Saturday, December 19, 2009

359 days till Golf Trip

Place the club face behind the ball. Stand comfortably with feet shoulder width apart. Draw a line that extends from your right foot through your left and all the way to the pin. Set your feet into the ground. Bend your knees. Focus right at the spot on the ball where the club face is going to make contact. Turn your head to trace the trajectory the ball is about to take. Visualise the flight of the ball in reverse. From the hole, rise and swing through the sky, downswoop to its position here on the ground. Head over the ball. Slow, solid, smooth backswing. Watch the ball. Watch the ball. Describe an arc. Transfer weight from right foot to left. Drive with left hip. Watch the ball. Take a mental snap shot as the club head violently slashes across my vision, witnessing the leading edge folding over the very tips of damp grass, the satisfying sound of contact. The ball suddenly receives a large delivery of kenetic energy.

Simple game really. It had been over a decade since I'd last picked up a golf club in anger. Back then it was a fun round with the brother of a girlfriend. I recalled hitting the odd decent shot, but spending a lot of time looking for lost balls and had filed it away as something that I wasn't very good at and low on the enjoyment to hassle ratio. This time around I once again hit the odd decent shot and also spent a bit of time hunting for the mishit ones. But I thoroughly enjoyed it all. Maybe I'm mature enough for golf now?

When I stop and consider it, I keep ticking a heap of boxes and wonder why its taken me so long to get around to realising that golf is something I could/should put some effort into. It is perhaps the socially accepted pinacle of honing a useless skill. Most other sports can, even vaguely, translate into helpful real world skills; but golf is totally pointless. I thrive on teaching myself complex and useless skills!

Plus, I really enjoyed spending a few hours walking around a beautiful setting with a bunch of cool guys. I also found that I can chip like a pro. I've no idea how or why, but chipping balls ~30m up onto the green via a nice high parabolic arc came really naturally to me. The ambrose round where I consistantly delivered the best approach shots was a huge turning point in my fledgling golf addiction.

I'm definately going to require some time at a driving range working on my tee shots though. Oh boy, where they ever inconsistant.

Meredith Music Festival

By my own admission I'm well out of festival form. Prior to the weekend, the last camping festival I attended was a wet Spendour in the Grass which I didn't take much enjoyent from. Combined with the memories of a wet, cold and windy Falls Festival a few years earlier and I had kind of sworn off camping festivals.

With this in mind, along with horror stories of the conditions from the previous year, I woke up at 3:30am last Friday with some trepidation. We were heading via charter bus to the Meredith Music Festival. After exchanging some angst with the bus driver about whether or not he would be waiting in line with us for 2 hours until the gates opened, we finally made our way to Outter Mongolia and claimed an excellent camp site. The weather was looking pretty good all things considered. Patches of sun and blue sky through grey clouds, which let loose nothing but small sprinkles all weekend.

I was determined to have a large one, even knowing that I'd be backing up directly after Meredith to head off for 4 days of heavy golfing and heavier drinking. This lead to Friday afternoon quickly building towards a huge Friday night. I didn't really have any bands on the ticket which were "must sees" so I just hung around the stage and gave everything a shot. I was my usual gregarious self and made a number of new friends.

Sia was impressive, I have a theory that her set alone would have led to about 25% higher rates of curious lesbian encounters. Patrick Wolf's set was probably my musical highlight of the festival, I regret not being up and dancing for the whole 45mins he was exploding all over the stage. Tumbleweed put on an excellent rock show.

We happened to be standing next to the world's biggest Royal Crown Review fan when they took the stage. At first I was chuffed, as his obvious excitement was spilling over onto everyone around him. I surprised even myself with how quickly I grew tired of his incessant annoucing of how amazing this all was, along with the complete backstory of how someone so young was such a fan of such an odd band, combined with the group hugs between each song.

I only caught the earlier bands on Saturday, highlights being; Pharoahe Monch, Combo La Revelacion (seriously, if you like a bit of salsa music you need some Combo) and Heavy Trash.

Paul Kelly's set was good, but seemed a bit out of place with the vibe of the crowd. Animal Collective and Javis Cocker both also left me a little "meh". I think I was just in a different party mode than what they were performing on stage, but I often found myself annoyed that the bands were stopping the DJ's from continuing to spin more cool tracks.

I only heard the Yacht Club DJs set from the campground, but it really sounded like it was pumping. If only they'd been on at 10:30 instead of 1am :)

All in all, I had a total blast. The music was damn good, but really these festivals are 50% about the people you're with (I'm giving 25% to the weather and 25% to the music) and I was lucky enough to spend my 1st Meredith with a crew who've essentially become professionals and also met a bunch of excellent people.


For those hardy few who have continued to find their way to my little corner of the internet through my sporadic posting habits, thanks. For those who hassle me to update, thanks even more.

My life in the recent 3 months hasn't exactly contained much that I've felt the need to share. The low bits are fairly obvious to those who know the details and the high bits I haven't felt the need to post about because the majority of people who I'd like to share the details with have been there by my side.

Still, I've been slack. In amongst the trials and tribulations of day to day living, I have continued to have the occassional insight into life the universe and everything. I've just been too lazy to spend time at the keyboard writting about them.

I've found myself looking at the calendar and declaring that I'll get my life back on track in the new year. I have big ideas of rejoining the rat race, meeting a new collection of cubical drones, learning the ins and outs of another business. I am excited.

Until then, my focus remains 100% on enjoying life. This, I've realised, is a simple process; find good people to be in the company of.

I certainly did a bang up job of that over the last week; 1st at the Meredith Music Festival and then at Golf Trip.

Friday, October 30, 2009


I managed to win the recently competed round 8 of social networking Pimpwar. Yay for me and my wasted time!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Body Clock

I haven't been able to shake out of this habit of waking up at 7am. I should be thankful, I guess. Not only because I get to see hot air balloons, one of them the shape of a water bomb, firing their flames and gaining altitude over the city in the crisp morning air. But because day light savings has kicked in, we've bent the laws of time and space and artificially granted me an extra hour sleep in. I was waking up at 6am.

Though, it kind of nullifies it when I've also pushed my normal bedtime to 1am rather than midnight.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


It'd been a while since I'd ventured into the belly of the beast which is the public hospital system. Today I had some happy snaps taken of my femor, where my 10cm osteochondroma resides. That's a bone tumor in laymans terms. I call it Marla.

Long story short, from the xrays things appear to be the same as they were 4 years ago. The main difference is in the higher quality and medium on which I received copies of the xrays. No longer do I get film. I get a cd. I thought that this could foil my plan of simply holding the new xrays up against the old ones and compare by eye.

With some fiddling of the zoom factor I was able to do much the same by holding the old xray up to my monitor. There's a bit that could be larger than last time, but it could also just be that the higher quality machine has shown it up clearer.

I'm now on the wait list for the bone tumor clinic down here, which will lead me towards the MRI machine.

Still, at the end of the day; I haven't had any serious woes with it. Considering I haven't had any serious pain over a healthy number of laps around the AFL field and shuttle sprints, I'm pretty happy with young Marla. Solid, dependable, unchanging.

My rock is actually a tumor.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Quote of the however long its been since the last one

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote

- Benjamin Franklin

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Good Kind of Ache

I packed a fair bit of fun into the weekend. Consumed a healthy portion of delicious Japanese food on Friday night. Interesting conversations over such wonderful yums as pork belly skewers, wagyu beef steak and fried chicken skin, it was difficult to drag myself away. I had to though, as there was a going away party which I wasn't going to miss for the life of me.

By any fair judging, I'd have to say that we successfully drank enough booze and talked enough shit to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip for our guest of honour. Just incase it wasn't, after completing the trip to the aquarium, we played copious amounts of board games until the wee hours.

I slept in until midday to recover. Me, sleeping until midday. Unheard of. But required, as the weather cleared up and provided perfect conditions for an excellent 3v3 game of gridiron down at the park. My team won! I scored a touch down! I also threw a touch down pass! I like using exclaimation marks!!

A big dinner of spag bog and a high definition episode of Band of Brothers completed the weekend in fantastic fashion. This all sets me up for a big monday of poker, watching NFL, updating my CV and kicking off the hunt for a new job.

Wait, what's that? New job? Tune in next time for more details!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Quote of the Whatever Time Frame

Why has elegance found so little following? Elegance has the disadvantage that hard work is needed to achieve it and a good education to appreciate it.

- Edsger Wybe Dijkstra

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Juggling, Epiphanies, Processes

The enjoyment I take from juggling stems from the cocktail of emotions you can feel during a good session. From the intense frustration and anger I feel when I'm constantly failing to learn a pattern or, worse still; cocking up a pattern that I know I've mastered long ago. To the unbridled joy gained from successfully completing a new pattern for the first time. Combined with the long tail of the juggling learning curve it means that its a hobby where I can continuously challenge myself to learn new things.

I find that there are two key moments when I'm learning a new pattern or trick. An initial moment of epiphany when I'm first able to complete it successfully and then the moment when I realise that I'm now able to repeat it without any conscious thought. The 1st time you complete something it often feels awkward, rushed or just plain messy, but it is still a very satisfying moment. I then repeat and practice the trick, focusing on being smooth, controlled, precise and flowing. I'm building up muscle memory and finally will be able to hand the trick off to my subconcsious. At that point I take great enjoyment from the sense that I now have that knowledge contained somewhere in my grey matter, able to seemingly automatically recall it at any time.

I've found that my process for learning new patterns or tricks comes in two very different types;

1) concentrated, focused effort to learn a particular pattern
2) from random experimentation during a session when in the zone

The 1st situation really requires me to be in the correct frame of mind before even starting to juggle. Its the process required when I'm learning something from someone face to face, via youtube videos or from a juggling pattern animation program. Usually I've picked up my balls with the specific plan of learning something new. I'll break down the pattern into sections and work out what each hand needs to be doing. While practicing each throw individually, I'll be extremely focused on visualising where each ball will be travelling and try to work out a rhythm. Then its just time, patience, practice and dedication. This process can become very frustrating and I often finish sessions without "getting it", feeling disapointed and unco-ordinated. However, the enjoyment gained when I finally nail something that I've really struggled with is extremely satisfying. Most of my favourite tricks were ones which "put up a fight" when I was learning.

The 2nd situation is far more wonderous and hard to explain. The goal of most juggling sessions is to "get into the zone". That special situation where I feel totally at ease, perfectly confident that between my hands, the balls and gravity, everything is in balance. Patterns flow into each other and the momentum of the balls lead me to string certain patterns together. During these moments of flow, with my brain working so fast that time dilates and gravity seems to fade slightly, occassionally my hands will find a pattern which I had no forethought of.

Early on in my career the chaotic imperfections of my throws lead to this happening quite often. Since youtube wasn't around back then and I didn't have a juggling mentor, it was how I stumbled onto a lot of basic patterns. These days I really enjoy juggling with background music is because I'm able to use changes in the music to trigger changes in my patterns. Its incredible how your body/brain can react to make an unusual catch or throw to stay in time with the beat or to react to a break. The times when those strange chaos throws feel good, I'll try repeating it and attempt to lock it into my subsconcsious.

Anything that is around 110 to 160 bpm works a treat. I match the music to my mood and then the type of balls to the tempo of music. Heavy balls for meaty hip hop, with lots of over hand grabs slapping the catches in time with the backbeat. Lighter balls for dancey tracks (Daft Punk and Kraftwork are amongst the best music of this), the faster tempo leads me towards tight site swaps and Mill's mess style arm crossing.

I've lost access to the video camera, so no footage! D'oh.

Friday, August 14, 2009

District 9

I blame Peter Jackson for making me appear to be a selfish, forgetful and all round useless bastard. Last night at the last minute we decided to go see District 9 at the cinema, completely derailing my plans to call my wonderful older sister on her birthday.

On the upside, the movie was beyond awesome. I was greatly reminded of Peter Jackson's 1st movie, the incredible Bad Taste. Totally over the top gore and effects which bookend around a sci fi storyline crafted wonderfully out in left field. The dash of social commentary and the wonderful South African accents round it out nicely. Basically I agree with these 7 reasons to go see District 9.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In Case You Didn't Know

Hard earned blisters have all but healed
The torn flesh mended, tender yet resealed
Last of the physical reminders retreat
Leaving only memories of things incomplete
Dreams I was fed which took root and grew
Pushed me away and you've taken them with you

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


On the weekend I went to see DrewMoney's housemate and his band rock out. Before and after his set (which was highly entertaining and very very rock) we claimed the pub's Foosball table.

There was some discussion about whether spinning was allowed, those making cases against spinning were easily drowned out by my triumphant outbursts each and every time I spun the shit out of my strikers and rammed another goal home.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Ain't It?

Ain't it strange how life can twist and turn
Isn't it weird how love can sooth or burn
Don't you ponder how things ebb and flow
Doesn't it frustrate you how you can never know?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

OMG Comments

I'd been toying with a few different ideas about how to handle comments here on my crappy lifestream page. Twitter is so hot right now that I was really tempted to hax up a system which enabled people to tweet comments to posts, with my site simply doing a twitter search for any tweets tagged with a speical hashtag. This would have the upside of me not needing an authorisation system and also some spam advertising as my friends tweet'd about things on my site.

Never one to rebuild a wheel that already rolls pretty well, I googled around and found Chirrup; supposedly a simple javascripted system which I could drop in pretty damn easily. Only it didn't work. When I went looking for support I noticed that the guy who made Chirrup actually uses a system called Disqusto handle comments on his own blog.

Always check what the people in the know use.

So I've integrated Disqus into the site. Yay! It allows people to log in using facebook, twitter, openid or Disqus' own user authentication system. Or even guests (I'll see how this goes, I hate spam). It also has a very slick moderation / admin system and by being externally hosted it fits into my basic goal here on the lifestream; for it to be as portable to a new webhost as possible.


Exciting times are upon us here in our little corner of the planet. The slab for the house has been poured and we've been spending our weekends banging star pickets into the ground to slice and dice our 18 acres up into paddocks. Who knew making drastic changes to the earth would be so much fun?

I've got next week off work, a stretch of time which will be spent focusing on completing the internal fit out of the stables. This will include a concrete base down the center isle, 3m out the end for the wash bay and a 4m by 4m tackroom.

We'll probably get a chance to layout the framework for the house and perhaps look at stringing the electric braid on the fence lines. We're actually getting closer to getting out of this rental!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away

I'd probably get murdered by the local farmers if I said this in public, but all this rain we're getting is really hampering our building progress. Things have stalled once again as we wait for enough sunny days to dry out the soggy earth and allow us to pour the slab for the house.

We're near certain to have missed the end of June deadline to lock in the current first home owners grants and boosters. I'm a little uneasy relying on the liberal party to not get in the way of the governments plans to increase the bonuses from $25k to $36k as proposed in the 2009 - 2010 budget.

I'm glad that Utegate blew up in the lib's faces. Hopefully they won't be too eager to cause a double dissolution election.

We're also waiting on pouring the slab for the center aisle of the stables, after which we can put up the roller doors, build the internal stables and I can finally declare it done.

Then there's fencing.....

I just want to be making progress!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stable Nears Completion

I'm quite proud to say that the stable block is essentially errected. All that remains is installing the roller doors and doing the internal fit out to make it habitable for the animals.

Alas I don't have photos of the completed masterpiece yet, because the weather has been terrible (well, good in a way... we needed the rain). I'll grab some shots when I can, but can assure you that the 'sandbank' cream colour of the walls which I'd shown before are wonderfully offset by the dark blue-gray 'iron stone' guttering and flashing.

On to the house!

Hopefully if there's a break in the rain the slab will get poured this week. It's amazing to think that we're only just now getting this done, a year after the kit was delivered to the block. Suddenly we're racing against time to ensure we get the most in our 1st home builders grants and such. Its required that the foundations are laid before the deadline at the end of June.

Over the recent week I've had two of possibly the most physically draining days of building. The 1st was laying 250m of power cable (in conduit) from the building sites to the front of the property. In the rain. Trudging through sticky red clay mud. The 2nd was using a petrol engine powered 250mm hydrolic auger to dig fence posts in the same conditions and soil.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009


THe dust is settling on what was a fairly epic week of celebrations for my 30th. I was thrilled to have 22 people attending the dinner and a large number of these continue to kick on back at my place; braving the cold night air and rambling on into the wee hours of the morning.

My Grandmother made a surprise appearence on Sunday morning, as I was busily cooking recovery bacon and eggs breakfast for the hungry horde. Thankfully she was able to hang around over night and I skipped off from work early on Monday to play a few rounds of cards with the family and catch up.

My Parents, Sister, Brother in law and their wonderful little bub stuck around until yesterday. A little longer than planned, as our car broke down on the way to the airport and they missed the flight. Can't win em all I guess.

Because I was lazy and witnessed an already obscene number of digital cameras taking happy snaps over the whole week I didn't once pull out my own camera and get any photos. I regret this massively already, missing the oppotunity to get group photos of the Crazy 88 crew and my extended family was quite stupid. I hope other people have some good shots. I suspect most photos of the family gathering section of the festivities _might_ be monopolised by a certain cheeky little baby.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

GoodBye Spurl, Hello Diigo

Cliff Notes: Spurl is one of the sites I pull data from for my "lifestream" page and they've been having some woes (for a while now, actually). I'd recently been checking out diigo as a replacement system. The continued downtime for spurl today pushed me into making the switch.

While the rest of the world started using and dig for their social bookmarking needs, I'd always kept using a nifty system from for my online bookmarking. The reason was three fold;

1) I didn't care about sharing my bookmarks or finding people who were bookmarking the same sort of sites.
2) It had a kick ass javascript bookmark file that you clicked and it filled in the "create bookmark" form with the url from the previously active page and any text you had highlighted on the page filled in as the description.
3) It had a good rss output feed.

Alas spurl was extremely hard hit by spammers, since it was so easy to actually create bookmarks. The dev team seem to have moved their focus onto other things, so I can't see it getting fixed soon.

Along comes diigo, the new hip web2.0 social bookmarking site. Like the others its packed full of features I don't really care about. However, these guys also have the simple features I love in spurl! So I've switched over to using it to collect my bookmarks and feed its rss output into my lifestream pipe.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Information Control

Early tonight I kicked out a post detailing the recent happenings in my online poker career. After rereading it and pondering exactly who I was posting it for I deleted it. I also got to thinking about the much neglected poker focused wordpress blog I still had laying around. I wound up deciding to take it down from the web too, for much the same reason.

I figured that most of my poker buddies are well aware of how I'm running and what I'm thinking about poker at any given time, since we communicate constantly over IRC. Beyond that I always talk to my Dad about poker when I speak to him on the phone. My work mates realise I'm addicted to poker and I ramble about it from time to time to them. But not many of them are actually aware of the stakes I play or how much I've earned playing poker. So that really only left people who I was playing against online who googled my screen name and wound up finding my blog.

And why on earth would I want to give them more information about how I'm running or what I'm thinking about poker?

So for now I'll just sum up things in vague terms; currently poker isn't my big focus, building my house is. When the house is done and I'm back into the poker grind my focus will be on rebuilding my bankroll :)

Resized Images

Over the last few days I've tinkered with a few things here on my lifestream page. The most significant was haxing in a dynamic image resizing system which creates thumbnails 400 pixels wide to be displayed nicely. Previously I was just uploading pre-thumbnailed images for inclusion in updates sucked in from spurl or elsewhere. This failed when I wanted to upload a higher resolution image on its own (like the pink storm trooper image).

So now I upload to photobucket at the original resolution of whatever the image is and my code downscales it while maintaining the correct aspect ratio.

Onwards - An Animation

Onwards from akqa on Vimeo.

Information Control

Early tonight I kicked out a post detailing the recent happenings in my online poker career. After rereading it and pondering exactly who I was posting it for I deleted it. I also got to thinking about the much neglected poker focused wordpress blog I still had laying around. I wound up deciding to take it down from the web too, for much the same reason.

I figured that most of my poker buddies are well aware of how I'm running and what I'm thinking about poker at any given time, since we communicate constantly over IRC. Beyond that I always talk to my Dad about poker when I speak to him on the phone. My work mates realise I'm addicted to poker and I ramble about it from time to time to them. But not many of them are actually aware of the stakes I play or how much I've earned playing poker. So that really only left people who I was playing against online who googled my screen name and wound up finding my blog.

And why on earth would I want to give them more information about how I'm running or what I'm thinking about poker?

So for now I'll just sum up things in vague terms; currently poker isn't my big focus, building my house is. When the house is done and I'm back into the poker grind my focus will be on rebuilding my bankroll :)

Resized Images

Over the last few days I've tinkered with a few things here on my lifestream page. The most significant was haxing in a dynamic image resizing system which creates thumbnails 400 pixels wide to be displayed nicely. Previously I was just uploading pre-thumbnailed images for inclusion in updates sucked in from spurl or elsewhere. This failed when I wanted to upload a higher resolution image on its own (like the pink storm trooper image).

So now I upload to photobucket at the original resolution of whatever the image is and my code downscales it while maintaining the correct aspect ratio.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Big Rig Hill Climb

I dusted off my logitech force feedback wheel recently and fired up Colin Mcrae: Dirt. The news that Dirt 2 will be out later this year made me very happy and I felt the need to fling some vehicles around corners sideways. I sorted out my online profile and was coimpletely blown away when checked out the world record times. I held no stupid dreams of actually being amongst the fastest in the world or anything, but I was amazed at by how much the top guys had my times crushed. However, I noticed that I was up near the top of the pack when it came to 1 particular type of race: Big Rig Hill Climbs.

Since I had already posted top 10 times for both the full hill climb events I decided to see if I could crack the number 1 spot and claim the world records. I focused on the Pikes Peak climb first, as it was the longest, mostly tarmac and also the race I felt the most comfortable with. It took me a couple of nights of tooling around with the setup on the truck to find something that worked well (I'd never bothered changing anything prior to this) and I was able to grab the world record by a good few seconds.

I moved onto the Windy Point hillclimb, a race I hadn't done beyond the couple of times you do it in career mode. This one took me a lot longer to find a good setup for and learn to string together the best lines of the corners. It was also the one which someone else had obviously put a lot of effort into; a German guy who had the fastest time in the Big Rigs by something like 15 seconds. I managed to get with in 5 seconds of him pretty quickly but then really struggled to find a way to bridge the final time gap. Last night I found 3 seconds and this morning I finally cracked his time, by a very slim 10 hundredths of a second.

So for the time being I can accurately claim to be the fastest Big Rig Hill Climber in the world (in the game Dirt)!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Monday with the Animals

Our home is a house containing and surrounded by animals. A house cat, a tenacious little nugget of a mini foxy, two beautiful malamutes, two not quite so beautiful (but still pretty classy) goats, 5 horses and 8 stable cats. Dull moments are few and far between.

Our Easter Monday afternoon was spent out on the back deck being entertained by our own little circus. The mini foxy was eager to do our bidding and teach one of the horses some manners. The two malamutes were on edge as the stable cats made a concerted effort to over run the back deck. These wolf dogs are learning that the tribe of small black stable cats which appear occassionally aren't for chasing and eating, but they continuously look at us with "are you sure?" eyes.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Blue Mountain Lager

Poured a glass of the blue mountain lager from the keg today and I'm pretty impressed with it. I'd bought some Boags Draft stubbies to tide me over until the keg was gassed and I was surprised that my blue mt lager was similarly full flavoured. I definitely put this down to using a dextrose, malt and maltodextrin mix rather than just straight dextrose.

I've pumped the pressure back up in the keg and expect that it'll be perfectly gassed in time for the weekend!

I picked up some chillis when we went shopping on the weekend, which I plan on slicing open, wrapping in a stocking and dropping in the fermentor when I brew up this tin of brewcraft mexican cerveza. We used to do this at our old share house and I really enjoyed the after taste. We stole the idea from a micro brewery located up on the Sunshine Coast in QLD.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tweaked A Few Things

It turns out that my grand idea of pulling content from all over the web into one central page isn't new, fresh or unique. There's even a crappy term for it; lifestreaming. I hate that almost as much as I hate the word blog. Oh well, what can you do except whinge about it on your blog and update your lifestream with rants....

I'd been having some issues with the "merge multitple items from different sources into one post" set up that I had hacked into place on my lifestream page. The logic behind it seemed solid, if two consecutive items from different feeds had the same title, they'd get merged. This fell over if I added things to multiple feeds in a short period of time. As such it broke very often since I use spurl to bookmark interesting things and picasa to grab photos / screenshots as I surf the web and drink my morning coffee.

Now I've changed the system to trawl through all current items in the merged rss and grab any with the same title. This works perfectly for the front page, but I'm going to have to do some more code hax to get it working for the archives (which are pulled from a database rather than an rss feed).

Update: I spent some time this afternoon trying to work out a solution and ended up ditching the old method and approaching it from a completely different angle. The sticking point was dealing with the archives; how do you tell how many merged items are newer than than the content you're pulling from the archives to display on a certain page? What do you do when two items you want to be merged straddle either side of an archive page 'block'?

I've set up a photobucket account and will now be using that to store images which I want to tack onto things that I spurl. I have my online rss aggregator sucking in the rss feed from photobucket and the main one from yahoo pipes. The php page runs through the items in my lifestream and looks for any items in the photobucket feed which have matching titles. The photobucket system also saves me from having to download images from web pages, resize and upload them to picasa. I just use a nifty firefox plugin which lets me upload online images into my photobucket account.

I decided to stop doing two different things for the front and the archive; now all content is pulled out of my database. This kind of goes against the whole idea of removing reliance on me running my own host, but having a mysql db is pretty standard with all simple hosting deals. So I don't really need a whole box or root or anything. I just need a small amount of hard drive space, apache + php + mysql and a cron job to run my online rss aggregator and the lifestream page.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tricky Part Complete

I took the last few days of the working week off and combined with yesterday we managed to make a good start on getting the stable erected. I had hoped to get all the frame upright after the 4 days, but we were rained out on the 1st day and the 2nd day was spent finishing attaching each section while it was still on the ground. The 3rd day we erected the first section, only to run into woes when attempting to get it all plumb. We'd marked out the distances between the column footings from the plans, but when we got it standing up it became obvious that things weren't going to be milimeter perfect.

So yesterday we had to drop the section we'd put up and attack things from a new direction. This time around we unconnected the side sections and braced the central columns so they were parallel before standing it up. This also helped to stop the apex drooping and throwing everything out of wack. Once we had the center of the 1st end up, plumb and bolted to the footings things became a lot easier. As you can see from the photo we finished the day with 2 sections of frame up and have braced them together.

Alas there won't be any more progress until next weekend, but I'm damn happy to have made a decent start on the project. I'm also rather sore :)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

If Poker was an MMO

While I was posting up my previous blog entry about Time Investment as a Resource with regards to online gaming I found myself constantly drawing paralells with online poker. This resulted in me considering what World of Pokercraft would be like....

Players are be able to enter the game world at what ever level they can afford, since bankroll equates to character level. Like other MMO's, but perhaps to a much greater extent, skill (in the long term) and luck (in the short term) both play a large part in battles between players of differing skill level.

Grinding that damn annoying 'flop 10 sets' quest is frustrating. Especially when you think you've binked another one off only to show up with an underset and have it denied.

Bots and hackers would actually be as much of an issue as MMO players think they are. Griefers not so much. Sure slow rolling sucks, but it doesn't actually hinder your progress in the game!

No one would ever ask you for your stuff if you mentioned you were going to quit.

Time Investment as a Resource

Since becoming a twitter addict I've found myself getting back in touch with a handful of excellent humans I know from the online gaming who I've lost touch with over the last couple of years. My obsession shifted from online games to online poker and with that all the mental energy I used to expend thinking deeply about game design and concepts was spent contemplating poker related topics.

Twincannon was one guy in particular I really enjoyed discussing game design with. I met him during my time as project lead on the Half-Life 2 cyberpunk mod Dystopia. He joined the team as a level designer and quickly proved that he thought quite deeply about gameplay, design and flow. A post over on his blog titled Time Investment as a Resource has just spurred me into a train of thought I felt I could share here.

His thoughts that skill should be the measure of how good you are at a game mirror my own. As he explains, its this reason that MMO's generally don't appeal to me. The underlying 'level up' design means that a battle between to players has less to do with the skill diference and more to do with the level of the characters. Essentially players are rewarded for playing longer (and paying more, which makes it a great business model) rather than playing better.

Now obviously this is a fairly shallow mindset to hold, since increasing your ability in a highly skill based game such as Quake or Starcraft comes about mostly from practice. To anyone except someone who over thinks game design the difference between the two is undefinable.

Twincannon wraps up this section of his post with this:

After thinking about how many hours a lot of top tournament players will spend practicing a day in their chosen game, it seems a bit strange to keep my prejudice against the MMO system of skill gain. At the end of the day, what is the difference between a Starcraft player spending 12 hours a day practicing a match-up, versus an MMO player spending 12 hours a day to advance his character? If your character still requires out-of-game skill and knowledge to be played better in the latter system after he is “capped” (you are no longer able to expend time to advance his in-game skills), how is it any different to the former game?

I can definitely see that MMO character advancement is simply a system which amplifies the time = skill progression process, with a number of major benefits. These include:

  • Acting as a time release function to allow players access to deeper parts of the gameplay as they progress along the skill curve.
  • Being a forced advancement mechanism for players who aren't actively focused on increasing their skill at playing the game.
  • Makes it easy to seperate newbs from highly skilled players

This side steps the issues of casual gamer newbs remaining skillless suckers who's game experience boils down to being cannon fodder for the hardcore. While the hardcore get bored once they feel they've clocked the skill curve.

Still, MMO's are stupid time sinks and I'm glad I got addicted to poker rather than WoW :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

timezones defeated

I think I've sorted out my timezone woes. Damn you round planet!

timezone woes

Just a post to check on how the blogger timestamp is formatted.

new home page system nearly done

I've got a working version of my grand plan up and running at the following temporary location:

It is successfully sucking in feeds from my blogger page, my twitter account (minus @replies), my youtube favourites, my picasa photo gallery and my spurl link list. I have a couple of other things I'll be adding shortly, but those 5 are the big ones.

Tonight I mostly removed complexity from the php script which runs on my web server as I added functions to the pipes setup. I have hit a few issues with pipes which has resulted in me still needing some "smarts" in the php. The big one of these was trying to get pipes to output the html for youtube embedding.

The design of my new homepage is super simple and exactly what I was imagining when I was pondering the whole deal, so I'm happy with it. I'm sure I'll find little things to tweak as I continue messing around with things though.

Next on my todo list is adding a categories system, which will allow me to group content from multiple sources by using the native tag / lable / category system which blogger, twitter, picasa, spurl and youtube employ. Then I'll set up filters on my homepage which will allow me (or any other fool who views the page) to only display items from the subjects they select.

edit: seems that the different timezones of the various sources are screwing the ordering of things up a little. So I might have to hax up some time conversion in either pipes or php... sigh, I hate time conversion :(

Monday, March 16, 2009


Last night I spent some time getting started on this grand new idea of using free online services for everything (blogging, photos, bookmarking, tweeting, etc) so that I no longer had to run a CMS for each of these on my own host.

The easy part was signing up for all the services. The hard part was going to be collecting the rss feeds and munging them into single feed and formatting it for display on my home page at

Luckily I recalled reading about Yahoo Pipes a long time ago. I imagine I dismissed it as a silly way for people who weren't as haxy as me to munge together information from all over the place. With my new found open mind I decided to take a look at it. Needless to say it does exactly what I need and is actually quite a powerful tool. What's more you even end up creating amazing looking flow diagrams which look really impressive in screenshots!

So now I've successfully jumped the "collect all the feeds into a central rss" part of the problem. Now I'm onto creating a layout I like and setting it up as the front page of!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I've decided that I'm lazy

Rather than have to worry about updating any kind of CMS that I run locally on my own host I've decided to just use "best of breed" services which are hosted remoted. So this means using blogger for blogging, picasa for image hosting, twitter for.... well.... tweeting, youtube for collecting cool videos and spurl for collecting links.

The plan is to then run my own simple custom hacked together RSS collector to munge it all together and display it on a web page served from my own host; at

Lets see how this goes....