Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Project Censored 2006

Swiped from Barista, Aussie blog of the year........... kudos.

Via Common Dreams

Top 25 Censored Stories of 2006

#1 Bush Administration Moves to Eliminate Open Government

#2 Media Coverage Fails on Iraq: Fallujah and the Civilian Death

#3 Another Year of Distorted Election Coverage

#4 Surveillance Society Quietly Moves In

#5 U.S. Uses Tsunami to Military Advantage in Southeast Asia

#6 The Real Oil for Food Scam

#7 Journalists Face Unprecedented Dangers to Life and Livelihood

#8 Iraqi Farmers Threatened By Bremer’s Mandates

#9 Iran’s New Oil Trade System Challenges U.S. Currency

#10 Mountaintop Removal Threatens Ecosystem and Economy

#11 Universal Mental Screening Program Usurps Parental Rights

#12 Military in Iraq Contracts Human Rights Violators

#13 Rich Countries Fail to Live up to Global Pledges

#14 Corporations Win Big on Tort Reform, Justice Suffers

#15 Conservative Plan to Override Academic Freedom in the Classroom

#16 U.S. Plans for Hemispheric Integration Include Canada

#17 U.S. Uses South American Military Bases to Expand Control of the Region

#18 Little Known Stock Fraud Could Weaken U.S. Economy

#19 Child Wards of the State Used in AIDS Experiments

#20 American Indians Sue for Resources; Compensation Provided to Others

#21 New Immigration Plan Favors Business Over People

#22 Nanotechnology Offers Exciting Possibilities But Health Effects Need Scrutiny

#23 Plight of Palestinian Child Detainees Highlights Global Problem

#24 Ethiopian Indigenous Victims of Corporate and Government Resource Aspirations

#25 Homeland Security Was Designed to Fail

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Big Day Out Sydney 2006

Wolfmother at the Big Day Out Posted by Picasa

This is a little late but I've been busy and trying to catch up some sleep!

Australia day Jan 26th I went to the Big Day Out music festival at the Sydney showgrounds. A great show.

The punters were shunted in cattle class to the venue via the excellent rail system. Upon exiting the train and going through the exit turnstiles, EVERYONE was greeted by a wall of around 200 cops in blue with sniffer dogs ready to take down any of the kids trying to smuggle in illegal substances. I went past about three dogs. It was un-nerving to say the least.

Over 200 people were charged. Happened last year too, an account of the bored magistrate dismissing charges in 2005 can be read here.

Then it was to the line-up to get in the venue. About half an hour..... shuffle, shuffle, shuffle,stop.......shuffle, shuffle, shuffle,stop.........shuffle, shuffle, shuffle,stop. Soon enough I was in.

First a band report.

First band I saw was Gerling who were great as usual, playing to a fairly lacklustre crowd pity because they put on a good show. Great big balls were tossed into the audience....great fun. I missed Youth Group who were playing on another stage at the same time.

The retro 70's Wolfmother went OFF, they were great..... a huge BIG sound from a three piece and for me it was the highlight of the show, outdoing the White Stripes easily. These young guys are going to do really well if the Sydney BDO is any indication, they were put on this earth to play arenas, no doubt about it. The crowd was really receptive with the arena packed for these new guys from Sydneytown. Best gig I've seen for ages.

Hilltop Hoods were OK and did well as a hip-hop band on the main stage.

Kings of Leon were great.

Punk boys The Living End had the crowd really going. I'm not a big fan, nevertheless there were plenty of fans out there who enjoyed an energetic 60 minute set.

Franz Ferdinand were so-so........ again I'm not a big fan.

Then it was across to the Green stage to see Cut Copy who did a short but great 45 minute set. Reminded me a lot of a New Order gig I once saw but with a lot more energy. Geeky looking crowd, myself included....... I think one of the guys Mum was on the backstage area enjoying the show.

Watched Iggy and the Stooges from a distance, Iggy was his usual chaotic, writhing, manical self. How he can still do it at his age I dunno. The Stooges looked old and yet pumped out some really lets just say....... alternate.... rock. A good show.

Then the White Stripes with a disappointing, lacklustre set cut 15 minutes short. The sound sucked..... up until the last song when the PA's seemed to have found some OOMPH. But it was too late, they were gone and it was all but over.

Inbetween bands.

Apart from the music, the BDO has the humanity, the sideshows, rides, freaks, normals and a great all round vibe. People will actually just walk up and start talking to you. No aggro, if you bump into someone or step on their foot, it's no problem. Considering the number of people and the copious amount of alcohol swilled, one would expect some sort of altercation to take place. I saw none except for one person get escorted out from the Living End gig and that was about it.

One wonders how the BDO gets it so right with the vibe and the cops at the recent riots at Cronulla got it so wrong. Perhaps it was a more mellow more tolerant crowd...dunno.

It was bloody hot in the main arena, the crowd was regularly sprayed with hoses, there wasn't much breeze thus, I ended up with a bad case of sunburn, some light ringing in the ears and blisters on the feet. That was the main injuries for the day.

I got home at some ridiculous hour (2AM) due to train delays at my connecting station..... woke the next day feeling a little tired, no hangover..... so I must have behaved myself!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Gamma Testing

Background Posted by Picasa

Monitor died this morning. PPPPPhhhhzzzztt-ing and sputtering as some sort of electronic thing tried to fire electrons at the CRT tube. The poor old circa 1995 Digital (Inc) 14" beige-grey unit decided to pack it in.

So I went down to the Pawn shop and got a newish 17" job in BLACK... boy.

Setting it up, I looked at some of my photos from Benzacrossoz and tried a couple of them on for size as the background. It just didn't look right, either washed out, too blue, too yellow, too dark.

Decided to calibrate the monitor.

I've done a couple of tests.

Good one here, which is really basic and sets up the gamma just right.

I then fiddled with the brightness and contrast controls to get whites and blacks all OK. The colour seems fine.

I also tried this guy but it was too damn complicated although there is a good test photo on the page which gives an indication of how things should be.

Ended up setting my monitor gamma to 1.0 and adjusted the brightness and contrast.

The end result on this page shows that my gamma is actually 2.15....... go figure.

Now the above pic is my background and it looks as if I'm still near that paddock near Manildra, central New South Wales, just before a big rain. The above photo looks kind of dark on this page but if you click it for a higher res. shot, it seems to "jump out" a bit more. A strange photo, untouched with any photoshop wizardry.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Going to Gowings

Gowings FJ Posted by Picasa

I was in Sydney City yesterday and accidently came across the Gowings closing down sale. 137 years in business and they will be no longer.

It's a pity coz they were one of those real blokey kind of shops, the kind where you don't feel intimidated. Not many places get this right but Gowings seemed to have it perfected. You could walk on in, have a poke around and walk out with nothing, no hassles. Alternatively you could walk right up to the counter, say I want a pair of size 96R Drill Rider Moleskins and they'd pull one out of somewhere for you. It was one of those sort of of joints. Trims in Adelaide is a similar sort of place blokes LIKE shopping there and thankfully they're still going.

On top of the shopping for clothes experience, you could get a haircut in the in-house barber shop, complete with real barber chairs and Italians (usually named Tony) snipping away furiously.

Gowings store had a good lay-out in the old traditional department store sort of deal, top floor was camping, work and outdoor gear, first floor was surf, beachwear, shoes and the barber, ground floor was jeans, t-shirts, underwear and the like, downstairs was formal wear and bush wear. Some great clothes for all tastes that always looked good.

Catering to all tastes was the key, I saw a couple of farmers from the country, merchant bankers, surfers, skaters, pretty boys, nervous little bearded greenie types and asian students all stocking up with clobber.

So anyway, I popped in and picked up a couple of good quality shirts, some RM Williams boots, a few FJ Holden Matchbox cars(above) a leather pouch and a leopard fez. All for less than the cost of the boots which BTW will last a life time.

Sulphur Crested Cocky Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Windmill Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I gotta get me one of these.

Retro Headset Posted by Picasa

No it's not a photoshop mockup at Worth1000. It's the real deal. US$29.95 from thinkgeekdotcom. Pull this out when the cellphone rings and you'f really look nuts.... I think that's the idea.

In their words:

Dial "R" for Retro

Yeah, we know all about bluetooth headsets for cell phones, but forget that stuff! We have here the latest development in cell phone technology and it's a big hunk of beautiful plastic. An accessory for your phone that you can really grab onto. Something with heft and that good-old-American solid construction feel - like a 1972 Cadillac.

The Retro Phone Handset is a new production replica of the Western Electric 500-series model, which was the classic phone handset for several decades. It's been slightly modified to work with the headset jack of most cell phones (or via a "hands free" adapter kit, sold elsewhere). Just plug-in and dial - or for added effect, put your cell phone in your pant's pocket - then it looks like you're talking on a phone connected to... well, who knows?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Trudeau on Murdoch Posted by Picasa

In a rather sort of stream of conscious way, I've been re-introduced to the razor sharp wit of Garry Trudeau. I *think* he may still be syndicated in Australia but I'm not sure, from memory it was either the Australian or the Financial Review. In any case I didn't get it all those years ago, not knowing much on US politics in my younger years. Although I did understand Mr Butts the tobacco lobbyist and there was another gun lobbyist shaped in the form of a bullet from memory.

I was reading "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and went to the website to get some more on Hunter Thompson.....only for this antipode to find out Trudeau has had a character Uncle Duke based on Thompson. So I did some looking around and was delighted.

I looked around at Trudeau's website which is highly generous in it's clips and also had a look through some google images. Laughed my ass off most of last night.

A lot of it witten in the 70's and 80's is still highly relevant today.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The really big freaking spider or Sometimes I wish I wasn't a man.

Big Sucker Posted by Picasa

"John, come and have a look at this", was the call as my girlfriend rushed out of the laundry. At first I thought her Jack Russell terrier had done a whopper on the floor and thought it VERY strange that she request my witnessing of the event.

No such luck, that would have been easy to deal with. There was a very large, hairy spider with orange striped hairy legs, large fangs and lots of beady little eyes above the door frame. When I am saying HUGE I mean huge about 10 inches in length from back legs to front legs and about six inches across. Biggest spider I've seen.

I looked in horror. I, as the male, was expected to do something about this problem. All the struggles of feminism, the suffragettes marches for equality and Germaine Greer's philosophising in the Female Eunuch was out the window. This was one BIG FREAKY SCARY spider and it obviously was a male problem.

A book on spiders was referenced and it was thought to be a badge spider, enough to give a painful bite and make anyone bitten by it quite ill.

I didn't want to kill the spider, besides, I wasn't sure if a can of insect spray was enough to take out this beast.

A broom was out of the question as it could easily scurry behind the clothes drier if I missed.

Picking it up with a large spade was one consideration but the spider looked as if it could have run really fast. could drop off and hide somewhere more difficult to retrieve in the house. Whacking it with a spade would have damaged the wall and killed the spider, again I didn't want to kill the spider.

So a solution was formulated. Get a glass or plastic see through bowl, slide a piece of stiff plastic underneath, transport the thing outside and then, RELEASE THE SPIDER.

I was then reminded by my S.O. that big spiders such as funnel webs can bite through leather boots and cardboard, (this was about twice the size of a funnel web) so a solution was made to slide something bigger underneath, once a piece of plastic was in place.

First a photo was taken as proof of the monster.

Then, I got the glass bowl and looked at the spider...... it was huge. I went to slam the bowl on top of it and chickened out. Paced for a bit across the carpet and had another closer look at the thing.


It would scurry away if I missed and could get splattered on the wall if my aim was not true. My palms were sweating and the glass bowl was getting slippery in my hands. I asked fo a towel and wiped my hands. I gritted my teeth.

I then took aim and GOTCHA!

The spider did not know what hit it. It was now encased in a 1/2 inch thick bowl on the wall, I now had a layer of glass between my hand and a very pissed of spider. I could see its furry legs close up and had a good view of its underside. The fangs were large, about the size of half of one of my pinky fingernails. It was running around in the bowl, very fast, generally freaking out as it's onetime life of freedom was encased by it's new prison of good pyrex saladware.

I then slid a sheet of firm plastic under the bowl, making sure not to lift the bowl too far thus giving the spider an effective means of escape. Then a thicker book was slid under that, finishing off with a hardcover version of "Artists in Australia". The beast had been captured, now it was was to be released away from captivity to its life in the wild.

We went for a walk in the drizzling rain across to a bushy park and put down the bowl, making sure the spider was not clinging upside down on the book surface. I took a BIG jump back.

In the torchlight it appeared to struggle to get out of the bowl and eventually got out onto a long weed of some sort in the rain. It seemed to be a bit disorientated and pissed off, giving up it's relatively dry flat home of the laundry to this wet dark place in the bush. It no longer looked that big struggling on a long strand of stem in the rain.

I almost felt sorry for it.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Hewlett Packard Arseholes

Just tried printing some photos on a new printer/copier/scanner which I picked up for a song at a big office supply joint.

Alas, the low, low price was too good to be true. Apparently you have to use HP's "tabbed" photo paper if you want a borderless photo print. (It has a little tab on the end which you tear off to get a full sized print.) If you use normal 4x6 inch paper it conveniently leaves a white strip on one side, after croppping the photo automatically, which does not resemble the WYSIWYG version you are supposedly about to receive. There is no way around this white stripe along the side other than using their highly expensive paper.


The HP "tabbed" paper is 20 bucks for twenty pieces of paper which is roughly 1/4 the price of the printer. I bought 100 sheets of 4 x 6 inch photo paper by a German company for under ten bucks. The HP inkjets cost around $50 or more than half the cost of a printer. I can pick up a refill kit for $25 on e-bay.


I'm a cheapskate, I'll be refilling the sucker myself and continue using the 4 x 6 paper (100 sheets for $10) cropping off the white bits with a sharp knife and steel ruler.

Moff ponders the "How do you get rich?" deal, I'd say take some Ripping you off 101 classes from HP.

Passwords and accounts

I've got passwords and accounts all over the place.

This blogspot thing, Flickr, gmail, PGP, hotmail, yahoo, banks, numerous forums, technocrati, feedburner, i-music, e-music, amazon, abebooks, ebay, a couple of websites (no make that three), credit card companies etc etc. There's probably another 20 services I haven't remembered but will when it comes to either use them or post a comment. And subscription services for newspapers, fuggetaboutit, use bugmenot instead.

I just went to put a comment on Johnny the Horses Flickr and I

1. Could not remember my login

2. Wasn't prepared to look for my login

3. Couldn't be bothered finding which multitude of e-mail addresses I used to login.

4. Downloaded to photo to my hard drive after sorting out the Flickr "spaceballs.gif" ploy (designed to stop you copying or squatting photos I 'spose). Uploaded it via Hello and am now saying "Good job Johnny" here.

It has come to point where I use one password for most services, another for some other services and yet another for higher level ones. Further consolidation may be in order. This year marks my 11th year on the web I think and there's a multitude of orphan, disused and crusty old accounts and subscriptions, just waiting for some anthropologist in the future to dig through.

It begs the question, how many passwords can a human remember before they get written down?

Yep it's been quiet

What else can I say?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

New Years Resolutions

Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

That's about it. One good thing abot the New Year is that it is my birthday which has its advantages.

1. I can usually work out exactly how old I am in exact years, months and days.

2. I always seem to have a public holiday on my birthday.

3. I always get fireworks.

4. The coming in of the new year is also an anniversary of my journey on this blue blob around a small sun on the edge of the galaxy.

5. People remember your birthday more easily than other "standard" days such as May 13th.

6. In my younger days I got one kiss for the new year and one for the birthday!

Things that suck about having a birthday around this time of year.

1. Sometimes I feel a little seedy on the day as do others.

2. When I was a kid, Xmas and birthday presents were "combined". A guy who has his birthday at Christmas also has the same dilemma.

3. A lot of things are closed, so going out can be a hassle.

This year I spent New Year's Eve perched on a hill some 15km away from the fireworks on Sydney Harbour, watching a set of four synchronized firework launch spots going off at once. It was wonderful. Jan 1st was an extremely hot 43 degrees c (110 Farenheit) so most of the day was spent ducking from air conditioned location to another, although I did take a swim at Wentworth Falls Lakes later in the day.

Numerogically I'm a seven in a one year which heralds in a batch of new beginnings. It should be exciting.

Paraphrasing sleepy. Hope "y'all" have a great new year and keep writing.