Category Archives: Geek

Robot Wrangler: Gadgets and Hardware – the parts of a computer you can kick

I’ve Seen The Lights – And I’ve Given Up

After a couple of years of building up a decent collection of Christmas Lights (and having a break this year), I’d made a point not to be put off by other, more significant displays nearby. I’d always thought I’d get serious one of these years and put in a serious effort.
Until I saw this setup. It’s amazing, authentic, and raises the bar sufficiently high for me not to feel like bothering any more. Maybe I’ll work on my Christmas BBQing skills instead.

I Can See My House From Here

This is easily the most fun I’ve had with a computer for a looong time. Google have put their mapping technology to work to create ‘Google Earth‘, a piece of software you can use to ‘virtually fly’ anywhere on earth.
Seriously. You start with a view of the world, and you can keep zooming in to anywhere. For example, there’s a satellite photo of my place. Then I can tilt the camera so I can see perth in the background. Then I can fly to New York. Then back to Rottnest. All with fairly high-resolution images of each location.
The interface is slick, if you have a computer to handle it, and it’s dead easy to understand. And (drumroll)… it’s free.
I’m happily recreating all my last few years of travelling. It’s so nice not to have to fly economy.


I just now managed to swat a particularly annoying fly out of the air, mid-flight, with nothing but a screwdriver.
It wasn’t on my to-do list, but I’m going to add it now just so I can cross it off. That felt so good.

Redaction Continued

When I wrote this piece about how people inadvertenly reveal the truth while trying to hide it, I thought I was picking up a small, cute example as an exceptional occurence.
Seems the problem is not small, is not cute, and could be endemic to the US bureaucracy (via Slashdot). Seems if you want the full story on the shooting of an Italian Spy by US Troops in Iraq, you can reveal the censored sections with a little cut and paste. Will people get the message, soon?

Look! Your secrets aloft on the wind of your arrogance! – Cook

Dave’s Theo-Tech: Redaction, Republishing, Redemption

It’s been interesting to follow the recent trials and tribulations of the US Library of Congress as they struggle to come to terms with 21st century technology.
It occurs to me that there are some interesting spiritual parallels with their current problems.
The Big Issue is with the way they’re handling electronic documentation attached to “Orphan Copyright Works“. Without going into detail (like they do here) the office provided online documents which contained sensitive data relating to old copyright applications. Their solution was the cyber-quivalent of ‘sticking white paper over it’. Naturally enough, the techies quickly found a way to steam the glue off and get to the information. (UPDATE: It seems the LoC has fixed the problem.) Here’s an example of how NOT to hide a document’s text.
The main problem here is that although the information is obscured from view, it still exists somewhere in the document, and will one day bubble to the surface. (Highlight the previous paragraph with your mouse to see what I mean.) There are many cases where companies have sent out documents containing ‘hidden text’ which communicates a very different message to the one the company intended.
The solution is to delete the information completely, or better still, republish the document from a source which doesn’t reveal the information. (Instead of sending the document with the white squares on it, you print it again, or photocopy it. In the LoC’s case, they should have just deleted the text.)
Uh, yeah. OK. So what’s the spiritual parallel?

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

It took a while for me to start to understand that concept in relation to sin in my life. If you accept that teaching, it means that God ‘redacts’ you – he ‘republishes’ you – so that it was as if sin didn’t exist in your life. There’s no ‘white stickers’. It’s not like the sin of your former life is hidden away somewhere, to re-emerge some day, in some awful public expose. Like the LoC.
However, that republishing comes at a price. Just like it costs to reprint a book, your redaction comes at a set, flat fee. The price is exactly: Jesus. And the printer is prepared to honour that fee until you get it right. In most cases, we get our money’s worth, and then some.
The ‘new creation’ is a powerful, popular concept that not many Christians – myself included – fully comprehend, much less take hold of. Once you can accept that your life is really washed clean by Christ’s blood, and all things have become new, not just covered over, you can stand in the light.
You’ll probably also end up with a smaller file size, too. But we’ll leave that for another Theo-tech lesson.

In The Zone

I’d forgotten how long an hour lasts on radio.
Good to be back in the radio studio today – after a 10 year break – with Rodney for the first edition of Tech Zone. I’ve put a writeup on the official site, and you might even be able to listen to it on-demand one day.
I went in there armed with bucketloads of interesting background information about blogging, but ended up getting distracted talking to Rod and other folk on talk-back.
You see, I’ve been spoilt for air-time since leaving the radio announcer gig. As part of my current work, I’m called on to deliver hour-long presentations (and longer), which are basically one-man shows. Or one man and his PowerPoint. That’s a solid hour of techno-speak.
Sometimes, it’s in person. Mostimes it’s a virtual presentation to a room of as many as a hundred people from around the world, which I normally do from home. Over the phone.
In the dead of night.
In my pyjamas.
So, when fronting up to the studio today, I was *well prepared*. I had facts and figures and press releases and backgrounders which I never got to talk about. In a conference call, it’s very rare to have an ad break. You seldom play the Newsboys. You don’t have news at the top of the hour.
I’m not disappointed; don’t get me wrong. I’d rather be over-prepared than under-prepared. (That’s the radio equivalent of showing up on stage in your underwear and forgetting your lines.) Very few people realise that in radio announcing, normally, you get to talk on-air for what – 3 minutes in a whole hour.
I’m actually privileged that Rod let me rabbit on for as long as I did. I’ll be more succinct next week. There are some cool topics coming up, so have a look, see if there’s one that interests you, and call up or email us with your perspective. It’ll be interesting to see what this enterprise turns out like.
And before you ask – no; I did not do today’s show in my pyjamas.
But I could. If I wanted to. Ah, technology.
UPDATE: April 2: The recording of the show is now available at the Sonshine FM website (link above).