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Alden Bates' Weblog

Feigning normality since 1973

September 25, 2009

Adding a peanut gallery

Filed in: Internet.

AKA jumping on the topic du jour.

Google's latest release is "Sidewiki", essentially a new feature on their toolbar which allows you to open up a sidebar and add a note about the page you're currently viewing. Other users can then rate your comment, and all the comments on a particular page are ordered by how useful other users found them. So essentially it's a commenting system with ratings. I'm not sure why they chose to have "wiki" in the name; Wiki implies modifiable content, but so far as I can tell you can't modify notes anyone else has added.

What does this give us? Well, in practical terms, it means every page on the Internet has a Google-controlled comment forum which the site owner has little control over, but which is displayed alongside their content. These can be displayed in any browser, even if it doesn't have Google toolbar installed - observe this Sidewiki comment on Wikipedia's main page. Now, Wikipedia's main page already has a talk page to comment on, which is modifiable by anyone, so the Sidewiki is providing a second redundant comment forum albeit, as the comment points out, one not under the control of anyone at Wikipedia. As a side note, this also means that blogs with the comments disabled now have comments again.

This post, too, has a section at the bottom for visitors to leave their comments, but it also has a Sidewiki. When someone posts a comment here, I get an email alerting me, so I know to come and reply to it. If someone posts a comment to the Sidewiki, I don't. Perhaps this is something Google ought to look at as an enhancement to their Webmaster Tools service? By verifying my site on sitemaps, I ought to be able to access a page showing all of the Sidewiki comments.

I'll be interested to see how long it takes before the first libel case results from something someone said on Sidewiki. I went to check the Scientology site to see if anything had been added there yet, but their site crashes IE on my computer, and I can't get Sidewiki to install on Firefox, so...

Posted at 7:02 PM | Comments (4)

August 30, 2009

District 9

Filed in: TV & Movies.

I was going to go and see G.I. Joe, but after reading the bad reviews it was getting, I decided to skip it and go see District 9 instead. District 9 is an action film wrapped in social commentary, with aliens. It's filmed handheld style, like Cloverfield, which did make me a bit queasy at times (or maybe it was the splatter-gore). Thing is, it's filmed handheld style even when it doesn't make sense in the context of the story. Half the time they're pretending the handheld cameras are actual cameras, but then the cameras appear to follow characters where you wouldn't expect them to go, such as into a top-secret lab.

Good fun though! The main character was likable, and the special effects were great (but you'd expect no less from Weta Workshop). While I'm not generally a fan of splatter-gore, that was just window dressing, and the movie didn't depend on it.

As usual, plot spoilering point goes under the cut to avoid spoiling anyone.

Continue reading "District 9"

Posted at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2009

Result of "Anti-Smacking referendum"

Filed in: Tetrap.Local.

The results of the "Anti-Smacking referendum" were published in the paper this morning. Summed up, they are:


  1. Sue Bradford thinks New Zealanders are stupid and were confused by the question.

  2. Jonkey is going to have another coffee and let a committee consider the ramifications.

  3. Oh, and one bunch of idiots wrote abuse on the ballots, which would have only been read by the electoral counters who had nothing to do with the referendum in the first place.

Another triumph for democracy!

I'm not saying it was a total waste of time, as it does prove once again that politicians only care what the public thinks if it's an election year.

Posted at 10:20 AM | Comments (4)

August 5, 2009

Vanity edits

Filed in: Website Management.

Because the Transformer Wiki has a lot of articles on real people, not all of them complimentary, so occasionally the people turn up and try to edit their articles, as Frank Milkovich apparently did today.

Hilarity ensued!

I wonder how often that happens on Wikipedia.

Posted at 7:05 PM | Comments (3)

July 26, 2009

Doctor Who Anime

Filed in: Doctor Who.

Making a Doctor Who anime, part 2:

Smashing work!

Posted at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

July 9, 2009

Behold BURGERTRON!

Filed in: Tetrap.Local, Transformers.

So Burger King, though they have the Revenge of the Fallen toys here, haven't introduced the BBQ Double Stackticon. Luckily my favourite burger chain Burgerfuel have come to the rescue with BURGERTRON.

A burger, oh yes!

The primary ingredients are a 1/3 pound Optimus Prime beef patty, Philadelphia cream cheese, mango, and prosciutto. I'm... not quite sure what those ingredients in particular have to do with Transformers, but what the hey. They're tasty.

Posted at 9:27 PM | Comments (2)

July 7, 2009

Odd Firefox 3.5 problem

Filed in: Computers.

I noticed that ever since I upgraded Firefox to 3.5, it would refuse to shut down properly. The Firefox window would disappear, but when I went to shut down my PC, it would report that Firefox was still running and "not responding".

So I tried a bit of an experiment — I started Firefox up, and then tried to shut it down again. Watching the process in XP's process manager, I could see that it had jumped from using 40MB of memory to 160MB, and hadn't shut down.

I then tried turning off extensions one-by-one. The problem persisted until I disabled Google toolbar. With that disabled, suddenly Firefox began shutting down properly again. "AHA!" said I.

So then I re-enabled Google toolbar, expecting the problem to return. It didn't. I re-enabled my other extensions. No problem, and now Firefox 3.5 seems to be behaving itself. That's mighty strange. Mighty mighty strange. I guess I'll keep an eye on it and see if the problem comes back.

Posted at 9:18 PM | Comments (0)

1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica

Filed in: Links.

I have found something awesome.

The 1911 edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica

Already I have learned:

In New Zealand "The Public Health Department has exerted itself to improve the sanitation of native villages and combat the mischievous trickery of Maori wizards and "doctors"."

Of Maori: "That they were not indigenous, but had displaced an earlier Melanesian or Papuan race, the true aborigines, is certain."

London is: "the capital of England and of, the British Empire, and the greatest city in the world"

Obviously this is all true, because it was in an encyclopaedia.

Posted at 12:26 AM | Comments (0)

July 5, 2009

It was the best of animation, it was the worst of animation

Filed in: Transformers.

I have a strange fascination with the season 3 Transformers episode Fight or Flee, not because it's a well written episode, even though it is well written, but because the variations in animation are so extreme. You'll go from a dynamic heroic shot of Rodimus Prime standing in front of explosions to a shot of a bunch of generic block robots all in the same colour. It appears as though an animation studio, possibly Toei started animating it, got about half of it done, and then ran out of either time or money. It's hard to say if the lower-quality animation that crops up in a couple of shots was done by another company, or it was just temporary animation intended to be replaced later when the proper stuff was done.

But I've found what I believe to be the worst shot in all of the original Transformers cartoon. Here we see Cyclonus welcoming his leader, Galvatron, to a newly conquered planet:

Unfortunately it appears it's not Galvatron at all, but merely a cardboard cut out.

Posted at 5:06 PM | Comments (0)

July 4, 2009

Updated Firefox

Filed in: Computers.

I upgraded to the latest version of FireFox the other day. Unfortunately, as is usual with these major updates, one of my favourite extensions — Tab Mix Plus — hasn't yet been updated to work with the new version.

Using FireFox without it makes me wonder why the FireFox team made some of the decisions they did. Like new tabs opening at the far right of the current tabs. I find that behaviour confusing and conter-intuitive, and without Tab Mix Plus there doesn't seem to be any obvious way to alter it. Nor can I find a way to have newly opened blank tabs automatically show my homepage.

I presume there's good reasons for both those choices, but I have no idea what they are. I guess in the meantime I'll have to wait for my extension to be updated. :)

Posted at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)

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