Thursday, June 29, 2006

Considerably smaller than Texas...

Well, after jonron's nagging, I figured I better post something!

It's weird - being so far away from home and in such a strange foreign place - you'd think that I'd have all kinds of things to say, but in truth most of the time I'm either so busy with work that I don't have time to post, or so lonely that I don't want to burden you all with my misery... (sob!)

Anyway - I'm currently posting from the Best Western Hotel in Corpus Christi, Texas. (We have a TRIM Customer here who needs some help with configuring their records management system, so Simon and I have been helping out. ) I'm not sure that I'd ever want to stay at the Worst Western. Or even the Average Western, but no matter...

Texas has been a pretty entertaining place to visit. Our efforts at finding a place to park ended in a church parking lot where the sign said "Clergy Only - Sinners Will be Prosecuted (and towed)" When we finally found the office, there was another giant sign on the door that informed us that
"under no circumstances were we allowed to bring out weapons indoors", and the green scrolling display in the elevator welcomed us to the building for June 28th, 1907 (the only functioning y2k crisis I've ever seen!).

We eventually found a pay parking place where you had to poke rolled up dollar bills through a miniscule hole into a giant tin box that matched the number of the position you parked in. Again, the sign said - "Use a key, stick or the official stuffer to insert bills"...

But the people here are wonderfully friendly, and I figured out why so many of them are all so fat! We had the most delicious enormous cheeseburgers and fries for about 4.95 - and with beer being 2$ a Pint, and 32 varieties on tap, there was plenty of indulging to be done...It was open mic night at the Corpus Executive Surf Club, and the talent on display was really pretty amazing. I guess for every hugely talented American musician, there are about 3 hundred pretty talented amateurs.

(Corpus Christi seems pretty proud of their 'surf''. I didn't have the heart to tell them how sad it was. There were some pretty stoked surfers around- hey, it's hurricane season!)

Early morning starts make me ever so weary - I got up at 3:30 to do the Dulles to Dallas flight, so It's time to retire. But I'll try to post more adventures soon!

Monday, June 19, 2006

On the Relative Presence or Absence of Shelves

This is a great article from Clay Shirky about how Ontology is overrated - and how the human obsession with cataloging things and building file plans is slowly being questioned as the best way to organize information. My favorite quote is the one about building classification hierarchies requiring two skills that are hard to find: "Mind Reading and Fortune Telling"...

If you're at all interested in information management, or the future of the internet, or knowledge systems, I'd urge you to go and read it right now:

My take is that while the shelves have indeed vanished, and some librarians are wringing their cardigans in denial, that from an enterprise content management position, the de facto tag driven classification schemes aren't quite enough to be able to guarantee the ability to obtain the complete business context of whatever information you've found.

If I need to find a crucial accounting document, I need to know that all the related documents in my system are related and available for review also. For example the emails that led up to the decision to report all the crates of champagne on the expense report as 'Correction Fluid"...

Using an evolutionary ontology like only creates a trend towards the relevant business context being made available - and when you're talking about an entire enterprise, even having a high probability that a critical related record will be related is not good enough. You need to know for sure that all the related records are there.

Until auto-classification, or auto-tagging is a completely reliable process, I can't see a major shift occurring from planned taxonomies and containers deriving from them - at least not for vital records management, anyway.

For the random federated collection of stuff that we have come to depend on every day, well, that's a different story - you can see my loosely tagged and wildly silly contribution to the taxonomy of the entire internet at

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Aloha Bloggers

Just wanted to welcome a couple of new bloggers - my youngest brother Hamish, (who is by far and away the most musical of the three of us), blogs about his adventures with his new band, BillyKan, and their adventures up and down the SE coast of Australia.

And everyone's favourite gin-smuggling, Welsh, sailor pirate with the brightest Hawaiian shirt known to man has also joined our midst - hey there jonron! Ahh, there'll be some salty tales to come, that be for sure...

Oh and Grae? - Simon wants you to stop publishing partial feeds. It's just not the cool thing.

Lefty Loosey, Righty Tighty...

That's the song I sing as I drive around here in the US. It serves to remind me that I need to avoid driving into lanes of oncoming traffic. So far, I've survived one or two near misses...

Besides singing, there are a few other things you'll need to remember if you're going to follow standard Australian Driving Protocol:

  1. Before you put the car into reverse, you have to reach out and bang your elbow on the drivers side window, look at your seatbelt anchor, and THEN turn to look over your right shoulder.

  2. The process for indicating a turn goes as follows: Look at invisible rear view mirror, (positioned in mid-air out just out to the left of the car), turn on windscreen wipers, indicate, turn off windscreen wipers, and then make the turn.

  3. When driving a manual, attempting to shift into fourth gear can occasionally result in opening the drivers side door. This behavior is by design.

And, despite all my fears (mainly stemming from Andrew's very entertaining horror stories), obtaining a social security number took me a grand total of two days. It sure seems to make a difference if you're a US Citizen. Now I'm officially ready for all kinds of other fun things, like banks and tax returns and credit checks...

Oh , and I guess I'd better get a drivers license too... :^)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Good Morning, USA!

A couple of days sleep does wonderful things for you. I woke up this morning feeling great. My luggage and I now co-exist at (approximately) the same part of space-time, which means I have clothes, toiletries and my ukulele - yay!

I had a great conversation with the housekeeping attendant, Alberto - my Spanish was better than his English, which is really sad, because my Spanish is pretty much completely non-existent. Still, it's nice to see that people really just relate to each other, no matter that they can't understand the higher concepts. We talked about music and children and the complexities of English. And he gave me lots of free coffee.

Maybe it's just too much coffee and years of childhood TV, but today I'm filled with this weird patriotic exuberance. Despite the bureaucracy, and the many strange things that I've encountered in America, (like injectable chicken marinade, and 3 pound bags of beef jerky for instance), I'm proud to be an American today. It just seems like anything is possible.

Only in America can you find "Injectable Butt' - Complete with Syringe...

In actual fact, what will probably happen is that I'll read up on the new sharepoint stuff, play some DS, watch the world cup (if I can figure out which of the 85 channels it will be on), and then head out to Kris and Mel's for what I think is supposed to be called a cookout, but when you have more Aussies than Americans, I think you can still call it a barbie. Even if there's no sausages (no, really...)

Oh and I saw fireflies last night! They are really cool. I can't wait till my kids get over here, because then I'll have an excuse to go and catch them..

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Coming to America

Well, after the most hectic 3 weeks of my life, Here I am in L.A. I'm without my family thanks to the bureaucrats, who require me to lodge my IRS 1040 Tax Return before they can give my wife and kids a visa. So, it's on to Reston, and then straight to the Social Security Office, to defeat the final boss. We will prevail!!

I like America. The customs guy said "Welcome Home Mr Taylor" as he stamped my passport.

I just wanted to say a huge thankyou to all of my friends and family who helped me get here - particularly my Dad (who can fix absolutely everything, and has proved it numerous times) , my Mom (Who organized a great farewell party, and made the garden look respectable) and Ali's family, who've lent us everything we didn't have in order to get away, including heaps of their precious time.

Two days to recover from jetlag, and then I get to start work in Washington DC on Monday.

Life is busy.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Everybody's going surfing!- Surfing FRG...

My on-the-spot European correspondent captured these great shots of a bunch of surf crazy Germans surfing Munich style!

Germany has pretty much No Surf (Well, what an Australian would term 'No Surf' ) - being landlocked on three sides, and while the north and Baltic seas that form the northern border do get occasional action it tends not to be much chop, because Denmark gets in the way, and there isn't really enough fetch to generate decent swell.. Plus, the North Sea... Brrr!

You can find more about Frozen German Microwave Surfing here.

So, a wave can be hard to find. Does that stop these guys from getting pumped and getting out there? Absolutely not!

Just head down to the nearest Stormwater Drain after a decent storm...

No Paddling... No Drop-Ins... No Sharks... No Jellyfish...

What more could a Teutonic Grommet ask for!

Photos thanks to ;)