Life & much, much more

G’day, mate!

As some might be aware, I’ve recently moved from my nest in Malaysia to the charming country of Australia to begin university. I’m officially a university student now. Well, classes haven’t started yet and won’t for the next 2 weeks, and I haven’t even been to orientation yet, but according to the university’s crappy intranet system I’m enrolled in all my courses for Architecture.

I haven’t posted anything in a while. Normally I’d be able to blame it on my being busy on other things but truth be told I’ve actually just been plain lazy and have taken a liking towards twiddling my thumbs in bed. I still dabble in my projects here and there but there isn’t a sense of over-caffinated hysteria over finishing whatever task I’m currently working on. This means that the KDE-www war is still on hold, my ThoughtScore script is progressing reaaaly slowly, and I haven’t done any composition for the past month. However things are still getting done (yes, live.WIPUP has been updated with a much improved UI!) and will pick up soon as I start settling into a brand new and improved routine. Meanwhile, you can see my work trickle into WIPUP, and despite the horrendous simplicity of my blog design I’ve brought myself together to add a somewhat borked navigation at the top which references my work, hosted on – as it should be – WIPUP.

On the other hand, Australia is excellent. There are weekly $2 barbeques and I’m walking distance away from the harbour, the rocks (where touristy stuff like the Opera house and their iconic bridge are), the SLUG (Sydney Linux User Group) meeting place as well as the central station, which can pretty much bring you anywhere else in Sydney. I’ve also got this wicked view out my window of Darling Harbour which means pretty much unobstructed fireworks displays (so far I’ve experienced two, one during CNY and another during – believe it or not – Valentine’s day.) No, I haven’t yet been to the beach, but plan to in the coming week, and I’m still working on my Aussie accent.

As for open-source stuff, though I haven’t contributed anything in a while I have really been enjoying activites in KDE 4.6 and can’t see how I managed to survive without it in the past. I’ve also been using Diaspora as a sort of “entry hub” when posting social status updates. Now that the newsfeed is starting to see a little bit more activity with people using Diaspora I’ve found their aspects system really awesome, and allows me to share exactly what I want with exactly who I want. I also got myself an Android phone (yes, reflashed with a custom rom) and that’s actually really helped my productivity.

In social news, I’ve met my long-time server sponsor and webhost Tarik from OpticEmpire and talks on new projects have begun (start more than I finish eh?), and somehow formed a weird troupe of acquaintances involving a chilean, italian, hong konger, indian, and miscellaneous.

No, I’m not dead.

Life & much, much more

Goodbye JohnCompanies, hello Gentoo Service Station

A while back I talked about getting a Debian-based VPS from JohnCompanies. I had initially chosen them despite cheaper and more popular alternatives such as Linode due to my having used rsync.net – of which is a child of JohnCompanies. JohnCompanies’ emphasis and excuse for their high(er) prices are their stellar customer support system which is handled through email. Whilst I did have an amazing experience with rsync.net, whose customer service gave plenty of tips for awkward setups, leading to a “set up and forget” which is the way all backup system should be, unfortunately my experience with JohnCompanies’ VPS services has been bumpy to say the least.

Initially there were unexplained server “reboots”, where the server wouldn’t actually reboot, but all of the services would stop working. Their processes would still exist, but no longer perform their function – I had to manually reset the services. This would happen randomly and quite often when trying to update the system. Having no secondary DNS server this led to quite a lot of downtime, frustrated SSH disconnections and dead screen sessions by other users of the server. After a few weeks of fruitless back-and-forth customer support debugging (and JohnCompanies’ blocking of dmesg logging didn’t help at all), they recommended to increase my guaranteed RAM to 512MB (which shouldn’t make a difference, really, except that it should start swapping later, as the burst RAM available was still the same). Oddly enough this did remove the downtime. They then admitted that they might’ve set the memory limits wrongly and reverted back to 256MB RAM with the “correct settings”. At last I thought my problems were over, but soon a real shutdown/reboot happened, which was apparently caused by a “kernel glitch”, of which mine was one of the unlucky ones to be a victim of. Soon after, SSL connections started failing, leading to loss of my email setup. By the end of all this I was not a happy bunny at all.

On the software side, which was outside JohnCompanies’ control, I must say though Debian has its pros and I can see why a lot of people would like it for a server, there were several faults which really irked me, including their webapp setup and their horrible/unreliable/inconsistent apt system (naming scheme? Euurgh.) Unfortunatley they had no current plans to introduce Gentoo to their VPS, so that was really a downside.

Lucky recently Patrick Lauer (bonsaikitten) introduced the Gentoo Service Station. Despite the geographical inconvenience (Australia<->Germany) it offered a package I couldn’t refuse. For nearly half the price I was paying JohnCompanies I would receive more than double the specs, plus it would run Gentoo obviously :) I got myself a vServer baby and within two days I had gotten my DNS server setup, mailserver setup (postfix+dovecot+assp+squirrelmail+postfixadmin), webserver and migrated websites, quassel+bitlbee, with the only delay waiting for DNS to propagate and due to my own flaky router. I must say, it feels good to be back emerging stuff, with that awesome colour terminal, and with gentoo’s excellent documentation around the web.

So far everything has “just worked”, things are great, and for that price I believe anybody who uses Gentoo and has considered getting a VPS (for any purpose, even just to muck about) to stop considering and just get one.

P.S. My experience with JohnCompanies may be just unlucky or that I somehow managed to screw up Debian’s famed stability so badly (no, not really), so YMMV.

Life & much, much more

Presenting the Nagger

Over Christmas one of my more humourous gifts to my parents was to allow them to remotely nag each other electronically. Since my dad is often overseas, this actually has some practical use.

The idea was to create a remotely synchronised dynamic wallpaper with text that could be set by another person remotely. Person A would type in some text, a wallpaper with the text formatted would be generated, Person B’s computer would detect that there is an update, download the wallpaper and set it immediately. (I originally wanted to make a pop up message, but realised that having "Go and exercise!" pop up during a powerpoint presentation with your boss wasn’t the best thing)

The system would operate as such: I would create a html form on my webserver to allow somebody to type in text. PHP would take the text and use GD to generate a .jpg file of an image with the text overlayed on top. Batch file on Windows computer would download the .jpg file (either on startup, or via cronw) via URL2FILE. Batch file will call imagemagick installed on the Windows computer to convert .jpg to .bmp because apparently that’s what Windows likes for wallpaper formats and converting on the server would mean a ultra big file download. Finally, batch file will tweak the registry to change the wallpaper and "refresh" it such that it changes immediately.

Here’s an example :)

PHP code:

<?php
if (isset($_POST['submit']) && isset($_POST['nag']) && !empty($_POST['nag'])) {
$width = 1280;
$height = 800;
$imgname = "wallpaper_blank.jpg"; # The empty blue background template
$im = imagecreatefromjpeg ($imgname);
$text = $_POST['nag'];
$textcolor = ImageColorAllocate($im, 255, 255, 255);
$font = 20;
$font_width = ImageFontWidth($font);
$font_height = ImageFontHeight($font);
$font_width = 10;
$text_width = $font_width * strlen($text);
// Position to align in center
$position_center = ceil(($width - $text_width) / 2);
$text_height = $font_height;
// Position to align in abs middle
$position_middle = ceil(($height - $text_height) / 2);
imagettftext ($im, 15, 0, $position_center, $position_middle, $textcolor,
'/path/to/ttf/fontfile/AllOverAgainAllCaps.ttf', $text); # We're offsetting this a little to give space for desktop icons
Imagejpeg($im, '/path/to/final/image/wallpaper.jpg', 100);
chmod('/path/to/final/wallpaper.jpg', 0644); # Ensure we can download it (depending on server setup)
echo 'Nag done!';
} else {
echo '<form action="" method="post">';
echo '<textarea name="nag" rows="10" cols="50"></textarea><br />';
echo '<input type="submit" name="submit" value="Nag!">';
echo '</form>';
}

Batchfile code:

C:\path\to\URL2FILE.EXE http://mysite.com/wallpaper.jpg C:\path\to\save\wallpaper.jpg
C:\path\to\imagemagick\convert.exe C:\path\to\save\wallpaper.jpg C:\path\to\save\wallpaper.bmp
REG ADD "HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop" /V Wallpaper /T REG_SZ /F /D "C:\path\to\save\wallpaper.bmp"
REG ADD "HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop" /V WallpaperStyle /T REG_SZ /F /D 2
REG ADD "HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop" /V TileWallpaper /T REG_SZ /F /D 0
%SystemRoot%\System32\RUNDLL32.EXE user32.dll, UpdatePerUserSystemParameters

I thought it was cute, parents loved it.

P.S. If anybody knows a sane wait to input code into WordPress/Blogilo and have it immediately embedded in <code> tags as well as not lose whitespace, give me a poke.

Life & much, much more

A peek into the future.

It’s nearing 2011, which means we’re smack in the middle of Christmas, many things are finishing and many things are about to begin, and tradition states that now is the time to stop, reflect, realign, and shape up. I haven’t been blogging regularly as of late (given my 2 week absence) and my usual efforts to try and post every alternate day has evaporated. Mostly it’s because WIPUP has absorbed a lot of my usual verbose documentaries on the current progress of my projects (as was its purpose), but also because I haven’t exactly been doing loads lately. In fact, I’m now proudly spending some quality wasted time, and I feel as though I’ve deserved it.

Let’s take a look at what’s been going on so far. The ThoughtScore project has been relaunched and has some excellent momentum going for it. Pictures are churning out slowly as texturing is a tedious process, but on the other hand at least the storyline is getting a lot of love. WIPUP recently had a big release, as well as an appearance in Google Code-In, which may or may not result in awesome KDE integration. I’ve got myself a VPS, and learned the ins and outs of setting up a DNS server and a mail server, thus migrating thinkMoult and my main email. Various other doodads also popped up including private git hosting for my projects, and a public ADOM game server, which is quite active and seeing regular improvements and updates (and bugfixes!) There has been quite a bit of private enjoyment such as reading, learning C++, photography and music composition, and in time they will mature to see their place on WIPUP. I’ve also been publicly insulting the KDE website and discussing/proposing solutions with the kde-www team, and this is currently very much in progress as well. I also recently received a charming package from KDE eV from the KPresenter design competition, including a wicked t-shirt, a postcard and a sticker. Of course, I’ve also been doing freelancing work with the folks over at OmniStudios and the workload should increase as I start university.

Speaking of university, let’s see what’s coming up on the horizon. I’ll be off to Canada early Christmas morning (Christmas on a plane!), and will likely be having a quick 1-2 day kde-www sprint there in the midst of mingling with relatives. The days are very, very packed, and so I have a short time to reunite with Malaysia and within the same week, off to begin my new life in Australia. In other words, a lot more of "real life" is coming up.

My current plan is somewhat along the lines of "don’t panic". I might tweak it a little later :)

Life & much, much more

WIPUP 24.11.10b released!

For the uninitiated, WIPUP is a way to share, critique, and track projects. Or more specifically, works-in-progresses. Us in the open-source community are constantly working on things, and being open-source, we like to share them.

WIPUP was specifically built and tailored towards sharing works-in-progresses – ranging from a twitter-like update, to a fully formatted document complete with images, videos, and pastebin support. With WIPUP’s new FreeDesktop approved OCS (open collaboration services) REST API, it’s one step closer to turning the advanced Linux desktop into a Social Desktop.

Imagine being able to share what you’re working on immediately from KSnapshot, or finding a "Subscribe to this project" or "Track this developer" in Amarok’s About dialog.

It’s completely free to use and (of course) its entire codebase is open-source.

Check out the release notes, and then try it out if you haven’t already!

Life & much, much more

The browser wars: side with Opera.

I have used many browsers. Firefox. Safari. Chrome. Rekonq. Arora. Konqueror. Epiphany. Dillo. Right down to Lynx and friends. All of their pros and cons, and some are more suited to specific purposes. However I did find a mostly unloved and underpresented browser underneath the big three (Firefox, Safari, Chrome) – and that browser is Opera. Soon Opera became my browser of choice and (suprisingly) haven’t been able to find fault with it until now. I wanted to quickly share exactly what makes Opera special, and why you should consider switching to it in this post. I hope it’s informative for those interested in what’s up with browser alternatives.

Opera is fast.

Blazing fast. Speed is a touchy topic as different benchmarks give different results, and at the end of the day most users (but of course, most reading this are going to be power users, so it most definitely will include you!) are going to find minimal impact with their browsing – but all the same there is a clear point to be made: Opera is fast. You might’ve heard that Chrome is fast, Opera is just as fast, if not faster. If you’re on Firefox and feeling its age, this is something that might lighten your day. Opera even has a “Turbo” mode on slow connections which compresses your pages on the fly to make them load faster.

Opera is innovative and cutting edge.

Despite being closed source, Opera is suprisingly cutting edge. Countless times have they been ahead of the others in producing new innovations (tabbed browsing? Even Firefox’s new design and tab groups were first created by Opera) only to have other browsers copy it and remarket it a while later. You can feel free to use the latest alpha quality and chat with their very open community about bleeding edge updates and changes. A few examples off the top of my head are the integrated tab previews, reopen closed windows, inbuilt cloud tools which I will cover in a bit, and a very nifty UI, including a “fast forward” button which detects the “next” page on what you’re currently browsing.

Opera is feature-complete.

Although Opera also has Widgets (the equivalent of Firefox Addons), Opera is amazingly stuffed and crammed to the top with features already included. Don’t shout bloat yet, as these features are actually useful. Things like being able to completely reorganise your interface, built-in session control, note-taking, private tabs, address bar keywords, account manager, content-blocking, speed dial, tab/window undelete, mouse gestures (love it!), RSS reader, and even an email and IRC client are all builtin. Despite all of this, Opera still manages to load incredibly quickly and handle many tabs constantly (I use 30+ regularly) without slowdown. An even better “feature” is that if you don’t want to use all of this “bloat”, it hides itself away from you and you really won’t notice it’s there.

Opera embraces the cloud.

… and they do it the right way. Other than the previously mentioned Turbo mode which routes your traffic to other servers to compress them, Opera also comes with two very nifty cloud tools – Opera Link and Opera Unite. The former allows you to synchronise all your opera settings, speed dials, notes, history and bookmarks to an online service, and then retrieve it anywhere, or even on another Opera browser elsewhere. The latter, Unite, is an umbrella creation – a set of webapps (which you can add and remove even more available from their repo) which allow you to run your own cloud services and share files from your home computer. Things like web proxies (such as dyndns), web servers (just set a directory and you’re on your way!), photo sharing, and even music sharing where you can access your home music from anywhere through Opera. There is even a messaging service, as well as filesharing (and receiving) services to allow people to immediately upload and download from your home computer. These are dead simple to set up and use, have privacy options, and I must say … they are elegant.

Opera loves developers.

Not only does this closed source company have a very transparent community and listen to bug reports, they also love web developers. Opera comes built in with Opera Dragonfly – similar to Firefox’s Firebug. It allows you to inspect page elements, loading time graphs, mess around with the DOM, and tweaking your Javascript and CSS. Opera is also extremely W3C compliant and implements CSS3. Simply put – Opera is a modern browser.

Finally, Opera is cross-platform.

Opera runs on pretty much everything. Windows, Mac and Linux are covered. Mobile devices have two options – Opera Mini and Opera Mobile, where Mini is a simple smartphone browser and Mobile is a more advanced browser. Windows Mobile is covered. Android – sure, Opera Mobile is getting released for it tomorrow, no problem. iPhone’s have got Opera Mini, and most other phones are covered with Opera Mini. They don’t hold out on their mobile releases either – they’re every bit as faster than the competition as their desktop counterpart is, and still stuffed with features – speed dial and their implementation of tabs are truly amazing.

Well, I hope that short article enlightened you to that in-the-corner browser Opera. If you haven’t tried it out or are feeling the creaks on your current browser, check out their latest beta today – you won’t regret it.

Life & much, much more

Free public ADOM server available!

As a few people know, I’ve recently gotten myself a VPS. I’m not much of a gamer, but I do enjoy playing certain roguelikes, such as ADOM. Many people are familiar with servers for various MUDs and games such as NetHack, and ADOM isn’t much different. Unfortunately the previous ADOM server seems to have gone MIA, and so I decided to start my own.

So here it is after a week or so of testing and adding new features. It runs on a few shell scripts, and so it was a good opportunity to learn some bash on the way. The features are quite bountiful and it’s been great to play co-op with others, as most roguelikes are traditionally single player. It’s been a great learning experience, and I’m sure others who like playing ADOM would love it too. Suggestions are welcome!

In other news, soon I’ll be able to proudly wear a KOffice t-shirt, we’ve potentially got a new contributor to WIPUP, WIPUP will soon get a lovely REST API and following that, its first CLI app, I’ll be photospamming this blog soon, I’m also now a global moderator on the KDE forums. To finish off, I wanted to share this picture of WIPUP in use:

As you can see, it’s great to watch a project develop and critique it along the way. I hope more people will benefit from WIPUP.

Life & much, much more

Design, photography, and servers.

It’s been a hectic few days. First off, I was pleasantly surprised to read on the KDE dot news that the KPresenter template contest winners were announced. I was very happy to hear that my submission had been chosen for 1st place! Here’s a picture for those too lazy to click.

Secondly, I’ve been learning a little bit more about photography, and so here’s a little preview of one of my photos. I decided to burn-in the Gentoo logo on the bottom right so that it serves as a nicely patriotic wallpaper. It’s a vague enough shape to be mistaken for part of the picture, but recognisable enough to be Gentoo (I don’t like in-your-face logos). You can download a high res version here. Here’s a snapshot for the lazy. Perhaps other Gentoo users might appreciate another wallpaper!

Finally, I’ve purchased myself a basic VPS plan from JohnCompanies – of whom is the parent company of a very commendable company called rsync.net, of whom I’m still very happy with. Although not as cheap (as in, cheap + high quality reviews) as alternatives such as Linode (who offers double the resources at the same price), I went on a gamble that my great technical support experience will transfer over into a similar great experience.

Unfortunately, JohnCompanies does not offer Gentoo on their VPSes, only on their dedicated server packages. After some quick debate, I went for Debian. I shall proceed to migrate a few of my sites to this new server as well as a few of my existing hacked-together serverside toys. If you experience any downtime or shoddiness with any of my sites (blog + email included), it’s probably just due to the migration.

Life & much, much more

I’m sick and tired of this ebook nonsense.

No. I like ebooks. At least the concept. I would love to be able to read books in beautiful, standardised print similar to that produced by LaTeX, on any device, on any screensize, without any problems like math reflow, images, and usage of ridiculous fonts. Oh, and DRM too. But that’s hell in itself.

But no. Ebooks are a mess. A big, honkin’ ridiculous pile of crap. A prime example of what not to do when converting a traditional medium to an electronic form. Why? Because of a lack of standardisation. There is no single format, due to (in a nutshell) firms not being able to talk nicely to one another, swallow their egos and agree. So now we’re stuck with 27 major formats (yes, count them) and each with its own little annoyance. Oh, and that’s without considering potential DRM being slapped on each one of them.

It’s not just the electronic format that is a mess – it’s the physical formatting too. Ebooks can be related to the pre-CSS days of HTML, filled with non-semantic markup and tables stuck around everywhere. Anybody who has experienced the LaTeX nirvana that is "this is a title, not a bold, size 26, centered font" can relate to this – whilst creative freedom is good, computers unfortunately suck at this and are unable to tell what is title and what is paragraph. Thus I am stuck with some ebooks doing nonsense like linebreaking at 80 characters, not telling me when paragraphs start and end, and oh yes- every single plaintext ebook with its own flavour of markdown.

Terror doesn’t stop there. It continues by plaguing the now-necessary routine of converting from format to format whenever you want to transfer from one device to another. Every time you format, it is inevitable that more non-semantic formatting is lost. This, of course, only happens if you can even convert it in the first place, thanks to our lovely friend DRM.

So what is the solution? The solution is threefold – 1) force (taunts and physical violence may and shall be used) all publishers to agree to use a single, open format, such as EPUB, and make that format use TeX markup. Thus ebooks will be distributed in plaintext with attached and compressed images. 2) Force (see previous) all publishers to agree to use a single repository to prevent duplication of effort (another of my pet peeves, thank you for noticing) and spend time manually and painstakenly correctly converting existing ebooks to this new format and dumping it in the repo. 3) Fix all the kinks to allow this TeX-structured ebook source to be then rendered or converted to any other format (eg: LaTeX-generated PDFs cannot reflow) should the retailer or consumer want, even if it means the retailer wants to affix some sort of DRM at this stage. If you noticed, this follows a very much source (TeX-structured format) and binary (whatever you render the TeX into) way of distributing ebooks. This is a win-win situation. Anybody can buy from anywhere without fearing incompatibility. Retailers still can satisfy their craving for DRM. EBooks are semantically-marked and rendered beautifully. Even the plaintext looks beautiful.

It turns out I’m not the first to come up with an alike proposal. A firm known as River-Valley has been cashing in on this opportunity by reformatting ebooks for their rather technical clients, and have made significant progress towards this goal, unfortunately though this project has been stalled for quite some time apparently. A few hopefuls at the MobileRead Forums have tried to make a start, but again I think it just died from lack of love.

But recently I had a wondrous epiphany to solve my woes once and for all. It was the sheer audacity to go against one of my joys in life – standards and conventions. The idea can be summed up in the two froody words "why bother?" Life is too short to care if your music collection is made up of oggs and not flacs or mp3s. Life is too short to bother to ensure that your metatags are using the ampersand corrently in place of "and". Life is too short to fix everybody else’s stupid mistakes that don’t fit your mental specification. So if you see somebody walking down the street reading a book where every sentence stops sharp at 80 characters, give them a pat on the back and congratulate them on finally getting their priorities straight.

Somebody please fix Nepomuk to make it do something useful like automagically sort my collections for me.

End rant.

Life & much, much more

WIPUP 23.09.10b released!

Yep, WIPUP, the lightweight, open-source way to share your works-in-progresses just got a lovely update today. It’s a minor update but minor updates are needed sometimes. Check it out here, and read the release notes.

The charming splash screen above was done by me on The GIMP. If enough people like it (just drop me a comment/mail/whatever) I will probably create a tutorial for some of it.

Life & much, much more

WIPUP now supports video updates!

Well the Eadrax code (what WIPUP runs on) has always supported updates with video attachments but the live WIPUP site never got to see it in action due to the server not having ffmpeg (video swiss-army knife) installed and playing nice with the latest codecs, permissions, and whatnot. Over the past few days our lovely host OpticEmpire has gotten ffmpeg up and running on the server – and it worked like a charm.

I uploaded a short clip I made a month or so ago to show the company Johnson Controls embracing the Generation Ys. It worked flawlessly – snapshotted a thumbnail halfway through the clip and resized it as necessary, reencoded the file into .flv format (HTML 5 and video tags are on the way folks, but meanwhile we have to keep legacy users happy), and the update page has a lovely in-browser video player courtesy of LongTail Video and their free license on JW Player.

The encoding is done on-the-fly but in the future encoding will be queued by the server so we don’t blow ’em up, and the JW Player will get skinned in a WIPUPish fashion. Note that videos will always be compressed. The point of WIPUP is to dump up unfinished works, and so at the moment it’s simply uneconomical to host uncompressed files.

Go and view the demonstrating update here.

Life & much, much more

thinkMoult blog design updated.

It’s come a long way since the original concept redesign back in the July of 2009. The thinkMoult blog has been incrementally updated probably once a month with small tweaks to the layout. The blog has been stripped originally from its (relatively) featureful edition to the bare essentials – ie. a streaming wall of text with emphasis on clear headers and content areas.

To me a blog is a very much a written journal. Social and pictorial blogs aren’t "blogs" in my definition of the word. As a result I’ve decided to condense things a little, cutting out pictures which don’t complement the article, focusing on clear typographical elements (pushing the limits of the beloved Arial font!) and effective use of padding rather than borders. I’m maintaining the simplicity of the previous layout (no sidebar, no link lists or fancy plugins) and sticking to my roots.

The design itself was inspired by the Depo Skinny Theme but with obvious edits here and there on font styles. What this implies is that I’ve also involuntarily drastically improved the semantics behind the blog itself – which is a good thing of course.

Everything should’ve been ported over such as avatar support in comments, asides along with my asides category pagination hack, and the various footer tweaks. There have also been a few edits here and there which add to the overall polish of the design.

Well, I hope you like it, and let me know if there is anything which looks messed up.

Life & much, much more

Bingo, sir.

If you haven’t heard of buzzword bingo, you should be thankful for the job you have. Buzzword Bingo is an iteration of bingo where your card’s grid is filled with buzzwords instead of card numbers. But what are buzzwords, you ask?

Buzzwords are words that come and go in fashion for people to use when they’re talking out of their arse – in other words, when they have absolutely no idea what’s going on but want to sound smart just to fuel their ego. They’re commonly seen in the marketing department. I like buzzwords myself and use them, but mostly when the context actually deserves them. Most of the time they’re thrown about like lemmings off a cliff.

Case in point, an example everybody (at least visiting this page) should be familiar with is Web 2.0. The first sign that it’s a buzzword is that nobody off the street can tell you exactly what this Web 2.0 is – everybody will give you something different from another. The second sign that it’s a buzzword is that it requires even more buzzwords to describe it. Heck, the Wikipedia page uses words like "user-centered design", "information sharing", and "folksonomies". The third characteristic of buzzwords are quite surprising – it’s normally that the word or phrase itself if taken literally is completely self-explanatory, but when used as a buzzword it loses all meaning in an abstract nebulous mist of paradigms and whatno- oh sorry. Couldn’t resist. In a nutshell, there are few quality buzzwords, and even fewer buzzwords that have become timeless fashion statements in the English language. Web 2.0 might be one of them, but as per definition, nobody can really be sure.

Going back to the topic, buzzword bingo is normally distributed to attendants to a function like a meeting where the speaker is well known for their use of buzzwords, like Al Gore. We sit there, listening intently but not really absorbing anything at all. At least it’s an improvement from sitting there neither listening nor absorbing. Upon hearing a column, row or diagonal line in our conventionally 5 by 5 grid we exclaim Bingo! … and go back to catching up on sleep.

The game originated in 1993 and was popularised by a Dilbert comic strip a year later.

Just wanted to share it – I brought in Bingo cards to my business studies lecture the other day and although not a winner myself, had a lot of laughs. Gotta love the look on his face when I heard "Bingo, sir."