Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20080428


Well the server upgrades are finally coming to an end (yes I know I said that a fortnight ago; but it looks like it’s true this time). SPAM is really the bane of my existence, our mail server here is getting slammed with about 4500 a day and it just keeps rising.

But on a good note, as I mentioned last time Ian (of MFI fame) has finally released his solo CD, there are some great songs on it, even if my marac solo ended up on the cutting room floor (I’m not bitter). Any way Ian is launching the CD here in Melbourne on May 3rd at the Clifton Hill Hotel. Head over and have a listen to the samples he has there and grab a ticket or two (don’t dally).

I really am looking forward to this one, he has managed to put together a bloody huge band (just short of a dozen people I believe) and it is going to be a good night

Lets do the real sillies.

Continuing on from the “Numb3rs” bit form last time, Kalene C sent in this little snippet for the “Blame file”. The Institute For Figuring is a website where maths, craft and environmental activism (amongst other things) intersect

The New York Times covered their environmental version of the AIDS quilt. It’s meant to draw attention to how rising temperatures and pollution are destroying the reefs, by crocheting a coral reef: a woolly celebration of the intersection of higher geometry and feminine handicraft, and a testimony to the disappearing wonders of the marine world.

Kalene actually caught the exhibition when she was in Chicago a few months back.

Six Maasai warriors ran in the London Marathon today. 24-year-old Isaya Maasai, is their chief, and you can read his diary at the Guardian website.

“The horses that go around were amazing and we couldn’t believe how fast. We rode a real horse for the first time too. It is amazing that people can talk to them, tell them where to go and they do it. I miss meat and blood very much. Not vegetables because they are food for a woman. There is milk here but blood is better because it gives energy. English tea with sugar is good and we tried Coco Pops, but the nicest food is croissants.”

My favourite line is “The marathon is easy. There are no lions” now that’s motivation. That and the fact that they were running to make money so that they can drill a water for their village.

We haven’t done cats for a while, Laughing Squid have a video of a cat playing a theremin (see cat’s and music) and as a bonus there is a second video of a cat playing WITH a theremin. I know how he feels. Insert Midsomer Murders theme here…

A Cat Playing the Theremin

Dead Tree Story: Over at Eos Books, they have two stories from THE NEW SPACE OPERA, edited by Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan, that are up for the Hugo Award. The stories are “Who’s Afraid of Wolf 359?” by Ken Macleod and “Glory” by Greg Egan. I really liked the Greg Egan.

Cory Doctrow has posted the first instalment of a podcast at He’s reading a novella that he wrote with Benjamin Rosenbaum. The story’s a big, 32,000-word piece called “True Names” and it involves the galactic wars between vast, post-Singularity intelligences that are competing to corner the universe’s supply of computation before the heat-death of the universe. Weird but fun.

Duggup has been fun was the usual madhouse. Jools posted “New Buffalo” and “Young And Restless” both are interesting Aussie acts. Me, I have been having fun with the “The Really Terrible Orchestra” and a ton of indie bands, head over and check out say “the august”.

Flash Game Time: Today’s impedimentia is called Launchball, it’s comes to us courtesy of the Science Museum in London. The game uses a common premise: coax a ball into a goal. The objects you can use to accomplish this task though are based generally on electricity, magnetism, and mechanics. There are basic shapes like “ski jumps” and ramps, but there are also batteries and steam generators (which also require a water tank and fire) to power magnets and fans. There are switches, springs, cushions, and rubber blocks. Each level provides you with a certain set and quantity of objects to help you get the ball in the goal (not all objects need to be used though).

Trust me, take a few seconds and create a free account, you’ll be emailed a code so that you can login at a later time and resume where you left off. Otherwise you have to play through all of the levels each time. There are three main categories of levels: tricky, sneaky, and crafty.

I had so much fun with this.

Well that’s enough for this week. Have a good one.


{Currently listening to Bela Fleck and Grateful Dead}

{Currently reading: bad old pulp sf}

{Quick Status Check: Stopping Spam or Going To Hell. Hmmm not that much different really}

{Crop Circle Status: It’s not long to May now (about 4 sleeps) and the games will begin again. }


Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20080414


Still plowing through the silliness of server upgrades. At least it’s nearly done. I am looking forward to a few days to catch my breath. As I mentioned last week Ian (of MFI fame) has finally released his solo CD (No Jack for thse of you who know him), there are some great songs on it, even if my marac solo ended up on the cutting room floor. IT had to be just one marac as a pair of maracas would have trashed the budget. just kidding. Actually I played a small piece of guitar on one track and it really was the one that didn’t make the cut.

Any way Ian is launching the CD here in Melbourne on May 3rd at the Clifton Hill Hotel, tickets are starting to move so I suggest that you head over to his site and
A: Have a listen to the samples he has there
B: Pick up a ticket or two
C: Buy me a drink on the night (this one is optional)

Ross: I will get you a trophy, a small one and have it shipped to you.
Finn: I will get an explanation of what the hell an impediment is.

Lets do the real sillies.

As some of you will be aware I am a fan of “Numb3rs” (big surprise huh?) The idea of a show based on the premise that you can solve a crime in 20 minutes using a laptop is so preposterous I just love it.
This ad is brilliant,
If you haven’t seen the show, you really should watch it. Well I think you should, here is a sample of the show where they rave about game theory.

Staying with the numbers theme for a minute, I found this one. Felix Jung has writen pi10k. It converts the first 10,000 numbers in pi to musical notes. You determine which notes correspond to each integer by clicking on an on screen piano keyboard. This is weird (even for me) in a Terry Riley minimalist way. and they supply the Key of C as a preset (sorry obscure music joke).

And let’s leave the last word to Jools

“Yes, yes . Now where do you think you are going – this is an impedimentia after all.
Love, Jools “

I actually did this some years ago when I programmed my old mobile phone to play Layla, now I just use a recording from the concert last year. Sometimes progress is good.

Actually let’s work through some more pieces of “Blame”.

Bill C sent this item along
Take it up with him.

Jools also sent this one along

“This is an animation about optical illusions. I think it would make a good MMI
Love, Jools
P.S. The soundtrack is a band called Tiamat from Sweden. Check duggup”

Craig H sent along this scurrilous piece of slander..

“A killer of a quiz. I’d like to see an Australian version – “Now where do I know that face from? Was it Snowtown or Pretentia???” “

Pretentia indeed, the lawyers will be chatting with you during the week.

And finally Kalene C sent along “Craft Skills Gone To Waste”

I love the super Mario- on this link towards the bottom. “

Take it with the respective people. I’m innocent (well it sounds better if you all don’t snort derisively), not believable. just better.

Dead Tree Story: Futurismic has published Leonard Richardson’s story called “Mallory” and this one has got everything. Seriously – geek hackers and classic arcade games, electronic Darwinism and domestic espionage, venture capital and Silicon Valleyish start-ups . and a healthy dose of intellectual property panic. Futurismic also point out for the benefit of the easily-offended that there’s a generous sprinkling of profanity in “Mallory”, right from the outset.

Not put off? Click on the link and away you go. If you need a hint, think “Snow Crash” and then turn left and head for the horizon.

MALLORY by Leonard Richardson

Audio Book: This week StarshipSofa ( which I highly recommend) has a great little story by Ted Chiang called “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” The MP3 is at

and as a bonus for you dead tree types and you know who you are, there is a text version here.

Duggup was the usual madhouse. Jools posted “Tiamat” who are a really classy “Goth Metal” band. Me, I was writing up “Ghost Orchid”, “Weinland” (who you shouldn’t miss) and “The Raveonettes” (who surprised me by being fabulous). Head over and check it out.

Flash Game Time: Today’s impedimentia is a triumph of elegance and minimalism. It’s called Nanotube, and the really cool thing is that all you need are two keys to play it. Here’s the deal. we have a circle that has partially coloured blocks, and using the directional keys, you can manipulate and spin the colours around the circle, much like you would move the paddle in Pong. As coloured balls come towards the circle from the center, you attempt to block them with the appropriately coloured block. If you succeed in doing this, you will get points, if you don’t, you are toast. So if you survive, you move onto the next level (it gets harder, trust me). Enough talk, click the link.

Well that’s enough for this week. Have a good one.


{Currently listening to Mike Oldfield and Mad Violet }
{Currently reading: That would still be those bloody Micro$cum manuals. bugger. again}
{Quick Status Check: If I could get hold of the dudes who wrote the manuals mentioned above. they would be going to Hell}
{Crop Circle Status: It’s not long to May now (about 18 sleeps) and the games will begin again. }


Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20080407


We’re back. Ross got the bonus points for correctly identifying the quote last week.

Song: The Pretender / Album:The Pretender / Performer: Jackson Browne.

One thing I will say about the work I have been doing for the last week or two, it’s been entertaining. Well actually the people I have been meeting has been nifty. I seem to attract musicians and audio nuts. Cool huh?

One of the tools I found last week that was cute was take it with a grain of salt but it will at least give you an idea how your internet connection is running.

Lets do the real sillies…

Mur Lafferty has released her book “Heaven” as a podcast. Here is the hype.

“What if Heaven wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be? Friends Kate and Daniel find that after their untimely deaths, Heaven leaves them dissatisfied and itching for something… else. So they’re off, with a passport to discover more afterlifes, heroes and gods. During their adventures, they find out that their travel isn’t a journey taken on a whim, but may be orchestrated, or even prophesied.”

This is a ripper story and you can get all the parts if you want all at once. Dog Heaven in Part 5 was a hoot.

Download one or two a day, whack them in your MP3 player and enjpy your transit time. You can find it and a bunch of other stuff at Podio Books.

Prefer a Dead Treee book? You can download Rudy Rucker’s Postsingular. 21st Century Cyberpunk? Psipunk? Who knows what to call it, all I know is that this is better than the stuff he wrote in his wetware era.

“Postsingular takes on the question of what will happen after the Singularity-what will happen after computers become as smart as humans and nanotechnology takes on the power of magic? A mad scientist decides it might be a good idea to create a giant virtual reality simulation that is running a copy of Earth and of most of the people in it. Fine, but in order to create this simulation, the mad scientist plans to grind our planet into a zillion supercomputing nanomachines called nants.” And we are away.

Rucker can be a frustrating read but this is him at the top of his game.

Jools spotted the drummer in this YouTube clip and feels he has been sadly miscast in this band.

More importantly is the question “What the hell was she looking for to find this”?

This is pretty, clever and I want it. Here is all the cool justification.

“Y5 _ framework 5*5*5 refers to informatics’ modular workspace, called a framework. Here, Y5 ‘s “frames” constitute the framework, a space built up by five modules of 2*2m, divided in 5*5 squared elements, establishing a matrix of 5*5*5 = 125 modules. At the one side diffusing the light (white) and at the other side absorbing the light ( black ), the modules constitute a binary language (0,1) and a space of 125 pixels, allowing to transcribe captured data from the physical environment in a kinetic and luminous play _ in between opening and closing, in between transparency and reflection, in between light and dark.”

Essentially it’s a bunch of LEDS, servo motors and control circuits.
Down at the bottom of the page is a video of it in action. Forget the hype it’s just fab eye candy.

Bruce Sterling has an article in the March Metropolis Magazine entitled “Revenge of the Slow”.

“Slow Food began as a jolly clique of leftist academics, entertainers, wine snobs, and pop stars, all friends of Italian journalist and radio personality Carlo Petrini. Their galvanizing moment, which occurred in 1986, was an anti-McDonald’s demonstration at which Petrini and his dining buddies brandished pasta pans while folk-dancing in the streets of Rome. This prescient intervention predated Jose Bove’s violent wrecking of a French McDonald’s by some
13 years. While the anti-WTO crowd was politically harassing corporate globalizers, Slow Food was methodically building constructive alternatives. Today, Slow Food is well-nigh as “global” as McDonald’s but networked rather than hierarchical. Year by methodical year the Slow Food network has stuck its fingers into a host of pies.”

This is a thought provoking article about the Slow Food movement, a massive, moneyed global phenomenon that aims to fight globalization by creating cachet for items that can’t be scaled up to global prominence.

I am not really a fan of Flash websites (just the games folks) but this one is awesome. It takes a few seconds to kick in, trust me it’s worth the wait. This is the silliest thing I have seen for ages.

Duggup has been fun (yes I still managed to meet the daily publishing
deadlines) Jools posted “Early Music Consort of London” who are absolutely brilliant, we are hosting a few of their pieces. I finally reviewed Ian Bland’s “Drifter” (yep that’s Ian of MFI infamy” and it was a bit of an alternative rock week. Head over and check it out.

Flash Game Time: I actually had a lot of fun with this one, it was a metaphor for my last fortnight. One step forward two steps back and the occasional illusion of progress. Blame Jools.

“This is similar to an earlier game I sent as an Impedimentia. Good way to kill a few hours.

Open Doors Created by: soapaintnice

Simply move the square to the X. Moving through lots of doors along the way.

To Move the Square use the Arrow Keys, The R Key Resets, The Q Key Changes Quality, The S Key Toggles Sound

Love, Jools”

I actually got a reasonable score.

Well that’s enough for this week. Have a good one.


{Currently listening to Yeasayer and Dochas }
{Currently reading: Back with the Micro$cum manuals. bugger}
{Quick Status Check: Coming off caffeine can be Hell}
{Crop Circle Status: It’s not long to May now (about 24 sleeps) and the games will begin again. }