Matthew Henry John Bartlett

+64 27 211 3455
email me

Monday 31 December, 02012

Art then & now

by Matthew Bartlett @ 7:43 am

More Bruce Sterling:

This poem, the “Mountain Wreath” [by 19th-century Montenegrin Serb Petar Njegoš], is mostly about tribal patriarchs flying into a righteous rage and cutting each other’s heads off. It’s very like the Iliad in that way; it’s full of noble perorations that are mostly along the line of, “Rascal, you’ve done something unbearable for years now, and I was constrained to get involved in this awful mess you’ve created; but this time it’s personal. So, prepare yourself: I’m taking your head, your pistols, your horses and all your women, and I may even burn your farm.” In the context of this artwork, it’s certainly the right thing to do. It’s the definitive thing to do; it’s how you know you’re alive.

Then you compare that artwork — written by an aristocrat, an authority figure in deadly moral earnest — to this kind of ontological-trickster writing, this kind of “What is Reality, Mr Njegos,” postmodern gendankenexperiment, of which me and my sci-fi colleagues are so enduringly fond… Well, keen as I am to write that stuff, it can seem like pretty thin soup.

There are mountain guys in Pakistan and Afghanistan who think just like Mr Njegos now. They’re not going away. They’re not even losing their wars, and they’ve got the highest birth-rates on Earth.

Friday 28 December, 02012

Well now

by Matthew Bartlett @ 9:44 am

Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky’s annual, and always stimulating, State of the World discussion on the 27-year-old online community The Well has begun:

My personality changes with these differences in my locale. Belgrade is a spiritual home for me. Italy is where I feel most intelligent. Texas is where the heart is. Traipsing from one to another is like pitchforking a compost-heap. It aerates me, somehow.

Sunday 09 December, 02012

Rolled oat pancakes recipe

by Matthew Bartlett @ 8:27 am

This is a very delicious recipe that I make most weekends. It comes from Eliza’s primary school cooking class exercise book.

1/2 c rolled oats
1/2 c milk (or whey)
1 egg
2 T (~30 g) melted butter
1/2 c flour
1 t baking powder
2 T sugar

… and fry up pikelet-sized blobs thereof. Toppings we like are maple syrup, sugar & lemon juice and blueberries (frozen ones in the microwave for a minute or so).

Friday 07 December, 02012

Local food movement naive

by Matthew Bartlett @ 6:06 am

Parke Troutman, in ‘Carrots are not enough: the limits of the local food movement’ writes:

What I have seen is that local food activists figure out what to do by looking around them and seeing what they can do and then doing it. That’s certainly been my approach. The problem is that it allows you to stick with what is comfortable even if it is not effective.

Better is to ask where you want to go and work backward to figure out what it would take to get there. In short, you need to plan. This is not meant to be utopian. Plans almost never go as expected. That’s life. The purpose of plans is not to give you a rigid road map into the future. Rather, they give you a sense of what scale you must operate at. On that level, there’s an abyss between the actions of local food activists and their dreams.

The whole article is worth reading.

Friday 30 November, 02012

I am learning Rails

by Matthew Bartlett @ 2:32 pm

In the process of getting your development environment up and running, you may find that you spend a lot of time getting everything just right. The learning process for editors and IDEs is particularly long; you can spend weeks on Sublime Text or Vim tutorials alone. If you’re new to this game, I want to assure you that spending time learning tools is normal. Everyone goes through it. Sometimes it is frustrating, and it’s easy to get impatient when you have an awesome web app in your head and you just want to learn Rails already, but have to spend a week learning some weird ancient Unix editor just to get started. But a craftsman has to know his tools, and in the end the reward is worth the effort. (source)

See what’s filling your HDD — Disk Inventory X (for Mac OS X)

by Matthew Bartlett @ 2:21 pm

Each rectangle is a file; colours represent filetypes.
That big blob of green is my music collection.

Sunday 25 November, 02012

A phrase that tickled me

by Matthew Bartlett @ 7:29 pm

“Heroic Downtrodden Palestinians versus the Stoic Peace-Loving Israelis” (Daniel Rutter)

Wednesday 14 November, 02012

A book I made

by Matthew Bartlett @ 9:23 pm

As far as I know, this is the first book produced by Enspiral.
I believe you can buy it at Whitcoulls.

Tuesday 23 October, 02012

Typeset Arabic in InDesign CS4 & CS5; Time zone calculator for Mac OSX

by Matthew Bartlett @ 9:02 am

Script that lets you use right-to-left text in non-Middle Eastern versions of InDesign CS4 & CS5

TimeScroller — Dashboard widget to convert between timezones

Monday 20 August, 02012

Principles for infographics from The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

by Matthew Bartlett @ 9:47 pm

Those principles espoused by Edward Tufte in The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (first edition, 1983) that I found helpful:

Excellence in statistical graphics consists of complex ideas communicated with clarity, precision and efficiency. Graphical displays should:

  • show the data
  • induce the viewer to think about the substance rather than about methodology, graphic design, the technology of graphic production, or something else
  • avoid distorting what the data have to say
  • present many numbers in a small space
  • make large data sets coherent
  • encourage the eye to compare different pieces of data
  • reveal the data at several levels of detail, from a broad overview to the fine structure
  • serve a reasonably clear purpose: description, exploration, tabulation or decoration (p.13)


Monday 19 March, 02012

What became of the mushrooms

by Matthew Bartlett @ 7:31 pm

You will be distressed to learn that my mushroom-growing experiment failed. The fuzz progressed a little beyond where it had got to when I last reported in, but it grew very slowly, and stopped entirely after a while. I wonder if it were too wet, or if I suffocated the mushroom fibres by leaving the lid on too long. Either way, it’s all in the compost bin now. I aim to try again in a little while, when I can find some mycelium from oyster or shiitake mushrooms.

In other mushroom-related news, these wee things showed up suddenly in a formerly shady area of the garden that has recently been pruned back heavily. I haven’t tried eating them.

Mushrooms sprouting among garden bricks

mushrooms sprouting among garden bricks

Monday 16 January, 02012

Coffeeshrooms, day 12

by Matthew Bartlett @ 9:40 pm

Almost two weeks on, things are going more slowly than I expected, though they are going.

Thursday 05 January, 02012

Coffeeshrooms, day 1

by Matthew Bartlett @ 9:39 pm

Inspired by Gunter Pauli (on ABC Big Ideas) and Paul Stamets (TED Talk), and following the Mad Bioneer’s directions, I’ve started an attempt to grow mushrooms on coffee grounds. After looking at mushrooms at Moore Wilsons and many times at Pak’N Save, I finally found some at the latter supermarket that had bits of mycelium attached. They are the most boring possible variety — white button / portobello / Agaricus bisporus — but it’ll still be fun if I can get them to grow and fruit. The hope is that the mycelium will colonise the grounds in the next couple of days; then I’ll keep adding grounds until the spooky stuff decides it’s ready to produce fruiting bodies, i.e. mushrooms.