Friday, 20 July 2007

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Suck or not suck

I was quite sure this post (in Google Reader) was titled: 8 One Liners That Suck.

As it turned out, at least three of them do. So I wasn't far wrong.

Off on hollybags

Nothing at all since Monday, gosh. And this from someone who just passed 300 posts in only three months. But I meta-digress.

I'm off on holiday tomorrow, Friday, and I have the pleasure and the privilege of going to Zeeland in the Netherlands, yes, the Zeeland to which New Zealand is the New, or Nieuw. Zeeland is distinguished by its complete lack of any tourist attraction likely to bring in so much as one full coach, and while there are rather too many Germans there, drawn by the fact that their own country of some 80 million souls only has about 16km of coastline, all of it on the Brrraltic, there are few or no tourists of other nationalities, present company excepted.

However I feel for the sensitive traveller to other tourist places, which is why this post struck a chord. Anyone who has visited a famous site only to feel fleeced, filleted and fucked-over by the experience will share the sense of outrage.

I'm stunned at how many museums and churches offer absolutely no means for their visitors to understand what they're seeing. Not only are there no labels, there's no brochure, no map, no nothing. At one Palazzo we visited in Rome, only an audioguide was offered. Audioguides are a fine option, but they make it difficult for visitors to decide what's worth learning more about. A printed label is easier to scan, and gives visitors the option of deciding whether to read more. Labeling your collection well is a separate issue, and it's probably something I'll address in its own post.
It's given me an idea, too. That's something I'd be good at: labelling museum collections the world over, in several languages, to suit the average punter and the arsey dilettante alike. Plenty of museums depend on arsey dilettantes, after all. It's not all Uffizi this and Louvre that.

I shall give it two weeks of serious thought. Play nice while I'm gone, or else.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Divine right ... and left

Click to er biggify. The photo, pig

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Sunday Afternoon Site

The first of an occasional feature. You may of course use the SAS at any time you like.

Here's a painting I threw together this afternoon, in a break from writing, in a Cubist stylee.

The site appears to be run by a PR firm, which if it's true is a nice idea. Sadly they won't let you copy your art to your own page, something about which I've already complained. Once you've been inspired by mine, you can make one of your own. Alternatively, you may just want to sign blank canvaseses and let your estate take care of the rest.

Somewhat related, here's a montage of Picasso for an ad proposed by these people, and that list of links is enough to while away any afternoon.


From Big Train

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Short shameful confession

I left a comment at Lifehack today, in which I referred to them as Lifehacker.

That, O my brothers, is like calling out the wrong name during sex, in a very real sense.

And I put down my address and URL and everything.

Le jour de gloire est arrivé

powered by ODEO

Words below.

Aux armes, citoyens

Allons enfants de la Patrie
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Contre nous de la tyrannie
L'étendard sanglant est levé.
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras
Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes!
Aux armes, citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons!
Marchons, marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons!


Here's a cool widgetised Etch-a-Sketch you can play with when there's nothing here to read. And when it moves down and then off the page, don't worry: I've put a permanent one way down at the bottom of the page!

What is it with all these people giving up blogging? It's never been so much fun!

Friday, 13 July 2007

Book news

Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek is giving away chapters of her new novel Neid for free on her website as she completes them.

Don't all rush at once.

Top Oz cop goes Mad Max mad

Technology such as cloned part-robot humans used by organised crime gangs pose the greatest future challenge to police, along with online scamming, Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty says.

"Our environmental scanning tells us that even with some of the cloning of human beings - not necessarily in Australia but in those countries that are going to allow it - you could have potentially a cloned part-person, part-robot," he said.
(from The Age, via Schneier on Security)

On the menu tonight

Chopped cardboard, softened with an industrial chemical and flavored with fatty pork and powdered seasoning, is a main ingredient in batches of steamed buns sold in one Beijing neighborhood, state television said.
(from CNN)

Update: Delicious as that may sound, it probably isn't true. Story of the take-down here. I was on holiday when the correction came, m'lud.

A little tied up right now

Everything you could ever need or want to know about shoelaces.

Love that flipbook idea. That needs to be stolen and put to some other use. Pr0n?

New awesome search powers (NB: use for good)

The new Search this Blog widget to your right is the latest awesome thing from Google our Masters.

Type in anything you like and you get the choice to search in this blog (which you already had) or any site I linked to, or any blog on my links list, or the Web in general. So if you kinda recall me waffling about something, and you can remember one word, this new search will find it.

All hail Google.


Sorry, forgot to mention:

Go to and log in if you have to, then customize your blog as usual by Adding Page Elephant Element. Select "Search Thingy", can't remember what it's called now. It's at the top, next to Poll.

Polls from Poll-land

Blogger our Master is now giving away polls.

Go to Customize, Add Page Elephant Element. Fill in the questions. Hey Presto!

See right (right).

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Birthday greetings

Today is the birthday of Throckey's great-great-uncle Nick.

Best wishes to all the family.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

iPhone cocktails

Okay, so we've heard all the stuff about the iPhone, and what it can "do" and so on. But nobody has asked the most important question: what would happen if you threw one into a blender?

Until now.

Taming the mail

There's a whole rainy afternoon of excitement organising your GMail into folders, subfolders and even subsubfolders using the new Greasemonkey script Folders4GMail. Basically it allows you to organise mails the way you normally organise documents, in a sort of tree structure, something like the structure of a tree.

You need Firefox and Greasemonkey, and if you don't have them both WHY THE DADBURNED HECK NOT!


Kids off school, weather pretty dismal, introduced them to I Can Haz Cheezburger? and that's my excuse for a trio of good ones:




Anyone else having trouble uploading pix?

A crime to turn even CSI's stomach

I once rented a bed-sit where I shared a bathroom with a particularly afflicted tenant who must have been this guy.

Monday, 9 July 2007


Forget MyBook, OrSpace, FaceSter, FriendKut and all that other social networking stuff. They are the Alta Vistas of the near future.

This will be the prime social networking venue to eat their lunch, very soon. Socialstream. Remember you heard it here first.


You do not want to read this.

From Pharyngula, where the comments are growing thicker and faster than something that grows thick and fast, can't think of an example.

Calling all parents

This is what you've been looking for.


Sunday, 8 July 2007

Try to see it my way

(ɐıʌ) ˙ʞuıl ǝɥʇ s,ǝɹǝɥ

˙ɯoɹɟ ƃuıɯoɔ ɯ,ı ǝɹǝɥʍ ǝǝs uɐɔ noʎ ǝdoɥ ˙ʎɐpoʇ ʍǝıʌ ɟo ʇuıod ɹǝɥʇouɐ ɯoɹɟ ƃuıʇsod ɯ,ı

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Drag and drop

The other day I happened to mention how you can drag a link someone posts in a blog comments window onto your tabs bar in Firefox to prevent it opening up in that little unnavigable comments window.

There are two other handy D&D possibilities I've just been using.

I usually click on links I see in Google Reader to open in fresh tabs for later reading. Of course, the tab bar soon fills up, and I always have Google Reader, Grapes 2.0 and Twitter all in one window. So drag those cluttery tabs off to another window where you can get round to them later. Click on the tab and drag it to the Firebox bar on your taskbar at the bottom of the screen. Stay holding the mouse-button down as you hover over that bar until the list of windows shows, then drag the link over the window where you want to park the tab. It'll open as if by magic, and you can park it there.

Also, you can drag a tab into another application to store the URL. I just made a copy of a bunch of URLs in an email in Agent for later use, rather than leave all those tabs open. Open a new message (this works in other email programs too, I imagine) then minimise Agent. Drag the tab over the Agent bar in the taskbar as before, and the message will open up as you hover. Drop the tab in the blank message, and the URL will be pasted in. Rinse and repeat.

The same trick works between Firefox and IE, if you wanted to see how something looked in another browser, say. Drag the FF tab to the taskbar and click in the open IE window to go to the dragged URL. It doesn't work in Notepad, for some reason. It works perfectly in Word. It works brilliantly in Thunderbird, giving not only the URL but the page title to make things even clearer. It works in Blogger. Here's one I just dragged over: In the name of the Father | Review | Guardian Unlimited Books.

That's exactly how it shows up.

Apologies to anyone who already knew this stuff. What about that Justine Henin, eh? Firebrand or what?

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Free stuff!

If anyone out there uses Feedburner, you should know that they're now giving away a couple of PRO features for free, and what's more it's costless and you don't have to pay! Details here.

Lorne Order

Paris Hilton absolutely had to go to jail or society would crumble.

But Scooter doesn't, because he's been punished enough.

I take it Bush doesn't give a fuck about his legacy any more.

I didn't see it on TV, but please tell me he at least made a pursed-lip face and went, "Please don't jail me" for old times sake.


Here's what it says on their site:

Pownce is a way to send messages, files, links, and events to your friends. You'll create a network of the people you know and then you can share stuff with all of them, just a few of them, or even just one other person really fast.
Another social network? Really? Was there a shortage of social networks?

Doesn't it occur to them that people who have friends are probably all fixed up with networks by now, so their service is likely only of interest to people looking for friends? Is that what this is?

But then doesn't it occur to them that the kind of people who sniff around social network sites hoping to find friends are by definition not the kind of people anyone wants as a friend? So is it really a good idea to create a site where only those people are going to show up?

Personally, I've given up on social sites. I got my 30Boxes thing set up (see bling, right) and it was like, Sour Grapes has 0 Buddies. And I was like, what.ever, because if a man of my age is still looking for buddies, something must have gone terribly wrong.

As for Do.oh, mentioned below, I'm signed up as his/her friend on Twitter. That's my social network: one of my best friends is a to-do list program. You'd think marrying one would have been enough.

Monday, 2 July 2007

To do with do.oh from 2dot0

Make a to-do list, a chores list and link to your Google Calendar with do.Oh. And add to the list with Twitter, too.

Picture paints thousand words shock

This book has just won a literary prize. So what? So it doesn't actually contain any words, that's so what.

All right, it tells a story, which is what lots of literary works do -- but not all. But it's not using words, is it? So it's not literature. It's art. It's painting or drawing or whatever that is.

John Baker in his blog quotes an article in the Brisbane Times in which the artist, Shaun Tan, claims that since poetry uses fewer words than a novel, yet is still literature, then his work, which uses none at all, can occupy the same continuum. Which is just stupid.

The link up there leads to a free sample of the first eight pages or so. And then there's the author's explanation of what it's all about, which uses up all the words the book didn't. What a yakfest.

So what's your view? Words -- necessary, useful or a bit of a bother? All comments, including those in the form of stick-figures, welcome.

The power of the sopranos

Ever wondered how the soprano can belt out a tune over the volume of a full orchestra? Scientific American has an explanation, and good luck with that. Try this extract:

In singing, the fundamental frequency determines the pitch, which is specified by the composer or performer. Singers can significantly increase their loudness by adjusting the resonance frequencies of their vocal tract to closely match the fundamental frequency or harmonics of the pitch. Sopranos can sing with fundamental frequencies that considerably exceed the values of R1 for normal speech, but if they left R1 unaltered, they would receive little benefit from this resonance. Consequently they tune R1 above its value in normal speech to match fo and thus maintain volume and homogeneity of tone. This is often achieved by opening their mouth wide as if smiling or yawning for high notes, which helps the tract act somewhat like a megaphone. (This tuning of R1 away from its values in normal speech, as well as the large spacing between harmonics, has implications for intelligibility, and is one reason why singers can be hard to understand at very high pitch.) Singers at lower pitch sometimes tune R1 to match harmonics (for example, 2fo) rather than the fundamental, but do not usually practice resonance tuning as consistently as sopranos.
So there we have it.

Don't forget to get your free issue of the magazine, entirely free and without cost, from that same page. Hurry hurry.

Thank you please come again!

Some 7-11 stores in the US are being refitted as Kwik-E-Marts as publicity for the Simpsons Movie, which is about to break fans' hearts by being released in cinemas and being really really awful. Here's the story, and here's a Flickr set showing some examples of crass commercialism in the service of commercial crassitousness.

Here's where you can get a Squishie in the coming weeks:

New York City; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Burbank, Calif.; Los Angeles; Henderson, Nev.; Orlando, Fla.; Mountain View, Calif.; Seattle; and Bladensburg, Md.

Mountain View, eh?

Tragedy plus time

I switched over to the news after watching a pretty dismal Sopranos episode (Bobby and Tony have a sort of sumo boxing match) and the BBC is still going on about some jokers driving their car into Glasgow Airport.

Get over it already. It's old news. Stop dwelling on it and get on with your lives. This endless fretting over what may or may not be terrorist events is more American than it is British. That's not the way it used to be.

Do I have to come over there and give yez all a slap? Pull yourselves together, fucksake.

Going down?

I got a kick out of this lift with a painted floor.

Who'da guessed?

The most irritating song of all time is "You're Beautiful" by the famous Cockney rhyming slang whiny git James Cunt Blunt, according to a poll.

To get an idea of just how bad Blunt is, here are the top ten entrants, nine of whom he beat:

1. "You’re Beautiful" - James Blunt
2. "Axel F" - Crazy Frog
3. "MMMBop" - Hanson
4. "Mr. Blobby" - Mr. Blobby
5. "Birdie Song" - The Tweets
6. "Shout" - Lulu
7. "Agadoo" - Black Lace
8. "Grace Kelly" - Mika
9. "My Heart Will Go On" - Céline Dion
10. "Macarena" - Los Del Rio

And if you're not nice to me I'll put up the video of the Number One song. Don't put me to the test.

Please release me

Okay the entire media, the press and the blogosphere can all just STFU now about the iPhone, okay? You've got one, and we haven't, fine, we got the message already. Enough. Move on, fucksake.

Sunday, 1 July 2007


Planning a visit to Unitedkingdomonia at some point? Here's all you'll need to know on the most crucial subject of standing in a queue.

The title represents "stand" in "a queue," just like in childhood puzzles of old, or not so old in your case.

Experts all

From the Google Operating System blog.

One thing that does distinguish users is the difference between a novice search user and an expert user of search. Novice users typically type queries in natural language while expert users use keyword searches.

Example Novice and Expert Search User Queries

NOVICE QUERY: Why doesn't anyone carry an umbrella in Seattle?
EXPERT QUERY: weather seattle washington

NOVICE QUERY: Can I hike in the Seattle area?
EXPERT QUERY: hike seattle area

On average, it takes a new Google user 1 month to go from typing novice queries to being a search expert. This means that there is little payoff in optimizing the site to help novices since they become search experts in such a short time frame.
So who would say they're not an expert? Anyone?

Not the actual Hilton

I'm naming no names, but I think those who are now getting their kicks from sneering at Paris Hilton's experiences in jail maybe ought to shut the fuck up until they've spent three weeks behind bars themselves. Oh, but you think it wasn't like real prison time? Do the three weeks first, smart-arse, then get back to me.

Ten to one you're snivelling like a bitch after three days.