The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Fiddling with the mouse in TheBroth

Saturday 4 August 2007 at 11:35 pm

Screenshot of

So a few weeks ago I received an e-mail from Markus Weichselbaum, who runs a collaborative art site called TheBroth out of an office in Leederville. I’m surprised I didn’t hear about these guys sooner: their site is not half bad and their users make some very fancy pictures. There’s even a puzzle generator that scores as yet another pointless-but-entertaining way to burn time in a Web browser ;-)

The most geeky-cool part about the site’s technology is the extent to which it’s publicly documented on their blog — revealing, for instance, that they use amfphp for RPC and PHP-GD to generate images (just like my xkcd map mashup).

More impressive, though, is the community that the site’s got — it seems quite active and tight-knit on the level of a LiveJournal or a DeviantArt. And indeed that’s the direction in which I see the site developing over time (assuming no dramatic changes): building a not-enormous but enthralled niche user base.

At times the advertising feels a bit garish in comparison to the images, and it can take some determination to get stuck into one of the tile mosaics (that being the older of the two drawing styles they offer). Also, I’d love to see an embeddable game widget so y’all could contribute to a mosaic here on this page. But it still puts to shame lots of other online graphics services, like the little Facebook toy I recently put together (which focusses on communication rather than collaboration, and uses Apple’s canvas tag rather than Flash even though the latter is the better graphics platform).

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Sculptures, fluoro lamps, and foreign policy

Wednesday 21 February 2007 at 6:33 pm

I am disorganised, which means it’s time for another potpourri list.

[Sculptures at Werribee Park, near Melbourne]

  • This is a cool idea and probably worth supporting. The report in yesterday’s West Australian says it’d be an “Australian first”, which hardly sounds right — I took the photos above in a similar sculpture park in Werribee, Victoria.
  • Valé Elizabeth Jolley. Tis always a shame when an author on my “need to read more of” list passes away …
  • Good ol’ IMDB finally has a new design. About freakin’ time.
  • The Federal Government’s plan to outlaw incandescent globes is a bit of a shock and reeks horribly of taking an easy political target just to seem clean and green. It’s a good measure, to be sure, and should prompt innovation among fluoro manufacturers, but it’s not the panacea that it’s being talked up to be. The thing with most ‘environmentally friendly’ technologies is that they’re a case of lesser of two evils — and in this case, compact fluoros are filled with mercury, thus creating a bunch of disposal headaches. It’s a manageable problem, of course, but one that needs to be considered when saying things like “800 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide saved”.
  • Since I don’t exactly have a copy of The Diplomat in my back pocket, I can’t read the exact words of Kevin Rudd as he was reported last week. Apparently he is interested in being both an ally and constructive critic of US policy, which reminds me of a Kim Beazley speech I heard some years back: “Australia should be the friend America needs, not the friend America wants”. But he also talks about APEC and seems to criticise John Howard for supporting the East Asia Summit. I’m commenting on fragmented quotes, but he may be quite wrong, since APEC has thoroughly lost its way. His talk of revitalising APEC is good, as long as it involves reform, but I doubt it’s achievable — the Sydney meetings are straight before the election. As for the EAS, Howard deserves congratulations (not criticism) for representing Australia at a meeting that has much better prospects for earning long-term relevance.

Bored people + Coke = ?

Monday 5 September 2005 at 9:21 pm

I went to a few parties last weekend, what with it being the first break from assignments I’ve had in a while. Some hosts gave their visitors more idle time, and more Coke cans, than others.

Artwork with a Coke can