Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Smoky sunrise


Smoky sunrise, originally uploaded by No Middle Name.

Sunrise obscured by bushfire smoke this morning.

Friday, December 08, 2006

(de)construction


(de)construction, originally uploaded by No Middle Name.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Passengers 4

A later train than usual. Mostly full, but I see several empty seats clustered together. I sit down next to a skinny man, who is wearing denims and is hunched over the freebie newspaper. There are a couple of other empty seats near us, but people are standing.

The man's jeans are dirty enough to have become shiny in parts. The skin on his hands and neck is papery, blotchy, abraded in strange places. His hair is cut very short and is either naturally a faded ginger colour, or the man smokes a lot and has white hair.

We sit next to each other for a few more stops. Nobody sits in the seats opposite. He carefully folds his newspaper, then puts it in his holdall before getting off at his stop. He leaves behind a slightly sickly, persistent smell and a fly which will not leave me alone.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Blaine to disappear up own anus.

David Blaine embarks on his most ambitious stunt ever. The renowned magician will today attempt to fold himself into his rectum, vanishing forever with a slight grunt.

"It's the trick I've been training for", said Blaine through a megaphone standing on a street corner, shouting at anyone who was unfortunate to be passing by. "Look at me! Look at me!", he added.

Reaction to the news has been overwhelming: "Thank fuck for that", said Milton Armtwistle, society burglar; "Twat", enthused Devon McCreamy, lady-adventurer; "Didn't he do that before?", enquired Lennon McCartney, 57, a retired hamster sexer.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My secret shame

Today I cast aside all pretence at normality and wore my geekdom in public. I watched the first episode of season 6 of Smallville on my phone on the train. A double-whammy of nerdhood - firstly, that I watch Smallville at all; secondly, that I like it enough to work out how to get it onto my phone to watch; thirdly, that I have a phone capable of playing video. Ok, so that's a triple-whammy, but considering that neither you nor I would recognise a whammy if it ran up and bit us on the bum, you can bloody well stop being so pedantic.

Anyway, this season looks promising. There's a nice setup for some super-baddies to appear in later episodes, Jimmy Olsen has turned up, and things might actually happen this season. Then again, I have said that at the start of every season, and for the first four seasons of monster-of-the-week episodes that ended with Clark making big cow eyes at Lana but not doing anything I was proven wrong. Season 5 broke the mould by having things happen that wouldn't be put right by the end of the episode.

I watched it on my phone because my wife hates the show, having been put off by the motw episodes. There's no point trying to watch it on tv, because here in australia they seem to enjoy messing about with their schedules. Just when you think they're showing season five, they slip in a couple of season fours, then change the timeslot before cancelling it for a few weeks and then bringing it back on a different day. It's not just Smallville they do this with, more popular shows like House are not immune. There's also the excessive advert frequency.

So, you've no choice really - download it, watch it when you want, where you want. Apparently, that's illegal. I'd pay for it, but there's no one that wants to take my money - they'd rather call me a criminal.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

My workplace


My workplace, originally uploaded by No Middle Name.

My workplace has The Empire Strikes Back on the telly in the kitchen. Beat that Bloomberg.



(that's Chewbacca holding c3p0's head in his hands, by the way)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sharing Files Between Windows Mobile and Mac OS X via Wi-Fi

I bought an ibook just before they started bundling bluetooth, but after they started bundling airport extreme. On Friday, my new i-mate jasjam (also called a HTC Hermes / TyTN) was delivered. It comes with Active Sync, which only works on PCs. It comes with a USB cable, but all I could do with that was charge the battery on a Mac. It has Wi-Fi and joined my home network easily, but it won't sync over wireless.

A bit of googling later, and I found out that you can share files, and get it to work as a modem with a mac - but only via bluetooth. Grr - no good for me unless I shell out for a dongle. There's also Missing Sync, an Active Sync replacement for Mac OS X, but it costs money and requires OS 10.4 (I've got 10.3 - so that would be an extra $200 on top). I thought of using FTP to transfer files, but Windows Mobile doesn't come with a FTP client. You can buy them, but I'm a skinflint.

Ah-ha, I thought, Windows Mobile probably supports SMB (the windows standard for sharing folders over a network). I know that OS X comes with samba support, and so can join in Windows network file sharing fun. Let's see if I can get that to work.

First, on your Mac, go to System Preferences. Choose "Sharing", and enable "Windows File Sharing". This starts the SMB server. OSX will tell you the share name you can use at the bottom of the screen (in my screenshot it says \\192.168.1.102\gareth, but see later for why this doesn't work). The way sharing works in OSX, you'll only be able to read files in your Public directory, and write files in the "Public/Drop Box" directory.

Right, now on your mobile device go to File Explorer. Choose menu, then Open Path, New Path and enter \\[mac machine name]\[username]\public. The IP address version does not work in windows mobile, you have to use the machine name. For me, that was \\ibook\gareth\public, check the name at the top of the sharing window. You'll be prompted for a username, password and domain if all goes well. Enter your Mac username (the short version - not your full name) and password, and "WORKGROUP" for the domain. That should be it. You can now read all the files in the Public directory and write files to the "Drop Box" directory, via Wi-Fi and it didn't cost you a thing. Bargain.

Now, this is just file sharing - not syncing, so no automatic updates of files, copying of address books or anything like that. But this is enough for me, and I'm chuffed to have got it working.

UPDATE: In Leopard (OS X 10.5), Windows file sharing is a little dodgy. If you're using Leopard and having problems connecting to the Mac from your Windows mobile device (Login failed?), try removing the "workgroup" from the domain field on your windows mobile device. Just leave it blank. Worked for me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Mickey Mouse Made Me Cry

On a whim, I ordered Howard Who? from Small Beer Press (along with Kate Wilhelm's excellent Storyteller). I'd read a couple of Howard Waldrop's stories before on the now-defunct SciFiction (the archives still work, worth a read), and was keen to read more.

The man's a fucking genius. In the last week I've read about a man searching for the last dodos; Elvis wishing he could play the clarinet like Eisenhower instead of being a Senator; fishing for Leviathan after the Great Fire of London; zen sumos throwing their opponents with the power of their minds; and what happened to Mickey, Donald, and Goofy at the end of the world. All meticulously researched, and completely believable.

Every single story is great. They're all examples of a writer getting an idea and running with it, elbowing aside worries about whether the story will find a market or any of the other crap that gets in the way. "Horror, We Got" is the perfect example. In it Israel builds a time machine, and the Jews take over the world just to spite the paranoid anti-semites. In the notes at the end of the book Waldrop recounts the first time it was read aloud at a convention:
Ed Bryant was watching. He said for the first ten minutes it was like watching the audience in Mel Brooks' The Producers watching Springtime For Hitler... Then people slowly caught on, and they ended up applauding.


Above all, they're examples of a writer having fun and enjoying what he's doing.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Miracle


Miracle, originally uploaded by No Middle Name.

Where do the trolleys go?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Dragon Waiting

Did you ever read a book that you really liked, but made you feel stupid? The Dragon Waiting is one of those books.

It has a great plot, interesting characters and a very well thought out fantasy world that combines elements of real-world history with magic and vampires. No problems so far.

There were sections however, that only hint at what's going on. Conversations where one character says something vague, followed by the other character thinking things along the lines of "...he knew exactly what she meant". Well I don't, tell me! I don't have a clue, mate. I hate being made to feel stupid, or that I've missed something, mainly because it doesn't happen very often (me being super-clever, of course. Much cleverer than you, for instance. Yes, I am).

Luckily, the interwebs have found another review that comments on the same thing. Which is fine by me. As long as it's not just me feeling a bit stupid I can cope with it. Maybe, as the reviewer above states, it's one of those books you can keep reading over and over, getting more out of it each time - but that will have to wait until my sulk at feeling thick is over.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Captain Moistbeard of the Customer Liaison Unit

"Ah, sit down, Moistbeard."
"Aye, yer lordship."
"Er, yes. Just George will be fine, Moistbeard. Our company culture is one of informality. Anyway, let's get down to business. You've been with us a little over six months now, haven't you?"
"Aye, yer lord - aye."
"Company policy dictates that we have these little chats, they're called appraisals but they're more of an opportunity for us to get to know each other, decide what we can do to help you achieve your personal career goals."
"Size each other up, like Ahab and his fish."
"Yes. Ahab's in accounts, isn't he? Smashing fellow. So, let me just scan through your appraisal form and we'll take it from there. Hmm, under 'achievements' you've written 'plundered the seven floors, stirking fear into the hearts of all the desk-lubbers'. Care to elaborate?"
"Aye, sir. My crew and I have formed many a raiding party, gathering what booty we could find - staplers, photocopiers, serving wenches, dubloons."
"Dubloons are trousers, aren't they?"
"Beggin yer pardon, sir, but no. Them's pantaloons ye be thinking of."
"Yes, quite. Didn't know we had any serving wenches, either."
"Well, I was being polite there. Mildred the tea lady is a little creaky in the yardarm, but she'd have been offended if we hadn't at least tried to cart her off in captivity."
"Well, that certainly shows ingenuity and resourcefulness. You know, I could do with a stapler myself - they're jolly hard to find."
"Say no more, sir. I'll send my cabin boy over this afternoon."
"Well, thank you. I've never had much luck requisitioning one."
"No, sir. The stationery department is full of cutthroats and petty thieves, they don't follow the Law of the Sea. Luckily for us, my cutlass speaks their language. Yarr."

Monday, October 09, 2006

Reflections


Reflections, originally uploaded by No Middle Name.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Horse


Horse, originally uploaded by No Middle Name.

My workplace is protected by electric cyber-horses.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Resurrection

Resurrection
Resurrection, originally uploaded by No Middle Name.

And lo, on the third day didst some of the trolleys rise up from their graves and trundle away.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Passengers 3

Across the aisle from me, is a woman with the flawless complexion of a terracotta warrior. Same burnt orange colour, same featureless, uniform texture. She looks plastered, rather than made-up. To relieve the monotony of hue, her lips are picked out in a subtle shade of neon pink. Her dyed hair is a strange purply-red colour, a little too short for the artful piling she has attempted, varnished with a stupendous amount of hairspray and buttressed with an assortment of hair grips the size of girders. For good measure, a large, green, silk orchid is glued to one side of her head. Her black uniform bulges in all the wrong places, and she stares vacantly into space. On her shirt is the name of her workplace, a beauty salon. You too could look like her, it says.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Ooh, blogger beta, sir?

So I've converted my blog to blogger's new beta. This means the site is dynamically generated, not static, and I can add little tags or labels to each post without using Flock. Actually, Flock probably won't work anymore. Or Flickr. But I know Flickr has been fixed. I just need to sort out my settings. Which I will do in a minute. I'd hate for me not to be able to post crappy cameraphone pictures to my blog.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

Suburban Deathtrap

This weekend I had to strim our garden. We're moving out of rented accommodation so we need to make everything nice and tidy. I up-ended the strimmer to replace the plastic coil of whirling cellulose disruption, and proceeded to shriek like a pansy.

Nestling gently amongst the compacted, shredded lawn remnants was a redback spider. Sleek, black, pointy and kind of cool looking, it was the KITT of the spider world. But without the annoying, slightly camp voice.

Seemed a shame to have to stomp it into a small smear on the garage floor,  but poisonous, potentially lethal creatures with the ability to scurry up my trouser leg have no place in my world.


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Friday, September 08, 2006

Graveyard


Graveyard
Originally uploaded by No Middle Name.
Where shopping trolleys go to die.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Passengers 2

Imagine a balloon squeezed at one end, the other end swelling and - well, ballooning. Paint a face on it and you'd have a first approximation of the guy that sat opposite me on the train the other day. He looked as if his tie was too tight. His eyes seemed to bulge, showing too much white. His face was almost purple. If he'd been frowning you would be concerned about how much fibre he was getting. Smiling beatifically, he stared at a point about two feet above my head and a foot to my right for the whole journey. It may be that his over-starched collar had forced his head into this position and he couldn't move any more. I surmised that he must be on his way to see a doctor, or perhaps a tailor.

I crush a tram


I crush a tram
Originally uploaded by No Middle Name.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Links I'll never get around to reading

Fifty (50!) Tools which can help you in Writing - lifehack.org

These look interesting, but 50 is far too many for me to get around to reading. I never seem to have that much time.

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I crush your head


subbuteo cricket
Originally uploaded by iyers.
For me, Wendy, and the other 3 people who watched the Kids in the Hall in the UK: I Crush Your Head.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Passengers 1

The most beautiful woman in the world sat opposite me on the train the other morning. Eyes like polished emeralds watched the suburbs slide past. Succulent lips pouted above a delicate chin, cradled on long, elegant fingers. Her shoulder-length, blonde hair was restrained in some complicated folding arrangement the secrets of which are known only to women.

The most beautiful woman in the world dozed off not long after I got on. Her head would slowly fall forwards, jerking herself awake in a glamorous, heartwrenchingly sexy way, followed by mopping up the drool from the corner of her mouth.

The most beautiful woman in the world woke up a few stops from the end of the line. She ran an unpainted fingernail around the inside of her right ear, delving into the folds. The most beautiful woman in the world wiped whatever she'd excavated on the lapel of her fashionable jacket before yawning and returning to her quiet contemplation of the world.

The most beautiful woman in the world lurched to her feet as the train pulled in to her station, she shuffled to the door along with all the other passengers, her long legs displayed to perfection in tailored trousers. Later, when she thinks nobody is looking she will retrieve her knickers which have disappeared up the crack of her arse.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Australian Radio

Since we arrived in this beautiful country, nearly a year ago, we've been trying to get into the Australian music scene. Back in dear old Blighty, Radio 1 told us what to listen to if we wanted to be cool and groovy, and down with the kids, man. Jo Whiley would carefully inform us as to what we were allowed to listen to and what we should now sneer at.

Over here, most of the radio stations are total dogshit. They play adverts between each song, adverts during the news, sneak in adverts as part of the traffic reports, they'd probably even put an advert in the songs themselves if there's a quiet bit. When they're not whoring themselves, the songs they do play are crappy Americanized, middle of the road, poppy pap or sphincter-clenching Classic Rock where the music is drowned out by the creaking of the tight leather trousers and you can almost smell the hairspray. If a song does not have a guitar (or sample of a guitar) in it, you won't hear it. Triple M, for instance, pride themselves on the wide range of music they play: "You never know what we'll play next". Yes, I do. It'll be something shit with guitars in.

Don't get me wrong, I love guitar-based music. My tastes run the alphabet from Aerosmith to ZZ Top. It's just that I don't want to hear it all the time. I want my tastes to be challenged. The musical alphabet also includes the Beastie Boys, Chemical Brothers, Divine Comedy, Eminem, Faithless. (OK, I know, some of them have guitars but they're not what you'd call Rock).

So we asked people, they suggested radio stations. They were shit. We despaired. We've been weaned on a constant diet of new music and diversity (ok, Radio 1's version of diversity which is good enough for us, thank you very much - you fans of Finnish nose-flute Gregorian chant death metal can pipe down now), pampered by an absence of advertising jingles. Eventually someone suggested Triple J (no, I don't know what it is with the triples either).

Now, the music on Triple J is really very good. They play a great range of music, and I've heard some quality Aussie tunes (the Hilltop Hoods, as an example). It's part of ABC (the Australian version of the BBC), so there's no adverts. Some of the DJs bore me to tears, but I can live with that. The only problem is one that makes me feel like an old git.

It's the swearing. Apparently, swearing is fine on Triple J. They don't mind it at all. No editing out rude words, no mangling of songs just because someone says "Shit". Quite refreshing. Not so good for the listening to the radio in the car with the kids in the back, or at home.
"Daddy, what did that man mean when he sang about John Howard knowing the taste of George's dick?"
"Spotted dick, son. It's a pudding with raisins in it."

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Friday, March 03, 2006

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Friday, February 24, 2006

Monday, February 13, 2006

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Grr.


Grr.
Originally uploaded by No Middle Name.
No hot chocolate for you, Mr. Jones. You've had enough. Here's a nice cup of lukewarm water instead. German engineered bastard of a coffee machine. I will have my revenge, oh yes. Well, probably not.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Rain


Rain
Originally uploaded by No Middle Name.

This picture looked just as crap on my phone's little screen. I was hoping it would look better when viewed larger. It doesn't.



It was forty degrees here in Melbourne last weekend, and the sun was blazing down, shrivelling everything like a crisp packet in an oven (see episodes of Blue Peter in the late 1970s for more details on that reference). This weekend it's still quite hot, but there's lots and lots and lots of rain. Oh well - we're still doing better than a UK summer, so no reason to complain.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Flags


Flags
Originally uploaded by No Middle Name.
Swanston street flags for Australia Day.

K-9 versus the mop people


K-9 versus the mop people
Originally uploaded by No Middle Name.
A lost episode of Doctor Who, in which plucky K-9 is attacked by a race of animated cleaning implements.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Steamy window


Steamy window
Originally uploaded by No Middle Name.
An inexplicably steamy window, at work. Me that is, not the window.

For squeaky emus


For squeaky emus
Originally uploaded by No Middle Name.

Nautilus


Nautilus
Originally uploaded by No Middle Name.
I was going to write an in-depth review of Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The forces of procrastination have overwhelmed me. Short version: vol. 1 great, author having fun; vol. 2 great, author had enough now, time to finish.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hot chocolate


Hot chocolate
Originally uploaded by No Middle Name.
The evil coffee machine at work has decided that hot chocolate (and derivatives thereof, e.g. mocha) is an abomination. Any requests for it are met with a surly beep and a cup of tepid water.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Friday, January 13, 2006

bulbs


bulbs
Originally uploaded by No Middle Name.
Artistic light fitting where i work.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Trains


Trains
Originally uploaded by No Middle Name.
Waiting at the station.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Welsh church


Welsh church
Originally uploaded by No Middle Name.
The welsh church in melbourne.