More Dispatches from the IT Frontline

Well, here I am at work again, sneaking an entry during my lunch break. The network problem still perists, but we’ve installed some modems and are running through various dial up accounts just to keep the business afloat. It seems the problem isn’t with the ADSL modem after all, it’s those mon qâban down at Telstra who apparently decided yesterday that we didn’t need an ADSL enabled phone line anymore.

Without asking us.

And they can’t fix it till tomorrow.

išqá ná!

(It’s great having your own language to swear in, no one can tell how rude you’re being :D)

Dispatches from the IT Frontline

Well this is fun.

It’s 1:17pm and I’m sitting in the office at work doing nothing. Well, obviously I’m not doing nothing, I’m writing a weblog entry. But the point is I’m not doing work. And why is that? Because our ADSL modem has suddenly decided not to talk to the network and we therefore have absolutely no access to the web. Great.

To resolve this situation we need to get the network guys in. Unfortunately the network guys are pretty expensive, so we need permission from one of the higher ups to call them, and both the higher ups are incommunicado at the moment. So we’re stuck twidling our thumbs waiting for them to make contact. And it’s extremely frustrating.

I did have some work I could do without web access, but I started at 7:15 this morning so I’ve finished it all (or at least as much of it as I can stomach for now, offline work being tediously dull) leaving me with nothing to do. So I’ve taken myself off the clock and am just sitting here fielding any phone calls that come in (I’m the only one here at the moment so I can hardly go home and leave them ringing can I?). I wouldn’t mind this situation so much because there’s plenty of stuff I could do on my own projects – except that really need net access for all of them, and if I had net access I would have to do real work instead. It’s a kind of Catch-22. Or at least a Catch-18.5.

So I’m writing a weblog entry that I shall probably end up burning to CD and uploading from home tonight. That’s modern technology for you.

In any case I suppose I should mention some of the spectacularly dull stuff I’ve been up to over the last few weeks of non-blogging.

Well, for a start there was the Spooked 2: The Sequel opening at the Fremantle Arts Centre on Halloween, which I attended with Rebecca and Dom. I don’t know if it’s still running, but if it is I recommend everyone go, because it’s pretty damn good. Rather than sticking the works in some boring gallery space they’ve scattered them around the Arts Centre and Museum, so you basically have to go hunting to find them all, which made the opening much more entertaining than these things usually are (well, OK I suppose they’re enormously entertaining if you’re the kind of person who likes standing around and socialising *shudder*, but this is me we’re talking about). There were a few short speeches, but they were livened up by the second speaker delivering his in a rubber demon mask. That doesn’t sound hugely entertaining, but it turned out that the eye holes were rather small and he kept having to adjust the mask and hold his notes up to his face in order to read them. This really didn’t help much and he kept losing his place, which made everybody laugh, which made him laugh, which made it even harder for him to try and read them. It was great!

I must pause here and make mention of two notable foodstuffs presented for consumption at the opening. The first were barbequed bat wings. People seemed to think they were chicken wings, but the labels on the trays definately marked them as bat wings, and I hardly think the Fremantle Arts Centre would lie to us. The second were a very weird combination of liquorice cats and cheese on toothpicks. I can see the liquorice cats – to fit in with the general Spooked/Halloween ambience – and I can see the cheese – since that’s what you normally have on toothpicks – but together? That I cannot see. Very few brave souls were willing to eat them together, the rest of us ate the cats, then the cheese. Or possibly the other way round.

But back to the exibition. My favourite pieces (both by the same artist, who seems to have something of a rodent obsession) were a giant (like 2 metres tall at the back) rat made out of strips of cardboard cunningly glued together basketwork style, and the Mousemen. The Mousemen were thirteen small bronze scultures of mice with human faces hidden around the museum. And when I say ‘hidden around’ I mean actually inside the exibits and display cases. Naturally you had to find them all and it quickly turned into a treasure hunt with groups of people racing around the museum trying to spot them before anyone else did.

(Just a tip for if the exibit’s still on and you go to see it. The rat halfway up the wall in the end room is a real stuffed rat – part of one of the museum’s exibits – and not a Mouseman. It had us fooled for quite a while).

After the opening we (myself, Rebecca and Dom – I did mention they were there right?) went out for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant where the service was a bit dodgy, but the food was pretty good. So, overall not a bad night.

Well, apart from one thing. Lyndah was there (naturally) and thanks to the general social terror resultant from knowing she was going to be there I basically managed to ignore her for the entire night. Even when we were standing right next to each other and it would have been appropriate (no, not appropriate – damn well socially requisite) to say hi. No doubt she thought me apallingly rude. Well done me!

(That last comment is meant to be ironic, just in case I need to point that out)

So that was the Spooked 2 opening.

Rather than make my way home I spent the night at Rebecca and Dom’s. I could have slept in the Gigantic Bed Of Doom, but elected for the smaller Bed of Slight Ominouscity beneath it.

The next morning (it was Monday but I’d arranged to take the day off) I got up early and got a lift from Dom (on his way to work) down to the old South Fremantle Power Station, which I intended to photograph for Abandoned in Perth.

Let me just say that the place is awesome. A gigantic, abandoned industrial building right by the sea. There’s $5,000 fines for going inside but even just from the outside it’s incredible. And it’s not like there’s any decent security to stop you getting inside, if you’re so inclined. I believe it’s pretty amazing in there – a big area of it’s bricked off but there are two gigantic turbine halls that you can just wander into and that have to be seen to be believed. Or so I’m informed by reliable sources ;-D

After SFPS I headed up to the old ANI Engineering works – another abandoned site by the sea that Dom had pointed out the previous day. Getting in was pretty easy and although it’s much smaller and much less impressive than the power station it’s still full of fittings and equipment and stuff, which makes exploration more interesting. There did seem to be a bit of asbestos around though, so precautions should be taken.

I ended the day’s urban infiltration by squeezing out through the padlocked main gates in full view of dozens of people in the South Beach car park, all of whole completely ignored me. Possibly they thought I was some kind of bad-ass urban guerilla or something and didn’t want any trouble πŸ˜€

After that I caught a bus into the city and had a leisurely mid-morning Coke watching the waves at Bather’s beach (it was still only 9:30am). Then I got a train home. There were a few other sites in Freo I had planned to visit, but I was lugging around way too much in my backpack (mainly good clothes from the previous night that I didn’t want to wreck crawling around derelict factories) and was already pretty worn out. I’ll hit them next time I guess.

OK, it’s 2:30 and one of the higher ups has arrived and is calling the network guys. Who knows, I may be able to post this from work after all.

The weekend after my Fremantle adventure I ended up going to the Scitech Discovery Centre with Ryan, Fabian and Fabian’s son Jayden (I tell you it’s scary when your friends from high school start having kids – makes you feel so damn old). For those unfamilar with it, Scitech is a hands on science education centre for kids full of entertaining equipment to play with – like electromagnets that hurl chunks of metal across the room, parabolic cones that allow you to talk to people 50 metres away without raising your voice and hand cranked generators that give you painful electric shocks. It’s great! It’s one of those places where you drag a small child along as an excuse and then run around playing with everything yourself.

The big exibit at the moment (or back then anyway – they change them every few months) is all about forensics, and lets you pretend to be a CSI investigating a suspcious death at a wildlife park. This was great – not only did it give me an excuse to go striding about authoratively saying things like “The victim’s wallet hasn’t been tampered with so we can rule out robbery as a motive”, but I could pretend I work with Jorja Fox πŸ˜‰

We ended up correctly fingering the perpetrators, but got the sequence of events mixed up. This was down to skipping some of the autopsy evidence (we were bit pressed for time) which turned out to crucial to the case. Jorja Fox would have been ashamed of us πŸ™‚

We also managed to take in an IMAX film about Mars. It wasn’t anything stunning, but was quite informative, particularly about Beagle II. It was sadly obvious that they’d made the film just before Beagle II was due to land and then had to go back and try and rework it at the last minute when it failed. It was actually quite funny in a sad way – the voice over (which sounded a lot like Dame Judy Dench) talked all about how the probe was a triumph for Europe’s space program, and how it was going to carry out all kinds of fantastic experiments with all sorts of fancy equipment, then had a little bit pasted in at the end explaining that even though the landing was a complete disaster it was still a triumph for Europe. Hmmm, don’t know that too many people in the theatre were convinced πŸ™‚

Oh, and before the movie there was a 15 minute planitarium show run by a girl whose self admitted chief pleasure in life was making the sky zoom round and round at ridiculous speed until the audience feels ill. I wholly support this outlook and think there should be much more of this kind of thing in science education πŸ™‚

Hmmm, have I been up to much else? Probably not. Silver Sun (or rather the last few minutes of episodes I manage to catch now and then) continues to get even more ridiculous. Last night there was apparently a nearby supernova explosion which inacountably didn’t destroy the ship – it just made it really really hot. It seems they were able to prevent the settlers in cryogenic suspension from thawing out by making them spin around – a scientific principle we simple folk of the early 2000s are yet to discover (but one that should revolutionise the frozen food industry). There also seem to be vicious love triangles breaking out all over the place – serves the powers that be right for cooping twelve people up in a spaceship with no access to outsiders for ninety years. I mean did they do psychological testing to make sure everyone would be able to find a suitable partner on board? Ninety years is a damn long time to spend with the same 11 people. They’ll be ‘accidently’ thawing settlers out just to have someone new to talk to by the end, I can guarantee it. Idiots. I could so run their space program for them so much more efficiently ;-D

Anyway, that’ll do me for now. Better see if I can find a way to do some real paid work…

The Continuing Errors of the ABC

Over the last few weeks I’ve been heading into work early a fair bit. No particular reason, I’ve just been in the mood. This has meant that when 4:00pm rolls around I’ve had the choice of working some extra time (and getting paid more) or going home early. Some days I’ve worked through, others I’ve scarpered.

On the days that I’ve scarpered I’ve generally got home at about 5:15. Just about the first thing I’ve done (after dumping my bag on the floor and turning on the lights) is turn on the TV so I won’t get distracted and forget to turn it on at 6:00 for Doctor Who (hey -I freely admit I have no life OK? *g*). This has resulted in me catching a fair bit of a new ABC science fiction show which I shall now blather on about.

The show is apparently called Silver Sun and is set in the 2050’s aboard a spacecraft taking a bunch of cryogenically frozen settlers to a new solar system. For no apparent reason (apart from that it’s squarely aimed at the teen market) most of the crew are whining teenagers (actually it might be something to do with the voyage taking 90 years so they want to start the crew off as young as possible, but let’s not let inconvenient facts get in the way shall we?). There are four or so adults on board, but one of them (glorifying in the title of ‘Commander Cyriax’) has been possessed by a space slug, so he probably doesn’t count. Oh and there’s two younger kids, no doubt intended to capture pre-teen viewers and keep them hooked until they move into the main demographic.

So that’s the set up. What I’ve seen so far of the plot and characterisation are pretty much what you’d expect for a show aimed at 14 year olds – I could write paragraphs on the bad science alone – but I’m still pretty impressed. Mostly by the sets, costumes and special effects. They’re actually fairly good. When I was growing up ABC science fiction was generally on a par with Plan 9 From Outer Space, but this show seems to have a budget totaling more than $2.50. And it’s harmless enough when there’s nothing else on – the end theme by itself is worth a listen, some manager in their late 30’s obviously thought that mid-90’s chipmunk techno is what the young people are rockin’ out to these days πŸ™‚

But the main point of this rant is to poke fun at the ABC website department. In an attempt to figure out what the hell I was actually watching (since I’ve never caught more than the last half) I went over to I found the appropriate section easily enough, Silver Sun seems to be one of their flagship shows at the moment, and while poking around the site found the episode guide. And while browsing this episode guide I noticed something rather interesting…

OK, the guide (obviously) has a listing for every episode, but only the ones that have actually screened are activated as links. Clicking on one of these takes you to a plot synopsis of the episode on a separate page. And the really interesting thing is that these synopsis pages are numbered sequentially…

Naturally I had to try and see if the future synopsis pages are available by bumping up the number in the page name, and sure enough, they are! You can view the plot of every single upcoming episode of Silver Sun by the simple expedient of tweaking the number in the URL. Spoiler city! Well done ABC! πŸ˜€

So yeah, basic rule of web design. Don’t upload anything you don’t want people to see, because insouciant provocateurs (such as myself) will inevitably find it πŸ˜‰

Hmmm, before I go I’ll do a quick music round up. House of Cards by Dollar Bar, great tune with some relatively clever lyrics. You Lot by Orbital, great sample. I’m Gonna Haunt You by Fabienne De Sol – bluesy spooky cool, a lot like a Shivaree track. Chicken Payback by the Bees – complete and utter stupidity but fun stupidity. Mickey Mouse Mofo by Mocky, again clever lyrics, although with an obvious language advisory for those who are sensitive to these things πŸ™‚

(Given that I was only able to find lyrics for one of those – if you can call a sample a “lyric” – I think I’ll have to transcribe them myself *sigh*)

All aboard the Apocalypse Express!

What is wrong with people? First Howard gets re-elected here, then George Dubya in the states. Actually I know what’s wrong – people are freakin’ idiots with only limited capacity for independent thought, making it impossible for them to consider any idea or issue beyond their own immediate petty scope or experience. Democracy is a fine idea – apart from the bit about giving any slack jawed idiot the vote.

So, four more years of American arrogance, jingoism, militarism and short-sightedness on just about every issue that matters. Enjoy western civilisation while you can people – with GWB running the show I have a feeling it might not be around very much longer.

#Oh say can you see? By the dawn’s early light! What so proudly…..#

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