Brain Power – Programming Knowledge Management

16 Jan

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Brain Power.”  Assuming we use only 10% of our brain, what would I do with the remaining 90% if I could get at it?

Well obviously I’d firstly spend a week or two smacking myself for not unlocking it twelve years ago. That’s when I needed it. I was studying a Bachelor’s in Applied Information Systems, and was becoming extremely frustrated as I was already well able to code in BASIC, LOGO & Atari’s PILOT. HTML was a doddle, SQL too. Java I “managed”.

Then after year two the degree was restructured to become Bachelor of Information & Communications Technology (applied), with an increased focus on networking and hardware. The fist year’s work in these was all I wanted. I did not want to be carrying around circuit testers, anti-static screwdrivers and straps.

My aim was to work for the end-user and client on Systems Analysis, Software Development, Web Design, User Training, Quality Control, and Business Information Systems. I was so keen on S.A. I was intending to travel to London for post-grad Systems Analysis qualifications after getting the degree.


Big But…

The language interface for database building was an obscure reinvention of the wheel by engineers in NZ – Jade. The lecturer was at heart his own entrepreneur – working with Jade for commercial clients as a back-stop to lecturing. Not trained to teach adults or tertiary students. Wasted six weeks failing to convince us that using Pointers was necessary and easy to master.  After we all struggled to put together the exemplar, Then the prat informed us “Well, now you know about pointers, you will be able in future to recode any program using them so the pointer system is removed while retaining its functionality. Pointers are considered a redundant coding methodology, and not used in program creation any more.”

” SAY, WHA’?”  {Group Scream}

Damage done, self esteem drained, some of us discovered a new mental block to any coding. I failed his course.

IF ONLY then I had had that extra 80% brain power, he could not have thrown me off track. I would have been able to focus, master that freaking Jade, passed, moved on to third year coding, and carried on pursuing Systems Analysis and what I wanted to do.

And maybe I would not have just had to sit and read the first sentence in the last paragraph over and over, figuring out whether it should be “had” or “had had”.

In the meantime, hard coding was wanted in the industry, not people, team, client-based soft skills. My  BICT is now a dream while writing is a fall-back.

Or is that meant to be the other way around.

—  Dammit, I want my 90%!  —  Now!


Throw a Dart – Win a Skill

14 Jan

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “I Got Skills
If I could choose to be a master (or mistress) of any skill in the world, which skill would I pick?

“Roll up! Roll up! Throw a Dart, pop a balloon, win a skill! A buck for three darts. Roll up – Ya gotta be in it to win it!”

Sheese, it is just like a sideshow game, yeh?

Every balloon on the backboard of the carnival of life’s side-show is labelled with a skill, and colour coded. Green, yellow, orange, red.

And all I have to do is pop one – One – to ensure I have or will master that balloon’s skill during this year.

Problem::I suck at darts. Give me a day with a bottle of social and confidence booster, a dart board and darts, and no one to distract me, and I’ll get my eye “in” and toss a perfect round. But, hand me darts and expect me to hit a balloon and I’m toast.

Thought to self :: “Aim.”

Question to self :: “Aim for what?”

Green balloons labelled with no new challenges: Teaching, compulsory and tertiary – no problem, and fun. Systems analysis – easy-peasy and fun. Information systems- ditto. Business administration, Book-keeping, Budgetting- ditto. Self-defence-ditto. Counseling- ditto. Reviewing books- ditto. Garden demolition, Landscape design, Interior design,  Reading, Performance reading, Elocution, Problem-solving…all ditto.

Yellow balloons labelled with skills I’m working on: Writing, Keeping particular Orchid species/varieties alive, Raising Kowhai seedlings to planting out stage, Ikebana, Drawing, Photography, Bodhran, Pool …

Orange balloons for skills I’ve attempted, but failed or lapsed: Baking, Knitting (by hand), Swimming (from age eight to thirteen), Tennis (at thirteen), Piano, Violin (twelve to fourteen), Singing (thirteen to sixteen, then as adult), Reading music (all time) …

Red balloons for skills I’ve had neither opportunity, budget nor courage for, only a fervent wish: Archery, Gunmanship- rifle and/or handgun, Search & Rescue, Flying (as in, as pilot), Sailing, Fishing, Horse riding, Rock Climbing, Roller skating/blading, Softball, Money-making …

“Come on lady, pick a balloon and aim for it. Every one’s a winner!”

Well, there is one other red balloon there. It’s label? “Living alone, self sufficient, and loving it”. Sure, if I gained that skill, that goal, that heaven, the only part of the world to benefit would be me.

But then aren’t new year resolutions for oneself?

So, Yeh. I’ll aim for that one. And if I miss but hit another, I still win, right?

2014 in review thanks to WordPress …

30 Dec

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 800 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 13 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Getting Seasonal – sort of…

24 Dec

Daily Prompt for December 19

The holiday season: can’t get enough of it, or can’t wait for it all to be over already?
Has your attitude toward the end-of-year holidays changed over the years?

The “holiday season”? As in “holy-day season”? Well it’s a bit of a misnomer, isn’t it, no matter which.

“Holiday” as in a day for goofing off and playing around, enjoying company with family and friends, shouldn’t need a special season. Surely we can do that at any time of year.

And “holy-day” – well, that is debatable. It is Nothing to do with either the birth of Christ, nor with the stock market driven celebration of a coca-cola advertisement.

In case you’ve not noticed, the New Testament gives a couple of clear clues that the Northern hemisphere’s winter was not the season of Christ’s birth. Firstly – Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem with his wife (his property) to the town of his family/birth, for the Roman Empire’s census. Which would have been held in a warmer season, to ensure people could travel. Not in winter, when snows could cut off passes and prevent those who would be paying taxes to Rome from being counted. Secondly – think about where the angel found the shepherds – up in the hills. That only happened when the hills were covered with herbage for fodder – not in winter. Add to this that although there was no room any where for Joseph and Mary except for the stable, which ion winter would be full of cattle, goats or sheep. The stables were the ground floor, which in winter being full of animals would give off their body heat for the upper living areas.

So, nope, I cannot accept December as the correct month. Especially as we can also find that when Rome caught onto the fad of following the teachings of Christ, and realised it’s commercial worth to a Roman central church, they had to firstly convert the outlying nations of the value of conversion. So the Winter Solstice, the annual “heathen” midwinter festival, complete  with fire, yule logs, holly and ivy… that’ll do – call that Christ’s birthday!

Now I admit there was an historical record of a saint who on hearing of a man whose two daughters had no dowry and so would not be invited to wed, tossed two coins (gold, the legend says, so I’ll accept that for now – it’s what I grew up ‘knowing’) into the house. That was Saint Nicholas. Now whether he threw the coins down the chimney – a pretty amazing shot from the ground outside a house (which basketball player could do that, now) – or through an open window, or an open door – who knows or cares? It depends on who’s telling you the legend.

Saint Nickolas was known as Saint Nick (my church vicar used to shudder at that one – to him St Nick was the devil. I never did work out how come that.) or Sinter Klaus or other variations. He was depicted as wearing a green robe, with a hood, and carried a crook.

Cocalcola santa That “jolly fat man” with a white beard and hair, obese rather than fat,  wearing a red suit trimmed in white fur, black boots – “Hey. you guys! That  was a Coca-Cola advertisement!”

And from that advertisement came a host  of lairy legends.

He flies around the world in a night. Has any one mentioned this to Stephen  Hawkings? I’d bet he’d be quite amused!

He flies in a dirty great sleigh, pulled by a herd of reindeer. I know two who must laugh themselves silly at that one – Richard Branson, and David Attenborough!

He keeps a list of which children have been naughty since the last time he visited, and who’s been naughty. Has the dirty old man got fellas out perving at our kids all year? Maybe some of those child-sized elves who make all the toys – under contract to Mattel among others.

He comes down the chimney on christmas eve – so… his suit must be re-eally filthy by night’s end.

Worse – in some places he comes into the child’s bedroom!

He leaves gifts for children – whose parents have already bust a wallet buying all that’s on their child’s wishlist. Or what they can afford. How many young girls asked Chain Store Santa for a Barbie and he leaves them a clone or lookalike?

There was a time when a child hung a stocking on the mantelpiece over the fireplace. These days a flaming pillow case still isn’t big enough for what the greedy little beggars have begged for.

Now, I’ll admit – as a child, Xmas was a fearsomely lovely time. And I made it so for my own children. Until one spoiled it for the family by opening her gifts and moaning “Huh, is that all you got me”. That sort of took the fun out of it.

But we s2014-12-23 18.49.45till all come together as a family – just “because”. They live in three parts of the country, and once a year we see them together. All I ask of them is one photograph of the three of them side-by-side on the sofa – smiling, damn you – smiling!

We do the tree thing – but I cock a snoot at those who think it’s Christ’s birthday, religious, or want evergreen trees and holly berries, fake icicles and snow, a fecking star of  Bethlehem on the tree.

The tree is fake, and black. No lights. decorations are white (okay, fake silver) and red.

No cookies or milk set out for fatso. We’re all grown ups here. We buy a token of love for each other – and That is more than enough.

C H A L L E N G E – Try this “family-famed” fail – Velvet Cola Cake

6 Dec

We had moved up into the hills over our rural town (111 m (c.364 ft.) altitude),
to a station at c.330m (c. 1,1246 ft.) altitude.

The station is ringed (approximately); the arrow points to where our cottage was.

The station is ringed (approximately; the arrow points to where our cottage was.

It was a heck of a steep gravelled road uphill, but the cottage was great. Beside the road ran a stream, from which I could collect watercress. In some of the station’s paddocks we could collect mushrooms – buckets and buckets of them. Around the cottage in the fields were huge limestone boulders, and a patch of native bush which the station owner was replanting and tidying. And the gravel drive from which we turned off to our cottage carried on to the shearing shed and holding yards. A great early life for the first toddler.


The cookery book

The cookery book

With my favourite cooking book, and my fist toddler, I decided to try the recipe named in the title. I knew I had to let the cola go ‘flat’ before starting, but eventually the batter was in the cake pan and in the oven. Toddler and I pottered around washing up the bits and bobs we’d used, with him climbing down from the step stool periodically to look into the oven. When I heard a tentative “O-o-o-oh,” I figured it was time to see what he was seeing.

Hoh boy! Cake batter erupting up and out over the cake pan rim, dripping down through the oven racks and piling up in peaks on the oven floor.
The oven was switched off, and I did my best to console unhappy toddler who’d realised there’s be no nice cake.
But you know what? Once the oven was cold, and I lifted out the pans and tasted what was left, it tasted delish.

So off came the oven door, and toddler and I sat at the oven reaching in and snatching off the driblets and piles of batter, and it was like sharing a bowl of sweet snack food! He learned really early the difference between stalactites and stalagmites (the former have to hold ‘tight’ or they’ll fall, the latter ‘might’ grow up to the roof).

I figured out what had happened…– being c. 900 ft.+ higher, things boil at a lower temperature than down in the town. Even jam could boil madly and never reach setting temperature!

So… my challenge is, for You to have a go at this recipe. Tell me what I need to know: just how ‘flat’ does the ‘flat’ cola have to be?

THE Recipe

THE Recipe






6 Dec

To be sung to the tune of the song Biko by Peter Gabriel, with thanks and apologies to composer and performer, and honour to human rights martyr Stephen Biko.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Back in seventy seven, – I first learned about Sijo. (14)
A form of po’try from Korea; I thought I’d give it a go. (16)

Oh sijo, sijo, o-oh write sijo, sijo.
Oh sijo, sijo, o-oh write sijo, sijo.

Constructed in three sentences, divided into two lines. (15)
The beauty of the Sijo is, it doesn’t have to rhyme. (14)

Oh sijo, sijo, o-oh write sijo, sijo.
Oh sijo, sijo, o-oh write sijo, sijo

Syllable counts aren’t rigid, for any sentences you write. (15)
Fourteen, fifteen or sixteen – whatever you choose is alright. (15)

Oh sijo, sijo, o-oh write sijo.
Oh sijo, sijo, o-oh write sijo, sijo.
[repeat refrain to fadeout]
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Underlined vowels above are where to place the stressed (accented) beat to fit the music. That one hyphen shows where the singer “holds” or waits for the next beat.
Following is in the actual Sijo form.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Back in seventy seven –
I first learned about Sijo. (14)
A poetry form from Korea;
I thought I’d give it a go. (16)
Constructed in three sentences,
divided into two lines. (15)

Syllable counts aren’t rigid,
for any sentences you write. (15)
Fourteen, fifteen or sixteen –
whatever you choose is alright. (15)
The beauty of the Sijo is
it doesn’t have to rhyme. (14)

If Dickens had such an editor…

4 Dec

An Extreme Tale

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
When was the last time that sentence accurately described your life?

Sorry, not what was wanted, but I could Not resist giving you summat to chuckle at…


Sarah Warburton

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