Week 3 of Sydney

Well, it’s week 3 of me being in Sydney and I’ve been going through the dip. The part between when everything is new and novel to when you actually get something worth showing.

Seth Godin's Book - The Dip

Talking about something worth showing. Here’s a manually placed version of the RaVis explorer tree view which we are using for the Films on the Fly Nodemap viewer. In this case it’s my version of what I’d like to see. What I call a ‘Story Timeline’ view. Unfortunately the software doesn’t work that way. Yet.

FotF Orthoganol Tree View (RaVis)
FotF - Orthogonal Tree View

The first week in Sydney was about finding my feet, the second was getting over my cold/hayfeaver and moving into David’s place whilst transitioning to my natural state. That of being a night owl.

Night Owl
Night Owl

 

During the past week at least 3 of the nights I’ve not gone to bed until 7am. The earliest night being about 3am.

I’m also developing callouses on my hand from carrying my briefcase around everywhere. If it’s not that then I’m walking around with plastic shopping bags.

Sydney is weird. Well, it’s at least different in a number of ways from Adelaide. Their bins being the most obvious difference, but their transport system is more subtly different. It’s certainly not as well integrated as the one in S.A. No Google Maps integration, very few bus timetables you can take with you and basically no train timetables (but they usually come within 10mins).

Instead of having multi-trip ticket where you can use the bus or train up to ten times and when you use the ticket you can re-use it on any other public transport within 2 hours, in Sydney you need different tickets for the train (which are split into a number of zones) and also different tickets for the bus service, which also has different zones. This leaves me with 3 multi-use tickets. A train and two bus tickets. 

The annoying bit is that the train tickets are multi-day passes, not multi-trip passes. Whilst the bus tickets are multi-trip tickets and you can use them up to 10 times, I had a 1 week train ticket. This caused me lots of confusion as when the ticket expired and it wouldn’t let me through the turnstile. The turnstile machine simply said there was an error and to see the attendant. I went to see the attendant, but as I was holding a briefcase and a bag and they man the wide berth laneway, when I waved my ticket at them they just nodded and pushed me through, with 2 mothers pushing prams and a guy with a musical instrument behind me.

The next time my ticket failed I had to almost forcefully explain that my ticket doesn’t work. Only after repeated prodding from me did the attendant lady actually try it a couple of times, look at the ticket, then point out it was expired. Suddenly a light went on in my head. I didn’t have a ticket capable of ‘10 train trips‘, instead it was capable of 7 days worth of travel. Doh!

SA vs NSW tickets
SA vs NSW tickets

Did I mention I’ve already been having days where I feel burnt out? I woke up the other day after it had been raining for nearly 3 days straight and I had been having sneezing fits (usually sneezing up to 5 times in a row). I felt burnt out. I’ve been trying to work on the data structures for the Tree view page. How does the Javascript or HTML/CSS use it?  As a JSON array). How does the Server send it to the browser? JSON or XML.. I haven’t implemented XML yet. Also, using  the jQuery data type in the page construction, or via an AJAX call (I’ve implemented both)  I’ve not yet worked out the best way for the back end MySQL database to store the data.
Anyway because of all this it’s not really worth showing to anyone yet. Which means I can’t get excited by people looking at it and going ‘ah ha’ with understanding.

Also, whenever I try and work, I end up getting very distracted. After working on something for a while I’ll need a break, as does anyone. But I’ll jump onto Facebook, open up a bunch of links, start watching an hour long video and 5 hours later I’ll feel bad because I’m not working. Either that or it’s now time to go.Angry Birds

It’s not like I’m playing Angry Birds. Although, at one point I did watch a video about the making of Angry Birds. I also tried out the Angry Birds Chrome Web App. It’s kinda cool that they could make a game like Angry Birds that runs in the browser. It shows that Javascript and HTML5 have come a long way. Thank you Google Chrome and Firefox for making the Internet awesome.

I’ve also been watching a lot of the Google IO 2011 content. So far about 10 hours out of the ~45hrs worth that I’ve downloaded.

 

So. One of my greatest strengths is my greatest weakness. My hunger for knowledge, my passion for learning means that it is very hard for me to not want to watch something informative. Hence why I like documentaries but hate the news. I particularly love TED talks. I’ve watched over 500 of them and agree; they are Ideas Worth Spreading.

There I was again, getting distracted. Setting up something on the other laptop, waiting for my food to cook and missing my girlfriend.
I was feeling, not depressed, but burnt out and exhausted. But, I ate dinner, called my girlfriend and now I’m starting to feel better. To feel happier. Despite it being night, cloudy and dark, I feel like the world is brighter. Like the screen brightness has just been turned up.

So I finish off my call out for a Graphic/Web designer and some other emails, but as I didn’t go to sleep last night until after the sun came up, and I didn’t get to the office until 6pm, it’s now past half past Midnight. I race to the train station for no use. The trains stopped a while ago. Thankfully there’s a late night bus service. I spend 15mins walking to Town Hall, realise I have to wait on the other side of the road, next to the smallest, crappiest bus stop sign I’ve seen. The bus finally comes at 1:30am. I try to do some programming but the bus driver doesn’t know anything about gliding. They are either accelerating, braking, or going around corners. I start to feel sick and have to pack the laptop away. Thankfully I made it to Turramurra and found a taxi driver to drive me to David’s place as I didn’t want to spend 45mins walking home with my dark brown leather suitcase and blue hat (with white chequered stripe).

 

Portrait of Michael Kubler
Portrait of Michael Kubler - Showing off 'The Hat'

2 days pass since I did the graphic designer callout and I still haven’t received a response. I’m contemplating making up a poster and plastering it around UTS (University of Technology, Sydney). Alternatively when David Zwolski’s got some spare time I’ll utilise his skills.
It’s not that I can’t do design work, it’s that I know it’s not my strength, it’s hard to switch between programming and design, but importantly, it’s because I want to bring someone else into the project. Get their perspective. Look at their face as they realise all the possibilities and opportunities. Because of the information intense nature of the work I need someone I can physically meet with and spend time with so we can brainstorm various iterations.

MDKs Office Desk in Sydney
Michael's Office Desk in Sydney

I am putting $1,000 of my own money towards the project. $500 for a designer, who’ll hopefully help me create some example layouts for some of the Multipath, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure and also the RPG style interactive video interfaces that I have in mind. If there’s time I’d also like some illustrations to help explain the concepts during demo day. Assuming the platform will actually be ready for pitching to potential investors/the public.

The other $500 goes towards Google Adwords advertising and some of the other stuff (like MailChimp mailing lists) for testing the landing pages.

The idea is to try and determine what people are most likely to be interested in and which features to aim for first to gain traction. To achieve a great product-market-fit.

The Startup Triangle
The Startup Triangle

The problem with doing the above is that I’m already stretching my financial resources pretty thin. I’ve got maybe $5.5K to last me the entire 3 months I’m in Sydney. This includes food, rent/utilities, transport and those annoying things like paying mobile phone bill, minimum credit card repayment costs, server costs and all that jazz.

That $5.5K is made up of my measly personal savings (I’ve been pumping pretty much everything I can into the company for the last 2 years); my last payment from ANAT, which was basically double my normal pay as it included my accrued annual leave (so ~$2k); plus up to $3K I can take out in a new credit card I recently received (just before I stopped working at ANAT).

I’m trying to use lean startup techniques. But even then, I’m trying to do something that even web startup incubators like  Pollenizer wouldn’t expect to do for less than $150K.

When I get back to Adelaide I’m going to have pretty much no money, but hopefully enough of a platform that we can show it off to people so they understand what it is and get them excited about all the possibilities of what it could be.

FOCUS

The reason why focus is important (and I need more of it) is because otherwise I’ll fail. It’s pretty much my whole reason for coming to Sydney (I’ve got a nice office back in Adelaide, but when there, I make films, not program). Certain types of failures are good, you learn from them. But failing because I was watching YouTube video’s is not the type of failure we are talking about.

Who’s talking about it? Mick Liubinskas of POLLENIZER he’s pretty much the reason I came to Sydney, so if you’ve read this far please watch his short presentation.

Mick Liubinskas – POLLENIZER

First week in Sydney

Well, I’ve been in Sydney for about a week so far. The first week out of ~12.

It seems to have gone so fast, but also agonisingly slow.

It’s over a week since I saw my girlfriend. Since I got to hold her in my arms and kiss her.

It’s over a week since my last day at ANAT. Since I started the running jump which will likely end in Films on the Fly taking off, or myself falling flat on my face, without money, without a job and without dignity.

So far this week I’ve done some PHP coding on the Multipath platform. Not much, but just enough to get frustrated at my lack of Flex programming skills and also enough to remember that I’M CRAZY! What was I thinking? I don’t work alone very well, and I know this.
I need to be around people. I need to be working with people, bouncing ideas off them. Seeing them work and feeding off it, multiplying it and returning it back ten fold. But I can’t really afford to pay anyone.

Thankfully the reason I haven’t done as much coding as I’d like is because I’ve been networking and settling down. Meeting with people at the Push Start Mentors Live! event. Meeting with Peter at Fishburners (which is right next door… Like the exact next building). I met up with Katrin and Bart of Zero Mail, plus Marc and some other entrepreneurs at the Silicon Beach Drinks night.

I hung out with David Zwolski, Ziggy, Albert and other members of the Sydney Zeitgeist Movement chapter. I spent a lot of time on Skype and Team Speak talking to David, plus reading a lot of his emails and vice versa. But it was good to finally meet him. He’s a lot younger and taller than I expected. With his full length trench coat and long wavy hair he looked a bit like Neo from The Matrix.

He’s offered to let me crash at his place whilst I’m in Sydney. For the whole 3 months. The catch : It’s a 10min bus ride and 40min train trip from the Sydney CBD. I’m catching up with him tomorrow so will see what happens, although I’m still at the backpackers hostel for another week…. unless the Major General gets a little too ansy.

Dorm

In the hostel that I’m currently staying at is 3 other guys. The two young asians on the other bunk-bed are almost always on their laptops. One’s halfway through watching the entire 10 seasons of Friends. The guy in the bed below me is apparently a Major General in the Thailand Air Force. I’ll nick name him ‘KI’ for the moment.
He’s friendly…. too friendly. He somewhat creeps me out. It started with giving everyone a quick hug goodnight. The next night his daughter gave him too much food and as I was arriving late and just wanted something small I had a little of it to eat before he threw the rest out. It was nice general caring and sharing. He seemed to be a nice oldish guy that was culturally or personally a bit more touchy feely than what I’m used to.
The next night  he not only hugged me goodnight he kissed me on the cheek.
The night after he wanted me to kiss him goodnight (and brought his cheek right up to mine). I resisted, but not overly.
Thankfully I got in so late the next night that he was already asleep when I arrived.

Tonight, as I got into the room he was already lying in bed. I was taking off my jacket (having walked 3km from the office) and he said he wanted to see my body….

All that said, I don’t know if I’ll stay at the backpackers. Ask for a new dorm (and risk staying with people who are more likely to take my stuff), or if I’ll take up David’s offer early. In the mean time, there’s programming to be done!

BTW : Happy Rapture day!

Australia’s Internet Filtering – Michael’s letter to Senator Stephen Conroy

Below is my letter to Senator Stephen Conroy, Australia’s communication minister, who has recently announced that they will be moving ahead with censoring Australia’s access to the Internet.

I urge you to send him a message.

—-

Hi Senator Stephen Conroy,
You have made me appalled to be an Australian citizen.
By censoring our Internet you are crushing our voice, and freedom, something that we pay taxes to keep.

Fact #1 : The Internet filter is only for legal content which has been refused classification by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
Fact #2 : Illegal content gets investigated by the police, and not ACMA.
Fact #3 : Child Pornography is illegal, and is investigated by the police who attempt to aprehend th perpetrators. The filter won’t even block the main thing they are saying it is being used for.
Fact #4 : Once the list is created, it will be edited and manipulated by politicians, the ACMA, religious groups, and anyone else with enough lobbying power.
Fact #5 : The filter WILL slow the internet down.
Fact #6 : Not even Google, or Universities believe the filter is a good idea.
Fact #7 : Being homosexual was a crime in Tasmania until 1997. Thus sites relating to homosexuality would have been blocked.
Fact #8 : By filtering the Internet you are reducing civil liberties.
Fact #9 : Communist China have an Internet filter that they use to brainwash their citizens, most of whom don’t even know the concept of democracy, nor the tragic events of the Tiananmen square massacre.

It is illegal for the post office to open and analyse your mail, and the police force needs a court order in order to wire tap your phone.
So why is it legal for corporation to view your emails, and the government to restrict what websites you are allowed to watch?

We can not continue to let our civil liberties to be undermined, and our freedom to get whittled away.
We need to campaign for electronic privacy to be treated the same way as physical privacy.
Sure, like the cinema, books, and computer games, websites should have a warning if they aren’t suitable for adults. But you shouldn’t be restricting adults simply because a sub section of society deem it in-appropriate.

Please also note, with Australia implementing this filtering system we are giving other countries more examples of a western society with restricted content, and thus other countries would be more likely to setup their own filters.

We should be working to ENABLE freedom of speech, instead of restricting it.
I will be exercise my right to NOT vote for Labor, so that Australia does not waste Millions of dollars on a system of governance and control that it can use to manipulate the people.

WE ARE BETTER THAN THIS!

Resources :
http://www.itnews.com.au/News/163063,commentary-why-we-dont-need-a-filter.aspx
http://slash.dotat.org/~newton/
http://www.efa.org.au/2008/10/25/the-mark-newton-letter/
http://twitter.com/Newtonmark
http://www.news.com.au/technology/web-filter-will-compromise-national-broadband-network-say-providers/story-e6frfro0-1225811213048
http://google-au.blogspot.com/2009/12/our-views-on-mandatory-isp-filtering.html
http://www.ecu.edu.au/pr/downloads/Untangling_The_Net.pdf


Michael Kubler
A concerned citizen of Australia.

UPDATE :

It looks like my type of letter is useless. If your interested in making a difference, then send a complicated snail mail letter. As explained here : http://www.crikey.com.au/2009/12/16/dont-waste-your-time-waste-theirs-a-guide-to-writing-to-ministers/

If you don’t understand what the whole Internet filtering system is all about, then here’s an explanation about putting speed humps on roads : http://digihub.smh.com.au/node/1484

Box of Epic Emergency

Box of Epic Emergency

Having watched a TED talk on what to do in the case of a Nuclear Attack, I realised that I’m woefully under-prepared for some sort of major (motion picture worthy), disaster.

There could be a major plague, like 28 days later/I am legend, a nuclear attack (more likely from a Terrorist attack, not from a full out nuclear war), impeding asteroid impact, chemical, explosive, or biological terrorist attack. Or maybe it’ll be something more likely, such as an earthquake, fire, or flood. While I have the basic required equipment, and skills I would need to survive out in the wild, it would take me hours to assemble it all into something nice enough to throw into the back of the car, so that I and the family could drive out of harms way, or put into a backpack and run away.

As such, I have decided to create a ‘Box of Epic Emergency‘ (or possibly a bag).

The name comes from my Photographic ‘Box of Emergency‘. It was mean to say ‘Box of Emergency equipment’, however I ran out of room when writing it. That particular box contains various studio photography related equipment, like adaptors, duct tape, spare hot shoe flashes and other odds and ends.

Macgyver with a missle
Macgyver with a missle

Anyway, back to the Epic box.
The first thing it will need is some core, minimum items, with possibly another section of extra items. I might even have two copies. A box, in the car, and the a bag version in the house.
The core items would be those which would fit in a reasonably easy to carry container, and would be the most useful.

This is my current suggested list for the core pack :

  • WD40
  • Duct tape
  • Multi-tool (pliers, knife, etc.. in 1)
  • Blanket
  • Tarp
  • Rope(s)
  • 1x 2L bottle of water (more if you can fit it)
  • Iodine tablets (or other water purifiers)
  • A 24hour ration pack (more if you can fit them)
  • Hexamine stove (or equivalent)
  • Fire lighter
  • Dynamo powered torch
  • Dynamo powered radio
  • Some Pens
  • Basic toiletries
  • Medial supplies
  • Basic utensils (knives, forks, cups)
  • AA batteries (for things you pick up that aren’t hand powered)
  • 500Gb or 1TB HDD

The extended version would likely be useful for longer term problems, and for more than one person, and would include the following :

  • 5x 3L bottles of water (more if you can fit it).
  • 3x 5 day ration packs (can be augmented with can food).
  • More spare batteries (just in case).
  • Powdered Milk

Explanation of the different items :

WD40 : WD40 is more useful than just compressed oil in a can. It can be used for everything from lubrication, and degreesing, to portable make-shift flamethrower, and even engine starter (esp for Diesel engines).

Duct tape : As they say for the ‘real mans toolbox’, if it doesn’t move and it should, use WD40, if it does move, and it shouldn’t, use duct tape. Some other uses of Duct tape include a make-shift bandage, emergency shoes, rope, for sealing windows and doors, or even to gag people.

Multi-tool : A multi-tool is one of those pliers, knife, screwdriver, and other things, all in one. You can cut up food, repair your gun, defend yourself, and even clean your finger nails with it. You can go for a swiss army knife as well, although they don’t include the ability to cut wires, or crush peoples noses with the pliers. You might also want to augment it by having an extra knife, and screw driver. Extra brownie points for getting an emergency rescue tool.

Blanket : A blanket can be used in a variety of situations. Whilst mainly used for keeping someone warm on the cold nights, it can also be soaked in water to provide protection against fires, protect against the harsh sun, used to help capture hysterical people/animals, and can also make the cold hard ground, not so cold, and not feel so hard.

Tarp : A tarpaulin, whilst seemingly similar to a blanket, has different uses, especially due to its water proof properties. They are great for making shelter under in the rain, and can be fashioned to collect rain water (hopefully the rain water isn’t contaminated), you fashion the tarp so it funnels the water into a bucket on one side. It also gives you shelter from the rain. If it’s not raining but the nights get cold enough, you can have a rock or something pull the tarp down towards its centre, causing the morning dew to pool into the middle.

You could also use the Tarp as your actual container, and should you need, you can wrap your other items in it to swim across a river. Although I wouldn’t suggest using one to create a makeshift boat, unless you were REALLY desperate.

Ropes : Ahh ropes, wires and string. If you haven’t gone to scouts (or something equivalent), then it is unlikely you’ll truly understand why ropes can be so fun and versatile. You can tie your tarp down to some nearby trees, secure some logs together, keep your car from falling apart, wire up a trap, and tie stuff down onto a trailer. I’m not even going to mention what you can do when you apply some rope, and the ability to tie knots, onto people.

Bottled Water : You don’t know where you’ll end up, and who’s tainted the supply, or even if there is any water there. You can go weeks without food, but only days without water (and only minutes without air). The standard rule of thumb is that you will need about 2 litres of water, per person, per day. The more water, the better.

Shaken Water bottle
Shaken Water bottle

Bleech, Iodine, or some other water disinfectant : First off, I highly recommend you boil all your water!
You have a few choices once your previously bottled water supply runs out. You can collect rain water, boil or treat the water, or even attempt to extract water from plants. Hopefully you were smart enough to keep within half a days walk of a water supply, be that a river, lake, or even hole in the ground.

What ever you do, DO NOT drink from that source of water directly. In a survival situation you should always assume the water is contaminated. You might find that some animals have died upstream, or the water is infected with giardia, Hepatitis, and various other bugs, bacteria, and viruses.

I will stress again, that you should boil your water before you drink it. Bringing water up to the boil for 10 seconds is enough to destroy all known bacteria (except for maybe Anthrax spores).

Why have a chemical disinfectant? Because, sometimes you don’t have the fuel to boil water, and it is always good to have extra options, plus they usually don’t take up much space.

Taken from http://www.survivaltopics.com/survival/water-purification-101/ :

Regular non-scented household chlorine bleach can be use to
chemically treat water to make it safe to drink. Usually household
chlorine bleach is 5.25% chlorine. Simply add two drops per quart (or
litre) of water and let stand for at least half an hour. If the water
is cloudy double the amount of chlorine and double the amount of time
you let it stand. Be sure to splash the chlorine laden water all around
your water container in order to disinfect everything the water comes
in contact with.
A major problem with using chlorine bleach to
disinfect water is that it has a short shelf life and so should be
rotated from your survival gear every 3 months or so in order to keep
at full strength.
A much beter alternative to chlorine bleach water disinfection is to use Calcium Hypochlorite.  Survival Topics has
an article on using Calcium Hypochlorite for Disinfecting Water that you should read if you are serious about the chemical disinfection of water.

There are a number of other uses for bleach, and iodine. Although most are for cleaning uses. Bleach is better at killing germs, while some Iodine supplements can help against radiation poisoning.

24hour ration pack : Whilst most people with military experience are familiar with rat packs, trying to actually get one can sometimes be hard. Thankfully various commercial versions are available at a number of outlets, and online, you can fairly easily make one up yourself, although it won’t have a FRED. Alternatively you can go all out.

An except of the contents of the old style ration pack.

http://www.mreinfo.com/international/australia/australian-cr1m.html

Beef & Vegetables (Dutch Style) – 250ml
Beef, Minced, With Spaghetti – 225ml
Freeze Dried Rice – 55g
Beverage, Powder, Sport, Lemon & Lime – 12g
Beverage, Powder, Sport, Orange 12g
Soup, Low Salt, Chicken Flavour – 30g
Biscuit, Shortbread – 35g
Chewing Gum, Juicy Fruit – pkt4
Curry Powder – 3.5g
Fruit Grains, (URC), Apricot – 15g
Fruit Spread, Peach – 26g
Fruit, Peaches, Diced, Canned – 140g
MB, Apricot & Coconut – 31.3g
Sauce, Tomato, Ketchup – 15g
Biscuit, Jam Sandwich Type 2 – 45g
FRED (Field Ration Eating Device)

If you want to make up your own, then here’s the contents of the New Zealand’s combat ration packs :

Breakfast
1 x 100 grm muesli cereal with milk powder.

Snacks
2 x choc bars
2 x muesli bars
2 x pkt sultanas

Lunch
1x instant noodles
1 x pkt cream crackers
1 x cheese spread
1 x fruit salad

Dinner : One of the following 300 grm meal packs, all include a 1 x 85 grm pack of instant noodles
mushroom risotto- vegetarian
chicken & pasta with vegetables
chicken teriyaki
beef & vegetables
lamb and mint gravy
beef satay

Condiments
1 x salt sachet
2 x sugar sachet
2 x coffee sachets
2 x tea bags
1 x sports drink
1 x sweetened condensed milk

Total weight 1.2 Kilograms
Energy content per pack + 13,700 kj


Stove : You’ll need to boil your water, and cook your food. If you have access, then a hexamine stove can be great, the fuel lasts ages, and is quite safe, but sometimes is hard to get a hold of. More than likely you’ll have access to Kero, Methylated spirits, or even Petrol. Most people (at lease here in Australia) use a Trangia, which is a simple, yet effective Metho burner. Really desperate? You could hack up a coke can.
One note, if you did get a ration pack as mentioned above, then most are designed so that you heat a container of water with the main meal sachet inside. Once done you open the sachet and have a ready hot meal, plus some hot water for tea, coffee, instant noodles, or drinking water (after you’ve left it to cool).

Matches/lighter : What’s the point of having a stove if you can’t light the fuel to make a nice mug of hot chocolate? If you are serious then you’d already be carrying a fire stick, or Fire Steel, which you scrape some metal (like your car keys) across, to generate sparks that will set alight the fuel, or maybe the bark filings/tinder you have waiting in a nice pile. Just in case, you’ll probably want a butane lighter as well, especially one of those nice jet ones that can be used in windy conditions.
Run out of matches, and lost your fire stick?

[youtube]http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYcBiEX9p6w[/youtube]

Dynamo powered torch : It’s likely that in a catastrophic emergency you will have limited to access to clean water, let alone electricity to recharge your batteries. The new range of hand cranked torches that use LED’s might not be as bright as a battery powered torch, and might be a bit bigger, but unless you are rough with it, they’ll last a lot longer. Still, don’t be afraid to throw in a battery powered torch just in case.

Dynamo powered radio : So you’ve managed to survive the earthquake , alien attack, or found out that like the other 2% of the population you are actually immune to the deadly virus. But now what?
Unless you are a super hero, it’s unlikely you’ll survive much on your own, I mean what happens when you get sick? Well hopefully any organised survival outposts will have radio transmitters, and while most cars will still have enough battery power, and fuel to let you listen for a couple of days, you can’t exactly stay very sheltered from the zombie horde when listening to the radio in the car. On a side note you might be a bit safer in a front end loader, or something you can use to go all carmageddon on their brain munching asses.
I should also mention that there’s two types of radio most people are use to, the AM/FM radio stations that you usually listen to music on, and the CB radios that truck drivers and the like use to communicate. Having a walkie-talkie/CB radio can be incredibly useful, when coordinating multiple people especially in the initial aftermath, and some will last a few days with spare batteries, although I’ve not yet found a solar, or hand powered version, but haven’t looked much.

Pens : You should always have a pen on you anyway, but imagine being stuck all alone, having found out the secret to the killing the Alien invaders, but can’t even write it down. Maybe you need to communicate through glass, sound proof doors. You can almost always find something to write on, even if it’s your hand, or clothes, but it’s much harder to write 2,000 words when it’s your own blood, or your trying to etch it into a tree.

Basic toiletries : Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, razor blade, garrotting wire, if you particularly fussy you can bring along a mirror, and maybe some toilet paper, although don’t expect the paper to last long.

Medical Supplies : Bandages, band-aids, some disinfectant, super glue. Yes, I said super glue and it is amazing, you can use it to quickly seal wounds, stick your fingers together, and also fix a variety of other things. If things get particularly bad you might want some easy way out, maybe an excess of sleeping pills, and vodka or something?

HDD (Hard Disk Drive) : OK, so you might not be able to view the images on your hard drive when there’s no computers cause they all got fried by an Aliens EMP, or there’s no power as Zombies are lazy and not very good at running power stations, but that’s unlikely. Still, you should backup your data (My Documents, digital photos, etc), as it’s more likely your house will burn down, or your computer(s) will break, and you’ll loose it all. I don’t think I could forgive myself if I lost all 400GB worth of digital photos (I am a professional photographer).

Powdered Milk : So we’ve already noted that if you don’t have any water, then your dead, but having water on your breakfast cereals just isn’t the same. If you want you can stack up on long life milk, or sweetened condensed milk, but nothing beats the shelf life, nor ability to turn a 1litre bag of powder into more than 40litres of milk by just adding water.

Suggested reading :

Any of the other links in the text above.
http://www.survivaltopics.com/ – A great looking website (I confess to not haven’t looked at it all). There are some great articles that I would suggest printing out and putting in the Survival pack.

Got more suggested reading? Make a comment, let me know!

Excerpt from the Fallout Protection book
Excerpt from the Fallout Protection book

— Update [Nov 09] —

I’ve been doing a lot more reading on surviving a Nuclear attack, and didn’t realise there was so much information available, nor how relatively easy it is to survive the main blast and radiation exposure (assuming you are far enough away from it).

– Update Aug 2010 –

Common Craft have made an awesome video explaining what you’ll need for an emergency kit. They’ve got some great advice!

http://commoncraft.com/emergency-kit

Android, and my suggested apps

Android - The Mobile phone OS
Android - The Mobile phone OS

OK, so they have finally released the T-Mobile G1, which is also know as the Google (g)Phone, and was previously called the HTC Dream.

T Mobile G1
T Mobile G1

What is that you say? Well it’s a revolution in mobile phones.
The phone itself is touted as being an iPhone killer, it has a big touch screen, GPS, Wi-Fi, expandable memory slot (up to 8Gb), and even a full QWERTY keyboard. But that’s not the ground breaking bit. The revolutionary thing is that it is the first mobile phone created to support Android.

You know how computer have operating systems? Windows XP, Vista, Apple Mac, Linux, etc ? Well phones run similar things, such as Symbian, or Microsoft Windows Mobile, finally the newly released Android platform.

Android has been created by Google along with the Open Handset Alliance, and is designed from the very start to be open source.

This means that the actual computer code that tells the phone how to work is not just released, but is available for anyone who understands it to fix, edit, or make better as they like. I’m not just saying that people can write some programs for this, like they somewhat can with the iPhone, but people can tailor the phone to exactly the way they work, not vice versa.

Don’t like the way the dialler works, or maybe how you listen to music? Write your own program to do it (in Java).
Don’t want, or know how to write your own? Then download or buy one off the Internet that someone else has already made.

Because of the beautiful way Google has created the whole operating system, it gives developers an amazing opportunity to do things with a phone that may not have even been dreamed of yet.

Now that the introduction is over, here are my suggestions for some Google Android apps. These are the ones I’d like to write if I had the time, and Java programming skills.

Silent geography – This app would tie into the current GPS location, or maybe the wireless networks in range, to work out where you are, so it could automatically put the phone into silent mode. This would be great for people like myself who need to constantly put their phone onto silent when they are at work, or when they go to the movies. Of course, when you are no longer in the designated area the phone would go back to the previous mode.

You could also set it to have different settings according to the current zone. Maybe when you are at home the phone would ‘ramp up’ the volume, while if it detected you were going >15km/h and didn’t have a headset plugged in then it would assume you are in a car and would go straight to voice mail, or speaker phone.

Obviously you’d be able to manually over-ride the options, and could do it for the current geographical area, a certain amount of time (e.g next 2 hours), or until you set it back to automatic.

You’d also have to have a way to select different area’s and apply different settings/profiles to that area, likely using mash-up with Google maps.

Picture code – The idea is that using either the camera attached to the phone, or some sort of external barcode, or even RFID scanner, you would associate the barcode (or tag) with a picture, and possibly some extra data.
The main use for this would be to take a photo of the contents of a packing box before sealing it up, you could then have a pre-printed sheet of sticky barcodes. I’d personally have two copies of each barcode. One you put on the actual box, another that you put on a wall or suitable location in the storage room.

You would then be able to scan the barcode on the box and see the associated picture and anything else you have written about it. This means you don’t need to open 50 cardboard boxes to find that one you hid the Million dollars in. Or, if you are looking for something, but don’t know which of the many stacked boxes it is in, then you could scan the 2nd set of barcodes all in a group on the wall to find out which one your item is in, and hopefully you’ve entered some positioning data along with the picture, or you’ve properly labelled the boxes.

Of course, the program doesn’t have to stop there, you could have barcodes in a store that are associated with different items, which could contain links to more information, or they simply show you the products webpage. Although this would require the information to be streamed wirelessly.

My current idea is that as you are tagging your photos they would be stored on the phone, however they could be transferred to a server (local or online) that would synchronise the updates, and also allow other people to pull down the dataset, alternatively if there were LOTS of barcodes and pictures, and you were connected via wireless, then it would upload or download the data as you went.

There’s also no specific reason that you need to use barcodes. If the software used some sort of optical character/object recognition, then you could use symbols, or whatever you liked (that could still be scanned, and turned into a website GET or POST request).

The most practical way of sorting everything out would be to have a cloud computing setup (Amazon S3, or Google Apps) which contains a database of the barcodes and an associated website address. The phone would make a lookup, and could then be redirected to the site, almost TinyURL style. The beauty is that you could have your own webserver that only allows local access, and could simply have the URL as an internal IP (e.g http://192.168.1.24/pcode.php?bcode=5644198722 ), while if you were browsing at a shop they would direct you to their products page.

Where is you?

The aim of this app would be to determine where someone is, by asking their phone where it is.
Say your a caring parent who wants to know why their child isn’t home for dinner. You send out a location request (likely as an sms), and assuming your childs phone has been configured and is working properly, it would respond with it’s current location and maybe even speed, elevation, system status (low battery, playing games, on a call, etc). The parent would receive this response with the location and details overlaid on Google Maps (or similar service).

The sender of the request (the parent in this example) would use the program to send the ‘Where is you request’, depending on the setup this could try sending a request via IM (Gtalk?), email, or more than likely sms.

The recipients (childs) phone would interpret this request, and depending on the pre-defined relationship with the requester, it could either send out the response straight away without notifying the recipient, send it and notify the recipient, or most likely it would present them with a notification allowing them to accept, reject, or blacklist the request.

Because of the way this system could possibly be abused, it would only reply to such requests (esp as sms which cost money) once every few minutes, and only to those that are white listed. Actually there would be a number of different lists. By default, if you aren’t listed as a contact in the phone, then the person won’t even get notified about your request, and they would have to manually go into the program and accept the request. If you are on the phone’s address book, but not in the explicit white list, then the user would receive a notification that they could action (accept, reject, whitelist, or blacklist). If however you were on the explicit allow whitelist then the phone would automatically reply and only notify the user that it had done so. It would be expected that only a small number of people would be on the explicit allow whitelist, and adding someone’s contact details to the list would require the phones user to enter a password.

If the request is accepted then hopefully the childs phone know where it is by using the build in GPS (and then send the lat/long co-ordinates), local wireless SSID(s) geolocation, or at least which cell phone tower it was connected to (and maybe even how far away it is from it).

The program can also have a number of other uses.
You could send your location to other people (who are also running the app), along with a message, such as ‘Hey, I’m here at the party, come along’.
You could also have an ’emergency mode’ where you can select Police, Fire, Ambulance, Next of Kin, or some custom ones like ‘Pick me up Mum, please..’, to let the associated people let you know you are in trouble, and where you are.

Bluetooth talk :
This would simply use the bluetooth connection to allow you to talk to an associated friend like a walkie-talkie. I know I’ve had a few occasions where I am stuck just beyond ear shot of someone, but would likely still be within bluetooth range.

Currently the bluetooth API has apparently not been released with the v1.0 code for Android, however it will likely be released before I actually get my hands on an actual phone.

If someone likes one of the above ideas, please feel free to contact me, as I would love to be a part of a project to help it come to fruition. I would also request that should such an app be available, it would be so for free, or as near to it as possible. The project(s) would likely be earning money through donations, funding and such instead.

Adelaide Zombie Walk 2008 – Post indicent report

Saturday the 25th of October 2008 was the day the dead walked the earth again. Well, not literally, but it still looked good.

Screeching Zombies
Screeching Zombies

I started getting ready while at work. I ripped up some old clothes, cutting some holes out, and adding some Kryolan stage blood. I also mixed up my own fake blood using a mixture of Glucose syrup, water, and food colouring. As a hint, you can use a fair amount of Red food colouring, but only need a few drops of blue & or green to darken the blood. Some browning agent can help a little as well, although it stinks.

Part way through make-up
Part way through make-up

The fake blood I made up was for an oozing wound I created. I had a small tube going from a wound on my chest down to a syringe, and the idea was to be able to squirt the fake blood out, unfortunately I didn’t have time to actually prime the tubing, as I was too busy running around taking photos of the actual walk.

The mixing and make-up for a Zombie
The mixing and make-up for a Zombie

Items :

  • The ‘Knife through chest’ was just a cheap prop from the make-up shop next to work.
  • The Liquid Latex, Stage Blood, and White face paint was all purchased from The Stage Shop.
  • The Glucose Syrup, food colouring, Barrier Cream, spray-on bandage, and various bottles were purchased from the local supermarket.
  • Black cheap lipstick from the ‘cheap as chips’ general store. Although there are plenty of alternatives.

Before sticking anything to my skin I would apply Barrier Cream, which is a some what like moisturising cream.
Then applied the white face paint to most of my skin.
I stuck the liquid latex ‘wounds’ on using the spray-on bandage (super glue), which was ok, although through the course of the night some of my wounds started to peel off,

Screeching Zombie, Knifed guy (he was scary)
Screeching Zombie, Knifed guy (he was genuinely scary)

Some good guides to looking like a Zombie :

If you have sex with a Zombie, does that make you a Necrophiliac?
If you have sex with a Zombie, does that make you a Necrophiliac?
Group Munch
Group Munch
Can you beat a Robotic Elf Zombie Bunny?
Can you beat a Robotic Elf Zombie Bunny?
Even Starwars Troopers can be zombies
Even Starwars Troopers can be zombies

For a gallery with more photos from the walk please check out the link below :
http://gallery.greyphoenix.biz/other/AdelaideZombieWalk08/

MDKs Zombie costume
Michael's Zombie costume by the end of the night.

URL redirecting

Well, I just went through and added some URL redirect rules similar to http://seocompany.ca/seo/url-redirect.html

I now have http://greyphoenix.com.au (or any of the other non-specified domains that I handle) redirecting to http://www.greyphoenix.biz/GPPv2/

I also changed syjmovie.com to www.syjmovie.com and also ugmovie.info to www.ugmovie.info.

Once the Schoolyard Justice movie is released online, which is slated for onlly 6 days time as I write this (a countdown is available on the site).

Talking about the SYJ movie, I am picking up the final edit from Rodney in a few hours, and have also been talking with Internode, a local (Australian) ISP who have graciously agreed to mirror the film.

Internode

Frame Sizes – Web Widget

Hello everyone.
Well, a little while ago I started trying to de-interlace some of the Schoolyard Justice footage for viewing on the web. Unfortunately the de-interlace filter that I was trying to use in Virtual Dub required that the frame size be a multiple of 16.

I got sick of trying to work out the possible frame sizes and wrote a PHP script to help.
Working the possible sizes out manually can get annoying, especially when the footage was shot 16:9 but using PAL widescreen pixels, which have a ratio of 1.09. As such the actual size of the footage can be rendered out at 720×396 (full), 640×352 (89%) or 320×176 (44%).

Anyway, I thought I would share the ‘web widget’.
I plan on making a number of similar ones in the future.

> FRAME SIZES-WEB WIDGET <

PS: If you would like access to the PHP source code, just comment.

Crude Oil – The ABC documentary

http://www.abc.net.au/science/crude/

Not sure about the delicate, and complicated processes required to make oil?
Not sure quite sure about all the uses of oil? Didn’t know about how it was used to make plastics, or that it was so heavily relied on for farming? I’m sure you’ve all heard about the possible  environmental damage, or the extreme rate of oil usage, and limited supply, but this documentary clears up a lot of myths, and clearly explains the facts.

It is an online documentary, split into a number of ~20min video clips. You’ll need broadband, and the latest flash player, but I can’t recommended this highly enough.

5 stars.