Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20070528


No I am not going to see Evermore at the Palais. I just want to clear that right up at the beginning. Thank you to everyone who sent along the advance warning, but I have seen them once this year and that will hold me.

Besides in July I get to see Ross Ryan and Spectrum playing at the Trades Hall. Two of my favourite acts on the same show. It is a tad serendipitous as I was looking for my copy of Milesago the other week to check something I was about to write in a review. It’s in a box somewhere upstairs so maybe I can put in a request and get Mike to perform it. For the three of you who aren’t on either acts mailing list you can get info here and here

“FLASH Game” So what happens when you mate Solitaire with Tetris? Speedcluster is what. All you need to do is click and drag the cards from the bottom row onto one of the cards falling from the top. So, if a 7 is falling and you have an 8 on the home row you drag and drop the 8 onto the 7, score some point’s and then panic because there are 4 more cards falling. The longer the chain is, the more points you receive. Are we having fun yet? Start this and you can kiss the rest of the day goodbye. No. No. Don’t thank me. it’s what we do.

Moving along, I thought you might appreciate this podcast of a fan-produced adaptation of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. This isn’t a BBC version so the production values are a little well . uneven (that’s a good word), but having seen what Hollywood did to Hitchhikers these guys scrub up pretty well. At least they know that the words are important. not to mention it is supposed to be funny. There are three half-hour episodes, with more to come.

“Mousetrap For Adults? Dept:” I love these things, all the tiny little pieces having to come together at just the right time and the obsessive detail. God knows what that says about me, but here are two more to add to the collection.
Contraption II is pretty cool.

“BLAME Dept” There is something about stop-motion video.
“Cool stop-motion work by Lorenzo Latrofa, Giovanni Braggio and Fabio Santomauro.

Impedimentia ahoy!
Love Jools ”
There is a better quality version here

And lastly some of the highlights from over at
this week. Jools moved on to Germany and found a great act called Lyriel and I finally covered Runrig who have a new album. Have a listen.


{Currently listening to Runrig (still) & Ralph Towner}
{Currently reading: Sitepoint’s CSS manual}
{Quick Status Check: Hell. the pilot light has gone out. }
{Crop Circle Status: May: Three. we have three }


Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20070521

Hi,Well this has been an educational week. This week I learnt two things.
Thing 1: Don’t upset MAC fanboys (I have come to a sad realisation that they don’t have a sense of humour. which is strange given the great ads that Apple do)
Thing 2: The infamous “obscurity filter” should be applied to me as well.
I received an email that said “I spoke in riddles” and when I looked back over the last few months I could see what was meant.
So in an effort to be a tad more accessible here is this week’s crop of silliness.

Firstup, Eurovision is getting better (or worse depending on how you feel about “trash pop”), there were a bunch OF real, live, honest to god good songs in it this year. Yeah there were a couple of real “what were they thinking” jobs too . (England, I’m looking at you…what were you thinking?). My favourite was the Finnish entry

RAMBLINGS: MFI (that’s “My Friend Ian”) was in Oban, staying at a YHA (have a look not bad eh) I am some what amused at his criteria for choosing accommodation these days, His partner and one year old daughter have now joined him and access to Guinness is no longer the number one criteria. Nope. Nappy changing facilities have shot straight to the number one slot. No competition. When we last chatted, he was on South Uist waiting for a a gale to subside so that the ferry could dock and take him back to Oban. South Uist is unique as it DOESN’T have a distillery to kill time at while waiting for the storm to abate. Jools and I were lucky, the last time we were in Oban and were trapped by a gale our accommodation had room service. Life can be tough sometimes.
This is what a gale looks like in Oban
This is what the next day looks like
These are from the we wrote while on the last trip.

FLASH GAME: Given her sterling efforts recently I tried to give Jools a promotion to be in charge of “Flash Game Procurement”. That lasted about a micro second (it was a good try though). but I did get a contribution to the “Flash Game Collection:

This takes more than 4 seconds to load but when it starts, 4 seconds is a mighty short time to work out what to do and do it.
This is one for the twitch generation.
Jools ”

“People Who Do Stuff Dept”: After a bunch of attempts to get some photo’s to me (our antispam stuff can be a tad over zealous sometimes) I finally got to see some of Doreen’s award winning craft work, Doreen makes dolls (which is like saying Tolkien writes books). These are lovingly crafted by hand and the detail is awesome. I put the piccies up here

AUDIO: This fascinates me, having programmed a Commodore c64 to be a drum machine way back in the Eighties (it worked and I learnt a lot about computers) this robotic drum system was created by some uni students as a final year project.The system works using MIDI, allowing connection to MIDI controllers (keyboards etc) and also sequencer software (Cubase SX or Pro Tools etc). There are some videos of Monster Colon The Robotic Drummer in action at the myspace site. Weird, but fascinating.

INSERT HEAD SHAKING HERE Dept: Would you believe anything a GPS display told you? I mean, face it the whole GPS system was built for the US military by the tender with the lowest price. This from the BBC News.” A train plowed into Paula Ceely’s automobile when she followed a portable navigation system’s directions to drive down a railroad track. The 20-year-old was driving a Renault Clio from Redditch, Worcestshire, England to Carmathenshire in Wales at night when the accident happened. She claims the railroad crossing wasn’t on the nav map and there was no signage warning of an oncoming train. Fortunately, she wasn’t in the car when it was destroyed.”
So if the Melways doesn’t show you the traffic lights you can ignore them?
Here is the link to the article.

“Attempt to Be Useful Dept” I don’t know about you but I always end up using Google to search for the right URL for Google Maps or Google Notebook (and I use the notebook everyday) Well here is a page that crams every Google hidden and non-hidden feature onto a single (and very full) page. Simply Google gives you access to every nook and cranny of the Googlesverse in one convenient spot.
Obviously I will have to use Google to find it.

And lastly some of the highlights from over at
this week. Jools found a wonderful Finnish band (who weren’t on Eurovision) and I found Mice Parade who are equally as wonderful (and also weren’t in Eurovision) Have a listen.


{Currently listening to Runrig & The Clash}
{Currently reading: OReilly’s sed and awk manual }
{Quick Status Check: Keys? Check. Wallet? Check. Tram Ticket? Yep. Destination? Hell (like that’s a surprise)}
{Crop Circle Status: May: We got one. }


Doreen’s Dolls

Jools and I know some incredibly talented people. One of them is Doreen.

01- OlafDoreen makes dolls (amongst other things, you really should see the quilt she did hanging in her stairwell… but I digress). Now these aren’t the whip down to the “ToysRWho?” and buy a Barbie, oh no these are lovingly handmade from all sorts of nifty things. The time and detail that goes into these must be staggering.

The photo’s are of “Olaf”, her entry into a recent competition.

Here is her accompanying email…

02 - Olaf FaceThe doll show was lots of work but we were all proud of our display of about 300 dolls and 78 in the competition. My doll “Olaf” won Best Mixed Media Doll in show and the Viewer’s Choice trophy too!

04- VikingMy Viking was on display but not in the competition. I have attached photos for you to see.
For Olaf, I made everything except for his jumper which was an opshop babies cardigan. He is about 45cm tall and the base is 60cm long. Still not sure where to put him!

I also made the Vikings helmet, axe and shield too.

If you want to see more photos of the show, I have a link from another girl who took photos. She collects Ball Jointed dolls which is a different hobby. The photos of the show are very good.

If you are as impressed as I am, leave a comment for Doreen and maybe she will send along a few more photos (or maybe start her own website/blog/ whatever).


Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20070514

Hello all,

This week finds me still moving servers but the light is glimmering at the end of the tunnel (with my luck it will be a Balrog), it will soon be finished.

Now while I wait for databases to verify and the like, I have been musing about why MFI (My Friend Ian, reprised from last week) can’t find a net cafe in “the old country and the current dearth of cropcircles and the relationship between these seemingly unrelated events. Me, I reckon that these facts are more than casually related, for example, If all the net cafes in the UK are run by aliens and as we have a zero score so far for May, no aliens have arrived recently. It’s a done deal that this evidence supports my theory and that’s why MFI can’t find a netcafe (either that or he rolls into town, finds the pub first and that’s it as far as that town goes). Does this mean that Tony Blair’s crackdown on illegal immigration is kicking in at last? More to come . as soon as I make it up. A bored thatch is a bad thing. So on with the games. or as Chairman Kaga would say “Allez Gamez”.

Now with an intro like that it’s Flash Game time and once again “It’s Jool’s fault” (Blame is a wonderful thing). I think I will put her in charge of game testing for a while. This weeks offering is

This is the best time soak umm err impedimentia I’ve come across for quite some time. Turn down the sound effects though – they are just a tad annoying, but not off, oh no, not off.

Hee, hee, hee,
Jools ”
Any complaints? Take it up with Jools.

Friend Terri, sent a note through claiming she has been forced to drink the Kool Aid and joined up with the forces of evil (no not Micro$cum the other forces of evil) and bought a Mac. Here is her excuse as to why. I rather like Genius
Now all we need to do is wait for her to come to the “sad realisation” that MAC’s are expensive to upkeep.

This one works for me on so many levels.
From the artists site.
“Spamtrap” is an interactive installation piece the prints, shreds and blacklists spam email. It interacts with spammers by monitoring several email addresses I created specifically to lure in spam and an old unused personal email address I use to lure in spam. I do not use these email addresses for any other communication. I post these individual email addresses on websites and online bulletin boards that cause them to be harvested by spambots and then to start receiving spam”
Could you imagine what would happen if say Mythbusters got hold of this as an idea. I smell explosions, big explosions.

Jools wrote a piece about Banksy last year and I mentioned his book back in January. He is one of those polarising artists that leave no middle ground, you either love him or hate him. Me? I’m in the former camp. The New Yorker magazine just did a great 7 page article on him and his work that you can find here. and Jools piece is here.
Well worth the read.

And from the “Turn It Up To Eleven” dept. Spinal Tap are reforming to help save the planet at the LiveEarth concert. You can read all about it here and watch the new Spinal Tap short.

Escape Pod are an awesome podcast site that covers science fiction, at the moment they are running all(?) the Hugo nominees for best short story, the link below is to Episode 105, Tim Pratt’s wonderful story “Impossible Dreams”. It’s about a film-buff who discovers a video store from another dimension. I loved this and am clearing some space on the MP3 player for a few more.

Escape Pod 105: Impossible Dreams

And lastly some of the highlights from over at
this week. We were unable to update this week (it was one of the sites being moved to a new server). But my favourite this week would be “My Chemical Romance” talk about missing the boat. Have a listen.


{Currently listening to Lara St.John & Eurovision (what can I say) UPDATE: The Serbian entry was a ripper and truly deserved to win.}
{Currently reading: Ruby-programming manual}
{Quick Status Check: Have you read the Labour party policy on Uranium mines. they can go to hell}
{Crop Circle Status: May: Still Zero
(Going well isn’t it?)}


Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20070507

Hello all,

Currently I am moving servers, a thankless and tedious task. But it will soon be over. While I have been hurrying up and waiting for stuff to transfer halfway around the world, I wrote up a short piece about “My Friend Ian”. You can find it at and I am putting the finishing touches to his website . Stroll over and have a sneak preview. Leave a comment on the thatchspace site and let me know what you think.

Now lets dispatch the Flash Game people. Today’s game is just so silly, it’s called Acrobats and it’s all Jools fault. Yep more “BLAME” for Jools.

This looks like an impedimentia right enough.

Love, Jools”
It is and remember it’s not my fault.

We haven’t touched on the “Cult of Lego” for awhile, not for lack of material I assure you (the obscurity filter again) but today we have a LEGO Johnny Five. Yep, Daniele Benedettelli made an amazing LEGO Johnny Five, the hours of research (god knows how many times he went through the movie) and the attention to detail. This is a hoot. Yes of course “I want one” and so will you. This Lego model is probably more complicated than the screen original.

After Kermit {insert hysterical waving of arms here} the cookie monster was always my favourite Muppet ( I have no idea what that says about me). Over at YouTube this week is a classic piece of Muppet footage. Three words. Cookie Monster, computer and well just watch it.

Just in case you hadn’t guessed Jeremy Clarkson hates computers. ( Why do I identify with grumpy old curmudgeons these days???) and the old favourite, Hollywood and computers. they almost had to invent the word clueless.

Now for some real art. Artists Sachiko Kodama and Yasushi Miyajima create magnificently surreal kinetic sculptures where a liquid filled with nanoscale ferromagnetic particles flows, rotates, and shapeshifts around a simple iron tower structure in response to shifts in a magnetic field. The piece is titled “Morpho Towers – Two Standing Spirals” (2006-2007). and

Magnetospere is by Robert Hodgin. He wote it using a language called Processing. Electric Sheep fractal images and a great sound track. Damn I wish I had more time, this looks like immense fun
Processing language here

And lastly some of the highlights from over at this week. All sorts of goodies this week. Jools did a quick review of Christopher Dean. I rediscovered more Windham Hill and ECM people. Have a listen.


{Currently listening to Imogen Heap & David Torn}
{Currently reading: Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince, yep a novel }
{Quick Status Check: Moving servers is hell}
{Crop Circle Status: April: End Score 3 – May: Zero (Going well isn’t it)}


MFI or What Bland Did Next

Ian Bland

Sit back, get comfortable, pour a large single malt and let me set the scene.

My Friend… let’s be a bit creative and make up a really cool name to leave Ian with a shred of dignity.

On second thoughts, let’s not.

My Friend Ian (hereinafter referred to as MFI) decided that he is taking an extended trip to “the Old Country”. A several month jaunt through the wilds of both Irelands, Wales, England, Scotland, England, Scotland, an assortment of Western Isles, Scotland then England again. Nothing too strenuous as you can see. Just the usual once around the block and then home.

Now lets get this quite clear, this trip has been a year or three in the planning. It’s not like he woke up one morning last week and decided “Lets go to the UK for a quick “once around the block”. No this was meticulously planned for some time. Meticulously… MFI… what’s wrong with this sentence? Meticulous here is used in the sense of “lets go overseas and drink Guinness… that sounds like a plan”. Irony. I’m sure that’s the word I am looking for. I digress.

Now in between MFI (that’s My Friend Ian for those of you who came in late) deciding to go on his jaunt and the actual going, he recorded (and rerecorded and then rerecorded some more bits and then wrote some new songs which needed to be recorded and then the whole thing needed to be rerecorded yet again, just to be safe) his first solo album, his band’s second album and in his spare time he acquired a weekly segment writing a topical poem on a Melbourne radio station (It’s the JVG Radio Method On 3RRR).

And then just as the boxes of actual product showed up. Yep, you guessed it, he buggered off. AND to add insult to injury the most technological device he took was a camera and a mobile phone. Now as useful as these are (especially if you are MacGyver… MFI isn’t) it’s not really all that useful for communicating in the 21st Century. Now I can hear some of you saying “He’s got a phone, he can use that” well yes he could except that listening to SMS on the radio is a bit.. well… quiet. and have you ever tried to write a website with SMS. I rest my case.

What’s that? “He could phone through the radio segment with his mobile phone”.
Well spotted young grasshopper (the force is strong in this one) and you only missed out on the gold elephant stamp and light-sabre bonus points by the ever so tiniest smidgen. Sadly, you forgot about the time zone thing.

When it’s bright and sunny here it’s NOT over there. In fact they are asleep over there, especially if the person in question (MFI) has decided to take up a one man crusade to test the quality of the Guinness in every pub, working mans club and any other watering hole he can find in both Irelands, Wales, England, Scotland, England, Scotland, an assortment of Western Isles, Scotland and then England again. So the chances of him actually being awake to phone through the weekly missive to the colonies would be in the realm of the mind bogglingly astronomically huge (I have more chance of winning Tatts… without a ticket).

So how did I solve this problem? (“hmm quite the three piper eh Watson”)

Well the websites are moving along swimmingly without any input from MFI (indeed the websites are moving along swimmingly probably because there is no actual input from MFI). They will both be online and taking manual orders by the time you read this. And the radio show? Well there I got a bit clever (here comes the scary bit, thatch is being clever… run and hide now).

Rather than mess about with answering machines and voice-mail and the like (so low tech), I had read of a wonderful company called Gabcast in one of the tech lists that I subscribe to. Gabcast’s mission in life is to allow people who want to dip their toes in the podcasting waters (without buying a ton of expensive toys) to do so using nothing more technological than a phone (ooooh that would be MFI).

They have localish numbers that you can ring up from all over the world. Handily there is one in Ireland and one in England as well as one in Sydney. So,you record your drunken ramblings, er, poignant observations on the human condition and then (and this is the really clever bit) the Gabcast website will notify any subscribed fans via an RSS feed (that’s techy for send an email) that a new drunken rambling is waiting for the fan. They then open a browser and there, in all it’s pristine glory will be Chapter 11 of the “Travels of MFI” or whatever the site has been called.

So rather than let people listen to the aforementioned “poignant observations” I then download the MP3 that MFI has recorded at Gabcast, process it a tad, delete the fluffed lines or large trucks driving past, and then put it up on the website where the radio show host (Jonnie Von Goes) can grab it and put it to air. There is also a copy of the poem, preserved for posterity at

Now some of the more technologically literate of you will be straining at the reins with all kinds of wonderful solutions, and in deference to you I will knock a few on the head straight away.

Netcafes get stroppy about you plugging in mics and headphones not to mention reconfiguring their PC’s with Linux on a Stick USB keys (trust me). Great idea but as a rule it tends not to work.

Finding the netcafe in the first place is always an interesting exercise (especially this early in the tourist season). Kiosks in pubs are great for picking up your email, but then you would be distracted from the Guinness and the band (and probably in that order)
Update: MFI is currently lurking in Cornwall. There is internet access at the dive shop (woo hoo), the problem is that the dive shop is closed because they are always out diving… going well isn’t it?

And then the next half dozen ideas will all probably involve his laptop… that he didn’t take.

For the PLAN B aficionados (secret handshake is a Swiss Army Tinker knife, secret password is Jack Dalton Lies) among you who have spotted the single point of failure (thats techy for if gabcast goes down MFI is up the proverbial creek… No paddle but you can back it in he’ll have a Guinness), I enabled a Skype dial in number with voice mail for three months, and with luck we won’t need it (fingers crossed and sacrifice a politician to the gods). From where I am sitting the Gabcast stuff sounds better than the Skype voicemail, in my opinion.

So there you have it “What Bland Did on His Holidays” and how I survived it.

Now I need a holiday.