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Thursday, December 30, 2004

Python for Nokia Series 60 released :


Have you got a Series 60 phone? Now you can download this and easily write your own applications. Sweeet! All I need now is a series 60 phone....

Some pics from our camping holiday:

One day on Elizabeth Beach...

surf's up!

Beach, reflected.


sunset 'n' powerlines #3

Rudy Rucker on God:

"I want to mention a touchy subject: God. Let me immediately say that I’m not out to advocate religion. If you want to keep things more neutral, think of “God” as a convenient and colorful synonym for “the cosmos”. Or think of the “God” word as convenient shorthand for “the unknown.”

My reason for mentioning God is that there’s a particular connection between God and free will that intrigues me: When in dire straits, people sometimes ask God to help them change their behavior. And, often enough to matter, this seems to help them get better. What might this mean?

I would say that becoming desperate enough to turn to God involves recognizing a current inability to alter one’s mental patterns, and a desire to attempt some higher-level change. The plea expresses a longing to jump out of a loop; a desire to move from one attractor to the next; a wish to experience a chaotic bifurcation.

If the plea works, does that mean that the Great Author, the Ground of All Being, the Omnipresent-Omnipotent-Omniscient One has reached down to change the parameters of some suffering character’s mental computations? And, more to the point, does this destroy determinism?

Well, we can keep determinism if we allow for a less supernatural view of reform-by-supplication. We could simply say that asking God for help has an organic effect upon a person’s brain. In other words, expressing a desire to have a spiritual life might activate, let us say, certain brain centers which release endorphins that in turn affect the threshold levels of one’s neurons. And these changes nudge the brain activities to a new strange attractor. A deterministic chaotic bifurcation occurs.

Do I really think it works like that? Well, to be truthful, I’ve always felt comfortable about reaching out for contact with the divine. The world is big and strange, and we have only the barest inkling about what lies beneath the surface."

...Via Rudy's

Earth is spinning faster as a result of quake

The massive undersea earthquake that caused the tsunami gave a boost to our planet's spin. As a result, days will be a fraction of a second shorter from now on.
Richard Gross, a geophysicist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, theorized that a shift of mass toward the Earth's center during the quake on Sunday caused the planet to spin 3 microseconds, or 3 millionths of a second, faster and to tilt about an inch on its axis.

...Via Boing Boing

Free Network Visible Network

10:12 AM augmented reality

Spanish researchers Clara Boj and Diego Díaz are working on the Free Network Visible Network , an augmented reality project which aims to make visible the exchanged information between computers of a wireless network.


First marks in the facades of the buildings will indicate the presence of a node, thus the possibility of connecting to the net, and at the same time to see the 3D representation of the information that we are interchanging with this node in real time.

Free game tools will then be developed that use the location of the players in the physical space as main element of the action development. For example, players would be able to modify the information (message, images or videos) on the marks placed in the physical space and record messages for other users / players. Or they would be able to change the publicity images or the urban signals by using small marks and creating game strategies.
Besides, the players will know in real time the position of other players if they are looking to a mark.

On the basis of these simple applications, users will be able to develop their own games.

Via Aminima.

Elevators get smart

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation in Japan developed a technology that combines RFID tags and cameras and makes elevators wait for people. Not the contrary.


By combining RFID and image processing, they claim that their system could recognize a person and tell if s/he wants to use the lift or is just waking near it, with no intention at all to step inside.

With the technology, the disabled and the elderly may be able to get on an elevator without the trouble of pushing buttons. Also, in an office building, employees could move back to their "home floors" without selecting a floor number everytime. Moreover, tags can be used to prevent unauthorized persons from getting on an elevator.

Some technical challenges still remain. The company plans to commercialize the technology within 5 years.

Via RFID in Japan.

Ledusoid, the inflatable chandelier

Ledusoid, by AKAirway the big bubble specialist, is an inflatable chandelier made of 350 LEDs sealed in plastic. Once attached to the ceiling the structure becomes a floating medusoid of light.


See also the squarish version.

Via near near future.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Back from camping now... Missed a lot of the news regarding the Tsunami and just catching up now via the web and the news currently on tv. Horrible horrible news. It's quite surreal coming back and hearing just how much damage and death has occurred. Before we went away I heard 3000 killed, now coming back and hearing how much more really beggars belief. I can't imagine 60,000 people, the thought that it's likely to be sustantially higher is terrible, just terrible.

Tsunami Death Toll passes 60,000.

Desperate survivors foraged for coconuts or looted food on battered Sumatra island today as the number killed by Asia's earthquake and tsunami passed 60,000.

WHO, the UN health agency, warned that disease in the aftermath of the disaster could double the toll yet again as the world launches what could be its biggest disaster relief operation.

"There is certainly a chance that we could have as many dying from communicable diseases as from the tsunami," Dr David Nabarro, head of crisis operations for WHO, told reporters in Geneva.

The catastrophe spans five time zones, 12 countries, three civil wars and thousands of kilometres of ocean - and there are fears that help won't get to those who need it most quickly enough.

Millions of people whose homes were swept away or wrecked by raging walls of water are struggling to find shelter, water and food and locate loved ones.

The death toll was rising by the hour, with staggering figures feared because of the huge number of people still missing and the inability of relief teams to get to many areas, including dozens of isolated islands.

Exact figures were impossible to get because of the sheer scale of the catastrophe.

The death toll in Indonesia's Aceh province is estimated to be as high as 40,000, Vice President Yusuf Kalla told reporters today.

"The estimate to this day, those who died in Aceh, number more or less 30 to 40,000," Kalla said.

Indonesia's social affairs ministry earlier put the toll so far from the quake at 30,057, but officials have warned it was expected to increase as contact was made with isolated areas.

Sri Lanka listed almost 22,000 people dead, India 4,400 and Thailand 1,500. All expect their tolls to rise.

A total of more than 300 were killed in Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Somalia, Tanzania, the Seychelles and Kenya.

Aid groups struggled to mount what they described as the largest relief operation the world has ever seen, and to head off the threat of cholera and malaria epidemics that could break out where water supplies are polluted with bodies and debris.

Dr David Nabarro, head of crisis operations for the World Health Organisation, warned that disease could take as many lives as Sunday's devastation.

"The initial terror associated with the tsunamis and the earthquake itself may be dwarfed by the longer-term suffering of the affected communities," he told reporters at the UN agency's offices in Geneva.

Along India's southeastern coast, hospital teams stood by to help the injured.

But three days after the disaster struck, many spent most of their time tabulating the dead as ambulances hauled in more bodies.

"The enormity of the disaster is unbelievable," said Bekele Geleta, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in South-East Asia.

One of the most dramatic illustrations of nature's force came to light when reporters reached the scene of a Sri Lankan train that was swept into a marsh by a wall of water, killing at least 802.

Eight rust-coloured cars lay in deep pools of water in a ravaged palm grove, with torn-off wheels and baggage scattered among the twisted rails.
The train was called "Sea Queen".

Of the overall death toll so far of 59,186, Indonesia has suffered the biggest number of victims, with its Health Ministry reporting 27,174 dead while Sri Lanka reported around 19,000.

India's toll of 11,500 included at least 7,000 on one archipelago, the Andamans and Nicobar. On one island, the surge of water killed two-thirds of the population.

Hundreds of others died in the Maldives, Burma and Malaysia. The arc of water struck as far as Somalia and Kenya. Fishing villages, ports and resorts were devastated, power and communications cut and homes destroyed. The United Nations said the cost of the damage will reach billions of dollars.

The tremor, the biggest in 40 years, tore a chasm in the sea bed which launched the tsunami, which appeared to be the deadliest in more than 200 years.

A tsunami at Krakatoa in 1883 killed 36,000 and one in the south China Sea in 1782 40,000, according to the National Geophysical Data Centre in the United States.

In northern Indonesia's remote Aceh region, closest to the epicentre, bodies littered the streets. About 1,000 people lay on a sports field where they were killed when the three-storey-high wall of water struck.

"My son is crying for his mother," said Bejkhajorn Saithong, 39, searching for his wife at a wrecked hotel on the beach. Body parts jutted from the wreckage.

"I think this is her," he said. "I recognise her hand, but I'm not sure."

At the Thai holiday resort of Phuket, foreign tourists pored over names on hospital lists and peered at 80 hospital photos of swollen, unidentified bodies.

"My father was not there," said German yacht skipper Jerzy Chojnowski, who was looking for his 83-year-old father, missing since the tsunami struck. "My father was not a good swimmer."

Many of the bodies were already decomposing in the heat, underlining the growing health risk.

Relief teams and rescuers flew into the region from around the globe to help in what the United Nations said will be the biggest and costliest relief effort in its history.

Gerhard Berz, a top risk researcher at Munich Re, the world's largest reinsurer, estimated the economic cost of the devastation at over $US13 billion ($16.97 billion).

More than 20 countries have pledged emergency aid worth more than $US60 million ($78.32 million). Several Asian nations have sent naval ships carrying supplies and doctors to devastated areas.

In Geneva, the WHO's Dr David Nabarro said it was vital to rush medicine and fresh water to the worst-hit countries to prevent further catastrophe.

"There is certainly a chance that we could have as many dying from communicable diseases as from the tsunami," Nabarro told a news conference.

There was a serious risk of an explosion of malaria and dengue fever, already endemic in South-East Asia, he said.

Around the ring of devastation, Sweden reported 1,500 citizens missing, the Czech Republic almost 400, Finland 200 and Italy and Germany 100.
Jan Egeland, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said:

"We cannot fathom the cost of these poor societies and the nameless fishermen and fishing villages ... that have just been wiped out. Hundreds of thousands of livelihoods have gone."

Around Sri Lanka's southern coasts about 1.5 million people -- or one in 12 of the population -- were homeless, many sheltering in Buddhist temples and schools.

In Aceh, Lieutenant-Colonel Budi Santoso said: "Many bodies are still lying on the streets. There just aren't enough body bags."

On the island of Chowra in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, rescuers found only 500 survivors from 1,500 residents. A hundred air force officers and their families vanished from one island base.

Authorities said at least 7,000 people were confirmed or presumed dead in the group of more than 550 islands.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Just back from seeing "The Incredibles" with pwincess weesa. Amazing movie. go see it. buy the merchandise. All of it.

..Must...go...to...bed... early start 2moro... off camping in Foster. Can't wait will be great.

..Till then.

Your mood caught by computer - Technology - www.smh.com.au

"Your mood caught by computer
December 26, 2004
The Sun-Herald

Scientists have developed a computer that can determine a person's mood simply from the sound of their voice.

They are now negotiating to sell the technology to a range of possible users, from car manufacturers to the makers of computer games and even reality television shows.

"When you are depressed or sad, the pitch of your voice drops and your speech slows down," said Dr Christian Jones, chief executive of Edinburgh-based Affective Media, the company behind the high-tech product.

"We betray our emotions in dozens of subtle ways. Our recognition system uses 40 of these.

"It ignores the words you use and concentrates exclusively on the sound quality of speech.

"It can tell your emotional state the very first time it hears your voice."

Dr Jones said car maker Toyota was already interested in using the technology to present road information in such a way that matched a driver's state of mind.

The on-board computer would become chatty for bored drivers or more calming for angry ones, Dr Jones said."

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry X'mas Eve everyone!

Last night at about 10pm I finally finished my painting which I'm giving to Lisa for X'mas. It's taken about 5 months on and off (mostly 'on') nad is the first painting I've done in five years, and it's certainly the one I've spent the most time trying to perfect.

Here it is :

...I'll try to get a better photo of it this afternoon.
2moro morning I'll go over to Lisa's early (like 8am early) and we'll make our super-salad which is our contribution to her familys' xmas lunch. We're probably going to have some vino and stay over, but should be a great day.

Better go... all the best.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Single-serving coffee can heats itself

Convenience is about to take on new meaning in the coffee aisle: single-serving coffee in a can that heats itself.
Chef Wolfgang Puck says the self-heating container 'will expand the way people drink coffee.'
Beginning Jan. 2, consumers can buy a 10-ounce container of Wolfgang Puck gourmet latte at the store and heat it by pressing a button. No electricity. No batteries. No appliances.
"It will expand the way people drink coffee," says Puck, the celebrity chef with a growing empire.
How does the can do it? A single step mixes calcium oxide (quicklime) and water. It heats the coffee to 145 degrees in six minutes — and stays hot for 30 minutes.
It sounds like a technology used by soldiers to heat Meals-Ready-To-Eat. But MREs mix magnesium iron oxide and water and need several steps. This is one-step and self-contained.
Puck's latte hits stores at a point consumers are willing to pay a premium for quality products that save time.
Puck — owner of Los Angeles eateries Spago and Chinois — knows trends. He's licensed his name to WP Beverage Partners, a beverage firm. WP has linked up with OnTech, a technology specialist, that designed the heating process.
Nestlé has tested a similar technology with Nescafé in Europe, and smaller companies have tested it in Asia.
"This will change the way people drink coffee," says Jonathan Weisz, CEO of OnTech. He insists that the technology is child-safe and eco-friendly. The technology also could be used to heat tea, cocoa and soup products. By mid-2005, it will be tested on foods from rice to fish.
Kroger is so convinced the product will be a hit, it will offer it in all 2,530 stores — and negotiated a deal to be the only seller until mid-February.
"There's nothing like it on the market," says John Spalding, who oversees all coffee sales at Kroger.
The coffee in its recyclable, single-serve container will retail for about $2.25. While that's less than a Starbucks latte, will American coffee drinkers trade in their Starbucks grandés for Puck's cup o' joe? One marketing consultant says, don't bet your coffee money on it.
"People won't believe that something from the grocery store will be in the same ballpark with Starbucks," says Steven Addis, a brand expert.
Starbucks won't comment on the Puck coffee, but spokesman Alan Hilowitz says, "Starbucks is about great coffee and a relaxing experience."
The Puck brand could attract time-pressed commuters, Addis says. And, perhaps, cold-weather football fans.
OnTech also plans a line of self-heating coffee later next year under the Hillside Coffee private label — a name it licensed from Procter & Gamble. OnTech plans to distribute the coffee through QVC next year and at major hotel chains.
"We've never had retailers calling us and demanding a product," says Bob Groux, CEO of WP. "We do now."

Near Berlin, a former zeppelin hangar has been transformed into Europe's largest covered leisure resort (five million cubic metres).
Tropical Islands offers 850 sun-loungers on its two beaches, waterfalls tumbling into tranquil lagoons, a rainforest, sunrise projected on to a 450ft long screen, speakers disguised as boulders broadcasting bird song and insect noises appropriate to the time of year and day ... and best of all, workers trained to "use smiles to enthuse stressed and winter-wearied Europeans".
Price is €20 for four hours, plus €1 for every hour over that. It is hoped that Tropical Islands will boost the local economy in the former communist east, where unemployment is around 20 per cent.
Could this sun-kissed leisure at home be the future of tourism?


Epic is a 'future documentary' done in flash about the changing state of media..


...goes for about 8mins. Watch it, it's quite thought provoking.

...some mirrors:



Tuesday, December 21, 2004

All I have to say is...


Scientists in Florida believe they know why complex language evolved. Blame it on baby talk. At least 1.6 million years ago some human ancestor mother started saying "goo-goo" and "ba-ba" to her baby as a way of keeping in touch.

And it all began because humans became bipedal. Modern ape babies cling to the maternal fur. Chimpanzee mothers are silent. There could be a link, says Dean Falk, an anthropologist at Florida State University.

She reports in the journal Behavioural and Brain Sciences that "motherese", the universal language of motherhood, is characterised by a high-pitched voice, long drawn-out vowels, repetitive phrases and a singsong cadence. These may hold the key to the emergence of language.

"I knew chimp mommies don't make these noises, so I knew something happened during evolution," she said. "The missing puzzle piece was bipedalism. We stood up; we lost hair. It was then that babies could no longer hang on to their mothers. Mothers had to hang on to their babies. That was a eureka moment."

For 200 years researchers have tried to understand how one mammal evolved from grunting and hunting to growing bonsai trees and reading Homer.

Professor Falk believes it all began 1.6 million years ago, when our upright human ancestors were roaming the savanna. The evolutionary development of bigger brains meant that early humans began giving birth before their babies' heads became too big to pass through the birth canal.

This shorter gestational period meant humans gave birth to babies that were undeveloped physically. Foraging mothers would have had to put their babies down to search for food. They may have made noises to reassure them. These noises would have served as codes, and eventually evolved into words.

"The behaviour of chimp mommies and babies and human mothers and infants are delightfully identical in many ways but we are dramatically different in other ways," Professor Falk said.

"We vocalise continually in a way that helps babies begin to learn language. I wanted to find out why we are the only animals that talk, and this need to pacify our babies as humans evolved may be the reason."

...from the Guardian

Monday, December 20, 2004

The littlest humans

The archaeologists who found the remains of Homo floresiensis on the Indonesian island of Flores predict there are other species to be found on a nearby island. The team, led by Professor Mike Morwood of the University of New England, will begin a search in Sulawesi early next year.

In a review of the find in yesterday's Science, Professor Jared Diamond, of the University of California, says it is unlikely our species mated with the "micropygmies" on Flores for the same reasons we don't have sex with chimpanzees. They would have been "too unlike humans to appeal sexually", and too unpredictable and dangerous to make the liaison a safe proposition.

from smh...

Seaside nest eggs go off the boil


Photo: Dean Sewell

Beachside property owners may have to settle for much lower returns over the next 10 years as the decade-long property boom that tripled house prices in many suburbs runs out of puff.

Figures prepared for the Herald by Australian Property Monitors show massive increases along the metropolitan coast over the past 10 years: from 345 per cent at Whale Beach in the north to 230 per cent at Bundeena in the south.

Of 36 beachside suburbs studied, 20 had a median house price of more than $1 million. Ten years earlier, only eight of those suburbs had a median higher than $400,000.

The soaring prices could have an unwelcome social impact, said Geoff Withycombe, executive officer of Sydney Coastal Councils. The State Government must improve access to affordable housing by increasing the statutory allocation of such housing, he said.

The property boom also caused social dislocation, he said. There was demand in coastal suburbs for lower-income workers but they had little chance of living nearby, while "the kids who live in these areas can't afford to buy a house in their own suburbs. It's a major social issue for Sydney."

Phil Raskall, an urban economist, said many grandparents and their baby-boomer children were likely to have enjoyed big property-driven increases in wealth, while the next generation was shut out of the market. As the eldest generation died off, "it's possible there might be arrangements made to skip a generation, with the grandparents saying it would be better to pass it on to the [grandchild] instead of the already well-off baby boomers".

...only five days till xmas!
crazy stuff. I'm going up to Mona Vale to spend xmas with Lisa and her family then she and I and a couple of her mates are going camping up at Forster for a few days before new years. Can't wait.

I've almost finished the painting that I'm doing for Lisa, we've celebrated chunks of xmas already... I bought her a little aquarium setup and she has got me some paints, some great coloured pens for my drawing, some thai fishermens pants (so comfy) and the first pair of thongs I've had in many, many years.
Things are getting a little bit quieter at work... we experience the opposite of a xmas rush, as a result of so many people for our customers going on holidays. This is a good thing. I get to do some catchup on my programming for the upcoming job change.
My good mate Kele called tonight to impat his particular style of xmas glee and have a chat. It's hard to believe that it's been 5 years since I've seen him. Must rectify that...

In the news today: The Sydney Harbour Bridge is going e-tag only in the next couple of years.

from the article:

"Motorists will soon be banned from using cash on the Sydney toll road network as the State Government seeks to entrench the use of electronic tags.

Even the Sydney Harbour Bridge, where tolls have been collected manually for 72 years, will have its cash booths removed as part of the motoring revolution aimed at forcing more than 85 per cent of motorists to use electronic devices.

The Roads Minister, Carl Scully, has confirmed the scrapping of cash payments on all six existing toll roads. It has already been decided there will be no manual transactions on the three motorways under construction: the M7 Westlink and the Cross City and Lane Cove tunnels.

The Cross City Tunnel, now running well ahead of schedule and due to open early next year, will become the first tag-only motorway in Sydney. Motorists driving on the road without tags will have their vehicle's numberplate photographed. They will be able to defer payments or ring a hotline within a few days of the trip to arrange for the $2.50 each-way toll to be paid.

The Sydney Harbour Tunnel was to become tag-only this month but Mr Scully said the changeover would be delayed until the Cross City Tunnel was opened - a tactic aimed at reducing "teething" problems.

Mr Scully said Melbourne's strife-plagued opening of cashless tolling a few years ago had made him nervous about introducing the scheme in Sydney, but it was inevitable the entire network would be tag-only.

"I wouldn't want to put a time limit on it," he said.

"But eventually, a few years down the track, it's probably time to say to people, 'Look, now's the time we make our motorway system cashless'.

"I'm reluctant to force it on people but I think it's such an attractive product, people will vote with their feet. They'll take it up anyway."

Electronic tags first became available in the middle of 2001, but it was not until last year that a single tag could be used on all motorways.

Since then tag use has soared to an average of about 65 per cent.

The M2 has the lowest number of users at just below 60 per cent, while 70 per cent of journeys on the M5 are tagged.

Mr Scully said he would move to make the road system cashless once more than 80 per cent of all trips were made using a tag.

He said he was putting pressure on the Cross City Motorway consortium and the Roads and Traffic Authority to ensure the new cashless system worked properly from the start. A marketing campaign was being devised to raise community awareness on tagging and how motorists could pay tolls if they chose not to buy a device.

The way it was on the  bridge's official opening day in 1932.

The way it was on the bridge's official opening day in 1932.

"There are always teething problems when you introduce new infrastructure and technology, so I don't expect it to be problem-free," Mr Scully said.

"But I've certainly got the pressure on them."

In late 2006 the 40-kilometre M7 Westlink will usher in another landmark in cashless tolling, with motorists paying tolls according to the distance they travel - up to a cap. It is expected the decision to ban the use of cash could be timed to coincide with the opening of the western roadway's connecting roads from Seven Hills to the M5 at Campbelltown."

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Goodies Reunite for Sydney Show!

At last, The Goodies will get together for a Sydney show, writes Richard Jinman.

The Goodies won't be riding their famous tandem bicycle when they reunite on stage in Sydney next year.

The comedy trio saddled up in London recently, but the "Trandem" proved as uncomfortable and unstable as it was 30 years ago. Back then, the sight of Tim Brooke-Taylor, Bill Oddie and Graeme Garden pedalling off to combat a plague of Rolf Harrises or a giant kitten, was as familiar to television audiences as the theme song refrain, "Goodies! Goody goody yum yum".

"We always hated the bicycle," says 62-year old Brooke-Taylor, who played the group's Union Jack waistcoat-wearing royalist. "The first one didn't have brakes and we were always falling off it. But as an image we knew it was right."

The reformation of The Goodies for a series of live shows as part of Sydney's Big Laugh Comedy Festival in March won't mean much to anyone under 30. But it's a source of real excitement for fans. The show screened Mondays to Fridays on the ABC and is still remembered fondly here, as evidenced by 50,000-plus sales of a Goodies DVD released last year.

"There's a phenomenon of thirtysomethings who just love them," says Big Laugh director John Pinder, who persuaded the trio to reunite. "I know there are people talking about flying out from the UK to see them."

Brooke-Taylor, who began performing with Oddie, 63, and Garden, 61 when they were students at Cambridge University, says they had not previously contemplated a reunion. They aren't sure if they'll perform the show - which tells The Goodies story through performances, anecdotes, songs, film clips and (possibly) a few explosions - in Britain

"We don't want to be like an ageing pop group that gets back together to pay the mortgage," says Brooke-Taylor. "We want it to be fun and good. If we feel the show is enjoyable we might go on with it."

The Goodies have met several times to script the new show. It isn't easy translating a television program that made heavy use of costumes and camera tricks to the stage, but the trio's enduring friendship has made it a smooth reunion. "It'll never be quite the same, but we were one of the few groups that never fell out," says Brooke-Taylor, who has worked regularly with Garden on the BBC radio quiz I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue.

Watching old episodes like The Goodies and the Beanstalk and The Bunfight at the OK Tearooms, Brooke-Taylor admits some gags have aged. But he's intensely proud of the show.

"To be honest, I don't think The Goodies would be made now," he says. "I didn't think the first two series were very good, but once you get a bit of confidence and people get to know the characters, you can take more risks. Nowadays, if the ratings aren't right you're taken off overnight."

And The Goodies did take risks, despite the popular perception of the show as a more slapstick, kid-friendly version of Monty Python's Flying Circus. The Goodies was written for adults and initially aired at 10.30pm in Britain. Brooke-Taylor says he has a "huge list" of moments - everything from rude words like "pissed" to sexual innuendo and parodies of religion - that were excised from the ABC's early evening broadcasts.

He says the show's edge was sharpened after they received a letter praising the first series from British morals campaigner, Mary Whitehouse. It was a call to arms for comedians who had learned their craft at university revues alongside future Monty Python alumni such as John Cleese and Graham Chapman.

"It made us go out of our way to make sure she didn't like any of our shows" says Brooke-Taylor, who got his wish when Whitehouse complained about a scene in which he wore underpants emblazoned with a large carrot.

The show was political, too. Brooke-Taylor was the arch conservative, Garden the middleman and Oddie the scruffy socialist.

"In reality, we were all anti-establishment," says Brooke-Taylor. "But I had the double-barrelled name so I was always going to play the Tory."

The Goodies perform at The Riverside Theatres , Parramatta, on March 3 and at the State Theatre on March 4, 5. Tickets $59-$72, bookings 9266 4800.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Great news!
I've scored a job as an application developer for our company. I start in late January. Can't wait. So long tech support (after 5 years) I'm finally on the path I've been oh so gradually building towards over the last few years. Eggshellent. I've got a lot of catch-up learning to do in the next few months, but I predict it's going to be worth it.

In other news, Friday night we had our office xmas paty which was held at 'le montage' in Leichart. A nice night, even with the overly raucous femal comedian, always nice to have a few with ones work colleagues.

I'm just doing some of my management course and I've found this great Native American quote:
"To truly understand another, we must walk a mile in their moccasins. And before we can walk in another's moccasins, we must first take off our own."

...and while i'm a quotin' :

"The colossal misunderstanding of our time is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change. Communication does not depend on syntax, or eloquence, or rhetoric, or articulation but on the emotional context in which the message is being heard. People can only hear you when they are moving toward you, and they are not likely to when your words are pursuing them. Even the choices words lose their power when they are used to overpower. Attitudes are the real figures of speech." -- Edwin H Friedman, Friedman's Fables

...Good night.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Hello there, how's it going?
I worked out at Homebush today.. . So a much easier trip to work, simply a 45 minute drive or so, pretty easy. Today the Homebush Ikea store opened up. It's the largest home furnishings store in the southern hemisphere has a floor area of 26,000m2 (which would cover the Sydney Olympic Stadium) and a product range of over 7500 articles. Amazing.
I've been to the Moore Park store & though that was pretty damn large and impressive, only to find out that it' the SMALLEST Ikea store in the world! I guess that's amazing again, just in a different way.


Wil Anderson is performing tonight at the Mic in hand at the Friend in Hand pub in Glebe tonight. Lisa's going as are Mick and Chris from work, but unfortunately I'm a wee bit too fiscally crippled at the moment, working in the city costs me about $8.80 in transport costs a day. It's also nice to get home early and have a bit of time to myself too. It's been quite a while since I've had a little break (even a few hours it seems!) and so it's nice to sit back and enjoy some quiet time.
...Is that enough justification? hehe... it will have to do. I do feel a bit bad that I'm leaving Lisa to go when she would have loved to have had me there, but she's a grown girl, and capable of having fun without me. It is hard to shake that 'staying at home, loser' feeling, but I'm also trying to save some money at the moment, I'd love to go on a holiday with her soon, after Christmas we're going camping down the south coast, so we'll have some quality time very soon.
Can you believe it's only 3 weeks to Christmas! Eeeek!

I love this image from EigenRadio

...And i don't know why.


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Ooh, another hot hot day today... about 38 deg. There was a bit of thunder and a touch of ran just a few minutes ago.. enough to make it more humid, not enough to really cool anything down.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Back at home again... was staying at Lisa's place for a bit over a week there. Was lovely.
Man, is it hot today. I'm sitting here sweltering, it's 8:39pm and 31 degrees C. Our Real Estate keep making excuses instead of fixing our air-conditioning. Bah them.

I've just logged into MSN messenger and noticed that Microsoft have finally mentioned the elusive 250 meg mailbox size... They talk of it 'coming in December'... we'll see. One thing I did notice that was really interesting was their inclusion of a calendar function. Excellent. I have been searching around for a web calendar for a couple of week... Come on Google... don't let me down here... The combination of gmail with an included web calendar would be killer.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Sydney slice of day
... I took this on the way from Wynyard station into work this morning...

... Some vines creeping up the wall near Lisa's house


Dale and I met up on the city (as usual, I was late) and we went to the underground bar and had a few gin and dry's, played some pool, then went over to the spirit, mind and body festival. That was alright, nothing particularly special (other than the fact that lisa was working there), although they did have some really nice teas which we sampled, several times. Dale bought some, I think I got the contact detail here somewhere... from memory they were some indian or african chai teas.... beautiful!


I took this photo after we left the festival (held down at the convention centre) on our way over to the imax where we saw some 3d under the ocean film. Looks like he was posing for me. The movie was cool, I hadn't been to imax before... I'm not sure why, guess I didn't really see the point of paying extra to see something that I hadn't seen publicised anywhere. Perhaps a bit of a narrow minded oversight. Movies are expensive enough as it is... it costs about $14 to see a normal, 2 hr film, imax is like $18 for 50mins.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Try this at home...

Supposedly some high school kid in Utah broke the world record for fastest text messaging yesterday, tapping out the official sentence the Guinness people use to judge these things (”The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human.”) on his cellphone keypad (no predictive text or QWERTY keyboards allowed) in just 57.75 seconds.

...I tried it... I gave up after it took me about 1 min 23 seconds to get to the end of 'Serrasalmus', but hey, I'm a predictive kinda guy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Plan for new square opposite Town Hall
...from SMH - November 12, 2004

Changing the neighbourhood ... the proposed new Sydney Square.

Sydney will get a new town square under an ambitious multimillion-dollar plan by the City of Sydney to buy half a city block opposite the Town Hall and demolish the buildings for open space.
Yesterday it overcame the biggest obstacle to its goal, buying the Manchester Unity building at 307 Pitt Street for $19.1 million. It already owns the Woolworths building on the corner of Park and George streets, the Hotel Coronation next door and Park House on the corner of Pitt Street, which has a $10 shop on its ground floor.
The council is now only a few buildings short of being able to bulldoze the entire northern half of the block. Three of these buildings were sold at different times for a total of $19.4 million. A fourth building is split into strata title, with several owners, which may increase the cost of the dreamed-about Sydney.
Both Brisbane and Melbourne have squares opposite their city town halls, with the expansive King George Square in Brisbane and the narrower City Square in Melbourne used for public events.
But Sydney's existing square is sandwiched between Town Hall and St Andrew's Cathedral, serving more as an entrance to the underground railway station than as a host to civic functions.

The plan is for a park for ceremonial and everyday use that leaves open the possibility of a reconfigured railway station. Cafes would be used to break up the bare facades of the remaining buildings, including the Energy Australia headquarters.
If completed during her term, it will be the second park the Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, has secured. In June the council bought the former Water Police site in Pyrmont for $11 million.
"This is a long-term vision for the people of Sydney," Cr Moore said. "It will provide a legacy for residents, workers and visitors."
Preliminary plans show about 5300 square metres of open space at street level. Beneath the square would be a retail area, with the present supermarket retained. The council plans to rezone the area to preserve it for public use and "preclude any site amalgamation for redevelopment".
"Acquisition of all of the properties will be by negotiation, where possible, or failing a satisfactory negotiation, by compulsory acquisition," Cr Moore said.
But exactly when the dream will be realised is not clear, although the council, which will be taking in rents until the buildings are pulled down, yesterday suggested 10 years at most.
The square was first suggested in the 1980s and revived by former lord mayor, Frank Sartor, whose plan to put a library in a square on the site of the Woolworths building would have had to wait for its lease to run out about 2015.
But the retail giant has since announced plans to move its headquarters out of the city centre next year. Its general manager of property, Peter Thomas, refused to comment on the future of either the lease or the remaining supermarket because the matter was confidential.
The plan still requires a lot more money, and gives the owners of the Manchester Unity building a $7.7 million premium on what they paid for it in 1999.
Pittsway Arcade at 303 Pitt Street, last traded for $2.4 million in 1992. The building next to Woolworths, 542 George Street, was brought for $6.5 million in 1997. Henry Pollack, the founder of Mirvac, bought the adjacent Commonwealth Bank building for $10.5 million the same year.
The owners will be asking for a good deal more than those sums if they are to be convinced to sell.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Create best child possible, as our future depends on it: bioethicist
By Amanda Dunn- SMH - November 16, 2004

Parents have an obligation to have the "best" child possible, and that includes using genetic technologies to enhance humans. To neglect to do so would consign future generations to chance, rather than making rational choices about how we should live, Julian Savulescu, a bioethicist at Oxford University and Melbourne's Murdoch Children's Research Institute, said yesterday.
Speaking at a Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics seminar at Melbourne University, Professor Savulescu said the idea of enhancing children was no different from sending a child to the best school.
"If you're going to have a child you should have the best child you can," he said.
In the end, he argued, there were only two choices: either reject medical technology in its entirety or embrace it. To want to engage in only parts of it was morally ambiguous.
"Once we accept intervening in how things are naturally, for the treatment of disease, relief of pain, we've accepted that we can intervene in God's will or in nature for the better," he said. "And why should we stop at relieving pain, or prolonging life? Surely what matters is how well our lives go."

Monday, November 15, 2004

bromeliad detail


Found some info today suggesting that the nokia 7710 may actually be released in Australia after all... nice site, I'll keep an eye on it: http://imobile.com.au/ today.

Yesterday Lisa, Mick a bunch of Lisa's friends and I went to the Newtown festival. The weather today and yesterday has been amazing, hovering around the 30degC mark. Not too hot, just right. Pity I had to work today, but hey, that's another story. Lisa and I are giving up cigarettes again... It'll make it easier if she's joining me this time... wish us luck. On Saturday Lisa and I went to Centennial Park to hang out with one of her friends and her baby who she hasn't seen for about 8 months. It was very windy. In true line of domestics, we then went to Bunnings Warehouse and spend about an hour and a half in the gardening section... my god.. this is getting serious... ;) I bought a Bromeliad. Useless trivia time: the most well known bromeliad is..... the Pineapple!
I never knew!

my friend Dale is coming to Sydney this weekend from Melbourne, so I'm trying to find plenty of cheap things we can do, there's plenty, i know... he hasn't been here for 18 years or something, so there's a lot to catch up on. We'll probably check out the Spirit, Mind + body festival which is on at the Convention Centre down at Darling Harbour. I might even drag him to the Glebe markets too. Show him Sydney as I see it, not just the touristy stuff.

I'm happy to report that I've recently opened a managed fund with ING too.... trying to get on top of my finances.. My plan is to live like a complete tight-ass for about 6 months and get on top of my debts a bit more... I think it's working.

I'm coming up to another 2 weeks working onsite down at the Rocks, starting this Friday too... I'll probably not write in that time as for most of it I'll be staying at Lisa's place in North Sydney.
We'll see.
Oh well, more later I guess. Till then, take care.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Infofile (from Sydney Morning Herald ~ 8.11.2004)

Would-be inventors - heed this advice: Phillip George, lecturer of photography at UNSW, predicts a major area of growth will be in personal archival databases.
"The issue is people at home with 20,000 photos of their baby. When their computer crashes they've lost all their photos. All that will be lost. This hasn't been addressed. People's family photographs aren't stable and the paper will fade over time. Also, colour and resolution hasn't been addressed."
George says big businesses are asking everybody to be their own archivist, resolution and colour experts, where once we could go back to our negatives.
"We've got to migrate data. The thing about data is that it can slip," he says.

2020 vision: live to 120

Sydney Morning Herald ~ November 8, 2004 - 2:37PM

A life expectancy of 120, glow-in-the-dark cats and wiping out diseases with the bite of a banana - welcome to life in 2020.
Scientists say this and more is possible within 16 years.
Craig Cormick, from the federal government's Biotechnology Australia, said today advances in biotechnology had the ability to provide significant lifestyle changes for humans, including the ability to live 40 years beyond the current average life expectancy.
"The fundamental difference is we'll no longer be treating diseases, we'll be treating wellness," he said today.
"If we can sequence a child's genome when they're born, and by 2020, before they're born, you can test a child's genetic make-up while they're still in the womb and undertake corrective measures."
By 2020 it is predicted medicines will be tailored to your own genetic make-up, you will be able to clone your own organs if something goes awry, and have the ability to slow your ageing process.
"These ones are in the realm of scientific possibility ... because they're things we're doing at the moment, they're technologies we're starting with or we're doing them in mammals to some extent," Mr Cormick said.
A conference in Brisbane this week is exploring visions of biotechnology into the future, including their benefits and risks.
Mr Cormick said those visions included growing crops with vitamins and vaccines to counter health problems such as diabetes, types of cancers, malnutrition and vitamin deficiency.
"We expect by the year 2020 we'll see lots of our foods with increased health attributes," Mr Cormick said.
And the use of biotechnology in the future could mean puss will never be the same again.
"You'll be able to change the colour of your cat or dog," Mr Cormick said.
"We already know you can put genes into rabbits and fish and make them glow.
"People are willing to look for novelty and it's well within the realms of possibility if people want to have a glow-in-the-dark cat or designer dog."
Mr Cormick said it was also possible humans would be drinking recycled waste water as biotechnology processes created certain bacteria which could be used to purify water.
However, scientists were wary of overstepping the mark.
"Every time you're tinkering with life to any extent you worry people," Mr Cormick said.
"There will always be a side-effect or an impact that we have to consider ethically. The best way that's done is through working with the community."

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Another day down as we plummet headlong towards the weekend. Today was good, though very busy, I barely had time to think. Monday was much the same which probably led to me having yesterday off work... I woke up feeling horrible and burnt out. Just couldn't do it, just shuffled around the house feeling fluey.
I did have one victory though, I managed to get py2exe to generate an exe file from one of my python projects... finally I can do something a bit more useful (at least ina windows environment). I hear that Nokia are working towards releasing python for symbian-based mobile phones. Cool!
Looks like nokia have officially announced the 7710, but no mention of it being available to Australia. Damn. I was hoping to combine my next phone with more pda functionality, doesn't look like that will be happening quite as soon as I had planned.

m: strung-out but energised.
b: toasted ham, mushroom and tomato sandwhich.
k: 2
l: tomato and capsicum tuna with zuchini and rice.
c: 10
g: 4

I bet $10 on our Melbourne Cup sweep at work for yesterdays race, got nuddin, absolutely nuddin. I think I won $25 last year tho. All part of the game really.

2moro night Lisa is on again at comedy, so I'm going to that, I'm working down at the Rocks on Friday, so will be staying at her place. I'm working Sunday back in the office too, so not much time available to spend with the girl this weekend it seems. She has a photoshop course on Saturday too, but hey, it's all good, we'll take what we can get, and there's plenty more opportunity as we do get most other weekends to ourselves (well, we have something planned on most weekends anyway, but that's our choice). Y'know we've spoken everyday for 4 and a half months? amazing.

oh, i have a new favourite site: http://tosic.com/... nice work nikola!

Friday, October 29, 2004

Statue in Hyde Park, Sydney

Yeh baby!

They chose one of my photos!
How awesome.

Day is going well, lunch is sausages, eggs, rice with carrot, peas and red capsicum.

REGURGITATOR The Marquee, 128 Pyrmont Bridge Road, CamperdownThursday and November 5, 8pm
$22Bookings 9557 0221
They play Caringbah Bizzo's on November 7. There's a free midnight gig in Pitt Street Mall the following night. And they play Homebake on December 4.

This is also my 3rd day without a cig. Did I say that Mick and I are going to go to the Food and Wine expo in Hyde park on Saturday? yeh, I think I did.

till then, 'au reviour'.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

structure Near StMarys Cathedral

I've just submitted 20 photo's to Sydney Morning Herald for consideration for an online gallery called "built environment"... wish me luck! I'm not expecting them to use any of mine, but I'll make a certainty if I don't submit any I guess.

Off to the supermarket now for some late grocery shopping (the idea is to beat the rush, hopefully not everyone elses idea too)....



...Home from work... been for a quick run around the block to shake the cobwebs out of my head, two cammomile teas, watered my garden, took the above photo, about to get into some more painting.
Today was a fairly undramatic, uneventful day. That means that nothing disasterous went wrong, but it would be nice if something a bit more interesting happened. Keeping things running BAU (business as usual) doesn't exactly reek of pizzazz.

Aaah.. there's something about Thursday mornings isn't there... you can almost smell the weekend.

Started work at 7:30am this week, started at 7am for the previous 2 mornings due to being an hour late Monday morning because my battery in my car died. $144 later and I'm back on the road.

Got up at 6am this morning... first coffee at 6:10am, iron my shirt and pants (had my shower and made todays lunch the night before) got dressed, get to work about 7:15, have another coffee and 3 weetbix.

The calls don't really start until 8am anyway, so it's generally a fairly chilled start to the day.

I did some more work last night on my latest painting.... I'll post a picture here when it's finished.

ALso check out Air Freshener, an awesome ambient sounds program for yur PC: http://peterhirschberg.com/dl/aire20setup.exe (thanks Dave). I've installed it on my work PC, we're having rainforest sounds and thunderstorms and crackling fireplaces and ocean surf on call.

Mick and I played squash last night... some awesome rallys were had. I won overall, but gee, there were some great gameplay.
We were a bit late to get there as I was picking him up. Apparently a tree fell across the railway tracks at Normanhurst and there was so much traffic on the roads.. it took 45mins to get from Epping to the squash centre in North Ryde, normally a 10 ~ 15 minute tops. The traffic still hadn't cleared up (was actually worse) by the time we left at 6:30 so we went and had dinner at the chicken shop on Cox's Road.. aah our old haunts! The traffic had improved substantially by the time we left to go home at 7:30. It was either eat out or site in the car for that time, so the decision was not that hard.

no cigs yesterday, woohoo.... had about 3 coffees, 5 green teas, 2 camomile teas. A couple of litres of water. Health-kick!

Spoke to Matty on trillian too, he's moving to Sydney from Avoca next week.
Coined the phrase 'metronomad' : one of the fashionable set who do not live at a fixed address but rather wanders from lounge-room to lounge-room of their friends.

Lunch today: Panang curry tuna with peas on white rice: pretty boring but delish.

Oh yeh, Lisa just called, she wants to go to the falls festival for new years. Sounds pretty darn kool methinks.

Take it easy. more soon.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Last saturday night we went to Phil Duke's wedding out at the Nepean Rowing club. Was good, fun was had. Got to catch up with Dave Rule and Luke Sullivan neither of which I have seen for waaaay too long... probably years if I think about it hard enough. Anyway, a great time was had by all, and As far as I could see, everything went down without a hitch.
~ Good on you Phil and Sarah, all the very best.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

from www.smh.com.au...

Animation nation

October 23, 2004

It is a realm with engineered people and no limits. And it's reshaping global pop culture. Deborah Cameron examines the billion-dollar anime phenomenon.

Sex, they insist with absolute courtesy, is what it's about. Violence, too. Look at history and you see war, look at life and you see sex. Be honest. It's what we want; we're programmed that way.

For these two Japanese men, rated among the world's most influential animated filmmakers, sex and violence are inescapable.

Tokyo-based producer Mitsuhisa Ishikawa and director Mamoru Oshii prevail over an animated world where "people" are re-engineered. Not necessarily reborn as robots, but biologically altered to be more obedient, less moral and more unfeeling. The bodies are harder as well and, handily, they can be rebuilt from spare parts and recharged when the arms get wrenched off in fights or the chest cavity explodes.

Dark doesn't begin to describe the worst bits of these movies. And yet Ishikawa, the son of rice farmers, talks of restraint. He test-screens his movies on his daughters, who are 15 and 8. "I would never ever produce works that I cannot show to my girls," he says. "That's my policy."

Certainly, the influence of Japanese animation filmmakers runs deep. Anime, as it's known, has emerged as one of Japan's most visible cultural exports. In 2002, royalties from worldwide sales of anime, video games, films, art, music and fashion contributed $US12.5 billion ($17.1 billion) to the Japanese economy.

In fact, according to research published this year by the Tokyo-based Marubeni Research Institute, 60 per cent of the world's animation output comes from Japan. Think of Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Digimon, Powerpuff Girls and all the rest, then throw in the world's stockpile of Game Boys, Playstations and Xboxes.

Animation - at least that made with an adult audience in mind - has become a big drawcard at film festivals and international retrospectives, of which the Japanese Film Festival in late Sydney next month is just one. But the interest in anime isn't confined to cinema screens. Next month a special DVD containing all 51 episodes of the classic Astroboy series from the 1980s will be released in Australia.

Opening in Sydney early next month is an exhibition focused on the Japanese animation studio Production IG. The exhibition, Revolutionising Anime: IG's pursuit of ultra-realistic fantasy, is being staged by the Japan Foundation and will feature original anime cells, digital images and storyboards from Production IG's films.

And for serious cultural endorsement, it is hard to go past the Booker Prize winner Peter Carey, who writes about anime in his new book. In Wrong About Japan, Carey's encounter with anime is part of the subtext of a meditation on his relationship with his 12-year-old son, Charley.

From Mamoru Oshii's animated film Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.

From Mamoru Oshii's animated film Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.

Mamoru Oshii, in his films about hyper-modern societies, including the highly successful Ghost in the Shell series, is an arbiter of a world of boundless technology. Thoughts arrive telepathically, the brains and bodies of cyborgs recharge from the mains socket, their muscles and tendons look like fibre-optic cable.

The tug is always to be more graphic, to use bigger special effects, to make it startle, Oshii says. Imagination is his opponent and he's always wrestling it back. Yet, privately, Oshii has retreated to an earlier time. He has no mobile phone, no email account, not even a wristwatch. It delights him. For the rest of us, however, it's too late. Infatuated with our computers, electronic organisers, mobile phones, internet favourites and junk email, and in relationships with the digitised voices that answer our phones, we are well on the way to cyborg citizenship. Depressed? Wait, there's more.

"There is a very tiny difference between whether those tools are inside of your body or outside it," Oshii says. "Really, it doesn't matter. You have already become part of the machine; you have become a device."

Ishikawa thinks that Oshii, who keeps a basset hound and always includes one in his films, would be happier as a dog. "Not right," Oshii says, "but, for sure, life would be simpler." And then, as he tilts his head and scratches it, he wonders aloud about the ears and tail. Momentarily, it looks like he might change his mind.

It is all a bit surreal inside the world of Japanese animation. Given the power of a team of animators (often up to 30 people to work on one character) and computers the size of office buildings to drive the design along, truly anything is possible. Got an inkling of yourself as a cyborg? Plug in. Want to be a dog? Just bark.

Almost without seeking the role, Japan has found itself cast as a counterweight to the United States, the traditional powerhouse of popular culture. "In fact, from pop music to consumer electronics, architecture to fashion and food to art, Japan has far greater cultural influence now than it had in the 1980s, when it was an economic superpower," wrote the Washington journalist Douglas McCray in his influential essay "Gross national cool", published in Foreign Policy magazine last year.

The handful of big Japanese studios to have found themselves at the forefront are there without much marketing effort of their own. And now with money sloshing in from Hollywood, it is an international mainstream phenomenon.

At the Venice Film Festival last month, Japan's biggest and most successful film company, Studio Ghibli, scored a standing ovation for its latest movie, Howl's Moving Castle, scheduled for release in Australia next year. The film's director, Hayao Miyazaki, won a technical-achievement award and is being spoken of as a contender for an Academy award next year. His first Oscar came in 2002 for Spirited Away, a feature-length animation.

When Oshii's film Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence was screened at Cannes this year, it followed the success of the first movie in the series, Ghost in the Shell, which in 1998 surprised everyone by becoming the biggest-selling video in the US.

Conventional filmmakers have found it impossible to ignore the trend. Quentin Tarantino included a long animated sequence in Kill Bill and the groundbreaking film The Matrix was anime-inspired, as was James Cameron's Dark Angel. Not surprising, then, that major Hollywood studios including Disney, Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks and Pixar are involved with investments, collaborative deals and distribution arrangements.

Anime first appeared on TV in Japan around 1960 and started gathering a wider audience about 15 years ago. But the origins go back further. To see where it really started, a short Tokyo train ride is recommended.

Between catnaps, passengers eyes drift to advertisements strung in groups, like neat rows of flags, from the carriage roof. Livening up the pitch everywhere are cartoon characters. Credit-card firms, sake brewers, off-the-plan real estate brokers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, face cream companies, everyone actually, uses them.

The elements of anime itself - fast-moving plots, a world spelled out in plain old good and evil, easily digested in small bites - can be traced from the comic book, known in Japan as manga, which comes in dozens of themes from murder mysteries to tender romances, warrior robot wars and explicit porn. And even before that, to the centuries-old tradition of wood-block printing, which combines artistic interpretation and precisely rendered drawing with a sense of graphic design that looks modern and alive even today. Transferred to film, anime entered a new zone.

While it can easily match the pace and brilliance of Hollywood, its producers have nowhere near the glitz or the ego. There is no bus to take you on an MGM-style backlot tour.

Production IG, for example, which made Ghost in the Shell and the animation for Kill Bill, has its head-quarters on a backstreet. There are so many bicycles lined up under the veranda and parked inside the front door in the small lobby that it looks like a pitstop on a triathlon course.

On the top floor, Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, the president and chief executive of Production IG, who last year was a finalist in the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year contest, describes how he fought and beat Disney and Studio Ghibli for top billing on a recent collaboration. But Ishikawa would prefer to say it another way. Making a flat line through the air with his finger, he says: "We sit on the same level."

As business executives go in conservative Japan, he is unusual. First, and fittingly, he is quite animated, and he waves his hands and cranks up the pitch of his voice during the most telling parts of his stories.

As a filmmaker, particularly with Oshii as the director, Ishikawa has had to suppress at times strong reservations about whether audiences would be interested in what they made. Without fail, he says, the preview screenings always leave him deeply nervous that his latest film will be a flop. Oshii is the confident one.

A couple of days later, Oshii is sitting across the table smoking the third of what will be seven cigarettes in an hour. He's describing the way it works in an animation studio. Unusually for an anime director, Oshii does not draw. Instead, he conveys his ideas - some of them weirdly complex and abstract - to illustrators who bring them to life. The characters and the turns in the plot all start inside his head.

The "star" of the cast of Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence was distilled from the work of 30 animators, all separately drawing the Oshii vision.

"I had to unify them," he says, rubbing his eyebrows at the memory of it. Understandable, then, that Innocence took four years to make.

In that infinite process, the director's skill is to control the story-lines and inject discipline into the studio.

The greatest modern advance of filmmaking - digitisation - has added anarchy as animators continually dip back into the film, fiddling and refining frames. They won't let go, e complains. No one ever shouts "Cut!". And on a film set where actors never tire or flounce off to their trailers, the animators keep going.

So when it comes to the question about which is harder to make, Oshii, who has also directed live action films, is emphatic: "An anime character is much more difficult than a living actor."

Revolutionising Anime: IG's pursuit of ultra-realistic fantasy opens on November 4 at the Japan Foundation's gallery at Chifley Plaza in the city.

The 2004 Japanese Film Festival opens on November 29 at the Dendy Opera Quays cinemas. The Animania festival runs this weekend at Sydney Town Hall.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

from the Neal Stephenson interview on Slashdot

"In a fight between you and William Gibson, who would win?


You don't have to settle for mere idle speculation. Let me tell you how it came out on the three occasions when we did fight.

The first time was a year or two after SNOW CRASH came out. I was doing a reading/signing at White Dwarf Books in Vancouver. Gibson stopped by to say hello and extended his hand as if to shake. But I remembered something Bruce Sterling had told me. For, at the time, Sterling and I had formed a pact to fight Gibson. Gibson had been regrown in a vat from scraps of DNA after Sterling had crashed an LNG tanker into Gibson's Stealth pleasure barge in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. During the regeneration process, telescoping Carbonite stilettos had been incorporated into Gibson's arms. Remembering this in the nick of time, I grabbed the signing table and flipped it up between us. Of course the Carbonite stilettos pierced it as if it were cork board, but this spoiled his aim long enough for me to whip my wakizashi out from between my shoulder blades and swing at his head. He deflected the blow with a force blast that sprained my wrist. The falling table knocked over a space heater and set fire to the store. Everyone else fled. Gibson and I dueled among blazing stacks of books for a while. Slowly I gained the upper hand, for, on defense, his Praying Mantis style was no match for my Flying Cloud technique. But I lost him behind a cloud of smoke. Then I had to get out of the place. The streets were crowded with his black-suited minions and I had to turn into a swarm of locusts and fly back to Seattle.

The second time was a few years later when Gibson came through Seattle on his IDORU tour. Between doing some drive-by signings at local bookstores, he came and devastated my quarter of the city. I had been in a trance for seven days and seven nights and was unaware of these goings-on, but he came to me in a vision and taunted me, and left a message on my cellphone. That evening he was doing a reading at Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus. Swathed in black, I climbed to the top of the hall, mesmerized his snipers, sliced a hole in the roof using a plasma cutter, let myself into the catwalks above the stage, and then leapt down upon him from forty feet above. But I had forgotten that he had once studied in the same monastery as I, and knew all of my techniques. He rolled away at the last moment. I struck only the lectern, smashing it to kindling. Snatching up one jagged shard of oak I adopted the Mountain Tiger position just as you would expect. He pulled off his wireless mike and began to whirl it around his head. From there, the fight proceeded along predictable lines. As a stalemate developed we began to resort more and more to the use of pure energy, modulated by Red Lotus incantations of the third Sung group, which eventually to the collapse of the building's roof and the loss of eight hundred lives. But as they were only peasants, we did not care.

Our third fight occurred at the Peace Arch on the U.S./Canadian border between Seattle and Vancouver. Gibson wished to retire from that sort of lifestyle that required ceaseless training in the martial arts and sleeping outdoors under the rain. He only wished to sit in his garden brushing out novels on rice paper. But honor dictated that he must fight me for a third time first. Of course the Peace Arch did not remain standing for long. Before long my sword arm hung useless at my side. One of my psi blasts kicked up a large divot of earth and rubble, uncovering a silver metallic object, hitherto buried, that seemed to have been crafted by an industrial designer. It was a nitro-veridian device that had been buried there by Sterling. We were able to fly clear before it detonated. The blast caused a seismic rupture that split off a sizable part of Canada and created what we now know as Vancouver Island. This was the last fight between me and Gibson. For both of us, by studying certain ancient prophecies, had independently arrived at the same conclusion, namely that Sterling's professed interest in industrial design was a mere cover for work in superweapons. Gibson and I formed a pact to fight Sterling. So far we have made little headway in seeking out his lair of brushed steel and white LEDs, because I had a dentist appointment and Gibson had to attend a writers' conference, but keep an eye on Slashdot for any further developments."

Rain boosts Sydney dam levels
Sydney Morning Herald - October 21, 2004 - 3:12PM

currently raining in Sydney

NSW Premier Bob Carr today said overnight rain had provided a 0.3 per cent increase in Sydney's dam levels, but warned NSW was not out of the woods.

Mr Carr today told parliament combined dam levels were now at 42.2 per cent.

He said in the last 24 hours a week's worth of water, equivalent to 1,800 Olympic swimming pools, had flowed into the catchment.

"It is great to report that rain has arrived - and importantly arrived in the right places," Mr Carr told parliament.

"Mother Nature has smiled on us this week with a very welcome drenching."

But Mr Carr cautioned the community's efforts so far to curtail water use must not stop because of the rain.

"This is just a small respite from the grip of the worst drought in more than 100 years," he said.

"We are still not out of the woods by any means. For our dams to get back to 70 per cent capacity, we need 40mm a day for seven consecutive days."

How you'll lose $790,000
Sydney Morning Herald October 21, 2004 - 1:38PM

The average Australian stands to lose up to 22 times their median annual income over the course of their life through bad financial management, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission said today.

Speaking at the launch of ASIC's financial management guide Your Money in Sydney, Commonwealth Financial Literacy taskforce chairman Paul Clitheroe said average income earners were wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars through bad decisions.

"Taskforce research modelled the effects of bad financial decision making," Mr Clitheroe said.

"(It) discovered that a person on a salary of $36,000 per annum stands to lose $790,000 in lost wealth over the course of their lifetime."

These included ill-informed investment, superannuation and mortgage choices, misuse of credit cards and bad management of debt, ASIC chairman Jeffrey Lucy said.

"Average income earners can potentially save thousands of dollars by the time they retire," Mr Lucy said.

"To avoid lost opportunities it's crucial for everyone, especially those not on high incomes to get the most out of their money and to plan for the future."

Australian Consumers Association chief executive Peter Kell said financial awareness was important for any income bracket.

"Anyone can start now, no matter how little money they have...to make a real difference to their finances," he said.

Your Money details a range of financial strategies and issues, including investment, insurance, superannuation and managing mortgages and debt.

It can be found online at http://www.fido.asic.gov.au.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


The interesting thing I find about things like blogs & flickr is how it enables you, over a period of time to almost get a top-down view on your own life... The essences of what you feel and what you deem important and aesthetic enough to write about and take photos of can essentially explain the essence of you.

For example... I've always been a bit of a gardener.. It's a nice antithesis of my technology-based work life.. but over the last year I've noticed that I've started growing flowers... nothing too major in that, but I know I never used to. Within time, this tidbit of information about me will fade.. I have no photographic evidence that I didn't used to grow flowers, as without a facility like flickr I never took so many photo's, now I have the ability to share this visual documentation of my life easily, I'm more keen to document it. It's quite cathartic.

Assuming I'm still using flickr and also blogging over the next few years it will be interesting to note the flow of changes that takes place that normally wouldn't even be noticed, even by me, let alone published for others, including myself to view and review in the future.

Heya, how's it going? I've been busy then some more toy dinosaur silliness
...as you can see...
I've got just over 500 photos up on my flickr site now, so why not shoot on over and have a look, maybe even leave some comments. That'd be grande.
I've recently discovered these two sites and i thought I'd share them with you:

It's currently raining here in Sydney, it has been for the last couple of days. Such a dramatic change from last week where we had 38degrees C. Balmy in every sense, I was glad to be in the office airconditioning.
Hmmm... what's been happening lately...
My friend Link has recently moved up to Townsville.
Lisa has finished and submitted her script (you go girl).
Our friend Kristin has had to leave the country back to Sweden, hopefully she will get her visa sorted out and get back here asap, we all miss her.
I've taken up painting again... and, as frustrating as it is, I'm really enjoying it.
I'll post a photo of the final product.
If you want to see some of my other art, please go here.

I've been to two bucks parties in a month.. the first one was for Pete, one of the guys I met through Mick. Pete lives up in Newcastle. We went 14 nautical miles out in a boat for a little sea fishing... terrific. Here's Pete and the catch of the day:
man 1 - beast 0
... The second was last Saturday night, for Phil, one of my work colleagues. I have no photos of that... and even if I did, I couldnt post them on here.

Also Lisa celebrated her 26th birthday on the 29th of September, I hope she had a great time (I think she did).. It really threw out my plans as I had to work in the city that week (and therefore staying at her place), so I suddenly only had half the time to prepare that I thought I did. Ahh, all's well though.

high-speed flowers

high-speed flowers

high-speed flowers

high-speed flowers

high-speed flowers

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Hail in North Ryde this afternoonThis afternoon it hailed for almost an hour... the ground looked as though it had been snowing. In some parts of sydney people were trying to snowboard. I happened to be one of those many folks caught out driving in it. The chunks of ice were about as big as the top segment of my finger, they were shattering against my windscreen with vengeful gusto. ;) You could see it falling from the sky, the chunks were that large. It made me glad, once more, that I have a cheap car. As long as any damage isn't significant and the car still runs, my life goes on quite happily.

Work at 7:30 in the morn. I like the early shifts.
I've been reading the blog of one of my favourite Australian bands today.. Regurgitator. You can find it here. Enjoy. They're currently doing the band in the bubble thing in the middle of melbourne. Check it out... there's a webcam so you can see what's going on too. It would be cool to go down to melbourne and check it out in person. But I'm waay too disorganised for THAT sort of shennanigans.
Sydney is grumbling with thunder tonight.. it has been pretty surly for the latter part of the day, I think more thunderstorms are forecast for 2moro, which is cool. I like thunderstorms. I can remember my mum hiding in the house when then thunder shook, and I wanting to go out walking in it.
Lisa's birthday is coming up in a few week... the pressure's on to come up with something great. She did a pretty awesome job with mine, it certainly set the precedent. I've almost finished designing a website that's a long time overdue... a day or so to wrap that up then I'll start project: Lisa's birthday.
Wish me luck.


Hey there.... another Sunday working in the office. The air-conditioned nightmare is actually no too bad today.... I've opened the blinds and so have about 4 metres of glass in front of me... looking out i can see some mildly sullen clouds brewing.

I turned 31 last wednesday week... Lisa did a wonderful job of organising a surprise birthday dinner, and, not that too many people have tried to surprise me in the past, but this one took me completely by surprise, which is, of course the idea. We went to the Chinta Ria restaurant down at darling harbour. Amazing place, highly recommended. I had actually booked to go to Govinda's that night, I was wondering why she seems a bit nonplussed when i mentioned it to her. hehe. We ended up going to govindas onthe night of my birthday, had some terrific food and watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which was great too.

Aah, so good to have such a good girlfriend.

I've recently discovered the joy that is Flickr ..... you can see some of my pic's here...

Friday, August 06, 2004

'Ullo there. I'm on a weeks holiday at the now, not the sort of holiday where I go anywhere exciting, more the kind where I stay home and catch up on all the things that are actually important to me. I've done some more art, thankfully finishing one I did the initial drawings of on my last holiday, a year ago. I actually went on holiday that time, snowboarding for a week, then down to Melbourne to catch up with Dale and check out the Outre Gallery etc.

It's great to get some things done though. I've received my full birth certificate now, which is particularly for getting security clearance at work (they've been hassling me about it for a while, better get it done), but also neccessary for getting a passport which I also want to do. I have a website to do for a business (better get my act into gear for that one) , yesterday I sent Lisa flowers (will arrive today, hopefully) , it's the first time I've sent her flowers, I hope she likes them. Did i mention before that she sent me flowers before? While I was onsite inthe city. First girl to send me flowers. Girls, it's a nice thing, send 'em to your guys!

I've also successfully applied for a Virgin creditcard to help me manage my small-ish debt. Basically my current creditcard has a 16.75% interst rate, the Virgin one has a 4.9% rate for 6 months then to 12.4% so it's a lot better and gives me 6 months to get on top of my debt a bit more rather than paying such a large amount interest. I'm going to cut up my other card. I've been buying Money magazine, you see... =)

I'm thinking about studying part-time next year, perhaps graphics design, I really want to do something more akin to my creative side, I've been doing IT support for 5 years now, while I do still enjoy it a bit, it's fair to say that the novelty has certainly worn off.

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