Cheeseburger Gothic

JB's Day Off.

Posted June 1, 2011 by John Birmingham
Had a funny day off yesterday. Kicked off with an hours exercise, a pretty intense circuit based on a boxing workout I ripped from a fitness magazine. Wandered down the hill after that to the local movie house to watch Source Code, which I thought was the awesome. Although there was one plot detail right at the end I'd love to discuss. But I can't. Because it would be a massive spoiler.

Drove into town after that, and had lunch with Jane at the really good noodle house across from her office in the city. These guys pimp themselves as having the best Japanese curry in town, and I am disinclined to argue with them.

The afternoon was given over to a couple of hours investigating LA Noire, which, like the curry, trended awesome. Planning to write me a big essay about that for next Monday's Geek.

Had to keep an eye on the blog through the day, of course, but also managed to fit in a little bit of reading. Beeso might be interested to know that I'm still doing my daytime reading on my Kindle, rather than the iPad. You just can't beat that E ink screen.

End of the day, I had a scheduled call with my copy editor, to discuss some timeline issues in the manuscript. Three hours later, we'd sorted those out. It was kind of grueling, and yet fascinating at the same time. One of the things about the writing gig, it's lonesome. You spend all of your productive time not just on your own, but removed from the immediate world around you, living inside your head with imaginary friends. Unless someone is along with you for the ride, there's no debriefing at the end of the day, there's no talking things over. Every now and then Murph and I will get on Skype and talk through some research issues, or character arcs, but for the most part I work on my own. It was great fun then to be able to discuss the characters and their stories with Jon Gibbs my copy editor. It took three hours because we discovered a problem with the timeline that needed some major restructuring of the manuscript. It wasn't so much a matter of having to do massive rewrites, but of having to reimagine the way the story played out and moving great tectonic slabs of text around to reflect that.

I normally dread the return of copy edits because I'm so stale by that point the book feels like a massive dead weight inside my head. But after last night's conversation it's almost as though I'm dealing with a new story. I probably won't see Jon's edit until next week, however. So until then I intend to take it easy. Faffing around with my blogs, writing the odd restaurant review, and getting in some exercise to repair my deadline damage, which was considerable.

On that note, you'll excuse me for three hours, I have some weights and cardio to smash out.

29 Responses to ‘JB's Day Off.’

Paul Nicholas Boylan puts forth...

Posted June 1, 2011
Japanese curry? Is there really such a thing?

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BruceGaryNigelson ducks in to say...

Posted June 1, 2011
Certainly is PNB. Good commercial cheap style one at Hainichi chain here in Bris. Is the awesome.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted June 1, 2011
Thank you, BGN. Very good to know. Indian, Thai - even Chinese - curry I know, but Japanese curry is utterly mysterious.

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Lobes asserts...

Posted June 1, 2011
Oh yeah, Love me some Katsu curry

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Murphy is gonna tell you...

Posted June 1, 2011
Personally, Birmo, I'd give body parts to have some of that imaginary friend/alone time to work on my projects. :)

That said, there is little that is more fulfilling than to talk with someone about various issues related to the writing field, especially when it pertains to one's own baby.

As for PT, due to the lifeguard job and since I can't stand the lap lanes at the Northtown Community Center (featured briefly in After America) I have been forced to run on a treadmill. Oddly enough, it isn't too bad. Especially if I have the right tunes on my iPod running. I haven't had any shin splint trouble yet either, which is really odd.

Per curry, umm, no.

Per L.A. Noire, probably not till Christmas, if I don't hawk the XBox first to pay rent.

Per Jane, tres good.

Per finishing the manuscript, thumbs up.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Lobes mumbles...

Posted June 1, 2011
Enjoy your day off JB.

Remember you can wind back an odo by putting the car up on blocks and running it in reverse.

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Darth Greybeard mumbles...

Posted June 1, 2011
Yep that Hainichi one isn't bad BGNson. Makes you feel a bit sorry for our deprived American cousins. Well, except for Boylan of course.

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Murray has opinions thus...

Posted June 1, 2011
Hi John
Just a comment on the Syrian kid tortured to death over the course of a month because his father took him to an anti government rally.
BEIRUT: His head was swollen, purple and disfigured. His body was a mess of welts, cigarette burns and wounds from bullets fired to injure, not kill. His kneecaps had been smashed, his neck broken, his jaw shattered and his penis cut off. What finally killed him was not clear, but it appeared painfully, shockingly clear that he had suffered terribly during the month he spent in Syrian custody. Hamza Ali al-Khateeb was only 13 years old.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/tortured-youngster-becomes-rallying-point-for-syrians-20110530-1fczc.html#ixzz1Nyp3ZZeH

It just really disturbed me. What they did to him was beyond depraved. What really gets me is the pointlessness of it. By the time they did a quarter of it he would have been screaming for his mother, would have kissed a photo of Assad, anything to end it. What were they trying to achieve? Change the political opinion of a 13 year old? I mean they had none of the usual “reasons” for this stuff, hard core political beliefs, probably not a different ethnic group or religion. Nothing.
Imagine these people at work. Do they high five each other at each act? Do they go home at night, have dinner and think about what they are going to do each day? These are the people who need to be bought to justice. Along with the Maladic’s of this world the people who actually commit the acts need to feel the weight of due legal process, exposure and scrutiny.
It was keeping me awake last night. I had to get up and kiss my kids to get it out of my mind.
To lighten up a bit on another topic as an Ex Regular Army officer and current Army Reservist I recently read and really enjoyed your Axis Of Time books. My old unit 2 Cav even got a mention. Huzzah! As a comment though I though the mil tech was a bit too advanced for the time frame if we consider the M113 was around for 40 years and the 50 cal entered US service in the 1920s. The economic aspects were really well done as were the psychological impact of the long war. The laugh out loud moments of Himmler cursing “Damm you Willhem Gates” were just gold.
Cheers
Murray

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beeso mutters...

Posted June 1, 2011
Yeah the ipad is not perfect for reading during the day but its not so bad that i can warrant purchasing a whole new device to do one thing. Happy to wear the downside to have it in one device.
And no i have an eyefi card in the camera it becomes just a little harder to warrant travelling with the macbook pro. The day they bring iphoto lite to the ipad, the lappy will become a home only machine.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted June 1, 2011
I don't need your pity, Greybeard. I want it, but I certainly don't need it.

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BruceGaryNigelson is gonna tell you...

Posted June 1, 2011
To harp on the Japanese Curry - homemade is easy - get yourself some Golden Curry sauce (now you can get it in supermarkets easily enough), some panko breadcrumbs, some Japanese chilli sprinkles, chicken and & bob's your uncle. Easy as.

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Orin ducks in to say...

Posted June 1, 2011
Kindle DX crushes the iPad in terms of readability - I won't read an ebook on my iPad anymore - the e-ink technology is truly remarkable.

I'm often surprised at how gregarious you are socially given that you also work as a writer. You always seem to be going out whereas I'm quite happy to stay in the study and pump out words. The thing is, while one doesn't have to interact with a lot of people, I certainly don't miss not doing so.

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Murphy reckons...

Posted June 1, 2011
Orin, maybe it is the difference between fiction and non-fiction writing. My academic writing did not suffering from lack of human contact but I did find that my fiction based writing certainly did.

Just a thought. Personally, I prefer less contact over time as opposed to more.

I think part of why Birmo's stuff works so well is because is he fairly extroverted and adept at observing what goes on around him with the human animal. Often times that strength allows him to overcome any potential gaffe he might make, which are fewer in number over the course of time.

Resepcts,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Guru Bob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 1, 2011
Personally I refuse to believe that there is such a thing as a 'good Japanese curry' as I have yet to experience it in reality. They (the Japanese curries) all seem to come out of some special curry hell and are full of strange exotic preservatives and often have that weird glossy texture that doesn't belong in a 'real curry'.

Sadly it has become Sweet Thang's regular pregnancy food craving - but I prefer the other options - especially the Teryaki Chicken Don...

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Trowzers would have you know...

Posted June 1, 2011
Japanese Curry is nothing like the Indian type. For one, even the "Hot" versions are extremely mild, and they always seem somewhat glutinous. Think of it more as a flavoured gravy. That said, there is always a box of Golden Curry in my cupboard, ready for the next curry craving. I'd be interested to know, however, how much the 'proper' quality Japanese curry differs from the box, or cheap foodcourt, versions. I've yet to find a recipe anywhere online, as most Japanese seem to stick to the box stuff themselves, from what I've found, so I'd assumed it was born as a fast food item, not a traditional dish.

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tqft mumbles...

Posted June 1, 2011
Corner George & Elizabeth St, George St next to the old bank building. Mostly sushi rolls, but they do Japanese curry as well. Normal or extra spicy.

More expensive than Hanichi (10.90) for takeaway average size. Very yummy. Certainly hotter.

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Orin has opinions thus...

Posted June 1, 2011
Murph, you might be right - heck on most of my books I've never spoken to an editor on the phone and do everything through email. In my case everyone I work with is in the northern hemisphere. I only met my aquisitions editor for most of the last decade in real life two months ago!

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damian is gonna tell you...

Posted June 1, 2011
In the West we seem to allow for our own traditions to be influenced by others, but not for those others to take on influences. Japanese food culture seems to want to include everything. Compare the use of whale, something definitely not traditional in a meaningful way and regard the "French style" stream of chefs in Iron Chef - people who cook nothing even vaguely resembling what the rest of the world might regard as French cuisine.

The British traditions have Tikka Masala and curry powder... I'm sure Japan has curry powder traditions too.

Contrast the "French Restaurant" scene on Tampopo.

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BruceGaryNigelson puts forth...

Posted June 1, 2011
Yeah, the "traditional" curry cooked by my mates Japanese Mrs was a 50/50 blend of the Golden Curry brand and Kokumaro brand. Tasted mighty fine. So am guessing that is their "traditional" - comes in a box. Mighty fine stuff - although, must admit, a homemade Indian variety curry is better. Damn - hungry again.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mutters...

Posted June 1, 2011
Folks, in all honesty, the Japanese curry you describe - even you who apparently enjoy it - sounds dreadful. Out of a box. Sometimes a combination of two boxes. Mild. Glutenous. Dreadful.

When I visit your fine and prosperous land, I will pass on the Japanese curry and concentrate my efforts on scoring some dinkum Moreton Bay Bugs.

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Guru Bob has opinions thus...

Posted June 2, 2011
PNB it is dreadful - I have always assumed that even the stuff that you get while eating out is justs something they have whipped up out of a box or packet - sort of like a strange japanese version of Gravox. Hence us all wondering about JB's claim that he has found somewhere that actually makes it edible?

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NBlob reckons...

Posted June 2, 2011
Trowzers makes a most excellant point.
We westerners get all tenty in the pant over "Awfentic" foods. (to be bitchy for a moment) "How windswept & interesting am I, I prefer Malaysian to Thai curries, or in my case - as I'm as guilty as the next man, I lurve my North Indian cuisine."
What is sold to us as trad efnic tucker usually only bears the vaguest relationship to what the locals ate 100 years ago. We discussed Dodgy Mexican a while back & now are digging into Japanese curries. BGN tells us that Japanese Japanese people (as opposed to Australian-Japanese or American-Japanese) make curry out of a box, I'd suspect that most Miso made in Japan comes from a sachet.
I'd posit that while there are real regional differences, what people ate 100 years ago related more to what they could source than any kind of gastronomic ethnic purity. If that was the case there'd be Aussie resturaunts around the world serving damper, billy tea & tinned corned beef.
The icing on that particular mangled & masticated metaphor is that Sushi never was a Trad Japanese food & Fortune Cookies were invented in San Diego.

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Guru Bob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 2, 2011
Nbob - In Australia we ate lots and lots of meat 100 years ago - even visiting Poms commented on it. Read an excellent book called One Continuous Picnic to get a good picture of how Australian food has evolved. over the years.

On that point the amount of meat that we put into our 'ethnic' foods is probably the main difference between the Australian version and the version you get in the actual country. An Italian friend of mine always comments about an authentic 'bolognaise' is much more tomato then meat and I can't imagine a villager in China having the amount of beef (or chicken or whatever) that goes into our 'Chinese' dishes here.

I am also pretty sure most Japanese miso comes as a sachet of instant soup powder as well...

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NBlob reckons...

Posted June 2, 2011
GBob, I concur.
I had a vietnamese acquaintance once tell me that 1 chicken in Vietnam makes _at least_ 2 meals for the whole extended family.
Here in Aust, if you don't allow 1 chook / 3 people you're likely to face civil unrest. Not so good for digestion.

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted June 2, 2011
@ PNB
Bugs For The Win.
I notice a trend - the yummier a beast is, the more likely to be armoured & ugly it is.
Prawn (aka Shrimp) are pretty tasty, but come in a rubics like wrapping with a spike on the front & back.
Crab, are tastier, uglier and even more difficult to remove from the wrapping the FSM provided them.
Bugs are tastiest and without a big knife are all but innacessable.

Of course my theory falls over when you try to fit Lamb into it.

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Timmo reckons...

Posted June 2, 2011
Yep nice choice BruceGN - I'm a big fan of the Chicken Hanaichi myself.

Lobes are you suggesting running backwards as an exercise regime? Sounds pretty bloody difficult to me! (though perhaps that's the point of exercise regimes...)

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Timmo would have you know...

Posted June 2, 2011
NBob,
While sushi may not be a traditional Japanese food, I also hear that Japanese sushi bears little if any resemblance to the Aussie version of the same.
I'd love to know what Japanese sushi is actually like...

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mutters...

Posted June 3, 2011
In Japan, sushi is still moving. Sushi is best, apparently, when served live.

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NBlob mumbles...

Posted June 5, 2011
PNB subtle but important difference between Sashimi & Sushimi.
Sashimi = Super fresh (still twitching is best) uncooked seafood sliced wafer thin served with pickled ginger & Wasabi.
Sushimi = various goodies wrapped in sticky rice & Nori (seaweed) usually plated up with soya sauce.
From my POV the best things the Japanese bought to international cuisine were A: wickedly sharp little knives and B: the most beautiful presentation.
Australians have a somewhat boganesque attitude of "It don't matter how it looks on a plate as it all looks the same after you've eaten it." A high end Japanes chef could plate up Dog Turd on Rice & it will still look like it chould be hung in a gallery of fine art.

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Respond to 'JB's Day Off.'

Done deal

Posted May 30, 2011 by John Birmingham
I just hit ‘send’, firing off the e-mail, to which was attached the epilogue for Angels of Vengeance. That's the major rewrites finished, a couple of weeks later than I had intended. Tough rewrite. I'm not sure why, possibly I just didn't want to give up the story because it's been so much fun writing it. But it's done now. Just line edits on paper to come.

It's about 8.30 this morning, and I still have to do the day's Geek column. But that's all right. It doesn't normally get published until just before lunch. My plan once I've blasted that sucker out is to hit the gym and smash it for about three hours. I've got some deadline damage to repair, and a jujitsu grading coming up in a couple of weeks. Both Anna and I are going for our blue belts so there's lots of work to do.

I figure on getting in lots of extra training this week, because apart from wrangling the blogs I won't be doing any other work. Gonna have me a break. See a few films. Catch up on some TV and reading. Write up a few restaurant reviews, maybe. Before the burger catch-up on Friday.

Right now though, I better get onto that geek blog.

And here 'tis.

19 Responses to ‘Done deal’

Big Pete puts forth...

Posted May 30, 2011
"and a jujitsu grading coming up in a couple of weeks. Both Anna and I are going for our blue belts"

Which makes for an excellent segue to this movie. When I was reading about it this morning, I immediately thought of you John.

Congratulations on getting the book finished. I'm afraid I'm only half way through 'Without Warning' at the moment. I'd better pull my finger out and read a bit faster.

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Orin mutters...

Posted May 30, 2011
Weren't you going to play that LA Noir game? (I'm sure I remember you talking about it at some point). I'm going back through Mass Effect / Mass Effect II to square away my character for Mass Effect III (though that doesn't come out until Jan) - the game has aged surprisingly well. Mass Effect III will use your choices in the first two games to influence how the third turns out.

I also want to play through the DLC for Mass Effect 2 as they've added a lot of missions and 2 new characters that can join the crew.

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John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted May 30, 2011
Yep, I'm waiting for me freebie. Might go back to ME2 while I wait.

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HAVOCK has opinions thus...

Posted May 30, 2011
Mate I would suggest you get your arse into the Battlefield series, the upcoming Battlefield 3 for release later this year...looks FKN AWESOME...I MEAN...srsly awesome.


I could also see what you mean about enjoying the Angles so much...especially when LEGENDARY , GOD LIKE FKN HERO's such as Lt Colonel HAVOCK!...yeah babay!

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yankeedog reckons...

Posted May 30, 2011
Well done, chief! We look forward to this last volume.

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girlclumsy ducks in to say...

Posted May 30, 2011
Congratulations, JB.

You must feel such a wonderful sense of achievement at this point - bittersweet as it may be, giving the end of the trilogy.

Enjoy some time off. :)

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Orin mutters...

Posted May 30, 2011
Yet again consigned to the spam filter for a fairly straightforward comment on the geek - it really isn't worth the effort to post there. I've reloaded the page, so the hit is registered.

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Scott mumbles...

Posted May 30, 2011
Good show. Any idea on publication dates? Just so we can save up the pennies.

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HAVOCK swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 30, 2011
The problem JB, is that thye GEEK link on the right of ya blog screen takes ya to BT fkn GEEK and some stuff done in the dark ages by ya...NOT CURRENT SHIT!...fix ya link or by fkn hell, somebodies gunna come along and fix you I reckon!..effing hell man, its a geek topic and ya fkn links dont bloody well work!


"i'm having a rather bad day today"

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Jyggdrasil mumbles...

Posted May 30, 2011
Good luck with the blue, as I recall that's when it starts getting serious.

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Crashguy has opinions thus...

Posted May 30, 2011
Hiya JB,
Not sure if you remember or not but I met you at the Brisbane signing of AA and mentioned about my Brother who had been involved in the chopper crash?
There is a little story about him and his partner on 6:30 with George Negus tonight.
It's worth catching to see how a tough little bastard can fight back from anything.
Also, he really liked the signed copies of the book too!

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Therbs ducks in to say...

Posted May 30, 2011
I have an idea for the line edits - let Havsy do them.

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HAVOCK has opinions thus...

Posted May 30, 2011
Best IDEA I have heard ALL FKN DAY!

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tqft mutters...

Posted May 30, 2011
Congrats on getting the book out of the way - for now.

I will use the aussie dollars new found buying power (assuming it lasts) to complete the set and start reading the series. After being burnt (WoT and others) - I never start reading a series now until it is finished.

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melbo ducks in to say...

Posted May 30, 2011
That's a fabulous column at the Geek, Birmo. Thanks to everyone for the useful online shopping tips.

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Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted May 31, 2011
It seemed to me that this novel had a much easier birth than the previous three I rode shotgun on. Certainly went a lot smoother than After America and I suspect folks will be pleased with it.

As for games, I'm happy enough with Mass Effect 2. That said, I'm glad I played that one first before ME1. I can't stand the combat system in ME1 and the controls seem awfully muddy to me. The puzzle type bits like restoring the AI on Peak 15 were maddening (one of the few times I went looking for cheats, something I almost never do).

That said, I suspect I'm going to have to play ME1 all the way through in order to save the council for ME3. Something tells me that sans surviving council members ME3 will end in tears for the plucky humans.

Definitely looking forward to L.A. Noire. I don't think I'll get to it for awhile though.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Big Pete puts forth...

Posted May 31, 2011
While not games related, unless you consider vacuuming the floors as a game, here's another classic rip-off.

Yesterday I bought a new vacuum cleaner for my 80-year-old mum. She wanted something small and simple to use, so I ended up ordering her a Dyson DC 24, which is a small upright vacuum cleaner. The recommended retail on the Australian Dyson website was $649, I was going to check out the local bricks and mortar retailers, but thought I'd have a look online first, to see what was about, and found this site that had them for $540 with free delivery.

Out of interest, I thought I'd check to see what the price was for these on overseas websites. The first site I checked was Amazon as they seem to sell everything nowadays, and found the going price was $318.00 US ($296.68AU).

It looks like we get screwed over yet again.

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TeamAmerica reckons...

Posted June 1, 2011
JB-Glad to hear you've finished it. Any idea of its US publication date?

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John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted June 2, 2011
End of the year, I reckon, TA.

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Freelance night.

Posted May 18, 2011 by John Birmingham
Broke my routine by heading into the city last night to do a stage gig with Ben Law and Andrew McMillan last night for about 120 young, would-be freelancers. Venue was the old Metro Arts building in Edward Street, where I used to have an office as a writer-in-residence at the Qld Writers Centre. Most of the AoT trilogy was written in that building so it was nice to revisit.

The gig was a Q&A sesh, about 90mins, which is a long time to keep a full house engaged, but it went well. Andrew, who's a young writer with a scarifying amount of energy, did sterling MC duties while Ben and I tried to throw down as many lifelines for the newbies as we could. The audience was encouraged to interrupt with questions, which they did, making the whole thing fly past.

It put me in mind of my baby writer days in Brisneyland when there was nothing like this. No writing courses, no seminars, for formal arrangement for passing knowledge down through the generations. In those days (mid-80s) there might have been half a dozen of us, including Mr Flinthart, working as freelancers for the fringe and student press, where Mr GuruBob was an editor for a while. We pretty much had to make it up as we went.

It's traditional for old dinosaurs to rumble at this point, "And a good thing too!"

But I'll call bullshit on dino rumbling. I could have really used a session like last night when I were a lad. It would have saved me from making some pretty grievous mistakes as I learned by doing.

Plus there were drinks after, downstairs in the bar I used to hang out. And drinks are always good.

33 Responses to ‘Freelance night.’

Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted May 18, 2011
Hmm, for a long time, the Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine Forum was a place where you could get some advice. This was especially true during the Gardner Dozois Era. Sadly, the moment he retired as editor, the Forum went into the toilet and the magazine went right along with it.

As for locally in Kansas City, there is a place called The Writer's Place, but it tends to be a hive of anti-genre snobbery (even though they do permit the local science fiction society's meetings there). Pretty much for me, I've had to rely on the internet, my blog, and what few contacts I could make here in the Great Intellectual Desert which is Flyover Country in the United States.

I wish we had something like what you've got in Brisbane. The Arts Community seems to have something like that but it doesn't seem to apply to writers.

Anywho.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Orin puts forth...

Posted May 18, 2011
You should opine more about your mistakes ;-)

You know, so Havock doesn't make them or something.

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Orin asserts...

Posted May 18, 2011
Also, I think the reason that there is more of this stuff around now is that there are more people trying to break into writing today than there perhaps were back when you were starting off.

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John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted May 18, 2011
Yeah, but why?

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Lobes asserts...

Posted May 18, 2011
Maybe to do with societys shift towards being more information oriented?

Back in the day I suppose people who wanted to develop a skill indulged in more the type of technical/artisan type stuff that all gets made in China now. But nowadays people of every class and walk of life have the educational base to allow them to write. Also its cheaper and easier thanks to IT.

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NBlob asserts...

Posted May 18, 2011
Why?
The lifestyle: smokin' hot chicks, fast cars / hovercraft, fat wads o' cash, & the perception of minimum effort.

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Orin is gonna tell you...

Posted May 18, 2011
Why is there more of this stuff? To meet the demand I guess. To paraphase Hughesy, there seem today to be more people that want to be writers than there are readers to sustain them. A while ago Flinthart said something at one point about the availability of word processors also contributing to it. Something along the lines of if you had to bang out a manuscript on a typewriter you had to have a lot more "give a fuck" than banging one out on a word processor. I expect with people moving to self-publish in the kindle store, you'll see even more of it.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan would have you know...

Posted May 18, 2011
In my day people who wanted to write just wrote. They didn't attend "seminars" or listen to "authors" opine about writing. They wrote!

Badly, but they did it. And that's my point.

I believe virtually everyone who wants to be a "writer" is more likely to be an idiot than not. Sure, there are exceptions to this general rule, but those exceptions manifest a convergence of will, skill and having something worth saying.

The question, for me, is motive. Why does someone want to "be" a writer? The answer to that question is all that matters.

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HAVOCK asserts...

Posted May 18, 2011
Lobes and Orin clipped it a bit. PLUS, people can easily buy an IPAD and immediately think they are gods and writers, pity its very missplaced...their self belief that is.
But NBOB smacked it fkn fair sq on the head!

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HAVOCK puts forth...

Posted May 18, 2011
Actually, NBOB got one piece wrong, " WE KNOW YOU DO FUCK ALL JB", no fkn perception there at all!

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HAVOCK asserts...

Posted May 18, 2011
Truth be told, the level of writing being generated now is a far cry from what once was. Historically it was bums ( arts students) and the well to do who wrote, now a days, its LEGENDS LIKE ME!, or perhaps Joe Average as well.

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HAVOCK mutters...

Posted May 18, 2011
And when I say "far cry" I mean its levels above...not fkn below!

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Guru Bob is gonna tell you...

Posted May 18, 2011
There were some good parties though... ahh those were the days.

Seriously though I remember going to the first Writers Day as part of the Warana Festival and listening to Andrew McGahan speak - there was no writers festival or anything before that - and he was the hippest thing to happen to Brisbane writing at the time. Things changed pretty quickly after that though - I think it was the Goss Government?

Apparently the Writers Centre may have been around then but I don't think they actually saw their role in those days as having much to do with actual writers?

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Lobes ducks in to say...

Posted May 18, 2011
Historically it was priests and religious texts that formed the basis of writing. Moses being one of the first self published authors (ducks).

But I suppose thats another thing. People write to express what they believe. And with a more egalitarian society where almost all beliefs are notionally given equal value then more potential writers feel comfortable indulging those beliefs and spreading the word. Whether that be Trekkies writing Fan Fic that deifies Kirk, extremists trying to build their own cults or Mac fanbois filling up their blogs with iPorn.

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HAVOCK reckons...

Posted May 18, 2011
Realistically speaking, this is a product of communications JB and to a lesser extent, perhaps a broadening of demographics that writers originate from, that too, might well be a result of or increasing communications ability.
I’m not sold that writers of past would be less approachable than writers now…..generally. there will be the exceptions of course. But, the numbers of writers given our communication and print advancements has probably exploded, thus making access far easier for those either following them, or seeking to walk in similar footsteps.



MAC Fanbois filling up their blogs with shit!..yeah baby!..lmfao!

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted May 18, 2011
You'd have loved it, Lobes. So many smokin' hotties.

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Lobes is gonna tell you...

Posted May 18, 2011
Let me know when the next ones at. You can bamboozle them with literary elucidation while I ply them with (free) alcohol.

Maybe Havoc can come too and we can be the Statler and Waldorf to your Fozzie bear.

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girlclumsy ducks in to say...

Posted May 18, 2011
Dang, dang, dang.

I missed it. Although I did see it was for the under-25s. Sigh.

Can we all have drinks or something soon? I feel like I haven't seen all you guys for ages!

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fknvty has opinions thus...

Posted May 18, 2011
must 'ave bin a brisvegas thang, the rest of the world had the hooroo gurus and dept S.
we could even afford a meal at the Mer de Chine ...13th arrondissement on the left bank.
by the way did you know that a genre writer in icelandic is tegund rithöfundur/ fræðimaður ? wfms. pz.v.

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NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted May 18, 2011
I see another Booker has been awarded to the wrong author.

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HAVOCK would have you know...

Posted May 18, 2011
you will now be a marked man because of that NBOB!..just saying is all

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HAVOCK asserts...

Posted May 18, 2011
LOBES..I'M FKN IN!

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Orin ducks in to say...

Posted May 18, 2011
Giving Lobes more smoking hotties is like giving a beach more sand.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mutters...

Posted May 19, 2011
You impliedly argue, Orin, that there is such a thing as too many smoking hotties.

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Lobes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 19, 2011
Slow down there Orin. I got 99 problems but a beach aint one.

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WarDog asserts...

Posted May 19, 2011
Why?? -> lower barriers to entry

The net has only been around (more generally available) for 20 years.
Anyone can publish now and the only cost is your time if your happy with a freebie blog as your outlet.

This means lots more junk, but it also means that talents that never would have had the chance now do. And search engines and social networking do a reasonable job of sorting the wheat from the chaff.

Hell, even antisocial geeks like me can publish items that get devoured and appreciated by the technorati - who'd have thunk that ..

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WarDog swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 19, 2011
Oh and yes .. GuruBob needs to come back and organise some more parties.

They were the best.

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Andrew McMillen reckons...

Posted May 20, 2011
Thanks for the kind words John, and of course for your presence on the night. The entire discussion was filmed and will be uploaded in the next few days. I'll post the link here when it's up.

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palahuanca mumbles...

Posted May 21, 2011
I second girlclumsy
Drinks in the first week of June Burgers?

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Jade Rehder swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 21, 2011
As a 'baby' writer, I really enjoyed the talk; in particular it was pretty inspiring to see Brissie writers who have made it big.

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Ruby Wildflower ducks in to say...

Posted May 25, 2011
As one of these baby writers (waddling my way up to being a toddler writer), I'm ever so grateful for these kind of information sharing evenings as well as e-shares like blogs, Twitter, Facies etc. Even if it's just a sit around and "strive for your dreams but writing is hard work" kinda sentiments, it's uber comforting to know that writing is a "real" thing; something I didn't have growing up. All your wisdom will be mopped up by my writerly sponge accordingly.
Butterfly kisses!

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John Birmingham asserts...

Posted May 25, 2011
Cheers, all. Keep noses to the grindstone and you'll be fine.

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Andrew McMillen puts forth...

Posted May 27, 2011
Hi again all - a short note to let you know that I've blogged the full transcript + footage from the freelance Q+A with John. Check it out here: http://andrewmcmillen.com/2011/05/27/nywm-2011-a-conversation-about-freelance-journalism-with-john-birmingham-and-benjamin-law-may-2011/

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Respond to 'Freelance night.'

Francisco's pepsi challenge.

Posted May 12, 2011 by John Birmingham
Got a letter from a reader in California, Francisco Molina, who enjoyed the WW/AA books and was intrigued to see where the idea had come from. (That argument I had with the fool from the Spartacist League back in 1989).

Anyway, Francisco had some suggestions for new story seeds, some of which I quite like. Thought I'd lay them out here and get everyone's in out:

What if the world suddenly ceased to depend on petroleum for fuel?

What if hydrogen [the most abundant element in the known universe] was the new fuel source to replace petroleum?

What if a simple and direct technology was developed for internal combustion engines to safely convert water to hydrogen fuel? Instead of filling tanks with gasoline, vehicles would be filled with water!

The following are some likely consequences if this technology was implemented:

There would be less air pollution since hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engines would emit water vapor instead.

A sudden collapse of the OPEC nations would most likely occur.

Radical Muslim regimes would have less money to sponsor international terrorism.

A lower inflation rate would occur since the cost to transport goods via rail and trucks would be much lower.

I suspect a smart fellow like you can think of other consequences.

The following are some possible plot directions:

The main character could be an eccentric inventor in the spirit of Thomas Edison. He would be in New Zealand; perhaps a retired physics professor from a local college; most likely single.

Somehow he would convince the local school bus service to experiment with buses powered by hydrogen extracted directly from water. This step would lead to a series of events in which hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engine use would expand to mass transit for the rest of NZ.

NZ would then attract the attention of the international community. USA and Japan would expedite efforts to be the first to manufacture hydrogen-fueled vehicles. The OPEC nations would of course be dismayed at the possible loss of revenue. I am sorry to say that in the real world the inventor would most likely meet his demise soon after his world-changing contribution.

And so on…

I first came across this idea when reading Harry Turtledove's "In the Balance". The alien invaders had very advance technology [not surprising since they traveled several light-years]. These aliens had hydrogen-fueled tanks and warplanes.

I also visited the following Web site: http://www.waterpoweredcar.com

Some closing thoughts:

When you review the development of various technologies [telephone, computers, TV, recordings {films, CD, and DVD}], you begin to see a steady progression. For example, first there were vinyl records, followed by CD, and then i-pod.

However, petroleum-fueled internal combustion engines have changed very little [apart from the use of better metal alloys, fuel-injection, turbo-chargers, etc.].

I find this puzzling.

At the beginning of the last century, the British Fleet transitioned from coal to petroleum.

Perhaps hydrogen will be the next fuel for this century.

44 Responses to ‘Francisco's pepsi challenge.’

Murphy would have you know...

Posted May 12, 2011
I would think that if you had ships which could convert sea water into hydrogen for turbine and electric power that those vessels could sail until they needed maintenance.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Lobes would have you know...

Posted May 12, 2011
Hydrogen (H) is indeed the most abundant element in the universe however here on earth it does not exist in its elemental state. It has to be created, usually as a by-product of the fossil fuel industry (by steam reforming natural gas). True it CAN be made from electrolysing water but for this you require large amounts of electricity to produce H in any reasonable quantities.

Then there is the issue of Hydrogen Embrittlement. H tends to cause metals exposed to it to become brittle and develop miniscule cracks thus making it difficult to not only use in engines but also to store and transport. For instance it would be almost impossible to build a H pipeline as the steel pipes would eventually become brittle and spring leaks. There are other materials you can use, I believe there was some research being done into galvanised Carbon fibre, but this is not really cost effective for mass production into pipelines and the like.

Another issue is the extremely low density of H. Under normal conditions the density of H is so low that to store it in usable quantities you need extremely high pressures and/or cryogenic facilities. These necessities add weight, expense and complexity to any H storage system. For it to become viable as a fuel IMO you need to perfect solid state hydrogen at temperatures approaching room temperature and pressures close to sea level.

For these reasons and a few others I'm not convinced that H is a viable alternative to petroleum. IMO it shows more promise as replacement for electricity generation through the use of fuel cell technology.

However the basic premise of Franciscos speculation is fascinating. What would happen if the world were to suddenly not need/be able to use petroleum? Well for a start the transportation networks would need to be completely overhauled. You cant just use H in normal combustion engines. It would cost many many billions of dollars in changing everything to be H adaptable which is a massive cost to start with even if you had a tech that could deliver your H for free or close to it. The geopolitical ramifications of making such change of course would be fascinating. Somebody does need to write a really good peak oil thriller however some of the speculative non-fiction stuff already around is scary enough.

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WarDog mutters...

Posted May 12, 2011
OK, we are really just talking about a switch in fuel, portable engine that can use hydrogen as a fuel (ie a small hydrogen fuel cell), and a way of producing the hydrogen.

This isn't miraculous. There already exist fuel cells that are commercially available. They are just expensive to build. And AFAIK the commercial ones are all large though they are some as small as a laptop battery in labs (as of 2 years ago). Some fuel cells are reversible, ie when supplied with power they can reconstitute their fuel stock from its by products, such as converting the water water back into Hydrogen and Oxygen.

But this doesn't side step the fact that the power still needs top be produced. If/when we switch to fuel cell based power sources we will still need to charge them up to produce a fuel with good energy density (eg Hydrogen). This takes energy. Its not free. So this suggested consequence may be misguided:

- A lower inflation rate would occur since the cost to transport goods via rail and trucks would be much lower.

In all likelihood this would impose a significant extra demand on current electrical generation, so unless this was offset by generous production of electrical power from another source, ten inflation would spike more generally in all parts of the economy.

Personally, I suspect that the uptake of renewables will provide the extra power requirement, mainly because their cost will continue to decrease as technology improves their effectiveness.

Enough of the ramble ..

The upshot of having cheap, effective, safe, (and portable) fuel cells is that distributed intermittent generation from sources such as solar/wind will become more effective as the power can be readily stored and bled back to the grid as required. Off peak will become a thing of the past. As long as fuel cell buffers are distributed evenly around the grid (in each home say), so too will grid failure due to catastrophe.

I suspect that such a system will build up on its own whenever/where ever residents are able to use a fuel cell to arbitrage peak vs off peak power (until eventually peak == off peak at all times).

What is going to be a real game changer is wireless power. And from what seems to be happening in the GE labs I'd say that's 5 -10 years from commercialisation.

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damian has opinions thus...

Posted May 12, 2011
I think the challenge is from a storytelling/alt-history perspective. I don't think anyone thinks you can actually do what Francisco says.

Just in case, to summarise
- we already have tech for splitting water into H and O
- when you burn H and O, you do indeed get water back
- you do indeed get energy too
- this is because free H and O has a higher potential energy than H2O.
- to get the former from the latter you need to input energy.
- no, you can't get more energy back from burning than you put in to split the water.

So the storytelling (like any speculative fiction) requires suspension of disbelief: what if a method to split water were discovered that required no energy input? I suspect that such a discovery would entail several additional ways to get energy for free, so probably the water would not be required ;)

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damian mumbles...

Posted May 12, 2011
Oh Lobes - I don't think he proposes storing the hydrogen. He proposes storing water, then making use of his water splitter to generate H and O as needed.

I think you would get away without storing a lot of water. Instead, you'd capture the output water from the system and use it as an input (since exactly as much comes out as needs to go in). If we need more energy to do that, we just cycle the system faster because we're already getting energy for free in the water splitting method. Depending on any temperature and pressure constraints for the splitter, you may need expansion or compression chambers - and might get free air conditioning or heating as a result too.

Of course there still needs to be some sort of energy input, or it's just a perpetual motion machine and it may be difficult to achieve the necessary suspension of disbelief. :)

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Sir Snagger asserts...

Posted May 12, 2011
Maybe a small alternative to hydrogen being used as the new fuel cell could be a straight replacement of fossil fuel with bio fuels.

It's been stated a lot that we don't have the capacity to grow enough crops for fuel without sacrificing food production, but I was reading an article yesterday about a company setting up shop near Karratha (northwest oz) where they are producing carbon neutral bio fuel from algae and sea water. They hope that one day to (eventually) have 10% of the worlds fuel made that way. With the anointed of vast empty spaces across Australia and Asian deserts etc, is it possible that a government could fund this on a mass scale to replace fossil fuel supplies with a reliable and cheap alternative?

As for what might happen, north Africa and the Arab producers obviously go down the gurgler (well, further down anyway in most cases) but even the USA is a large oil producer. California alone is one of the worlds largest economies because of it so what would happen there. Could see the fall of American influence with their income drying up and the rise of another country. Something to ponder.

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Mat D reckons...

Posted May 12, 2011
Eccentric Kiwi's have already done it but were brought out by the corporations of Exxon, BP, Shell, etc back in the 70's.

I say bring back airships and zepplins, fill with Hydrogen in an aluminium skinned bladder then park in a thunder storm, hang on didn't something like this kind already happen? Better idea we could Helium fill airships with solar pannels in the skin to run electric motors to make them fly. How much for 100,000 cubic metres of Helium?

How about when you put mentos in a coke/pepsi bottle, what gases does that create. Could I run my car on it? or my airship?

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WarDog ducks in to say...

Posted May 12, 2011
Mat D, I've been running my spaceship on Mentos and Coke for years.

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Darth Greybeard mumbles...

Posted May 12, 2011
Get your belief a new pair of suspenders. Cold. Fusion. Sure, it's a crock that no claimant has ever come close to reproducing but - what a hook for a story like that. Heck, portable Hot Fusion is probably just as likely. Costs of conversion would be huge, as above, but your fearsome engine could have an attached doohickey which extracted deuterium & tritium from your water fuel, pelletised them and fed them into the, er, quantum vortex flux reactor. Yeah. That produces the energy to split the water, discard the oxygen & burn the hydrogen. Assuming you don't just use the heat to run a turbine & forget the electrolysis. Take that OPEC & use your oil to lube up for something crude. Ah. Except for the part we need for plastics etc.

The pachyderm in the parlor is of course heat. While such a switch would cut our ozone depleting, greenhouse heat-retaining gas output to a tiny fraction of today's, it would still liberate waste heat in immense quantities & more so as the world standard of living catches up to the west. Then I guess there's another trilogy in it. Set a few hundred years later when all the heat from "free clean" fusion energy has become a major problem­†.

(†All ideas expressed are the intellectual property of Greybeard Fantasy Imports & Rubber Goods™, no matter how lame.)

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mrblenny mumbles...

Posted May 12, 2011
I think a lot of people forget in "alternative energy" discussions is that the cost of the actual fuel is pretty minor in the scheme of it. Remember when nuclear promised energy too cheap to meter - while arguably true, someone still has to foot the bill for the power lines, building the reactor etc etc. Likewise the cars that run on water claptrap can be filed under perpetual motion, even if a energy cheap method for splitting water into Hydrogen and oxygen is possible the energy density is simply not enough to compete with a good old tank of petroleum distillate.

Much more likely in my mind is the rapidly developing field of "super-capacitors" - they promise almost instant charging and high capacity batteries for a fraction of the cost of your li-ion's and what not. Combined with an orbital solar array to beam power to Earth you have a realistic and possible future timeline for a world without fossil fuels (and no, orbital solar arrays are not as stupid as they sound, plus a plot line could involve evil genius plan to convert them into some sort of super weapon!)

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DrYobbo asserts...

Posted May 12, 2011
Wait... you mean NZ hasn't ALREADY got the attention of the international community? Jesus fuck, how many more fucking Hobbit movies do we have to make?

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Mat D reckons...

Posted May 12, 2011
How about this from NZ. Even the UN and WWF are expecting us to pick up our game.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/the-changing-world/news/article.cfm?c_id=1502962&objectid=10724878

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Therbs mumbles...

Posted May 12, 2011
They're making one of those fillums about the hairy little nutters now aren't they? Why do they remind me of Irish ratsackers?
As for water engines, its the basis of a good story. Be better with some of those fucking hobbits getting their beans cashed.

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zeniph is gonna tell you...

Posted May 12, 2011
Ben Elton wrote a book called "Gridlock" which is very very similar to the proposed NZ scientist story line - a retarded UK scientist (Geoffrey Spasmo!) invents a hydrogen powered engine. OPEC and the American Car industry try to take him out...

Been 15+ years since I read it but I remember it being pretty insightful and funny (if you like BE in the first place I guess). Lots of amusing bits about the crap that politicians come out with when talking environment policies

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Orin is gonna tell you...

Posted May 12, 2011
Kinda suprised you haven't put a "don't send me ideas" warning out though - all you need is some nut claiming that they came up with the idea for your next novel and send it to you and you've got a headache you probably don't want to deal with.

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John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 12, 2011
True, but my next five books are all worked out, and none of them touch on any of this.

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Darth Greybeard mumbles...

Posted May 12, 2011
Orin, I think JB has made it clear in the past that any ideas explicated on this blog are either his property or fair game - hence my attempted humour above. Not sure how this stands legally but hell, if I had a good idea (a) I probably wouldn't recognise it and (b) I'd be too lazy to use it & (c) It would be free to all comers. And I swear it on NowhereBob's grave.

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Nocturnalist mumbles...

Posted May 12, 2011
+++Ben Elton wrote a book called “Gridlock” [in which] a retarded UK scientist (Geoffrey Spasmo!) invents a hydrogen powered engine.+++

Yeah, that was the first thing I thought of too, although the result is much more depressing than the scenario being put forward here. (And Geoffrey's problem was cerebral palsy, not an intellectual disability.)

+++Then there is the issue of Hydrogen Embrittlement.+++

You've mentioned metal and carbon fibre; does it have the same effect on ceramics? If not (or if there's enough wiggle room for fiction purposes) then one spin-off effect would be a scramble among the nations with better technological bases to retool to produce high-quality precision ceramics, with knock-on effects back down the line to primary resource providers.

I'm also thinking about all that water vapour for exhaust. Think about any big city and all the engines pumping water out into the atmosphere. Cities wreathed in mist instead of exhaust smog; space photography showing cities as little white smudges of perpetual cloud instead of clusters of lights; the wilting summertime humidity of places like Hong Kong getting amazingly worse; colder cities glittering with frost and dealing with underfoot ice-slicks perpetually recreated by the car exhausts.

Just some top-of-the-head stuff.

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DrYobbo would have you know...

Posted May 12, 2011
Gridlock was wank. In fact, every novel Elton has ever written has been fucking shithouse. Discuss.

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Matthew K is gonna tell you...

Posted May 12, 2011
Wasn't aware of the effects of hydrogen on metal that Lobes talks of, although the ceramic engine seems a good avenue to explore, (William Gibson used it in a cyberpunk novel).
I was aware that "Dubya" had been a supporter of H as a future fuel and it does seem to have strengths. One great strength it could have is that of making alternative energy viable: Making H with the energy generated by wind/solar/tidal power is a way of storing that energy, as wind and sun are not obliging enough to coincide with peak demand for electricity.
But storage would still be a bugger, that sounds where the costs would be unlike petroleum where the costs are in extraction and refining. (I assume).

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Bondiboy66 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 12, 2011
Couple of things on issues raised above.

Ceramic engines - work has been done on this in years recently past, where many metal engine parts were replaced with high tech ceramic bits. The end reults were promising, the engines could run at much higher temperatures meaning less need for cooling (and the attendant reduction in moving parts) and more efficient combustion due to the higher operating temperatures.

Mr Blenny mentioned Super Capacitors - Phillip Jose Farmer had those in his Riverworld series, he called them a 'batacitor' - they could instantly take on board a days worth of electricity and let it out at a trickle or torrent as required.

Wireless energy transmission - Nicola Tesla first came up with that idea years ago. Why it didn't get taken up has kept tin foil hat wearers talking for years (no I don't know why myself). Good idea though!

Ben Elton - has had momentsof good work i.e. The Young Ones. His books are shite, his recent outing on TV had potential, but sucked too much to survive long enough to mature to something less shithouse.

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted May 12, 2011
I'm with Professor Yobbo.

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coriolisdave ducks in to say...

Posted May 12, 2011
What's to discuss, Mr Yob? The bloke is a talentless twunker, desperately burning any good-will left over from the Young Ones with increasingly pathetic faux-topical histrionics.

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Lobes puts forth...

Posted May 12, 2011
Blackadder and the Young Ones were both great.

I'm not sure what effect H has on ceramics but I like the idea of ceramic engines so run with it. I do know that platinum is a key ingredient in fuel cells.

Graybeards intriguing theory of excess waste heat into the environment makes me think probably we would get many of the same effects we are getting from climate change. More energy in the system is going to create more frequent extreme weather events. I guess the main difference would be you are not acidifying the oceans which in itself is a huge difference

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damian puts forth...

Posted May 12, 2011
Thermodynamic equilibrium of inputs to and outputs from the earth as a system (ie, the "spaceship Earth" model) is an overall concern. It's the real reason nuclear strikes the wrong chord for me - because it very definitely constitutes a thermal input that has no commensurate output, nor could it till we built some kind of ginormous radiator in space that we can pump the heat out to.

I believe the sums have been done, and that the effect on the balance from direct release of waste heat (and remember kids - ALL energy use to do work is dissipated as heat) is negligible next to more potent effects (like the mix of greenhouse gasses).

But if we got to a point that every car, every appliance has a nifty Mr Fusion power source, and we start to solve every problem by adding more energy, then it's easy to see it as inevitable we effect the thermodynamic balance by gross heat discharge.

It's one of the reasons using less energy to do the stuff we do now is important.

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damian is gonna tell you...

Posted May 12, 2011
Oh - I rather liked Stark when it came out. Mostly the set-pieces and one-liners, admittedly.

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andy f is gonna tell you...

Posted May 13, 2011
TANSTAAFL
there aint no such thing as a free lunch
or maybe thats the twist.- there is a free lunch, the doohickey actually does split water for less than the energy release is,
questions being how and why
maybe the gadget alters or has detected the altering of the RULES, problems, of course, ensue

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Mat D puts forth...

Posted May 13, 2011
I am a Harry Turtledove fan JB but I may be showing my ignorance here; who is Ben Elton?

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Matthew K asserts...

Posted May 13, 2011
Ben Elton is/was a LEFT WING British stand up comedian from the '80s who couldn't or wouldn't leave his politics behind for even a second. It got boring after a bit and he went on to help write Black Adder.
He is the descendent of a prominent historian - Lord Elton.

Yeah, super capacitors. That's what we need, it would be awesome. Pity they only seem to work in science fiction, if only there was an SF author around...

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Lobes would have you know...

Posted May 13, 2011
My girlfriend was the nanny to his kids back in the day. She has all his books lying around but you guys aren't really selling me on reading any of them.

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Mat D is gonna tell you...

Posted May 13, 2011
I don't remember the 80's as I was in primary school for the last half of it. I do remember Flux Capacitors though!

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zeniph has opinions thus...

Posted May 13, 2011
haha - a whole lot of love in the room for Ben Elton

well his writting style is much like his standup and you either like or hate it I guess, also was a bit like you've read one you've read them all - Stark and Gridlock were more or less the same book but I still really liked them and his observations at the time. I still laugh when I see the names "Great Sandy Desert" or "Shark Bay" and think of Australia's pragmatic, to the point naming conventions

today I couldnt argue too much though with the twitter comment on his late TV show "the 80's called - they want their jokes back"

re hydrogen engines and the initial topic - sorry I know nothing.

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MickH is gonna tell you...

Posted May 13, 2011
well back on the plot line....

Like the petroleum companies would just sit back and go "yeah dude, we're cool with that!" They would be the black hatted baddies in this story because you have to have bad guys right? And oil company suits are the baddiest bad guys out there.

And to answer the progress question, of course there's been progress but the baddies have bought up all the patients!

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Paul Nicholas Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 13, 2011
Although I am always, by nature, reluctant to ever agree with Lobes, I must in this case. Hydrogen is not a fuel. Hydrogen is an energy storage mechanism in the same way a battery stores, but does not produce, electricity. You have to make hydrogen before you can use it — generally by extracting hydrogen from fossil fuels, or by using electricity to split it from water, and that means it ends up costing the same if not more than you get from it. A pretty idea, but a dead end.

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Tony would have you know...

Posted May 13, 2011
Having spent most of my life thinking Ben Elton was a crap writer, I was surprised to find The First Casualty quite readable. Not great, but well above his usual standard.

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tygertim has opinions thus...

Posted May 14, 2011
Guys, a couple of years ago, I did a little reading after seeing an article about the US Air Force conducting a test of an alternate fuel using a C 17 Transport (flew from California to New Jersey) just in case we ever needed it in a National Emergency. The fuel was synthetic petroleum. It worked just fine. Turns out some smart mad scientist somewhere has come up with a type of algae (or something similar, I forget) that converts sewer wastes (SHIT!) into a substance that can be processed like petroleum (and gets pretty much the same byproducts out of it) for around (according to the article, don't quote me) $40 to $60 US dollars a barrel.... according to wiki, there are LOTS of processes that will do that for varying costs per barrel to produce (since at least 1913, I think). The catch seems to be doing large batches, which is probably Chevron, Exxon, Shell et al haven't started working it. I mean think about it.... One BIG problem produced by cities ( and pig farms and Ranches come to think about it) is human waste, ditto for animal wastes...
South Africa (according to wiki) produces all of its fuel syntheticly, so we know it can be done, but it ain't cheep. If someone can come up with an inexpensive process, well you can see where that will lead...
Cheers,
Tyger

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Graham D Baker asserts...

Posted May 15, 2011
One of the problems I can now see with this is we still need oil for lubrication, plastics, and of course bitumen to make roads, with a cheap alternative like 'water', will that put more cars on the road.

Would you be able to use fresh water, salt water, or grey water to produce this ?

If it's fresh water, it's in limited supply around the world, would the USA go to war to protect it's fresh water supply ?

As mentioned previously changeover costs would horrendous, but most people change their cars every 5-10 years anyway, most fleets change their trucks over every 12-18 months, unless the new vehicles were similarly priced as current models, would there be buyer resistance ?

What about your garden tap, will you need to put a lock on it ? I'm sure Sydney Water would love to charge as much as they can, you'd be making sure you have no leaky taps around the place.

At least with the spare oil, you could always make water tanks for home to be self-sufficient.

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Damian ducks in to say...

Posted May 15, 2011
Resource wars over fresh water are definitely pegged for the medium term future. Militaries are already exploring what they need to know to be on top of this.

All plastics, and nearly every industrial chemical, along with pretty much any substance that is synthesised in glass currently requires oil as an input. This is because the polymers left over from refineries have such an economic advantage.

No oil... then we're back to bakelite and leather... and probably wood products for everything that currently involves plastic. This will happen with peak oil, whether we find an alternative energy source or not.

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted May 15, 2011
A question without notice. Thinking me some Fan Fic.

What % of American married men wear a wedding ring?
I'd guestimate over %50 of Australian men do.

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Damian is gonna tell you...

Posted May 16, 2011
*raises a hand, with a ring on it*

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Paul Nicholas Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 16, 2011
*raises a hand, with no wedding ring on it*

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Guru Bob ducks in to say...

Posted May 16, 2011
In the Battle for Los Angeles the aliens landed in LA because they wanted our water.

I thought that the point of the enquiry was the scenario - not the technology? Just take the John Ringo approach and use a widget.

To make it all possible the author only has to write that the mad scientist has created a 'dohickey convertor' that anyone can install in their car and make it run on hydrogen.
from clean, dirty or even seawater...

There that is done!

What happens next - when the whole basis of today's world economy and power is turned upside down? Who will end up on top?

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mutters...

Posted May 17, 2011
Me. I will end up on top.

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FJP912 mutters...

Posted May 23, 2011
Wasn't there an Arthur C. Clarke novel that was set in a world where some cheap alternative to petroleum had been perfected, and one of the results of that was that Israel and/or the US nuked the rest of the Middle East into oblivion, because we didn't need anything from them any more?

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So shiny. So precioussssssss...

Posted May 6, 2011 by John Birmingham
Well it took a while, involved about four false alarms, and in the end I had to skip lunch to race across the city to lay hands on mine, but I finally, finally managed to place within my possession, Master's shiny, new iPad2.

Oh yes. It shines, brothers and sisters, it shines with the holy awesome within.

There's been about umpty billion reviews of the 2 so far and I don't intend to add to them, other than saying I chose a 32gig, wifi only, black model. Having traveled thru the US with the kid's v.1 pads hotspotted to my ipwn I'd determined that 3g was unecessary. It also adds a few grams to the weight and of course subscription costs for a 3g connection.

I chose the 32gigs because that's enough memory to hold some serious media, especially films and tv shows while I travel. But I dont keep that stuff on board permanently because once you've watched it, there's no need. It can either sit on a server at home, or on the physical media in which it arrived. So 32 is more than enough, while 64, perversely isn't nearly enough. At 64 gigs you're starting to think about whether you could load up whole seasons of shows like the Wire or Firefly, when there's no need, and you probably can't anyway.

16gigs is for little girls.

I chose the black because black is always cooler, but it also provides a much better surround when watching vids. With a white bezel you never get past the framing of the image. With black, particularly when the lights are down, you can fall into the action on screen much more easily.

For apps, I've leaned heavily towards media and especially news consumption. Hearst have just inked a deal with Apple to put a few of their mastheads on iPad, one of which, US Esquire, is an old fave of mine, so I will be subscribing to that, along with Wired and maybe, just maybe, The Daily, from the Murdoch Deathstar. I would have transferred my other subs across from the Kindle but that's not yet allowed.

My other news apps are all freebies. The ABC's HD app is a fucking killer, as is most of their digital delivery gear. CNN, NYT, NPR, al Jazeera, The Independent, BBC, the Economist's 'Intelligent Life', they're all good. In addition to them I've got a couple of heavily trafficked specialty tech portals like Engadget, IGN, Cnet and so on.

Most interesting however are the 'bespoke' magazine apps like Flipboard and Zite which sweep thru your social media connections, your RSS feeds, and, if you let them, your email, to craft a digital magazine just for you. The results are amazing, and the more you use them of course, the better they get at predicting and searching for the sort of stuff you would normally seek out yourself. You can lose hours in these things, especially if, like me, you have thousands on feeder links coming from twitter and facebook.

I have to severely limit my time on the pad lest I lose whole days to those two.

For working while I travel I've got Pages, but will probably swap that out for a different program sometime soon. There's a great little note taking app called Penultimate which turns the pad into a giant old fashioned notebook. Bought a stylus to use with this and for something so simple it is the fucking schnitzel. I love it. Especially for jotting down thoughts about story arcs, characters etc. Orin put me onto some mind mapping apps which I haven't really got into, but a related story mapper called Ruminate has proved itself invaluable while I was plotting out Angels of Vengeance. I've loaded Blogpress and WordPress and a bunch of photo editors for work on the go.

There's a folder full of games, natch, and another with half a dozen fitness apps, the best of which is Nike's amazing effort. Hundreds of workouts, all with video instruction. Totally worth getting even if only for your phone.

The thing I'm coming to fully understand about these devices is how personal they are. We use to speak of 'personal computers', but really there was a huge amount of commonality between most peoples machines. Word processor. Spreadsheet. Coupla other big time programs. Maybe a game or two. Some music.

The explosion of the app ecology, not just at iTunes but over at Android and soon enough at Amazon really lets us invent a new machine on a literally blank skate. Once of I finish my book edit I'm gonna take a few days to reinvent mine all over again.

 

42 Responses to ‘So shiny. So precioussssssss...’

fknvty asserts...

Posted May 6, 2011
until you chuck a havsy .... did he ever get his cell phone returned? pz.v.

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John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 6, 2011
First thing I did was fire up the locator function and login into Mobile Me. Now my Master can follow my every move.

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Monster Yuppy is gonna tell you...

Posted May 6, 2011
Me & the Mrs now use our 64g V1 iPads for pretty much day to day work use, leaving the MacBook at home.
Was gonna grab a V2, but will prob wait for V3.
And yes, I do spend an inordinate amount of time playing Angry Birds.
Don't you judge me.

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sibeen is gonna tell you...

Posted May 6, 2011
I got hold of one a week or two ago. The 64 gig version with the 3G, anything less appeared to be, well to be blunt, a little woossy.

My favourite app so far is GoodReader. I load all my site diagrams on as a PDF and can walk around and annotate the drawings as I go. Saves me lugging around a tonne of A1 drawings.

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Darth Greybeard mumbles...

Posted May 6, 2011
Apps are indeed wonderful. Adobe Photoshop Express, Google Docs, Dropbox, Firefox all get a workout (as does Angry Birds). Norton Utilities is not only useful but looks incredibly cool. My favourite app at the moment is Gesture Search (Google). Instead of swiping past 5 pages of screens to get to an app or contact, you draw the first letter on screen and there's an instant list. Only once had to include the second letter but it is so fast, easy & intuitive. Hierarchical menus are history man, history!

Fellow Androids might like Identity Sweeper. Set your password and you can remotely lock the phone, tell it to SMS its location or wipe everything back to factory specs. And (dons Sneer-proof Jacket) I hear Windows 8 will have an App store? (Exit stage left, pursued by pelted Apples.)

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Chaz mumbles...

Posted May 6, 2011
JB what about Dragon?

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Naut asserts...

Posted May 6, 2011
Did you buy it in the US and then get it shipped?

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Havock mutters...

Posted May 6, 2011
Virty, NAH, fkn things goneski!, got another V 3 unit. But gotta say, the whole Apple, sync, recover fkn thing is FKD! beyond belief. And as for the TRACKING SOFTWARE, Jobes can get fkd on that too, fkrs should have it activated when ya get the phone or TELL YA! about the stuff. Fkn PHONE STORE MUPPETS!

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted May 6, 2011
"blank skate." ?

Skates are cartilaginous fish belonging to the family Rajidae in the superorder Batoidea of rays. There are more than 200 described species in 27 genera. There are two subfamilies, Rajinae (hardnose skates) and Arhynchobatinae (softnose skates). [wiki]

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Paul Nicholas Boylan would have you know...

Posted May 6, 2011
I fear new consumer technology. I have a client that insists I have an Iphone and is buying me one. I don't want it. But how do you say no to such a thing?

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Rhino would have you know...

Posted May 6, 2011
for games try Flight Deck Freedom. Free and will chew up hours and hours. We have a running contest at the cigar shop ... bunch of middle-aged men sitting around with iPads landing planes and helicopters on ships ... and if you get high score you get to lord it over the rest.

I loves me shiny .. I does I does.

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fknvty would have you know...

Posted May 6, 2011
@ boylesy ... simple .... repeat after me N ............. O ................ there now ..... wasn't so hard was it?
we often give the equivalent of no in a foriegn language just to give people the proverbials ...... my favs are pas (french) noi (schwabisch) or ?? (korean) .... you'll have to grab a sample from google translate to get the gist.
beer oclock v.

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Unpossible puts forth...

Posted May 6, 2011
Do you earn commission for promoting the wares of mister Jobs? 'Cos I thinky I will go and get one if I get some good news on the employment front. Drool.

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Rhino puts forth...

Posted May 6, 2011
Uh oh ... Shiny is now obsolete. Can't wait to get my hands on this:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110504111147.htm

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Paul Nicholas Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 6, 2011
boylesy?

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Darth Greybeard mutters...

Posted May 6, 2011
PNB, this is a traditional Oz form of affection & respect. Thus Rhino would become Rhiny and Murphy would become, er, Murphy. Some of our Prime Ministers are accorded this honour but by no means all. Bob Hawke was often Hawkey but Paul Keating was generally "that bastard". And Julia is never Gillie.

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Nocturnalist swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 6, 2011
Actually Murph would probably become "Murpho".

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Darth Greybeard is gonna tell you...

Posted May 6, 2011
And Jobs paying a commission to the likes of JB would be like Scientology paying Travolta & Cruise. I wonder if he's ever thought of just tithing the faithful instead of charging for each new shiny?

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Bangar puts forth...

Posted May 6, 2011
Congratulations and enjoy, I still think I'll go with this, ASUS Eee PC T101MT-BU27-BK 10.1-Inch Convertible Tablet. It's not perfect (what is), a SSD would be better but that I can fit.

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Damian is gonna tell you...

Posted May 6, 2011
Hmm. Yes, 16GB is for little girls (got the 32G iPhone 3GS myself, will only upgrade when either it dies or I start carrying around devices that support WiFi but not Bluetooth). Yes, black is cool (we did in fact spring the extra couple hundred bucks to replace the wife's iBook with the black Macbook), yes your master will track your every move... me, I'm forced to rely on the fact my home-and-contents insurance covers phone idiocy (and frankly, I'm as likely to fall in the pool with it as I am to lose it somewhere out and about, so this is probably a better solution anyway).

There was some point to me posting, something I meant to talk about, can I remember it? Nooooooo......

Oh, that's right. I jailbroke my AppleTV (2nd generation) the other week. This is after months of seeing blog posts about how an ABC iView app for the Samsung network-capable TVs would be available in "2011 Q1". There were even updates confirming this *during* Q1. Since we were well and truly in Q2, I gave up waiting. The AppleTV itself was a bit of a disappointment in terms of the things it could potentially do, but had always justified itself as a "network speaker" for the various iTunes instances about the house. However, some fine people released a port of XBMC to the AppleTV back in January, and I'm in a position now to confirm that the iView plugin for that works nicely.

Along with XBMC's other functionality (and very accessible plugin API in Python), this more or less obviates any need to set up a media centre computer at the television. A $130 AppleTV beats a lot of other options quite smartly.

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Moko is gonna tell you...

Posted May 6, 2011
FKN Apple.

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Brian reckons...

Posted May 6, 2011
Ehhh . . .'bout time.

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beeso mutters...

Posted May 6, 2011
Why can't you blog about something I'm interested in?

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Brian would have you know...

Posted May 6, 2011
Yeah . . .what Beeso said. I mean IPads . . so last year man.

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fknvty ducks in to say...

Posted May 6, 2011
like if you can fall into the pool with your i-fkn-lookat-me-spazz- phone then you can afford to fkn buy another one can't you ... grrrrrrr some grunts around here ......
like as if i've enough problems trying to install a wave machine (that tubes out) in the dam without this glossy hummingbird black bs.
much worse than a fkn country womens association arvo tea WITHOUT pumpkin scones if you ask me
pz.v.

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damian reckons...

Posted May 6, 2011
Don't get me started on the pumpkin vines, virtster

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted May 6, 2011
You need iVine 2.0

With the special pumpkin patch.

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fknvty would have you know...

Posted May 6, 2011
who's lurkin' in me pumpkin patch begorrah .... watchit or i'll haf to alert the lesbian colony next door, they got real mean ipads. pz.v.

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Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted May 6, 2011
Birmo, can't you download a Kindle app for your iPad?

I have a Kindle app for my third gen iPod Touch and it syncs up pretty well with the Kindle 2. My only gripe is that I do not seem to be able to get newspapers downloaded onto the Touch.

The note taking app with a stylus sounds awesome. That said, I suspect I'm going to have to wait for the iPad 3.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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andy f has opinions thus...

Posted May 7, 2011
surely an ipad for lesbians would be an Lpad?

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Moko asserts...

Posted May 7, 2011
Please, Beeso's got nudes of Job's on his iPad ... iPhone ... Mac .... T-shirt ... and walls.

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Mat D has opinions thus...

Posted May 7, 2011
Hell yeah to the Firefly episodes for when you travel, god bless Joss Whedon!!!

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Big Pete has opinions thus...

Posted May 7, 2011
the new iPad sounds like a nice device. If only I could think of a reason to own one.

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drej ducks in to say...

Posted May 7, 2011
Huzzah. Made for drunken tweeting in front of the box I reckon...

Don't mind my ipawn4 I have to say. Except the free rubber bumper from Apple lasted all of about 3 months before breaking. I guess you do get what you pay for...

So just received in the mail this week shiny new protector case thingy - the Vapor4 from ElementCase. Its wicked : aircraft-grade aluminium surround (yeah, wank) with carbon fibre backing cover. Very happy, just hope it protects as good as it looks, although it ranked pretty high on the net.

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MickH mumbles...

Posted May 7, 2011
And of course you're with Telstra because any other network just can't cut it for speed and coverage.

Right?
Right!

:)

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ConspiracyCat puts forth...

Posted May 8, 2011
Yeah, real funny MickH, (smartarse). I would have said so much, much sooner, but I'm with Telstra.

FKN intermittent broadband errors.....

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Damian reckons...

Posted May 8, 2011
Personally I am sick of losing phone+internet 4 times a week while they mess with the pits in the street. We are so switching to cable when this contract expires, and perhaps is we get telstra cable, there's some package deal with mobiles we can work towards also (as contracts run out there).

I am sure I grazed the phone cable with the shovel when I was re-planting a palm tree yesterday. I mean, it's in galvanised pipe ffs. How long did they expect that to last? It's been there for 40 years...

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lostatlunch is gonna tell you...

Posted May 8, 2011
Game app splode... I have lost weeks on it..

And gravity HD... It broke my brain..


And osmos HD... SO PRETTY

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Brian would have you know...

Posted May 8, 2011
Strangely enough . . .I'll be swapping from Vodaphone back to Telstra.

Yep . . .Teltsra has problems . . . I'd love to have those problems. In fact I'd love to have the connectivity.

Example.Drove to Canbera up the Hulme. Telstra - good. Vodaphone? Had a Havoc moment. I have lots of those.

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DrStrangelove mutters...

Posted May 8, 2011
Good grief, I feel so behind the times. I think I'll move out West Texas and raise jackalopes.

Doc

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damian mumbles...

Posted May 8, 2011
Did I say shovel? I definitely meant spade.

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Lobes mutters...

Posted May 9, 2011
Yeah man, you should download season 1 and 2 of Archer. Its funny funny funny shit and perfect for watching on a tablet.

Like James Bond meets Mad Men via The Office.

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Some other things I did on my holidays.

Posted April 27, 2011 by John Birmingham
I don't have a huge amount of time to write this entry. Got deadlines out the wazoo and I have to go pick up a tire I put in for puncture repair this morning. But I found the kids blogs accepted pics from within blogpress and with that in mind thought I might try a quick entry here. Below is the theatre in San F

ran that was a couple of doors down from our B&B. I'm pretty sure every tourist who passed along that way snapped a similar photo.

Alcatraz, which we visited on a night tour one cold and very wet evening, had a real concentration camp feel I thought.

It was a great tour but we were glad to get across to the water and into a warm bar. Hillstone, I think it was called. The ferry left from a terminal across the road and naturally there were any number of shitty, fast food dumps waiting to lure the unwary in over there. But it's always been my experience that if you just look around and walk a few hundred metres there'll be somewhere else worth going.

Of course it wasn't all dingy bars and wind swept ruins. We did some walking up and down the many hills of the city.

In New York, we stayed near the Park and spent a lot of time either walking through there, or exercising, or just hanging out.

And there were those occasions when the lads would go their own way. Leaving the ladies to shop while we toured submarines...

Inspected aircraft carriers

Or shot things down.

As in SF we did a lot of walking.

A bit of shopping...

And some fine dining...

17 Responses to ‘Some other things I did on my holidays.’

Melbo puts forth...

Posted April 27, 2011
Thanks JB - love the pics. So you did the Nob but did you get to the Coit???

It must have been the worst kind of torture to be imprisoned on Alcatraz with that stunningly beautiful city right outside your window. So close yet so far.

New York - have to go. Your photos have just made me kick myself again for not making the trip the last two times I was there. What was I thinking?

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Brian ducks in to say...

Posted April 27, 2011
You are so getting a serve from H.

Strange . . . I spent some of my hols. looking at old warclobber as well. There''s a rule there I think.

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NBlob would have you know...

Posted April 27, 2011
Nice one JB, thanks for sharing.
Just one small question; is that young man ready for a 50 cal?
Ok and another larger one; How TF did they get a SR71 (?) on an aircraft carrier?

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Rhino puts forth...

Posted April 27, 2011
Where did you stay on Nob Hill ... the HLDW and I stay at a little boutique hotel by name of The White Swan when we are there. Wonderful little place.

NBob ... the answer to your question about the Blackbird is, "Carefully".

R.

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NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 27, 2011
Thanks Rhino, I just googled me up some Airgeek action, they sugested crane & barge.
If I cared I'd find out the difference between an A12 & a Blackbird, as some airgeeks insist that the one on display on USS Intrepid is an A12.

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pitpat would have you know...

Posted April 27, 2011
mmm bacon in a bar. What will they think of next

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John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted April 27, 2011
Chocolate covered bacon in a bar.

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted April 27, 2011
Rhino, we were at the Golden gate Hotel. A really lovely little place about two blocks up from Union Square.

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abigail mumbles...

Posted April 27, 2011
"Golden Gate Hotel--lovely little place to stay"--making mental note.

Lovely pix JB.I can never believe how extraordinary Central Park is.

So clever you chose to stay close to it--that and hiring the limo at the airports was very sane; that's the deal about travelling with kids, make it simple, why make it any more tiring than needs be? . All looks fabulous.

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girlclumsy mutters...

Posted April 27, 2011
Lovely shots! Such gorgeous weather too, really helps make a holiday shine. :)

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abigail mumbles...

Posted April 27, 2011
Oh, btw--did you ever mention how the baseball game went? sorry, can't recall. Was everything good?

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ConspiracyCat would have you know...

Posted April 27, 2011
Wonderful pictures, JB. Thanks for sharing. (I'm insanely jealous).

I'm not jealous of your 'merican accent, though. Hope your "tire" got plenty of rest!

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Paul Nicholas Boylan puts forth...

Posted April 28, 2011
How very wonderful. Do you feel your children's horizons got a bit more distant due to their experiences?

Although it is surely unlikely, you have now created a greater possibility that at least one of our children will aspire to attend film school in NYC.

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jennicki reckons...

Posted April 28, 2011
Thanks for sharing the pics! They're very nice.

I am a little jealous that you got all that exercise in walking around hilly San Fran!

I need to find me a route with lots of hills this summer for my walking.

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Chaz would have you know...

Posted April 28, 2011
looks cold

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DrStrangelove ducks in to say...

Posted April 28, 2011
My wife keeps threatening to take me to NY City sometime when we're up visiting her parents in PA. Sounds like y'all are having a great time!

Why the heck does it look so cold there? We're already in the 80s and 90s down Texas way.

Doc

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Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted April 29, 2011
What I want to know is why the Essex Class carrier I went to visit did not have an SR-71 for me to inspect?

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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