Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Various Dinings & Winings

At first things were pretty quiet
Since Al is a modest fella, he doesn't appear in many of the shots on his blog. I wish to remedy this & point out how sneaky he can be.

Chaz, Al, Quokka & Alan (looking suspiciously)

But then the champagne came out & Chaz's 'jokes'

Quokka, Therbs, Chaz, Marcella, a bit of Damien & Ildi's arm.

Later Al showed us his photos & what it would cost to suppress them
Well fed but looking for more (Fifi on the left)
Down to Woody Point for Gelati
There were dolphins, honest!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Bedtime Fable for Surplus Children

Time for one of Uncle Greybeard’s Instructive Tales. (Which you’ve probably heard before)

One day this city fella was tearing down a country road at top speed when he turned a corner and saw a lamb in the road. He slammed on the brakes but knew he couldn’t stop in time, when suddenly a 3-legged pig hopped out to the lamb in a single bound, grabbed its wool in his teeth and hopped safely to the grassy verge. When he pulled up, shaking, he got out and followed the 3-legged pig as it carried the lamb back to a farmhouse. The city fella knocked on the door and when the farmer answered, he told him what the pig had done. “That is no surprise to me” said the farmer “such actions are in every way typical of this noble beast”. (He was a funny sort of farmer btw). “Why when my dear spouse and I were slumbering in our nuptial bed, my alcohol distillation apparatus (used only for fuel purposes I may say) caught fire, and would in all likelihood have cast us into eternal sleep, were it not that the noble pig burst into our boudoir, dragged the brocaded quilt from our recumbent forms – thus waking us – and skilfully hurled it upon the fire, thus extinguishing the blaze which might else have extinguished our very lives. (He also liked really long sentences that farmer). The city fella was amazed but the farmer went on (and on) to tell him more tales of intelligence and heroism unparalleled in animal lore, all attributed to the wonderful pig. Finally the farmer drew breath and the city fella asked the question which had trembled on his eager lips for, oh, ever so long. “But how did he lose his leg?” he said, inquiringly. The farmer looked shocked and shook his head at the city fella’s ignorance. “A pig like that” he said “a pig like that, well! You don’t eat it all at once!”

And the moral of this story is, that there is no need to sell your children all at once. Like some of our old books of art, more profit may be made by selling them one page, as it were, at a time. Please feel free to pass this instructive tale on to your various children. Perhaps as a bedtime story?

yours affectionately, Uncle Greybeard.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Review of the ExoPC (so far - another work in progress)

I bought a slate (ExoPC) as an e-reader, travelling entertainment device and for portable Internet access. It's early-adopter stuff (drivers, drivers & drivers) and, while it does all the things I bought it for, it's far from perfect.

The ExoPC UI Layer. Very quick and easy to use, but also unfinished
Left side. There's a docking port underneath and a stand and stylus on the way.

For those interested in the tech side: Intel Atom N450, 1.66GHz, 2GB RAM, 32GB SSD, 1 x SD slot, 2 x USB, 1 x mini-HDMI and a SIM card slot with nothing behind it. Audio I/O 3.5mm. 1.3 Mp webcam. 1366x768 11.6" capacitive touch screen, 4 hours battery life, if you're lucky. Broadcom chip for HD video via the m-HDMI. Runs Win 7 32-bit Home Premium out of the box. Cost A$762 delivered from Canada.

So here's my rankings so far:

 E-reader 7.5/10
Pros - covers every file format, backlit, good screen size and resolution. Big plus compared to a Kindle is glorious colour. Magazines etc look great. Also the speed of screen refreshes/page turns is very quick. Some e-paper screens I've tried blank out for a ridiculous time between pages. I'm a fast reader dammit.
Cons - too heavy (nearly a kg), short battery life, occasionally dodgy touch screen. The touch screen issue has been reported by other users but seems to be improved by new drivers (for me anyway). It's actually quite a bit better than other capacitive screens I've tried and can only get better with, yep, new drivers.

11.6" ExoPC linked to 54" Panasonic. One cable.
Mythbusters from ExoPC. Quality is as good as the file allows

Travelling entertainment 8/10
Pros - runs VLC, MPC - anything really. Got a cheap cable from Deal Extreme to hook to HDTV and it works fine. 1080p video + audio to a 54" plasma looks great, audio out to an amp or headphones is also great. Just the thing for motels or apartments when we're travelling.
Cons - It'll do a flight to Melbourne but not an international. I'd give it 9.5 if the battery life was better.

HDMI cable on the left, 3G modem on the right. Slate with fingerprints in middle.

Portable Internet access 6/10
Pros - great screen, especially compared to a smartphone.
Cons - weight and size mean I won't use it easily or often on the go, but fine at the destination. Needs a USB 3G modem - which I have - but an internal 3G/GPS card would be better. Some owners have already installed these, thus voiding their warranties. Like it says on my t-shirt, I Void Warranties 8-). Battery life again means that I won't spend too much time away from a socket, but to be honest I don't anyway.

All in all, I got exactly what I expected and was happy to pay for. I haven't mentioned the very fast and easy, finger-friendly Exo UI layer or the App store (which isn't much at all yet anyway). Some early problems have already been fixed by driver updates, and more are expected. The UI layer gets better with each iteration but hasn't reached version 1 yet so again, more fun to come. The bottom line is that I've now read scores of e-books I've had for years and it looks way easier to cart off on trips than a laptop or even netbook so I'm happy for now. In a couple of years new screens, batteries and APUs will probably produce devices 10x better, but by then the $2 coins in my bottom drawer will probably amount to enough to get one so that's OK too. (Beyond price was the look on the teller's face when I produced a 50 year old canvas bank moneybag with 400 $2 coins to buy this one.)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Why do people have costume parties?

So this fellow is turning forty (40) and he wants a costume party.

So the beloved of my heart, mother of my children, Beast of Brisbane, Hammer of the Helpless, decided to let out her inner Morticia. Knowing the calibre of the other guests, I decided to be prepared as a Fearless Vampire Killer.

The "walking stick" is actually a concealed stake-cane. Note the narrow-eyed look of suspicion. You can tell we're married. This posting is for the amusement of Quokka, Morgana, Catty et al and should not be read by anyone else. Especially NowhereBob.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Important Scientific Breakthrough!

"Scientists are hailing a breakthrough that could lead to one of medicine's holy grails - a cure for the common cold.
Researchers have found they can attach tiny studs of silver to harmless bacteria, giving them the ability to destroy viruses. They tested the silver-impregnated bacteria against norovirus, which causes winter vomiting outbreaks, and found they leave the virus unable to cause infections." (from the Brisbane Times)

Formerly harmless bacteria, after studding

This discovery raises a host of important questions. However I intend to ignore all of them and ask these instead.

Does this mean that people with piercings (and silver studs) don't get colds?

Can I avoid a cold by (a) Getting various body parts pierced? or (b) Spending a lot of time in close proximity to, say, some hot Goth chicks with lots of studs & rings?

Will body piercing now be available under the PBS?

And above all, how do they attach the studs?

Possibility 1 (fun)

Possibility 2 (boring)

Possibility 3 (Tiny silver studs also kill Zombies & Werewolves)
Sorry, must be time for my coffee.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Awww, the first snake of Springtime.

The birds were fussing out the front.

Turns out he didn't smoke

 It's like a painting, the eyes follow you everywhere.

Oh, and don't pick the orchids. 


A bit of video. Do you know how hard it is to wiggle your toes and hold the camera steady at the same time?

And a glamour shot of Goldie, just for Ms Cat. Sorry, no video. She likes bees, small birds and Jehovah's Witnesses.

 And just for Quokka . . .

The all new, improved Turkinator


The training continues . . .

By Sunday all will ready.

And for Quokka . . .

What Men Really Want

Well, the season of compulsory giving of inappropriate and unappreciated gifts is almost upon us. Everywhere that Consumerism is worshipped and advertising fills the air, Men and Women will receive socks, jocks, foul perfumes and tasteless lingerie. Now I can't (being hopelessly male) help with good presents for women. I guess it'll be back to "Skanky Sue's Hot Underwear Emporium" for me. But I can give you a sure-fire winner for men.

Behold! The 40,000V bug-swatter! Light, cheap, quiet (except for a sharp crack! as it does the job) and almost harmless*. Runs on 2xAA batteries - I use rechargeables of course. Being a bit green and all.

Now here we see an odd moth which has stuck to the protective (ha!) outer grid. You can see the highly charged killing & frying grid tucked away safely at least 2mm behind that. Most moths, mozzies etc hit the inner grid and disintegrate with a slight but pleasant charring smell. Caution! Do not dislodge moths like the one above with your finger, while pressing the button. I tried to import a couple of these from HK a while back and Customs confiscated them. Pikers! But my friendly local hardware shop (old-style, not Bunnings) got hold of some.

No male of my acquaintance has come to the house without trying this thing, turning to his partner and exclaiming "I want one!". It satisfies a deep, fundamental urge to hunt which is buried in the psyche of almost every male. Plus it makes cool noises and smells and kills things.

* Product should not be used on, by or near people with pacemakers or other heart problems. Or by anyone under the influence of alcohol unless it would be, like, really funny. And don't let your dog lick it like the guy in the hardware shop. He didn't come back for a really long time and he hasn't been the same since. The dog that is. And my wife just came and took it. 30 seconds later - "crack. Yay, got it!" I think we need another one.