How to write BAD web sites
Thanks to Stumbleupon, I recently came across Josiah Cole's 19 Things NOT To Do When Building a Website. He concentrates mainly on commercial websites, which is something I have not been involved with. But I have created a number of small web sites, mainly for myself or my family. And I've been using the Internet and World Wide Web for over ten years now, so I have a good idea of things that web sites do to annoy me. Here are some of my thoughts on features to really avoid when creating a web site, or even just a single page.
How to write BAD web sites.
- Have one big Flash object
I use Firefox 2.0 with the Flashblock extension. If I go to a website and all I see is Flashblock's 'play' buttion in the middle of a large area, I usually just close the tab. For a site to be all Flash typically means it has little or no content and is all show. No thanks, I'll go find something more interesting to do with my time.
- Force links to open in a new window
Ever heard of tabs? It's annoying for links to open entire new browser windows. Is there a Firefox extension that can redirect a new window into a tab?
Breaking tabbed browsing even more. If it looks like a link, I expect to be able to middle-click on it and have it open in a new tab. Even more annoying are the ones that simply do a document.location=http://.... WTF?
- Play music in the background
Surely people have heard of MP3's (even though my collection is mostly Ogg's). I also have a tuner card in my computer. At any point I could be listening to MP3/Oggs, the TV, or radio. And some site starts playing music or something else in the background. Ctrl-W. Bye bye.
- Use vague icons for navigation
This might just be me, but I've always had problems with icons. I have trouble trying to figure out what they mean. Just give me text so I can read it. Is that a stick? A pen? A finger? What ?!?
- Use a disruptive background image
Litter the page with animated GIF's
Have 'Best viewed with Netscape/Internet Explorer' buttons
Have a 'Designed for 800x600/1024x768' button
Use table-heavy HTML created with a WYSIWYG HTML editor
Use the <font> tag
Change the font colour a lot
Hello, 1996 called and they want their trashy web pages back! Seriously, we've been there, done that, and decided it was bad. Please use CSS, simple (verified) markup, and pastel colours. It's much easier to read and often uses less bandwidth.
As you might have noticed, two and a bit of my complaints deal with links. This is not a minor point. The World Wide Web is a huge collection of web pages and sites linked together by hyperlinks. Without links, the web would be useless. They are the number one feature on the web. New formats such as RSS/Atom feeds, and the semantic web do even more with links.
If a user has difficulty finding links, opening links, and bookmarking (or emailing) links, that web site or page has failed.
Simple as that. Make links usable.
If John Howard was running al-Qaeda in Iraq...
Our gutless PM, John Howard, has weighed in on US senator Barak Obama's stated plans to pull US troops out of Iraq if he is elected president.
"If I was running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats" [*]
Isn't this basically the same fear-mongering bullshit the Bush camp was using against John Kerry back in 2004?
Hey Johnny, you're three years behind in your pro-neocon rhetoric.
Yes, the moderation system is screwed up
I seem to have an enemy of sorts. From near the end of May I have been getting a lot of "Flamebait" mods on my comments. Now, some of those are probably fair. I don't post very many comments here, I find it just too "busy". I usually only comment when I see something I can really comment on, not just idle chatter. So perhaps a lot of my comments are somewhat heated. But there's clearly irregularities:
- This recent helpful comment was modded Informative. Thank you. Then some nutter responds with an unprovoked attack. Does he get modded down? Flamebait? Troll? Overrated? No. I respond and that gets modded Flamebait.
- In a discussion about IPv6 and 6bone someone suggested using 6to4 tunneling. I respond saying that when I traceroute the "anycast" address 184.108.40.206 it goes off to the US, and that I'd rather use AARNET's local tunnel broker service. This somehow got modded Flamebait.
- In a discussion about MS claiming the OpenDocument format was slow, I agreed with another comment and elaborated. Informative apparently, then flamebait.
- And finally, in a discussion about problems with mapping drive letters in Windows XP to Novel shares, I explained how DOS (and Windows 3) assigned drive letters to partitions. Oh, and an exclaimation that MS is still using drive letters in their OS's. Someone thought it was informative, but later it was modded Flamebait.
In a few of these cases I remember seeing "positive" mods pretty soon after I posted, with the flamebait mod coming much later. Which seems to suggest to me that someone is regularly checking my posting history to hand out Flamebait mods, rather than reading my comments in the normal discussion and reacting to them. And quite a few of them are pretty deep in the discussion, not top-level comments. So it's not likely that they'd normally read them.
To me, this just another step in the decay of Slashdot. This used to be a pretty nice place. My userid is 755, I am among the first users of Slashdot. I created this account some time back in '96 or '97 when Rob first added user accounts to Slashdot. Back then it was fun. Ask Slashdot was actually helpful. The discussion was much more paced and friendly. Now almost every story gets several hundred comments in a few hours and you have to be very quick to get in a comment that anyone will respond to. If you come "late" then your comment will lie undiscovered at the end where nobody reads, or modded "Redundant".
Which brings me to the moderation system. It was a good idea to start with: make good comments more prominent and bad ones less prominent. But like all things it is open to abuse. So meta-moderation was added in an attempt to reduce the abuse. But that doesn't seem to have worked well. And then there's the problem of Groupthink - the moderation system is like some sort of perverted democracy where people vote on what other people write. Democracy is good (usually) for choosing people, but not for judging individual comments in a public forum. People are basically encouraged to make comments that tow the "party line". But as always, popularity != correctness. As Slashdot attracted more "mainstream" users, I've noticed a number of alarming memes growing in popularity here. For instance, I thought the whole "Microsoft gets attacked more because more people use their software" nonsense had been dead and buried long ago, but now I not only see these comments being made here with little critical response, but modded up as well. It saddens me to see those sorts of comments being made. Now, I admit I've not the most level-headed guy when it comes to Microsoft, but I think it's clear that a good number of Slashdot users now are MS-apologists. And they are biasing the moderation system.
Well that's all I have to say for now. I didn't plan for it to turn into an anti-slashdot rant, but I guess that's just how I feel about Slashdot at the moment.
Thoughts on the Apple-Intel switch
It's about time I wrote another JE, and what better reason to do so? Everyone else is giving their thoughts and hair-brained conjectures about the Apple-Intel switch. So here are mine.
- This will harm the Macintosh brand. Ordinary computer users have for a long time had difficulty with this whole "compatability" issue. All this time it's been reasonably simple to explain "Mac" vs "PC". But now we're going to have a different type of Mac to confuse the issue. And everyone's going to hear that it uses Intel chips, just like PC's. Read some of the Slashdot posts to see that even /. geeks have trouble understanding what exactly this will mean. I expect there to be erroneous memes and rumours running amok for a year or two. For example, people will try running Windows on the Intel Macs (which might be possible) or try running Windows apps on OSX/Intel. People will try installing OS/X onto their shiny new non-Apple PC and complain when it doesn't work. Which may or may not happen, we're still a year away from these things being available and Apple isn't being too clear on some of these issues.
- It will make it tough for developers. If I understand things correctly, Apple will continue selling PPC-based Macs for at least a little while. But even if they don't, there's going to be a lot of them out there in the market. Any commercial software developer would be a fool to ignore that user base. So they're going to have to develop both PPC and x86 versions of their software. Jobs apparently tried to show how easy it would be to port to x86, but that's only for projects using something calle Xcode. Which doesn't cover a lot of software, particularly projects (e.g F/OSS) that are cross-platform and have their own build system. I read a comment, which I can not find now, from an OpenOffce developer and how this will affect them. OO has their own COM/CORBA-like system, which requires some assembly code to be written for even architecture/OS combination. So moving OSX to Intel will not bring OpenOffice to OS/X any sooner.
- This will not affect Linux, at least not in the way that the crack-smoking pundits think it will. Just what is their reasoning? That there isn't enough room for three OS's on the x86 achitecture? Duh, someone should explain to them that Linux runs on many architectures, not just PC's. When all the Mac users start moving to the x86 Macs, there will be many Linux (and BSD) geeks happy to pick up a nice second-hand PPC box! I've had a circa-1992 Sun SPARCstation LX running Debian for a few years. It's a fun little box if a little underpowered. I wouldn't mind picking up some second-hand G3 or G4 boxen to add to my collection. Remember, architecture doesn't make a difference when you compile from source! Someone should also explain to these pundits that Linux is ultimately community driven. All the Linux companies in the world could go under and Linux would still stick around, being developed by the people who started it in the first place. The concept of "market share" isn't all that important to Linux as a whole.
- Intel buying Apple? I don't think so. But then again I didn't think Apple would make this switch, so what do I know. All I know is that Cringely is grasping at some straws and not understanding some issues. For example, AMD couldn't possible supply enough chips. I'd love to see Apple switch to AMD instead of Intel (or maybe later), but they've already had enough supply problems for several years now.
- From the stories I've heard, this switch has a lot to do with the Apple-IBM relationship. Apparently Apple had some rather strong clauses in the contract that they signed several years ago to get the 970 aka "G5" processor. It seems there were certain criteria that Apple wanted but IBM ultimately failed to deliver on. Things like performance, power and heat issues, and a G5 CPU for laptops (related to the previous issue). Steve Jobs promised a 3GHz G5 and G5 laptops, but they only got as far as G5 iMacs. So Apple is pulling out of that contract and switching to Intel processors.
I think that's about all for now. I might write more later if I need to.
Ah fudge it
Damn it. John Howard has been re-elected as Australian Prime Minister. FUCK FUCK FUCK!
I watched the smug bastards' acceptance speach on TV with two of my younger brothers. We were hurling abuse at almost everything he said.
"I'm not your fellow Australian..."
"This nation stands on the threshold of great mediocrity..."
"The rest of the world sees us as a deputy to the US in the pacific..."
"United Nation? Is that like the UN?"
"We didn't vote for you, ya bastard!"
"You don't represent us!"
Lots of middle fingers and obscenities aimed at the screen.
An interesting part of his speach was when he brought up Afghanistan and their looming elections. This got a lot of abuse from us but I said to my brothers "no no no, the war in Afghanistan was at least justified. Now watch as he tries to link it to the war in Iraq, which was TOTALLY UNJUSTIFIED...". But he didn't. He only mentioned activities "in other countries around thw world", almost as if he knew we were getting tired of the mess in Iraq.
New Zealand is looking better and better all the time!
Woo, election time!
Well here we go again. Australia goes to the polls on saturday in a federal election.
While everyone's been focused on the US election (including us), this Australian election is almost as important. It certainly is for us. Prime Minister Howard has been very pro-US and is very buddy-buddy with US president Bush. In his 8-year term he's also copied many US-styled policies, like privatizing almost everything the government once owned and controlled. He's shifted funding from public schools to private schools, then wondered in public recently why everyone's taking their kids out of the under-funded public schools and enrolling them in private schools. Apparently it's because public schools "don't teach values". Yeah right, dipshit. As you can probably tell, I don't like him.
On the other "side" we have Mark Latham and the Labour party. He's no messiah either, but definitely better in my view. He did let the recent US-AUS free trade agreement pass with only minimal change. So we may end up with more restrictive US-style copyright laws in the near future, among other goodies. Interesting to see the Greens get behind Labour in a major way. Bob Brown has been heaping praise on Mark Latham in interviews. If anything, I respect Brown more than Latham. He's older and more experienced, and just strikes me as being very un-polititan-like. When GWB visited and spoke in the parliament, Brown stood up and abused him about the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo bay Cuba.
It has recently been pointed out to me that there is a possible failing in the preferential voting system. I used to put the Greens and Australian Democrats infront of Labour on my ballot. I was confident that I wasn't throwing my vote away like the silly americans do. Since the Greens and Democrats only rarely get enough votes, then my lower preference for Labour would kick in and my preferred major party would get in, right? If evalencia1 is right, then the Libs or Nationals could get the majority vote and win. My prerences wouldn't even be looked at. But is he right? I mean, a majority is 50% + 1 vote. As several pointed out, if a party has that many votes on first preferences then they've won no matter what. All the other parties together wouldn't have enough votes to beat that. I'm not sure what to think.
Also on this weekend is the Bathurst 1000 race on Mount Panorama, Bathurst. The race has been going on every year for a few decades now. I remember when it was the James Hardie 1000, then the Toohies 1000, then simply the Bathurst 1000 (kind of a generic name). The latest sponser appears to be Bob Jane T-marts. You can check out a few photos of Bathurst and Kelso (amongst others) in my panoramas gallery (coralized link to save the familys' ADSL link).
A little update
I've been meaning to write an update JE for a while. But I'm the master procrastinator. Life has been seeming to be piling up on me lately and I just feel paralised by it all. I've got a bunch of things to update you all on. I'll outline a few of them here and I'll try to follow up later with full JE's.
- I've survived my two uni courses and managed to get pass and credit marks. I was genuinely surprised, I was convinced I was going to fail one. Mum and Dad were pleased, especially because of the money they spent to get me in. Which Mum reminded me of on a regular basis. Yeah, thanks for that mum.
- Despite that, I'm dropping out. Or that is, I'm not continuing to complete the course. I've finally come to the conclusion that IT is not for me. I'm a computer geek, but my (strong!) personal opinions always have, and always will clash with what I'm told to do. And more specifically, living with my parents sucks. Going to classes, assignments, and exams is not easy with my family constantly distracting me and draining my motivation.
- I've recently tried to restart a web prescence from fresh. Late last year the family got a DSL line (only 256/64), complete with a static IP address and no restrictions on "servers". I've got a domain registered with dyndns.org for now, and setup squid in http-accelerator mode on the linux gateway machine. I haven't done much on "my" stuff yet, but I have created two dynamic little mini-sites. At the risk of slashdotting our ADSL link and my K6 server, I'll provide links here. The first is an interface to several digital temperature sensors I have around the house. The family liked that over summer, using it to know what it's like outside. The second is a Genealogical database taken from the family tree Mum has been working on for over ten years. I'm not sure where I'm going with it. For now I think I'll focus on the "Photos" feature. If you click on the "Oldest photo" link you'll see a baby photo of myself. I've tried to make the interface as inter-linked as possible.
- I've just done an upgrade of the motherboard and CPU on my Linux workstation. From an Athlon 750 (almost 4 years old?) to an Athlon XP PR2400+. Not bad. Mum and my youngest brother Scott also upgraded to the same motherboard (Gigabyte GA-7VT600-F) and PR2600+'s. The downside is that I had to get rid of my beloved Matrox G400 Max because it doesn't support the 1.5V supply of AGP 3.0 (at least mine doesn't). I haven't been able to get DRI work with the Radeon 9000 Pro that Scott gave me. Just 2D for now. Either I figure out the problem (my suspicions are currently with the AGP/GART driver in the 2.6.x kernel) or I find a good ol' G550 on eBay.
- With all the new hardware flying, we were finally able to give my next youngest brother Andrew an upgrade with the bits left over. He got Scotts' Athlon PR1900+ with 384M of SDR RAM. A huge step up from the recycled Pentium-166 he and his wife has been using for several years. He's a big X-Plane fan and has been hogging Scotts computer to play it on recent visits. We installed an *ahem* copy of XP on it and then I spent several hours loading all sorts of stuff on it. Media Player Classic, lots of codecs, latest drivers, bunch of stuff from The OpenCD, latest Mozilla, Winamp 5, Ad-Aware, PopFile, Xaos, and quite a few gigs of wallpapers, ripped music and downloaded movies. That was just two days ago and from what I hear, he's pleased.
Ok, that's probably a good start on answering the question of what I've been up to the last 6 months. I'll see about posting more complete JE's on some of these topics soon.
Wow, five years down
Well, this is now about 5 years since I left home and started work at my first job. Yesterday I was filling out the form to enroll (or just request?) in a course at Charles Sturt University. Part of the form asked for my employment history so I ratted around and found evidence. I found my first pay slips and the letter confirming my employment. I also found some entries I had made in two little organiser thingies.
So, pull a chair up and listen to the story of how a naive geek was plucked from his hideout and thrust into the RealLife(tm).
Background info: My senior year of highschool (year/grade 12) was 1994. My TER (Tertiary Entry Rank) wasn't spectacular but it was still enough to get into a Bachelor of IT (I think that's the title) course at the local university (the aforementioned CSU). First year was ok, except for a certain lecturer "Al". Thankfully I/we managed to figure out what he wanted (basically just copy from the textbook!) to get a passing grade and move on from him. Second year was probably better, I had more interesting and stimulating classes. Hey, I'm a geek and I happen to like computer architecture (go MIPS!). Third year was not so good however. The classes were getting less interesting, which has always been a hurdle for my motivation. I started failing subjects, even repeatedly. So I applied to take a year off as a break.
With my "break" I started applying for jobs. Still living at home, I wasn't exactly under a lot of pressure to look terribly hard or often. But after almost 6 months I lucked out. I had applied for a job which (from memory) wanted experience with low-level programming on PC unix (specifically SCO). Ugh, SCO. I thought that my Linux experience might count for something. What happened was that some internal changes were made and the position changed, but they didn't want to send out a new ad. My resume looked interesting so they asked me in for an interview.
So Mum drove me (sheesh, I still don't have a license) down to Sydney on a Wednesday. From piecing together the evidence, that must have been 17/6/1998. I thought the interview went well. I talked to the heads of development and software development, both techies. From later experience I must say that it's a royal PITA (and almost a garaunteed rejection) talking with managers or HR staff. Anyway, that Friday I got a call saying that they'd accepted me and that I had the job. When could I start?
So the mad rush was then on to find me a place to live. The next day we got the Saturday newspaper with all the classified ads. After the interview Mum and I had looked around the area. We had picked up a copy of The North Shore Times in a shopping centre. In it there happened to be an ad for a place very close. In total I think we had 3 or 4 places to look at and choose from. We (my parents and I) drove down on Sunday to look at them all. The first one we saw was the one advertised in the NST. Medium-ish room, share the house with asian girl and her boyfriend. Looked good but we decided we should still look at the other places. I can't remember the others too well. One was a boarding house that someone was moving out of. The owner had a lot of dogs living in the house as well and it reeked of dog urine. We said "we'll think about it" and tried to get out of there as fast as we could. Another place we caught the owner in the shower and almost walked away before she answered the door. Can't remember much else. We rushed back to accept the first place and just managed to catch Natasha before she left for a hockey game. That's right, Tash.
Lets see, that was Sunday. So Monday was another rush to move me down with enough stuff to last at least a little while. I started work on Tuesday. We couldn't move my bed down so the first week I slept on a foam mattress. I told mum on the phone that I was "hitting bottom, literally" when I slept on it. They came down the next weekend and we got me a proper bed.
So to finish up, it's been an eventful five years. In some ways I've changed, in some ways I haven't. It was a great learning experience. I got learn how to live (to a certain degree) in the real world and I learnt some things about myself. Now I'm kinda back where I left off. Lets hope I can finish the course this time and get the degree. Hopefully that will make things easier when I do try to restart my career. In the mean time I'd like to move into a place of my own in town and perhaps get a part-time job. Being close to my family is nice, but I'm getting fat and lazy. And I'm getting back into the old adolescent habit of blaiming my parents for everything.
A second son... er Sun on the way!
When I got a second-hand SPARCstation LX two years ago it became an in-joke for my family to talk about my "sun" as if they were saying "son". Just thought I'd explain the title of this JE. And now I will soon have a second Sun to play with.
You see, in recent months my mum has become an eBay junkie. She's already gotten Scott 640MiB of DDR RAM (freeing up 512MiB of SDR RAM for the rest of us), a Tekram SCSI card to replace the crappy ISA Adaptec card that originally came with our ScanMaker scanner, a new SCSI cable to connect said scanner with said card, and a cordless telephone. On Saturday she won a bid for a SPARCstation 10, for $AUS81. With shipping from Melbourne, it'll be around $AUS100 or $US61. We still have to figure out how I'll pay that off. Lots of chores I bet. And just today she "accidentally" won a combined lot containing a 4.5G disk, two 1.05G disks, a CDROM drive, and tape drive - all SCSI. She thought the price would go up with the half-decent tape drive (Sony SDT-5000), but it didn't and she won.
I/We will still need to find a use for this extra hardware. Mum is asking about backup strategies. A few weeks ago she had the 41G disk in her machine kinda-fail. Apparently it wouldn't boot, the BIOS asking for a system disk. So she put in a 3G disk from Scotts machine which still had win98 on it. It started booting, Nortons Disk Doctor complained about not finding a partition signature on the 41G disk and offered to fix it. Everything went downhill from there. I was able to put another hard disk containing Linux in, and use Gpart to scan for partitions. It found the (rarely used) Linux filesystem and swap partition no problem, but couldn't find the Fat32 filesystem no matter how rigorous the scan. Alas, no amount of fiddling or seaching hexdumps could turn up mums data in the form of a filesystem. I even hacked together a FAT32 searcher myself because I couldn't believe that Gpart hadn't found a FAT32 filesystem. It looks like NDD must have mangled up the beginning of the fs when it tried to "rescue" it. So mum has lost lots of data. But on the good side, she now has lots of free space :P
Anyway, I'd better end this before I ramble too much. In summary: I'll have new computer gear soon, I have to work to repay my parents somehow and we're looking at backups after a loss (as it always happens).
On a final note: It's nice to see the Iraqi people are finally free from an unelected ruler installed by military force... :P
Home sweet home
So here I am, back living with my family. The move went well. It rained lightly on the way over the mountains and Mum didn't bring enough tarps. That didn't really cause a problem except for my large desk, which is made of chipboard. Some bits swelled up and it took a few days to dry enough to be used, but it's useable now. The only other problem was that my family did almost all of the packing, perhaps because I didn't prepare enough, resulting in bits and pieces getting seperated and ending up in different boxes.
Moving stuff is hard work, especially when you have to back a large trailer into the driveway manually. The move was on a saturday and I only got over the aches around wednesday. The worst were in my shoulders and my left bicep, no doubt from dragging the large trailer by its release handle. Later my mum and two brothers agreed that I was probably taking most of the weight and pushing the most.
So here I am in my old old room, the one I occupied when we first moved into this house in 1988. That was before my youngest brother Scott was born, and there was a shuffle of rooms a few years later when he was old enough to need his own room. This room is somwhat larger, so I'm not as cramped as I was before. It took a couple of days, but Dad and I ran a network cable up to my room from the server and network switch downstairs in the family room. I've now added my two servers to the collection, although one is a 10 year old Sun Sparcstation LX, just for kicks. Dad also put in a TV antenna socket so now I can surf the internet and watch TV without leaving my room, which is not good for my social life :P But it also makes my computer (with TV tuner card) effectively the second TV in the house, as well as the second DVD player. Already I've hosted a few "viewings" in my room with one or both of my younger brothers. Dad even suggested putting a sofa or couch in my room. The current layout would work, and we even have a couch set left over from someone who rented one of the rooms last year. I just need to organize/move a bunch of junk to make room and I'll give it a try.
I've become even more hermit-like in the last week-and-a-bit. I don't have to go out anymore to buy food or get fortnightly forms in to Centrelink. In fact, I haven't even left the house yet. I really must get out to get some excercise. I'm putting back on the weight that I lost after Christmas/new years.
And after almost 5 years I finally have a photo of me and Natasha, even if it's not the best. Well, there was this close call at a farewell party a few years ago but it doesn't really count, and it doesn't include myself or the house.
I'll just make this a quick note. I'm moving out tomorrow. My mum is driving down from Bathurst with either a truck or maybe just a covered-trailer type thing, and perhaps a younger brother or two. My next-younger brother Andrew and his wife Alissa are coming across from out west (Granville, near Paramatta) to help as well. I've helped them move a couple times in the past so they owe me :)
I'm trying to pack up my computers tonight so that there's not much packing needed tomorrow. Since I'm typing this in, I obviously have yet to do that...
I guess I'll post next when I've settled in. I'm getting back my old-old room, the room I had when our family moved into the house back in '88. It's much bigger than the room I left, or this room either. I'll have to run some network cable up to the room so I can connect to the internet through the server that I've administered for the family since before I moved out.
Farewell Roseville. Farewell Chatswood and Sydney. Farewell street and house. Farewell Tash. Good riddance Harry ;)
That's it, I'm outta here
When things turn weird, the weird turn pro
You'd never believe what's happening in my household. Let me update you. Natashas parents finally left yesterday evening. I was relieved because I thought they changed the dynamic of the house for the worse. I was looking forward to maybe spending some more time with Tash, at least talking some more. She drove them to the airport, but who did she come back with? Harry. Oh, that's the name of her ex. The one that's cheated on her, stolen from her, and done numerous other things to her. I figured it was a little silly simply referring to him in the abstract when I give everybody elses names out.
I had a quick talk to Natasha this evening and asked what was happening with Harry. She said they were getting back together. I was speachless. I just could not believe that she would do something like that. And she seemed happy! She was smiling, like she was happy to be back together with him. My speech faltered and I had trouble talking. I sometimes have trouble talking with Natasha because she'll say something that I don't expect or understand, and it throws a spanner in what I'm trying to say. I told her I could not understand how she could be getting back together with Harry and she responded by asking if I needed to understand.
I've lived with Natasha for almost 5 years now, and Harry has been there for most of that time. He has repeatedly screwed up. Too many times, I've seen him do something bad to Tash, they have a fight or even split for a little while, and then they get back together again. Each time it gets worse, and I wonder if this will be the final straw that breaks them up for good. At first they were just small disagreements or fights that are considered "normal" in any relationship. Mind you, I've never been in a relationship myself and the only one I've really seen up close is theirs.
But a year or so ago, they got worse. At the end of May he took quite a bit of money out of her account without asking, in order to pay some debt. That's stealing, and a serious breach of trust I might add. I thought that would be enough to see him gone. But no, I don't think it even made a very big dent. A few nights of "discussion" and then that was it. Then about the middle of last year Harry spent three months in India (he's Indian). Their relationship had been rocky when they left but when he got back they were back on again. That is, for about 10 days. She found evidence that Harry had gotten engaged when he was in India. Not only was he trying to carry on the two relationships (no doubt milking Natasha's generous nature for all he could), but he even ran up a $500 telephone bill on Natashas phone ringing the other girl in India. That finally seemed to be the big one. He was kicked out, all of his stuff gone. That was it, I thought it was settled.
But now he's back and I think I've had too much. I'm emotionally attached to Natasha and it pains me to see her accepting someone who (in my opinion) is scum and just plain trouble. I'm seriously considering moving out. Tash said something about "we both have our own lives" like she thought I was interferring , so perhaps I should just leave them. I might be able to find a place close by, otherwise I can just go home to my parents. I've resisted that for a while now, but anything is better than this torture. For years I always feared that I would leave here a "failure" - not being able to find work. I never thought it would come to this.
Do your parents bug you?
Do your parents bug you? Of course they do, it's their job. I thought mine were bad, but I feel really sorry for Natasha. My housemate's parents have been living with us since the beginning of the year. They're driving me nuts. They act like they own the place! Well, they do. But I think that's part of the problem. I've been living here for nearly 5 years and Tash for, I think, almost two more. We have a well-rehearsed system of who does what, what goes where, and what to look out for. It's not perfect, but it works well enough and we're used to it. They've upset this system.
Lets run down the complaints.
- Iggy, the father, has rearranged a lot of the kitchen. This started even before I came back from my long christmas/new year break. I came back to find that the cutlery drawer was now on the other side of the kitchen.
- Want to cook up some noodles? First lets play a game called "Where the f**k has he put the pot this time".
Hanging on the hooks next to the sink? no
In one of cupboards under the sink? no and no
In one of the high-up cupboards above the fridges? no, no, and no
Ah! oh course, this time it's the in the corner cupboard under the sink.
- I don't know what he thinks the drying rack does, but he clearly thinks it does its job better on top of the cupboards. Or sometimes it's right next to the sink, where the plates and stuff can drip water on the bench.
- Oh, lets put the microwave oven in the middle of the kitchen bench. Power cords are obviously meant to be used to their maximum length. Plus, this way we create an awkward area on the end that's not big enough to do anything except put odds and ends, and a semi-awkward corner area where all the food preperation has to be done. Brilliant.
Back in Febuary there was a "council pick-up day" - people put out all their big and old junk on the curb and some contract people come and take it away. Being the resourceful type, Iggy thought that some peoples' junk looked like stuff he'd want. No, it's not like he picked up a bunch of soiled matresses or a tramampoline, just to get in a Simpsons reference. He's using the stuff to improve the house.
- He's added a second door outside of the front door. No, not a fly screen. No, not a security screen either. As best as I can figure, it used to be someones cupboard door, or maybe a pantry door. It has closely-spaced slats which do let air in, which is good. But you can't see people through it, at least not from far away. When you get close you can look down and see people from the waist down, but that's all. It's kind of awkward. Tash went off when she got back from work to find this new addition to the house. And she has a good reason. It just doesn't look right. I reckon it's coming off pretty quick whenever her parents leave.
- He also found a pair(2) of security bars for the windows, which is a worry because there's at least eight windows on this place. And I do not want my view from my window obstructed by metal bars! I'll put up a real fight if he plans on putting them up. I do not want to feel like I'm in jail! This area is very safe. A few years back Tash and I went out to visit a friend and came back to find that we'd somehow left the front door open for a few hours. Nothing was taken. This area is downright boring in fact.
- Let's make a lot of noise and not worry about Ian trying to sleep! First I should explain this... There's a second door in my room, which leads into the lounge room. The lounge room is an obvious extension on the back of the house and this second door is now sealed off. I guess it once lead outside. My side of the door is pretty-much flush with the wall and there's a set of shelves hanging off it. Because of the double-brick construction of the house, the other side is deeply recessed into the wall. There is a simple set of shelves made in this space, but now-ex-boyfriend had a large shelf/cabinet thing in front of it. With him gone and shelves re-exposed, Iggy decided to turn it into some sort of cabinet using a glass door he obviously scavenged earlier.
Of course, he has to do this work around 9-10am while I'm still trying to sleep. Banging, hammering, drilling, rattling - lots of noise. He doesn't do anything in the evenings, just lazing about watching TV. Why couldn't he do it then? And when it came up in conversations, he'd just laugh like it was a huge joke! Thanks a lot.
- While we're talking about noise, lets bring in the mother. My only problem with her is her regular screaming outbursts. Sometimes it's just one or two outbursts, sometimes the arguments last a while. But it occurs most days, and it only seems to be the mother that is speaking up. Since I don't know any cantonese, I don't know what they're talking about. Perhaps it's PMS or something, I don't know. But it seems to be mostly harmless in the long run. I've grown used to it.
Any way, I just had to get this off my chest. Anyone have good/bad/interesting stories about your parents or the parents of friends/neighbours/significant others?
The first casualty...
The first casualty in war is always the truth, or something like that. There was some interesting points raised by MediaWatch on Monday (last) nights show. For non-Aussies, MediaWatch is a short 10 minute weekly program on ABC TV that critiques news content on TV, radio, and print media. It may be short, but it packs a real punch. It not only covers trivial issues of factual errors and the like, but also more important ones like plaguerism, conflicts of interest, and flat-out biased reporting.
Covered in this weeks show, was the reporting of Australias' contribution to the possible war in Iraq. Once again for non-Aussies, our Prime Minister seems to be quite willing to go all the way along with the US. Our PM has always held that our troop deployment was to put pressure on Sadam, and that we're waiting for the UN and/or the US before we join the war. But it seems that journalists are finding it hard to get approval to go to the gulf and report on our troops. The fear, as pointed out, is that our PM (and thus US president Bush) is really preparing for war while pretending that he's not. Especially curious is that he brushes off the question of whether we'll still go to war without UN backing as being hypothetical when asked in interviews. Aren't these people supposed to be accountable?
Advice to a 12-year old me
Because I have the disadvantage of living 7 hours behind (really 17 hours ahead) of the US and sleeping at odd times, stories here on Slashdot may be 10-12 hours old before I see them. I have little chance of posting a comment that many people will see.
So here's what I would say to my 12-year old self:
- Tell people how you feel about them, especially the ones you like.
- Don't let the bullies get to you. Don't let them turn you into a recluse.
- Get out a little. Really.
- Talk to girls. You really need the experience.
- Don't focus so much on IT. Learn some other skills. They'll be useful some day and you might actually like them.
- Stop thinking about the future or you'll never get anything done. Do things now.
- Don't try to plan things out too much and don't worry so much about the possible consequences. Don't be afraid of just doing things for the hell of it.
- Don't worry about doing stupid things or making mistakes. Everybody does. One day they might make amusing anecdotes.
- Don't be so hard on your parents. They're not out to ruin your life. One day you'll grow up to be just like them.
- That being said, do try to leave home as early as possible and get away from your parents. Don't go to the local university. Get away from mum's well-stocked pantry and fridge. Having to work and pay for your food, and having to walk to and from the shops is a great way to lose weight and exercise.
- Don't blame your parents for everything, learn to be responsible. Like I said, they're not to ruin your life. They're probably doing the best they can.
- Learn to like yourself. Eat right, get some exercise, and learn to like your body. It might never be great, but it's yours and you'll never have another.
And on a lighter note:
- Don't count on getting laid before 30.
- Go easy on your brother Glenn. He'll have several girlfriends before you even have one.
- Don't get so annoyed by people asking you in highschool if you're an albino just because you're blonde with fair skin. You may not have pink eyes, but odds are you do have hypo-pigmentosa.
Tash got home and came to talk to me immediately. She said the letter was nice but she just wanted to stay friends. It was a little dissapointing but not totally unexpected. Seeing her smiling face as she stood there and finally talking to me openly about this topic just made it all worth it. While it's not the answer I wanted, at least I know and can stop torturing myself. She added that "they" have to get me out of the house and seeing girls. Interesting that she said "we", I guess she's already pretty serious about her new guy. They're going out for dinner tonight. One odd thing was that she said she was "too old" for me. She's 31 and I'm 26. Is 5 years that big a difference?
Now I have to try to get some rest. I've been on an adrenaline rush for about 12 hours now. I didn't sleep well after I put the letter on her car.
Operation letter drop
Ok, it's done. I wrote a letter, printed it out, folded it up, and delivered to the wind-screen wiper of Natasha's car. Some obsatcles though. Firstly, a spider had decided it was a good time to spin a large web in the derilict car-port, right in front of her car. Fairly big too. I hate spiders, I'm sure you do too. Web destroyed and spider squashed, I found the second obstacle. An object. A red square. A red envelope already pinned under a wiper. Damn! I'd been outdone, and right under my nose! Thoughts initially turned to tearing up the letter or even just opening it to see who it was from. It was sealed. And it was soaked! The sudden down-pour around midnight had left it soggy. I wonder if the ink inside ran. So there is an advantage of living with your target and being able to jump out your window at 5:30am. So, jumping back in through my bedroom window (thankfully that hadn't turned out to be the obstacle I had feared) I wrote a post-it note. Just a quick note to lighten the mood. Back out the window and the letter was delivered, note attached.
I was surpised at my reaction to the "competition". Firstly one of curiosity. When did he do it? Does he live close?
Some rather animalistic instincts came up too. Sort of like ruining a rival birds nest or something. But in the end I actually felt relieved. It was like "I'm in the club now". I felt like I belonged to something. And it will maybe take some of the focus off of me, although that might not be a good thing.
Well, here's to the future. I've turned a page. I've told Natasha that I want to be with her and maybe even be more than just friends. This is a big step in my life. It might sound stupid or pathetic, but I've never done anything as brash as this, telling a girl how I feel about them romantically. Lets hope it goes well.
I'll write another journal entry with the results. Natasha should be home in around an hour.
Sorry if I sounded a little harsh in my last journal entry. I guess I was angry at myself for expecting everyones' advice to magically fix my problems without me putting any effort in. So as a small update for the last two weeks- I haven't done anything and I think Natasha is getting semi-serious with a new guy. He's been over a number of times and Natasha has been going out a lot more. This breaks my heart, but I think I have a small solution to my communications problem.
As we all know Friday is valentines day, just two sleeps away for me here. Since I have so much trouble telling Natasha how I feel about her I thought I could break the ice with a valentines card. I could even make it myself instead of just buying one.
So, since I've neither given nor received a valentines day card/letter/note/whatever, I wondered if you guys could give me a little help with these mysterious tokens of affection. Here are my thoughts and questions:
- v-day stuff is usually fairly light hearted and playful, right? So I shouldn't come out with the heavy stuff about how I've wanted her for years and how I suffered watching her with the last guy.
- I'd like to sign/close it with "The guy trapped inside Ians' head" and add "please help me escape!". That is how I often feel - trapped in a goofs' body, unable to do the things I want. It could also take some of the directness out of what I have to say.
- Write some text or (non-rhyming) poetry. Further to the last point, something like "I have a mouth yet I can not speak".
- I was thinking I could attach it to her car at the train station while she's at work, or maybe slip it in an open window. Or should I put it on her car for her to find first thing in the morning? What sort of timing should I use? Should she get it in the morning and have it all day, or when she's just getting home? Knowing my luck, she'd find some way to stuff me up unintentionally, like going out with her new guy straight after work. So maybe first thing in the morning would be a safer delivery. But it feels "riskier".
I don't know what else to add. I hope I have the guts to go through with this. Comments?
Update: First draft before I go to bed. I do all my best thinking in the shower :)
I have watched you all these years
and held my toungue.
Now that you are free
I still can not speak.
I am trapped
in this form.
Won't you set me free?
The guy trapped in Ians head.
Update 2: Ooh boy, T-4 hours. I've printed out the letter and folded it. I decided to go with a more direct text. Here's what I finally wrote:
Natasha, you're a wonderful person.
You have been my friend for many years
and nothing could be more precious to me.
Now I want to spend more time with you
and get to know you better.
Maybe even become more than just friends.
It's printed out and I've folded it up. The only problem is the weather. It rained around midnight but it didn't last too long. Now I could either wait around another few hours to see how the weather goes and place the letter at the last moment if it's still good. Or I could perhaps wrap it up in cling(sarin)-wrap to keep it dry. Somehow that doesn't seem as classy. I wouldn't think she left any of the windows open, even a little, certainly not overnight. Although, can't you force electric windows down a bit? All I need is a few millimetres to push the letter through. And I still haven't figured out exactly how I'm going to get out of my bedroom window and back in.
Wish me luck!
I thought I should put a note here about recent events. Yes, I saw your little request Flamesplash. Nothing has happened, and I don't want my difficulties to be a little soap-opera for your entertainment (no, I'm not picking on you specifically Flamesplash). I want to handle this on my own, so I've disabled comments on this post. I'm a procrastinator and as I've already noted, all the talk of "cheap places to take her out to" is only getting me ahead of myself. My real problem is in communicating my feelings. This is something I have to work through myself.
Thanks to everyone that replied to my last journal. I'll write an update when/if anything happens, that's only fair. But for now I'm taking it slowly. One problem is that with Natshas parents here, we're not alone to talk like we often were last year. Patience...
I don't put much faith in astrology, but it's interesting to look at every now and then. Just for a laugh, you know. I found a nice long page about the scorpio sign. While I agree with a lot of it (ever notice that these sort of things are put in a flatering way?), there's some I don't. Both me and Natasha are scorpios. Is that a bad sign? This and this don't seem to think it's so good. Oh well. We'll see.
I also found a page of Chinese zodiac readings. Oh, did I mention that Tash is chinese? Oops, I just broke one of Interrobangs rules. Oh, and she's a non-geek. Dang, that's two.
Anyway, I was born in 1976 which makes me the year of the dragon. Hmm, a scorpion and a dragon. Does that make me a tough bastard or something?
Make a special effort and you will see a noticeable improvement in your social status.
Well duh, but thanks for the tip. I am in a rut at the moment.
Your love affairs will run the risk of becoming entangled and will not give you all the satisfactions you expect from them.
Oh bugger. But it did say "love affairs" - plural. All right!
The base on which your physical equilibrium rests may become shaky.
And just what is my physical equilibrium? My sense of balance? I dunno, these astrology people have some weird language sometimes.
And now since I'm an obsessive scorpio, here's Natashas. She was born in 1971, which was the year of the pig. oink!
Your love life may feel burdened by monotony and routine, so appeal to your imagination for help.
Does that apply to me? or the ex? Perhaps I'm the one to break her monotonic love life?
You'll have stormy relationships with your entourage, at work and in your home.
Oh double bugger.
However, you'll be well disposed to make concessions and to recognize your errors.
Erm, yay, no wait... um. I'm confused.
yeah, big surprise. Star charts are mostly fluff anyway.
Quick update: Check out full descriptions of chinese zodiac signs and compatibility comparisons in the chinese zodiac. Gung hai fat choi!
The Dragon and the Pig make wonderful couples. Each is warm-hearted and will provide the other with the tenderness they need. As long as they respect one another's differences they will flourish in a loving relationship. Their overall compatibility rating is 80%.
And now for something completely different...