Photography ... astronomy ... art ... design ... technology
(... and the odd rant)

All of these make my world go 'round, to some extent, and they will all be found here at some time or other. Some of the photography can be purchased from my Redbubble site. I can also be found at Tempus Fugit (no longer being updated).

Saturday, December 20, 2008

3D Clouds

A couple of days ago, the clouds were scudding along on a brisk wind, and apart from the general photographic possibilities, the opportunity for taking 3D pairs came to mind. Sometimes, if the cloud forms are moving quickly enough so that they don't change too much between exposures, you can take sequential exposures with a static camera, then view the image pairs side-by-side to create a stereoscopic effect. Obvously, with a static camera position, the landscape perspective is not changing, so no 3D effect can be seen there, but the clouds will appear as if taken by normal stereoscopic means.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Whither the Walkman?

OK, it's confirmed - I like retro stuff. I like shiny new stuff as well, but it doesn't provide quite the same frisson as nice old gear. Thing is, technology is developing at such a pace that shiny new stuff becomes nice old gear fairly quickly.

I have been volunteering in a local 'op shop' (charity shop/thrift store) lately, and have just started testing the donated electrical gear. Among all of the toasters, vacuum cleaners and vibrating foot spas there is the occasional item of greater interest, and I find that I have to control my urge to claim these relics as my own. One plastic bag contained a number of boxed devices - radio, portable cassette recorder, mini-vac, and so on. It looked like an electrical dealer had had a clear-out of the back room.

The piece that stopped me in my tracks was a 'Walkman'-type cassette player. Ordinarily, I'd pass by one of these very quickly, never having had a real need for music on the go; I don't own an iPod, and possibly never will (but as I've still got my old slide viewer, I could do this with it). Also, I've seen enough sad-looking cheap specimens to know that they are usually not worth a second glance, even in their heyday. This little Panasonic beauty though, seemed a notch above the rest. It looked like a serious piece of kit and was a recorder as well, in pristine condition. I've been thinking about getting a recording device, so that I can do some interviews, and this seemed to be the ideal thing.

Recording is via a built-in mic, or by using the plug-in stereo mic supplied (Stereo Dynamic Sound, the box says), or if I'm feeling particularly Luddite, by plugging into the PC and copying MP3s across... Listening is by earphones or with the built-in speakers (or by borrowing the PC speakers). I can record and playback at either of 2 speeds, and when I've had enough of recording myself and playing back in Barry White mode, I can listen to the radio, either FM or good old AM. To perfectly locate the aerial, I can rotate it into any of 18 click-stopped positions on one axis (the other axis just does the mundane swivel thing, but it's very tight and smooth).

All in all, it's a fully-packed little gizmo, even though it won't play MPEGs or AVIs; as it is, I have already used it to transfer a set of audio tapes to MP3, before the tapes lose their magnetic charm. A tone control and a setting for metal tape would be nice, but I won't lose any sleep over it.

Judging by the sticker on the box, it's only 6 years old, but using, as it does, the antediluvian audio cassette instead of flash memory or a HDD, it's retro enough to give me that secret tingle. Oh, what fun we'll have, me and my RQ-A300 - once I've bought some blank audio tapes. As John Lee Hooker said, "this is hip".

Thursday, September 18, 2008

2009 calendar - the collection grows

I decided one calendar wasn't enough, so 3 more have been added to the collection. Go here to see all of them. Hint: buy all 4 and save on postage :)

2009 calendar

I have just published a new calendar, via Redbubble. It's a collection of my favourite personal images, and can be previewed and purchased here; the price is AU$26 (approxUS$20, but see here for a current value), not including delivery. This is the front cover:

RedBubble calendars are satin-coated prints on high quality art paper. They’re A3 size (that’s 297x420mm, or 11.69x16.54") Order now for the holidays!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Still Sparking

I was sorting music on the PC, and found an old Sparks track (I was a fan in the early-mid 70s). Having also recently seen a more recent Sparks video on Rage, I decided to go for a quick web-nosey, finding a few things that took me back. Surprised to find the boys are still going strong (stronger than ever, by some accounts), I arrived at their official site. (I was never a big fan of electronic pop - theirs or anyone else's - so although I'm not falling over myself to discover their latest stuff, I admit to being curious about the favourably-reviewed Lil' Beethoven.)

Now, I have more than a passing interest in retro, so this site caught my eye. A natty Flash home page (Flash doesn't usually impress me all that much) provided a few moments' amusement in the company of an old typewriter. Clicketty-clack.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Beautiful science

Science seems to elicit a range of reactions from people: excitement, fear, distrust, puzzlement, and so on. There are those who hang on almost every word that scientists utter, and those who are dismissive of scientific endeavour, and see it as evil work, just serving to ruin the world. Some of these reactions are understandable, given the range of effects and products that scientific discovery and progress has produced, both good and bad.

For some, science can be just plain beautiful; such beauty can lie in an equation, the proof of a theorem, or a truly captivating image generated by any branch of science capable of so doing. One such example of the latter is this delightful confirmation of one of Einstein's predictions - gravitational lensing. Put simply, gravity can bend light. It takes a massive object, with a substantial gravitational field, to achieve this, but fortunately, the Universe is full of such things.

Our Sun is massive enough to show the effect, which can be demonstrated during total eclipses: stars 'behind' the Sun (but close enough to it, in the line of sight) can be seen in slightly different positions than expected, due to the Sun's pull on the distant starlight. When we look deep into the Universe though, we can observe not just stars, but entire galaxies that give rise to this effect. Often, the result is fragmented arcs of light, as very distant objects are not just 'moved ' slightly, but completely distorted. One very fine example of the effect is in this image from APOD. A very distant galaxy has been distorted into a nearly complete ring, by a nearer one. Click the image to read more.

SDSSJ1430: A Galaxy Einstein Ring
Credit: A. Bolton (UH/IfA) for SLACS and NASA/ESA

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The past is evaporating

I have always been concerned about the disappearance of ephemeral (and not-so-ephemeral) things, that deserve a greater degree of longevity. In my domestic surroundings, this manifests as a love of old or antique furniture, cameras, books, and so on. Photographs have a special place in my heart, as documents of people and events in the past - especially when those photographs are from the early years of photographic endeavour.

Retro Thing reports on the potential loss of early expmples of computer software, in "Restoring Woz's Original Apple BASIC":

"You might not realize how much early microcomputer software has been lost over the years. Steve Wozniak's Apple BASIC is a case in point. Only a few original copies of the tape still exist, and there were no perfect binary dumps of the 4096 byte file until Michael Steil recently decided to try his hand at reading a 2002 mp3 audio recording [mp3] of the original 30 second cassette file."

This is especially horrifying when the potential loss relates to such a pivotal piece of computing history. Read on, here.

clipped from
Apple I

blog it

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

But is it Art?

No. 1 Son and I were on our own last week, with the other half of our domestic community being away for the week. While I was out and about (or inside and busy), said son amused himself - both in the house and elsewhere. During the time the house was graced with his presence, DVDs were watched and food was consumed, among other activities. Actually, there probably were no other activities worth speaking of, now I come to think of it...

I returned home one day, to discover a growing collection of crockery beside the TV. No surprise in that - it is known to happen from time to time. This collection seemed to be on a larger scale though, so I wondered if, like grapefruit, there was more to it than met the eye. With a few spaces left in the dishwasher, this little gathering would have fitted nicely, but I just wondered whether it might be some sort of personal statement, instead of merely manifestation of a lack of industry. Could it be that
No. 1 Son was merely expressing himself, and I was about to destroy his creation? To be on the safe side, I thought I should preserve the arrangement, just in case.

So, I present it to you now, with but a single question: Is it Art?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Looking for yourself

Sources close to SWMBO were amusing themselves by entering their name into Google, along with "needs". Not to be outdone, I dipped my toe into the pond as well. "Duncan needs" brought the following results, among others:

  • mental evaluation
  • a haircut
  • ample social stimulation
  • an out-of-county jury
  • Better Lawyers
  • no explanation
  • to wake the f**k up
The sobering thing is that many of these are, or have been, true to some extent. The best, however, is probably:
  • Duncan needs to take a lesson from the immature kids like Dwight Howard and put on a Superman cape
Now, show me someone who wouldn't benefit from doing just that, and I'll show you someone who has grown up, poor sod!

Over to you now; go and find out what you need, then share it here. Also works with "XXX eats", XXX looks like", and so on.

Friday, June 27, 2008

More 3D

Prompted by fellow Redbubbler PigleT, here's another image from the 3D collection. When we bought our last house in Scotland, the garden was graced with several teasels - wonderful if you like variety and appreciate the beauty in jaggy, scratchy things, but less so I suppose, if demure bedding plants are your thing!

Anyway, I liked 'em, and took a few snaps (too few, in retrospect). Getting up close and, as they say, personal, I recorded this 3D pair; the delicate pink flowers are a nice counterpoint to the spiky head.

As before, y
ou need to use the crossed-eyes method, to view the images properly (cross your eyes until you see 3 images, and the middle one should be in 3D). If you can't manage it, sorry...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Lawyer's Marriage Vows

Dearly beloved, Mr. Chairman, members of the board, and holders of fully-paid shares of all classes associated with voting rights, hereinafter referred to as "The Congregation"; whereas it is proposed, and as required by statute, seconded by no fewer than 2 individuals, at an extraordinary general meeting of all with full voting rights at which a quorum was present, that the two individuals before us all today, one Mr. Ian Geoffrey Bottlestripe, hereinafter referred to as "The Groom", and one Miss Elizabeth Hilary Bodyss, hereinafter referred to as "The Bride", shall be joined in a Merger traditionally and by common consent known as Holy Matrimony, hereinafter referred to as "The Marriage"; and whereas said Groom and said Bride are admittedly of consenting age (see Annex A: Proof of Age of Principals), and in consideration of the fact that one Mr. Humphrey Altwych Bodyss, hereinafter referred to as "The Father of The Bride", has given his full and considered consent to The Marriage (See Annex B: Disposition in favour of Mr. Ian Geoffrey Bottlestripe, in respect of the office of Husband in relation to Miss Elizabeth Hilary Bodyss), we are gathered here in the presence of a representative of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (see Annex C: Attendance of interested parties), to prosecute the merger in full accordance with the provisions of The Mergers (Matrimonial Attachment) Act of 1957, pursuant to the wishes of the Groom and Bride.

Notice is now given that The Marriage shall proceed without further or undue delay, on this, the Eleventeenth Day of Octembruary, Two Thousand and Flirty in the year of our Incorporation; with the proviso that there shall be no dissenting motion presented to this Congregation within the allotted period of time immediately following, which shall be no greater than 1 minute and 30 seconds, and which motion shall be presented in written form, complete with supporting documentation, signed by the Proposer and witnessed by no less than two unrelated individuals, to either of the two ushers present, for subsequent conveyance to this Celebrant. In the event of such a motion being proposed, the proceedings shall be halted, the Celebrant and Principals shall step down, to be temporarily replaced by proxies elected by other members of the board currently present, who shall examine and verify the validity or otherwise of the motion, and who shall then, if the motion be found valid, conduct an inquiry into the substance of the objection contained in the supporting documentation, such inquiry to be adjudicated upon by a quorum of board members; in the event of the board being inquorate, a special general meeting shall be convened, at no less than two weeks' notice, at which a decision shall be handed down to the Celebrant, and thence to the Principals and other interested parties. If the motion be passed, the merger shall not go ahead in its presently-proposed form, and it shall be remitted to the shareholders for consideration, amendment if necessary, and either (i) resubmitted to the board for approval, or (ii) abandoned in its entirety, freeing the Principals to pursue other interests. If the motion be rejected, the merger shall proceed without further delay, as proposed.

Is there any motion of dissent...?

There being no such motion, the business at hand shall proceed as proposed.

Do you, Ian Geoffrey Bottlestripe, take Miss Elizabeth Hilary Bodyss to be your legally recognised partner in this Marriage; and do you confer upon her full and equal voting rights in all matters pertaining to the present and future business affairs of The Marriage, notwithstanding her normal rights at law; accepting individual, joint and several responsibility for all matters legally arising out of The Marriage; whether The Marriage be financially solvent or in a state of indebtedness to all and any third parties, including but not limited to banks, building societies, mutual and friendly societies, organic cooperatives, lending brokers (further including, but not limited to, pawnshops, payday lenders and thick-set gentlemen with dark eyeglasses and ill-fitting suits), families, friends and the Man In The Street; and do you agree to take equal responsibility for maintenance of the Body Corporate, in ill or favourable conditions, to the exclusion of any other unilateral private interest or association with any third party that has not been jointly agreed beforehand in writing, and which may be detrimental to the continued effective function of this Marriage, so long as you both pay taxes and submit full annual returns to any regulatory bodies, present or future?

[IGB indicates in the affirmative]

And do you, Miss Elizabeth Hilary Bodyss, take Ian Geoffrey Bottlestripe to be your legally recognised partner in this Marriage; and do you confer upon him full and equal voting rights in all matters pertaining to the present and future business affairs of The Marriage, notwithstanding his normal rights at law; accepting individual, joint and several responsibility for all matters legally arising out of The Marriage; whether The Marriage be financially solvent or in a state of indebtedness to all and any third parties, including but not limited to banks, building societies, mutual and friendly societies, organic cooperatives, lending brokers (further including, but not limited to, pawnshops, payday lenders and thick-set gentlemen with dark eyeglasses and ill-fitting suits), families, friends and the Man In The Street; and do you agree to take equal responsibility for maintenance of the Body Corporate, in ill or favourable conditions, to the exclusion of any other unilateral private interest or association with any third party that has not been jointly agreed beforehand in writing, and which may be detrimental to the continued effective function of this Marriage, so long as you both pay taxes and submit full annual returns to any regulatory bodies, present or future?

[EHB indicates in the affirmative]

With bilateral verbal agreement to the proposed merger having been reached, it remains only for the deal to be settled in writing and by personal union, and subsequently for me to declare the business to be concluded, and the merger finalised.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


The morning stumble through the house … wake daughter … into the kitchen … kettle on … pause a moment … notice shadows on cupboard doors … suddenly awake and camera in hand … daughter stepping around me with breakfast things, as I crouch on the floor…

The main shadows, stretched at a sharp angle down the vertical surface; the contrast of wooden handles against the white Melamine, glowing warm in the first rays but reflecting blue sky; the fine texture on the surface of the doors; the very subtle shadow of flyscreen, cast between the handles. Caught before it changes with the advancing day.

There is so much to see in our daily lives. We all enjoy seeing our loved ones and spectacular sights in this wonderful world, but what little things would you miss, if you lost your sight tomorrow? What would you give, to be able to see ordinary things again?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

New Harley teeshirt

Just made this teeshirt design. Its available in 3 colour options - 2 on a white shirt, and this one on black; see my redbubble site for details and ordering. Great for a present - or just indulge yourself.

Click the pic to visit my bubble!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dangerous boxing

Just suppose for a minute ... what if - what if - Pandora's Box had contained Schrödinger's Cat. What then?


And when you've done with that, suppose Heisenberg had been a banker instead of a physicist. Would we all be more uptight about money, or less so? What's a few quid, between friends?


Yes folks, I've been reading 'What the bleep do we know?' and such questions arise as a result. I put it to you that such questions are no more bizarre than those raised by quantum mechanics, such as 'How many places can a particle be at one time?'

I started it as a bedtime book, but it's proving difficult to keep on track of such substantial topics at that end of the day, so the daylight hours will have to do. For example, one of today's revelations was that one cubic centimetre of empty space is now understood to contain more energy than all of the matter in the known Universe. If one understands anything about Einstein's E=mc2, it should come as some surprise that matter, which is equivalent to prodigious amounts of energy, is dwarfed in the oomph department by ... lack of matter. As Zaphod said: 'Put your analyst on danger money, baby.'

3 Phases of The Moon

I've been taking photographs and stargazing for a long time; inevitably, those two pursuits cross paths now and then. It might be a startrails pic, a guided exposure of a comet, or something a bit more whimsical.

Delving into the archives, I took a moon photo from circa 1984, and played with it a bit to create this image. I'm not divulging the recipe, but you won't find it as a simple Photoshop tool! Actually, I'd probably find it difficult to reproduce myself; sometimes I 'explore' an image, making derivative copies, modifying and combining them in different ways until I create something that looks a bit interesting. Usually, I leap rapidly from one transformation to the next, without recording exactly what I've done, so the end result is usually unreproducable. One such exploration, that I didn't save in the end, produced some images that looked like an aged Daguerreotype, and to some extent I was trying to recreate that here.

Click the image to buy from Redbubble
(Available as a card, laminated print, matted print, and more)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Free Retro ebook

Hop over to Retrothing and download a copy of James Grahame's "Essential Retro" ebook, while it's available. James has obviously had a knock on the head, because he's giving this away free for a while. Miss out and you'll have to buy the real thing, or ... miss out.

I've been nosing around retrothing for a couple of years now, and find it a fascinating collection of what-used-to-be, what-is-again, and possibly, what-never-should-have-been-in-the-first-place. I don't share the interest in computer games (can't see why anyone would get excited about playing a 20-year-old game on an obsolete platform; actually, I don't get excited about computer games at all), but there's plenty other stuff besides.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Just like Grandma used to do it

There is a certain delight to be had in using a device that provokes your children to say "what's that?" - not because they haven't yet been introduced to one in school, but because they never will. I decided to make a meatloaf tonight (I'm no expert at it, this being only the second time I've done it. Bravely, I'm flying blind this time, as I can't be bothered to look out the recipe, wherever it might be!). Anyway, the meat was already minced, but I decided to mince the other ingredients - bread & vegies. It's such a satisfying process, and takes me back 40-odd years, when my mother would get the mincer out every Monday, to reduce the leftover Sunday roast to rissoles. I still love to scoff cold minced meat; there's something very pleasing about the texture (and taste). Now I think about it, the tadpoles in the garden also loved a bit of minced meat, as they nibbled furiously at small bits dropped in the water.

This one is a bit more decorative than the one my mother used (hers wasn't coloured), but it does the same efficient job.

Of course, one of the pleasures of the mincer was being allowed to turn the handle and watch the pulverized food pour out of the front. It's also very satisfying, just feeling the mechanism chew through the food as it does. This hasn't changed; I don't bring out this wondrous machine very often, but always enjoy the process. I think I probably bought the mincer simply so that I could relive that happy memory. Strange though, that neither of my children wanted to try it tonight, but then I suppose there's little fun to be had in using something that doesn't have LEDs, push buttons and a motor.

They say youth is wasted on the young; is that also true for simple pleasures?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Can I be an artist please?

I’ve been taking photographs for many moons now (or to put it another way, more than a full orbit of Saturn). In that time, I’ve exposed many frames of film, and printed more than a few boxes of paper. I started with a Box Brownie, moved on to my Dad’s Yashicamat, then on through a succession of 35mm, rollfilm & 5×4 cameras of varying quality and pedigree. [The largest camera I ever used was 48 inches (1.2 metres) in aperture, and took thin glass plates 14 inches (356mm) square … the UK Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory. However, as you can’t actually look through a Schmidt, it is technically just a big camera.]

Professionally, my work was scientific in nature, while my spare time interests were more creative. I have produced some right old rubbish, and a few more memorable and enduring images. My aim was always to produce something that I’d be happy to hang on my wall, and which would be a pleasing image of some sort. Apart from a few years in a camera club, almost at the start of my involvement with photography, and a couple of later low-key exhibitions, I never seriously contemplated the possibility of providing my photography for wider consumption. Redbubble, however, has been influential in changing my mind on that.

For much of the last 15 years, my photographic effort has been almost nil. I seemed to have lost touch with my muse. Some time within the last 5 years or so, I did start playing with images again – initially just dabbling with low-res digital tweaking of some of the few pics I had taken. Gradually, I started feeling the desire to do more than this, and as my PC systems were upgraded, was able to work at higher resolutions until I could handle poster-sized images without too much difficulty. But still I wasn’t shooting much to speak of, so the end results were little more than just stretching my photographic muscles again, so to speak.

I dragged myself out of hiding to take part in a fun photographic event hosted by the Regional Gallery, where photographers were invited to bring along a BW image and talk about it briefly; I really enjoyed that, partly because it brought me into contact with the local art community. This is what I took along:

Pigeon Woman

For the ensuing year or so, I began to take my photography more seriously again, and wondered whether some of what I was doing might be suitable for any of the local galleries. Somehow, I always had difficulty with that – whether photography, mine in particular, could stand alongside works that were palpably more worthy of being called art. That’s just me. Somewhere, there was always a nagging feeling that I wasn’t an artist, that my reason for taking pictures was just to hang something on the wall that was nice to look at, without there being any greater substance, any social comment or underlying meaning to the images.

Then on that wonderful evening in November last year, I stumbled upon redbubble; seeing the tremendous wealth of talent out there seemed to be the catalyst I needed. Since then I have been gradually developing a body of work – very mixed, it has to be said – that might soon become something more than just a few images on the HDD. I might at last dare to call myself an artist. Maybe I’m too left-brain though, too concerned with technical quality, and not sufficiently able to let go and just be utterly creative, without always comparing with existing standards and references. I hope not!

3:58 pm

A couple of weeks ago, I visited the regional gallery again, and found an exhibition that in itself I didn’t find particularly enthralling. The following part of the brief introduction to the work on display did catch my eye though:
  • His figures can be easily read as archetypal images of ‘man’ giving no indication of external factors, no clues, and no contextualization, leaving viewers to contemplate the trans-historical universal human.
Now, I’m curious about how many other visitors to that exhibition will have "contemplated the trans-historical" ... etc, as it hadn’t occurred to me to do so. I think that this is substantially why I have had difficulty seeing myself as An Artist. I don’t seem to understand the lingo. My more frequent reaction to exhibitions is "yes, but is it art?" Or perhaps, "why is it art?" I think I’d like to take a group of artists, critics, gallery directors and other cognoscenti, as well as the lay public, through such an exhibition without their reading the introduction, and see how many of them would actually come up with a reaction that reflected the commentary. It might be an interesting experiment.

Buy art

Monday, June 2, 2008

Wild dreams

You know that dramatic/elusive quality that dreams can have? You have an extraordinarily vivid nocturnal experience, full of bizarre and surreal goings-on, and yet come morning, there is just a tantalising wisp remaining. Like a word on the tip of your tongue, you may almost be able to recall what it was that was such fun (assuming it was fun), but the more you probe, the fainter the recollection becomes. So frustrating, it could drive you to distraction. Well, the guys at xkcd obviously recognise this situation, and have illustrated it quite succinctly; glad I have my dreams though!

Here's the full image.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Breathing deeply now...

Went to the doc yesterday, to investigate the possibility that I might have asthma, as "sources close to my sister-in-law" have previously said that my cough sounds like her son's asthma cough. Certainly, the last couple of times there's been smoke around from bushfires, my chest has felt a bit tight. So, to be on the safe side, I thought an appointment wouldn't be a bad idea.

Having blown, puffed and wheezed into a couple of devices, been measured for height (2 distinctly different values there!), and briefly quizzed about my history, it seems I have the lungs of a 39-year-old. I want to thank that person, whoever they may be. I don't remember receiving the gift, but the evidence is incontrovertible: for sheer volume of puff, my lungs are 10 years younger than I am, and in seeing how hard I could blow out, my ability proved to be right at the top of the scale for my age. Interesting - and rather reassuring. Nonetheless, I did opt to try an inhaler for a while, to see if it makes any difference to the cough. There's nothing like testing a hypothesis properly.

In addition to having good bellows, my hairline is much less receded than anyone knowing my family history would have bet on (maybe that came from the same source as the lungs). Maybe I was built from a kit, cherry-picked from a set of possibilities, to create the best result. The only thing that spoils it is that I've always felt I was born old; the tea beside me now is in a mug adorned with "World's greatest boring old fart," a treasured memento from a previous job, where my level of wisdom and knowledge of trivia and bad old jokes that should have retired long ago, were held in some regard.

We used to joke at college about one bloke, whose musical tastes seemed to be 10 years in the past; I'm very much like that now - haven't much idea who's who these days, and who my kids are listening to. Recent music is anything written since the days of JS Bach. And yes, policemen (and women) are looking remarkably junior these days. Never mind, at least I've plenty of puff - even if the legs don't always want me to use it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tidy desk, tidy mind?

Having written previously about my battle with clutter, I was interested to find this post by the Closet Entrepreneur on the subject. I thought it might have been discussing big stuff - stacks of printer paper, cases of beer, dead-but-might-be-repairable computers, etc. Not quite, but it is a strange and compelling, if possibly Utopian, view of what can be achieved with pegboard & cable ties.

Declutter the mess under your desk

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I've no time for this

Time management: there's a knack to it, I'm sure - one that I never seem to have had. Or so I thought ... I now suspect the Universe is just against me in this regard.

I realised today that, in addition to having recently bought a wristwatch with a dodgy strap (so it's not very wearable), and my mobile phone having suffered an accident that renders much of the screen unusable - including the time display - the recently-bought 2nd hand car has a clock that resets every time the ignition is turned off. Someone doesn't want me to know what the time is. Now, perhaps all I need to do is work out the significance of this, and there might be a profound revelation that positively affects the course of my life henceforth.

Or it might just be proof of the adage about unwelcome things coming in 3s. But then again, as I write, I realise also that the new digital camera doesn't seem to preserve the precise time of exposure in the downloaded filename, just the date. AAaaargh! I don't have time for paranoia!

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Dictionary Effect

One of the perils of life online is distraction. You want some information and go looking for it; you might or might not find what you want, but you will almost certainly find other things that you don't want either, but which are very tempting. You know how it goes: one query spawns five links worth looking at; each of those leads to five others, and so on. Within minutes, you can forget what you went in search of, and spend an obscene and distressing amount of time looking elsewhere at undeniably fascinating sites. Then, when you try to retrace your steps from the final page you dare look at, you will find it's next to impossible.

I always used to have this problem with dictionaries (still do), as they can be similarly engaging with serendipitous disovery. Dictionaries are safer though - each new link takes but seconds to read, and probably only leads you on a single trail, instead of an almost infinitely diverging set of possibilities.

xkcd expresses it thus...

Subtitle: "'Taft in a wet t-shirt contest' is the key image here."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bad dreams

For many years, I worked in an environment where procedures had to be followed very precisely, processes had to be rigorously tested and monitored, and where cleanliness (the workplace, not personal) was of paramount importance. The fact that I grew tired, not so much of the need for such tight control, but of the monotony of it all, meant that I baled out when the opportunity arose. About a couple of years afterwards, I returned to a similar role on a temporary basis, which merely served to confirm that I was right to leave in the first place.

Ever since that time, 12 years ago, I have had occasional unwelcome dreams that I am back in the old place, finding that all is not as it should be; the clean room is filthy, a vital part of the processing chain has not been turned on, I have forgotten to attend to a task until far too late, or I am simply back in purgatory, doing a job that has lost all of its appeal. Whatever the circumstance, it is usually a minor disaster, and fills me with feelings of utter dread.

The other night though, came a new variation: the entire facility had been dismantled, leaving only a leaky water supply. Does this mean that I have finally laid the ghost? Will I be able to sleep in peace from now on? I live in hope. Or perhaps I will be like Tantalus, where the waters recede every time I try to mop them up, and flow again when my back is turned. That I could cope with!

Friday, January 25, 2008

You can't do nuthin'

We've had a fair bit of rain lately (he says, using traditional British understatement, since Northern NSW and parts of Qld have copped enough to float the navy). In a land enduring a protracted period of drough, it is however, generally welcome. Not all of it has fallen in the right places though, and hereabouts - which has been a lush green for a long time now - this particular natural bounty is somewhat surplus to requirements. Further than that: being school holidays, it is less than welcome as the clouds dump on us for the umpteenth day. Too bad, but we'll survive.

However, I hopped on a bus recently, and the driver greeted an acquaintance with "You can't do nuthin'," as she bemoaned the continuing precipitation. I had to wonder how people get by, with such a limiting outlook. The good citizens of Coffs Harbour are demonstrably doing a wide range of things. Few of them, I grant you, are connected with chasing a ball about, pursuing piscean prey, or lying on a golden beach, cultivating melanoma, but that still leaves many other possibilities. In a few days' time, the same people will be complaining that it's too hot and humid.