Saturday, December 26, 2009

Website: Ctrl-Alt-Bkspc now has comments, and other things

Comic for 7th October 2009 - CtrlAltBkspc - Mozilla Firefox 3.6 Beta 5 (3)

You can now directly comment on my comic, <Ctrl><Alt><Bkspc>! Right now, only the finished comics have comments – I’m still deciding whether or not to add them to sketches.

(Much thanks to Intense Debate for their awesome comment system! ^^)

I’ve been planning this for a while, but I’ve been holding out for a good comment system to use. So it’s nice to see it up and running at last.

Other things

CtrlAltBkspc  MarkKBs Web - Windows Internet Explorer

Three months ago, I updated <Ctrl><Alt><Bkspc>’s homepage. I just never got ‘round to blogging about it! ^^;

The idea was so that readers can easily find where the latest comics are, and newcomers can easily jump to the beginning of either the comic or the current arc, depending on what takes their fancy. It also shows news about the comic, which you can also subscribe to via RSS.

I felt the previous homepage, which just showed the current comic, was a little too awkward for my tastes. Oh well!

You can check the homepage, and my comic, out at


Updated 14/07/2013 to fix broken links.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Internet Critique: A Sea of Neutral Facts (Part 1)

This is part of a series of posts I’ll be writing about Internet criticism.

When reading or writing critique, it is important to distinguish between negative criticism and neutral facts.

Neutral facts are facts that don’t weigh for or against an object being criticised. Misguided Internet critics often pad their critiques with neutral facts in order to try and persuade people to their point of view, by way of the sheer number of these “facts”.

That’s not to say that the person might have a point, it’s just shifting through the silt for a gem may be time-consuming.

The ad hominem

The ad hominem is the most basic kind of neutral fact and one that is most often employed, usually in the form of association fallacy. Basically, an ad hominem is when one attacks the person or entity as an argument of why his views, opinion or something he makes, produces, or is responsible for, is bad or wrong.

Association fallacy says: X is made by Y. Y is bad/wrong because of Z. Ergo, X is bad/wrong, or alternately, X is made by Y, for reason Z. Reason Z is bad/wrong, ergo X is bad/wrong.

Both of these arguments fail to explain how X is wrong or bad. They explain how Y is wrong, misguided or bad, but that has no bearing on the quality of the object itself.

If you establish that the price of tea in China is too high, you don’t back it up by listing social injustices committed by the tea company. Sure, it’s bad a bunch of workers were wrongly treated, but what has that got to do with the price of tea in China?

Wrong: Selling drugs is wrong because the Mafia does it.
Wrong: Selling drugs is wrong because the Mafia uses it to control the underground.
Right: Selling drugs is wrong because there are laws against it.

While the Mafia does wrong things, that says nothing about the wrongness of selling drugs.

Wrong: This webcomic is bad because only perverts read it.
Wrong: This webcomic is bad because it’s obviously aimed at perverts.
Wrong: This webcomic is bad because the author obviously has some sort of weird fetish for this kind of thing.
Right: This webcomic is bad because of weak plot and bad art.

The audience of a webcomic, or the intentions or interests of the author, says nothing about the quality of the webcomic. For all you know, it could be a good webcomic despite its’ target audience, similar to well-done children’s television shows.

Non sequiturs

The non sequitur is a fact that’s only superficially related to the current topic, but is used to back up an opinion anyway.

X and Y are related categories. Y has a product Z. Z performs poorly in category X, and therefore wouldn’t appeal to category Y.

Wrong: WIndows Mobile only has 4% of the consumer smartphone market, and therefore is a poor business phone.

The fact that Windows Mobile is doing poorly in the consumer market says nothing about its’ competency as a business phone.

Misuse of Percentages

Often, percentages will be brought in to back up why something is doing poorly. The problem is that percentages mean nothing without proper context, which is often lacking.

Right: These percentages show that people are ignoring Windows Mobile.
Wrong: These percentages show that Windows Mobile is haemorrhaging users.

What the example above is ignoring is that the market continues to grow – that is, the total number of users has increased and, in fact, so has the number of Windows Mobile phones.

This fact can’t be inferred from percentages alone – raw data and absolute trends are needed to get the full picture.

Appeal to Popularity

The examples given for the preceding sections also suffer from another fallacy: inferring popularity = quality. This is another kind of association fallacy – that is, everyone likes/hates X, therefore X must be good/bad.

Part two will be posted soon.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Testing Word’s Blogging Ability

I'm not sure if this is new to Microsoft Word 2010, but I've just noticed that one of the document templates is labelled "Blog Post".

"Heh," I thought as I clicked on it. I mean, isn't that getting a little too silly?

Of course, I hadn't counted on Word actually having the ability to post the things. Now that I've had a look around, I can say it's quite a well done job; certainly at least as good as Windows Live Writer.

The Insert Screenshot tool is especially nice, although it doesn't seem to preform that well when up against programs that utilise Vista's Aero glass effects (see screenshots.) Maybe if it gets as good as Window Clippings, I can use it in day-to-day use.

Of course, it doesn't list any image hosting providers, and thus I'd have to upload all the pictures manually. But otherwise it's a nice tool to have if you have Microsoft Word.

Here are some screenshots taken by Word's Insert Screenshot tool:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Appetisers, prior art and patents

Thursday, October 22, 2009

In Case of Earthquake

Just to take a break from the monotony…

This sign is made of pure, unmitigated WIN:

Look me in the eye and tell me you didn’t crack up laughing like I did when I saw it. I won’t believe you. ^^

(Via Oregon Live’s Earthquake News.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Corkboard 1.0 Build 03 and Gibraltar 1.0 Build 05

OpenCity vs. “Microzoft”: Why Are Linux Developers Jerks?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

9/11: A Retrospective

Originally posted to my deviantART Journal.

What was I doing on the day the Twin Towers fell?

Honestly, I can't remember. Is that a bad thing? Keep in mind that I was only ten years old.

I'll dedicate this space, instead, on what I remember afterwards.

I remember echoes of rumours that an aeroplane had crashed into a building, maybe at lunchtime. I remember a small television on a dolly; whether or not we watched the news reports or not I don't remember.

I remember seeing the news early the next day on CNN.

I remember clearly the photograph of the South Tower, engulfed in smoke, that was displayed predominately on the front page of the Western Leader (our local newspaper), captured by a photographer from Laingholm.

Photographs of young, sad children waving the American flag. Photographs of the rescuers, with the haunting imagery of the smouldering ruins as their backdrop.

Photographs of the hole in the Pentagon, and of the remains of United Airlines Flight 93 in a field in Pennsylvania.

I have all these in a scrapbook. I tried to collect newspapers, as many as I could find, and paste anything about the disaster I could find into it. Even though the pages are yellowing, I still have that scrapbook on my bookshelf, tucked away with a few issues of TIME. Perhaps I did it for a school project? ... I don't know.

At the time, I don't think I realised what had really happened. How do you explain death to a ten year old? It was an abstract concept, far removed from the minds of the young. I just knew something bad had happened, and people were hurt. People were no longer alive.

On that terrible day, eight years and two days ago, we lost many people. Many lives were changed. And so, come September 11th, we morn the lost. Not only that, we celebrate their lives. We wish them and their families peace. We lower our flags to half-mast to honour their memory.

A hundred years from now, when few are still alive who remember the disaster, would we still morn? Maybe. I certainly hope that we remember what happened, at least.

That day was a day of sorrow, a shadow that hovers over us, even though the shadows of the Towers hovers no longer. A blight, a smudge in the manuscript of human history.

But we can't let that stop us.

So, rest in peace, those soaring souls that were joined with the ground and sky. Wherever they may be, we have to hope they are finally at rest.

And as we stand, sit, walk and run, drive or fly or swim or boat, we remember them on that day.

We need to remember.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mark Guesses the Origin of Words #1: inflammable

The word flammable, meaning easy to set on fire, derives from the word inflammable, meaning… easy to set on fire. The reason flammable was created was because people thought inflammable meant not-flame-able.

But where did inflammable come from?

My guess would be that it derives from the word inflame, meaning… to set on fire. This use of the in- prefix is similar to inflate and increase. The reason inflate and increase didn’t get a similar treatment is probably because flate is far enough from float to be considered different words, and we associate crease with a different meaning (to fold neatly) then we did back then (probably “divide” or “make greater”. Apparently, crease actually derives from the Latin word crea, meaning to create.)


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Update on SiteSled Issues

You may have noticed some regular outages over the last half-year of my website at There seems to be major problems up at SiteSled’s end, and I’ve been hoping that they’d get ironed out if I just weather the tide.

The most recent problem hasn’t limited your ability to look at it, but my ability to upload stuff – in fact, most stuff seems to be broken – FTP, HTTP upload, the forums, their wiki…

Apparently, hopefully, they’re fixing their ongoing problems:

It is true that we've experienced several extended outages, and communication has been spotty. The current software has been in use on SiteSled and our other free hosts since 1998, and is no longer supported with updates. This has caused several issues, which we are still working to solve.


We have been installing a new software suite that will allow us to offer a wide range of additional features on and it's new sister site. We hope to be able to port over the old sites, but this has not been confirmed yet.

We will try to keep you informed, but again, our current software has very limited communication abilities.

We appreciate your support through the rough times, and hope to provide you with additional services in the future.


[From the comments of this blog post – scroll to the end to see it.]

If this is true, it’s much appreciated (and a long time coming :D). Hopefully, this will all sort itself out, but if not, I’ve been researching both free and paid hosts. Although moving really is a last resort (since I’m lazy and don’t want to have to send everyone along to the new site. ^^)


Update 14/07/2013: After going up (and staying up) for a bit, it seems that Sitesled is now dead for good. :(  My new website can be located at

Monday, August 10, 2009

App Paths? What App Paths?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Delivering Papers (Or, Is There A Birdie Heaven?)

Time to write one of those anecdote thingies I’ve been promising. ^^; Well, here goes…

If you guys don’t know by now, I make a living[1] delivering papers. And, as you guys also know, I’m rather lacking in what I call “good judgement” – brash, rude, lazy, a procrastinator, not looking where I leap, don’t know when to quit, always got to be right…

Wait, where was I?

Oh yeah, delivering papers.

One night[2], I saw one of the usual cats[3] sitting in the middle of a driveway. Now, this kitten was (one might say unusually) voracious/eager, so to see her just sitting in the driveway seemed, well, odd. Still, I walked up and stroked her head. Even more unusually, she didn’t move at all.

Then I noticed what was in front of her.Sparrow at its' last vestiges of life.

There was this poor little sparrow, lying sprawled against he pavement. It’s eyes were still open, and for a moment I stared at it, not realising I was still stroking the kitten.

And then they blinked, and I realised with horror what had happened – that it was still alive, and the last thing this poor magnificent creature would ever see is big evil Man congratulating his proud pet on another kill.[4]


If you’ve ever looked into a small birds’ eyes, you’d know they contain in them a sort of wonder, a curiosity, a spark in their beadyness that few others posses. I guess you have to be observant when the world is out to get you and your food’s smaller than your head. To see that spark there, even at the last vestiges of life, really gives this feeling of… great sadness, I guess. It sobers someone to the reality of things that we ignore day-to-day.

But there’s also another thing I saw in that little birds’ eye: hope. A hope for the future, that there’ll be no more death and killing and disease and poverty…

A hope that tomorrow’s going to be better.

Do not go gentle into that good Night,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-- Dylan Thomas



[1] Of course, I don’t mean a proper living (I get to board free with my 'parents :D), but $20 each week isn’t too shabby IMHO.
[2] Oh, um, Boss, did I say night? I meant day! At 4:30p.m., even! ^^;
[3] It’s odd - some cats like me, some are scared of me, and some like to put stitches in my hand. ^^ Just kidding about that last part, that’s what my doctor does.
[4] “Man” here is the same Man who killed Bambi’s mother. Yeah, we’re a horrible bunch. (And that it’s not my pet is beside the point, we’re talking about the sparrow’s perspective.)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Comic Strip 1.0 Build 08

Monday, June 22, 2009

Slow Internet and Trackbacks

On a sad note, due to a screw-up with the guy who wanted to change us to Telstra Clear broadband, we’ve been on dial-up this last week. (And, due to another screw-up with technical support, it was all unnecessary – Vodafone hadn’t disconnected us yet!) Fun.

In other news, this blog now has trackbacks (thanks to JS-Kit), so if you want to show your readers what a blog with no readers looks like, I’ll know about your blog post. Yays!


Sunday, June 14, 2009

UAC is not (that) broken in Windows 7

Friday, June 12, 2009

Operating Conventions Part II (How To Fix What Shouldn’t Be Broken)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Project Nelson 1.0 Build 019

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The State of Audio on Linux Part 1 – Insufficient Memory

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Comic Strip 1.0 Build 07

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Sunday, March 01, 2009

Website Updates

About two weeks ago, I preformed a major upgrade to my website - including a new look!


(I’ve been meaning to blog about it, but I keep forgetting… :D)

There are still a few things I need to fix up, but apart from that, it should be fine!

In case you’ve forgotten, or stumbled upon this via Google, it’s located at – you can also visit it via the sidebar on the right.



I’ve uploaded <Ctrl><Alt><Bkspc>, a comic I do in my spare time. Whereas only a few of my classmates have previously seen it, now it’s been made available to everyone with an internet connection.

New software

Comic Strip, a webcomic viewer.
Corkboard, a noticeboard for home networks.
Gibraltar, an easy-to-configure installer.

I’ll probably expand on these later, but for now, cherrio!


Updated 14/07/2013 to fix broken links.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Operating System Conventions

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The road to Project Nelson