Giant Centipede Catching and Eating Mouse

27 March, 2006

Footage of a HUGE centipede catching and eating a mouse. This gives me the willies.

(It's a video, so those on dial-up should probably just imagine it)

read more | digg story

Subvocal speech recognition

26 March, 2006

NASA researchers can hear what you’re saying, even when you don’t make a sound. This is done by recording the weak electrical currents from your brain to the speech muscles. Very interesting new technology.

read more | digg story

Worst Freebie Ever

23 March, 2006

So a few of us from work decided to go bowling last night for shits and giggles. I haven’t been bowling for years, and have completely lost the co-ordination of footwork that I used to have as young man about town instead of the doddering old fool I apparently now am.
So instead of gazelle-like grace as I slide forward, fluidly sending the ball hurtling down the polished wood, my foot pointing out behind me in that “pro” looking way, turning away and slowly walking back to the seats with the certain knowledge that a strike or spare is occurring, I now tend to look like one of those people who always seem to bowl off the wrong foot, looking slightly awkward and hunched, and whose balls vary wildly from gutter to strike, from bad luck split to how-did-all-those-pins-fall-down-when-you-only-actually-hit-one-of-them?
And I actually got worse in the second game, as I pondered my lack of technique and tried to do something about it. Still, I may have just slightly exaggerated my inadequacy, as I ended the evening with the best combined score (121 and 104, if you feel like sniggering) and so, as we handed our pretty blue bowling shoes back to the shoe-collecting guy, he handed me a voucher which, as a superior bowler and winner, entitles me to 3 free games. Bonus!

Bowling voucher

Or so I thought.

There are conditions. I have to bring along at least a couple of fully paying rubes in order to get my free games; the freebies are only available to me (my name is written in big black Vivid marker across the front of it just to make sure I don’t commit a crime like giving it to somebody else); and it’s one player only, so I can’t bring a couple of chums along to each get one free game; but worst of all:
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The thing is only valid for one week! How many people are going to take up this generous offer? Nobody goes bowling twice a week, probably not even those slightly weird looking folk with their wrist braces and custom balls.
The sheer stink of money-grubbing cluelessness that this entails is amazing. I can just imagine a fat-gutted mouth-breathing moron of a manager deciding that giving away these things is going to cost him money, and making them expire in such a short time is a smart move to ensure that not too many of the little buggers are floating about the place.
The much more likely scenario is that a person who receives a give-away that is actually worth going back for, at his own leisure, will almost certainly bring some friends (who bowls alone?), and may even keep coming up back and spending money if the establishment is any good at all. This “voucher” is useless. To you, Bowland, I say “Bah!”

Almost a Grown-Up

19 March, 2006

Having moved down from Auckland to Wellington late last year and started a new job in the windy city, the lovely YoungMissy and myself have been living at her parent’s place while we looked for a place to live. Or, as we soon decided, while we looked for a place to buy.

And so, after scanning through hundred of places on Net and in the papers, driving past dozens more, and going to twenty or thirty open homes, we eventually put in a tender on a place (after first having to learn what a tender was and how it worked).
We pulled a figure for the tender from out of thin air (or from out of our arses, depending on who you talk to), played a couple of rounds of the excruciating negotiating game, and are now the proud and indebted owners of a house that we think is rather good.

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And that’ll be the reason for the infrequency of updates here recently…

Quality and Journalists: A Study in Oxymorony.

17 March, 2006

A title like the above isn’t going to surprise many people. Well, maybe the made-up word will, but the subject matter is not new. Journalists and quality are not two concepts that readily go together. It can be the lack of ethical qualities in journalism evidenced in the webosphere/blogosphere/whatever they’re calling the internet these days, such as the PodFather Adam Curry’s battle against paparazzi who appropriated photos from his account on the photo-sharing site Flickr and published them in their magazine, along with details of the route (that’s “root”, not “rout”) of how his daughter walks to school.
Or it can be a television station breathlessly reporting on some sensational event simply because a they happen to have video footage of it.

A helicopter in Umma-Gumma land has crashed, slightly injuring a local chicken. And here it is crashing! Again! And again! In slow motion! In close-up! In black and white! In green and red! Upside down!

However, we all know about those sorts of scummy, crappy, sensationalist journos. What disturbs me though, is that on those occasions you have personal knowledge of an event that happens to be reported on, that there are errors in the reporting – every single time.
Sure, the errors may be minor, but it means that every item you read in the paper, see on TV3 News, or on TVNZ’s ridiculously glossy-lipped, ping-pong presenter, pseudo-casual-banter filled “news” program certainly has mistakes in it.

Case in point: knowing Iddet’s interest in the issues around identity and identity crime I read with interest the article in the Dominion Post recently, titled “Identity criminals targeting NZ – police”. Not a bad read, but from the little I know of Mr Hallett (the head of the police identity intelligence unit) I think this quote:

Mr Hallett blames the widespread use of desktop publishing software and the Internet, which is used to find information and official logos.

is highly unlikely to be true. He doesn’t “blame” the internet and desktop publishing at all, and in fact knows that they are simply tools that are used in the carrying out these crimes. Simply by phrasing it wrongly, the journo has made it sound like the police identity intelligence unit are a bunch of technologically challenged coppers who record their voicemail greeting while the mute button is on; make their email go faster by banging on the side of the computer monitor; and want to ban this interweb thing because them criminal types use it.

I’m pretty sure not absolutely everyone in the identity intelligence unit is like that…

In the same article:

There is already one outstanding warrant in New Zealand for a man suspected of using identity fraud to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars to send overseas, where it will likely be used for terrorism.

As the people at the conference that Hallett was speaking would have known, the police have no idea where that money was going, and said as much. Terrorism is a possibility, but so is the money going to set up a small chocolate shop in a quaint French village.
Then there’s TV news. Can someone tell reporters Simon Bradwell and Tom Fraser from TVNZ news that although lots of lazy people and Americans say “killom-itters” when they mean kilometres, that as a reporter you’re meant to pronounce things properly and say “killo-meeters”. I mean, you guys over-pronounce every single Maori word so much that the words sound like they have half a dozen syllables in them. “Ooo-ah-maaa-rahoo” for Oamaru (boy, that’s a nasty website). Speak to the locals: it’s pronounced “Ommeroo” or even “Omroo” by everyone who lives there. Who cares what it might have been pronounced like by Maoris, had they been there and named it 400 years ago. Which they didn’t.
Or then there’s TV reporteress who recently called the New Zealand national anthem “God of Nations”. That’s the first half-line of the thing! I’m neither patriotic nor religious, but the anthem is called “God Defend New Zealand”, dear.
I, and my words, are mere blogging blips in the torrent of frivolous information flowing around the internet, so I’m not expected to get things right. Journalists are expected to. Or at least try.

So just remember, as you watch the news tonight, that every item will have somebody’s name wrong, the date wrong, the colour of the car wrong, misquoted somebody, mispronounced something, attributed something to the wrong person, and missed out vital facts in order to make the article more sound-bitey. Enjoy!

Pac Man on Your Nano

14 March, 2006

OK, putting Linux on your iPod is cool.

Getting MAME (the arcade machine emulator) running on it is even cooler.

But building a scale model cabinet to play Ms. Pac Man on your iPod Nano may be getting just a little excessive.


A whole album’s worth of the creative process is over here.

Google in 20 Years

13 March, 2006

Very probably true. - Free Image Picture Photo Hosting Service