Over the years, I've spent a phenomenal amount of money on "stuff" ... some of which I threw out just a couple of months ago, and some of which still awaits ejection.

Every time I think of the thousands of dollars I've thrown away on CDs and DVDs, computers, gadgets, expensive dinners, nights out drinking and taxis, I feel just a little ill.

Fortunately, I've mended my ways ... apart from the occasional Apple lovefest :-) ... but if the description above sounds like you, I highly recommend the article.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Can't We All Just Work Together?

I found this clever short film over at Mathematics Under the Microscope.

When Waterboarding Fails ...

Today, The Joy of Tech has this wonderful cartoon, providing some alternatives to waterboarding :-).

Homer In "Real" Life

Some chap over at Pixeloo created this image of what Homer Simpson might look like as a real human being, by splicing together pieces from various photos.

It's pretty impressive (and a little scary) work.

The Process Continues

Since I'm a shower person, for the past five years my bathtub has been a container for all my cleaning products. Yesterday, I realised that I had an opportunity for a dual decluttering!

I've had a nice decoupaged bin (bought from someone at Bondi Markets years ago) sitting in the hallway for months. I moved that into the bathroom to fill up a wasted area under the sink and hid all of the cleaning gear inside it.

So, now the bathtub is empty ... apart from five years' worth of accumulated dust.

I like the idea of turning it into a huge planter box, as illustrated here:

However, it seems like a lot more effort than I'd be willing to go to ... and I'd prefer to avoid killing off any more plants with my notoriously black thumb :-).

Instead, I have an idea to use it for further decluttering ... I could purchase a sheet of wood large enough to cover the entire tub, turning it into a kind of chest.

That would allow me to use an otherwise completely wasted space to hold all of the out-of-season clothes that are currently an eyesore in my bedroom.

Now, where did I leave that tape measure ...

Developer Cheat Sheets

Via Listropolis, I discovered a list of cheat sheets for developers.

There's a bit of duplication, with three CSS, two MySQL and three Unix sheets, but there should be something of value to most people in there.

I think the Google one will probably be fun to look through.

The post also alerted me to Regex Lib, a site that contains a library of regular expressions for all sorts of things.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Digital Learning

This is an interesting video I found on Dan Meyer's blog, relating to the (non) use of digital technology in education.

I have no idea from whence the various statistics were sourced, but it's interesting to contrast how comfortable students are with technology, compared to their teachers.

While it's no surprise that adults, in general, are comparative Luddites; I just assumed educators would be a little more progressive.

I was also saddened by the statement that only half of US students finish high school. If that's accurate, it's a truly woeful situation.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Deal Or No Deal?

Thanks to Neatorama for pointing me to this video, which was one of the finalists in the short film section of the 2007 YouTube Video Awards ...

Here's the winner ...

The Meatrix

My dear friend Jeannine pointed me to these spoofs of The Matrix.

They take a look at the darker side of food production.

They didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, but are still quite funny ... and disturbing.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Arterial Art

Artist Billy Chasen created this somewhat icky artwork that consists of a beating heart inside a clear glass cube.

As the heart pumps, it sprays blood all over the inside of the box ... yummo!

Note that the piece is quite apropos in this setting, being a Gala for the American Heart Association.

Thanks to Gizmodo for the video.

Visual Search

SearchMe is an interesting search service that displays its results in a style similar to the "Cover Flow" view in iTunes.

It's currently in a closed beta, but while you're waiting for your invitation, you can get a feel for how it works from the videos below It looks pretty impressive.

Of course, it doesn't matter how cool the user interface is, if the search is crap.

Hopefully, they're simply displaying results from Google in a more visual format, although that doesn't appear to be the case from the videos.

Oh ... My ... God!

As you know, gentle reader, a couple of months ago, I gave away or threw out a heap of redundant gear that was consuming space in my apartment.

Ever since then, any time I notice clutter, I try to do something about it.

Just this week, for example, I cleaned out the medicine cabinet in the bathroom and removed from the wardrobe any clothes I won't be wearing in the short term.

Every time I see an area that I've reorganised, I get a nice warm feeling inside :-).

Suffice it to say, I hope that these efforts will eliminate any chance of me ever ending up in the same state as the poor bastards depicted in this film!

Cute Cup

While I find this just a little saccharine for my tastes, it's still kind of cute.

This cup has an internal profile which changes from a circle at the top, to a heart shape at the bottom. So, as you drink, it shows you a little lovin' :-).

Currently, it's just a design.

Thanks to Coolest Gadgets for the link.

Those Wacky Japanese

Some Japanese "expert" came up with an algorithm for finding the most beautiful woman in town:

Pick any woman on the street. Ask her to introduce you to whom she considers the most beautiful of her friends. Repeat until you get to the 12th woman.

A Japanese television show went to Italy to try it out. I don't agree that the final lady was the prettiest ... but, let's face it, I'd have been happy with the first one :-).

Personally, I think the approach is flawed. I would suggest that many people ... and not just women! ..., asked to nominate their most cosmetically appealing friend would prefer not to show themselves up.

Anyway, here's the process in action, along with some horrible music and ridiculous histrionics from the presenter ...

Thanks to Neatorama.


More camera goodness ... the MicroTripod is a pocket-sized, fold-up camera tripod that has a standard mount.

From the images, it looks more like a quadrapod, but I guess that would simply mean it's even more stable.

It's a little pricey at $US40, and it comes from Think Geek with whom my only interaction, a couple of years ago, was less than encouraging.

However, if you're in the market for such a device, it's probably worth a look.

Camera Cleverness

Refocus Imaging is working on technology that would truly be of value to me, and a lot of other occasional photographers.

Via a combination of new optical hardware and software, they allow you to change the focus of an image after it has been taken.

This Crave article includes an interview with the company's CEO, but doesn't explain the technology in any real detail.

Click on the image to see some examples of the technology in action.

I'm not sure whether this is a Flash based version of their software, or just a mock-up of how it works.

In any case, you can check out more images in their gallery.

I just hope they can fit this into a nice compact camera ... and for a reasonable price!

Real Life vs The Internet

Thanks to Shiny Shiny for this video that compares how things work in real life to how they work online :-).

The Cult Of Torrents

I've been tempted, a number of times, to buy a copy of The Cult of Mac, but have never been quite tempted enough to spend my hard earned cash.

The book discusses the amazing fanaticism that many Mac users feel for the platform.

While they seem to have forgotten to interview me, I do consider myself a member of that particular sect :-).

Well, right now I'm downloading both it and The Cult of iPod via Bit Torrent.

Don't worry, it's all quite legal ... No Starch Press, the publishers of the books, are giving them away.

These are no simple text extracts of the books, they're full colour, nicely indexed PDFs. So, if you're at all interested, go grab them via these torrents ...

Cult of Mac
Cult of iPod

Amazing Celestial Watches

I'm so tempted to buy an Astrodea Celestial Watch.

The face of the watch rotates in real time, so that when 12 O'clock is pointing north, it always shows a true representation of the night sky.

Sadly, the ones advertised on that page are built for the northern hemisphere.

Fortunately, the $US449 price tag would be enough to put me off, even if they do have an antipodean model :-).


Somehow, this cartoon got lost in my list of bloggables.

While it's obviously whimsical, I think it captures the level of confusion ... and even anxiety ... that some people feel when confronted by the daunting complexity of modern technologies and gadgetry.

Admit it ... there's probably more than one button on many of your remotes whose purpose totally eludes you :-).

Thanks to Gizmodo.

Index Chopping Boards

As I've mentioned previously, at home I tend to cook mainly vegetarian fare, so I find a single chopping board ... and almost always a single pot ... is sufficient for my needs.

However, I can't help but like these "index" chopping boards, designed to avoid cross-contamination.

Thanks to Kitchen Concepts for the heads up.

The Flip

My Sony Cybershot DSC-T9 takes VGA resolution videos.

However, as I mentioned (and you saw!) in a recent post regarding my 30th anniversary reunion, its low light performance is pretty crap.

Well, I just read about The Flip, an inexpensive, video-only camera. For as little as $US120, you get VGA resolution, with good low light attributes at a constant 30 frames per second.

It includes a built-in male USB connector, and on-board software for both Windows and OS X, that not only allows you to retrieve the content, but also to do some level of editing and even upload content to YouTube.

Check out some of the videos on their site to see how impressive this little camera is.

For details, check out the specifications.

Virtual Makeover

I'll never have any use for this service ... why mess with perfection :-)?

However, Tazz might be a good site to try out if you're contemplating a change of hairstyle, or just thinking of trying some new makeup.

You upload an image of your face ... or someone else's ... and then use the system to experiment.

Thanks to Chip Chick.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Galloping Inflation

Warning: Only click on the image if you're not afraid of seeing a few naughty bits ... and don't mind a good chuckle!

Very likely NSFW, depending on where you W.

Thanks to io9, which is quickly becoming one of my favourite blogs.

Simpsons Park

What happens when The Simpsons meets South Park?

Fun For All Ages

It's never too early to get the kiddies into programming!

C-Jump is a board game where you win by putting together instructions to get to the finish line.

It doesn't get much better than that :-) !!

Rabbit Rubby Dubby

A little bunny on bunny action ...

Thanks to Neatorama.

Clever Nesting

This table and set of nested seats from Jim Hannon Tan is pretty clever.

It might be a little weird unless those being seated around it were of varying heights, but it's definitely cute.

Thanks to Apartment Therapy for the link.

Portable? Computer?

I remember an acquaintance of mine had one of these Osborne "portable" computers and I was very impressed.

Now, I look at it and ask how anyone could ever have considered something so big and heavy, with such a tiny screen to be a useful device?

There are lots of pictures of both the Osborne and the TRS 80 over in this CNet article.

Friday, March 21, 2008


You can see what's coming from the outset, but when it happens, you'll still cringe.

Thanks to Listopolis.

Impressive Impersonator

André Philippe Gagnon impersonates well known singers.

While I don't find all of his impressions entirely accurate, they're not half bad, and the sheer number of them is truly amazing.

Epic 2015

Epic is a dystopian view of a possible future, where "news" has no true value, having been categorised and personalised into oblivion.

The original "Epic 2014" has recently been updated to 2015. Unfortunately, they haven't modified the timeline to take into account predictions that are no longer in the future, but did not come to pass.

However, all up, it's still worth a look.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

More Animal Hijinks

I have no idea whether this video is heavily edited, but it's kind of cute, in any case.

Thanks to Gizmodo.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Now, For Real Doggies ...

... how about their own personal ball tossing machine?

Thanks to Random Good Stuff.

How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?

The one with ... no head?!

This is a pretty impressive robot dog ...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Fourteen Deadly Sins?

I just heard today that the Vatican has added seven new deadly sins to the list.

I'm less than impressed, to say the least; it's already taken me 47 years to work my way through the original set :-).

The additions are polluting, genetic engineering, obscene riches, taking drugs, abortion, paedophilia and causing social injustice.

I assume alcohol isn't included in their definition of "drugs", otherwise all those communion takers are screwed.

Monday, March 17, 2008


I seem to be seeing a lot of references to Harry Houdini recently. I can only assume it's because of the film Death Defying Acts being in cinemas.

Here's a video of Houdini performing a little of his escapology while suspended, upside down by a crane.

... and here's a trailer for the film.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Surfing Mice

I can't say they're actually cute, but they definitely are something you don't see every day.

Thanks to Neatorama.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Turning The Tables

This is kind of cute. Normally, dogs are used to herd sheep, not the other way around.

Mind you, it looks to me more like they're playing. The dog's pretty fluffy, so it could easily be mistaken for a flock-mate by the sheep.

Thanks to Random Good Stuff for the video.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Crocheted Croutons

Shannon Gerard's Boobs and Dinks project involves crocheted "bits", which come with their own lumps that you can find by following the instructions in the included booklets.

While I find the project's motives laudable, I'm somewhat concerned by this quote from her site ...
The booklets take you through all the necessary steps for performing monthly self-examinations of your own breasts or testicles.

Monthly?! I say aim for ultra-early detection ... give 'em a thorough examination at least twice a day :-).

Thanks to Cool Hunting for the link.

True Genius!

The last time I moved, I tossed all but one of each type of crockery and utensil.

My logic was twofold ... (1) I almost never have dinner parties and (2) it means I have to do the washing up immediately, so I'll have something to eat off next time!

Well, here's something that would save some of that washing up ... the Slice Plate!

Very Cute

I saw a short trailer for Wall-E a while back and it looked vaguely interesting.

This new trailer has me hanging out for it to arrive!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fear Can Do Strange Things

I shudder to think what horrible incident caused the owner of this bathroom to go to such extremes, but if nothing else, at least it gave me a laugh.

If only they had used (biodegradable) coloured rolls to form some kind of craptastic artwork, I'd have been much more impressed!

Thanks(?) to Apartment Therapy for burning this image into my brain.

Clever Lock

The Smart Key lock can be set, by the owner, to work with any key.

It works quite simply: insert the currently working key, give it a quarter turn, insert a special "learning key", remove the old key and insert a new one.

From that point on, the lock will open with the new key. Pretty amazing.

What's more, this lock uses an anti-bump mechanism that has the highest commercial security rating.

There's a video explaining how it works.


Barbara Sue Manire died in 2005, on her 64th birthday.

She obviously had a good sense of humour. Her grave has a parking meter with a time limit of 64 years ... and it's expired :-).

Thanks to Neatorama.

Think Happy Thoughts

This is just an ad for a breakfast radio show, but it's quite funny.

What Are You Doing?

There are plenty of things consuming my attention, without following the minutiae of other people's lives.

However, if you've ever wondered what Twitter was all about, but are yet to find a good explanation, here you go ...

Thanks to Techie Diva for the pointer.

Let Me In!

This is a cute cartoon about a cat who just wants to get back into the house.

Thanks to Neatorama.

I Want One!

Years ago, many movies milked great visual comedy from Murphy beds that flipped up on their ends and retracted into the wall or a closet, often taking the hapless sleeper with them.

Bedup is a modern day equivalent. However, rather than flipping on its end , it lifts up to the ceiling.

This seems to make so much more sense. You don't really need to make the bed with hospital corners just so that the bedding won't fall out, and the space above your head is generally completely wasted, so why not use it?

Thanks to Gizmodo.

Obsolete Skills

Apparently, Robert Scoble came up with the idea for this. He must have plenty of time on his hands.

As technology improves, or just changes, various skills that were once of value ... and perhaps even impressed one's friends ... become totally redundant.

Some examples: adjusting the tracking on a VCR, keeping score in tenpin bowling and reading a table of logarithms.

If you want to see a longer list, or can think of any good ones you'd like to add, check out the Obsolete Skills Wiki.


This is so silly I almost didn't post it, but I figure you may as well have a laugh, too.

Effective Simplicity

The Bottleneck Saver is a simple piece of rubber which slots onto the stem of a push-button dispenser bottle ... you know, the type used for liquid soap and hand cream.

A concept design from Orca Design's Greenhouse Effect exhibition, it's purpose is to stop the "push" part way, hence reducing the amount of product dispensed. Straightforward, but effective.

Thanks to Apartment Therapy for the link.

Swedish FireSteel

The only flames I kindle on a regular basis are those of scented candles, when I feel the need to chill out after a long day of posting.

However, if my requrements were more substantial, I would definitely own a Swedish Firesteel.

Originally created for the Swedish army, this amazing low-tech device is made of a Magnesium alloy that allegedly creates a 5,000 degree spark, even when wet.

I read about it on Random Good Stuff, in a post about a companion product called Maya Dust, both of which are illustrated in this video.

Coverflow For Firefox

Bookmark Previews provides an interface similar to the one Coverflow does in iTunes and on iPods.

I'm not sure whether this is a better mechanism for working with your bookmarks, but it should have the same value as Coverflow in that it's a simple way to stumble upon items you've not looked at in ages.

Personally, I've almost completely stopped using browser bookmarks. Most of the sites I'm interested in have RSS feeds, so I follow them via Google Reader. The only bookmarks I have now are reference sites, like train timetables and my ISP's volume usage page.

There are precious few of those, now, too. As I've mentioned earlier, I now create keywords for any reference sites that provide a search box.

Thanks to Download Squad for the link.

Etch-A-Sketch Clock

In essence, this is fairly simple, but it's still clever engineering.

Thanks to Cool Hunting.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hand-Held Rainbow

This is quite clever ... a rainbow in the palm of your hand.

Night And Day

As promised, here's a quick account of the 30th reunion bash for the Fort Street Class of 1978 held on Saturday night.

The venue was the Sydney Rowing Club in beautiful ...

Sadly, most of the shots I took inside are either horribly out of focus or blurred due to hand movement. I must set aside some time for experimenting, to find the best settings my poor old camera has for low light conditions.

Anyway, with that warning in place, here are a few photos of the event. As you can see, many of my former classmates are far better preserved than yours truly ... quite surprising, given the effort I have put in over the years to pickle myself :-).

Just to prove that it wasn't operator error, here's one that was obviously not snapped by your host ...

Due to the dim lighting, I only took a couple of videos. Most are too short to bother uploading ... and one I will keep to myself, to protect the privacy of the two participants!

So, here's the only useful one; everyone doing their best to remember the school song :-).

When the club closed, a small group moved on to the Balmain Leagues Club, just around the corner from where I lived during our schooldays.

Unfortunately, getting in was a tad painful ... not because we were excessively inebriated, but due to their requirement that visitors have evidence that they don't live close to the club.

A number of us, not being drivers, had no such documentation on our persons. Eventually, the night manager relented, so we were able to enter and more than quadruple their late night patronage.

They threw us out at around 0600. Most people went off at that point, but three of us popped into the city for a coffee, finally pulling the pin at 0730.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening ... 11 hours, actually. Hopefully, it won't be another ten years until the next one!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

It Only Takes One

"One String Willie" does a fairly impressive job with just one string!

Time For Some Zs

It's unlikely you will receive any interesting posts from me today, gentle reader.

The time is a few minutes on the other side of 0750 and I've just arrived home from my 30th anniversary school reunion.

I am absolutely shattered, and will be jumping straight into bed, to reappear sometime late today.

However, lest you think "the poor old fart just can't take it anymore" note this ... I was one of a trio who survived into the wee small hours. Everyone else will have been tucked up in their beds for hours by now!

So, I will bid you a fond good morning and post about the aforementioned festivities some hours from now ...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Rapido Resizer

Another thing Paul was interested in was an easy way to resize images.

I showed him Drag 'n' Scale, which is pretty good.

However, via the same article I mentioned in the last post, I found Rapido Resizer, which looks like it might be even nicer.


My good mate Paul asked me yesterday whether there was some way to silence that obnoxious boing that Macs make when they're powered up.

Sadly, I had to tell him that I'd previously looked for such a tool, but never found one.

However, this morning I was reading an article by a switcher, which pointed me to the Startup Sound preference pane.

Problem solved!

Friday, March 7, 2008

I'm Still Here

Fear not, gentle reader, I have not passed on to steatopygous pastures in the great beyond:-).

For the last three days, I've been at a developer conference put on by Sun Microsystems at the Darling Harbour Convention Centre.

In addition, over the last couple of evenings, I've been out with friends. So, there just haven't been enough spare hours in the day to do justice to this blogging thing.

Normal service will resume shortly ... once I catch up with all the news that's built up during my absence.

Here's a shot of Greg and Flynn, taken last night, while we were waiting for our Indian take away ...

Sure, it's a little out of focus, but it's still fairly impressive, when you consider that the photographer was young Damon ...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Monday, March 3, 2008

What A Cutie

Thanks to Neatorama for this David Attenborough narrated video of the Pika, a very cute relative of the rabbit.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Nice Pakistani Restaurant

My friends Gavin, Linda and I went to a Pakistani restaurant called Desi Hut, in Haldon St Lakemba, this evening.

A number of items we wanted to order were unavailable, and we received some kind of coconut naan instead of a garlic one, but everything we ate was excellent and it's definitely somewhere we'll all be happy to go back to.

I've made a mental note to check out some of the other restaurants in Haldon St. In fact, Linda said one of her friends reckons there is a good Thai there, which is one of my favourite cuisines.

Oh, and the food wasn't quite as hot as the accompanying image might suggest... I just thought it was a cute picture :-).