Monday, May 29, 2006

Tim McGraw - I'm amazed by you

Every Time Our Eyes Meet,
There Is A Feelin Inside Me
It’s Almost More Than I Can Take
Baby When You Touch Me
I Can Feel How Much You Love Me
And It Just Blows Me Away
I’ve Never Been This Close To Anyone
Or Anything
I Can Hear your Thoughts, I Can See Your Dreams

I Dunno How You Do What You Do
I’m So In Love With You
It Just Keeps Getting Better
I Wanna Spend The Rest Of My life
With You By My Side
For Ever and Ever
Every Little Thing That You Do
Baby I’m Amazed By You

The Smell Of Your Skin
The Taste of your kiss
The Way You Whisper In The Dark
You’re Hair All Around Me
Baby You Surround Me
You Touch Every Place In My Heart
Oh..It Feels Like The First Time, Every Time
I Wanna Spend The Whole Night..In Your Eyes

I Dunno How You Do What You Do
I’m So In Love With You
It Just Keeps Getting Better
I Wanna Spend The Rest Of My life
With You By My Side
For Ever and Ever
Every Little Thing That You Do
Baby I’m Amazed By You

Every Little Thing That You Do
I’m So In Love With You
And It Just Keeps Getting Better
I Wanna Spend The Rest Of My Life
With You By My Side
For Ever And Ever
Every Little Thing That You Do
Every Little Thing That You Do

Baby I’m Amazed By You…

Friday, May 26, 2006

New Scientist Tech - Breaking News - Physicists draw up plans for real 'cloaking device'

New Scientist Tech - Breaking News - Physicists draw up plans for real 'cloaking device'

It's not quite the cloaking technology in Star Trek. This makes use of optical properties of special materials, wheras the Klingons and their friends tightly packed and modulated energy fields to achieve a similar result.

I think the closest thing to this in Trek is the genetically enhanced agents of the Suliban Cabal. Their colour-changing skin and biomimetic garments are not sophisticated enough to produce the kinds of effects we see in the show... but some crazy optical properties would do the trick.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sure you did...

It amazes me how some people will try to get away with things.

We have one user who is a habitual offender… she is, to put it bluntly, incompetent. I know this because it took four of us a week and a half to train her on how to use the system. It’s a badly designed and unnecessarily complicated user interface, and very different to what she was accustomed to, but everyone else had cottoned onto the basics after 2 days. Even the stupid ones.

One of the problems with our system, although some people see it as a selling point, is that it is not at all forgiving of user error. One slip of the finger can easily, and frequently does, undo hours of work. All the rest of the users have come to terms with this, and have become far more meticulous and disciplined in their work – which is why it was a selling point.

Sure, they all make mistakes from time to time, but they’re all (but one) fully prepared to admit their error when it happens, and, albeit reluctantly, will redo their work. They mumble and groan, and log unnecessary support calls to deal with their frustration, but they deal with it.

But this user is something else.

Even though we are able to track her every action on the system, and are able to see precisely what she has done, and when she did it, she remains adamant that she does nothing wrong. She concocts elaborate fantasies about other users usurping her login details and sabotaging her work. (I wouldn’t blame them if they did, but the system’s logs clearly show that nothing of the sort happened).

She frequently (on a daily basis) comes to my desk (as opposed to following the proper support call logging procedure) with issues that have arisen. She is unable to do something… and upon investigation, I can see that she has already done it, but incorrectly – user error.

Upon seeing the activity logs on my screen, the rest of the users will sigh and shuffle off to their desks to go and make up for their stupid, but perfectly normal, mistake. But not Mrs. B.

“I did not do it!” she will demand.
“I aborted, I did not confirm. Are you saying that if I abort it will happen anyway?” she will continue to argue.

This is usually followed by a detailed explanation of the correct process, accompanied by a demonstration in the test environment. She will always insist that she followed the process precisely, despite the fact that I can prove otherwise.

Why, when confronted by irrefutable evidence, will deluded people and liars refuse to deviate from their positions? Is their cognitive bias so overpowering that they would sacrifice dignity and the respect of their peers rather than admit their fault?

It's not as if she has anything to gain by denying it. She won't get into trouble for a simple error. No matter how upset she gets, there's nothing we can do to fix it. Why expend all that energy and waste all that time?


Monday, May 22, 2006


This weekend, while doing something completely unrelated, something sank in: a way of looking at science I hadn't seen before. I had been aware of it at a logical level, but I didn't really grasp it until now.

Science is not, nor could it be, a search for ultimate truth. Truth doesn't exist, all that exists is an infinite number of parallel, but separate, relative perspectives. That which we percieve as "truth" is nothing more than a commonality, a golden thread, that ties those perspectives together and allows each of us to exist in the same space-time with a practically similar conceptualisation of the world around us.

That's old news. This is the new bit.

While I've seen science as a method by which we eliminate the impossible, this was in contrast with my belief in the concept of IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations) which basically says that in an infinite universe, all things can, and will, happen.

According to IDIC, nothing is impossible. So how can science be a process of eliminating impossible things if none exist? Here is the crux of my cognitive dissonance.

Then it occurred to me that perhaps I was using too strict a definition for the word 'impossible'. I've always taken it to mean that if something is impossible, it cannot ever, under any circumstances, in this or any other place or time, happen.

Perhaps it's more a case of the probability of something being infanitessimally small... quasistatic.

Let me put it this way: if you draw a line between two points, that line is composed of an infinite number of points, each of zero size. If you were to choose one at random, each point's chances of being chosen would be 1/infinity = 0. However, the chances of a point being chosen is 1/1 = 1. One point will definitely be chosen, even if its chances of being chosen were zero.

So, in an infinite universe, everything will happen at least once, even if it is impossible - by force of sheer probability. And that's the key word: probability.

Science's job is to examine the observable universe and determine the probabilities of things happening. If something has a sufficiently high probability of happening (like an apple falling to the ground, as opposed to flying sideways and spontaneously turning into a salmon) it can be used to determine a "law", like gravity. Those laws aren't absolute, but they're pretty darn close to it.

The probability of an apple flying sideways and turning into a salmon is pretty low... I'd say zero. That's what science would tell us. But, at some point, somewhere in the universe, at least once, an apple will fly sideways and turn into a salmon. It's a probable certainty.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Minicon Watch

For those of you who are interested, this is the site you need to be watching for updates on the Star Trek convention I’m helping to organise.

See you there!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Friday, May 05, 2006

I hate phones

That might sound odd considering that I’m surgically attached to my cellphone. But it’s true.

Not so strange if you consider that my phone is a Nokia 6680 Series 60 smartphone with a full suite of PDA functionality including text, email and IM capability; web browsers (plural); media player; two cameras; word processor; spreadsheet; PDF reader and some nifty games. Although I use it often, I seldom use it for actually calling anyone.

When people call me, especially if it’s from a “Private Number” or a number I don’t recognize, I usually won’t answer it. That’s what my voicemail is for. And if they leave a message, I’ll consider calling them back.

I’m seriously considering implementing a policy of not answering it at all unless it’s Heidi.

Even though I have a well-practiced and solid phone manner, when I choose to, I just don’t enjoy speaking to people on the phone. It’s difficult to hear what they’re saying because the sound quality is crap and there are no lips to read. It’s generally uncomfortable.

If the conversation is about details that I am required to remember, it annoys me even more – why should I write down that number or address? Why don’t you write it down, since you already know what it is, and send me the text? I offer multiple channels through which I can receive text-based communication on my mobile device (I have decided to no longer address my 6680 as a “phone” as the term is insulting). It’s not difficult. So why must I mission to find something to write your details down on?

The way I see it, if you have no recorded proof of having given me information, you can assume that I don’t have it. Voice conversations are an inefficient means of communication.

Efficiency isn’t always the sole criteria upon which a communication method is measured. I admit it’s nice to hear Heidi’s voice on the phone sometimes, and I’m looking forward to the day when I’ll be able to video-call her when we’re both stuck in traffic on our respective morning commutes.

But when it comes to transmitting information in a precise, integral and reliable way, or when speed is required, the phone-call is only slightly better than smoke-signals on the scale.

Why… WHY WHY WHY will my project manager pick up a phone and call me to ask me to come to his desk so he can read me an email off the screen of his computer? WHY WHY WHY?

The telephone has its uses, but they are few. Telephone conversations are about as valuable as those “meetings” that stretch on for hours and serve no purpose other than to inhibit the productivity of those involved. In the words of an ex-boss of mine “It’s about as useful as tits on a bull.”

So, consider this a notification: If you want to get hold of me, don't bother calling. IM me, email me or SMS me and you'll get a response.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Warp Drive - Popular Science

The Warp Drive - Popular Science

Funny they can go into so much detail about the Warp Drive without mentioning the name Star Trek once.

But for those of you interested to know how Trek's Warp Drive works, here's a nice, relatively simplistic, explanation of it.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

6 months

This photo may look familiar to some of my regular readers… it closely resembles this one.

The first of these two was taken several minutes after Hide officially became my girlfriend. That was six months (and two days) ago.

The past six months have been the longest, and the shortest six months of my life.

Longest, because in that time I’ve come to feel like we’ve been together forever. I can scarcely remember a time when we weren’t together. And I can’t imagine a life, or a future without her.

Shortest, because it still sometimes takes me by surprise… I can’t believe my luck in finding her. I still don’t know how I managed to persuade her to be my girlfriend.

I am the luckiest man alive. I love you, babi.