Thursday, 6 December 2007

In Democratic South Africa, Glasnost sees through YOU...

This post is not to complain about the inefficiency of Home Affairs with regards to losing my ID book en route to me. It is not to complain about the screaming kids, long lines, and slowness of the bureaucrats. If I started complaining, nothing would get done.

This is about a little event during all these proceedings, in which I took part yesterday at the Wynberg Home Affairs office.

At long last, I reach the supervisor's counter. (I apparently rated an upgrade in service, since I have been waiting for my ID for 10 months.) The supervisor takes my ID number, enters it on the system, and starts looking through the log of what has been done. Being naturally possessed of a curious spirit, I lean over and look on his screen.

"Oh look," I exclaim, "it says that on such-and-such a date, my ID book 'arrived at Dispatch'."

"Please don't do that," he said curtly. "You are not allowed to see that."


The entire office is bedecked with posters proclaiming the wonders of the new "Track & Trace" system, whereby a simple SMS to a certain number (charged at ZAR1) will theoretically let you know exactly what the status and location of your ID book is.

Unfortunately, it seems that there is still some privileged information. Transparency, accountability, and freedom of information... these are ideals towards which the (local and national) government is supposedly striving. So why am I strongly discouraged from access to the very information which might just make me feel better about the fact that my ID has been lost in the system, after applying for it 10 months ago?

Has anybody else had experiences like these?

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Mobility, organised OR: How I got my Motorola V360 to sync with my Google Calendar

Idly browsing through the technical specifications for my Motorola V360, I saw that it supported Synchronization Markup language (SyncML), aka Open Mobile Alliance Data Synchronization and Device Management.

What all that means is that my phone supports an open standard for synchronising information between all sorts of networked mobile devices, and servers on the Internet. A general rule of thumb is this: Once an open standard exists (and, of course, does something useful), someone will do something cool with it.

So it was in this case.

While Google Calendar itself doesn't speak SyncML, I did find a free service called GooSync that sits between your phone and Google Calendar and synchronises the two. The free GooSync account includes the synchronisation of one (1) calendar only, and only synchronises 30 days in advance. The 20-Pound-Sterling-per-year subscription service includes features such as multiple calendar support, and synchronising up to 365 days in advance.

I obviously signed up for the free option.

Your first step is to authorise GooSync to access your Google Calendar. This was a two-click process: One click on the GooSync page to open Google's authorisation page, and one click on Google's authorisation page. It didn't ask for my Google password, either.

The phone configuration instructions were painless: I chose my phone from a list of models and got the instructions. There was a bit of confusion on the instructions page about what exactly the Sync menu option is called. I knew from before that this phone had some major differences in the firmware between different country-localised models, though, so it's not GooSync's fault.

After defining a new "Sync partner" (as my phone calls it) with the details provided by GooSync, I could synchronise immediately.

All in all a pleasant experience; everything worked out of the box and as advertised.

Blogged with Flock

Monday, 12 November 2007

Flocking to social browsing

Today marks five days since I discovered Flock browser. It also marks the first blogposts made with Flock's built-in blog editor.

Flock is a social networking-oriented browser. It integrates browser functions with such diverse social networking sites as Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, YouTube, Flickr,, Photobucket, and many more that I haven't ever used before (like Piczo).

For the photosharing sites, you have a photo uploader that you can do basic cropping and editing with.

As I publish this post and my latest poem, I also found that Flock's blog editor seamlessly supports multiple blogs in the same Blogger account. It can also save a draft to the specific blog of your choice, and will even open drafts previously edited and saved using Blogger's web editor.

I will post more about Flock after playing with it a bit more... suffice it to say, for now, that there have been only a few software packages that have transformed my experience of the internet in such a big way in such a short time.

Blogged with Flock

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Shirty confusion

Walking on UCT Upper Campus, you often see a certain t-shirt. It's white, and has "HIV POSITIVE" printed on it in purple. No other information appears on the shirt, except for (one may safely assume) a manufacturer's label and/or washing instructions.

What is this all about? Treating this shirt as an interface to information, I must say that I don't find this a good interface at all.

Does the wearer of the shirt wish to impart that he or she is HIV positive? Do they mean to say that they are infected with HIV, and feel positive about it? Does it perhaps mean that they are not infected with HIV, and feel positive about that fact? Or do they just generally feel positive about the state of HIV in the country and how the government is handling it?

(If it's the last case, the shirt is in rather poor taste.)

Some disambiguation is needed here.

Edit: Does the choice of purple have some significance? I thought red was the ribbon colour associated with HIV/Aids.

Monday, 1 October 2007

An inspiration less ordinary

If I've ever needed some inspiration, it would be on a day like today... a semi-hungover and semi-sleepless Monday.

After seeing the video about Burning Man last night at the Armchair in Obs, and subsequent vowing to go to Afrika Burns, this site blew me away. It's called The Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun. On the one hand, it's a flash animation (groans from the geek gallery). On the other hand, it loaded quite quickly even over my EDGE connnection, and worked perfectly in Firefox.

It outlines eight principles (obviously) for making your life more awesome and less ordinary. It's not easy to put into words what it meant to me, but I took a lot out of it. Check it out. It might just change you in some small way.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Where to start reading the Discworld

If you have ever wanted to start reading Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, but haven't know where in the 33-book series to start, then take heart.

BoingBoing just carried a story about a community-maintained reading list (or rather, reading schematic) that shows the books broken down by chronological order, with dotted lines showing where story lines interact.

Downloads are available in Powerpoint PPT, Adobe PDF, JPEG and Excel XLS formats. For readers of the translated series, the list is available in Bulgarian, Dutch, German, Hebrew, Italian, Polish, and Spanish.

A publication order list is also available in English and in German.

Also, there is a new Discworld book out! It's called "Making Money" and is a sequel to "Going Postal". It follows the continued adventures of Moist von Lipwig. More information as I get it. See it on for more information.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Sneakers for the abos

It's not every day that you cannot quite decide how to feel about something in the news.

Nike is making a specially-adapted sneaker shoe for the American Indian demographic. Apparently there are some very good physiological reasons why they should have special shoes, like a different foot shape and so on. All laudable and stuff.

What I can't get over, is their putting tribal designs all over the bloody thing. To quote the BoingBoing article:

The design features several "heritage callouts" as one product manager described it, including sunrise to sunset to sunrise patterns on the tongue and heel of the shoe. Feather designs adorn the inside and stars are on the sole to represent the night sky.


Sorry, what?

Next thing you know, North Star or Toughees is going to make a Khoisan Edition. With embroidered "cave drawing" style designs on the sides, depicting buck being slain by groups of little men with bows.

The mind boggles.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

But is it art?

Technology is in a precarious place right now. We can do magic, as Arthur C Clarke defines it, in many ways. We can also design many wonderfully beautiful things.

The problem is that, mostly, the technologically marvelous things and the intrinsically beautiful things are not the same things. Technology is awesome but ugly.

To name one example: One of the largest obstacles to the adoption of Open Source software is based in design.

To the programmers among us, "good design" means something along the lines of "good code". I appreciate the mindset, since the alternative is bad code. Our programmers are precious to us. We need you, and appreciate what you do to make our lives easier.

Unfortunately, not all of us are programmers. Regular people can take advantage, right now, of all that Open Source Software has to offer us. For free, gratis, and verniet.

Why don't they?

There are many people who fully support the Open Source ideal. They agree with the philosophy, they hate Windows (whichever version), they are sick and tired of viruses and their information not being secure. And yet they still go home and boot up Windows. Why is that?

Partly it's what they're used to. They have always used Windows and they're used to it, with all its quirks and foibles. If there is one true thing Terry Pratchett has said, it's that what people want, what they really really want, is for tomorrow to be pretty much the same as yesterday and today. Microsoft has given users 7 years to get used to the XP interface, and then changed it a bit too much in Vista. There are many other things wrong with Vista, fair enough. I must maintain, however, that the most immediately frustrating thing upon initially opening Vista, has to be the interface. Not the fact that it was different from XP's interface, but the fact that it was less discoverable.

The strength that Windows has, in my opinion, is that it abstracts (to a great extent) the administration of a system. This is a good and a bad thing... bad for the engineers, who need choice, but good for the user that doesn't want to learn all that much about their computer before operating it.

In a recent discussion about (the Open Source 3D rendering and animation program) Blender, a animation producer of my acquaintance quoted the general response of her animators to Blender: that the interface was written for programmers, by programmers. While the interface probably makes a lot of sense to programmers who happen to also be good at animation, it's not for specialist programmers. They will probably continue to use their proprietary software packages until such a time as the Blender programmers stop engineering interfaces, and start designing them. There's a major difference right there, and requires a slight but significant paradigm shift:

Beauty is a good thing. Beauty in an interface contributes to productivity. Beauty should be unobtrusive and functional. A streamlined and functionally designed interface is inherently beautiful. Beauty is a feature.

A designed interface, as opposed to an engineered interface, is an interface which disappears. It should be intuitive enough to "disappear"... the user should not notice that they are using an interface. A user should be able to ignore what the program wants to do, in favour of what the user wants to do. Almost every program interface today forces the user to interact in certain ways, all of which make sense to the engineer; not all of which are immediately transparent to, or accessible by, the user.

Many programmers regard "the user" as a necessary evil. "The user" is seen as an intermediary stage, a larval form of "the guru". ("The guru" being a user that can troubleshoot and fix the problems they have on their own system. The mindset, generally, is that the user will be their own system administrator. When something doesn't work, the user is expected to go online, learn about their operating system, talk to gurus and other users, and fix their own problems. This is a two-edged sword.

On the one hand, the user learns more about his operating system. Fair and good. This will allow the user to help other users with their problems and, in time, become a guru. Very laudable.

On the other hand, this gets in the way of the user doing actual creative work during the time spent fixing problems. This is a larger problem than might be immediately apparent.

Let us put it in the context of another specialist area: fine art.

In order to create a great work of art, the artist spends some years of his life acquiring skills: drawing, composition, painting in and on various mediums, and so forth. He spends some time practicing his art. He makes some mistakes, and learns from them. We end up with the Mona Lisa.

Do I need to expend the same effort, study the same theory, acquire the same skills, just to appreciate the art? Of course not. It helps, of course, to know some of the technicalities of the art, in order to better appreciate the monumental skill needed to paint the Mona Lisa. But it's not necessary as such. A lot of effort has been made, over centuries, to explain fine art to the beginner. Even if you know little about art, a helpful leaflet may be picked up at the museum door.

In the same vein, knowing that a lot of very arcane knowledge went into creating a program helps to appreciate the achievement. A certain passing skill with the operation of a computer is necessary to gain the full benefit of any given program. The issue I have with many Open Source programs and operating systems is that the equivalent of a leaflet is not enough for the average user to gain the full advantage of the program. Rather, the user is required to pick up the knowledge to the tune of a certificate-level course in order to know what to do.

This needs to change.

What we need desperately in Open Source Software is specialist interface designers. People who understand the user's point of view. People who can see the value in abstracting what the system does from what the user wants to do.

There is a reason why programs like Adobe Photoshop are used over Open Source alternatives like Gimp (The GNU Image Processor). Why Maya is used over Blender. That reason has almost nothing to do with the quality of the underlying technology and almost everything to do with the interface. That is the reason why Gimp offers you the option of running Gimpshop (which makes Gimp act more like Photoshop) while Photoshop does not now and never will offer you the option of making it act more like Gimp. Interfaces.

We need to make a shift in technological thought. Beautiful interfaces need to be designed. Interfaces need to be seen as a valid technological field. Beauty is not an option.

Beauty is a feature.


Blender animation suite:

Gimp (The GNU Image Processor):


Sunday, 16 September 2007

A Tale of 50 Cities

It was the best of times, it was the most open of times. It was a time of bravery, honesty, and frankness. We shared our dreams and they were heard, fostered, and reciprocated. Our young men saw visions and our old men dreamed dreams. This was the winter party of our Open Content.

The Open Content party at Deer Park Cafe was a sensual experience in many ways. The heavenly smells drifting from the kitchen, the awesome music drifting from the sound system, the thrill of new acquaintances, and the creative ideas drifting from mind to mind (flying so fast as to almost bypass speech altogether), made this evening a total sensory overload.

The entire evening reminded me of nothing so much as a 60's era love-in. The beards in evidence were not as matted and mangy, the dreadlocks were legitimately African, the drugs were (I think) limited to legal ones, and the quality of the hippy folk music has undeniably gotten better... yet it was a night where the ideas got their clothes off and shagged on the tables in front of everyone. (Thank Tristan for that line, which I must honestly attribute to him. He also had some skanky ideas about Snowy, see below.)

Cross-pollination of interesting ideas was the point of the exercise, and it seems that almost everyone made a point of meeting random interesting-looking strangers. The stiffness evident at the start of the evening had long evaporated into a congenial mood; you could pretty much walk up to anyone and introduce yourself, and be deep in an interesting conversation within minutes.

A few impressions of conversations in which I was either involved with, overheard, or shamelessly eavesdropped on:

  • The Freedom Toasters (link) may be carrying local bands' Creative Commons-licensed music pretty soon. This will serve to promote the artists and make the Freedom Toasters more valuable to the community at large. It is a valuable resource already, but mostly in the fields of Open Source Software... adding creative content to the mix gives it a broader appeal and will almost definitely spread the word on Open Source Software as well. Tristan Waterkeyn (from and Brett Simpson (from the Shuttleworth Foundation) will most likely be collaborating about this very soon.
  • The animation industry in South Africa is frankly almost dead, or at least haemorrhaging badly. "Locally-produced" animated TV series dealing with traditional South African tales and content, is (ironically) outsourced to Korea. Our locally-trained animators are leaving our shores in droves for climes more amiable towards their profession. A lady named Canda Kincses would like to change all that. She has a personal mission to build a world-class local industry in animation, and I believe she has the drive, vision, and determination to do just that.
  • An idea we came up with one night, after a journalist friend was ordered to sit on a story which could have saved lives. The story isn't mine to tell, but the idea was this: A database for journalists to share important information... anonymously, and deniably. Reputations and trust can be built up by a Slashdot-type karma system, so that "reliable sources" can still be that, and yet literally cannot be revealed as you will not know who they are. This has special application in totalitarian states, especially those that still torture journalists. The details still need to be worked out, but strong encryption and data anonymisation will be the cornerstones of this service.

As I write this, I'm humming revolutionary marching songs under my breath and shopping online for beret prices... a grand age of the Communism of the Idea is coming, compadre.

The Brotherhood of Artists and Geeks (BAG) believes that:

0. The Zeroth rule of BAG Club is you have to talk about BAG Club.
1. Keeping an idea to the intellectual elite is the worst form of capitalism.
2. It is a fallacy to say that our ideas make us rich and should be hoarded.
3. An idea, once shared, does not devalue the giver;
4. does not merely give value to the recipient, but add value to the giver.
5. An idea is viral and cannot be killed except by apathy and ignorance.
6. An idea is a virus which incubates in minds. All minds are fertile to ideas. The more viruses your mind cultivates, the more fertile it becomes.
7. Ideas are packets of information living in a mutually advantageous symbiosis with humanity.
8. You have a moral obligation to share ideas with the right people.
9. You need to eat. People's time is precious, and should be compensated appropriately.

That shall be the first rules. I want to hear which rules you can come up with. Add your suggestions for additions to the Manifest on Facebook (link).

I might move a few suburbs up Main Road to Woodstock, in the spirit of the rebellion and this whole psychedelic tripped-out weekend.

PUBLIC SERVICE MESSAGE: No animals were harmed, and no psychedelic drugs were taken, during this weekend. A foot massage was administered to a hurt foot from kicking the plastic donkey kiddies seat / abstract sculpture. It was promptly named Snowy, and there was a suggestion made to add a pink spiked leather S&M collar around its paw to offset the virginal whiteness of it. In the spirit of the breeding party for ideas, you understand.

It is a far, far more open thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better future for artist-geeks that I go to, than I have ever expected.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

In Beano Veritas

It was a night of firsts. It was a night of contacts made, things discussed, blog entries edited, big words being used and good music being played.

On the bill at the Coffee Bean was Matthew Gair to open, with Verismo "Lite" to follow.

Despite having met Matthew some months ago, I have not had the pleasure of hearing him play before, and liked his music a lot. Catchy tunes, good guitar work, and deep lyrics combined into a very listenable package with tons of promise. Will catch one of his gigs again soon, and form further opinions.

Verismo followed. The full band was, unfortunately, not in attendance; the Bean's stage is a bit small for all six Verismo members and a drum kit. Frankly, the Bean is a bit small for the full Verismo sound too... but it has the advantage of being cozy. On backup vocals and guitar was Mark and on keyboard was Antonio. Vaughan, on lead vocals, seemed to be missing his trademark saxophone. It seems that he didn't feel up to both playing and singing, due to illness.

The sound was pleasantly minimal, due in part to illness and in part to the incompleteness of the band. It was quite interesting. Usually, the Verismo sound is an overwhelming buffet of sound and spectacle; a rich meal with many courses and interesting tidbits to consentrate on and mull over. The sound the other night was relatively sparse and spartan, but still very professional. If it were a meal, it would be the salad a master chef would toss together at home for himself and a special visitor... it was improvised, honest, and intimate.
Even though the sound was not as rich as their usual, it was still highly enjoyable. Very impressive indeed was the substitution of the regular drum solo in "Love to Love You" with some vocal beatboxing by Vaughan. The word does not do justice to what he did, and I seriously need to borrow a video camera for the next time they play the Bean so I can catch that on video.

It is a part of this band's appeal that they are a highly polished band of technically accomplished musicians, and also charismatic performers one and all. The beatboxing, Mark's ad-libbed lyrics, and some impressive falsetto singing from Vaughan (to fill in for Robin's operatic female vocal bits) make Verismo at the Coffee Bean a totally unique experience which you will not get to see at other, larger venues. It underscores why I have loved this band since the moment I first saw them in the Bean and why I immediately became a total Verismo groupie.

On the subject of firsts, Jonathan Hitchcock had his first Verismo experience on Thursday. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say about them. He was quite obviously entranced by them and made public a desire to attend their next performance, which will be on 28 September at the Good Hope Centre for some charity event.

Fans of Verismo, take heart! Even though their next gig is some time from now, their album should also come out within a month. I shall publish news as and when it becomes available... and might break some news items to the world if there are any news to be broken.

Watch this spot. Links to the performers below.

Mat's Pages:

Verismo's Pages:

PS. My peanut gallery (aka, "the wife") said the title of this post is a bit obscure. If you don't get the pun, you're not in the intended audience for this blog.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Virginal Service

Just a quick post about Virgin Mobile's people at Cavendish mall in Claremont, Cape Town.

I needed a solution. I had a broken phone and no way to keep in touch with the world. The broken phone will be repaired under my insurance cover, but it will take weeks.

What to do?

I have a contract from Virgin Mobile. A previous SIM card swop was handled quickly and efficiently by the good people at the Virgin Mobile counter in the Musica store in Cavendish. Finding their landline number wasn't exactly straightforward. I had to use the store locator and call them up, which got me the Virgin counter's number. A phone call or two later, they had checked my credit rating as it was originally assessed and approved me for a V0 Post-Pay account. R49 a month gets me R50 airtime and a handset, in this case a Motorola V360.

Arriving at the store, I merely had to walk in, buy a Virgin starter pack at R55, sign a contract form, and walk out with the phone and my in-store activated SIM card. They were extremely helpful and friendly.

The only thing they could not do, was to take my wife's prepaid Virgin number and use it for the new contract. It would be a different matter if she were only porting to Virgin now, but the port had happened months ago. There must be a reason for this restriction (the Virgin lady described it as a network policy across all networks), but the logic for it escapes me.

I will recount the tale of the Outsurance insurance claim soon. More so if something interesting happens.

Coining a word or two.

I wonder whether I'm the only one disappointed by Facebook. (Statistically I cannot be the only one, but it is more dramatic to seem to suffer alone.) Facebook was supposed to solve all our social problems, help us make new friends, and cure that embarassing rash too. Or maybe that's just me. The rash is clearing up too, I got a cream for it.

It's not that it's a let-down in any big way. Maybe I just expected it to make a bigger difference in my life than it did. Maybe it was a bit over-hyped by the people who wanted me to sign up. (Whoever that was, own up!) I guess it's just a case of "wherever you go, you take yourself along". In other words, if you're a social butterfly who knows everyone, you probably have friends in amounts described by imaginary numbers (those numbers invented to describe how much disk space Google has) and your gigantic store of photos depict you: (a) always with a group of smiling people; (b) probably holding an alcoholic beverage; and (c) in some state of undress and/or embarassment.

If, on the other hand, you were not a very social person to begin with, the picture is a little different. At least 50 percent of your contacts are either (a) people you have never met and that live in a different city; (b) even worse, people you have never met and live in the same city; or (c) people you have lost contact with and now live, you guessed it, in a different city. Also, you probably feel like you are a passive observer in the lives of the people that you actually have contact with.

Both types take refuge in Applications, connecting with their friends through "Asking Questions" and "Biting Chumps". This is a strange mode of interaction, and is often mistaken for real human interaction and communication.

I need to get a few things off my chest.

(1) A clip-art picture of a present is not a replacement for a real present.

(2) An application invitation is not a replacement for a quicl note asking after my health and wellbeing.


(4) Thou Shalt Always Tag The Redhead In Thy Photos.

(5a) I can see which applications you've added. If it looks interesting, I'll add it. Don't invite me.

(5b) MOREOVER, to the developers of said Applications: Don't force me to invite anyone else.

(6a) If you already have 100 pictures of you drinking, socialising, and smiling at the camera... THAT IS ENOUGH.

(6b) The same goes for any pet pictures. You should be allowed a maximum of three photos per pet (reclining, running, and doing something cute). More than one picture of an animal which is not your pet, is pointless.

(6c) Doubly so for lolcats.

That concludes my rant for the day.

We need new words. A word needs to serve as a reasonably universal label for a thought, activity, or concept... and I feel that there are a few things happening that are not spoken of, because we don't have words for them. I'm open to suggestions here, please feel free to comment.

Firstly, the activity of addictedly clicking through the photo albums of people you have never met. Is it the voyeur in us? Is it an urge to vicariously experience others' lives? I can't quite tell what the motivation is. Does anyone else do this? Either I'm all alone in the world and I'm a sick sick person for doing it, or it's like masturbation... Everyone does it but nobody will own up to doing it.

Secondly, the resultant recognition of people in public places, with NO idea who they are or what their names are. We need a word for that. "Face-a vu"? Trite. Help me out here.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Write what you know.

Isn't that what they always tell you? 'Write what you know.' Some writer said that. I must look it up one of these days; it's something I've been perversely resisting the urge to do... Like putting off a good bottle of dry red wine for that one day when you cut the foil, pull the cork, let is breathe, and serve at room temperature. Once I get around to looking it up, I will be ready to know. My world will make sense in some small way.

Someone else who wasn't as famous said: 'Letting it all hang out is exactly as appetising as it sounds.' I agree with the sentiment, which was intimated in reaction to all those weird Americans 'sharing themselves' on Oprah and Ricky Lake. I must say that there is a certain difference, however, between an inbred Redneck achieving self-expression and enlightenment by hitting someone with a chair on Jerry Springer, and Van Gogh achieving transcendence by sharing his feelings as he did.

Whether by violence or art, you need to just let out all the pain and rage at all the crap that's been bothering you. Everything that's been messing you up, messing you around. Sooner or later all of us have to find an outlet for all the disappointment and frustration at eveything that's gone in our lives since that great time when we looked at a world full of opportunity and believed we could make something of this life.

Yes, dear reader, once I was an idealist.

I once believed that there was a deeper meaning to life, that the world makes sense, that I could Make A Difference. I felt that the world needed me, and my hook or by crook it had better be ready for Arno Breedt because here he comes. Meh. What still gets me from time to time is the total arbitrarity (is there such a word? Must look it up) of the world around us. When you're 18 and horny as hell (but I repeat myself) you aren't ready to stare into the void which is the world. You have Expectations. Dreams. Good Intentions. Condoms.

Then life happened. Which is what brings me to a point in this blog post.

My blog will be a glimpse on the life of two lovely, friendly, sometimes weird people. They both have mental disorders. Deal with it.

After a great saga and many quests to and from the offices and domains of the denizens of Psychiatry and the various iterations of that great Profession, my wife was diagnosed with Type II Bipolar disorder. The news, when I heard it, was a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, there's a sense of unreality... like that type of disorder is something you'd only read about in the Medical section of the Reader's Digest.

On the other hand, there is also an element of relief that there is finally a handle on a problem here. Some way to explain the sudden mood swings, weird irrational episodes, extreme depression, why I get thrown with stuff sometimes, and so on. Some reason to believe that it isn't my fault, that I'm not causing this person to become angry with me and throwing stuff at me. Or through some inattention or inaction on my part causing her to become depressed and feel unloved and hopeless enough to want to kill herself.

There is a reason why I might feel like it's my fault. It's because I am very often thoughtless, rude, and insensitive. It's because I'm autistic.

I will now pause for gasps of shock, not that I expect many.

I will not insult the reader by repeating a whole litany of 'symptoms' leading to my diagnosis. Read up about it. Get to know me. That's the only way to know someone. My average reader is intelligent enough to use Google and do further research if they are interested. I will, however, be providing some links as a way to get started.

That is what you could expect from my blog. A sometimes funny, sometimes angry, mostly cathartic and always brutally honest look at life in a house with two mental people and four well-adjusted cats. I won't aspire to telling the Truth, as that is a slippery fish and a very subjective thing. It might not be Art or Literature, but it will definitely range somewhere between Prose and Poetry.

As some other famous and probably dead person said: 'Prose can be defined as "words in the best order". Poetry can be defined as "the best words in the best order".' So there.

Oh, and some technical content may slip in from time to time. We're both geeks, so we tend to giggle over quotes and lame puns, drool over technology and discuss IRC as if it somehow has a meaning in the real world.

Some links for further reading:

Asperger Syndrome:

Bipolar Disorder: