To the Editor, Mercury Newspaper, Hobart, Australia.

Whilst I feel for the CEO of Metro Tasmania (Letters, Saturday Jan 7th) about the wishing to protect the Metro service from those inclined to double dip discounts on their Greencard and thus no reasonable notification was provided before the Greencard changes, I cannot for the life of me understand why they didn’t get my email address from their database and mail me on the morning they reprogrammed their system.
Then again, this is a monopoly government subsidised travel company whose website is near in-navigable at the top-level, doesn’t offer reasonable transfer information for interstate visitors (or basic point and click routing of any sort for that matter), appears to fail the most basic Web Accessibility standards and doesn’t let their timetable information to be used in educational institutions to teach programming – and thus maybe overcome their own failings on website and mobile services. For the record, over the past year I made approaches to the Minister responsible for Metro and Education in person, via Twitter and Facebook suggesting a reasonably simple solution to these multiple issues (pro-tip: use the Creative Commons licenses for the data). The silence has been deafening. I can only presume senior management within Metro wish to be picked on.
With this in mind, I’m happier to pay less for this ‘service’ and give good bus drivers the occasional tip for a professional and courteous approach to their job.




Why So Anger

Sometimes, people say to me ‘Hey, Bleets. Why do you get so upset so easily?’ Now, I know I shouldn’t… but here comes my pathetic excuse.

Imagine volunteering in a call centre for a charity of your choice. This is how user support is in Free Software. Add several hundred, or millions, of users (depending which product I’m talking about). And shake… steadily… for over a decade. This is why my fuse tends to be fairly short. Or at least this is the spin I put on most of my geek rage.

I found this transcript of an old help chat from a few years ago. Tidied it up and here it is for your consumption.

10:52 <us3r> What is the difference between the (software title 1) and (software title 2)
10:53 <co-author> One is a single (product), the other is a large collection of (different products).
10:53 <us3r> that makes it kind of bad to list them together
10:54 <us3r> in the download list
10:54 <us3r> yet separate from everything else
10:54 <co-author> What download list?
10:55 <us3r> http://a.url.to/downloads
10:55 <us3r> is (software title 1) included with (software title 2)? if not, what does it do?
10:55 <co-author> Look at the (publishing house's) wiki.
10:56 <us3r> located...?
10:56 <co-author> You're on it!
10:56 <us3r> no.
10:57 <us3r> no, i'm on the downloads page.
10:57 <co-author> Which is part of a wiki.
10:57 <us3r> :)
10:57 <us3r> i dont see 'wiki' anywhere in the url
10:57 <us3r> :)
10:58 <us3r> honestly

edit: put the ‘usernames’ back. WP ate them somewhere…

Is ‘R U OK Day’ OK?

Last week when I blogged about my mental state, I realised it was the first time I’d ever really spoken openly about my inner demons. Well, I say openly. I had mentioned to a couple of friends before that I was struggling. Some who’ve known me for longer do not need to be told. And certainly some medical professionals knew. However, I could pretty easily count on two fingers the number of folks who were fully aware of my inner struggles.

I recently mentioned to a friend, whose company I realised I was in the throes of losing (probably due to a change in medication for possible related conditions, another long story), a precise ‘course of action’ that could probably leave the friendship in tatters as I was feeling very insecure due to more diagnosis of new physical medical conditions. I was assured that this person would never follow said course. Needless to say, the person I trusted with this information either knowingly or otherwise proceeded to check every box on my appointed list of ‘how to encourage a breakdown’. I was informed of this via a ‘Dear Pete’ email which ended ‘Respectfully yours’. Well… I hate to disagree, but… if I tell you what’ll upset me and then you tell me you’ve done it, ‘Dear’ and ‘Respect’ are words I find difficult to believe. This news received at the end of some not so much fun medical news that’ll effect the rest of my life, including the result that I can no longer care for my elderly parents and will have to consider placing them in professional care, left me more than a little upset. I felt hurt and threatened, in trying to gain control of any part of my life, I lashed out. (edit: yes, that’s a horrid para but I CBF fixing it up anymore)

Last night, Ben Pobjie wrote a blog post about what he called ‘The Seduction Of Sadness’. It pretty much covers how I’ve lost one of my best friends. Like Ben, I can’t really blame my friend either. And yet… and yet. Today on ‘R U OK? Day’ what springs to mind is that asking ‘R U OK?’ is easy. If you were to ask me, I’m not sure I could answer you. Well, clearly I’m not OK. But what can I say in answer apart from ‘Fuck no!’? Right now I don’t feel that I have the skills to communicate to anyone I actually trust and whose advice and support I would also appreciate. And I don’t want to waste your or my time.

Attempting to be a friend of someone with a mental illness is not easy.  I can’t help but think the simplicity of the question ‘R U OK?’ obscures the need for ill and distressed people to have friends who are prepared to stick around for what may well be a wild ride. Speaking for myself, I’d rather you not ask at all than offer false hope of assistance.

Today is International Suicide Prevention Day. For around 30 years, I’ve lived with suicidal thoughts. As I get older, it doesn’t get any easier. As I lose friends and loved ones, either through death or my inability to cope with my multipolar/-tism disorders as well as my depression and suicidal feelings, it gets harder. Much harder. Thankfully, however, I have not had to be put in a professional care situation for around 20 years. I doubt this would’ve been possible to achieve without the friends who continue to support me. I love you more than you’ll ever possibly know.

Admitting all this may have just cost my future career. I would like to acknowledge Mr Andrew Robb as an inspiration in ‘coming clean’. I believe suicide kills more Tasmanian males each year than car accidents and that Tasmania has amongst the highest suicide rates in the western world. I think there’s more to be gained by coming clean, than not.

But what has particularly moved me to break my silence was that I would like to publicly thank the friend who spent last night praying over me as I lay in the foetal position with that damned Black Dog nipping around my ankles again. Whilst I may not necessarily have the same belief system as yours, I was humbled by your care. Thank you seems so inadequate for what you’ve done for me, again. Love you. My friend.


edit: Yes, I am medicated. Many people with such tendencies are. Interactions with other pharmaceuticals, however, are not always entirely predictable.


(with apologies to Ned Washington and with thanks to Bron T for ‘lolcats’)

Keep movin’, movin’, movin’,
Though they’re disapprovin’,
Keep them lolcats movin’ Trollhard!
Don’t try to understand ’em,
Just rope and throw and grab ’em,
Soon we’ll be living high and wide.
Boy my heart’s calculatin’
My true love will be waitin’, be waiting at the end of my ride.

Move ’em on, head ’em up,
Head ’em up, move ’em out,
Move ’em on, head ’em out Trollhard!
Set ’em out, ride ’em in
Ride ’em in, let ’em out,
Cut ’em out, ride ’em in Trollhard.

Trollin’, trollin’, trollin’
Trollin’, trollin’, trollin’
Trollin’, trollin’, trollin’
Trollin’, trollin’, trollin’

Trollin’, trollin’, trollin’
Though the streams are swollen
Keep them lolcats trollin’
Rain and wind and weather
Hell-bent for leather
Wishin’ my gal was by my side.
All the things I’m missin’,
Good vittles, love, and kissin’,
Are waiting at the end of my ride

Move ’em on, head ’em up
Head ’em up, move ’em on
Move ’em on, head ’em up
Count ’em out, ride ’em in,
Ride ’em in, count ’em out,
Count ’em out, ride ’em in

Keep movin’, movin’, movin’
Though they’re disapprovin’
Keep them lolcats movin’
Don’t try to understand ’em
Just rope, throw, and brand ’em
Soon we’ll be living high and wide.
My hearts calculatin’
My true love will be waitin’,
Be waitin’ at the end of my ride.


On ‘In Silence’

This is the full text of a Letter to the Editor regarding a story/letter writing thread they’ve been running for over a week about an installation for the opening of the MONA FOMA festival in Tasmania. The edit job they did was pretty good, for once. I’d get what they printed and throw it up here but I don’t have it at hand. Find yer own in a gutter somewhere near you today! Based upon an earlier tweet of mine.*

I don’t see what the fuss is about this piano. Seems terribly amateur to me. If Mr Walsh’s curators weren’t going at this burned-stuff-as-art half-baked, they would’ve got The KLF’s Jim Cauty to recreate his seminal 94/95 masterpiece ‘The K Foundation Burn A Million Quid’ using Walsh’s own notes. But then, maybe Mr Walsh would’ve ended up feeling just as guilty as the original artists about effectively taking cash away from their own kids and the needy for the sake of ‘art’.

* “#936mofo #mofo Wish chattering classes would shut up about that bloody piano. (writing letter @themercurycomau about burning a million quid)