Two posts in one day? Just some quick lists, anyway.

Five Great Things In The UK

On the other hand…

Oh, there are stickers on my bike now advertising my scooter travel site: I wonder if they’ll work, and if they do, why I bothered in the first place. It’s mostly a personal thing, but hopefully someone will get something out of it. Actually, typing that, they have. A researcher collecting odd toilet signs spotted the picture of the toilet in the youth hostel in Gent, but I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to find it. Oh all right, it’s somewhere on this Belgium page. Enjoy.

So it looks very much like my wifey and I will be buying a house in Mt Nebo. That’s a really, really exciting prospect: riding a scooter through those winding roads is what most of Brisbane’s biking population does at one point or another. If you want more details (and you know me) let me know and I’ll drop you a line. But yeah, there are still affordable pockets in Brisbane’s (Australia’s?) continuing real estate rush.

For this one, I get to thank Google, for connecting me to a small independent website at 2am. Mmm. Life becomes rose coloured when you realise you won’t have to deal with the selfishness of many London drivers or the sheep mentality of many London pedestrians for ever. There’s a silver lining, coming soon.

Meanwhile, we’re just back from a really good week in Cornwall with Mother-In-Law. (She’s had a lovely time, by the way.) If you go, don’t try to do too much, like we did. Needed another day of not doing much. Disappointed by The Eden Project, unfortunately. The buildings (biomes) are just beautiful, but up close they’re just greenhouses, with nothing super new. Kew Gardens is more interesting, because the surroundings are beautiful. Eden just isn’t yet, but it is young and has room to grow.

On the way back, we went to The Bath Arms in Crockerton, near Warminster (BA12 8AJ ). Definitely recommended for the excellent food (a chef from The Ivy), great prices and good real ale on tap. Also great is The Red Lion in (near) Kilmington which has fantastic atmosphere, fires, locals, walking sticks for sale, and lets you know what guest ale’s on now and coming next.

Just a few idle thoughts late at night on little sleep.

So computer games are getting faster, more fluid, more realistic. The last ten years have seen a huge improvement in the visual quality and complexity of games. Though development has slowed somewhat recently, we’re not far off being able to render Toy Story in real time. So, let’s assume that the technical stuff is beaten and the artistic stuff is good enough: in another ten or twenty years, we can simulate reality on our home machines. Effectively, we have our own Matrix.

What does online society do then? Do we all meet up online because we’re too afraid to meet in real life? Do we live out alternate realities as different people? Do we learn kung fu? Do we get addicted to online soap operas where we live as characters in a cheesy plot? Or do we just use it for interactive porn?

Note your predictions on your blogs now people, and the Wayback Machine will let you know later how clever you were now.

OK. Here’s a nerdish idea to encourage English/Drama students to enjoy English. Don’t know how it’ll work.

Imagine a role-playing game. Swords and sorcery, sci-fi like Paranoia, whatever. Doesn’t really matter. Now take away all the crap that makes it boring and nerdy: the dice, the character sheets, the maps. The Game Master makes it all up as they go along (or not, they can prep if they want to). Players need nothing.

The fun bit: characters in the game can accomplish things by extending their vocabulary and expressive power. You can’t just say “my fighter attacks the goblin”, you have to speak as the character and defeat opponents with your wordsmithery.

So goblins are easy, yeah? One might say “arg, you die now!” and to successfully knock them off your character could say: “defiled vermin, may thine guts be curdled with foul malice” and the poor outclassed little thing will drop dead. As enemies get tougher, the exchanges get longer and more complex. Vampires quote from Mary Shelley, and the ultimate enemy is probably a lawyer. Or Tolstoi.

Could work nicely for poetry students too; maybe you have to speak in rhyme? Thoughts?

If you’ve missed the recent MSBlast outbreak, check this for some background: Wired News: Geeks Grapple With Virus Invasion.

Microsoft says “apply our patches” and of course most people don’t. Some of those who do have been burned in the past, details above.

All OSes will have security problems to some degree, but MS have a poor record and a huge installed base in which to spread viruses. With Blaster, it’s no longer just email that’s the entry point. Plus, as long as department and school heads chase a PC monoculture in the name of consistency and ease-of-support, this is going to continue to happen.

Say the net’s a forest: if we’re chopping down all the interesting trees to make way for fast-growing pines, there are going to be problems. Disease, lack of change, no animal life, and eventually the ground will become devoid of nutrients. (Um, I think I lost that thread a bit.)

And at some point, with some future security leak, the first virus out is going to be a destructive one, and millions of people will lose all their photos, music and writing.

Easily avoided if you don’t join the herd: don’t use MS Word, don’t use Windows, and you will never get a virus. Not an option for everyone, but it’s worth thinking about for a home system. Dammit, I just want to say Get a Mac without being a crazy zealot. Did I do OK?

This isn’t really blogworthy, because it came from Daypop, and so you’ve probably seen this before-and-after-retouching site already. But it’s interesting for me, because I used to do it. Six months ago or so, I used to retouch models on [a major UK company]’s underwear packaging. Let’s just say that none of them have perfect skin, nobody is free from wrinkles, and everyone has hair on their arms. Cleavage is just a little shadow.

Once you’ve done this, you never, ever trust any image you ever see anywhere — they are all forgeries. Be happy in your body image!

We know one of the contestants in The Mole in Australia! Stacey is a friend of my wifey Nic’s, and she’s lovely. Could she be the one? We don’t know, and wouldn’t tell you if we did. Nor do we get to watch it, being thousands of miles away from dreadful Australian commercial TV. That’s one thing we’re not anticipating happily.

SBS and Triple J, though, are almost worth moving continents for. If only you could get the BBC in Australia.