Saturday, May 31, 2003

Whale watch season opened in Augusta yesterday. We went to the opening breakfast at the Augusta Hotel. I especially enjoyed my hash brown. A scientist who works with the whale watch boat talked about his work, as did a woman from the WA Museum. My favourite exhibit at the WA Museum is a huge whale skeleton, taken from a whale discovered washed up in the Vasse River estuary, near my home town of Busselton, in 1898. School children also gave talks on the history of whales and whaling. Flinders Bay is being promoted as 'The Bay of Whales.' We often drive down to the beach to see the whales but Naturaliste Charters conduct tours to see humpback and southern right whales up a little closer.

My computer crashed/froze four times yesterday - each time while I was using Opera. Twice it shut itself down while loading a page in Opera, once it froze completely and the fourth time only Opera froze but I couldn't open IE to do my blog. So I shut it down anyway and went to bed. There's a new version of Opera available so I might download that and see what happens. In the mean time I'll get my blog done without using my favourite browser. My favourite feature of my favourite browser is mouse gestures. The only bummer about mouse gestures is that I forget they don't work in IE and (sigh), I have to look at the screen to go back or forward or to open a new window.

For this reason, I was pretty excited to read 'Gesture Your Mouse Goodbye' (May 28, 2003, Wired News). The advantage of using mouse gestures for someone with tunnel vision, is that I don't have to look at the screen to find where to point and click. The new technology featured in the Wired News article does away with the mouse completely and allows people to open files, zoom in and out, and copy and paste just by gesturing. Good for people with repetitive strain injuries (unless they do an awful lot of copying and pasting). The technology is called MultiTouch Technology and two products that use the technology are now available from the developers, FingerWorks.

I'm guessing that MultiTouch could provide a new way for people with vision problems to interact with their computer without the need to see the mouse pointer. I'm not too sure how accessible the technology is - it would have to work in conjuction with screen readers.

Something I've often wondered is whether we could interact with computers using bigger gestures that require more effort, therefore increasing the amount of exercise I do while I write or surf or update/author sites or whatever. Maybe I don't get out enough. Obviously, you'd have to be able to choose when you require a little more effort to open a file or activate a link - probably not before a quiet read of the evening's news but definitely on a morning when I'm finding it hard to concentrate without hopping up every five minutes to stretch my legs. But maybe that's just me.

With obesity increasing in many developed countries, including Australia, and health problems related to obesity causing more people to be ill, I think that making computer users more active could be of benefit. I'm not suggesting we pedal to keep our computers working - although maybe that's not impossible! With so many people dependent on caffeine to keep them focused on their computer and the small movements of the mouse and eyes that enable them to interact with it - maybe they'd have more energy if they could be free to move about more, to really interact in a much more physical way. Just in an exercise kinda way, not in the kinda way NZers are believed to interact with sheep (not that I believe they do!).

I've mentioned Al Jazeera before in my blog and was interested to read at the Times Online 'Al-Jazeera director general 'sacked'
' (May 27, 2003, by AFP in DOHA).

I spotted the word 'anodyne' today - I do like the sound of the word and thought I'd better make sure I know the meaning. Anodyne was Word of the Day at on June 28, 2000. That article found me looking up 'surcease', which was Word of the Day at on March 21, 2000. Somewhere in there I spotted 'bunkum' spelt buncombe but apparently it can be spelt either way. According to, the meaning comes from,

'... a county of western North Carolina, from a remark made around 1820 by its congressman, who felt obligated to give a dull speech “for Buncombe”.'

I'm reading about blogs and blogging a lot lately. Userland's Dave Winer writes about 'What makes a weblog a weblog?' (May 23, 2003 and in progress) at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. Via Winer's article, I discovered, another site that lists recently updated blogs and which also allows you to check on only your favourite blogs for updates. The article included a reference to Meg Hourihan's article 'What We're Doing When We Blog' (June 13, 2002) in the bibliography.

From there I read another Meg Hourihan article at the O'Reilly Network, 'Dial-Up Revelations' (December, 20, 2002). I use a dial up connection. I do wonder what kind of connections and browsers the people who visit my retinitis pigmentosa and retinal degeneration site use. People who write often live outside of Australia and in places that I know little about. I want my site to be accessible both to people with disabilities and to people who might not be using the latest browsers. I'm looking forward to updating the site soon.

I took a look at The Age Online's poll last night. The title of the poll was 'ABC Bias'... which I took to mean that the poll was about whether the ABC is or is not biased. The question was 'Is the government's treatment of the ABC fair?' I haven't been following the story, so I couldn't say... so long as my ABC is funded! I have to assume that the organisation strives to be fair and accurate in its reporting and also reasonably representative in the drama and comedy it produces.

Received another request for a reciprocal link today - this one from the webmaster of a site about crime. The site gives information about crime and law enforcement and I'm guessing the discussion list on crime writing is the connection between my page of writing links and this site. I have to check it out further - some of the links to sex crime related sites did not quite check out (one lead to a Geocities site supposedly listing the e-mail addresses of Japanese government officials) and I want to make sure the content is genuinely for those people interested in crime and perhaps hoping to write novels about crime. Nothing looks too suss (suspicious/suspect) but I like to be sure.

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