Friday, May 30, 2003

Macadamias to Power Queensland

Well, some of Qld anyway. Apparently macadamia shells have very good heating properties, and don't produce any more pollution than coal. Currently they are just thrown away and are produced in huge numbers, so a coalition of Suncoast Gold, Ergon Energy and the city of Gympie have decided to burn them for energy, releasing any surplus not used by the macadamia factory back to the grid. It still is a combustion system however, which is not as good as other 'green' alternatives (IMHO).

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Another author site

Found another author site, maintained by herself - Katherine Kerr, author of the Deverry series and the Palace (and many other books). I'm always impressed when authors put the effort into being more approachable and open to their readers, I like books much better when I can understand where the ideas and inspiration comes from.

Monday, May 26, 2003

Electronic paper

A flexible electronic paper prototype has been released at the Society for Information Display Exposition and Symposium, in the UK (May 22 2003). I do have to wonder about the energy used and the ecological damage done in creating electronic paper, a gut feeling tells me it would probably be more than existing paper production. I hope someone does a study on this.

Nachos Cantina - For Dairy Intolerants

I finally received a response to an email request for information I sent to Nachos Cantina about three months ago. To my suprise, those who are dairy intolerant can eat most of the food there, providing they request no cheese and no sour cream. The list of foods that are ok: guacamole, frijoles, burritos, fajitas, enchiladas (I'm very surprised about this one!), Ribs, Wings, Skins, Texas Chili, Salads Unfortunately they don't have soy milk, so no non-dairy shakes or tea/coffee is available. They also have a VIP club, which looks quite worthwhile if you enjoy the food.

Imagine....

Imagine far in the future, an archaeologist from another planet (species?) comes across Disneyland. What on earth would they think? Thanks to John Howe's comments recently, this thought gave me the giggles. As did his description of Disneyland: "Imagine St Peter's meets Bedrock with a hint of Stonehenge, but constructed by a pastry cook and you'll have a pretty clear idea. With the seven dwarfs (well, six; Stupid or whatever his name is, is tucked up under the apex) shouldering the entablement of an ersatz Greek temple..."

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Uphill water feature

James Dyson intrigued people at the Chelsea garden show this year with a water feature that looked like it was flowing uphill. I wish I had seen it!

PNG petition for support in MSIE

Microsoft had promised PNG support 4 years ago, and still haven't delivered, even though PNG support would help them comply with W3C standards. PNGs are better than GIFs in a number of ways, most importantly PNG is an open (non-proporietary) graphics standard, file sizes are smaller, it supports more colours and implements transparency properly. It's doubtful Microsoft will listen to this petition asking for support for PNG in MSIE platforms, however, we can but try. It will require a cookie to be stored and has varying levels of privacy for email addresses.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Organising research

I really need to get my readings organised, they are becoming too numerous and on too many different subjects (simulation, research methods, psychology of learning, programming, semantic errors, teaching statistics, etc). One suggestion was to use a system like End-Note (which is windows only), but this doesn't really translate well into BiBTeX, which is what I use when writing. Seeing as so far all of my references are in BiBTeX, and all of the project readings have been reviewed in the logbook, it should not be too hard to go through and create a 'readings' database, with comments, notes, date last looked at, categories (search terms), references needing to be followed etc.

I think it's time to start another new blog, just for research readings for my various subjects and projects, and I need to buy a filing cabinet or something to store these darned things!

Friday, May 23, 2003

More bodies at Stonehenge

More bodies have been found at Stonehenge in a grave that may span generations about the time of the shift from stone age to bronze age. There were signs the grave had been reopened to allow for more burials, which is typical of the stone age, but the grave also contained pottery, a practise begun in the bronze age. This find comes one year after archaeologists found the archer, in a grave containing about 100 items, including gold 'earrings', pottery, flint arrowheads and tools, leather wrist bands, copper knives, tools for flint working, and a shale belt. The number of items in the grave may indicate he was a local king.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

grrrrrr

The number of people that comment or ask - "Wow, you are looking good!" or "Are you better yet?", is getting to be ridiculous! And to think I have explained to those people so many times what endometriosis/adenomyosis/kidney disease is, and how none can be treated, and that I put up a mask over the pain because I am at work and the students should not see me screaming. *Argh!!* I had an operation only one month ago, and I won't have recovered properly from that for several more months.!! Despite all of the pain, I'm expected to teach, and do loads of honours work. Some colleagues are amazed, but some show absolutely no sympathy and expect more and more and more.... (oh yeah, they expect me to be miraculously "all better", and are very much surprised when I say I'm not, and never will be). *bah*

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Qualified to teach?

Eric Meyer, author of several (O'Reilly) books on CSS, made an interesting comment on how colleges would not allow him to teach Computer Science students, partly because he does not have a PhD in Comp Sci, and partly because his degree was in History. I don't think Monash Comp Sci could run without lecturers who don't have PhD's, or who have degrees from other areas in the University.

Monday, May 19, 2003

More successful procrastination

I've learnt more about CSS style sheets today, and have been thinking about different ways to re-implement my site (yet again). I will probably change the look/feel of the sub-sites first (tutors, work, health, personal etc) before doing a full redesign. I found heaps of CSS resources, joined a CSS mailing list, and hopefully I can absorb some of the graphical creativity displayed by some of those sites to improve this site (I can at least wish this!)

I also tried to find some information on which DVD release of Farscape is better - Region 4 (AU), Region 2 (UK) or Region 1 (US). Meaning better in the sense of better cuts (preferably no cuts), better quality video and sound, better extra features and lower in price. Currently it seems for season 2, the US Region 1 releases seem to beat the UK Region 2 ones - they are cheaper and contain more episodes, despite some of them being in the wrong order. Season 3 is currently being released in the US, and is more expensive. The Region 4 (AU) Farscape DVDs are the worst of the lot with audio dropouts, MPEG errors, and few special features. I couldn't find any definitive comparison using Google, so if you have a different opinion, please let me know. I have currently collected until the middle of Season 2 (UK releases).

In my information gathering spree, I also collected a huge bunch of health related links which will eventually find a home in me health section, but again, that will take more time than I can justify wasting.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Neat CSS...

The Zen Garden is an excellent example of how to use CSS style sheets to display many different presentation styles without changing the content.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has spectacular scenery and incredible fight scenes that are wonderfully linked together with a very complex and moving mythical storyline. The acting is superb and the music sets the scene beautifully. A martial arts masterpiece, in the fashion of the Hong Kong wuxia films using 'Wire-fu' without the traditional poor acting and non-existing storyline. The cinematography and direction are both excellent. The best way to watch this film is with the original Mandarin soundtrack with subtitles.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Dark Genesis: The Birth of the Psi Corps (Babylon 5)

J. Gregory Keyes Dark Genesis: The Birth of the Psi Corps (Babylon 5)

This book was well written and well entwined with the history of Bester and the Psi Corp as seen in the series Babylon 5. The pace was good with enough twists to keep the readers interest. The writing style was more mature than the Passing of the Technomages series. It's interesting to see the history of the ancestors of the characters in B5 (Bester, Lyta and Talia). Unfortunately because so much is packed into the storyline, character development is lacking.

Deadly Relations: Bester Ascendant (Babylon 5)

J. Gregory Keyes Deadly Relations: Bester Ascendant (Babylon 5)

More professionally written than the previous book in this series - Dark Genesis, Deadly Relations covers most of the life of Bester, interweaving more closely with the Bablyon 5 series storyline. There is more character development (easier as it focuses on one main character), and the pace is kept up throughout. This story also shows some of the history of Lyta and Byron, but not of Talia. An interesting read, but I would have liked to know what happened in the gap between this and the first book, (and read more history on Lyta/Talia).

Final Reckoning: The Fate of Bester (Babylon 5)

J. Gregory Keyes Final Reckoning: The Fate of Bester (Babylon 5)

Unfortunately there is a huge gap where the shadow war happened, and the story picks up when Bester is being chased as a fugitive by the new 'Psi Corp' reformed after the war and the Drakh Plague. I was looking forward to reading what happened in the interim, but was disappointed when there were even any flashbacks. This could be read as a stand-alone story about Bester at the end of his life. Unfortunately the Bester character portrayed here is completely at odds with all previous characterisations (in books and the TV series), the story is based in Paris, hardly touching on the rest of the B5 universe. This book was quite disappointing after the first two in this series. I hope the writer returns to create the missing book between this and the previous - Deadly Relations

Friday, May 16, 2003

The Shadow Within

Jeanne Cavelos The Shadow Within (Babylon 5, Book 7) (Prequel - The Passing of the Technomages)

This book was too simply written, with no surprises. It felt more like it was re-hashing the Babylon 5 storyline in simpler terms, and really did not introduce anything new or surprising. Although it did contain some background information on Anna Sheridan and Mr Morden, it lacked the drive that the Passing of the Technomages trilogy had. I was quite disappointed with this story.

Casting Shadows

Jeanne Cavelos - Casting Shadows (Babylon 5: The Passing of the Technomages, Book 1)

This was quite interesting, and I had been meaning to read it for some time, having received a duplicate from a friend a couple of years ago. Seeing as I was house-sitting for that friend, I had access to the rest of the trilogy. I found the writing style annoyingly simple, but I had been reading Tolkien for months prior. The storyline was engaging nonetheless and explained a lot about the technomages, the characters who had fascinated me since they appeared in the original Babylon 5 series, and then again in Crusade.

Summoning Light

Jeanne Cavelos Summoning Light (Babylon 5: The Passing of the Technomages, Book 2)

This series gets more and more interesting, with unexpected twists being introduced. The development of the storyline, although fairly slow at the start, seemed much more mature in this book than in the first, and was more engaging. Galen and the other technomage characters are engaging and deeper than they seem.

Invoking Darkness

Jeanne Cavelos Invoking Darkness (Babylon 5: The Passing of the Technomages, Book 3)

The final in the trilogy, and by far the best book in the set. Well written with a fast storyline that showed depth and complexity. This is a great conclusion to the Technomage series, and readies Galen for the start of Crusade. Unfortunately, there is no information about Galen in the Crusade universe, which is what I was hoping for, but the complete background of the technomages, and Galen specifically, told in this series means I will never watch Crusade the same way again.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

XMen 2

I thought the effects in XMen 2 had got much better than the first XMen movie, the acting also seemed to improve, however the script and storyline seemed quite flat, and the music did not fit for some reason. I hope they have found a quicker and less painful method of applying Mytique's costume, and loved the new adamantine character and fighting style. There seemed to be a couple of rather geeky jokes throughout, which was cute. I'm not sure I'd buy this one to keep, but it was enjoyable all the same.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Bored Now...

Now that the draft CSE467 paper is out of the way, and I've collected another 8 references for it to somehow be worked in, I find I've lost the motivation to keep going on my other subjects and project. (Feeling sick from the all-powerful sinusitis antibiotics (they are working this time) doesn't help). I'm not well enough to go and procrastinate by gardening or cleaning, and typing lots (HTML) has lost it's appeal (it's bad for a touch typist when even one finger is hurt). I could play Myst Exile again, but the vertigo I get does not interact well with nausea.

There is a huge backlog of sewing and other craft stuff, but I'm feeling decidedly impatient. My head is hurting so reading is not an option. I would like to watch SG1 or Xena, but am watching them with Bernie, and he is not available. *sigh*

Complaints have started rolling in about the marking deduction for using illegal tags (not in the specified allowed tagset) for an assignment in CSE1304. Nearly everyone used a generator, and even those that didn't, used <b>, <i> and <u>, which are illegal according to the HTML 4.01 standard. All the generators seem to use those tags, so even if the meta generator line was taken out, they still lost marks for illegal tags. We had to change the penalty from last year (-5 for each illegal tag) to -5 for use of any number of illegal tags, because about 70% of students would have failed.

Hardly any of them followed the assignment instructions and now they are complaining because they got penalised for it. I'm worried what sort of mess this will make for CSE1303 next semester.

Anyhow... off to find something to procrastinate... sleep sounds good (and warm!)

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Legally Blonde

I had not meant to watch Legally Blonde, in fact I had avoided it like the plague. But the lack of a net connection and recovering from surgery led to all sorts of programs on cable being watched! Despite my deep reservations, this movie wasn't as bad as I had expected. It had a storyline (somewhat) and the acting was a little tongue in cheek, which was necessary, and would have been scary had it been lacking. Not something I want to see again though.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Writing

*sigh* Once I get in the swing of writing something, it's good. Getting into that swing is near impossible. I have been trying to over the space of a few weeks to write a paper on global climate change simulation (a subject I knew nothing about until recently), and finally finished the draft. Now I have to switch modes and do another paper, this one on teaching research methods to honours students, which I have been trying to think about and write for over a year. I really need to get it done this week! Not to mention, I need to get more done on my honours project (currently thwarted by my supervisor completely ignoring me, emails, phone, messages, everything *grrr*) and experiments (still waiting ethics clearance which is waiting extra documentation from my supervisor which was given to him 4 weeks ago now). Too busy!

Friday, May 9, 2003

Tumour causes pedophilia?

A strange case has popped to my attention (a year ago) in New Scientist - a man's behaviour was completely changed due to a brain tumour and caused uncontrollable pedophilia and sex addiction. A couple of theories have been proposed: the tumour was located in the region of the brain that controls social behaviour, impulse control and judgement. Another theory has suggested the tumour may have changed hormonal levels. In any case, the behaviour completely disappeared after the tumour was removed, only to come back when it started growing again, and disappear once again after removal. Odd.....

Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Sinus infections & coldness

For some reason, I have been suffering repeated and long-term sinus infections. I can't put it down to weather, air-conditioning, heating, dust, pollen, chemicals, or anything else! This time I am ingesting a lot of blood, my face wants to explode around my eyes, have been running a fever on and off, and I am extremely nauseous (the nausea is new). I am running my ventilator constantly (probably not good for it) as it seems to be the only thing that helps. If I'm away from it for even a few hours, my symptoms get worse. :-\

This does mean work, honours and thinking in general really just isn't happening. And it must happen - I have too many things due! I absolutely must get my project finished this year.... On a kind of related note (well health wise), I'm always cold. The things that used to warm me up - food, super-heating the room, shower, baths, heat packs are no longer working. I stopped exercising to recover from the last operation, and it could be due to this. But it's getting annoying, and so cold!

Monday, May 5, 2003

Procrastination

I've managed to procrastinate the whole day that I was meant to be writing a paper draft for one of my honours subjects *sigh* I mowed, cleaned, tidied up the honours style sheet, did my finances, did more marking, all to avoid reading/writing this paper. Am quite annoyed at myself, as it means I will be stuffed on Monday after doing a lot on Sunday/Sunday night. At least the assignments are nearly all marked.