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Showing posts from 2012

Movie: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I read J. R. R. Tolkien's book 'The Hobbit' many, many years ago now and found it to be a much more accessible than The Lord of the Rings Trilogy of books. I have a vague memory of the story which tells how Bilbo Baggins came to acquire the one ring, whilst on a journey with Gandalf the Grey and a troupe of dwarves, to face off with the villain of the book, Smaug the Dragon.

Director, Peter Jackson's version of the story has been expanded into three films of which The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first. (to be followed by The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Dec 2013) and The Hobbit: There and Back Again (Jul 2014)).

Warning: What follows isn't so much a review of the film, rather it's my thoughts after seeing the film. There could be spoilers ahead. Don't read if you haven't at least read the book and don't want any major plot points revealed before you've seen the film.

Back to the film...

Unlike the individual films in The Lord of th…

It's Time We Armed School Children

Not to make light of a tragic situation with the Newtown shooting incident or to discount the unnecessary loss of lives. However any incident that involves guns and innocent people being shot seems to spark debate online about gun control and, increasingly, mental health.

Clearly there is a mental health issue at stake. No rational person resorts to violence of any kind to resolve their issues. There's no real debate there other than what needs to be done to make it easier for anyone to get the help they need - before we see the next Newtown.

The gun control issue is a whole other discussion. Would disarming civilians or at least applying much stricter gun laws solve the problem?

In Australia, we have much stricter gun laws than the USA, and even had a gun amnesty where thousands of guns were handed in to police, it hasn't stopped supposedly outlaw motorcycle gangs from shooting each other (or not as the case may be - as they appear to have lousy aim). That problem appears to…

Online Distribution Killed Music and Other Dying Pleasures

I'm of the generation whose first experience of buying the latest music was to purchase 45 rpm 'singles' - having been born at the very beginning of the 1970's. Other formats were around of course, LP's, 12 inch singles and audio cassettes but 45s were the cheapest to buy for someone whose main source of income was parental pocket money.

All of these formats were popular up until the mid to late nineteen eighties where music distribution transitioned onto Compact Discs.

As clunky as it all was, buying your favorite singles and then eventually recording them onto a compilation audio tape was quite an enjoyable pass time.

Not only that but if you had a favorite musical artist you'd buy all their singles, not just for the featured song but also for the possible gem of a 'B-side' that didn't appear on their LP Album (which you also bought). The real fans even bought the extended 12 inch singles in which the artist usually took a great song and ruined i…

Disney's Song of the South - the Classic that Never Happened

Recently I listened to a Kevin Smith smodcast in which he mentioned Disney's Song of the South as being the film that Disney treats like it never happened. (Sorry don't remember the exact show but his comment was a brief, one sentence aside to another discussion).

A few days later one of my Social Network Friends posts a link to a new book, Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South? And Other Forbidden Disney Stories by Jim Korkis, as well as a link to the entire movie posted to YouTube (embeded below). If you have the time it's well worth watching.



I'd never seen the full film so I spent my some of my morning watching it on YouTube. I had become curious as to why the film had been largely pushed to the side by Disney since its last theatrical and home video release in 1986.

Apparently in a post 1986 world, the film, which was originally released in 1946, is now 'culturally insensitive' and even considered racist by some people.

After watching the film it's ac…

Facebook Privacy Policy Summarized

As the latest Facebook Privacy Protection hoax goes slightly viral on many Facebook walls I'm again wondering why people, who supposedly care about their privacy, actually use the site.

The latest hoax, that you're supposed to post to your Facebook wall at least once in order to be covered by what it claims to protect, reads like this:
In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, personal or professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!
(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited …

Bailey - The Newest Addition to Our Family

I've written plenty about our Dog Oscar and our two cats Casper and Gizzy (both no longer with us) so I thought it wouldn't be out of place to introduce my readers to our newest family member, Bailey (pictured).

Sorry the photos a little dark. I didn't have any pictures to hand so I just snapped a photo of him sitting at the opposite end of the couch as I write this. He's resting after a busy late morning walk in some fairly hot weather. Fortunately we kept to the shady trees in the park and had plenty of water to hand for both Bailey and Oscar - who came along.

Bailey is an English Golden Cocker Spaniel and a rescue dog. He's about six years old. At present we're only his foster family - as his previous family wanted him gone as soon as possible. I can understand why, because so far he's a bit of a handful. He really doesn't like being by himself and even gets a little concerned if you go into another room without him. Plus he's very hard to get s…

Blogging from my Android Phone

I first blogged from a mobile phone back in November 2009. Back then I had notions of blogging from my phone more often simply because I could.

It wasn't to be. Typing on a mobile phone is not easy. Editing even less easy.

This post I'm writing on my new Android mobile phone and the experience is equally frustrating. Touch screen keyboards on small devices are clumsy at best. Maybe next time I'll try voice input.

For now enjoy this photo of my dog Oscar (who is much less frustrating than a mobile phone... most of the time).

America Votes - will you take the Red or the Blue Pill?

America votes today to decide who will represent and run their country for the next four years. As an outside observer it hasn't gone unnoticed by me that the Democratic Party is strongly associated with the color blue whilst the Republicans favor Red.

This prompted me to think of an analogy from the first Matrix movie where Neo is offered a choice of the red or the blue pill. Which is about where my analogy starts to fall apart if the blue pill represents the Democratic party and the red represents the Republicans.

Take the blue pill and the life you live now goes on, even though it's a lie. You can believe what you want to believe and remain blissfully ignorant that all is not what it seems. Another four years of the life you've been living under Obama.... hmmm... maybe there's some kind of conspiracy going on that you just don't even know exists?

Take the red pill and you'll get to stay in 'Wonderland' but you'll be shown the truth, the reality …

Another Visit to Semaphore Beach South Australia

Semaphore Beach is a favorite haunt of my partner and I. Oscar also loves it too. He's not a big fan of the water but he's not really scared of it either. With a bit of encouragement you can even get him to swim. He likes all the people and seeing other dogs.

I've written about Semaphore Beach before. It's a great family beach with plenty to do even for non swimmers like myself. You can see the main part of the foreshore in the image above. This area has playgrounds, a skate park, cafe, fairground, waterslides and even a miniature train that runs at least half the length of the foreshore.
Semaphore is about 45 minutes to an hour away from where we live in Gawler. Part of the reason for going was to give my Frog Van its first long distance run since getting it up and running and back on the road. 
Obviously we made it there and back with no issues and not a single backfire from the van's engine. It happily flew along at the maximum speed limits for the fastest sect…

Are Your Kids Posting Smut?

Tech blog, Mashable, recently posted an article titled How Kids’ Pics Are Going From Social Networks to Porn Sites which describes how child porn sites are getting as much as 88% of their suggestive or sexual images of children or young people from social websites, having been uploaded by the kids themselves.
From Mashable's article: The Internet Watch Foundation spent 47 hours (over four weeks) monitoring sexually explicit images and videos uploaded to the Internet by children and young adults. During the period, the Internet safety organization logged 12,224 images on 68 various “social network sites.”Before long, almost 11,000 of those photos had been mined by pornographic “parasite websites” — sites created with the sole purpose of exploiting sexual images of underage males and females.  It's a worrying study for anyone who has kids and perhaps doesn't monitor their internet activity as closely as they'd like to. Mashable's article might just be useful in starti…

Final Frog Van Update

As mentioned in the title of the post this will be my final update on the Frog Van project. Happily the van is back on the road and running well. Therefore the aims of my GoFundMe.com project have been achieved and, with this post, the spending of the generous donations people gave me have been accounted for far beyond the $500.00 I asked for and beyond the $520.00 that was actually donated.
There is a complete tally of money spent at the end of this post.

In my previous Frog Van Post I gave you a full run down of what work had been done on the van just prior to me booking it in for a major tune up, service and safety check. In the video below I also give a run down of things that have been done since my last video update plus you get to see my dog Oscar as well as go for a bit of a drive in the van.


After the full tune up, service and safety check I was very pleased that this did not reveal any major problems with the van's engine other than the points being completely worn. The…

Julia Gillard and Leadership

For the most part I'm a strong supporter of the Australian Labor Party (for my US readers that kind of equates to a Democratic Party supporter) however I can be swayed to vote for the opposition if they have strong leadership or a great, hard working local candidate.

One election I voted for my local Liberal candidate (read 'Republican' if you're a US reader) because he seemed to be everywhere. Visiting every community organisation, no matter how small. Where as his Labor counter part I never caught a glimpse of outside his campaign posters the entire election.
For anyone not familiar with Australian Government, we don't get to vote directly for our Prime Minister. We vote for local candidates and, at the end of the day, whichever party has the most candidates voted in determines which party leader will become PM.
Last week in Parliament our PM made a speech that got the country and, seemingly, even the world talking. It's essentially a 15 minute attack on the…

Another Frog Van Project Update

The Frog Van is a little closer to being 100% drive-able as I continue to work on getting it back on the road.

Since my last update I took the van into a local mechanic not too far from me where it was discovered that the van's timing was way out of whack. Not too surprising to me since the van hasn't really been tuned properly in several years and has only really been worked on by backyard mechanics (such as myself) since it was first returned to the road.

The mechanic adjusted the timing and cleaned out the carburetor with some cleaning spray which seemed to get the job done. Stopped most of the back firing issue and made the van a little easier to start. At the very least, this last couple of weeks, I've been able to drive the van around on very short journey's locally with few issues. Total cost of the repair: $49.50

It hasn't fixed the van completely though, as I've noticed through driving it, that it eventually starts to develop back firing issues and th…

Movie: Mental (2012)

I didn't know much about Mental, the new Australian movie by writer/director P. J. Hogan and staring Toni Collette (reunited for the first time since Toni starred in Muriel's Wedding). All it took to get me interested was that it was Toni Collette playing a borderline, obnoxious but somehow still like-able Aussie and Rebecca Gibney (who could pretty much be in anything and I'd watch).

Rather than re-write the plot outline, here's what the movie's website has to say:
The film follows the story of the Moochmore girls who are certain they all suffer from some kind of undiagnosed mental illness - because if they're not crazy then they're just unpopular. Their mother Shirley (Gibney), unable to cope with her demanding teenage daughters and philandering politician husband, Barry (LaPaglia), suffers a nervous breakdown. After Barry commits his wife to a mental hospital (telling his constituents that she's "on holiday") he finds himself alone with fiv…

The Frog Van's Journey Back to the Road Begins

After a bit of a break from regular blogging I'm back with my Frog Van's journey back to the road. Hopefully from here on in I'll be back to regular weekly posts. So, moving on to the van...

In my last update I said I'd start working to get the van back on the road at the beginning of August so the van would be ready to drive in Australia's Spring time. Unfortunately everything got delayed because I got really busy with animation work.

The good side to that is I was able to match the donations to the project with another $500.00 of my own money. Bringing the total budget to $1024.00.

The project got further delayed when I got fairly sick for a couple weeks during the beginning of September - nothing serious, just a really bad cold.

Anyway the first step of the project was to get the van registered, to give me a deadline, as I explain in the video below. (Hope you like the opening animation of the van, using my CafePress store design).



I was very disappointed that,…

The Dark Knight Rises - My Thoughts on the Film

Knowing that The Dark Knight Rises is supposedly Christopher Nolan's last Batman film in this series, and that this third movie is how Bruce Wayne's story ends, one of my biggest questions was, how is Chris going to end it so that you're left thinking what happens after the movie is finished? (Which is something Chris likes to do with his movies - leave you thinking about how the story continues).

SPOILER ALERT! This is not a movie review. I'm assuming you've seen the film, know the story, and have seen all the reveals. I won't be outlining the plot here. If you haven't seen the film then I highly recommend you do then come back here. This is my thoughts on the film as a long time Batman on film fan ('on film' being important as I've never followed the comics... ever).

I was very impressed with how this movie ends because it makes you want to see that movie. The movie in which Detective John 'Robin' Blake takes over the mantle of perhap…

What If Being Yourself Isn't Good Enough?

One of my most personal public videos is a collection of outtakes edited together with my narration, read word for word, from my blog post written back on August 5th, 2007 titled Is Being Me Good Enough? I made the similarly titled video the next day.

At the time the video (which you can view below) generated some discussion in the comments and was a real turning point for me personally in how I thought about myself and how I presented on camera. It took a weight off my shoulders.


[Note that especially for this article I've re-edited and re-uploaded the video to Youtube because the last sentence on the original version was cut off by Youtube's uploader. The new version is identical other than I've added a title screen at the beginning and cropped the footage for 16:9 ratio - plus added some length to the end to ensure it doesn't get the last line cut again.]

I came to be thinking about this video again because of my latest video diaries - which I will be the first to a…

Same Sex Marriage in Australia

Here in Australia the right for Gay and Lesbian people to marry is once again in the spot light with our Prime Minister seemingly supporting their right but not willing to go the extra mile and turn it into law.

I'm not going to attempt to argue the issue here because there are plenty of articles that continue to cover the same ground, for and against, why same sex couples should or shouldn't marry. I don't want to write just a repeat of what the people who support the idea are saying.

For me, the idea of same sex marriages is a no brainer. It's not a question of should it be made legal it's more a question of why hasn't it been made legal yet?

In other words, it's a non-issue. Make it legal and you'll make a lot of couples very happy, life will go on and hopefully the world will grow a little closer to understanding what equal rights for all actually means.

I realize I'm some what progressive in my views. Heck I'd support making it legal for o…

Machine Uprising Update: 3D Robot Printing

3D printers are now being used to advance the machine uprising cause with one unsuspecting inventor printing parts for a very convincing robot arm.  This thing wouldn't look out of place in the movie I, Robot as a replacement hand. See the demonstration video below.



The arm is called the InMoov. You can read more about it in the inventors blog, as well as download the instructions for how to print and make one yourself... what the?!

Doesn't he know that robot floor cleaners are internet connected with their own social network? They're probably monitoring his progress already. Waiting for the day when the InMoov is a fully printable android ready to be mass produced as a robot army, Terminator style!

Could happen.

Frog Van GoFundMe Project Update

After setting up a GoFundMe page to get my Frog Van back on the road a little over a month ago I'm both surprised but very pleased to say I've reached my target funding goal of $500.00.

Many of the most generous donations were from family which I appreciate very much (and the timing of setting up the fund just over a week before my birthday was intentionally done to put the fund out there as a gift option for them.).

Just as much appreciated were the donations from people, mostly from the GoAnimate Community, that only really know me through my GoAnimations, blogs and Facebook. All their donations were very generous and welcome too.

As I said, I really wasn't expecting to have reached my goal so soon so... here's what is happening with the van now. The next three months is Winter in Australia, which means it's not the best weather to be travelling in, to what is likely to be, mostly outdoor locations.

Also, if I was to register the van now. The registration would …

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