Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20080929

As a wise bear once said “Bother”, we didn’t get to see Kavisha (she is playing out at Harmony Row in November) so I will have to give Cliff a heads up and book a couple of tickets.

Life continues it’s usual “avalanche down the mountain” pace, not really a complaint just an observation. The upside is I am listening to some fabulous music (if you are awake longer you obviously get more time to listen). So the current state of play with the iPod Touch is that the actual unit is amazing. Being able to access both the RSS feeds and YouTube is pretty damn useful in finding stuff to add to the duggup list.

If I was buying it now I would probably get the 16M or 32M version but it would just mean that I would carry more stuff in the “permanent” list. Now for the downside, iTunes is the most appallingly bad piece of software I have run into for ages. I know I have complained about my frustrations with it before but I installed the Version 8 upgrade and it actually got worse.

There is a very cool program called Media Monkey and with one exception it covers all the major things I need to have happen. I am hoping that someone will write a plugin to handle the podcasts the way I need.

With the crop circle season (what a dud this year) coming to an end, I am going to include a Ted Talk each week, they really are an amazing collection of ideas.

The MFI stuff will be along in another week or so.

So on with the sillies…
I stumbled on a great site called “For Arts Sake” its part of On networks “new media” operation.

The show is a series of interviews with current American artists in a variety of fields. This is the sort of stuff that the ABC used to do on a Sunday. Here is an example .
“Marc Trujillo is an American painter. His paintings depict gas stations, shopping malls, big chain stores and restaurants that are present in American urban and suburban landscapes.

Trujillo’s studio practice follows Old Master techniques. Before beginning the final oil painting, Trujillo completes a grisaille, a monochromatic under-painting that allows him to prepare and layout the composition and perspective of each work. ”—painter

This is a great impediment to productivity. (It looks good on the iPod too)
TED Talk of the week: This week have a look at Louise Leakey as she asks, “Who are we?” The question takes her to the Rift Valley in Eastern Africa, where she digs for the evolutionary origins of humankind and suggests a stunning new vision of our competing ancestors.

Louise Leakey is the third generation of her family to dig for humanity’s past in East Africa. In 2001, Leakey and her mother, Meave, found a previously unknown hominid, the 3.5-million-year-old Kenyanthropus platyops, at Lake Turkana — the same region where her father, Richard, discovered the “Turkana Boy” fossil, and near Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge, where her grandparents, Louise and Mary Leakey, discovered the bones of Homo habilis.

Some odd bits of “Blame”.
ChrisF sent this one in.

“I’m not sure if this is universally funny or if it’s just me 🙂

Well I found it funny, slightly disturbing but funny.

KaleneC sent in a Lego piece (no not a little blue block a link)

“Um, this got sent to Andy- his friend is a Springsteen tragic- and I thought that you’d like it.
Nothing to do with me!
Kalene ”

Well despite the vigorous hand washing, it’s a ripper. But then I would probably fit into the description of Springsteen tragic as well.

Jools spotted this and despite the million of drummer jokes that went through my brain (the good taste chip kicked in just in time) basically I want one.

Jools also spotted this (and we haven’t done cats for a bit)
“This cracked me up. I’m sure it will at least raise a smile as an MMI.
Love, Jools ”

I love the idea behind the Sorted Books project. The deal is you pick books out of your collection whose spines, when placed in a sequence, make a story or a sentence. This really is such a cool idea. Think of it as a variation on “found object’ art or maybe non destructive cutups. I am sure that’s an oxymoron.

I spotted this at Boing Boing. I have always suspected that MacDonalds is dangerous. I’ll preserve myself with Single Malts thank you very much. Here is Cory’s intro

“Karen Hanrahan has been using the same McDonald’s hamburger as a prop in her “Healthy Choices for Children” class since 1996 — 12 years! — and it’s hardly aged a day in all that time. McDonald’s should add “immortality” to its list of Unique Selling Propositions for its burgers (unless Karen has an ornate oil painting of the burger in her living room in which it slowly ages, grows mouldy, and decomposes).”

This is possibly the scariest thing you are likely to see this week.
Here are two sites playing with the same idea. they “paint with light”.
First up Ryan Cashman describes Light-Paint Piano Player –
“Animated light paintings of a little piano player performing. Filmed at night with the lovely I-5 and San Diego skyline in the background. I would like to thank everyone for the fantastic feedback I have received lately. To answer a few questions, I wrote the music and recorded it first. The frames were photographed with a Canon Rebel using 20-30 second exposure time. I used a small green LED keychain light to draw each frame. Once all the positions were photographed they were strung together and synchronized to the music in After Effects.”

and Second, Jools spotted this collection

“A MMI for the delection of your readers.
Love, Jools ”

Damn this stuff is pretty.

It’s time for our “Duggup was a lot of fun this week” bit. Jools found a group called “Jewellers Eye”, a very cool English folkband and I spent the week bouncing all over the place.

My favourite this week is “Chairlift”, yep the dudes in the new apple ad. Have a look at Red Car Wire as well. Insidious pop at it’s best. Head over to have a listen and let me know what you think.

Flash Game Dept: Impediments to Productivity is a the name at the top and it’s Monday so lets bring capitalism to it’s knees (unless you happen to be one of my clients in which case this one is blocked at the firewall.. Just kidding).

I missed “Talk Like A Pirate Day” yet again so to make up for it here is a game where you can sail around in a pirate ship, snuff the odd sea monster and generally have a lot of fun.

SeaFight is this weeks game. Once you get the hang of it and acquire some decent ammunition, the fun really kicks in. Move up a few levels and you can take on other pirates, very silly.

Once you are all logged in click Take Me to the Battle and start harpooning sea monsters and attacking ships. When you run out of ammo back to the main screen. bid on ammunition in the bazaar, upgrade weapons (no you CANT have a nuke) in the weapons tab, pick up quests in the pub or upgrade your ship in the shipyard. Join a crew, or a guild. Play for free or there is an upgrade for a premium account. The free stuff will keep you busy until next week when we all find something new to blow off the day.

Well that’s enough for this week.

Have a good one.


{Currently listening to Suzanne Vega and Bela Fleck}
{Currently reading: Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat }
{Quick Status Check: Video codecs are Hell}
{Crop Circle Status: The total for September is now 6 and in a fab, last minute splurge, the aliens seem to have noticed that the fields are being cropped so they had better extract the digit. Can’t last much longer I’m afraid }


My Friend Ian, A Pub and a Zoom H4

Ian Bland at The Lomond Hotel © Jools Thatcher 2008
Ian Bland at The Lomond Hotel © Jools Thatcher 2008

It’s been a while since we have taken the Zoom H4 on an outing but last Sunday found us at the Lomond Hotel in East Brunswick (Jools and I used to live across the road from it a long time ago). My Friend Ian (hereinafter MFI) had a gig with his band, the Lamington Drive Orchestra.

Jools decided to take along a video camera we had picked up a while back  to see what it did in lowlight etc. We mounted it on a tripod about 3 metres back from the stage, set it on wide and then just used the pan to keep it all nice and simple. Like I said, it was it’s first outing and I’m an audio geek.

It didn’t turn out to bad really. There were no lights to speak of and the vocals were coming out of a PA that was 12 feet up in the air and not really focussed anywhere near where we sitting.  It’s a strange room but when you are there with the band playing it has a nice vibe about it.

Here is the video of “God On The 67 Tram” one of MFI’s more irreverent pieces of social commentary. It’s not one of the pieces that’s on the album, I think it was song Ian wrote for a performance he did on 3RRR a couple of years back.

Next up is a  video of  “Not Going Back”. This is one of Ian’s newer songs and it’s about change. I like this one.

Boring Tech Stuff:

Zoom H4 mounted on Camera Stand
Zoom H4 mounted on Camera Stand

The Zoom H4 recorded in Stereo @ 44.1kHz/16 bit. It was mounted on the video tripod using a Gorilla Pod, but below the pan head so as not to interfere with the operation of the camera. . It was 3 metres back from the stage more or less pointed at Ian (roughly stage centre) and as usual I crossed my fingers. The gain settings for the mics were on on L and the limiter was turned on.

The audio recording was edited in Sound Forge and all I did was cut out below 30Hz (bass lift from the proximity of the ceiling) and add 3db at 1.5kHz to help the MP3 along. I then used Vegas to drop the Zoom audio into the video. It scrubbed up OK I think for a first attempt at this stuff.


Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20080915


Ah yes, just when you think you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, it turns out to be the headlights of a truck heading at you at high speed. Ever wonder how a bunny feels when it props in the middle of the highway. I don’t anymore.

Yesterday we spent a large chunk of the day attempting to “interface” with the public health system (and to all those politicians out there who are dragging there bums on the health issue might I suggest you go and sit in a casualty ward on a Saturday morning for a few hours. then fix it)

Entertaining? ‘Fraid not. See as I dashed out I forgot my MP3 player. Yes that was the ‘tremor in the force’ you felt early yesterday morning as I opened my bag and discovered that it was still on my bench charging. Bloody technology.

Time (as they say) passes and currently I am sitting in sitting in the Lomond Hotel waiting for MFI (the infamous My Friend Ian) to start playing. With luck I will have few tracks for you to listen to next week.

Next week is looking up, Kavisha Mazella is playing Monday night in Northcote and Jools and I are having our productivity impeded by strolling along and having a listen. We might have a little something extra for you to check out next week, we shall see how it goes.

So to sum up the week a lot of waiting. In the meantime, you’ve waited long enough, on with the sillies…

First a bit of housekeeping. To everyone who sent me a copy of ” HOW TO HANDLE IRRITATING SEATMATES ON AN AIRPLANE” (and the 30+ of you know who you are) thank you. But as I have pointed out if it hasn’t got a weblink I cant use it. And after the 17th arrival it probably wasn’t funny.

{it’s obviously my week to practices being a curmudgeon (in training)}

TED Talk of the week: Brewster Kahle is building a truly huge digital library (Internet Archive) — every book ever published, every movie ever released, all the strata of web history … It’s all free to the public — unless someone else gets to it first.

I use the Internet Archive to chase up recordings of obscure live bands and just love it. There is enough stuff here to Impede Productivity from now until doomsday. An amazing resource. (read extraordinary timesoak)

Arachnophobes move along, there is nothing you want to see here. For the rest of you, “Play With Spider” is the creepiest piece of software I have seen in a while (and that includes the horror that is Vista). I am not really a fan of spiders at the best of time but I am a fan of silly time wasters and this sucked up a lot of time.

Basically, it’s a piece of flash eyecandy(?) where you lay out bugs for a spider to eat. The spider is creepily realistic. At one stage I was flicking between monitors and forgot that it was there, needless to say when I went back to the monitor it was interesting moment. The word gross kept popping into my mind.

Fabulously well done but .. Well have a look for your self.

And while we are the subject of more than two legs, Jools spotted this and sent this one along

“This made me laugh. Thought it would make a fine Impediment. (It worked for me)

Love, Jools  “

It cracked me write up.

Remember those refrigerator magnets you had when you were a kid ( or in my case last year) that were all letters? Letters is same idea except for two bits.

One: it’s played in a browser and
Two: Instead of just you playing with the letters you have to share with whoever else is logged in.

When I tried it there were about a dozen or so people in there and 12 people sharing letters and some of them had less than safe for work vocabularies. Stroll along and raise the tone.

Over at IndieMuse, David has posted “Feist On Sesame Street”. Feist performed with the Muppets on the show (I want a penguin), this song has a melody that will not leave you alone. Have a look at

Absolutely priceless.

It’s time for our “Duggup was a lot of fun this week” bit. Jools was flatout busy with other stuff this week and I spent the week bouncing between guitar & voice folk bands and experimental post rock bands.

My favourite this week was either “Lowry” or “Because Of Ghosts”. Some weeks it’s just to way too hard to choose, head over to  have a listen and let me know what you think.

Flash Game Dept: Impediments to Productivity is a the name at the top and it’s Monday so lets bring capitalism to it’s knees (unless you happen to be one of my clients in which case this one is blocked at the firewall.. Just kidding).

Last week I mentioned Runescape. Here is an email response from Fran R


Long time no talk! Still enjoy the Monday emails.

Just a note re Runescape, it is REALLY REALLY REALLY popular with the kids (were talking Primary School 8 yo up) and there are a lot of players out there that do unscrupulous things on this game, dishonesty runs riot, kids trust is played on more often than you would like to see in this sort of thing. Thank god my son has now tired of this game it is a very worthy of impediment status and extremely addictive.


Fran “

Thanks for that Fran, so from this we learn that there are a lot of unscrupulous 8 year olds out there taking advantage of poor innocent office workers just trying to kill a Monday morning and that you really should be careful out there.

This week is going to be seriously old school for two reasons

a: I’m slack

b: There isn’t a person on this list who doesn’t know how to play this one. Which means I wont have to write up explanations (see a)

Well that’s enough for this week.

Have a good one.


{Currently listening to Ian Bland and Thea Gilmore (on the MP3 player)}
{Currently reading: Moved onto RA MacAvoy’s Twisting The Rope}
{Quick Status Check: After sitting around in waiting rooms, Hell can be considered an aspirational upgrade}
{Crop Circle Status: The total for September is 2 and it seems that play has been called off on account of rain. Who knew aliens were afraid of getting wet?  }


Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20080908


I have been spending a lot of time downloading TED talks video’s to my iPod touch, to be honest this was an unexpected bonus when I bought the new MP3 player. For ages I have wondered who wants to watch video on a tiny little screen. turns out it was me.

I have talked about TED before but every week they have something new or I find something I missed. Here are a couple that caught my ear/eye /imagination/all of the above.

Let’s start with Clifford Stoll. Clifford Stoll captivates his audience with a wildly energetic sprinkling of anecdotes, observations, asides — and even a science experiment. After all, by his own definition, he’s a scientist: “Once I do something, I want to do something else.”
(Hmmm that sounds familiar. Clifford is like the Duracell Bunny on speed, the ideas just keep coming at a mile a minute.)

Peter Diamandis says it’s our moral imperative to keep exploring space — and he talks about how, with the X Prize and other incentives, we’re going to do just that.

and let’s finish with some irony. Peter Hirshberg shares some crucial lessons from Silicon Valley and explains why the web is so much more than “better TV. ”

I think that when the Crop Circle Season finishes I will put a Ted Talk of the week down in the bottom section.

So the iPod Touch is working out for me, there is something really weird about sitting on a tram and watching Evelyn Glennie talking about music. Oh look the future arrived, and it’s pretty damn cool.

I have managed to work around most of iTunes’ annoyances (although I pressed a button today and erased all the video’s I had been watching. Moral? Don’t press that button in iTunes) ad I found a couple of alternatives that seem to work OK as well. It still doesn’t talk to my netbook.

On with the sillies.
Quilts meet Science. You all know I have an abiding fascination in handmade quilts well here is a new take on the idea. Beverly St. Clair has originated a way of encoding genetic information in quilt designs.

Here is what she had to say
“My idea for genome quilts grew from the juxtaposition of two experiences at Wesleyan University in November 2001. First I viewed an exhibit of work by Anni Albers, an artist I have admired for many years. The show included her serigraphs of triangles arranged in a grid. I was struck by their similarity to quilt patterns. The next day I attended a lecture about the Human Genome Project and was impressed by the beautiful shapes of the proteins illustrated and the interesting patterns made by the microarrays. I realized that I could use a simple quilt block to represent each of the four bases in DNA: cytosine, guanine, adenine, and thymine. A square bisected into a light and dark triangle is rotated in four orientations to resemble the letters C, G, A, and T. These blocks are placed in sequences determined by the base sequence, so one can read the genetic code by looking at the quilt. The colour and fabric choices influence the overall design. The quilts are visually pleasing, with their strong colours and seemingly traditional design, but they hide and reveal an entirely other construct of information.”

I have to admit to being really intrigued with the idea of having a quilt done that has my DNA as the basis for it. Have a look, they are gorgeous.

Jools sent me this one
Tool are a metal band (yes I know, but I like metal) and they wrote this amazingly pretentious piece called Lateralus (yes I know but I like pretentious too).

Lyrically this song is strongly based on the Fibonacci numbers. Another unique (read really really really annoying) thing is the time signatures of the chorus also change from 9/8 to 8/8 then 7/8. Watch the video and you will get the idea. The drummer in this band is amazing.

It’s time for our “Duggup was a lot of fun this week” bit. Jools wrote up “Sarah Eden Davis” and “Hakan Jorming”. Both are really interesting acts especially Hakan Jorming. My favourite this week was a toss up between “Ginja Roe” and “Extra Golden”, Ginja Roe get by on points I think. They remind me of Mad Violet, head over to have a listen and let me know what you think.
Flash Game Dept: Impediments to Productivity is a the name at the top and it’s Monday so lets bring capitalism to it’s knees (unless you happen to be one of my clients in which case this one is blocked at the firewall.. Just kidding).

I cant believe I haven’t mentioned Runescape before. RuneScape bills itself as a MORPG (massive online role playing game), For those of you thinking WoW. forget it. Runescape runs in a tiny window in your browser and you don’t have to load any software to play (make sure your Java is reasonably up to date). And if you’re thinking Hmmm maybe it’s pretty? It’s not. The graphics are just barely better than a Commodore 64 anfd there is a lot of reading and clicking to continue.

But, let’s face it, we are here to waste time, and this will fill the bill nicely. It isn’t exactly fast, so you can definitely keep it running while you are doing other things. The weird part is that I have had it running in a spare screen and it’s a hoot. Over to you.

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


{Currently listening to The Morrighan and Suzanne Vega }
{Currently reading: R A MacAvoy’s Tea With The Black Dragon}
{Quick Status Check: TCP Stacks and SMTP servers, Hell is looking pretty good.}
{Crop Circle Status: Well September is a bust so far. Can the season be over so soon? }


Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20080901


Over at the Washington Post there was an article that drove me crazy

Indonesia is claiming “viral sovereignty” over the bird flu. Yep, it’s claiming that since the virus samples are found in the country, Indonesia owns the virus (?) You have to be kidding me.

They are pretty serious about this and are challenging nearly every attempt by others to do anything with the virus. So if they find a cure does this mean that their Intellectual Property goes down the tube? What if you get it? Do they sue you for unlicensed infection?

Their argument is that the dodgy claim that a US medical research facility is trying to use the virus not to create a cure, but to create biological weapons.

It’s basing this claim of “viral sovereignty” on the same ridiculous patent rules that allow a country to claim “ownership” and patents over indigenous plants (oh yes. I am not making this up. I wish I was).

Read the article and shake your head in disbelief.

OK let’s move on, over at GOOD magazine is an amazing interactive map that documents “history’s greatest journeys,” including trips from travellers like Amelia Earhart, Ken Kesey, Columbus, and Jack Kerouac

“When Spain commissioned Ferdinand Magellan to find a westward route to the Spice Islands in 1519, the explorer commanded five ships and 240 men. Six years later, nearly every member of the expedition, including its commander, was dead. When the American writer Jack Kerouac tried in 1951 to find the words to convey his wayward journey through the United States and Mexico, he commanded a typewriter and a massive stash of Benzedrine. After a few weeks, the first draft of On the Road was completed. These are just two of the journeys that have left indelible marks on our collective maps, and are endless sources of fascination. Here is compilation of some of the most famous jaunts of all time-both factual and fictional-that show us how far we’ve come, and where we might go next.”

A great little timewaster and a great find of a magazine.

This is a nifty Impediment. I am always on the look out for new ways to listen to music. Web-based service 8tracks lets people remix 30-minute MP3 playlists for personal listening or sharing with friends. 8tracks offers the ability to add artwork and information about the mix itself.
Why 8tracks? A short playlist containing around 30 minutes will be roughly 8 tracks of music.
Cool site.
It’s time for our “Duggup was a lot of fun this week” bit. Jools wrote up a killer English folk duo called “Show Of Hands”, listen to their song Roots. Bloody Brilliant. My favourite this week was a toss up between “Nomo” and “Me and The Grown Ups.” I can’t decide, head over to have a listen and let me know what you think.
Flash Game Dept: Impediments to Productivity is a the name at the top and it’s Monday so lets bring capitalism to it’s knees (unless you happen to be one of my clients in which case this one is blocked at the firewall.. Just kidding).

Guitar Shred Show follows the escapades of Mr. Fastfinger, a superior shredder with a gravelly voice who battles dwarves, whales and demons playing accordion. Ok, it sounds weird (it is) but this is part Flash game, part guitar lesson series, and a ton of fun! Don’t miss the Lesson & Jam at the Mountain of the Tapping Dwarves ( I am so not making this up). You’ll find yourself creating a live shredding solo with the keyboard from some really nifty guitar samples.

For those of you who don’t know what shredding is, try
It will all become clear. Trust Me.

Well that’s enough for this week. Hopefully there will be a more reliable publishing schedule in the weeks to come. Have a good one.


{Currently listening to Show Of Hands and Dragonforce }
{Currently reading: Still with Sherri S Tepper, doing the Mavin books}
{Quick Status Check: TCP Stacks and SMTP servers, Hell is looking pretty good.}
{Crop Circle Status: The total for August was 21 and Eastfield seems to be having a good year. }