Posts categorized under: misc

The Kwazy Kwistmas Kwiz

Pub quizzes for the overly dedicated boardgamer

For my sins, I've been running the Christmas pub quiz at London-on-Board for several years. (The reason it's named as above have been lost to the mists of time.) As boardgamers, it's not enough to have a straight quiz of course. No, that would be too easy. Thus the quiz …

Long away, no excuse

Uh ...

So, due to work commitments, technical issues with the website, being busy with life, increasing ambivalence toward social media, moving website hosts, etc, etc., it turns out I haven't updated this website in over a year.

Now I have. And this will serve as my update for 2020.

Transmorphing Killer Robot Movie

Coming to a screen near you

Scene: a suburban back yard. A giant alien ROBOT is crouched hiding behind the house, talking to a teenage BOY.

BOY: Mr Robot, now that you’re on Earth, how will you hide from your evil robot enemies? And the military, who would like to dismantle and study you? While …

Spanish soap opera

Is this a telenovela?

I'm learning Spanish at the moment and the example sentences seem to be trying to tell a story:

  • Robert works at three factories.
  • Working in an office is fun.
  • No, I do not live with my girlfriend. My girlfriend lives in China.
  • The library has three books.
  • This man is …

Marvel Comics' "Everyone Else"

A modest proposal.

Dateline, New York: In a surprise press conference today, Marvel Comics has revealed its TV lineup for new season, consisting of over 500 new shows and comic book tie-ins. Said a spokesperson for the company, "We were wondering how to work in Tigra, whether she should join 'Inhumans' or make …

Making a new package ecosystem

  • People complain the old package management system doesn’t work and/or is too complex. A solution is needed.
  • Pick a strange and inappropriate common word for the name of your new system. It should have nothing to do with the actual function or workings of your tool. “Groundhog”? “Frigate …

Agapow's paradox

My bid for fame.

Of course, everyone wants to have a phenomena or syndrome or disease named after them. So that's why I'm staking my claim on Agapow's Paradox:

Anyone who boasts of their people skills, actually has terrible people skills.

(Thanks to Graham Thompson for the name.)

Using Oracle webforms with Chrome

All I wanted to do was fill in a form.

The problem

For better or worse, a lot of HR systems, admin forms and clinical software have web front ends that are generated or driven by Oracle Forms or other Oracle tech. And, for reasons that are completely opaque, these web forms will frequently misbehave or refuse to run in …

PM for PM

If Trump can do it, why not me?

Since it's the season for unqualified blowhards running for office, I've decided to throw my hat into the ring and nominate myself for Australian Prime Minister.

My platform is simple:

  1. I'm not an unmitigated misogynistic paleo-asshole
  2. The national anthem shall be changed to "Throw Your Arms Around Me", and will …

Tech talk cliches

Inspired by a season of too many meetings.
  • Speaker strolls from side to side across the stage, staring at the opposing wall while occasionally stealing furtive glances at the audience.
  • Dress: skinny jeans, blazer or cardigan over ironic t-shirt. Beard and/or dorky glasses optional.
  • "passion"
  • Technology failure
  • "data-driven"
  • "Yeah, I used to be a musician / poet / performance …

As I was watching Game of Thrones

Notes made while binging through seasons 2 & 3.

Uh, who are these beardy dudes standing on a beach? I have a feeling I'm going to be asking this sort of question a lot ...

The GRRM writing flowchart:

Is there incest?


Yes: (narrows eyes) Hurrrr ...

The quintessential GoT moment: a sex scene cuts to another sex …

Replacements for Google Reader

Give me an RSS reader made for speed.

With the ongoing demise of Google Reader (July 1), like a lot of other people I've been looking for a replacement. And - like a lot of other people - I haven't been finding what I wanted and so the search for a replacement …

Scanning for digital notes

What software do I use to convert handwritten notes into a digital form?


Like many scientists, I make lots of notes: cribsheets, reading summaries, analysis details, ideas ... and I end up with a huge volume of paper, boxes of old journals and notebooks. Not only does this take up a large amount of room, but it's also difficult to search and related …

Extracting images from MSWord

A simple problem, solved in a simple way.

The problem

Sometimes, you need to extract and save an image that is part of a Microsoft Word document, that you can't get any other way. For example, you might need a copy of an institutional logo that is only present as …

Failing installer

Application installation craps out, a mystery is created and then solved.


Following the purchase of a new computer and a new hard-drive for an old computer, the installer for a much-loved game (Ticket to Ride) would choke half-way through with a repeated series of "could not write" error messages …

Romanized Russian and jTranslit

Explicating a transliteration scheme.

Typing Russian characters on a plain old keyboard is hard. You could install another keyboard mapping, but this means you have to labouriously change change keyboard layout everytime you swap languages, and have to remember where how the Cyrillic characters are arranged. You could install some sort of virtual keyboard …

Star Wars names

Demonstrating that the magic truly has left George Lucas.

How can you take seriously a movie featuring a character called "Pash Cracken"? It sounds like something produced by an Australian slang generator. These are all genuine names from the Star Wars movies, harvested from the IMDB or the Star Wars Name Databank:

  • Aks Moe
  • Ask Aak
  • Bultar Swan
  • Captain …

Weird-looking Office bug

In which a strange retro look overtakes MSWord.

The symptoms

All the Microsoft Office programs - Word, Outlook, Excel etc - lose their soothing, sleek modern look for a weird, lo-fi, monochrome appearance, as if the graphics have been reduced to 16bit or reverted to Word 97. Most noticeable is the way that the window buttons (shrink / maximize / close) revert …


Some variant rules & ideas.

Trading out of debt

If placed into debt, a player must pay a debt as fully as possible on the spot. However, the player can trade to raise money to pay this debt if need be. But this trading can only take place if it raises enough money to pay …

Drag fails in Finder

A nagging, elusive MacOSX problem.

This is an odd bug I encountered in MacOSX. It's tough to google for, but it seems to be common and so far without a solution. This page is for other people to find, and maybe to elicit a solution.


Dragging a file fails in the Mac Finder. Files …

MacBooks: heat and battery life

Some diagnosis of the MacBook's overheating problem and how I solved one cause.

As a recent purchaser of a MacBook (60G white), I've been very happy with the machine. The performance is excellent, the physical form-factor good, the price acceptable, the included devices (camera, IR port) handy. There have been reports about the MacBook Pro line concerning battery problems and over-heating [4] , and …

Generic Fan Complaint

Following fan outcry about film adaptations, only slightly dated

Upset about the Lord of the Rings? Angry about Hitchhikers? Sassy about about Sahara or exercised by X-men? To save time in future, please fill out this form first:


I've just come back from seeing the long-awaited adaptation of the classic _____. It was terrible …

IRISPen Express

A portable document scanner and boat anchor.

In theory, the IRISPen is a handheld scanner in chunky pen form, that will allow you to scan sections of books and save them as images or recognised text. As someone who sifts through a lot of information everyday, I was interested in an easy quick way of getting data …

Converting RealAudio to MP3

Turning RealAudio files into a more convenient format.

It has been argued that Real Networks and their media player are deceptive, annoying and inconvenient. If you use an iPod, the last is certainly true. How do you get RealAudio track playing on your iPod? Despite some moves by Real towards compatibility, meanwhiles you have to convert to some …

Talk Queenslandish in one easy lesson

A brief guide to the curious linguistics of north-eastern Australia.

I had the dubious pleasure of growing up in Queensland, a sun-soaked and slightly backwards part of Australia., second only to South Australia for its obscurity [1]. However, over the years I've come to remember Queensland speech with some affection, a dialect in which it is possible to have an …

Starship Troopers: a review

A review.

(Way back when, I used to do a lot of SF/F reviews as part of the Postviews site. Eventually Postviews will be incorporated into this site, but until then this star of the series can find a home here.)

I couldn't wait for that smarmy little brunette to die …