Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20081222



Well folks, it’s official I’ve gone over to the dark side. {insert dum dum dum dumde dum dumdemum and asthma voice here}

Jools went out and bought me a new MP3 player. It starts with an I and it ends with phone. I never thought I would say this but it’s a great little toy. Now don’t panic I am not buying an Apple Fan Boy T Shirt yet. But it really is fun to use. The iPod part works fine and after a couple of hours I had my playlists on it. My Layla ringtone and my address book. The upside is that when you get a call the music fades down when you answer it. Hang up and it fades back up right where you left it. Brilliant.

The downside is that I still have to use iTunes (see previous rants about this piece of software) and I have an Apple Touch up for grabs.

If anyone in Melbourne wants to pick up a first gen Touch as achrissy present for themselves (one owner – me) for $220 give me a call. Jools didn’t want it. I suspect that Steve Jobs “Reality Distortion Field” doesn’t work as well on women OR that the “Toy Acquisition Gene” is specifically linked to the Y chromosome. I could be wrong.

OK, I wasn’t going to talk about this, BUT I can’t help myself. This is about my favourite train wreck of the year. Gun’s and Roses “Chinese Democracy”. this album really is truly priceless. Actually, even if they gave it away it’s still too expensive.

This is one of those albums you have to listen to ONCE. So here is a yet another submission to my “Perfection Is Overated “meme.

Before reading Jon Pareles article head to MySpace and get the album playing in the background. Yep the whole album was made available at MySpace when it was released all they have left there are some sample. it will be enough.

So. Do we have the track Chinese Democracy running in the background yet?

It’s OK. I ‘ll wait…..

All comfy? now read Jon Pareles album review. I think this is the best review I have read this year.

And then because we are all masochists, we can now move on to the Guardian, another fine review. Keep the album going and read on

The upshot of this is that any of the things that made his earlier stuff interesting have been tweaked out of existence. Along with any interest. Say good bye to the old order. This is probably the last album of it’s kind and the end of an era.

That’s really enough about him, let’s get started shall we.

Ted Talks – Dennis vanEngelsdorp: Where have the bees gone?

Bees are dying in droves. Why? Leading apiarist Dennis vanEngelsdorp looks at the gentle, misunderstood creature’s important place in nature and the mystery behind its alarming disappearance.

This is a fascinating talk , scary and hopeful and unbelievable in places.

This is worth a look too.

Paul Collier: 4 ways to improve the lives of the “bottom billion”

Around the world right now, one billion people are trapped in poor or failing countries. How can we help them? Economist Paul Collier lays out a bold, compassionate plan for closing the gap between rich and poor.

The things you do:

I spotted this over at Make.

“Canoe” by Canadian artist Peter Fleming is a 20 foot long trough of water resembling a canoe where a gunwale tracking mechanism endlessly paddles forward and back inside the boat. The entire piece is solar powered and was originally built from aluminum, gussets, and bolts so that it was fully collapsible. Check out the link below for some video clips of it in action.

It really is a gem.

Also from Make is the Victorian Star Trek (Victorian era NOT place). Photoshopped portraits of the original Enterprise crew as Victorian Steam Punkers.


Andrea L spotted this one and sent it in. Get some practice in before heading to the great outdoors over the holidays.

Kalene C sent in this.

“I feel sad that i only spotted this yesterday. I could have done all of my shopping here.


Kalene “

My fave was the House Selling Kit. that would be me though.

Jools sent along a few items for your consideration

First up The Google Street View Prank

Next there was this one

“Man I’d love try this, but I’m not brave enough.

Love Jools

Then there was this – a plethora of tiny R2D2’s.

“Deep beep, blink wooo.

Love, Jools

and we will finish with this one

“A MMI I think.

Love, Jools

duggup has finished up for the year (we are taking a short break). Jools and I both did a highlights post. There really was some fine music around this year. Stroll over to and have a look.

Flash Game Time: It’s Christmas and if you are working through, have I got a game for you. I mean what do else do you get for the person who has everything. Yep that’s right “WORLD DOMINATION”

Travian is in the same vein as say “Civilization” or “Empire Earth” but there is no install, it just lives in the browser. This lets you play it at work or on the go.

So , you register, pick a server and then they give you one week to build up your resources before the attacks start. This is important because it takes time to build up wheat, wood, clay and iron production. It takes around 3 minutes to upgrade a wheat field in the early levels so to get your empire up and running takes more than just a few minutes.

It’s one of those great games to keep running in the background so you can start a wheat field or building upgrade, and then move on to something else on your to-do list for a few minutes.

Yes this will take more time than the normal fare we put up, but hey if you are working over the hols, you have time?

More info here

Game here

Have a good Christmas and a Great New Year.


{Currently listening: Richie Havens and Dead Can Dance. }
{Currently reading: Lewis Hyde – Trickster Makes This World. this is just fab stuff}
{Quick Status Check: Hell, it really that close to Christmas}
{Crop Circle Status: Move along, still nothing to see here ’til next year }


Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20081201

Lego Cash Register
The Spirit Of Christmas


OK, it’s December and that means that Christmas is now officially looming. Yes, I know that they have been selling Chrissy stuff on tele since Easter (remember only 130 days to get your chocolate eggs), but me I like to wait until December.

Last year I waited until the week before Christmas to send out the “really crass commercial Last Minute Gift Ideas”. A few of you suggested that I should do this a bit earlier, like BEFORE the shopping season really kicks into high gear, to give you all a chance.

So just like last year, once again lets consider stuff. We all have tons of stuff, and if this Christmas runs true to form we are all about to get tons of NEW stuff. (Jools could use a new MX5 if you have one lying around)

Stuff per se isn’t bad (although if you looked at what I carry about on a daily basis in my messenger bag. you would be appalled), here is the late George Carlin’s priceless routine on “STUFF”.

Excerpt: A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. You can see that when you’re taking off in an airplane. You look down, you see everybody’s got a little pile of stuff. All the little piles of stuff. And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn’t want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff. They always take the good stuff. They never bother with that crap you’re saving. All they want is the shiny stuff. That’s what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get…more stuff!

Here is a Youtube video (Language Warning – Not Safe For Work. seriously USE THE HEADPHONES)

Here we go with the serious stuff.

One of my clients, the International Women’s Development Agency is promoting a great idea for you last minute shoppers (note how I casually implied that I am not a last minute shopper myself. I can see some of you rolling on the floor laughing as I type this).

The idea is that you give them some money, they give some women in a developing country stuff and you get to nominate the friend who doesn’t get the stuff but gets the warm feeling of having done good without actually doing anything. It’s like “Blame” but in reverse.

Seriously though, I have worked with these people for about eight years now. They are a non-profit organisation and they do make a difference for women and their communities in Asia and the Pacific.

Here is an example, $45 purchases stationery for 20 women in remote rural villages in East Timor to participate in literacy and numeracy classes. You receive an email card to send to the recipient of your gift. Low carbon foot print, the planet wins, the women win and believe it or not you win. (face it $45 wont buy a decent Single Malt… or even a bad one when I think about it)

Confused? Go to and IWDA will explain it in English (rather than the gibberish I type)

Hmmm. So you actually want to give stuff, no problem. How about music? (c’mon you knew I was going to get music in here somewhere). First up lets go with music with words and stuff.

Ross Ryan has released his “The Difficult Third Compilation 1973 – 2008′”, it’s a 19track CD, with a couple of my personal favourites (Chaplin & Harlow, Postmark Paradise and the reason I bought a Ross Ryan album way back in the Seventies, “Empire Lady”. he doesn’t get it but I do). Now in a hysterical (to me at least) piece of synchronicity, Ross is also throwing in a bonus album called “Stuff” (how perfect is that). Head over to give him money and he will send you two CD’s.

Now some of you have children or nieces and nephews and are maybe looking for something for the kiddies (small kiddies, trust me on this – 8 year olds want a Wiii. Now that I mention it…..err ) Back to the small kids.

Andrea Rieniets is a singer/composer/performer who has plays a very nice guitar (Martin) and has a couple of albums worth of kids music. If the whole Hi 5 thing leaves you a bit “errr” have a look at Andrea’s stuff. She will even send you an apology for putting “Up In The Sky” into your permanent brain storage, this song is more infectious than Leslie Feist’s “1234”, it’s just aimed a younger audience, you’re just collateral damage.

Head over to and hit the order page.
(Disclosure: Jools is currently doing the new website for them and should be up by next weekend)

Back by popular demand.My Friend Ian (gloriously vilified once again this year) has an album that is magic.

Disclosure: I have a credit on the album as “Devils Advocate” which means I made “respectful” suggestions about the mixes and stuff. Also Jools has done a mashup video as a project for her course. It’s over at and uses Ian’s song “Love Is A Thief” as it’s music. The things you can do with a computer.

The album is called “Drifter” and you can check it out at or his MySpace site

Lastly, let’s consider a pressie for yourself, everyone knows that Christmas is the most stressful time of year. So why not pickup a CD of relaxing music to help you through the season. I have mentioned Bill Canty before (we agreed that we weren’t going to call him My Friend Bill. it was just silly). Bill has a ripper of a CD called “Elysian Peace”, that is perfect for this purpose. I find arguing with Bill about music almost as much fun (but that would be me).

Anyway back to the commercial realities …er Christmas suggestions. Head over to and have a listen to “Elysian Peace”, you know you are going to need it.

Now back to some more Non Stuff bits. These people won’t send you a card but they can use our support.

Creative Commons is an organisation that provides free tools that let musicians, authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use CC to change your copyright terms from “All Rights Reserved” to “Some Rights Reserved.”

They are a nonprofit organisation and like all free organisations need some bucks to keep going. Goto and have a read of where they are coming from.

Next up is Electronic Frontiers Australia.

Since 1994, on a shoestring budget and without business premises, EFA has led campaigns within Australia and overseas. Each year EFA spokespersons respond to hundreds of media and public enquiries about Internet regulation. Given the limited understanding of politicians and bureaucrats regarding Internet issues when EFA was formed in 1994, EFA can be justifiably proud of achieving a change in Government opinion in relation to censorship, ISP liability and telecommunications policies, and widespread support for EFA’s views among key stakeholders and the general public.

This year (and next) they are leading the push against the Australian Government’s “Great Australian Firewall” . Yep Kevin Rudd’s infatuation with the Chinese is about to get us The P*rn Proof Firewall (and it will be about as effective as the Rabbit Proof Fence), that’s right instead of getting rid of China’s censorship, the Oz government has decide to join in the party and put in place MANDATORY filtering. This particular piece of ‘policy” needs to be stopped, it is ill conceived, universally condemned and will slow up your internet access. Head to ,read about it and then slip the EFA a few bucks.. They are going to need them.

Last of the Non Stuff bits.

SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) is the name for a number of organized efforts to detect Extraterrestrial life. The general approach of SETI projects is to survey the sky to detect the existence of transmissions from a civilization on a distant planet, an approach widely endorsed by the scientific community as hard science.

There are a whole bunch of hassles in searching across the sky for a first transmission that could be characterised as intelligent (sort of leaves out Qustion Time at Parliament House), imagine trying to tune in 3RRR if the tuning dial was about a mile long and you didn’t know where they were on the dial. Now scale it up to looking for 3RRR by pointing an aerial at just the right place in the sky at just the right time.

Tricky huh?

They could use some money as the US government pulled their funding in 1994. Head over to

And consider slipping them a few bucks. Remember if SETI goes under how will the aliens find us? No More Crop Circles (horror). This is your chance to make a difference.

So there you have a few ideas for Christmas. Hopefully they are neither crass nor too commercial.

Thanks for reading, have a good silly season and make sure you are careful out there.

Remember Single Malts and moving anywhere don’t mix.

Have a good one


{Currently listening to: Lots and Lots of Warren Zevon. Christmas and Cynicism. Just a perfect mix}
{Currently reading: Lewis Hyde – Trickster Makes This World. Just awesome }
{Quick Status Check: Christmas Looming. crowds are already hell }
{Crop Circle Status: Move along, nothing to see here ’til next year }