The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

More Olympic news out of China

Tuesday 24 June 2008 at 3:01 pm
  • The stories coming out of last weekend’s torch run in Tibet are more than a little scary. Imagine the officials’ thoughts: let’s throw a whole city into military lockdown so a few journalists can photograph a bunch of people artificially placed to perform “cultural displays”! I fear this bodes ill for the actual games in August.
  • Meanwhile, the Japanese military was able to send a ship to China today with (a token amount of) earthquake relief. This, I think, signifies the surprisingly quick improvement in relations between the two powers in the last few months, and I hope it serves as a foundation for future progress rather than being trampled over in another petty disagreement.
  • People continue to talk recession in the US, but I suspect there’s little to worry about in the eastern hemisphere: witness the deal cut in Shanghai recently whereby the price of Pilbara iron ore will jump more than 90% next year.
  • Unrelatedly: a Google ad recently took me to this page from my area’s wholesale water supplier. It was making a valiant effort to get people to abandon bottled water for the tap! If only social pulls and slick corporate marketing could so easily be countered.
  • While it’s true I’ve been taken by American sports of late (I was at a baseball game last weekend! and the between-innings entertainment was cool!), I still feel entitled to an answer: WTF, 135 points?!
  • And in the “hooray for other Australians educating Americans before I get to them” department: one of my housemates asked me about Tim Tams today :-)

Not your average mural!

Saturday 14 June 2008 at 3:10 pm

Invisible Bike lolcat on Quincy St, San Francisco

It was only a few hours after I’d gone for a walk along Montgomery Street in San Francisco (heading back from the Bay to Breakers street party). The intarwebs had amazed me again! Thirty-six hours earlier, and barely fifty metres away, a bunch of people far more awesome than myself painted the back of a derelict building.

With a lolcat.

So when I had a chance to go photo-walking last weekend, I had only one target in mind :-)

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WWDC delivers … no suprises

Tuesday 10 June 2008 at 6:20 am

3G iPhone? I’m underwhelmed. Steve Jobs was going on about how much faster it is than 2G EDGE and how five hours of battery life is amazing … and while that’d probably wow an American audience, the rest of us have had phones that can beat that for years.

(At least it speaks HSDPA as well as UMTS — which is to say that in places such as, oh, Perth, it’ll work on faster networks like Telstra Next G.)

But that said, GPS that neatly integrates with Google Maps is pretty cool.


On the streets of Long Beach, California

Tuesday 10 June 2008 at 6:14 am

Metro Blue Line light rail at 1st Street, Long Beach, CA

Americans don’t use the word “tram”. I find this horribly disconcerting.


Budgets and Asian disasters and work and parties

Monday 9 June 2008 at 6:16 pm

So I have been naughty and working too hard, quite apart from being naughty with respect to this blog. Although we did squeeze out a new Lichen version a fortnight ago, and if or when things finish up at the day job I do believe the next version of Azureus will be sweet.

Some of the things I’ve been wanting to write about:

  • Oh how the honeymoon has come crashing down for the Ruddster and his peeps! First there was the Federal Budget, which was generally sensible but reeked of compromise in every direction (that, and an unhealthy obsession with Costello-style future funds). Then we have inflation egad, public sector overworking oh my, and premix tax eeek! But it’s okay: they had pictures of troops leaving Iraq to distract the masses.
  • Speaking of Budgets, WA’s was remarkably unremarkable given it’s what Carps will be calling an election on. I mean, sure there are billions being splashed about for infrastructure and whatnot, but that kind of announcement is kinda getting old. (Then again, I’ve documented enough times how poor the field is.)
  • It amuses me how much sound and fury has been generated by the plan for a national version of FuelWatch. Surely the logic should be simple: did it work in WA? if so, implement! … just like the other State policies that went national (TravelSmart, Go For 2 & 5, and others; WA actually does have a reasonably inventive bureaucracy. Not to say FuelWatch is perfect, but having foresight does make us all feel better).
  • If Burma’s military leaders were a little less skilled at crushing dissent, they’d probably have riotous mobs demanding their heads for the latest in a long line of cock-ups. Alas, they’re not, and so their country has become even more of a mess than it was. Compare the Chinese government, who have done a far better job handling their natural disaster — not to say the Communist Party are any good at logistics, but at least they didn’t get unfriendly headlines before the Olympics.
  • Onto less weighty matters: may I briefly say, I deeply dislike the new Google favicon? It doesn’t look Google-ey at all, making it that much harder to find searches amongst twenty browser tabs …
  • The WordPress party of two weeks ago was fun! There was schwag from Automattic! I met people from such diverse places as Connecticut and Sweden! And there were many more ladies than your average geek event ;-)
  • This, I think, is hilarious — who’da thunk a metro ride could be so rowdy! And it reminds me of how weird it (still) seems to see people downing beer on trains here, while the staff walk past not caring.
  • Although, speaking of, I felt sorry for the girl across from me on the last Caltrain service out of San Francisco after the WordPress party, whose parents were going off at her on the phone for riding the train; apparently nice girls don’t do that sort of thing …