Shadow Footprints

Wanderings in Virtu and Verity.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Music to my ears?

A virtual drum kit for those without the real thing. A hit in a office environment where you don't have space for the real thing.

Saturday, November 29, 2003


I've been told by some who know me, that I'm not as cynical as I make out, that beneath my statements I have a soft white underbelly.

I naturally use cynical statements as a way of making people question that which is presented to them. I know I have managed to train a few people to question any emails they receive stating "Microsoft says..." or "send this to everyone". Snopes is a good source for debunking, or verifying urban myths.

As a child I was always asking "Why?" My mother said one of the best things she did with me was to get me a library membership. I do know why the sky is blue. As an info-junkie I have picked up all sorts of trivia and can remember it. (I can't remember what I was supposed to pick up at the supermarket though.) With this collection I've often been able to find a connection between unrelated events. I haven't yet managed to relate the colour of the sky to anything.

I get asked, "How do you know all this?" The answer is I don't, all I know is the surface details. Knowing how to find the indepth details is the important thing and, especially on the web, knowing how to correlate reliable sources. Sometimes the web is good when you don't know anything, but then you need to comfortably find enough references supporting a viewpoint, and that these sites have considered to results. I looked up colloidal silver after a colleague raved about this miracle cure. Most of the sites favoured its use but they had just cut'n'pasted from the same source. My verdict? Don't touch the stuff.

That's me, making the world a better place one step at a time. It may be a less innocent place, but the innocence there was only illusory anyway. Having said that I am very pleased that, on occasion, people can still make me blush.


I get a buzz when I'm reading one of the sites on my blogroll, and I notice Shadowfoot on the blogroll there. I hope I never lose that feeling. The feeling that someone, whose writing I respect, respects my writing enough to add me to their regular reads.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Quote of the day - Boredom

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
-- Ellen Parr

Thursday, November 27, 2003

The last thing you'll ever see has a photoshop contest about the last thing you'll ever see.
I like this one.

What kind of social software are you?

what kind of social software are you?You show your professionally designed hand coded Moveable Type blog to your collegues and family, but secretly you're writing about internal angst on a Livejournal.

Right to marry

What is it with people who that gay marriage should not be allowed because I already have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex? has a good rebuttal.

Thanks Bill for the link.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Here cum the marines

US marines will be deployed at the US embassy in Wellington. It'll be a case of "Don't ask, don't tell" in Wellington. Hopefully the cute ones will visit Auckland frequently.

Oh, yeah, it's just part of a security upgrade of US embassies around the world. Marine guards were stationed at the Wellington embassy from the time it opened in 1954 until they were withdrawn in 1995 for budget reasons.

'Just off to the sex shop dear'

Under Auckland City Council's draft bylaws supermarkets, video stores could be 'sex shops'. Every supermarket, pharmacy and video store in Auckland city is potentially an adult sex shop and could be closed down.

Supermarkets and pharmacies could be defined as adult sex shops for selling contraceptives and video stores could become adult sex shops for hiring R18 rated movies.

Under new rules to control the sex industry in Auckland city, commercial sex premises are restricted in the central city and banned from residential areas and at ground level.

Travel baggage security

With Travel Sentry™ your baggage can be secure while travelling via the USA. Yes, The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) now allows you to lock your checked baggage with Travel Sentry™ Certified locks.

Here's how it works:

Accepted and Recognized by the TSA
  1. Each Travel Sentry™ Certified Lock has a special identification mark alerting the TSA that they can open this lock without destroying it.
  2. Each of these locks has a special code, which is used by the TSA.
  3. Each TSA screening location is able to use these codes to open the lock and then relock it after inspection.
So, with Travel Sentry travelers can now...
  • lock their bags with confidence
  • feel sure their possessions are once again secured
  • travel with peace of mind
... and help the TSA focus on its mission of securing air travel.
We can all rest assured that these codes and master keys will never make it into the hands of thieves.

To steal your possessions from your bag a thief will have to break the lock or have one of the tools used by the TSA. To the question of How do I know the TSA tools will not fall into the wrong hands? The site responds with The Transportation Security Administration strictly controls the distribution of the tools. The site does not indicate how the bag manufacturers get to test the locks or control the use of the tools.


The new 20’ By 20’ Room gaming blog has a suggestion for a fun-sounding collaborative writing/world-building exercise, Lexicon.

The basic idea is that each player takes on the role of a scholar, from before scholarly pursuits became professionalized (or possibly after they ceased to be). You are cranky, opinionated, prejudiced and eccentric. You are also collaborating with a number of your peers -- the other players -- on the construction of an encyclopedia describing some historical period (possibly of a fantastic world).

The game is played in 26 turns, one for each letter of the alphabet.

1. On the first turn, each player writes an entry for the letter 'A'. You come up with the name of the entry, and you write 100-200 words on the subject. At the end of the article, you sign your name, and make two citations to other entries in the encyclopedia. These citations will be phantoms -- their names exist, but their content will get filled in only on the appropriate turn. No letter can have more entries than the number of players, either, so all citations made on the first turn have to start with non-A letters.

2. On the second and subsequent turns, you continue to write entries for B, C, D and so on. However, you need to make three citations. One must be a reference to an already-written entry, and two must be to unwritten entries. (On the 25th and 26th turns, you only need to cite one and zero phantom entries, respectively, because there won't be enough phantom entries, otherwise.)

It's an academic sin to cite yourself, you can never cite an entry you've written. (OOC, this forces the players to intertwingle their entries, so that everybody depends on everyone else's facts.) Incidentally, once you run out of empty slots, obviously you can only cite the phantom slots.

3. Despite the fact that your peers are self-important, narrow-minded dunderheads, they are honest scholars. No matter how strained their interpretations are, their facts are accurate as historical research can make them. So if you cite an entry, you have to treat its factual content as true! (Though you can argue vociferously with the interpretation and introduce new facts that shade the interpretation.)
The writing exercise interests me, even if it doesn't end up being part of a game. The above premise assumes that two people do not cite the same entry, but if they do it will mean that there are more phantom entries available at the end of the game. It also needs some restriction to prevent a writer citing too many phantom entries from the same letter.

Quote of the day - Old age

About the only thing that comes to us without effort is old age.
-- Gloria Pitzer

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

These are getting dumber

EnzymeYou are an enzyme. You are powerful, dark, variable, and can change many things at your whim...even when they're not supposed to be changed. Bad you. You can be dangerous or wonderful; it's your choice.

Which Biological Molecule Are You? brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, November 24, 2003

Quote of the day - Making apple pie from scratch

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.
-- Carl Sagan

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Nation States

I have just created the Republic of New Havenedge in the region Zealandia in the online government simulation Nation States. I have set up the region of Zealandia for the purposes of politico kiwi bloggers to show how their philosophies are effective and make sense.

Friday, November 21, 2003


I had a go at baking biscotti earlier this week. The basic principle was easy but I managed to overcook even though I cut back on the baking time to prevent that very occurance. I need a better recipe.

What should I do if the internet goes down?

The Toque has the answer, with details about all these options.

  1. Panic!
  2. Find A Telephone
  3. Use Your Back-Up Computer
  4. Install A Game
  5. Perform Routine Maintenance
  6. Turn On A Television Or Radio
  7. Read
  8. Go Outside
  9. Spend Time With Your Spouse
  10. Use Your Emergency AOL Disk

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Estimating the Airspeed Velocity of an Unladen Swallow

Finally someone has the answer to this purplexing question.

Quote of the day - Reading good books

The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.
-- Mark Twain

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Talking and Walking

It appears that humans have not evolved to be able to talk and walk at the same time. If you have a bad back, talking and walking may aggravate it.

Flying Microbots

Epson has developed a small robotic helicopter.


  • Small, lightweight, high-output ultrasonic motor
    According to company research, the FR's actuator has the world's highest power-weight ratio.
  • Low power consumption wireless module
    According to company research, the wireless module has the lowest power consumption in the world
  • Mid-air control technology
    The FR features the world's first center-of-mass movement control by means of a linear actuator.
  • High-density mounting technology
    The ultra-small circuit carries both a high-frequency circuit and a control circuit.
They say "Please note that this product is a prototype. There are no plans to market it as a commercial product."

Solar Eclipse

There will be a Total Solar Eclipse 2003 November 23. It's over antartica but it mans a partial exclise will be seen from parts of NZ and Oz.

Quote of the day - Right to marry

The right to marry means little if it does not include the right to marry the person of one's choice, subject to appropirate government restrictions in the interests of public health, safety, and welfare.
-- Massachusetts Supreme Court

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Fight Linkrot

Calpundit explains how to fight linkrot of NY Times articles. A link generator is available for this purpose.

He also provides the following ranking of the most archive-friendly major news organizations:

Tier 1: CNN, the Guardian, and the BBC all have permanent archives that never disappear.

Tier 2: The Washington Post places old articles behind an archive wall, but previously existing links to the articles work forever. The New York Times makes permanent links possible, even if they're a bit of a pain.

Tier 3: The LA Times places all its content behind an archive wall after a few days and breaks any existing links.

Purgatory: The Wall Street Journal is in a class by itself, since their content is never accessible free of charge on the Web.

Quote of the day - Welcome to the twenty-first century

[Welcome] to the twenty-first century. It's pretty much like the twentieth, except that everyone's afraid and the stock market is a lot lower.
-- Lisa, in The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horrors XIV episode

Monday, November 17, 2003

Vehicle of the week

The segway has too many wheels. The Embrio, from Bombardier, has one less wheel and looks a lot less nerdy.

China's hidden AIDS victims

Unbelievable. Actions taken place in the mid 90's should not have had this level of willful ignorance.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Diary of a London Call Girl

Belle de Jour is a most entertaining read.Whether she is genuine or not doesn't matter, her blog is entertaining.

I loved this quote

A first-time submissive is usually easy to handle and eager to please. It takes months before they start becoming devious, manipulative bottoms. This one was no different and I came out with the cleanest shoes outside a Russell & Bromley. His belt was also put to good use. Working for a safer London, that's me.
Thanks to Darren Barefoot for the link.

Political Tests

Chris Lightfoot has attempted to improve on The Political Compass test by making his own test.

I disagree with his methodology as it ties, what I see as, opposed results on the same axis. For example supporting the death penalty is the most extreme right-wing value, and total opposition to abortion in all circumstances is also right-wing. It also includes that there is a place for organised religion in government and that religious faith should be based on the literal word of God. With these extremes I'm glad it puts me as left-wing, but I agree with Companies should be free to pay their executives any salary, however large.

It includes National law should always override international agreements as right-wing, but I say don't be party to an international agreement if you are not going to follow it. Why does signing an agreement you are not intending to keep make you right-wing?

By combining economic issues with social and moral issues the left/right axis fails. These would be better graphed separately. (But hey, maybe I'm more immoral than I am economically right-wing.)

The survey says the other axis is much less important than the first. It represents a combination of philosophies you could call "pragmatism", "utilitarianism" and so forth, mixing social, religious and economic issues It includes statements such as Shared religious belief isn't an important part of our society, which I disagreed with. It asked if it is, not if it should be. At times the statement is worded ambiguously, There is no place for organised religion in government, which I saw as saying if there should be no place, rather than saying that government currently excludes organised religion.

For the record my results were left/right -3.8398 (-0.2311) and pragmatism +4.6241 (+0.2783)
The variation in the data on the "left/right" axis is much greater than the variation on the "pragmatism" axis. The most extreme values on on either axis are ±16.6132. The table shows your position in both "raw" and normalised (between -1 and 1) coordinates.

Quote of the day - Rose

I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: "no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall."
-- Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, November 14, 2003

Seven Deadly Sins: #3 Gluttony

Had Mayhem from Hell Pizza for lunch today. It was delicious with the onions, garlic, chicken, satay, capssicums and sweet chilli. I guess I will have to stop saying "I don't eat pizza". Cute website too. "Hell is open 7 days."

Calendario Romano 2005

I received a message in my comments that Piero Pazzi is casting for the 2005 Calendario. Please let him know your recommendations for hunky Roman priests.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Quote of the day - Traditional marriage

The actions taken by the New Hampshire Episcopalians are an affront to Christians everywhere. I am just thankful that the church's founder, Henry VIII, and his wife Catherine of Aragon, his wife Anne Boleyn, his wife Jane Seymour, his wife Anne of Cleves, his wife Katherine Howard, and his wife Catherine Parr are no longer here to suffer through this assault on our 'traditional Christian marriage.'
-- Editorial, Los Angeles Times, August 16, 2003

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Watching movies differently

Movie Mistakes is merciless in identifying errors of continuity/audio/plot.

Poor Camilla

Poor Camilla. There she was, cheating on her husband with Charles, knowing that he was cheating on Diana. I wonder how she feels knowing that he was also cheating on her with a male servant? Oh the shame she must be feeling.

One advantage, as someone pointed out, is they won't have to change the lyrics of "God Save the Queen".

Microchipping dogs

Parliament has overwhelmingly backed compulsory ID implants in dogs under law changes aimed at curbing dog attacks.

So now, when you are attacked by a dog you can rest assured that the dog has been microchipped. You can use your portable microchip to identify the dog as it shreds your calf muscle or rips your face off. Everyone should feel a lot safer now.

Quote of the day - Ideals

Ideals are like stars: you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the seafaring man on the ocean desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them, you reach your destiny.
-- Carl Schurz

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Upcoming events

Found, a collaborative event calendar, completely driven by users. Using feedroll I've added Auckland events to the sidebar.

Quote of the day - Without shame

The most important thing is to be whatever you are without shame.
-- Rod Steiger

I am traffic

Cars are the problem.

This morning one driver decided to block one of the two northbound lanes so that he could go south. He obviously didn't care that I was coming, why should he care about a cyclist? I should have kept going straight and dented his door instead of, safely, swerving into the other lane and yelling "back up" to him.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Quote of the day - Change of opinion

He that never changes his opinions, never corrects his mistakes, will never be wiser on the morrow than he is today.
-- Tyron Edwards

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Quote of the day - Hope

Never deprive someone of hope; it might be all they have.
-- H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Who needs Religion...

...when French rugby is offered? (See Dilemma.) The 2004 DIEVX DV STADE (Gods of the Stadium) calendar is out, along with a dvd on the making of the calendar. There are also wallpaper images to download.

Quote of the day - Two kinds of knowledge

Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it.
-- Samuel Johnson

the friday five

It's Saturday, but here's my friday five. (I'll blame timezones.)

1. What food do you like that most people hate?
I've found that I like the taste of soy milk.

2. What food do you hate that most people love?
Strawberries, because they taste nice but I'm allergic to them.

3. What famous person, whom many people may find attractive, is most unappealing to you?
Tom Cruise

4. What famous person, whom many people may find unappealing, do you find attractive?
Not sure

5. What popular trend baffles you?
Blogging ;-)

Study: Millions delete all music files

This study surprises me. Without checking the househhold computers how did they tell the difference between deleted files and those no longer being shared?

Hall of Technical Documentation Weirdness

Darren Barefoot has a Hall of Technical Documentation Weirdness. My favourite is Exhibit 15 - From the shop manual for a Honda CBR600F2 motorcycle.


Should I take up religion?

The Calendario Romano 2004 was printed in April this year, so I'm a bit behind the times with it. It was created to promote tourism in Rome.

The photographer, Piero Pazzi, said "The priests are young and good looking, but that doesn't make them sex symbols. That depends on the imagination of the viewer." He also said he wanted to do something Roman he could not think of any thing other than priests.

Friday, November 07, 2003

None Tree Hill

What is this obsession with replacing the tree on One Tree Hill?

Some people treated the old tree with veneration. The best way of remembering the tree would be to put a monument up there about the tree, and not try to replace it. In fifty years time when someone sees the name One Tree Hill what will they think? If there's a replacement tree up there they will think "That's a hill named because there is one tree on it." If there is no tree they will wonder why and maybe check out that there was once a tree on it for over a hundred years which was attacked. Which one will be best for the old tree?

Quote of the day - Stand out of the light

When Alexander the Great visited Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for the famed teacher, Diogenes replied: 'Only stand out of my light.' Perhaps some day we shall know how to heighten creativity. Until then, one of the best things we can do for creative men and women is to stand out of their light.
-- John W. Gardner

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Quote of the day - Reality

I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it.
-- Garrison Keillor


Impact of the celebration of failure to blow up a foreign parliament. Yes, that was Guy Fawkes night.

How many other failures could we celebrate?

The Political Compass

I took The Political Compass test. I'm a moderately leftist libertarian, that's Economic Left/Right: -3.50 and Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.23. This puts me near Nelson Mandala and the Dalai Lama which surprises me.

Of course this is from a US-centric, which has their left wing further right than most of New Zealand's right wing.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Quote of the day - Truth

What does it matter how one comes by the truth so long as one pounces upon it and lives by it?
-- Henry Miller

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Quote of the day - Stand tall

Help others get ahead. You will always stand taller with someone else on your shoulders.
-- Bob Moawad

Smart software helps robots dodge collisions

Still looking at the New Scientist, I see that the Inevitable Collision System (ICS), has been developed for robots to continuously calculate an exclusion zone around the robot. It is based on the robot's motion and the motion of the objects around it. The exclusion zone represents the region in which a collision would be unavoidable, no matter what evasive action the robot took.

The article goes on to talk about roboticide, where a robot has killed a person.

Blaming the sun for global warming

The New Scientist says Sun more active than for a millennium. The team of scientists used ice cores to compare the concentration of beryllium-10 in the atmosphere. Beryllium-10 is produced when high-energy particles from space bombard the atmosphere, but when the Sun is active its magnetic field protects the Earth from these particles and levels of beryllium-10 are lower.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Adventures in Cocktails

Learn everything you need to know about cocktails with DrinkBoy, most importantly the ingredients.

Quote of the day - Failure

Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.
-- Henry Ford

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Quote of the day - mind of a bigot

The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye. The more light you shine on it, the more it will contract.
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.