Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20071029


Sorry to have missed you all last week but you know how it is. After a week of wrangling silly code, downgrading laptop licenses,
meetings and setting up project management infrastructure, I was walking past Minotaur Books on the way home on Friday and decided that I deserved a treat, a book without the word MANUAL on it’s cover seemed like a good idea and I knew just the one. I was given a copy of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War for Christmas (thank you seona and phil) and loved it. So the question was “Is Book Two in the series waiting for me”? You bet and I think Ghost Brigade (that’s it’s title) is an even better read than the first.

Actually it was a toss up between Ghost Brigade and William Gibson new one. there is always NEXT Friday, mwa ha ha ha ha.

So with a glass of Aberlour Scotch and some ice it’s time to “Alez Sillies”

Lets start with Blame.
Jools is up First with an email titled “I say nothing”
“Just play it and…
Love, Jools ”
And then she follows up with
“A potentially silly squishy time waster for the Impediments of the day of Mon.
Love, Jools ”

Now seeing as though I am feeling a tad literary this week lets delve into the insane world(s) of Mr Pratchett. Terry Pratchett has churned out about 33 Discworld novels, actually in the few hours it takes between me writng this and the list software spitting it out to your mail boxes he will probably have released another one, but I digress. It becomes a tad tricky to work out where to start if you are stumbling across them for the forst time or recommending them to a friend. It doesn’t help that these books are not written in any main sequence, but rather in a bunch of interrelated series that follow the lives of many different characters and subplots. To Pratchett’s credit most of the books do pretty well at standing by themselves and you get the hang of all these characters stumbling in and from other books. Any way the point, yes there is point. There is a “Discworld Reading Order Guide” over at it’s a ripper.
Here is the link to the PDF in English

Click to access the-discworld-reading-order-guide-1-5.pdf

Rincewind was always my favourite character.

Lets see, Penguins, a seesaw, ice blocks, a Monday Morning. this isn’t going to end well is it?
I love the sounds.

More books. online this time. Mayer Brenner wrote a four volume fantasy series called the The Dance of Gods back in the late Eighties and to quote Mayer

“they did not, shall we say, distinguish themselves in the marketplace . The stories take an approach to magic more suited to engineers or programmers than mystics; more procedure-based than object-oriented, perhaps, but communing with nature is usually the last thing on these practitioners’ minds. For that matter, I’m not sure the combination of magic-code hackers, molecular nanotech, and network-mediated consensual reality of the gods is something that could ever be summarized on a back-of-the-book blurb… “

So following the lead of Cory Doctrow he is releasing them to the web under a Creative Commons Licence. I have been reading the first one on my Palmtop (Spell of Catastrophe), it isn’t bad. And lets face it you have to love a eries with a hero named ‘Maximillian the Vaguely Disreputable’ (I am not making this up).

It’s only Rock and Roll Dept: This is a tad esoteric but for the musicians out there ( and I know that there a few of you, over at there is a piece on how Scandinavians test music gear. To be specific,a Shure SM58. It gets gets subjected to some serious torture testing, including:
Being used to hammer nails ( puts nailing the vocal into a whole new realm)
Dropped a couple of meters
Dunked in water ( yeah. sure it was water)
Driven over by a car
And then something really nasty happens involving Beer and a microwave.
What cracked me up was that Shure donated the mic.

And if you are vaguely musical (ooh that would be me) have a look at this.
Basically it’s a TR 909 done entirely in Flash. And, surprisingly, it’s not bad. Kiss your Monday good bye and if that not enough head to
there are a bunch of other fun little musical toys (read Impediments To Productivity).

Over at you will find the an interesting collection this week. Jools found “Trolle SiebenHaar” and her latest favourite “Oh Laura”. Seriously they are a killer band. I was off in a strange place “Shortwave Dahlia” and “Celebration” were the ones that have stayed with me. Head over and have a listen to “Damon & Naomi” as well.


{Currently listening to Linkin Park (Minutes To Midnight is a killer album) and }
{Currently reading: John Scalzi’s Ghost Brigades (I finished it. back to Minotaur for more)}
{Quick Status Check: Going to Hell }
{Crop Circle Status: It’s over for another year. Bother. }


Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20071015


I think we will go straight on with the sillies this week..

Lets start with Blame. Yes Jools we are all looking at you. Well I am the rest of you will be after you too lose three hours to this “entertaining” little flash game. Now read on.

“This is a very cool jigsaw that gets progressively more difficult as you complete each puzzle.
Easily can be ranked as a terrific time waster. Have fun and many hours entertainment.
Love, Jools “

Firstly. It’s all Jools fault. Take it up with her.
Secondly. What a great (and incredibly accurate) domain name
Finally. I always knew I hated jigsaw puzzles.

New York Magazine has put together a list of the ten most incomprehensible Bob Dylan interviews of all time. When this dude wanders off, he really heads out into the great unknown. It’s ironic that after writing some of the greatest songs (poetry) in the culture (Yes we can debate this endlessly) he obviously has all the left over words that he just throws to reporters. What did Bjelke Jo call it. that’s right “Feeding the chooks”. I am rather partial to number 10.

Over at Wired magazine’s site. Columnist Clive Thompson has an article that says Google, his PDA, and other toys all enable him to stop remembering things like phone numbers, birthdays, and events. I can relate to this as I live off my PocketPC. So how about you? Your memory wandered off since Google showed up?

Karl Schroeder has just released his 2001 novel, Ventus under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license, meaning that you can download it, share it and copy it as much as you like. (Here’s a review from the NY Times ) It’s a good read, an alien world, nanobots, a suicidal assassin and one my all time favourite (literary) devices. a demented AI. It’s a ripper read.

While I have you reading off the screen, here is an interesting article. It messed with my head for a bit. “If the computer is a good metaphor for understanding how the mind works, then culture is its software” and we are off and running

The Japanese quest for a clean neat orderly society took another step forward in their quest to get rid of all the grubby humans. Robot drummers. ( we shall skip over the drummer jokes) The robots displayed their prowess on the taiko drums at the Kokura Gion Daiko Festival, this is an event that is around 400 years old and is known for its competition in the traditional percussion. Check out the video and you can work out whether you are impressed or terrified.

Picture this, a few months back, two dudes are spending a Saturday afternoon strolling around a field in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England, with their metal detector, when the device goes ballistic. The dudes have hit on a hoard of Viking treasure dating back to the 10th century. The stash, containing silver coins, jewellery, and a gilt silver vessel, came from Afghanistan, Ireland, Russia, and many other places the Viking travelled. Conservative value 750,000 quid. Art value, bloody priceless.
and piccies at

Over at you will find the an interesting collection this week. There is a more mainstream feel to the acts this week (probably my imagination), have a listen to “Flowers From The Man Who Shot Your Cousin”, it’s a great name and make sure you check out Jools find, the B-Side Players, very cool.


{Currently listening to live Loreena McKennett concert recordings }
{Currently reading: O’Reilly’s Learning Ruby.}
{Quick Status Check: Swiss Army Knife? Check. Single Malt? Check. I wonder what this handbaskets for? Hell. }
{Crop Circle Status: It’s over for another year. Bother. }


Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20071008


Bruce Springsteen and the E. Street Band released a new album last week, consequently productivity has been impeded. You can read about it at Jools and I both wrote about it. I think I will do some housekeeping today, in answer to the odd query now and then. You can always find ALL of the old Impediments at and You remember back in May I mentioned “My Friend Ian” well head over to and check out the poems. I am still recording them for him and popping them up on his website. There are some real beauts there.

On with the sillies.

Continuing on with the modern art fun from last week, have a look at David Herbert’s homage to VHS and 2001, I know we have all moved onto the digital age but I’m sorry this past the smile test. (actually it passed the falling off the chair test). This was spotted by Jools

This was also spotted by Jools
“Here comes Monday Morning….
Love, Jools,38bart,77858,3.html?pic=61&total=61&auto=1 and here ”
And here is the steampunk Bart by Angel Tan and Justin Volp. They created this steampunk piece for the custom Bart Simpson art exhibit.

We haven’t had a really annoying flash game (although by definition ALL of them are annoying) for a while. Let’s rectify that. Avalanche is incredibly annoying. It’s simple, you can figure out how to play it in about a minute. Kiss goodbye to the rest of the week figuring out how to win ( or am I just thick?). You are in control of what appears to be a vanilla slice; you can go left and right, you can jump, and most importantly you can slide down vertical surfaces and then jump from them. There is an endless supply of blocks, in all sizes and yes they come in colours, falling from the sky, and an ocean of red liquid rising beneath. Get as high as you can without getting crushed or touched by the rising damp. You should save this for a weekend, you’ll lose Monday to it (Oh yeah… that’s the point innit?).

Over the course of these things we have raced cars, planes trains, aliens, paper planes and marbles amongst others. It’s time to go one step further, to boldly go where no one has gone before, that’s right today we race shopping trolleys.
Blame Jools
“Don’t think you’ve used this one before – all I can say is – all you can do is steer and hope for the best..
Love, Jools ”
We hadn’t used it and the steering instructions are about right.

So you went out and bought one of those wide screen LCD monitors so you could watch DVDs err.. see a few extra columns in the spreadsheet, yep that sounds better. BUT now you normal wallpaper selection looks well crap. We have a solution, head over to Dual Screen Wallpapers and they will have something for you I’m sure. I rather like Dual Nuerons (halfway down on the left) Interface lift is worth a look as well.

Over at you will find the two reviews of the new Springsteen album (mine is the long rambling one) . We also had fun listening to the BrightLights, Major Chord and Josh Pyke.


{Currently listening to Bruce Springsteen (big surprise)}
{Currently reading: The 16 page inset that came with the CD. obsessed? Who said the “O” word}
{Quick Status Check: Hell is when you suddenly realise that it will be 5 years till the next E.Street Band album}
{Crop Circle Status: It’s over for another year. Bother. }


Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20071001


Jools and I skived a day of work and went to the Guggenheim exhibition at the NGV, and oh did we have fun.

Straight up you walk through the door and turn to your left and there is a Rothko and right next to it is Pollock’s “Green Silver”, I could have left then. The Pollock is just amazing, I look at it and I can see the wiring inside my brain, it is just so powerful. The Rothko is not what I expected, don’t get me wrong, in no way was I disappointed, I am just left really curious about how he got from A to B. I have always liked the late sixties stuff he did.

There was and opart piece by Vasarely that was wonderful and a kinetic piece called Vibration that was especially brain damaging, one of the kinetic pieces. I was truly blown away by the Dan Flavin piece (he’s the dude who did the flouro tube things), the light was truly transcendent, I had mentally scoffed at the “spirituality” interpretation that I kept reading about (The New York Times piece was sceptical) but now that I have seen it I can why it takes people down that path. Truly wonderful.

What else? I found the Floating room was more interesting as an idea than as a piece, but Jools loved it. It was fun standing inside it though.

The Lichtenstein triptych was disturbing (and I suspect it’s supposed to be) but the Warhol electric chair prints were glorious. After years of seeing pictures of this I found that I was actually unprepared for it in the flesh (I will skip over the shock pun). He was a flake, but damn he was a talented flake.

On the subject of flakes… Jeff Koons stuff made me smile, actually I got a fit of the giggles. I discovered that I can’t actually divorce him from his works anymore. I really liked them. Unlike the pompous Gilbert and George stuff.

Another one that sandbagged me (and was one of Jools faves) was Dave Muller’s Northerly Set, it is 8 panels of sky, clouds and flags, it was one of the few “recent”pieces that had anything to say to me. I loved it.

The Mapplethorpe self portraits were amazing, again the reproductions that I have seen of these over the years don’t really prepare you for the “real” thing.

Which brings us to Anne Hamiltons “Taxonomy”. It is proving difficult, I need to think about this one a lot. I find myself intrigued and repulsed at the same time. It’s made up of 14000 teeth (people and animals) that are laid out by size and shape rather than species, they are sitting on a bed of iron oxide. I think the rust is supposed to represent decay (which means this could be a huge dental pun). Truly a difficult work. I find myself trying to come up with a story that makes sense to me.

Not a lot to write after over 4 hours looking at what was a small sample of the Guggenheims works, but I am still digesting a lot of it. The weirdest thing about the exhibition is that as a rule of thumb the closer the pieces got to us in time the less interesting they were. The 40’s and 50’s were way more fun than the stuff in the last ten years. I am not sure why that is.

So if I had to pick one to take home, this is a conversation that Jools and I had over lunch and on the way home. For me it would be Green Silver. I cannot tell you how that painting sets off all this stuff down the back of my brain, it’s the same places that I use for imagining music and code (I’m odd).

Jools wants to take home “Mist” by Gottlieb. Go figure, and they were right next to each other on the wall too, maybe they will give them to us as a set…. yeah. right. time to re-engage reality.

On with the sillies.
When you go over to England and strolling around you are assaulted with information, most of the buildings are covered with blue plaques placed by British Heritage, commemorating the birthplaces of important people, famous architecture and well history. lots of history.

The British Heretics have decided to be equally helpful and are putting up Black Plaques to commemorate an entirely different kind of heritage:

“The Black Plaque scheme was instigated in October 2003. Its purpose is to commemorate and draw public attention to historical figures in such diverse fields as sorcery, the Royal Art, left hand path occultism and witchcraft, as well as the mentally infirm: tortured poets, psychopaths and village idiots.”
If anyone over there spots one send me a picture. I will pop it up on the website.

Flash Game Time. Another in the tower defence school of puzzle / strategy game. You have to protect your desktop from invaders by spending money on attacking pieces and building a maze for them to follow. I find these things seriously addictive, so how many levels can you survive?

This one was spotted by Jools
“Running with the bulls the easier way. Just don’t hesitate.
Love, Jools”

There are some really nice RC planes and birds made from drinking straws and plastic wrap over at
Have a look at the pictures, face it you want one, I know I do.

Once Upon a time there was a band called Talking Heads and in 1980 they played a show in Rome. SO? I hear you ask. well
A: For this tour they had Adrian Belew on guitar and
B: Some one has put the concert footage up on YouTube.
Turn up the volume and watch for Belew’s solo on Psycho Killer.

Then there is the apocryphal Life During War Times

and don’t miss Take Me To the River. That bassline could have kept the Roman Empire in business for another couple of centuries, it’s that damn solid. Yep two bass players.

Over at we have had a bumper crop of great music. Well I think so. There was Feist ( the annoying iPod ad music), Jools found a great band called “The Skies We Built” and don’t miss “Iron and Wine”.

{Currently listening to Sarah McQuaid & Talking Heads}
{Currently reading: An Agatha Christie mystery. the butler never does it}
{Quick Status Check: Still going to Hell.}
{Crop Circle Status: It’s over for another year. }