Robin Williams, Vale

Walking into work yesterday, I decide to open Twitter to check for news before I get in, and I see a line I never wanted to see – Robin Williams, RIP. No, no, no, no, no, no, this has to be a hoax, surely? But I get to my desk and check, there’s multiple sources confirming, and it can’t be denied.

Immediately I think of Dead Poets Society, of how that was the first movie I was conscious of crying in. I watched it in a dark room for English class, attempting to study the movie, but it was far too easy to get caught up in the content, mirroring the real world, an English teacher leading his class of boys to greater understanding. Our teacher knew well enough the impact, and was more than happy to watch it again to actually look at the content.

Then I thought of all those others, the movies throughout my childhood that I totally loved – Aladdin, Jumanji, Mrs Doubtfire, Patch Adams, Hook, Flubber, Jack. Growing a little older, Good Will Hunting, Bicentennial Man, What Dreams May Come… and I knew there was no way I wasn’t a Robin Williams fan. I’d watched almost all of his movies, and all of his standup I remember a few years ago he came to Sydney for a single night at the Entertainment Centre, big enough to seat hundreds; I got the best seats I could, on the floor about 12 rows back. Most of the material I’d seen before, but I still left with my stomach hurting from laughter and a smile I couldn’t wipe off my face. It wasn’t close enough by far.

Celebrity deaths don’t get to me, with possibly the only exception being Michael Jackson 5 years ago, but this one struck, hard. I’m not sure I’m over it a day later. Watching Mrs Doubtfire last night was bittersweet, more than the movie is, because just seeing that performance made it hit that much harder. Here was a man who could make anything funny, who could riff off the smallest things – his outtakes in The Crazy Ones were full of infectious throw-away lines, and I was glad to have seen that show even if it had been cancelled.

Farewell, Mr. Williams, you were the clown that made everyone laugh whenever we needed it.

Count to ten

Where conspiracy theories cross poor interface design:

This was the “bad old days” of computers and the only way to reset her station was from my central console. On this day, I highlighted her workstation and hit the F6 key to reset.  But my screen went temporarily black and then seemed to be starting again.  I realized that I had mistakenly hit F7 and reset all the workstations in the embassy.   This realization didn’t bother me much, because no one except the Agriculture section secretary was usually on the computer system this early in the morning.

It was only weeks later that I began to comprehend the effects of this single keystroke mistake.

F6, restart one workstation, F7, restart all, and the implications multiply. This is a perfect butterfly effect example.


This … 14 year old? How old is a freshman? Anyway, this kid in high school who is only 6’2″ has the most insane hops I’ve ever seen – and the kid can dunk:

Short form

Fish Dreams:

Her mother drops her at five and tells me what she likes to eat now. There are times I look at this woman and feel an echo of affection. But not today. She won’t eat peas any more, apparently. I am to encourage her to eat peas.

And she’s had nightmares, says her mother. Two.


Bad dreams. It’s common at this age.

Dreams about what?

Fish, she says. Don’t make a big deal out of it.

I say, How would I make a big deal out of it?

I need to start writing again.


All mobile OS roads lead back to WebOS:

While WebOS is dead, the cards interface has flourished. Windows Phone, Android, and iOS all adopted a very similar multitasking view. In addition, safari and chrome replaced their tab view to a cards view with the same gestures as well. Frankly, it would be a lie to say that these OS’s were not influenced by WebOS.

I really wish the Palm devices had been available in Australia, because I thought it looked years ahead of any competition. That the design choices have made it into iOS, Android and Windows Mobile is testament to the fact that – much like Xerox’s OS that influenced Mac OS and Windows on the PC – some ideas are too good to die. Just a shame Palm got swallowed by HP and then booted into the ether.