Impending birthday

I’m turning older next month and a few people have asked what I might be interested in receiving as a present. There isn’t much that I want and either don’t already have or could reasonably expect as a gift, so I’m asking people to donate to any of the organisations below.

Humanitarian aid, environmental protection, and conservation:

Free software and information:

If you really can’t resist the urge to get me something else, I have a brief list of things after the jump.

Continue reading “Impending birthday”

Mech Commander games available for download

Mech Commander, Mech Commander Gold, and Mech Commander 2 are available for download from I found out about it from this article at via reddit.

I sort of remember Jim mentioning that Mech Warrior was high on his list of the greatest games of all time. How does Mech Commander rate?

Note: I can’t tell if it is legal or not. If not, it’s very… brazen.

The future of internet television?

It’s clear that there is a move towards streaming video hosting on the internet, and I’m rather interested in where it’s all headed. I have a few predictions and I relate them to television. It’s a very different medium (to television) but the television licensing model is the closest system to base it on.

The following seems likely to me:

  • YouTube pays royalties or licensing fees to host content, effectively becoming a world-wide “free-to-air” television station sponsored by advertising. Is this already happening with their pursuit of music video licensing?
  • Some other websites operate subscription services or pay-per-view becoming online “cable” television stations. This model didn’t work out so well (before YouTube), and might be restricted to live events (like sports). People won’t pay for something they feel confident of finding for free elsewhere (with little effort).
  • Independent media and amateur video makers migrate to profit sharing sites like Revver. Ask a Ninja has already mentioned that this is an easier way to monetize an internet show.
  • Sites like VideoSift remain as a sort of online “television guide”. Increasingly important as visiting single sites (like YouTube) can limit the amount of media you might find.
  • For people interested in simple free hosting or promotion, YouTube and Google Video remain good options. As Google video automatically (?) grabs videos, it may run into more copyright concerns than YouTube or similar which put the onus of responsibility on the video submitter.

Another prediction that might change the way things progress: a large multi-format media company (like Fox) screws over an amateur video maker by exercising their royalty-free license and profiting from use of a popular internet video in their larger media (television) network.

What is up with housing? (Rant)

Housing prices have been going through the roof. The reserve bank recently increased interest rates. Now the housing industry is advising that another rate increase is a bad idea. That’s just a quick list of recent events, but what does it all mean?

What’s behind it all?

Established people are buying investment properties using money borrowed against their current property. Demand is high and they are competing with people who want to buy somewhere to live. The government provides a first home buyers grant to help prospective owners compete in the market. Arguably a positive gesture, but it fails to offset rapid price inflation. Many people can’t get into the housing market and end up renting.

What does it mean in the long run?

Maybe interest rates increase and people default on their loans and have to sacrifice their homes. A bunch of people lose out and spend their money paying off overseas banks, instead of spending their money here. That can’t be good for the economy. Would this really happen? Maybe the government will bail people out if it’s a widespread (vote affecting) problem.

Maybe people actually manage their loans by offsetting them against their real estate assets and a lot of people get rich. Of course this happens for the people buying investment properties, and not for the people buying their first home (who get stung by interest rate increases). One generation owns the majority of the land and subsequent generations are stuck in the rental market. Unless they get land via inheritance. Yay. Nouveau riche and a greater gap between rich and poor.

If the government has to choose between (high percentage of the voting population) baby boomers and (lower percentage of the voting population) later generations… well, someone is going to get screwed. Maybe a better preemptive move than the first home buyers grant would have been to increase taxes on speculative investment properties… but that wouldn’t have been popular with their demographic.

Is it wrong?

Is it ethical for people to own property that they don’t live in at the exclusion of others that need it? Especially when they can exploit the need (for housing) and (collectively) set a rental fee that is the maximum the underprivileged can tolerate?

Latest Ubuntu xorg-core update breaks Xorg

If you’re running Ubuntu, you might get an update notification for xorg-core. I’d advise not installing it. It broke Xorg on my computer and this seems to be a common problem.

The solution posted on the Ubuntu Forums is to downgrade the package:

sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-core=1:1.0.2-0ubuntu10

And then restarting X. It’s strange that an update to a core element resulted in such widespread problems. (You’d expect that they’d catch it before release.)


It was Heidi’s birthday last week and the present from one of her sisters was a pair of tickets to Eurobeat.

We went last night and it was really enjoyable. Although I think Heidi enjoyed it much more than I did. She’s really into Eurovision and Musicals… and this was sort of a combination of the two.

Conclusion: Recommended.

Read the rest of this post for a rundown of how the show goes. Continue reading “Eurobeat”

Trivia Tonight (!)

I’ve finally rescheduled from last time (when I was sick). Come along! Bring your friends!


  • Time/Date: 7:30pm, tonight (Thursday 10 August, 2006)
  • Location: The Moon and Six Pence, 300 Murray Street, Perth
  • Cost: Free entry! (You may want to buy dinner or a drink though)

I’ll be walking from home; stop by here by 6:30pm if you want to go in with me.

Castle Bundt

I bought Heidi a Nordic Ware castle bundt pan from Peters of Kensington. The product page begins with the lines:

Run for your lives! The Vikings are coming!

Don’t be afraid – these Nordic warriors aren’t here to burn down your homes. They’re here to help you make delicious cakes!

So I immediately knew that it was the right gift! (That and I saw Heidi checking it out online a few months ago). The day it arrived Heidi decided to make a cake (even though we only had 2 hours before we had to go out). She unwrapped the package, started mixing the ingredients, and got me to clean the pan:

An hour or so later, and it was done. Just in time for Tone to have some as well (he was giving me a ride). It was a chocolate cake:

The next cake she make looked more castle-like. It was… some sort of orange butter cake I think. Much lighter in colour, so the details stood out a bit more. No photo because it was eaten very quickly…

Update: The Nordic Ware website has a great picture of a castle bundt made to look like a sand castle.