Friday, 29 August 2008

Back to gmail

I bought myself a lovely MacBookPro a couple of months ago and got myself a .Mac (now MobileMe) subscription at the same time (taking advantage of the reduced price available with a new machine).

I particularly liked the idea of having my address book and calendars synchronised and online, able to be used with the web mail. All the other features (iDisk, keychain synch etc) were all "nice to haves" but not "need to haves".

Unfortunately, the mail app failed me miserably. It was just a lot less usable than gmail. I gave it a really good try, I really did. I even hoped that the change from .mac to mobile me might improve things, but I was disappointed.

These are the things that I considered deal breakers:
  • No filters: Even though the Mail interface is much like (which is great as an aside), it is missing some critical features. Filters being one of them. I like to have my email filtered into its folders (labels under gmail) automatically. To have that happen with mobileme mail, I need to leave my mac on and open. That's just silly. With gmail, I don't even need to set up the filters in, because they are filtered at the server level.

  • No indication of unread messsages: You can't just look at the folder list and see which folders have messages to read. I needed to click on each one to find my messages.

  • No "all unread" option: Under gmail, I can search for "is: unread". In, I have a smart mailbox set up. Nothing like that in the web mail.
Before I opened up my .mac account, I had attempted to set up with my gmail account with very little success. I had problems with the duplication of messages related to multiple labels (and the "all mail" label), I had major problems with Time Machine trying to back up 2GB every time I read a mail message and lots of little niggly things that didn't "just work". Those things didn't happen with .mac, but I was willing to put up with them (or even just use webmail fulltime) to get the webmail I wanted.

Having said that, since I have swapped back to gmail, I have managed to work my way around those problems. Perhaps google have improved their IMAP implementation a bit since I last tried, but I am perfectly happy with my desktop and web mail now, thanks to Google Apps For Domains and Apple's It is just disappointing that Apple couldn't get their webmail right.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Creative-Commons image goodness

I was doing a search for an image I might be able to use as a base for a logo. Because I wanted to fiddle with it and then reuse it, I needed it to be licenced appropriately.

So I went to Creative Commons and did a search, and found this little beauty:

I can really see this working well, and fortunately for me, the artist (the very kind kaet44 on flickr) has licenced it under a Creative Commons licence which allows me to modify it as I see fit, distribute it and even use it for commercial purposes. Just so long as I give credit where it is due, and here I am: kaet44 did it, and I offer thanks for it!

While I was there, I also saw this fascinating work and thought I would share it here:

By the way, as I have said elsewhere, all of my text here (at least anything that is my original work) can be considered under a similar licence. The only additional condition I have added is the need to "share-alike". That is, any derivative work needs to be licenced under the same licence. If you care!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Esperance on a stamp!

Check out this stamp... It has a lovely little picture of the Esperance, a French ship which probably did other things but is rightly famous for travelling along the south coast of Western Australia and leaving its name to our favourite town.

The stamp was issued in new Caledonia, which obviously feels it has a a better claim to the Esperance and to Admiral D'Entrecasteaux than we do. I think his name went to some other less important part of WA too. :-/

Thanks to for the image (used with permission).

Great TV rumours!

Yes, rumours is all they are, but they are such great rumours I thought it would be worth repeating them here.
  1. Robert Llewellyn is reported to have said that the BBC is planning a new 1 hour Red Dwarf episode to be filmed later in the year. This would be a real gift. I really hope this one is true.
  2. Steven Moffat (soon to be top dog at Doctor Who) has spoken about the possibility about a Who movie, without actually saying anything. I love my Who, and really don't see the need for a movie, but the increased exposure it would give the franchise, in the form of people who never watch public television would be great.

Believers Resource

freely ye have received, freely give (Matthew 10:8 KJV)
For a number of years I have had an idea of setting up a web host for various free (free as in speech as well as free as in beer) Christian resources.

My thinking was influenced by the verse above. We have been given abilites, gifts and finances by God. I did (and still do) find it quite inappropriate the way Christian artists, ministers and organisations behave in much the same way as the world. My particular bugbear here is the copyright protection enforced on Bible translations. But the same things goes for music or original text... wouldn't you be better off allowing copying and free use? What is the point of writing an amazing Praise and Worship song and then only allowing those fellowships that pay the appropriate licencing fees to even sing it?

But back to my point, it looks like someone actually did something instead of just having an idea.

The Believers Resource site is somewhat spartan at the moment, but I think it has heaps of potential. Like the site says, there is plenty of free stuff available on the net, but a lot of it is of less than ideal quality. A central repository for the good stuff is a great idea.

The site asks for suggestions, and here are a couple which I will be sending on:
  1. Add links to other sites where they can't or won't allow hosting by Believers Resource. You will still have had a look at the product and approved it. People coming to Believers Resource can still use it. It just doesn't get downloaded locally.

  2. Add a software section. I'm thinking particularly of the Sword Project.

  3. The English Standard Version bible has some a module available for the Sword Project for no charge as well as being able to be read online.

  4. Perhaps add a "what's new" section, or perhaps even add a blog-like section to allow news and comments.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Jethro Tull + LOTR = Broadsword

A link to this was posted by one of my Facebook Knighthood friends who was one of only two in the last six months who has noticed that my Knighthood motto is a line from Broadsword. Thanks Jo, loved it!

Hi-tech war against vandals

My Dad (hi, Geoffrey) is involved with an organisation in Perth called People Against Vandalism.

So when I saw this article on the ABC I immediately thought of him.

Apparently, they have developed a technique by which they can detect paint fumes as the paint spray is being used. What they do after that I suppose is still up in the air, but it sounds like a useful idea. It sounds expensive, but so is cleaning up graffiti.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Long awaited photos

After a five month wait, family and friends will be pleased to know that I have finally added some more photos to my flickr account, including some of the school trip to Canberra. Enjoy.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Here's a NaNo winner for you

I've have yet to win NaNoWriMo, but I am really determined this year. When I win (note that I said when, not if), I want to have a winning story like Ensis here. Talk about determination! Break and enter and everything! I don't want my computer to break first though!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Pagegories in the sidebar

Just installed Brian Piltin's Pagegories sidebar widget. As the name suggests, it combines your wordpress pages and categories into one list, pages first. I don't have a lot of categories any more, so it looks quite good. Another option could be to use the Page Links To plugin (which I also have installed) and make a page than links to the category listing, but this is automatic. I like it.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Red Dwarf fanfic review (almost)

A few years ago, without access to a television, I was getting a little Red Dwarf deprived. I had copies of most of the scripts which I enjoyed reading and I also discovered a few interesting fanfic stories.

Just the other day I came across a small document I made that outlined the stories I had found and put them in chronological order.

Next to one called "Blue Giant", among other things I had written:
not great writing, bit juvenile
As they would say on Slashdot "you're new here aren't you?"... Isn't this a standard definition of most fanfic?

Thursday, 7 August 2008

A-Z Music Meme

OK, I wasn't tagged, but I saw this when investigating a Wordpress theme.

Simple idea. Open up your Music Library in your media player. Sort alphabetically by track and put up the first track for each letter without duplicating artists.

This is me:
  1. Absence by Ancient Drive (from "Unknown")

  2. Baba O'Riley by The Who (from "My Generation: The Very Best Of The Who")

  3. Cable TV by Weird Al Yankovic (from "Dare To Be Stupid")

  4. D.O.A. by Van Halen (from "Van Halen II")

  5. E-Bow The Letter by R.E.M. (from "In Time: The Best Of R.E.M. 1988-2003")

  6. F-19 by Men At Work (from "Business as Usual")

  7. Games Without Frontiers by Peter Gabriel (from "Shaking the Tree: Sixteen Golden Greats")

  8. Hair Of The Dog by Guns N' Roses (from "The Spaghetti Incident")

  9. I by Black Sabbath (from "Dehumanizer")

  10. Jack-A-Lynn by Jethro Tull (from "20 Years of Jethro Tull")

  11. Keechie by No Age (from "Nouns")

  12. La Bible by ApologetiX (from "Spoofernatural")

  13. Ma-Ma-Ma Belle by Electric Light Orchestra (from "All Over The World: The Very Best Of ELO")

  14. Naked In Front Of The Computer by Faith No More (from "Album Of The Year")

  15. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da by The Beatles (from "The Beatles")

  16. Paca Nokt' by Akordo (from "Kristnaska Kordo")

  17. Queen Anne's Revenge by Flogging Molly (from "Within a Mile of Home")

  18. R.I.P. (Millie) by Noiseworks (from "Love Versus Money")

  19. Safe European Home by The Clash (from "The Essential Clash")

  20. Tainted Love by Soft Cell (from "The Very Best of Soft Cell")

  21. U Can't Touch This by MC Hammer (from "The Best Singles Of All Time")

  22. Valley of Tears by Robert Plant & The Soweto Gospel Choir (from "Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino")

  23. Wait for the Promise by Aaron Jeoffrey (from "Very Best of Aaron Jeoffrey")

  24. X Offender by Blondie (from "Blondie: The Platinum Collection")

  25. Yahweh Love by Petra (from "Petrafied: The Best of Petra")

  26. Zero by Evanescence (from "Special German Import 2004")
I think this is a reasonable representation of my music library. Most of my top 10 bands are represented. As are some of the random tracks I've collected from mp3 blogs or bought off ITMS because I read a good review in the paper as well as few that I got from compilation cds or soundtracks. Nothing I'm too embarrassed to show here (except perhaps MC Hammer *grins*)

OK, the idea is to "tag" three more people to do this. This is a bit trick, because I'm not really on speaking terms with too many other people with a suitable site for publishing. But here we go anyway.

  • Jason Power (who has no site, I'm emailing you, add yours in the comments here)

  • Greg Cresp (does Live Journal track incoming links?)

  • Megan @ Melodic Insomniac. Sorry, you don't know me, but I've been watching your NaNoWriMo posts and you seem to be the musical type, so this might appeal.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Doing something right!

The Australian Minister for Aging released figures last week showing that Marriage Increases Life Expectancy. Good news. Now I just need to exercise more and get my HDLs up.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

New Music to Love

I've been using the iTunes Music Store for about two years (I think). For all its faults, I love the availability of so much music of all sorts and the ability to buy just one track if that is what you want.

Recently I have started thinking about extending my musical experiences into areas they haven't gone before.

I'm thinking particularly of bands that I have spent time avoiding because the "cool" people at Swanleigh played them all the time and I hated them just on principle. Perhaps I should even expand into slightly different genres/styles that I wouldn't normally listen to. I mean, I listen primarily to the heavy end of rock/pop (check out my profile if you are interested, top bands are Queen and Van Halen), but the last couple of years I have spent more time listening to folk, roots and even country.

I spend a bit of time browsing mp3blogs and the like, and have even discovered a couple of new "favourite" artists there: Apollo Up!, Flogging Molly and Kathleen Edwards, which is great. (Looking up the links here I notice that Flogging Molly has a new album, and it is actually on the Australian iTunes store. That's going on my wishlish!)

But what I am really after is some appreciation of the "classics" of late-20th century western music. The sort of stuff that is culture-defining. A bit like the necessity of having read Dickens, or listened to Beethoven, or at least knowing what a Van Gogh looks like. Just more contemporary.

Here's some of my ideas:
  • Pink Floyd
  • Talking Heads
  • The Doors
  • AC/DC (not a misprint)
  • From an Australian perspective: INXS, Cold Chisel (even solo Jimmy Barnes *shudder*)
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
  • Judas Priest
  • The Cure
Any others? Comments are open.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Second century christians were like this. What about us?

From the Epistle to Diognetus
For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.