The Cartographers

Two new meads! (21 February 2005, 10.03 pm)

Me and my sister made two new meads today: a Chocolate Mead, using 500 g of cocoa powder, and a ginger metheglyn, using about 50 g of freshly grated ginger. After the primary ferment, we’ll put in some nectarines from Emilly’s tree into the ginger metheglyn to make what I’m calling a nectarine–ginger methomel. We tried to use Ken Schramm’s no heat method, which involves no heat at all, but our honey was crystalised (we bought 30 kg of clover honey from a place in Mooroduc called Pure Peninsula Honey), so we had to decrystalise it, which needed heat.

We also bought an extra demijohn, a 25 L one, so we can start two 20 L batches at once, and move the 34 L one into the 25 L demijohn and the 25 L batch into a 20 L one. We have the chocolate mead in the 25 L demij., and the ginger meth in the 34 L demij. (You want to start with extra headspace so that what head that forms has a place to exist rather than trying to bubble out the top, but in the secondary, you want to minimise the headspace—and definitely minimise the surface area—so you use one that just fits your batch. Much of the extra 5 L in the 25 L-as-secondary will be taken up by nectarines.)

Chocolate meads typically take a full year before they’re drinkable, so we aren’t expecting much from it till then, but apparently once they’re done they’re damn good. Ours has a density of 12.1° Baumé (°Bé), which means we can expect around 12 per cent alcohol by volume.

Emilly really likes ginger, and apparently ginger and peach goes well together; peaches and nectarines are very similar, and Emilly has a nectarine tree, so we decided we’d make a ginger/peach methomel. Ours has a density of around 12.4°Bé. When we put the nectarines in, it’ll probably stuff around with our calculations, but around 12 per cent is probably a good bet.

We finished putting these together around five o’clock; by around ten o’clock, they both had nice heads on them—particularly the chocolate mead. It was also bubbling at about once every six or so seconds, so it’s got off to a flying start, but the ginger meth wasn’t bubbling yet. Must’ve done something, tho, if it had a head. Our first mead never really got one.

While checking out the meads this evening, which we’ve left under the house like last time, we were visited upon by a cute white kitten (stray). The kitten appeared to like the mead; or perhaps it just liked the fact I was patting it and scratching its head in the way all kittens like, but it did show an interest in these big things, and sniffed around them from the convenient vantage point offered by my lap. White Kitten, therefore, is the name that will appear on our labels.

Our first mead, tho, hasn’t begun clearing yet, so no drinking yet! Maybe in a month, or maybe in six: I’m only guessing.

Finally, we’ve decided next time we’re making two meads, we’ll probably invite some friends around who want to learn. Obviously this won’t be for at least a month, and probably more like two unless someone has a 25 or 30 L demijohn spare.

Update: A couple of days later, the Ginger meth had begun bubbling slowly but lost its head, whereas the chocolate mead was bubbling madly (> 1/sec) and its head had subsided to a relatively large mass of very fine bubbles.

Comments (3)

Want Parrot! (19 February 2005, 12.02 am)

I was just reading RMS’s blog today—I didn’t realise he had one separate from his musings on American politics from a pretty far-left position till today—and came across this post about his conversation with a parrot. These parrots sound so cool, and RMS’s way of relating his story seems so different from his usual stuff! I especially liked the joke (Now I can say I have witnessed a parrot do kernel hacking ;-), punning on various meanings of ‘kernel’ (the core of an operating system or a part of corn) and ‘hacking’ (changing, modifying, debugging or, well, attacking, eating).

Richard M. Stallman, commonly known as RMS is the leader and originator of the Free software movement, which works to promote the use and creation of software with much fewer restrictions on the source code and use of the software. He’s well-known for his contributions, both in software and more recently advocacy, of the GNU operating system, primarily used on the Linux kernel.

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Mead! (13 January 2005, 11.38 pm)

Last weekend, my sister and I put together a traditional mead. Mead is an alcoholic drink made from honey, probably one of the oldest alcoholic drinks. Its popularity declined as the relative cost of honey increased, due both to the increase in population and, apparently, the decrease in Catholicism in non-wine-making areas (grapes being cheaper than honey, wine was produced for preference in most areas grapes grow; Catholics using more beeswax than protestants the conversion of most non-grape-growing areas to protestantism meant honey became even more expensive as it was apiarists only income now mead became even more expensive so they just got wine from the appropriate areas… so Poland and Orthodox areas were the only real places that kept a tradition of mead in Europe… Or at least that’s what the Internet tells me, but it’s been wrong before). Mead is currently undergoing something of a revival in America, though America is such a diverse country that I think anything can undergo a revival there and not be noticed by the overwhelming majority of the population (for instance, politics).

There are many times of mead. Because meadmaking dropped from English culture before spelling was standardised, some drinks have variant spellings (primarily between y’s and i’s). Many dictionaries also don’t include these words. A traditional mead is just honey, water and yeast (with some additives for the yeast’s benefit rather than flavor, like the lemon in our recipe). Metheglyn is a mead made with added herbs or spices, whereas one made with fruit or fruit juice is a melomel. A melomel with grape juice (or a wine with honey) is a pyment; with apple juice (or a cider with honey) is a cyser; with mulberries is a morat. A spiced pyment (or metheglyn with grape juice) is hippocras. A mead with malt (as in beer) is a braggot/bracket/brackett.

Mead is in many ways more like wine, especially white wine, however much of the culture around drinking mead is closer to beer, so it’s quite appropriate to drink it from a conveniently-placed drinking horn (or by the pint). OTOH, you might prefer to drink it when you’d drink wine. Entirely up to you.

One difficulty with making mead is most resources on it are from America and so they talk in pounds and gallons and degrees Fahrenheit and it drives my poor metric brain mad. Also, I don’t think our hydrometer was the right one for our purposes (hydrometers measure the density of a liquid, and therefore how much sugar it contains). So I’m not sure if we’re going to be making a highly alcoholic (18-odd-percent) sweet mead or godknowswhat, but we’ll find out. Also, we’re not entirely sure what volume of it we’re making something like about 20 L but we didn’t carefully measure. Anyway, for the sake of having a metric recipe somewhere on the net (actually, it’s not a recipe, I’ve been writing too many Psychology lab reports for that, but still), here is what we did:



  • 7 kg (or so) pure honey
  • water to bring it to about 20 L
  • ~5 g EC1118 champagne yeast (I think)
  • ~3 g yeast nutrient
  • a lemon


  • 10 g(?) sodium metabisulphate (SMS)
  • 6 g(?) citric acid
  • 1 L jug and alfoil
  • 34 L demijohn for primary fermentation
  • 20 L demijohn for secondary fermentation
  • racking cane
  • siphon (food-grade)
  • thermometer
  • hydrometer
  • cylinder (about one litre volume)
  • two rubber corks to fit demijohns, one with whole for airlock
  • airlock
  • large stainless steel saucepans (7.5 L and 4 L)
  • scales, plastic stirring spoon, cupmeasures
  • computer, pen, paper

Much of the equipment and ingredients were acquired from our local winemaking store.


The usual first step in creating mead is to relax, have some mead. Lacking mead, relaxing sufficed, apart from taking notes throughout the process documenting it. The equipment was sterilised by mixing the SMS and citric acid into hot water according to the instructions and soaking. To sterilise the demijohns, water was siphoned from the sink to the demijohn, useful for practice siphoning. A yeast starter was created in the litre jug by mixing boiled and cooled water, two cups (?) of the honey, yeast nutrient and yeast, and covered with the alfoil and left to sit. The remaining honey was pasteurised in two lots by mixing the honey with boiled water, which was brought to 80 degrees and left there for ten minutes—this might not actually be the correct procedure, the Internet annoys me. These mixes were left to cool with the sliced-up lemon in them before being added to the primary so as not to break the glass. Given the time of day, we boiled some more water and stopped for the night. The cork without an airlock was put onto it.

The next day, the cooled boiled water was added to the demijohn. The volume appeared to be about twenty litres. A sample was siphoned from the primary to the cylinder and the hydrometer spun into it. The hydrometer (a baume scale hydrometer ranging from 0° to 10° baume) appeared to be the wrong one for our purposes, so it was ignored and the yeast starter pitched. The airlock and cork was placed on it. Given the weather outside and the quality of the house’s temperature, the mead was placed under the house, which has substantially lower maximums than inside (and therefore a lower temperature range).

The mead has been fermenting for about half a week, though I haven’t seen it since Tuesday. Before it started fermenting, it looked like honey, but now it’s began, it looks more like the Yarra (or the color of crystalised honey, as you prefer). If everything goes according to plan, I think the primary fermentation should be finished in about a month, before it’s racked to the secondary demijohn. With a bit of luck, it’ll be ready in time for my birthday in July. We have plans to make other meads (especially cyser) once this one’s done.

Comments (3)

Pretty adequate (18 November 2004, 4.06 pm)

I just felt like I needed to quote this:

Remark: As a result of the educational trend away from intellectual discipline, the last decades have shown in the Western world a sharp decline of people’s mastery of their own language: many people that by the standards of a previous generation should know better, are no longer able to use their native tongue effectively, even for purposes for which it is pretty adequate [sic!].

(Edsger W. Dijkstra in EWD667, ‘On the foolishness of “natural language programming"‘)

I will admit that Dijkstra’s native language was Dutch. It’s just it seems to me that anyone criticising language mastery should be able to avoid such uselessness as pretty adequate.

Comments (2)

Comments spam (10 November 2004, 3.33 pm)

Sorry I haven’t been posting much lately, it’s called Uni. I will hopefully have an interesting post to post soon; otherwise I will have an interesting post to post later. For now, let me say: I hate comments spam.

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Libertarians funny use of words (14 October 2004, 9.13 am)

One thing about Libertarians is they have a funny use of words. They warp their meaning, then expect everyone to use them. They might think it’s very clever, but it stinks of self-obsession.

For instance, reading the Liberal Democratic Party’s webpage, I found the following quote:

… Helen Cross, independent candidate for Molonglo [a territorial electorate of the ACT], made the comment that she did not want to force anything on smokers, but she wanted to use penalties and regulations.

In response, John Humphreys, LDP candidate for Molonglo, pointed out that penalties and regulation were force.

Strangely [!], Ms Cross responded by saying that he had previously travelled to countries that didn’t have democracy.

Force does not mean dictatorship. I think Helen must have been a little confused about the meaning of these words…

I think it is clear here who is confused by the meaning of the word force.

Also, I was talking to Joel Parsons one day, and askt him what government is. He went off on some rhetorical Spiel about something with a monopoly on the use of force or an organisation with a mandate on only the protection of our freedoms or something like that. This is clearly not only a reanalysis of the word government, but a reanalysis of the word is, because the government is a lot more than that…

I think I would have a better opinion of libertarians if they cared to share the same language as the rest of us.

Comments (1)

Citizens Electroral Council (21 September 2004, 4.00 pm)

I thought I might as well investigate the Google News updates feature, and askt it to send me information about articles that matched ‘australian election’, given what we’ll be having soon enough. It hasn’t been incredibly useful, but I received this absolutely amazing article just now, about the CEC.

Apparenetly designed for a LaRouchean American audience, the article describes the CEC in glowing terms as the fourth-largest party in the country, outside of the Coalition, the ALP, and the Green[s]. (Of the Greens, it says: the establishment has promoted the Greens, now polling 6–9%, as their tame opposition to the ‘majors’.)

I don’t think you need to go read the article yourself. Suffice it to say that I think all the reasonable parties have put the CEC very close to last in the Victorian Senate preferences (generally fighting it out with One Nation for that position). Interestingly, Family First haven’t, and have also described themselves as Australia’s fourth-largest party.

Comments (1)

Fascism is fun (9 September 2004, 8.11 pm)

You needn’t agree with everything he says, but he makes a point. Fascism is fun.

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Update to front pgae (7 September 2004, 4.15 pm)

I’ve updated the front page with a temporarily changed logo until Toj gets finished with the one he’s making for me, and also with reference to Peter Carey’s ‘"Do you love me?"‘, because I have a copy of it now.

Comments (2)

Spring begins Sept. 1: Ducks (6 September 2004, 9.27 pm)

If ducks defined the start of spring, it would be 1 September, a recent FoalPoll has found.

Nine out of ten ducks polled believed that spring has already sprung. The remaining duck refused to comment, preferring instead to attempt an attack on an innocent bystander.* The belief that spring has already begun was strongest in ducks of the younger age ground (ducklings), with 100% agreeing with the statement that it is already spring.

The weather is also strongly in favor of a 1 September–start to spring, with very nice and sunny, but not-too-warm, days alternating with days of rain. This is generally accepted to indicate that the weather believes it is spring.

Nevertheless, a survey of the deciduous trees in the peribolos at La Trobe University suggests that the ducks’ opinion is not universal. Although of the three species readily identifiable, at least one member of each had begun blossoming, the vast majority of trees themselves remained bare at this early juncture. It is not yet certain, however, if they favor an equinoctial start.

In addition, one tram driver refused to acknowledge the warmer weather outside, instead insisting on turning the heater on full.

Tristan Mc Leay says:

‘Clearly, extracting northern hemisphere–based observations and transplanting them inversed into the southern hemisphere does not fit with the data, nor with the opinions of the locals.

A September 1 start to the season is both widely held and widely taught for good reason. No Party can win this election without accepting this as fact.

Another FoalPoll will be taken shortly before the equinox, as well as slightly after.

Table 1. Thinking of the start of spring. In your opinion,
does the season begin on 1 September or the equinox? (Responses are in
percentages, rounded to the nearest integer. Numbers may not add
up to 100 due to error involved in rounding.)
Overall Ducks Deciduous trees People
Ducklings Adults By species By individual# Cyclists Tram drivers Panel presenters
1 September 72% 100% 50% 100% 30% 100% 67% 80%
Equinox 7% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 33% 20%
Couldn’t say 21% 0% 50% 0% 70% 0% 0% 0%

Comments (2)

Reforming politics (3 September 2004, 7.01 pm)

Says Malcom Turnbull, Liberal candidate for Wentworth: What can you do for the people of Wentworth as an independent? The answer is nothing.

I think his criticism is more of Australia’s current system of government rather than of Peter King. Australia needs political reform, decreasing the cohesiveness of parties and increasing both the abilities of independent candidates to do more than hold balance of power in hung parliaments, and parliamentarians abilities to cross the floor and vote for what they think is better for their constituents, rather than what Howard or Latham believes is better for business or unions.

In theory, we vote for candidates, not parties, and not their leaders. Why not in practice too?

Comments (7)

Marxism (1 September 2004, 3.42 pm)

I’d often wondered how Liberals got that way. I turned up to a Socialist Alternative meeting at La Trobe today because the topic was Marxism vs Anarchism (which was more like Marxists diss anarchism without really having a proper debate, and then try to recruit anarchists to Marxism). If I took Marxism to be prototypical of the Left, and this isn’t so unreasonable a perspective, then based on some of the things I heard there, I would probably vote Liberal too.

A typical statement I heard was: I don’t think fascists or racists should be free to say what they want (and though is paraphrased, it is most emphatically not taken out of context). Extrapolating from this baist on his surrounding comments, he almost said that fascists, racists, sexists, and many other -ists who disagree with him, should not be free to associate, nor even free to hold their views. (Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to determine whether this view was indicative of Marxists, but the only people who exprest disagreement with it were anarchists or anarchist sympathisers.)

I’d always thought that Marxism had been taken out of context by Lenin and Stalin and Mao and so forth, but it seems that they have the gist of it right: We get to boss you about, and we derive our power from the fact that we can trace our history to workers. In fact, one of their various disagreements with anarchists is that the latter refuse to take power.

This of course won’t make me vote Liberal in October, but if there’s any communists on the Senate vote, there’ll certainly be a fight for the last place on my ballot! (even though that place is purely symbolic).

Comments (2)

It’s been a while (29 August 2004, 11.04 pm)

An apt and accurate Calvin with Susie

— ‘Well! Peanut butter!

  ‘… or so it seems.

  ‘Did you see that?’

— ‘Hmm? What?’

— ‘My sandwich wiggled! There’s something alive in it!’

— ‘Oh stop it Calvin.’

— ‘I’m not kidding! Mom must be trying to kill me! I bet there’s a slug in my peanut butter!’

— ‘Eww!’

— ‘Hmm… I don’t feel any slugs in here. What could it be? I’d better smell it.

  ‘Augh! Augh! It’s got my nose!! The peanut butter itself is alive!

  ‘It’s oozing up my face! It’s going to suck out my eyeballs! Help!

  ‘Rrgh! Mmf! Blrghgh!

  ‘I got it off! Quick! drown it in chocolate milk!

  ‘Boy, what a close call that was. Won’t mom be disappointed to see her little plot failed!’

— ‘Look at you! I’ve never seen anything so revolting! What’s wrong with you?!

  ‘I’m eating somewhere else.’

— ‘Girls are so weird.’

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Conspiratal Cabal of Cartographers (24 August 2004, 5.34 pm)

I have finally got around to putting up the front page of my website. You may now find out the reason why I chose this domain and not, say,

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Piraha (21 August 2004, 6.45 pm)

This seems somewhat hard to believe…

… several very surprising features of Pirahã grammar and culture: (i) the absence of creation myths and fiction; (ii) the simplest kinship system yet documented; (iii) the absence of numbers of any kind or a concept of counting; (iv) the absence of color terms; … (vii) the absence of any individual or collective memory of more than two generations past; (viii) the absence of drawing or other art and one of the simplest material cultures yet documented; (ix) the absence of any terms for quantification, e.g. `all’, `each’, `every’, `most’, `some’, etc.

(My emphasis.)

The Piraha aren’t meant to be some isolated tribe in the middle of nowhere who weren’t discovered till yesterday, either; apparently they’ve been in contact with Brazilians and Tupi-Guarani–speaking Kawahiv for more than 200 years. (They’ve borrowed their entire pronoun inventory from them, which we’re apparently meant to think odd, but anyone who understands this speaks a language that borrowed most of its third person plural pronouns (`they’, `them’, `their’; `’em’ is a holdover from Old English hem) from Scandinavian, and an Aboriginal language borrowed its word for `I’ when a speaker whose name was very similar died.)

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Contacting me (18 August 2004, 8.17 pm)

Though most people who read this probably don’t contact me in these ways, but due to my current workload and desire to do better at Uni this semester than last, for the rest of the semester (as far as possible), I have unsubscribed from CONLANG (the constructed languages list) and romlang (the constructed romance languages list) and I’m no longer checking Slashdot.

Comments (1)

Censorship (17 August 2004, 6.14 pm)

The Australian Labor Party is interested in censoring the Internet. The Liberal Party of Australia is not, which I find remarkably odd. Aren’t ‘family values’ a conservative thing? I may be interested in voting Liberal before Labor.

  • Libertus provides a wide range of information about the current state, and history, of censorship of films, publications, computer games and Internet content in a State of censorship - Australia.
  • A page on Wintersun also discusses it.

The American constitution places a ban on governmental censorship. We should investigate doing the same.

I will now turn to Tom Lehrer, who has something to sing on everything:

I do have a cause though. It is obscenity. I’m for it. Unfortunately the civil liberties types who are fighting this issue have to fight it owing to the nature of the laws as a matter of freedom of speech and stifling of free expression and so on but we know what’s really involved: Dirty books are fun, that’s all there is to it. But you can’t get up in a court and say that I suppose. It’s simply a matter of freedom of pleasure, a right which is not guaranteed by the Constitution unfortunately. Anyway, since people seem to be marching for their causes these days I have here a march for mine. It’s called…

Give me smut and nothing but!
A dirty novel I can’t shut,
If it’s uncut,
and unsubt-

I’ve never quibbled
If it was ribald,
I would devour where others merely nibbled.
As the judge remarked the day that he
acquitted my Aunt Hortense,
To be smut
It must be ut-
terly without redeeming social importance

nographic pictures I adore.
Indecent magazines galore,
I like them more
If they’re hard core.

(Bring on the obscene movies, murals, postcards, neckties, samplers, stained-glass windows, tattoos, anything! More, more, I’m still not satisfied!)

Stories of tortures
Used by debauchers,
Lurid, licentious, and vile,
Make me smile.
Novels that pander
To my taste for candor
Give me a pleasure sublime.
(Let’s face it, I love slime.)

All books can be indecent books
Though recent books are bolder,
For filth (I’m glad to say) is in
the mind of the beholder.
When correctly viewed,
Everything is lewd.
(I could tell you things about Peter Pan,
And the Wizard of Oz, there’s a dirty old man!)

I thrill
To any book like Fanny Hill,
And I suppose I always will,
If it is swill
And really fil-

Who needs a hobby like tennis or philately?
I’ve got a hobby: Re-reading Lady Chatterley.
But now they’re trying to take it all
away from us unless
We take a stand, and hand in hand
we fight for freedom of the press.
In other words,

Smut! (I love it)
Ah, the adventures of a slut.
Oh, I’m a market they can’t glut,
I don’t know what
Compares with smut.

Hip hip hooray!
Let’s hear it for the Supreme Court!
Don’t let them take it away!

Comments (3)

The mind (6 August 2004, 10.57 pm)

One thing about cognitive science is that it’s studying something we know nearly knowing about (What is the mind? Where is the mind? Does the mind really exist). The result of this is that you get a lot of interesting articles/ideas in the area. I’m currently doing some research for an essay I have to write on the topic, and I’ve bumped into articles that mix complicated psychology-type stuff with complicated philosophy type stuff. Things like Is the conscious mind subtly linked to a basic level of the universe? and qualia. It boggles the mind.

(Much of this more accurately counts as philosophy of the mind, but it’s still related to cognitive science.)

Comments (1)

Boycotting Mozilla (1 August 2004, 12.44 am)

Mozilla, is, apparently, no better than Microsoft. They have engaged in security through obscurity as their way around godawful breaches of security in the design of their software.

  • Mozilla and Mozilla Firefox allow websites to define webpages that look-and-feel like Mozilla or Mozilla Firefox. This means that a webpage could easily fool a user into thinking they were at a secure site but actually steal their credit card details (or password).
  • Mozilla have known about since at least 1999. Instead of solving it, they made the bug `confidential’ so that people couldn’t find it and abuse it.
  • Much of Mozilla and Mozilla Firefox’s recent growth has been as a result of security flaws in Internet Explorer (IE), especially IE’s lack of concern for designing features securely. After this, Mozilla has absolutely no moral right to accept this advertising.

Security through obscurity is not security at all! It’s a delusion.

Until this situation is rectified and a full apology and promise never to do this again is made to the community, I will not be using any Mozilla-based programs. This emphatically includes Gecko-based webbrowsers such as Galeon which I have been using to date. This is not about the existence of the bug, but the way it has been treated.

In the short term, I will probably be using KDE’s Konqueror. I would prefer some other kHTML-based browser as Konqueror is too closely integrated into KDE and other rendering engines aren’t up to scratch.

Comments (6)

Copyright industry tries to frame me! (30 July 2004, 6.55 pm)

A Conspiracy of Music Copyrightholders Composers, Singers and Players is clearly trying to frame me. I keep discovering music on my computer that I most emphatically didn’t put there. Mostly it’s stuff I don’t particularly like.

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Screenshot (29 July 2004, 8.32 pm)

Been a while since I’ve screenshoted. There’s a new one available. A few details about the basis of my ui:

  • Slackware 9.1 with various packages from Dropline Gnome or otherwise upgraded.
  • GTK+ 2.4 with a custom-designed theme to go with my windowmanager theme.
  • ROX-based desktop, including a few-days-old daily build of the Filer, the ROX sessionmanager, and OroboROX with a slightly-modified version of the Retro theme. All via Zero-Install.
  • I use a patched version of Gaim 0.77 that makes it work better in ROX for all my instant messaging needs.
  • Most of my webbrowsing needs are satisfied by Galeon 1.3.15. I occaisionally play with others including the übercool but incomplete (bad CSS) Amaya.
  • Some of my emailing needs are satisfied by Thunderbird 0.7, but not all of them.
  • I suppose I mostly use Rhythmbox for my music needs, but it’s kinda random and depends on my mood.

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Riding to Uni (3.08 pm)

In addition to a domain name, I got a bike for my birthday. I rode it to Uni today. It took an hour, which is about the same time it takes to take public transport to Uni. I wonder if they’re doing this on purpose?! :)

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OSNews (28 July 2004, 11.38 pm)

I have come to the opinion that OSNews sucks. I don’t know why it took me so long.

The website is poorly designed as forgotten that the web is a very special medium in that the audience can have some control over the design of the webpage. Therefore, you should only hint about how the design comes up. It also has some awful useability problems Instead:

  • A fixed list of fonts is specified for most text, so that the ugly and over-used Helvetica/Arial appears in most places. For some reason, the version of this font on Linux computers is unbearably ugly. Please respect my right to choose my own fonts.
  • A fixed width of text is specified on all the for-screen pages. The main reason my browser window is about 800 pixels wide is to accomodate OSNews’s awful layout. If I don’t visit OSNews anymore, I can use a more comfortable width of about 600 pixels (which I tend to migrate to when browsing lots until I visit OSNews). Please use a liquid design that allows resizing both ways (within reasonable bounds—and the normal width of a novel is certainly `reasonable’, Alex).
  • Fortunately, a way around the second problem is to use the `printer-friendly’ pages. `Printer-friendly’ pages are actually generally more than just printer-friendly: They’re human friendly. Unfortunately, because they don’t include an ad on their human-friendly pages, they block attempts to access it without a correct Referrer: header set. There are so many reasons why this is unbelieveably annoying and unnecessary. Please let me use the `open in new tab’ and session-saving features of my browser.
  • For some utterly bizarre reason, the comments pages have a broken <title> header set. I’m not entirely sure why, but someone thought it would be a good idea to give the comments page the title of ` - Exploring the Future of Computing’. This means you can’t tell what comments pages are what by looking at the windows’ titles.

While perhaps enough for some people, these aren’t quite sufficient to deter me. I suppose I come from the content, but that’s not worth a fig, either:

  • The english in most of the original content there is godawful. I don’t expect that everyone who can communicate in english writes brilliantly. I do expect that publishers can edit text. Especially when people have offered to proofread and correct their articles for free. Yet Eugina (Mrs Bosswoman of OSNews) simply claims that she has some of them proofread by her friends, which if true still doesn’t prevent her getting others who have complained to help. Poor english isn’t an excuse.
  • All too often, a news link will be posted that contains no original content, but no link in the blurb. In order to actually read the article, you have to click on a link on the OSNews site and then click another. This seems like an utterly stupid waste of time and bandwidth.
  • Most of the original content that is posted is utter crap that says SFA, or at least nothing that hasn’t been said before. Linux isn’t ready for the desktop because it has two standard toolkits, instead of the half-a-dozen few that Windows has. Linux isn’t ready for the desktop because it’s too hard for the masses. Linux is ready for the desktop, it just needs broader commercial support. Linux isn’t ready for the desktop because KDE is too hard and Gnome has gconf-editor (a configuration tool that has an interface similar to Windows’ Registry Editor). Yeah, we’ve heard it all. We either agree, or we don’t. Now shut up and post some original original content.
  • Eugina lacks the social skills I expect of someone in her position. She doesn’t seem capable of accepting criticism (`Don’t blame me, I just don’t want to learn English isn’t my first language’) or insults (`Argh you troll! I’m going to reply to you in a similar way to how you spoke to me, then mod us both!’). She seems to assume that everyone has time to investigate everything about anything (for instance, her spin-off site, Gnome Files, is only tangentially related to Gnome, except that the name sounded good; when this caused confusion, her response was quite rude). Once upon a time, a post I made there that involved sarcastic humor was modded down because OSNews is a `professional’ site.
  • The `original’ content posted there sometimes has editorial comments in it, which would generally be better off as comments by Eugina.

After waving goodbye to Kuro5hin some time ago, and now OSNews, I might actually have time to get a decent mark in something this semester.

Comments (2)

Lying politians (26 July 2004, 6.35 pm)

Now that Uni’s started again, I’ve started reading The Age again, given that I pick it up there. Robert Manne, Professor of Politics at La Trobe University (where I go) wrote an article entitled ‘The Complex Politics of Lying’. Its very premise is mistaken. I’m not going to debate the point of the Iraq War here, there’s no point; there war’s happened, and like all wars, it was wrong. Instead, I’m going tco express my flabbergastedness that a Professor of anything other than PE does not know what simple words mean.

The leaders of the various countries involved in the Second Gulf War variously proclaimed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), that Iraq had links to terrorists, and that, in general, leaving Saddam Hussein in power was a bad thing and likely to even cause harm to us in our home countries. The outcome of the war has certainly shown the first claim here to be false, and it is on this claim that Manne focusses. The Flood Report—which I don’t know about, having not paid much attention to the news over the break—apparently frees John Howard of claims on lying on this count: According to Flood, Australian intelligence did indicate that the threat of WMD was real.

Manne ‘do[es] not doubt’ that John Howard ‘truly believed’ in the threat. Somehow, Manne therefore concludes that because Howard said what he thought was true, but he was wrong, Howard is lying. I do not understand it. It’s beyond me.

There is more than one opposite to telling the truth; these have to do with the intent of the speaker. For instance, I might want to present a hypothesis which may be proven false (as simple as ‘I think I have $20 in cash on me’ when in fact you have $22.30). If everyone who did this was a liar, then the ethics of almost every single scientist, policeman, lawyer, politian—indeed, every person—needs to be called into question. We don’t teach children that it’s not okay to be wrong. How many times have your teachers at school told you to ask questions? Without being wrong, you simply cannot learn.

Lying is the unethical presentation of false or misleading information with the intent to deceive. Lying is not be wrong or mistaken and so transferring that false information to another person. Before you write feature articles in newspapers, I really suggest you know the meaning of simple words. I have often been disappointed by articles by Robert Manne. I don’t doubt that next time, I will be too.

(Aside: this is not by way of condoning lying in politics, nor of insufficient research by politians. If a politician wants to take us to war, he had really better make sure that the information he has is beyond reproach. Insufficient research in this regard especially should, as with lying, result in the politian being fired there and then by an unpolitical entity such as the High Court or the Governor-General *hint-hint*. This is also most definitely not by way of condoning war which is a dispicable act, and even if it’s the only option, it is never justified.)

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Welcome to my new blog! (9.43 am)

Okay, so it’s cruel and evil of me to go off and re-locate my blog again, but I’ve got myself this new domain name, see, courtesy of my sister Emilly and her boyfriend Jeff as a birthday present, with hosting provided by Alex Graul. The same redirection stuff will always apply… Thankyou everyone!

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