2007 archive

This page is part of the archives of my blog.

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This is the full archive for 2007

What I Saw From A Café In Fremantle

Spareparts Puppet Teatre; the now-ornamental crane at ‘E’ Shed; a line of billboards hiding much; and the corner of the railway station — these form the horizon of my view from here. There’s Norfolk Pines, this café’s umbrellas, and the awning above filling in most of the rest of the scene, and all framed by a big concertina window and lit with the most fierce summer sun. But were this a painting and myself an idle visitor to the gallery in which it hung, I’d think little of its subjects or composition and be more keen to investigate the trade origins of the canvas on which it was painted, or even the bricks in the wall behind it. Why? Because the puppet theatre is boring, and unknown to me; the crane, though once embodying pure utility, now is more like a beautiful tapestry chopped up and used to pack potatoes (if you follow the analogy); of the billboards nothing need be said (they were built expressly to spew simplified coarseness in to this place); and the railway station has been so much looked at that its fundamental rightness (like that of the crane) is covered with a sort of ‘observatory grime’, and little can be got from it.

These things are all just the big, dumb, human objects that we’re ‘supposed’ to look at, and that’s all it takes for them to become insignificant to a study of this place’s truth or beauty (or whatever it is that I’m looking for here). I don’t mean that these objects should be ignored. Of course they shouldn’t, they are here — and massively defining of what ‘here’ is. They must be acknowledged, and examined, and praised or defiled (as their spirit suggests), and then ignored. Look at them, and then look past them, or into them, or anywhere into a smaller field of inquest. The great sweeping vistas can be only shallowly know, and I’m here in the business of looking (and maybe knowing, though I’ll not be too presumptive) deeply.

I could look closer at any element of this scene and find in it inspiration for days of writing. It wouldn’t matter what it was: the theatre downpipe, the leaves that break up my view of the crane, one advertisment or the light fitting above it — each of these is a passkey to a whole universe of real people, far off places and strange things, if we but look hard enough. Some of these worlds stretch through time from centuries past, and all must continue into the strangely mottled future. Others occupy space barely more than what I see from here; some, the whole globe. They certainly intertwine and have, no doubt, many more points of intersection than just this place. That’s what I like to think about.

Which passkey we choose to begin our journey is almost irrelevant, and is in anycase thrust upon us if we’re only open enough (read: have time enough) to see it. Sit in one spot, let your mind and eyes drift aimlessly, and before long something will suggest itself. You need to be aware that you’re looking, but not force the thing, not have any idea of what you’re looking for.

So today I’m thinking about the steel frame of the awning above me, its shapes and bolts, history and function, the people who have looked at it, the people who never have but who have walked beneath it daily. Who tightened the last bolt in it? What is the name of the colour of the paint? What shopfronts have been beneath it, here where I’m sitting, over the years? These are all ‘facts’, and they do interest me, but there’s more: the structure, design — it’s ugly. An inelegant, clumsy, grumpy bull-nose of a thing, it’s exterior and profile of aesthetic value to the facade but giving nothing to the coffee-sippers who sit below it. This needs to be looked into also.

Another time, perhaps I will…


Lines through the greensward

I’ve been walking lately. To university, to the co-op, and home again: along Sullivan’s Creek I go, sort of following the bike path and generally veering off and strolling quietly through grassy, damp, tree-lined avenues. It’s nice, as nice as anything really, these quiet moments of stillness amongst the green, and I notice the small things: bark on the trees, the slope of the ground and suchlike.

This being Canberra, there are trees in lines. The lines don’t always line up, but they’re there and usually in pairs: an avenue of oaks, or poplars, or whatever it might be. Very impressive, these tree-lined walks, very imposing at times or at least strongly suggestive of the fact that they were intentional. It’s a shame I don’t like them.

Which is my point this evening: I don’t like trees all in a line like that. I try to, honestly, I do try to. I want to enjoy the order and symmetry, the purposeful majesty that those early Canberra planners liked to sprinkle around our city, but I just find it rotten when it comes down to it. I don’t like walking through them.

When it comes down to it, I say, and down is what I mean: down to a personal, human, small, easy level, one which a human on foot can comprehend. Great sweeping monuments to human ingenuity are not made for humans! The small things are, and a small, winding path through the trees makes me smile.

God smiles on those strolling through the woods.

Walking the same path

Walking the same path, backwards and forwards, again and again, day after day, in doing this one gets to know the path. It doesn’t matter where it is: a city street full of cars and businesses, a suburban wasteland of scraps of grass and rough dirt, wherever we walk we build up a pattern of that place within us, and it becomes familiar. The distance recedes, becoming shorter the more we know it; walking somewhere unknown, things always seem longer.

I’ve just moved house, you see, and am finding it fascinating, this learning of a new path to town. After just a few times, it’s solidifying in me, and the shapes of the trees that I pass are becoming known.

Sorry about this post, but…

…I really don’t like being honked at by lone occupants of four-wheel drives! Me get off the road?! Why don’t they get off their stupid arses!?

Relying on, but not trusting, technology

I have been sorting through my (digital) photos lately, uploading the good ones to my website. It’s drudge-work, peaceful in its way like all drudge-work, and now and then I stumble upon a particularly nice shot, or one that evokes some pleasant memory, and so I don’t mind doing it. My idea is that this little computer is likely to one day get broken or stolen, and I don’t want to lose everything.

I’m also doing it becuase I’m keen to have fewer belongings, and boxes of photos and old journals are something of a weight (literally and figuratively, obviously). I want to simplify. A bag and a box and a backpack. A computer, three books, and a hat. Hip flask, pen, and waterbottle. Although I’m never going to get rid of my Waterman or Moleskine, I’m coming to the computer to vent that creative energy that in a more perfect world would probably be put into woodwork — and at least I don’t end up with a chair to carry with me from house to house.

It’s not that I think of the Internet as ‘simple’, or even particularly reliable. I don’t. I quite understand its utter complexity and reliance on most of the most unsustainable things in the modern world. And I don’t like that. I’d much rather have a little stone hut and a few chickens.

But here I am, in Canberra, studying I.T. I do rely on the Internet, and I’m going to continue to upload my photos and writing, and just not worry about it. I might print a few things, if I really care about them, but at the end of the day if the Internet stops I’ll be far too busy planting gardens on the freeways to worry about losing a few photos.

I’m thinking of leaving university.

I’ve left.

My Sandstone University

Well, look here, I really can’t think very well at this time of night, so I don’t think you should expect much of this post.

I’m thinking of that cave just up from the Palm Tree Beach, the one who’s main enterance caved in a few years ago, leaving only the other more convoluted way in. It’s a nice cave, but the beach in front is more where I’m at. If that makes sense. The reeds and the sand, the memories of ignoring that bit and running past, along the path, to get to Never’s or Fragle. That’s what I’m getting at. The sun, and bleeding (but not caring) from climbing back up the cliff.

Of taking one of the school’s Spotmatics down there, and a tripod, and taking (crap) photos of bits of rock and thinking them oh-so-representitive of Blackwall Reach. Then the photography teacher thinking that they were, and thus being dis-illusioned at the photography teacher’s skill in judging photos…

So, this little beach, and photographs across the river to the old sugar refinery. It’s just about a Place, and a damned solid, viceral connection (at some point in time). So why on Earth is this coming up now? No reason, beyond being just a little squiffy, and that I’d like to be back there one day.

At least, as the winter closes in here in Canberra, I’d like to be back there.

Kerrie Tucker’s revamped site

During the last few days I’ve been working with Margo Kingston and Kate Tucker on porting Kerrie Tucker’s website to WordPress. I’ve also set up the new ACT Greens online merchandise shop, Green Shop. So I’ve probably had about enough of sitting at here at our kitchen table hunched over this laptop; why I’m not out of here I don’t know, but I did just want to mention those things.

Also, I’ve been back in the workshop — getting it ready, at any rate, to be a workshop. That’s a bit exciting.

But enough for now, I must get to the coop.

Happy Birthday Tom


This is a little thing for my brother.

“Dad, I dug a hole.”

I have been digging this morning, working on the chicken run. It’s muddy, now we’ve started pulling up the concrete, and the clay sucks at my boots and sticks to all the tools; how very far this is from my memories of digging soakwells in Fremantle! (Incidentally: I have only just learnt that around here they don’t even have soakwells, and all storm water goes into Sullies; I’ve just never thought about it…)

I looked down at the mattock, at the ridge that runs down the center of its blade and the taper of the handle where it runs through the eye, and I was stuck by the fierce solidity of this joint of wood and steel. Such a strong place, grubby and perfect for what it does, and so greatly congruent with its materials that I’m sure no one can find fault with this example of truth to materials. And if anything, it is that which I am striving for in my life.

(P.S. The title of this post, if you don’t know it, is a quote from The Castle.)

The Chicken Run


· Woodworking · Chickens · Gardening ·

We’re getting half a dozen chicks next week, and their house isn’t at all ready yet…

Addressbook Plugin v0.2

Here is version 0.2 of my Addressbook plugin. Post comments, bug reports, feature requests, etc. below.

So cold

Why oh why does Tilley’s not open until nine o’clock?! Doesn’t anyone in Lyneham understand the joys of escaping first thing in the morning to a nice warm café, a good book, and the ignoring of everything one’s supposed to be doing for a few hours?! I mean, really!

I do have plans, of course, to be more comfortable—no, I mean less cold—at home. A desk in the Spare Oom, a small lectric heater, once I get a better wireless card that can make it through the monocrete walls; for now I alternate huddling and running down the hill to Tilley’s.

Where, yesterday, I was reveling in the lovely comfort of reading history: so good, so very reassuring, to read about The Past! I cease to feel so alone, so much like everything is too hard to figure out, when I know that billions of other people have come before me. It is so very good to know the stories of the past, to feel some sense of the context of one’s life. I’m not just this drifting, isolated blip in the universe: I am actually, very really and dependably, just one of millions of billions of little blips in the universe. And so there’s nothing to worry about.

Addressbook v.0.3

Here’s version 0.3 of the Addressbook plugin. Editing and deleting now work, and I’ve cleaned up the UI a bit. Also, the installation procedure shouldn’t now throw any errors. Let me know what you think.


I learnt a new word today: placeblog. (By saying that, I may be showing myself up to be rather behind the times; if that’s the case, then I guess I am behind the times. Oh well.)

Placeblogging is blogging about place (suprisingly), and generally about a place to which one feels a particular connection. It’s hyperlocal blogging: not going far, but going deep. Exploring where one lives. Blogging about a place to which one has a connection, yes, and also blogging in order to build that connection. In so many ways, each of us building a better relationship with where we live is of vital importance.

A few links:

New BB For Me


I’ve just installed a new bottom bracket in my bicycle. It’s a Shimano UN26, 68 x 113 mm (1 mm narrower than the old one, but that’s just closed up the little gap I had anyway), and cost $40. I’m posting this just so that I don’t forget…

I’ve finally figured out how to know which way to undo the BB and lockring: The direction the pedals go in, that’s tightening (so things don’t fall apart). Just go the other way. So looking at the chainring side, go clockwise.

So no more clunking BB for me — huzza!

The F-91W

I bought this watch when I started working at IBM, because it is such an archetype of The Digital Watch, and I like to be reminded of the Future.

Some pointless facts about the F-91W:

  • Water Resistant;
  • Micro Light;
  • Daily Alarm;
  • 1/100 second digital stopwatch: Measuring capacity: 59:59.99; Measuring modes: Net time, split time, 1st-2nd place times;
  • Hourly Time Signal;
  • Auto Calendar;
  • Accuracy: ±30 seconds per month;
  • Battery CR2016;
  • Approx. battery life: 7 years;
  • Module 593;
  • Size of case: 37.5 x 33.5 x 9.5mm;
  • Total weight: 20g.

From mud-and-straw to IBM

The chickenhouse must get finished! The chooks are growing up, and they’re in the shed with a little light to keep them warm — but we’ve got such a lovely house planned for them, and we just must finish it! It’s at the bottom of the garden, with two runs (summer and winter; nothing but the best for our chooks y’know), and is built (well, being built, at any rate) of mud and straw. I’ll post some photos soon, when Luke’s home and I can plug his camera in.

So it really needs to be finished soon… they’re growing up, and I’m starting full-time work in a week. No more dreaming idle days away for me, no Sir! No more getting up at nine thirty and spending an hour wandering what to have for breakfast (before breaking fast on exactly what I had the day before, it must be said): I am, as of next Monday, to be counted amongst those many souls employed by the International Business Machine (and I mean that in both senses: IBM, and the military-industrial complex).

It’s a far-flung thing, this job. Far in the south, in Tuggeranong, where I’d never been till the IBM interview. But on the bus each morning I’ll get, and shine my shoes and iron my shirts, and yes indeed, I’ll be a Good Little Geek, earning a crust and logging life (more on that latter, later).

Addressbook v.0.4

Addressbook v.0.4 is now available. A major bug with the editing function has been fixed, and a user-requested new feature introduced.

You can now embed an addressbook list into your posts or pages. Insert <addressbook /> wherever you want a semantically-markedup list of your addresses to appear. You can change the look of the list through your theme’s stylesheet.

To upgrade to this version, simply overwrite the old addressbook.php file in your /wp-content/plugins directory, and next time you view the addressbook page (Manage » Addressbook) the update will occur. No database changes are made this time.

Sitting, reading (again).

I seem to always want to return to this state: a quite chair with a pleasant outlook, and a good book. Here I am, into my second week at IBM, and I have achieved it, albeit with some detractions. The most major: I’m reading IBM Red Books. Next: this is no quiet parlor with a comfy armchair and a neat fire burning. But we take what we can get, don’t we?

So: I’m in a fluro-lit second-floor office, sitting at a cheap white melamine desk with an IBM Thinkpad. I read about AIX, on and on and on, and then I try things, turning to the server that also sits on my desk, and in this way (I guess) I am learning…

My view is to the South, looking over Bonython or Isabella Plains or wherever it is, and nearer it’s the lake, which is a lovely place (hmm, that’s probably not the complete truth) to walk at lunch time. In fact, I think that’s what I might go and do now.

To Get A Walkman

I’m going to borrow Francis’ walkman, because iPods suck. Tapes are better, and there are so very many to be had. A zine with a covertape?

Facebook vs. WordPress

The last few weeks have seen a great number of my friends turn to Facebook (and, of course, I know exactly how many). It’s great, it’s exciting, it’s suddenly become so easy to organise things and we can now all talk about Facebookwhen we meet for a coffee at the Front; however, all is not as funky as one might seem…

Don’t misunderstand me here, I’m all in favour of using Facebook — I just don’t think it should be used for everything. It’s great as a procrastination tool, for example, or for stumbling across long-lost friends, or being sent lovely pictures like this:

Sam got tapes for 35c.
Sam got tapes for 35c.

But Facebook is, despite their oh-so-wonderful API, a closed system. We’re all piling our (desperately interesting, I’m sure) personal information into it, and giving no thought to what will happen to that information in the future. I don’t neccessarilly mean the usual conspiracy theories of governmental data-harvesting or derranged stalkers (they probably apply to wherever one is one the web), but what about ideas of cultural artifact preservation? (I know, I know, no one cares…)

Much of Facebook replicates systems that we’ve been using for years. Why, for example, did they have to build their own private messaging system? What’s wrong with email? Could they not have made it all work together — maybe someone will build an IMAP webmail application for Facebook, and prove my objections aimless.

But that’s all beside the point: I’m a geek, and prefer to build my own. An article in Wired started me off thinking about this, and since then I’ve been doing a bit of reading (eg. SNIX), and here’s my skeleton thus far of a distributed, home-grown, open-source, social networking system:

  • Start with a blog. I prefer WordPress, but the point of all this is that by using open standards it really doesn’t matter what software we use. Post whatever you want (images, movies, audio, anything) and enable comments on everything.
  • Collect feeds. Most blogging tools come with in-built support for news feeds of some kind, usually at least RSS and Atom. Create a page on your blog and aggregate all of your friends’ feeds there.
  • Post coming events. With a plugin like Event Calendar you can post future events, and produce a iCalendar feed to which your friends can subscribe. Add another page, to aggregate your friends’ events.

Unfortunately, that’s about where it ends. How does one have ‘Friends’ on a system that doesn’t mandate common software — or common anything save interchange formats?! I don’t know. Maybe Facebook does rock after all…

But I do know that I’d rather be using my own software, with all content remaining under my control at all times; the methods for sharing this with the world are maturing, and before long will be widespread and useable.

Blog Action Day

On October the 15th, blog about the environment — along with everyone else! Register your blog for the Blog Action Day.

See also: Blog Action Day 2.

The (not so secret) lives of galaxies

Professor Mike Dopita “traces the often violent life cycle of galaxies to answer the following questions: How are galaxies formed? How is the gas transformed into stars? How do the massive Black Holes that lurk at their centres grow? What happens when galaxies collide?”. A public lecture from the Australian Academy of Science. Read more »

Ignore the caterpillars, get back to work.

I have just returned from my customary post-lunch walk around the lake. It’s lovely, strolling through the hundred meters of bush that lies between the shore and the highway — I’m not being ironic, it really is lovely. I went across the bridge (the one over the weir) and turned south, along a vehicle track, and sat upon some mossy granite boulders up from the water. So lovely looking at the grass next to me tickling my cheek in the breeze; so horrid, when I raised my eyes to the skyline to see that dastardly rotten square box called Bunnings! I’m beginning to think that’s the way to find beauty these days: observe the minute, and cherish it, and ignore completely the massive, ugly, human constructions.

Bus Party!

Woo hoo! Email me to find out more.

Dave Robertson at the Front

Dave Robertson has a gig at the Front in Lyneham.

Homeward Bound

Every evening as I head home on the intertown, the view west from the bridge reminds me of all that I love most about Canberra. The sun setting behind Black Mountain, with the ANU tucked in amongst the trees and the lake there, all still and calm, and I wonder what more I could ask for. It’s a pretty unique place, this, and sometimes I forget it, and forget too to notice that lovely feeling of order and belonging that I used to get (quite often) in my first year here; it’s still there, sometimes.

What could be better than a quiet beer at University House, or a food co-op meeting with chapatti and dahl?

Sigh… and still I want to rub my feet in the sand at south beach…

AuDA Community Geographic Domain Name Review

From auDA > Policy Reviews > CGDN Review – Aug 2007

auDA is conducting a 12 month review of the Policy Rules and Guidelines for Community Geographic Domain Names (CGDNs). Send your comments to Jo Lim (Chief Policy Officer, auDA) at jo.lim@auda.org.au.

How CGDNs might help build a sense of belonging.

My brain is feeling pretty groggy at the moment, so excuse any pointlessness in this post. Not that there’s ever any point to my posts, but that’s beside the point. I’m at work, almost thinking that the afternoon’s nearly half-gone and so, well, what’s the point of doing any more work…

There are, in Australia, these new things called Community Geographic Domain Names, or CGDNs. They are domain names like ‘lyneham.act.au’ — that is, they are domain names in which every component is geographically localising. This is fantastic! I think that having a place online for one’s locality, a place that is easily discernable for new people or new places, has got great potential to act as repository for local stories, knowledge, history, and whatever else people want to use it for. Imagine moving to a new town, and finding the town’s entire history (well, a bit of it anyway) available for browsing, and writen by the very people in it. Like a hiking hut’s register (the book that hikers leave messages in on tracks like the Bibbulmun) but for a whole suburb, town, or region.

I am vaguely thinking about seeing what sort of support there is in the food co-op community for us registering acton.act.au. But maybe I should wait until I feel a little more dedicated to a place — which is actually what I find so interesting about this idea: that it might help people feel more attached to where they live and the people around them. That’s got to be a good thing.

Cycle Against the Nuclear Cycle

From the CANC3 people:

Bring your bike to Canberra, for the ride toward a nuclear free future.

The Cycle Against the Nuclear Cycle (CANC3) campaign are arriving in Canberra. They have cycled 2,500 km from Rockhampton, Queensland to spread the message that Australian communities don’t support the nuclear industry.

You are invited to ride with them into Canberra over 2 days.

Saturday 1st September

1pm: meet at the Post Office, Moore St Civic to join the bike ride to ARANDA

3pm: Arrive at Banjalong Cres Park, ARANDA

Food, Bike-fix

CANC3 update

Soap box

Sunday 2nd September

10am: group ride into Canberra

12 noon: Parliament House lawns

Meet by bicycle and encircle Parliament House to send the message of renewables not reactors. Pack you picnic for an afternoon of




There will be a prize for the best dressed anti-nuclear cycle!

For more information call 0420 669 724 or email nonukescanberra@gmail.com

The ANU Food Co-op party

Come and help us celebrate! See the Co-op’s wiki for more.

I Don’t Go In Cars

I’m writing a more in-depth article on this topic at the moment, and I’ll post it soon, but for now I just want to mention a couple of things.

The team that I am part of at IBM looks after servers that are spread over two different data-centres, one just across the road from us, and one about ten kilometers away. Sometimes, we have to actually go into these places (to do what, I’m not sure, I’m still learning Korn shell scripting), and I know that one of these days they’re going to ask me to drive with them up to the far-away data-centre. I will, of course, refuse.

I do not go in cars. It’s pretty simple, really. But what a headache it can cause some people: they just don’t get it, ‘why would anyone be so stubborn about something like this?’ they ask. And I don’t really have a ready answer. I don’t really want to try and nut it out now…

Cars make cities horrible places to live. I look around — no, I don’t even have to look, the noise is there, at all times, invading everything — and see roads, and cars, and driveways, and hectare upon hectare of urban space that is designed with one thing in mind: the motorcar. But I believe in beauty. I will not take part in something so vast and utterly, destructively, completely ugly!

Sticking everyone in their own little transport box is wrong. It has lead, more than anything much else, to selfishness and greed, because it takes away an immediacy of inter-dependence between people. We still need each other, but we don’t know it, and we don’t know each other. What a total disaster! How has it come about that people walk down the street that they live in, and avoid eye contact with their neighbour?! It has come about because people drive cars.

There lots more that I could say on this subject, and I’m sure I will by and by, but I want to go for a walk. It’s a lovely sunny day here, the first day of Spring, and I’m going to get away from the silly computer.

Fake World DOES Contain Humans

All has gone well, since my last post, with my intra-office carlessness. My announcement (“I don’t go in cars; don’t ask me to.”) has been met with near universal acceptance (or silence), to my great relief. I had wondered whether the conversations in the tea-room about various cars’ power-ratings and other such motorcar trivia would mean some expression of distain towards one who rejects all that. But no, nothing has come of it. They’re nice chaps, and I needn’t have worried.

So, with that bit of excitement out of the way, I’m left pondering the far-off hills and wishing that I could be in the workshop, at my bench, and writing in ink and not at a keyboard. The computer-reality is basically two-dimensional: we, the IT people, strive to make everything the same. Documents can never show age; photos must be as bright forever as they day they were taken; we care only for content, and never for context or media. A rotten state of affairs! I want my pages to yellow and my photos to fade! A world in which nothing is old gives us nothing at all — despite what Wikipedia would have us believe.

But I wont go on about that. I can’t bear to think about it, not here, in this place.

This office has begun to pall my spirits, now the novelties of The Commute and Being A Man have worn thin. I just want to run! (Well, run for a little ways, and then sit and sew my shirt, or write in my Moleskine…). I can’t dream about my workshop.

Why I Refuse to Travel in Cars

In July 2004 I made the decision to completely stop travelling in all cars.

Since then, I have refused to get in any car whatsoever (even if it’s “going there anyway” or an electric vehicle), and although my life has become more geographically limited, I have never felt such personal feedom. I am, every day, more committed to this endeavour.

Connection to Place

Being limited in where I can go is part of why I do this; being forced to properly consider how I relate to place and speed. It is a contrived limitation that I place upon myself, but it’s been so long that I usually forget about it, and walking has become my naturnal way of going from place to place — I never feel like I’m going slowly or am being prevented from doing what I want.

I’ve offended some people, and missed out on some nice trips to the bush, but I feel so exceptionally fortunate to — almost every day — be given opportunities to appreciate, in a real and deep level, the places that I walk through. I mean anywhere, be it suburban pavement or inner-city park taking in a place slowly and on foot is truly amazing.

And some random other points:

  • Speed, and the taking-in of where one is and where one is going.
  • Devotional attachment to place.
  • Lots of places that I can’t go and lots of things I can’t do, but these limitations are positive.
  • Forces a real (human, environmental) relationship with place.


There’s also the macro-environmental thing: cars, and fossil-fueled transport generally, are killing the planet. That used to be a motivating reason for me to reduce my car usage (and my food-miles and all that); it isn’t really any more. I don’t mean that I’ve changed my mind about the environmental impacts of cars, but just that their impacts upon the urban landscape, and upon my personal experiences, are far greater than what I see of their impacts upon the arctic ice-shelf (for example). Of course, the local-environment things (streetscape, noise, etc.) are also environmental, but I don’t think revving engines or ugly streets ever brought about large-scale species destruction. And, finally (and possibly most importantly!), I really cannot be bothered with keeping up to date with all the latest scientific imformation about climate change etc. that are central to the ‘cars are environmentally bad’ argument.

People’s Reactions

What I said to my IBM colleagues in August 2007: “It’s about cars’ influence on society, urban design, the environment, and a bunch of other stuff… that I can go into if anyone cares.” They replied with silence, mostly, and “what about motorbikes?”. Other people, sympathetic people, asked “what if it were a biofueled car?” (I don’t care about the fuel source; I don’t know anything about fuel). But they were all, absolutely, respectful.

Addressbook plugin now on wordpress.org

I have finally got around to registering the Addressbook plugin on wordpress.org. From now on, I will use the Subversion repository there for managing the plugin, and not this site; I will still post update announcements here, though.

See wordpress.org/extend/plugins/addressbook for the latest version and other information. The version that I have just put up there is 0.4, the same as the latest available here; I will be incorporating people’s suggestions, and releasing a new version — maybe even 1.0! — soon.

Young Greens meeting

The second Young Greens meeting will be on the 20th. See the new YG blog for more.


I’ve just discovered the ABC’s blogs (blogs.abc.net.au) and I quite like what I’ve read so far. Maybe it’s just the idea of far-away correspondents filing these ‘letters home’ that appeals. A chap with a laptop (I’d like to think he’d be writing in longhand, on some favorite brand of Australian notepaper, but I realise the anachronism in that; he ain’t Bill Deedes) stopping his rental car by the side of a dirt road and pondering the economic future of the place he’s in, with Australian readers in mind. Postcards home, from people I’ll never know. (How odd the world is.)

I pulled up this editing window because I had to write something: I’ve been sitting here all afternoon slumping lower and lower in my chair, trying to focus on the magical world of Tivoli Storage Management Concepts. So magical. So engaging. Yes.

Oh, God, let me out of here! I really don’t know how I will manage being in this office over the remainder of this year, as the weather warms up, and all I want to do is stroll around enjoying spring! I’m not convinced of Tivoli’s ability to save me…

I’d thought to write no more on this blog, at least while employed at IBM. That being all day long at a computer would deter me from using a computer to express anything of myself — but that doesn’t work: sitting at this computer all day without using it to express something at least slightly human, has just dragged me down into a sort of mind-numbing ‘droid-like state, from which nothing looks worthwhile or interesting. Can’t have that. So I’ll keep spilling these poorly-thought-out thoughts onto this blog (in the fairly sure knowledge that very, very few people will ever read them).


Things have cheered up since yesterday, primarily because of my morning’s start of good fruit toast (thanks to a trip to the Co-op last night) and a coffee. I don’t usually have a coffee in the morning, that’s why I mention it. Even then, it’s not a very interesting thing to say. I probably shouldn’t have said anything.


Now I’ve lost my train of thought; I had something to say, you see, something about… well, if I could remember what it was about, I’d probably just say it… oh well.


Where I Write

I have often thought that one of the greatest attractions for me to writing in ink, on paper, in a properly-bound book, is that where one writes the words is where they will remain, and the only place they will ever be. That’s not the case when writing on a screen: I often write a post for this blog, for example, whilst off-line, and in different editors, on different computers. Then I paste it into here, save it, and it appears in it’s final place where you’re reading it now.

That last sentence belies where I’m writing this, but had I transcribed these words from a book that I’d written in whilst sitting on the ground on Mount Ainslie being buffeted by a strong wind — how would be different? How does being exposed to the original copy of a piece of writing affect how it is read? What is the ‘original copy’ on the web?

Sometimes (this morning, for example) I’m into the fact that the web separates content from medium — the written word certainly remains, and the loss of the detail of the act of writing is good, because we then focus on what is written, and how how it was composed. Of course (like so much of the blogosphere), this does allow for this sort of introspective post that really does no one any good and is rightly ignored by the whole planet. But that doesn’t matter. The point is that I generally have in mind the final resting place of my words as I write them, and that changes what I write about and how I write it. My problem at the moment (oh, yeah, it’s a real problem!) is that I sometimes write good stuff on paper, and there it languishes forever and is never read; conversly, I (often?) write poor ramblings on screen (generally on this blog, or on my wiki) that should never have been written, let alone read. So whereto from that?

It feels more ‘pure’ to write with a fountain pen in a book, more active and engaging to tap at a keyboard on the web. A rough draft composed in pencil<a href="#pencil-note" name="pencil-note-ret" style="text-decoration:none">[1]</a> up a tree in a disposable notebook which is then posted here with accompanying images? Or carefully-formed words in a Moleskine that are never to be seen again? Given my current desire to not encumber myself with Stuff, the former is where I’m at.

<a name="pencil-note">[1]</a> <a href="http://www.faber-castell.us/docs/index_ebene3.asp?id=17315&domid=1010&sp=E&addlastid=&m1=14785&m2=14794&m3=14805&m4=17315">The Faber-Castell ‘E-Motion’</a> is in my pocket always. <a href="#pencil-note-ret">[Back up]</a>

Addressbook v.0.5

Moving Addressbook to WordPress’ Subversion repository (and changing things to conform to the standard plugin guidelines) meant that a few links got broken, and I’ve only just had time to fix things. So, I apologise to anyone who got a broken copy; download the new one and all should be well.

As always, comments (bugs, features, whatever) can be left below.

You can’t “double your vote” in Australia

On Sunday 2007-08-20, Steve Dalton of the Gold Coast Greens posted the following:

Reposting this excellent cartoon that everyone should see to get an understanding of preferential voting and why it is so important to Vote 1 Green!

Except, of course, it isn’t actually doubling your vote, is it? The ‘S’ in STV is of integral importance to representative democracy: each voter gets a single vote. The Greens do nothing towards increasing constituents’ understanding of our electoral system with phrases like ‘double your vote’; how does this differ (other than in the side of the political watershed on which it falls) from ‘don’t waste your vote’?

I think that the original ‘double your vote’ campaign was (is?) about getting other Americans to enroll (and then, I guess, getting them to vote the same as yourself). At any rate, that’s what the www.doubleyourvote.com website is about.

Addressbook v.0.6

This is a minor release in which I have added a field for miscellaneous notes. Download it now from the WordPress site.

Please leave bug reports, comments, and suggestions below.

Addressbook v.0.7 and other plugins

I have been ignoring this blog lately, I know. I’ve just been rather annoyed with WordPress, to tell the truth, and have been off playing in PmWiki at my own little place under archives.org.au. So, sorry, no exciting updates from Life At IBM (ha! as if there ever was!)

Anyway, I’ve just released the latest version of my Addressbook plugin (so tell me anything I need to know about it here, below). This release fixes a couple of bugs that Benny brought to light, and reduces to Level 4 the required user level that a user must be at in order to manage the addressbook.

I’m also about to release a little image slideshow (or banner rotation) plugin that I (lovingly crafted) last night for Kerrie Tucker’s blog. (I’m just waiting for the wp-plugins.net repository to be approved.) And I might neaten up my bookkeeping plugin and release that later this week…

Thanks everyone, for using Addressbook.

’11th Hour’ Greens’ fundraiser

I’m sure I’ll feel oh-so-inclined to Do More about climate change after watching this. Not that I’m feeling sick and tired of mainstream hipocracy about this stuff or anything. Just imagine Marvin: “Climate change? Don’t talk to me about climate change… I could’ve told them what to do, but of course they never asked me. No one ever asks me. And this pain in all the diodes down my left side…”

I’ll not go on.

Bookkeeping v.0.1

This is the first public release of this plugin, and it’s not very polished yet. But it does work! Download it from wordpress.org now, and let me know what needs fixing.

I’ve been using it pretty much as-is for the past six months or so, and there are a few features that I would like, and will be implementing soon:

  • Select-lists for categories, based on previously-entered categories. This way, to add a new category will simple entail typing it into the box, but at the same time the user will be presented with a list of categories they’ve used in the past. I’m just not yet sure how things should work upon first installing the plugin, because it’s probably a bit confusing at the moment. Any suggestions?
  • Export. To everything. Latex (and, by extensions, PDF), XML (but what formats?), and stand-alone HTML, are all that I particularly want. This would be good for backup too, of course.
  • I was thinking of tying transactions to Addressbook entries (optionally of course) but I’m not sure that it’s very useful.

I was at one point planning on a whole ledger/accounts/etc. structure, but then it sort of gets off into the realm of bigger and better financial management programmes, and it seems somewhat out of scope. This is really just a personal, or sole-trader, sort of a thing.

So send in your comments! (Oh, and by the way, Richard, there’s also ‘subbookkeeper’ with four pairs of letters.)

That on which the coding rests

Just to intersperse this stream of codeish posts with something a little more real

I rode part of the way to work today, and then put my bicycle on the bus for the remainder of the journey. (An odd feeling, looking through the bus’ windscreen and seeing my little bike all alone out there, bobbing up and down in the rush hour traffic; but I trust in these new yellow bike racks. Incidently, one of the recommendations from the Assembly’s inquiry into Action Buses was that passengers with bikes should travel for free — the argument being that putting the bike on the rack takes time, and so in order to keep the bus on schedule the putting of your card in the slot should be done away with. Hear hear!) Then at lunch time (oh, that sweet half of an hour!) I went and sat under one of my usual trees and sewed a button back on to a shirt. I’d planned to bring the real shirt that I’m actually sewing at the moment (completely by hand, I might add; no machine at all) but at the last minute thought this button would do. It wasn’t nearly enough: days like this were made for lounging under trees, enjoying the incrediblely beautiful calls of the birds above, and picking away at some little embroidery or other. Being quiet and being present, and certainly not locking one’s self up in an air-conditioned high-rise.

Bring on the recession, I must concur with Mr. Monbiot! Because (and I must appologise for the cliché) the Really Important Things have got nothing whatsoever to do with Economic Growth! But what I do, all this coding, is (it seems) very dependent upon this Growth, and so now I am sad…

Blog Action Day 2

Bloggers unite. Today is blog action day (the 2nd I've taken part in), when we write about ‘the environment’ in order to ‘save it’. Oh yeah.

Tom Worthington calls for less emails; but I concur with Paul Kingsnorth, and say: smash your computer and lock on to the nearest airport check-in counter!

(I might say that, but I’m more inclined to sit in the shade under a tree, sewing my shirt and knowing the touch of the wind. Bring on the prelude!)

Squirrelmail Variable Sent Folder Plugin

I’ve just submitted a patch for Squirrelmail’s Variable Sent Folder plugin, fixing that plugin’s lack of respect for the user’s choice of folder-select-box display. It’s been annoying me for a while. Here’s the patched version (0.4sw).

Walk walk walk

[about walk walk walk]

The above is about walking in a local urban area, and doing so to get to know where you live. A great idea, I think, and it’s something that I’m very keen on.

Urban Adventure in Rotterdam

Urban Adventure in Rotterdam

Not that I’m bored today at work or anything, as you can see: not posting for a month, then here I am warbling on about urban exploration! But then I would really rather be out charting the course of a drain, or sketching the rust scars on a strange unknowable lump of concrete, then sitting here at my desk being a good little IBM sysadmin.

Which I’m not, by the way. I’m not a very good sysadmin: I get annoyed, and wish there were more scope in I.T. for letting things get old and ignored. But there isn’t. You can’t just leave a programme and expect it to develop some mysterious patina (which word, incidentally, means only that green of copper, and Age in general; strictly speaking, of course) that will evoke some imagined, fictional, past time. They just don’t change. They’re boring.

Reading the above website, and I wish now to have

  1. time;
  2. a camera;
  3. my website hosted on an old box under the stairs;
  4. a city with more scope for UE; and
  5. the appropriate bag.

Oddly enough.

2007 AGM – ANU Food Co-op

2007 AGM – ANU Food Co-op Wiki

One speed: slow?

Another gap in posts for this blog; sorry. (Not that there’s anyone reading this to say sorry to, but as they say: meh.) It’s not that I haven’t been writing lately, I have, but in places that the web doesn’t reach; I’ve been enjoying that.

But it’s four-thirty on a Thursday afternoon and I’m at work. Thus, I have a) no inclination to do any work; b) a whole host of other things that I would rather be doing; and c) some stupid compulsion to remain here until five o’clock. The latter is probably due to the boss still being here.

Oh, no he’s not, he’s just left. See ya.

(This post was going to be about singlespeed bicycles, esperanto, and how good it is to not write on the web, but that can all wait. Apologies for the remaining pointlessness.)

Turning Over an Old Leaf

So here I am, back in the office, and bored again.

I have spent the morning trawling the Arts Full Text database; from the ‘Notebooks’ category, to ‘Reading and Books’, and thence to things about binding, I’ve been remembering that thrill of quiet, sparse, precise, personal times in libraries, with books and a notebook. Nicholson Baker wrote about transcribing to commonplaces (which is pretty much what I see this blog to be). Then an essay about reading aloud caught my attention, and I wondered where my final, aborted, art school woodwork project would be now, had I ever finished it. It was going to be a lectern, not large, but heavy, and built with old wood and all treenailed joints (even the dovetails were pinned through; I can’t remember why). A thing to own only if one never wished to move house again, I think.

In reading these writings about reading, and they were mostly a half dozen pages or so, I missed a thing from books: pages. I like turning pages, strange as that may sound: each page turned is a milestone (or, really, more like a yard-stone, if such a thing has ever existed; maybe in Huysmans’ journeys to the grog cabinet in Là-Bas they did), and forms some sort of ‘meta-rest’ — a pause in reading never intended by the author, but imposed by the printer; a gap resolved only from the book-ness of the text. On a screen there is no such thing — try reading a Project Gutenberg text on-screen, and you quickly get disoriented by the endless down, the ‘single page’ that has turned a book, a codex, into a perverse scroll that is longer than any that ever kept at Alexandria. I’ve heard that some of these so-called eBooks solve this problem by necessitating some sort of swiping gesture along the device’s margin to turn the page, but I doubt it’s the same. I love turning to a long-shut page in an old book and feeling the binding adjust and fold and present the folio, the sewing showing sometimes, and the hollow back opening smoothly. Running one’s finger down the fold, to confirm that this is where I’m reading, that though there may be much past and much to come, this page is now. (Of course, these remarks rarely hold true for a perfect-bound book: but maybe some people get satisfaction from breaking the backs of these wretched modern bricks, or in not being able to open them properly. I don’t know.)

Now it’s lunchtime, and I’m going to walk through the rain to find some lunch somewhere. With luck, a place in which reading will fit. I’m reading a novel by William Gibson at the moment, so maybe the rotten ‘mall’ will do, as at least there I’ll be out of the rain (and out of the office; I’m not particularly enamored with this place at the moment, and am thinking of quitting).

If:book: ephemera

I’m bored and tired this Monday morning, but still I flick through my blog feeds; I found this: [if:book: ephemera] from the Institute for the Future of the Book.

It’s an interesting idea: that the inconsequential, unconsidered, printed matter of the day gives ‘the future’ (the people, that is) insight into how normal lives were led. Does it? And if it does, does that mean that it’s a good idea to collect modern ephemera? (oh, incidentally: I have read in old books the word ‘ephemera’ treated as singular in number, so maybe I mean: ‘should ephemeras be collected?’…) I think I am, at heart, something of a hoarder of things — words, pictures, stories, whatever — that seem in danger of otherwise going unrecorded; I must think that there’s some value in these things…

I’m not convinced that we can actually choose what records are left for the future, however. Much extant documentation from the past was never set aside for preservation; much that was set has disappeared without trace (well, obviously not totally without trace: we know a certain library might have existed, but not what stories its books held). Isn’t this what Claudius (well, Mister Graves, anyway) said in the preface to I, Claudius? That it’d be better to leave his memoirs lying on a table somewhere, and leave their preservation to chance, than to entomb them under stone and law?

But maybe we can choose, a bit, or at least make it easier for things to survive (by not destroying them!). Leaving aside the question of why it’s worth doing, I wonder about how. They say that the internet, and computer-based documentation in general, is making the printed record of modern times sparser and maybe less meaningful than that of other times (the eighteenth century, for example). In the post I’ve linked above they ask “what provisions are we making for our own mass memory?” Some people say that computers should be used to solve the problem of things existing only on computers, which seems a little contradictory to me, but (being the geek I am) I also at times think this. So I write programs that help me order things and decide what not to keep.

Oh, then I get confused and wonder why I ever bother keeping a blog…


Addressbook v.0.8

Sorry about my long silence on the coding front; the new version of the address book plugin is now available. You can download it from the official WordPress plugin repository.