Tuesday, May 30, 2006

In Defence of Free Trade...

Kyle is trying to trade one red paper clip for a house. Now this is a difficult thing to do, but so far he's traded his paperclip for a fish pen, which he traded for a doorknob, which he traded for a camp stove, which he traded for a ... Well, you get the picture.

The latest trade is an afternoon with Alice Cooper, for a Kiss Snow Globe. If you might want such a thing, you should get over there and make him an offer.

What a brilliant idea. I hope he pulls it off!

Friday, May 26, 2006

The joy of procrastination and music

One of the great things about packing up everything you own is that it gives you heaps of time to procrastinate. And as far as I know, there's no better way to procrastinate than to get distracted by other, irrelevant stuff.

When I was cleaning out the shed, I found an old cello that had been given to us (My daughter Maisy studies the cello). It had been stuck in the shed because the fretboard had snapped and fallen off.

"Hello", thinks me, here's a great chance to avoid the work to be done. I glued the fretboard back together (inadvertently coating some of the strings in wood glue - which I'm sure is really good for cello strings...) and left it to dry in a corner of the shed.

After some actual work, the thing was ready to play. Apart from some chronic fret buzz, (which I think was due to the glue, since cellos don't have frets), and my complete inability to tune the thing at all, it sounds surprisingly good. Well, alright anyway.

Hey, it was more fun than fixing a car, which was what I was supposed to do.

Have a listen for yourself.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Java and Open Source: All you need to read

Eric Sink explains Sun's impending decision to Open Source Java, like only Eric can...
"Now I have to figure out why I don't care.

Actually, I do care. In fact, I'm angry. Java had so much potential, and most of its opportunities are lost. Java today is like what Tiger Woods would have been if his Dad had made him live at home until he was forty...."

Somebody once said that the most important things you can give a child are roots and wings...

Read the whole story over at his blog.

Best in Show!

Turns out that Google weren't the only guys heading down to AIIM to brag about their stuff.

A big congratulations to TOWER Software for taking out the AIIM award for 'Best ECM Suite' for TRIM Context. I think the NA team had plans to set up a 'partner pavillion' just next to Googles, but um - we couldn't get enough tents. And all the plasma screens were rented out. Or something.

Anyway - It's wonderful to see some more recognition for all the hard work that everyone has put in over the last 20 years. And I'm sure that TRIM is the best ECM suite, so that just shows that AIIM know just what they're doing...

(Okay, so I work for TOWER, I could be a little biased...)

Monday, May 22, 2006

How to move to another country in 10 steps.

1. Pick up material belonging.

2. Ask yourself - "Would I pay Money for this in a shop?"

3. If Yes, put it in the "Store" pile.

4. If No, ask yourself - "Would someone else pay money for it in a shop?"

5. If Yes, put in the "Sell" Pile.

6. If No, put in the "Chuck" Pile.

7. Repeat for every single thing that you own.

8. Sell the "Sell" Pile. Anything that doesn't sell goes in the chuck pile

9. Take the "Chuck" Pile to the garbage dump via a local charity.

10. Store the "Store" pile.
Huzzah for the power of reductionism. That all looks easy, right?

Now to get started...

Bonus Link: This endless photo mosaic that someone found on digg is really incredibly clever.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

An Open Love Letter to the Red Hot Chili Peppers

I like to think I'm an objective kind of guy. The sort of person who's willing to change his mind, when presented with sufficient evidence. The kind of person who doesn't have pre-conceived notions about anything. But, when I cast my objectiveness over my own self, there are some things that, no matter how I try, I just can't help but be overflowing with one-eyed enthusiasm for. Things that I just absolutely love no matter what.

For example, I love every product Nintendo releases. I can't explain why, I just do. But even more than I adore video games about fat Italian plumbers, the one thing that I hold more precious, and more sacred above all my pre-conceived notions, are the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

You know how angsty eyeliner-wearing teenagers get all upset when their underground band makes it to number one on the charts? Well, that's because they feel that the whole world is invading their band. (It's not by any means their band, but I guess teenagers have lots of dumb ideas beyond wearing eyeliner.) That's what I'm like with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
They're my band.

The reason that I continue to entertain such a stupid and self indulgent notion is because they make such transcendently beautiful music that rings in my heart and has guided me through my life like a carefully scripted soundtrack. They've grown with me, consoled me and been an ever-present force for good in my life. When I was a teenager doing lots of dumb things, it was Blood Sugar Sex Magik that was playing in the background. When I was preparing to be married, it was with One Hot Minute blaring from the PA. The day that John rejoined the band, I heard it on the JJJ news and leapt out of bed, cheering, casting my one year old daughter into a confusing sea of bedclothes...

I was lucky enough, through a series of friends, to see the guys play in Melbourne on their By The Way tour, from the side of the stage - (As I recall it was me and my brothers, Flea's Nana, and Chopper.) The amazing force and devotion that these guys bring to their music is a kind of super-power. Up close, it's like nothing you can imagine.

I've only spent a few days with Stadium Arcadium, the first album in four years. And strangely enough, I already adore it.

John Frusicante plays guitar with such intensity and intimacy, that it can bring tears to your eyes. I've never heard him sound this good, ever. Flea's musical prowess and awesome ability to surprise with song structure will inspire and delight. Anthony's lyrics can be a little goofy at times, but that just makes it less perfect and more real- this album finds his talents as a vocalist and a wordsmith both richer than ever. And Chad's ability to establish a kind of musical playground around any tune with powerful drums and percussion just sews the whole thing up.

I'm loathe to name any highlights, because I know I'll grow to appreciate every tune in time, but the vocal harmonies in charlie, the trumpet solo in hump de bump and the inspired Sabbath-Style readymade are ringing loud in my head at the moment.

So, to the band - thank you so much for being such a touchstone musical part of my life. I can't wait to live with your new record for the next few years.

And to those who don't share my one-eyed fanboy perspective, well, you're just clearly wrong.

Bonus Link:
Flea's LA Lakers Blog.
Bonus Bonus Link: (for Simon)
Flea being sad because someone said that Nick Cave didn't like his band.

EDIT: The awesome photos in this post were shot by my brother, at the RHCP Melbourne gig, 2004. He had to do some fast talking to get into the press gallery without a press pass, but that's always been one of Grae's strong points. Go visit his blog.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


If you are, and you'd like to get on board the blogging thing to save you having to send regular spam mail to assorted family and friends, you could do much worse than checkout mylifeoftravel.com - a kind of virtual backpacker tracker, that allows folks to post their adventures online, complete with photos and a funky, interactive "travel-line" (you know, the magic flying red line that traces your path on the map?)

Kiera from the MLOT team invited me to review the site, and it seems to me like they've done a good job - it's easy to use, and the individual blogs look pretty cool. It could also serve as a useful resource for people planning a trip - you could find out great places to go, (and great places not to go...) It's all free, too.

The problem I've discovered with blogging is that you only seem to do it when nothing interesting is happening. When crazy busy things are going on, you seem to have much less time on your hands to write it all down... Which is maybe why the blogosphere seems to fill up with boring twaddle... Or furiously typed brain dumps like this one...

Never mind. Mum will be glad to know that you're ok, regardless :)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Ever since I was a young boy...

If you spent any of your youth in front of a pinball machine, (and you actually knew what you were doing as opposed to just randomly pressing flipper buttons and watching the shiny ball thingy), then you should really go and check out pinballsim.com.

Every pinball machine ever made, free to download and perfectly emulated - from the Playboy and Kiss machines of the seventies, right up to (what I consider) the classics from the early nineties - Addams Family and Twilight Zone. The earliest pinball machine I could find was Gottlieb's Buttons and Bows - from 1948.

Extra Ball is Lit...

Superterranian Bureaucrat Blues

I spent Thursday in Sydney on the 59th Floor of the MLC Center, trying to negotiate US visas for my wife and kids. Alas, the bureaucrats triumphed, with me unable to pay the required immigration bribe, because the consulate wouldn't accept my credit card, due to a single (1) failure of the card to swipe through the machine.

The lady behind the three layers of glass was entirely apathetic about my problem.
When I enquired as to why she didn't just enter the numbers manually, she replied with a sharp:

"Not Allowed!"

I was a little taken aback,but I figured no-one could be that rude intentionally, so I tried again:

"It's a credit card - you just need to enter the numbers on the front - just like over the phone"

It seems I had just ran into an endless loop of error messages. There was nothing left for me to do but break...

So I returned, failed and dejected. I have to return next Thursday to try again.

But all wasn't lost - I did get to have a few beers with Fuzzy, and then before I left, I caught up with my brother, Grae, who's an (occasional ) papparazzi photographer in Sydney. To my surprise, on our way to the bar, we ran into Paulini, so he snapped a few shots and had a chat to her.

At the bar, The conversation was about the internet, cars that run on water, and the fickle and superficial nature of the cult of celebrity. (Turns out we were in the same place as where Barry Humphries socked a papparazzi photographer for taking his picture.)

After much hounding on my part, Grae finally agreed to start blogging. So all you celebrity stalkers, (and secret fans of magazines in doctors waiting rooms) should head over to his site and get the real story from behind the lens...

Monday, May 01, 2006

I can Wii when I wanna Wii

Okay, so is it just me? Or has all the hype about the nintendo wii has grown old really quickly?.

Yeah, it's a dumb name. Blah blah blah we get it already.

I was thinking a bit about it over the weekend, and you know, despite the fact that Winnie the Pooh is named after excrement, it hasn't affected his ability to sell stuff. And it dawned on me, (after much consideration) that the literal translation for Sinn Fein (the IRA's political arm) is 'We Ourselves' . I've known that for ages, and I never associated Sinn Fein with urinating in their own pants. (although, come to think of it, it is a bit amusing in a very juvenile way...)

So, now we have the wii. Maybe it will grow on me. Maybe it will be a constant source of embarrassment.

Either way, when the thing is released, this nintendo fanboy will go buy one.

But the absolute nadir, the point where I realized the whole conversation was really stupid, was when I read this quote from the supposed 'cooltechzone':

Whatever happened to Marketing 101? Oh, one more thing, did you forget that Wii also has a connotation to urine in French?
Oh please. Didn't these guys do even basic French in high school? Sheesh..