Archive for July, 2009

Hate-fest 2009

sandilands1.jpgOccasionally, just occasionally, someone you’ve always loathed goes and does something so loathsome that suddenly everyone else in the world seems to loathe them too– and when that happens you don’t miss the opportunity to point out their loathsome qualities to anyone who mightn’t be aware of them yet.

Because when you hate someone’s guts, you want everyone else in the world to hate them too.

Read the story here if you want to see just how low a radio host can sink. Here’s an excerpt:

The girl, who had been brought on to undergo a lie detector test about her mother’s concerns about her drug and sex experience, told Kyle Sandilands before the questions started: “I′m scared … it’s not fair.”

The mother told the presenters she was worried about her daughter’s use of drugs and partying, before going on to ask the teenager if she ever skipped school.

The mother then asked her daughter: “Have you ever had sex?”

The 14-year-old replied: “I′ve already told you the story about this … and don′t look at me and smile because it′s not funny.”

After a pause she then raised her voice and said: “Oh OK … I got raped when I was 12 years old.”

Sandilands hesitated before asking “Right … is that the only experience you′ve had?”

Seriously, angry old men with burning pitchforks should be dispatched to 2Day FM studios post haste. I hope that smug, pathological narcissist is feeling great pain right now, but doubt that it is the case.

(Also the girl’s Mum sounds crazy bad at being a mother, but then no one is paying her a fucking seven figure salary to be an asshole on the radio– I feel pity more than hostility for her)

Worth noting is that this is NOT a one time screw-up by Mr Sandilands… this story shows that he is keen to be the Howard Stern/Jerry Springer of brain-dead commercial Australian radio… only he likes to mess with teenage girls live on air.


UPDATE: You can follow the progress of this story here. Mr S is temporarily off the air; let’s hope it becomes permanent!

/Crazy/ _text_ *formatting*

One of the features I’m looking at is supporting some plain-text formatting to make it possible to add basic emphasis to post titles and comments without dicking around with HTML tags.

Unfortunately the perceived meaning of such shorthand doesn’t seem to be consistent, for example I commonly read *text like this* as italic, whereas google chat for instance would interpret it as bold. What google chat uses for italics is what I would commonly read as _underline_ for obvious reasons.

Anyway the three basic font styles I think are best represented as /italic/, _underline_ and *bold* so I’m experimenting with these in post titles here.

Counting down to 7 years of blogging

And to celebrate I think I should have the new system in place so I can finally ditch WordPress. Once that’s done I am free to start changing the underlying schema, so that things can be a little more free-form around here.

Gone will be the rigid category system, to be replaced by simple tags. Gone will be the rigid separation between comments and posts… perhaps. Not quite sure about that one yet, but basically I like the idea of reducing the database to just a few tables, and the idea that some posts might organically lead to sub-threads which would be related and easily navigable. Also there will probably be a simpler layout with all the sidebar paraphernalia tucked out of the way a bit more.

The main feed now features my Gravatar icon too, to make it easier to spot my posts in an ever growing list of aggregated feeds.

What I’m basically envisaging for intepid is that it will become like a hybrid blog/forum/wiki kind of deal… A personal journal and knowledge base.

BTW This post was written quite comfortably on my iPod touch using a very basic edit form, and as much as possible I want to keep things simple like this, with no dashboards or special admin pages except where absolutely necessary.

How to (nicely) wrap a CD or DVD in a piece of A4 paper

anim1.gifThis is something I’ve had to do countless times and it has always frustrated me how clumsy the result was, and how easily it unwraps and lets the disc fall out. I was recently trying to wrap a CD for the umpteenth time and decided to try some different folds, and in doing so was happy to discover that an A4 piece of paper is very close to the ideal width to achieve a nice hexagonal packet.

The steps below can be followed with a blank piece of paper, as long as you have a reasonable eye for placing the disc in the center of the page.

  1. Place the disc roughly in the center of the page.


  2. Fold one side over using disc edge as guide (it’s actually ok if this fold is a bit off)


  3. Fold the other end back to make a rectangle the width of a disc. At this point you should try to make sure the disc is centered within this rectangle as accurately as possible for the next step.


  4. Fold one corner into the center (the crease should run from adjacent corner and the edge of the disc).


  5. Then the opposite, to make a diamond shape.


  6. Now fold the remaining corners in to the center as well.


  7. And voila, you have a nice little package with less area than a square, perfect for slipping into a jacket pocket. And if you want to seal it, a single piece of tape in the center (or perhaps one of those little round stickers you find in stationery cabinets) will do the trick.


There is a slightly neater way of achieving the same result, but it requires a template and/or pre-folding to get the angles right.

hex-front.jpg hex-rear.jpg

Wordbum v0.1

I’m finally getting around to tidying up the code I started ages ago with an aim to replacing WordPress with a super simple homebrew CMS for intepid. I’ve yet to update the database schema as I originally intended so for now it’s just an alternative front-end to the same database that WordPress uses.

The main feature changes will be inline comments, so there will be no need to go to permalink pages to view and add comments. The comment form itself is not spam safe yet so I’ve left it out for now, but you can see  [expandable] inline comments by visiting the link below this link and clicking on the “Comments” label at the end of each post.

test new blog

Other changes will be to use CSS2 more– something I could do with WordPress of course, but I honestly can’t be arsed putting any more work into the WP side of things. Currently the style is totally minimal, since I am focusing on the structure more than anything, but I note that attribute-based selectors seem to work pretty well for getting the alignment and padding of floating images correct; eg the following overrides the clumsy HSPACE attribute in IMG elements to force right-floating images all the way to the right (and even slightly outside the right text margin) while adding some nice padding to the inside so that text content doesn’t butt right up against the images.

img[align="right"] {
margin: 0 -6px 8px 8px;
max-width: 50%;

It’s Hating-on-Stupid-People Day!

Ray Comfort’s cartoonist has created a typically douchey panel today, to illustrate Ray’s typically douchey point that atheists are silly because they talk of probabilities rather than certainties (thanks to Jesus, Ray is certain of everything he says).

Richard Gunther’s original panel is on the left, and I’m sure you can see imagine what a leap of intellect it was for me to create the much more relevant panel on the right. The original text also makes no sense because the atheist is declaring outright: “I’m not afraid” while knowingly basing this on a potentially false assumption. Had Gunther half the integrity Christians like to pretend they do he would have at least changed the wording to “I am slightly apprehensive!” Also, what is it with atheists always drawn to look nasty and manic even when they are about to be skewered by a centurion? No one is more afraid of death than we are!


* In reproducing the panel above I cite “fair use”– I use it here to illustrate why I think Ray is an idiot as well as how boringly literal his cartoonist is.

This Trailer is made of WIN*

* post title is paraphrased from the youtube comments, which for once don′t make me yearn for the end of the world (ironic?)

Dear Valve Customer Support

For the second time in two years I have wasted about 2 hours trying to find a way to give you my money so I can purchase a game– it is the most unbelievably frustrating experience to have your service constantly refuse with bland error messages like “Your billing address doesn′t look like it matches up with your current country”… nowhere else do I have these problems.

I am trying to buy Fallout 3 at the currently discounted price (“this weekend only”). Unfortunately it seems I cannot do this with my Mastercard because it is registered in Australia and I am currently living in New Zealand (btw I use this card for other things all the time and never have a problem). So I tried with my Australian Paypal account, which for some reason I ALSO can’t use because I currently reside in NZ. Paypal is an internet based service, so why should it matter which country I registered it in?


Nowhere else have I found it so tedious, so difficult to exchange my money for goods or services than I have on the Steam service. Nowhere else is there so little advice offered to me for how I might succesfully hand over my cash to you. So I have the following questions:


If you feel like apologizing for the insanity of refusing to take my money in three different ways, wasting two hours of my valuable time and raising my blood pressure 20 points, please just gift me the goddamned game– my steam username is mrjuju — or at the very least flick the switch on my account thats says “Give this guy a freakin break and let him pay in whatever manner he likes”

Honestly, I will cite Valve and their abominable download service as mitigitating circumstances when I am arrested for whipping some driver to within an inch of his life for cutting me off on the motorway tonight– I really want to hold someone down and scream into their face right now.

Oh crap, just realized I forgot to add “I will hate you until the day I die” to my customer support request.

You won’t like him when he’s angry…

alain_de_botton.jpgAlain de Botton has a new book out, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, and I look forward to reading it. Caleb Crain didn’t much like it, and said as much in his New York Times review. Alain in turn did not much like Caleb’s review, and said so in no uncertain terms in a comment he left on the reviewer’s blog.

Caleb, you make it sound on your blog that your review is somehow a sane and fair assessment. In my eyes, and all those who have read it with anything like impartiality, it is a review driven by an almost manic desire to bad-mouth and perversely depreciate anything of value. The accusations you level at me are simply extraordinary. I genuinely hope that you will find yourself on the receiving end of such a daft review some time very soon – so that you can grow up and start to take some responsibility for your work as a reviewer. You have now killed my book in the United States, nothing short of that. So that’s two years of work down the drain in one miserable 900 word review. You present yourself as ‘nice’ in this blog (so much talk about your boyfriend, the dog etc). It’s only fair for your readers (nice people like Joe Linker and trusting souls like PAB) to get a whiff that the truth may be more complex. I will hate you till the day I die and wish you nothing but ill will in every career move you make. I will be watching with interest and schadenfreude.

Posted by: Alain de Botton | Monday, 29 June 2009 at 01:52 PM

It’s hard to believe this is the same softly spoken Alain who has over the years provided me with psychological nourishment via his philosophical musings, but apparently it is (confirmed here). I suspect he forgot to take a deep breath and count to ten before posting his response– although I have to admit I admire his frankness (and imagine quite a few writers have felt exactly the same way after receiving a bad review).