Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last post for 2008

Well, it's been a fun year.

I lived on my own in Sydney for three months, went skydiving, rode in a helicopter, managed to get some exercise almost every day and generally did all sorts of crazy things. Caught up with a lot of the old crew I went to High School with. Generally, the year was a blast.

Overall, I'm fairly happy with the way this year turned out.

No idea what 2009 will be like. Hopefully better but probably worse.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Enjoying my holiday

Well, I had three things that I wanted to do over this four-day weekend.
  1. Clean up my room, specifically all the clutter on the desks.
  2. Write a fair bit for the loneverse site, specifically the new Ydto series.
  3. Update my websites.
Well, I managed to do one of the three at least. I have a new article up on my site (no link, you'll have to find it. 'Cos that's the way I roll, because I'm evil). But my desks remain cluttered and I haven't written one word on the Loneverse site.

*sigh*

Well, I'll see what I can get done later today...

Friday, December 26, 2008

So much for paranoia

Well, normally I am fairly paranoid about keeping data and having multiple backups of everything.

In today's instance, I stuffed up.

I gave my mum a camera for Christmas, and included one of my SD cards in order to make sure she could use it straight away. I checked the card, wiped it and included it. Lamentably I didn't check it thoroughly enough so I lost a bunch of photos,

Oh well, nevermind. I don't think anythingi important was on there.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

How original - I wonder how many posts have that title today?

Well, I'm happy because I get an extra long weekend. Thursday and Friday closed since it's Christmas / Boxing Day, Saturday is my normal rostered day off and Sunday we are closed. So I don't go back to work until Monday.

Now, what will I do with my holidays? Well, right now I'm sitting at the computer using the internet. Which is about standard for me... maybe I ought to go out and talk to people or something.

As usual, not a lot to report, other than I finally got my brick film up on YouTube. Only took me three years. It's had 54 views at time of publishing which is more than I was expecting, so I am happy.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

On Twitter!

Oh yay, I registered on Twitter. On the plus side, I was able to get my real name (twitter.com/leonardo was already taken, BUT THEY AREN'T DOING ANYTHING WITH IT!). So, yay - I guess.

Now, at any moment of the day I can update with "doing nothing" or "at work".

Hmm... I see a flaw in my plan...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Slow and steady

Well, it turns out that its harder than it first appeard (isn't it always?). Nevertheless, I persevere. I figure that if I can add a few bits each day, I'll be able to work through it before I know it.

In other news, I'm really digging this new tv show "The Big Bang Theory". It's refreshing to see watch a show that isn't dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. Fart jokes are funny, but there are other jokes that can be made.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Inspiration hits

Well, I've started a new story on my site Loneverse.com. I got the idea to write one of those old-style choose your own adventure book style stories. A Wikivella seems like the perfect platform for something like this.

The second thing that I am going to be starting on (hopefully this week) is that I'll be skinning Loneverse to look more like my main site which is easier on the eyes.

Black text on white background (or the other way around) is not easy to read for long stretches of time and that is half the point of Loneverse - people reading.

It'll be a while before I have enough content for someone to read "for hours", but I'm hoping to get there in a few months.

Mumbling

I'm starting to wonder if it's all worth the effort.

Everything I try ends up going nowhere. Since the common denominator is me, then logically the problem must lie with me. I know I'm lazy, lack drive and focus and have poor self-control: but it can't be that bad, can it?

Meh, I'm just in a weird mood today. Clocktowers and bolt actions sound like a nice mix, though I have neither. (That's a joke for the Secret Service agents reading this.)

I just need more sleep.

And more exercise.

More money would be nice, but that won't fix anything.

Maybe a girlfriend. Or a life . . . .

Friday, December 5, 2008

DAMMIT

Honestly, I have no idea how these things happen.

I went out to buy a new car. It should have been fairly straightforward. I pretty much only had three requirements:
  1. Be a manual transmission.
  2. Be an old car so that I can do the maintenance myself, and
  3. Be a ute as I need the rear cargo area.
So what did I buy? I bought an automatic sedan that's a 1996 model. Gah!

I should slap myself in the face. Oh well, I have it now, might as well make the best of it...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Yay! Helicopter ridin'

Whee! What an awesome day! Took my mum out on a helicopter ride as an early Christmas present.

Me and mum in a helicopter

It was amazing. A tad on the expensive side, but still mad fun. It's a scenic flight around the city and down to the beach and back. About fifteen minutes, but well worth it.

Helicopter taking off

Really smooth takeoff and landings by the pilot, clear skies and cool summer weather. Overall a great time.

Also today, I bought a new car. I wanted to buy an older car so it'd be easier to maintain with a manual gearbox and preferably a ute. I bought a fairly new, automatic sedan.

*facepalm*

Oh well, hopefully I'll be able to use it for a while.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

And a little more for November

First, here's the promised photo for the end result of Movember:

After thirty days of growth, a nice Movember moustache

That there represents thirty days of uninterrupted hair growth. Quite the fuzzy lipperpillar if I do say so myself. However, I must admit that I was thouroughly put to shame by a good friend of mine who managed to grow a very respectable handlebar moustache in the same time,

*So Jealous*

In other non-moustache related news, our cat sleeps upside-down. No idea why, or even if it is comfortable:

Our cat, asleep upside down in the closet

Well, I suppose he must be comfortable if he sleeps that way. Oh well, to each his own.

I'm off to bed now - g'night peeps. :o)

And thus ends November

Well, it's nearly December.

Bah, humbug.

November was rather disappointing, as NaNoWriMo was a big failure. Oh, I made the word count - it's just that there is no satisfaction in writing for no reason. I really do need to spend more time on my three main sites, especially Loneverse. To this end I bought a new ergonomic keyboard. I'm still getting used to it, but I think that it'll turn out okay, even if it is a Microsoft Keyboard.

Have I mentioned that I loathe Microsoft?

Also, Movember is over, I need to get a pic up for that. Have a nice bushy moustache after thirty days growth.

Other than those minor details, not a lot has changed.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

New bike

Picked up a new bicycle. I'll review it on my site later. Also, I need to take the time to write down some goals and think about what needs doing - basically figure out what is important to me.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

At a crossroads

I think I have come to a point where I am going to either love Linux forever or turn my back on it in frustration.

There are a lot of things about it that find awesome about Linux. Many things are downright easy. Annoyingly, some things (which are normally 1, 2, 3 on Windows) are infuriatingly difficult.

Here are six things that should be dead easy but need a lot of work to do:

  1. Watch a video on YouTube.

  2. Edit a photo.

  3. Copy a Firefox profile from the old PC to the new Linux box.

  4. Watch some trailers on the Apple site,

  5. Connect to a wireless network.

  6. Copy a CD to the iPod.

1: This one wasn't too difficult. Any browser on any OS (that I know of) will need to have Flash installed in order to get it to run Flash videos from a website. So this one isn't really fair, but on the plus side, installing the Flash for the browser is quite easy.

2: Many distributions of Linux come with OpenOffice which is quite nice, but the Office Draw function that it comes with is counter intuitive, plus it is a vector based drawing program. Great for doing what it does, but not very friendly if you are used to using MSPaint (yuk!). On the pus side, the distro that I am using came with GIMP which is pretty much on par with PhotoShop, and isn't too hard to work out.

3: This one defeated me for a long time. I eventually worked out how to do it (most sites won't tell you that you need to change your preferences so that you can see the hidden files). Once you find where the Firefox files are hiding, then it's not too hard.

4: This one totally stumped me. It looks like it is natively impossible for Linux to run .mov and other Apple video formats, unless you are running WINE (a Windows emulator) and something like Explorer. Also, Apple does not support Linux, at all.

5: This one is also the reason why I didn't run Linux on my laptop like I originally wanted to. The short version is that one needs to download the 'proper' Windows drivers, run a small program to rip the important information out of them and then drop that information into Linux so it can use the wireless stuff. I couldn't get mine to work, though apparently it is "easy".

6: This one is pretty hard to do in one step unless you rip the OS out of the iPod and install a third party system into it, like LinPod or something. Not to mention that iPods are pretty temperamental anyway, it makes for a frustrating experience.

On the plus side, I did end up using Linux to do all my ripping and library management (such as editing the ID3 tags) and that worked a treat. The only problem is that for album art, my discs are usually the "Australian version" so it makes it harder to find the right covers. Other than that...

So I am about to build a new box. I don't want to run Vista, I might run XP, but I might go with Ubuntu 8.10 which is supposed to be pretty good. I just have to work out what I want the computer to do. And if "games" comes in almost anywhere, then it'd pretty much have to be Windows.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I ... give up.

Well, I did have a crack at NaNoWriMo this year. Last years was a load of fun and I was really focussed while doing it.

This year, I just wanted to do something less structured and decided that instead of going for a proper story that I'd just hammer out words, without rhyme or reason. Turns out that it was very unsatisfying. Writing for the sake of writing is not my style.

This reflects badly on my poor neglected site, so I thought about a new goal. This goal is to write 1 million words on the Loneverse site. If I were to maintain the 50,000 words a month speed, then that would amount to 20 months of work.

Hmm... can I handle 50K words a month? Probably not. One million is probably kinda high, but I'll see how far I can get. In order to get started, I'll go fire up the computer and watch some movies.

*sigh*

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Movember - mid point

Well, it's the 15th - halfway through Movember and the old 'stache is nice and fuzzy:

Me with my Movember moustache

Okay, maybe it isn't as luxurious as it might be, but I'm still happy with it.

In other news, I am sad. We sold off four of the kittens that we had. We kept one, not sure what will happen to the mum. She's a bit wild and kind of an alley cat. There's still hope for the little one though...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

New Article, New Goal

Well, here's another little article on my site. This one is about religion (I know, I'm a sucker for punishment).

There is an old adage - "an unwritten goal is a wish" which I assumes means "if you don't write it down, it won't happen".

So here I am, writing down a goal - I will be writing an essay to update my site at least once a week.

There, I said it, it's written, I can't take it back. (Mind you I said something pretty similar about exercising regularly - I should really get onto that.) The goal is fairly simple. At the moment I have a fair amount of free time on Sundays. So if I spend Sunday afternoons writing something, I ought to be able to update each Sunday night.

At least, that's the goal...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Movember!

Well, being November, I've also decided to go for another theme month - Movember - basically, growing a moustache during this month.

Here is the first days' growth:

First days growth

Not a whole lot of lip action going down there, but there is a definite gray patch over the old upper lip. I'll have a marvellous soup strainer soon!

In unrelated news, this is pretty much the only pic I took on my camera the day we went skydiving:

A skydiver

Pretty sad that it's the only photo I got. The other two guys were more focused and got a lot of pictures. I'll need to grab some off them at some stage.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Australia to get own "Great Firewall"?

I've just recently come into a bit of information about something that has not been discussed almost anywhere - Senator Stephen Conroy is pushing a so-called "Clean Feed" which will block "illegal content" at the ISP level for all internet users in Australia.

I have several problems with this. First, it won't work. You can either let people use their online banking facilities with proper security or you can have a filter that works - you can't have both! Because in order to properly block all illegal content, you have to scrutinize every single bit of data - especially anything that has been encrypted.

Second, it won't work. Australia is already way, waaayy behind almost every other country in terms of internet speed and bandwidth. Don't believe me? In Tokyo you can download 4Gb in about twelve minutes. In Australia? You can do it in about three hours if you live in a capital city and if you have a high-speed connection. Live in a rural town on dail-up? Forget it. You're lucky if you can get your email to work reliably. Any additional ISP-level work will slow the system down. The proposed Clean Feed will slow it down to unusable levels.

Thirdly, it will NOT work! There are several key issues that have been ignored in the preparation of this program. One of the most glaringly obvious is that people who traffic illegal material don't do it via legal means! The filter won't stop the very thing it is supposed to be stopping whilst simultaneously stopping people from seeing what they legally want to see.

It's lose -lose -lose. Does not stop the bad guys, does stop the good guys and drops the effectiveness for everybody. It's classic stupid behaviour! A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

This is exactly the behaviour that Senator Stephen Conroy is displaying - everybody loses.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Still alive!

Wow, skydiving was a blast! Terrifying, exhilarating - it's a massive sensory overload! I had to lie down on the ground afterwards.

I can't really describe what it's like, or what I felt. It was a big mish-mash of emotions all flooding in at once. The instructor I was strapped to suggested that we do "something exciting" and I said "yeah, lets!" and we did all sorts of flips and turns and whatnot on the way down. I'm still on a bit of a rush from it, and it happened about five hours ago.

It ended up being about $450 for approximately six minutes (one minutes of free-fall then five minutes of floating down) but I say it was money well spent. The trip in the plane was pretty cool, even if it was rather crowded.

I can still feel the wind in my face. What I wasn't expecting was that even if we were travelling at about 200km/h I had no trouble breathing. I could scream and not hear myself, but breathing wasn't a problem.

Wow. Just ... wow.

Friday, October 31, 2008

All Hallows Eve

Well, it's the 31st of October and there are several exciting things happening in the coming month.

First, NaNoWriMo is on again and I've foolishly decided to throw my hat in the ring again. I have no idea how I will go, but I've met up with several other people here in Perth who are also doing it which ought to make it more exciting. I've got the full month (rather than the crazy half-month I had last year) which means I ought to be able to finish more easily (or write more).

The second, much less exciting thing is that I'm also growing a moustache for Movember - any excuse to have a hairy lip caterpillar asleep under your nose is good enough for me.

Thirdly, on the first of November I am going Skydiving! Yay me. I'm kinda crook though, so I don't know if I'll be allowed to jump or not. I'm in the mindset that they won't let me so I'm not overly excited about it, though I'm sure the nerves will kick in once the plane takes off and I'm in it.

Also, though probably not in this month, I'm looking to upgrade our home viewing experience by installing a home theatre - though not anything fancy. Basically, I'd just be adding surround sound speakers to our existing telly. Not massively fancy, but better than what we have now.

And since the telly will only go as high as S-Video, I figure I might connect a basic HTPC to it, though it'd just be a box with all our movies and music on it - no tv cards. I don't watch a lot of tv anyway.

So looks like it'll either be a lot of fun or a lot of pain and convalescence if I land badly (or too fast). I've never broken a bone in my life, but there's a pretty good chance that something might happen tomorrow.

We'll see...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gearing up for NaNo again

Well, it's the end of October and I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo again. I had good fun last year and it'll be good to get back into writing again.

I didn't get as much work as I wanted up on Loneverse as I wanted to, mostly due to my laziness, travel and general apathy (which is bad).

I'll let you all in on a little secret - I'm not going to go for the proposed 50,000 words that is the recommended goal for NaNo - I'm going for 100,000. Which is just insane, but that's the way I roll. I met up with a bunch of other like-minded nutters (which I mean in the nicest possible way) here in Perth who are also doing the NaNo this year. We are having a Word War (who can write the most) with a little town in the heart of USofA.

Also, last year I went for a very worthwile, structured, "proper" 50K novel. This year I intend to simply write 'til my wrists collapse. So it'll be more stream-of-conciousness than a proper story with those silly little things like plot or reason that editors seem to get hung up on.

Other than that, not a whole lot to report. It's been a quiet week. Mum is sick, the cats are sick and John is sick but I've managed to dodge the bullet thus far (knock on wood).

The last bit of news to report today (Sunday night) is that I want to start my exercise regime again. I stopped altogether after returning from Sydney, which I'm not overly happy about. I'm starting to get a little soft in the middle, which I don't like.

Plus, I'll be going skydiving next Saturday. If I don't post on Sunday, you'll know why...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Abomination with Fresh Herbs

Cooking today and came up with a new recipe.

I call it "Abomination with Fresh Herbs" - and this is how to make it:

First, boil a pot of water and cook some spaghetti in the normal way. Strain the spaghetti and put some oil, finely chopped garlic, Thai seasoning and Comino into the pot a fry lightly.

Put the spaghetti back into the pot and stir thoroughly. Throw in a mess of chopped coriander (or parsley) and the juice from a whole lemon and stir some more. Allow to sit and then serve with a side of salad.

Tastes better than it smells.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Homework for media PC

Well, I've been spending a bit more time looking at different options for a media pc for the house. The hardware isn't an issue as there are various vendors around who are able to supply the parts that I need (I would build my own rather than an off-the shelf unit).

The sticking point is the OS to use. There are a couple of options, ranging from free to very expensive. At one end is the preferred Linux-based option. I like Linux because it is free and because I hate Microsoft. I'm not going to use an Apple solution since I don't have any Apple pc's available but apparently iLife has some pretty good functionality built-in.

Having done my homework, it appears that there are two main options - Windows Media Centre (either built-in to one of the newer top-level Vista releases or the older XP MCE)or LinuxMCE . There are a couple of other distributions (such as Mythbuntu) but LinuxMCE shows the most promise.

The first thing to do is to determine what I actually want. So after some thought, here is my current list of requirements for the HTPC:

  • It needs to be a "dum" unit - power on, use, turn off. No login, no passwords, no need for a keyboard during normal use.

  • Simple: it needs to be controllable with just a remote and be easy enough to manage that any non-technical person in the house can use it with no (or only basic) prior knowledge.

  • Play DVD movies from a disc.

  • Play audio CD's from a disc.

  • Play avi movies from the drive (with a variety of codecs such as DivX and Xvid).

  • Play digital music (mp3, wma, ogg, etc) from drive.

  • View images from drive.

Having said that, there are also a lot of features available that I don't need.

  • I don't want it to connect to the internet.

  • I don't want to record or watch TV.

  • I don't need it to connect to anything else other than the screen and amp.

LinuxMCE has quite a lot of features for controlling the entire house, multiple computers, PVR functions and so on - lots of stuff that I don't want.

So on the balance of things, it looks like I'll be going for either a Windows based MCE or using a normal Linux distro (such as openSuSe) and just modifying it to act as a Media PC. The trick will be getting it to work with a remote and have all the codecs it needs.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Off to Kalgoorlie

Well, this should be an interesting week.

Going to Kalgoorlie for the weekend. Not sure how much fun it'll be, but I hear that they have a big hole in the ground.

Also, the iPod has worked out pretty well, but I think I may have been slightly over confident in buying the 120Gb model, since so far I have converted almost my entire library and it has come out to like ... 4Gb. I could almost have put the entire library on there in wav format instead of mp3.

In other news, gearing up for NaNoWriMo again. This time I'll have the full month rather than just half a month so it should be a little easier. I was thinking of getting an ergonomic keyboard and one of those "learn to touch type" programs, but I really should have done that, like, back in August - not late October. I still might do it anyway, just out of spite for myself.

Also, after doing some measuring, I might need to think a little harder about the HTPC idea for the living room...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thinking of building a HTPC

Well, as mentioned earlier, I was thinking of building a Home Theatre Personal Computer (HTPC). Don't really need it and can't really afford it but it would be nicer to see some of the movies that I have on a proper TV rather than on the computer.

Looking around, the "main" option seems to be Windows MCE - either the older XP based one or the newer one which comes bundled with (some) versions of Vista. Another option is to use a distro of Linux.

Not sure which way I'll go... need to save the cash first.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fedora 9 - setting NumLock on automatically

One thing that was bugging me about Fedora 9 was that it didn't have the NumLock key turned on by default. It wasn't annoying enough that I wanted to change distros' (openSuSe has this feature on by default) but it annoyed me enough that I went looking for it.

I was quite disappointed to find that there were a lot of elitist and jerkish behaviour in the replies by a lot of people that are supposed to be helping new people in the Fedora forums. No wonder MS continues to have such a strong market share.

Anyway, I did finally find how to do it, so I figured that if someone else wanted to make Fedora 9 have the NumLock key on from startup or by default, then here is how to do it:

First go into super user mode : su

then:

yum install numlockx

then :

gedit /etc/gdm/Init/Default

next you search for a line like this:

exit 0

In my case, it was at the end of the file. Now you add this code on top of that line:

if [ -x /usr/bin/numlockx ]; then /usr/bin/numlockx on fi

So you end up with something like this:

if [ -x /usr/bin/numlockx ];
then /usr/bin/numlockx on
fi

exit 0


Don't forget to save and then exit. Next time you boot up the computer, the NumLock key should be on by default. It worked straight away for me, hopefully it'll work for you as well.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Burned by HostOnce.com

The common joke floating around the net at the moment is that they are called "hostonce.com" because you only host with them one time - then never again!

There are a number of people who have had their domains pinched or held to ransom. Getting domains back from hostonce.com or recovering the domains has become a big pain for many people.

If you are reading this and you are interested in getting your hostonce.co domain away from them so you can host elsewhere, pop over to this forum where we are compiling information on how to get people's domains back.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Linux Task: Rip an mp3 from a CD.

Results: Failed! Then Succeeded!

Okay, so here's the report on the last few (highly frustrating) hours.

Sounds like a simple task, make an mp3 from a CD. Windows comes with this functionality built into Windows Media Player, you don't even have to connect to the internet. With Linux, it's a different story. Turns out that MP3 isn't a “freely” available format. Most of the software that comes in the box (so to speak) with Fedora will pretty much only make .ogg or .flac audio files.

As a novice Fedora and Linux user, I had a rather steep learning curve in front of me.

First, I did the obvious – fired up Sound Juicer which comes bundled with Fedora 9. That even came with a handy little “Rip it now” button. Sounds good, right? What should have been an easy one-click operation turned into a six hour saga.

I won't bore you with the details, but if you found this through a Google search I'll be nice to you and jump straight into the answers on how to get MP3's from audio cd's in Fedora 9 (or most Linux distro's).

First, you will need to get Lame (or another mp3 info-library thingy) onto your computer. If you want to check if you have Lame installed, go to the Terminal and type “whereis lame” (note: it does not matter which folder you are currently in or which user you are logged in as). If you get “Lame:” and nothing else then that means that you don't have lame installed.

To install lame: simply Google “Fedora +lame +install” and you should find a couple of pages that tell you how to go about installing lame. I didn't link directly to one because several of the tutorials that I found pointed to pages that were no longer available. It seems that Lame tends to move around a lot.

Once you get Lame installed, run the whereis command again and you should get something that looks like /usr/bin/lame – remember this bit of information.

(Quick note – I tried several different methods of ripping in Linux. The most recommended programs were Sound Juicer {comes with Fedora 9}, abcde {A Better CD Extractor} and Grip. I ended up with all three installed but wound up liking Grip the best. To install Grip on Fedora 9 either type “yum install grip” in the Terminal or go System > Administration > Add/Remove Programs and run a search for Grip. The second option is the one I did.)

Okay, Sound Juicer was a little hard to configure, so I went with Grip. This didn't work for me at first, but once Lame was installed, it was a breeze after that.

With Grip running, I tried to rip and encode but it wouldn't let me (or it wanted to do it as an ogg file). In Grip, I went Config > Encode > Encoder. In the box marked “Encoder Executable” I put in the path from the whereis lookup for Lame (/usr/bin/lame).

I left all the other options as default and guess what – it worked!

Or so I thought.

I put in an a disc from an Australian band and the track information was incorrect – it gave me some American group. But it gave me the right information in Sound Juicer! What to do? A quick search on the net turned up that Grip uses freedb.org which is somewhat limited but Sound Juicer uses the better Music Brainz. So in Config > DiscDb > Primary server I put in “freedb.musicbrainz.org” and the correct track information came up! (Note: I needed to click the “Initiate DB lookup” button on the bottom for it to refresh with the correct data.)

So now I had correctly named MP3 files sitting on my computer. Success!

But no! There was one more problem: Fedora 9 won't play MP3 files natively. When I tried to play the mp3 files, the built-in player had a whinge and said “we don't support non-free formats”!

However, there was a little button underneath that said “Show me options”. Clicking that brought up a few places that provided mp3 support for Linux. A small download later and finally! MP3 files playing on my computer.

If I'd known it was going to be this hard, I wouldn't have bothered going over to Linux.

Okay, I lie, I still would have. But it'd be nice if there was a “Linux Noobs start here” with a list of common tasks (ex)Windows users might want to do and how to do them...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Finally! A new article!

Well, it was a long time coming but I finally managed to post an update on my main site.

I've started using Linux (specifically, Fedora 9) on a resurrected PC. Part of that was the effort to make it quieter. You can read about it here and see how it went.

In other news - Firefox with Foxmarks absolutely rocks on multiple computers. I have my laptop, the main internet computer (I use Firefox, everyone else uses Internet Explorer) and the Linux computer all using Firefox. With Foxmarks, I can keep my bookmarks synchronised across all three computers.

Go me!

Solitary Man

Melinda was mine
'Til the time
That I found her
Holding Jim
Loving Him
Then Sue came along
Loved me strong
That's what I thought
Me and Sue
But that died too

Don't know that I will
But until I can find me
The girl who'll stay
And won't play games behind me
I'll be what I am
A solitary man
Solitary man

I've had it to here
Bein' where
Love's a small word
Part-time thing
Paper ring

I know it's been done
Havin' one
Girl who'll love me
Right or wrong
Weak or strong

Don't know that I will
But until I can find me
The girl who'll stay
And won't play games behind me
I'll be what I am
A solitary man
Solitary man

- Neil Diamond, "Solitary man"

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

That abominable noise!

I'm sure I'm not the only one:


I have become accustomed to the laptop which makes very little noise. I mentioned earlier that I have fired up an old computer to run Linux on it as an experiment. Half the point of that computer is to write stuff (such as for loneverse.com) but it has a small problem - the incredibly noisy fans!

So this weekend I might see about ripping out the current fans and dropping in some newer, quieter ones. I might replace the power supply as well.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Linux task one: make an mp3

The whole point of having a computer is so that you ca do stuff with it. So I've set myself up with Fedora 9 as an experiment to see how a novice like me fares trying to do a few simple tasks without any external help
.

Task One: Make an mp3 from a disc
Result: Failed!

Fedora 9 comes with a built-in audio extraction program (at least the distribution I got does). It seems fairly straightforward and easy to use, but I've hit the first obstacle: there is no mp3 format available as an output option.

It's interesting that the help file shows mp3 as being the default option. However, on mine it does not come up. I know from my experience with the old AudioGrabber software that sometimes you need to go and grab the mp3 dll library and install it manually, so that might be the case. The program works and successfully extracted several songs straight away but it took me a moment to realise that they were in ogg format.

It then took a bit longer to find how to change it and then another few minutes to find that the option wasn't available. Though it is kind of strange since it shows that mp3 is an option and that itought to be selectable, it just won't let me.

Gonna have to ask for help on this one.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fedora - take two (includes kittens)

Well, I decided to give Fedora another try.

I have an old computer that was gutted and gathering dust so I dropped a new old harddrive in there and installed Fedora 9. I thought it might be a bit too new for that box, but it's handled it really well so far.

I think it's because I installed it on the laptop that I had such difficulties the last time. It had a webcam, infrared, bluetooth, wireless network and a bunch of other accessories built-in that Linux didn't handle very well (or to be more accurate - I couldn't get Linux to handle very well).

Most of the other stuff I could have lived without, but setting up the wireless connection was just beyond me. With this box, it's pretty much just the mainboard, video card and a keyboard so it found everything straight away and has been working flawlessly thus far.

Of course, by "thus far" I mean "since I installed it this morning". I'll have another play with it once I finish here and see how it goes.

And now, the promised kittens:

Five adorable, fuzzy kittens but no pussy joke

Cleaning time

So very tired...


Been spending the weekend cleaning and re-arranging my room. Found lots and lots of dust, and also some stuff I hadn't seen in years. I've slao got a bunch of stuff that I've marked as "has to go" so I'm looking around to see if I can find anyone who wants an amp and some speakers, a mixer, a drum kit and a bunch of other assorted junk.

Might take some of it down to the pawn shop, or donate it to the op shop to sell or something...

Friday, September 19, 2008

And the kittens arrive

Poor little fat cat had her kittens yesterday!

Kittens - so cute and fluffy

We're not sure if she had four or five, but we think it's five. They're less than a day old in this photo, so they are barely able to move around - but they still swarm all over the exhausted cat and suckle on everything they can get hold of.

Not sure what we're going to do with them all...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A kiss on the cheek

Just how meaningful is it to kiss someone on the cheek?

Most of the time it's a simple greeting, a way of saying hello. If it's someone that you know and have known for a long time then it's about as important as a handshake. If it's a new person you've never met then it's probably just their way of greeting and if you observe them then you'll probably see them greet several people the same way.

Giving a kiss on the cheek is usually no big deal. Getting one, especially when it's not expected can have a variety of meanings.

I'm not a big kisser. I don't go around kissing everyone I meet (though some people I want to!). I don't have a problem kissing people as a greeting but as a general rule, I normally initiate. That is - most people (by which I mean ladies) don't kiss me first.

So when a lady kissed me recently it caught me off guard.

It probably didn't mean anything and I'm reading more into it than is really worth the effort but it meant something to me. I'm not saying that I'm going to start writing sonnets or that I'm going to give her all my worldly possessions but I have to admit that it did mean something.

Anybody reading this probably won't care, but I found it nice and was a nice moment for me, so I wanted to share it without going into specifics. So yeah, I'm happy. Or at least a little happier than I was.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Planting a cat plant

It seems that our cat likes to pretend to be a plant...

A cat, planted in a pot

It must find the pot comfortable or something. It has a bed that it normally sleeps in, no idea why it likes the pot.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Burbling along

So damned tired...

Anyway, get five main projects running at the moment. None of which will really acheive anything, nor are they of any importance.

It seems that all I do is busy work to pass the time without really doing anything...

Oh well, maybe something interesting will happen tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fat Cat!

You may remember that a while back I posted that there was a stray kitten that was hanging around our house?

Well, said kitten is all growed up now and we're pretty sure that a) it's a female and b) she's pregnant!

Our fat little cat - she is pregnant!

She's been eating like mad, and she's getting pretty solid around the middle, so we'll have a bunch more little fluffballs running around soon. No idea what we are going to do with them...

Maybe Linux ain't so great

Well, I've been incesently working with Fedora 9 and it's just not my cup of tea.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Linux is a little beeatch

Okay, I have Fedora 9 up and running on my Acer Extensa 5220. By running I mean that it is mostly working but has a few quirks.

- Wireless is not working. This needs some special linux commands that I have no idea about. I have never used Linux before, so I do not know my way around the kernel, the terminal or any other important bits. About the only thing I do know is that I do not want to be logged in as root and be accessing the web. So I am not a complete noob, just 90%.

- The keyboard is not fully working. I cannot use the apostrophe key (that is why there are no contractions in this post) or the bunny ears.

- The touchpad is not working properly. I can use it as a pointer, but tapping it will not perform a click.

On the plus side, the sound is working, I was able to import all my bookmarks (but not my passwords which is a little frustrating) and it did not give me any headaches on installation.

On the negative side, I am still muddling my way through without being able to really do anything, the computer beeps at me on occasion for no apparent reason and the hard drive keeps working. I think that itÅ› downloading stuff in the background or running tests or something.

Not sure about how this experiment will turn out...

Frustration ensues

Okay, so here's the skinny:

A while back I bought a laptop. Out of the box it shipped with Vista which I have no reason to use so the first thing I did was burn it to the ground and install XP over the top. No drama there. I used that for many months without missing a single beat.

Then I wanted to remove that copy of XP and put the factory Vista back on there (don't ask why). Acer has a nice little feature called eRecovery (because everything has to have a lower case first letter followed by an upper case second letter nowadays) which basically means that you click some buttons and it restores everything to factory defaults.

At least that's how it's meant to work...

When I installed XP, it overwrote the factory MBR, so that option didn't work any more. A lot of digging around and researching and I eventually found that the Vista (and all the other system stuffs) were sitting on a hidden partition. Made some hacks, got access to the hidden partition and I was able to get the files out in order to re-install Acer's original MBR. Great! Except that when I rebooted, it gave me an error message and refused to work ever since.

So now I said "sod it" and killed the whole damn drive and I'm busy installing Fedora 9.

We'll see how it goes...

Monday, September 1, 2008

OGame - so addictive, but...

...I've broken the habit!

It's such an addictive game. For those that haven't played it, here's the basics of it: You are in control of a planet and you build up it's resources, make ships and attack your neighbours. You can colonize more planets, wage wars and form alliances. And it's all free - nothing pay, just register and away you go.

Now, it's a browser based game and it's basically just watching numbers count down (no funky graphics) but it is so damned addictive! You get into the habit of logging in several times a day to trigger more updates and see who is attacking whom.

Anyway - it was taking too much of my time. So I decided to stop. But since my planets had such large mines and production facilities on them I decided not to let the account be deleted. So I'll just log in once or twice a week to keep my account active so others can raid my planets. Soon all my defences will be gone, but I don't really care about that.

In other news, the cat looks like it might be pregnant.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Another computer saga

And it hits the fan again...

Doing a rebuild of the home network. Trying to upgrade to a wireless network. I'm not a big fan of them, but it would let several people onto the web at the same time.

Anyway, the main computer is being a little biatch and refusing to co-operate. It keeps coming back with "limited or no connectivity" errors, or simply locks up and refuses to respond. Done several re-installs, new hdd, tried different hardware configurations - nada.

Had a bright spot earlier today with it all running perfectly but after restarting, it refused to work. Not sure what changed, but I don't want to leave it on all day, nor do I want to have to re-install everything every time I want to use it...

Might be looking at a new computer and be done with it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

It has been a slow month

Well, I have about four sites that I should be updating of which none have been updated since I got back from Sydney.

Yes, I suck and I know it.

On the plus side, I finally worked out how to turn on the anti hotlinking protection on my main site so half my bandwidth should drop off now. There were so many people leeching bandwidth off my site it's not funny. For some reason, my cars and the essay on body armour seemed to have attracted the bulk of the attention. The reviews page picked up a few from spam sites as well which was kind of odd.

If anyone who had hotlinked one of my images reads this and is upset by the replacement image then I apologise. But really, how hard is it to download the desired image, upload it to your own site (or one of the dozens of image hosts) and use that? I do it, it's the polite thing to do and only takes you a few extra seconds.

Well, enough mindless ranting, it's late and I gotta work tomorrow...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pics of lan party from a few months ago

Found a couple of pics from a lan party I went to before winter - don't remember exactly when. It was a fairly small affair:

The boys - me, John, Fee and Andre

Just my brother and a few of his mates. Nothing really lavish. Up all night playing games and leaching off each other. I think it was over a long weekend. At least we had plenty of food to eat:

Mmmm - lots of pizza

Lots of protein and vitamins in pizza! Num, num, num.

We played a variety of games, but nothing really major happened - or at least nothing which I have a record of. The only incident of note was that one computer was busy copying stuff in the background and slowing the network down:



John frowns in disapproval.

Friday, August 15, 2008

New look ... sort of

I'm always chopping and changing how I look. No idea why. Here's the latest look:

I look like a bored English teacher or something

I'm trying to decide if I look like a bored English Literature professor or a lawyer from the eighties. Not sure which is preferable....

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bottled lightning

Whee - new product!

First time I saw these were on the Star Trek movie with the Borg (I forget the title). You'll recognize what I'm talking about if you've seen the movie one you look at this pic:

Plasma plates look funky

I'm surprised how good this photo came out. I really like it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bored at work

It's not that there's nothing to do - it's that there's a lot of little things that can be ignored. It's not that there aren't any customers, it's that the customers either all want the same thing or want stuff we don't have. Either way, I have too much spare thinking time.

One of the products that we carry has these little cardboard slips that are added to the packaging. They come in a variety of languages and obviously we only use one and discard the rest. Or rather, we normally discard the rest.

A home made deck of cards - in cardboard

I made a home-made deck of cards. Yay me.

I'm sure that there are better things that I could have done to employ my time, but that's what I ended up doing. Plus it helps pass the time to play a little poker.

Also, after doing 140, 100 seems slow.

Stray kitten

Well, it's no longer really a kitten:

The little kitten is all grown up

This is the cat that I wrote about earlier. It's been hanging around the house since before I got back from Sydney. Since Mum's been feeding it, it's been hanging around the house. It's growing up and is starting to get friendly enough to let people get close enough to touch it.

It's kinda cute. But freaks if you close the door while it's inside - not that it comes inside very often...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Nearly sideswiped by a truck!

Yay for near misses! \o/

Driving down the highway on the way to work, about to pass a big rig (dual carriageway) and the truck decides to change lanes at the last second! Slam on the brakes as he enters my lane - if there'd been a fly on my bumper it would have been scraped off. That had the old heart going - but no contact so no foul. I'm not sure exactly why the truck changed lanes suddenly - there must have been another vehicle in his lane or something. I didn't see anything because I was too busy trying not to ram into the back of him.

Other than that, not an eventful day today...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I've been quiet lately...

Wow, this is the first time that I have been sick for so long.

I think it was around the start of July that I first got sick. I had basic cold and flu-like symptoms. The first week wasn't too bad. Felt miserable, but was able to soldier on. Second week took me down hard and I spent the entire week in bed. That was bad. Second week had to go back to work, still miserable but not as bad as the second week.

Lots and lots of coughing so not really getting any sleep at night which led to a few interesting "slightly out of it" moments. Now it's the start of August and I'm finally starting to feel a little better. Not a whole lot, had some not-fun moments last night when I was supposed to be going to meet up with some people that I do freelance IT for.

Anyway, enough griping.

A few weeks ago it was cold - really cold. Check out the window in the morning:

a really cold morning, ice on the windshield and everything

That's freakin' in ICE on the windshield - in PERTH of all places! I think that was the morning I might have first gotten sick. That photo was taken a while back, not sure exactly when since I didn't write it down.

At least it's starting to warm up a little now - I hate the cold.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Memories

Not sure what sparked this off, but earlier today I remembered something that happened a few years ago.

It must have been around 92 or 93 because it happened while I was living in Sydney. I was at a group activity and it was after everything had finished. Myself and a few other people were in the carpark and most people had gone. Another chap and I were sitting on the boot of one of the cars. I can't remember what car it was, but it was a sedan.

The driver started the car and backed up slowly, so we thought that he knew we were on the boot. As he drove out of the carpark I was thinking "I'll jump off when he stops at the gate". The driver did not stop at the gate and then took off up the road at full speed. I was sitting on the back of a car, with my palms flat on the metal desperately hanging on. The other chap did not fare as well and he fell off.

I think that it was when the other guy slid off the car that the driver noticed something wrong and stopped the car. I jumped off and ran back to were the other guy was. I don't remember much of what happened after that, but he ended up with a fractured arm. If I remember correctly, he had been holding on to a basketball and that's why he slid off while I didn't.

Don't know why I remembered that...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What a stack!

What do you do with 700Kg's of catalogues? Why, you build a giant twisty stack of course!

A giant stack of catalogs at Jaycar in Midland

We (by which I meant I) spent the better part of two days stacking those bad boys up. Don't yet have the total number of catalogues used, but it was almost a pallet worth, and there's a ton on a pallet.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I found the Monkey!

Well, it took several years, but I finally found the source for the image that I'd been using as an avatar for several years. You can see the avatar that I normally use to the right.

Anyway, this image was originally a 3D render by Matt Cioffi over at CGSociety. You can see the thread where he released his marvelous work here, posted back in 2005.

This means that I found / received the image fairly shortly after it was released, maybe early 2006. When I got it, it didn't have the id strip along the bottom so I have been unable to honour the person who made it. Well, now I can - it was Matt Cioffi who made the original.

Thanks Matt! It's an awesome image and sorry for not having been able to credit you before this.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Not dead, but getting there...

Hmm... nowhere near as much free time as I would like.

May need to re-consider my options. Frustration building, satisfaction falling.

Word.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mood: Frustrated

Well, the new job is going ... interesting? No, that's not quite the right word for it.

It's a lot more hours and in theory, lots more pay. But I know the company and they are not known for being big on paying their staff lots of monies. So I'll hold judgment until the cash is in my hands. However, the loss of time is the biggest annoyance. There are so many things that I am trying to do that need time and at the end of a shift I am just too tired to do anything productive.

It's a good thing that I don't have a webcomic running at the moment as it would have ended up on hiatus by now.

No real good news to report. Having come back to Perth has dropped me right back to where I was before I left. Nothing changes around here.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Blargh...

So tired...

Busy working, busy doing freelance jobs and busy trying not to collapse.

Need sleep.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Promoted!

Well, I'm going to be heading back to the old job only now I'll be assistant manager rather than just rank and file. Good in the sense that it's more money, bad in the sense that it's more hours and I'll have less fee time.

No matter, the only thing that I really need to work out will be just what my schedule is as I still want to do a fair spot of exercise as well as work so that I can add some muscles and shed a bit of excess fat. Not that I'm particularly overweight, I just want to tighten up a bit.

Not sure if I want to join a gym or just buy a bike...

Monday, June 2, 2008

One more time

Well, I’m starting yet another of my little projects. As you may already know, I’ve been toying with the idea of running webcomics. I’ve had two major offerings, of which TwaiP was the main one.

In that sort of vein, I have decided that I am going to get myself a graphics tablet. However, I don’t want to spend the money on one unless I know that I am going to stick with it.

There it sits, one thousand sheets of blank paper.

So I bought my self some paper (1000 sheets to be precise) and a packet of pencils. I’m going to draw out on all of those sheets before I commit to buying a graphics tablet.

In order to make it easier to draw, I’ve built a drawing table thingy (an angled bit of wood) that I can lean on and be in a slightly more comfortable position when drawing.

Day One, Sheet One. Only 999 sheets to go.

You can see there sheet one, with some random doodles on it. I’m not planning on drawing anything particularly fantastic on each and every sheet – it’s more a matter of practicing so that I can be more consistent.

And on the plus side, but the time I’ve taught myself to draw really well, I’ll need to change the way I draw to use the graphics tablet properly.

Hmm…

Friday, May 30, 2008

Mood: Lathargic

Busy, busy, busy.

Doing some freelance work for a variety of different people plus getting everything locked down at home. Nothing overly interesting to report at the moment other than the weeds have been mowed. I should get some pics of the trip up soon, just sorting out a few final details.

Hopefully I'll be working again soon and I'll be able to settle into a nice routine.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

And back in Perth once more...

Well, the trip was fine. Had a few interesting events, mainly due to train maintenance but other than that, not much more to report. Gonna take a few days to get settled before I can do too much more here, just need to dot a few i's and cross a few t's and it should all be good.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Mexican't

For the last couple of weeks I've been mostly eating either my own food or the occasional visit to the local take away and dine in asian restaurants (plus some US style junk food like Hungry Jacks).

However, I've noticed that a lot of the asian places that I've been to tend to have a more subtle, understated flavour. Unless it's covered in soy sauce. But other than that, the dishes, the rice and the desserts especially tend to be more subtle than other types of food I've had.

Yesterday, I went to a Mexican restaurant.

Ow. Mexican food is not subtle. It punches you right in the mouth and lets you know that it's there. I loved it. I had a mess of food and was thoroughly satiated plus my tastebuds got a real workout.

So it was a fun night. The place was the Baja Cantina in Glebe, Sydney. Good place.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Everything tastes like chicken ... except chicken

I don't why people say that everything tastes like chicken except that they must mean "this has no particular taste of its own but the consistency is the same as chicken".

That seems logical to me.

I'm vegetarian, but I don't have a problem eating chicken if the situation calls for it. It's an easy way to get a nice slab of protein without a lot of fuss. But earlier today I had some chicken-flavoured crisps (which I've had before) and realized that chicken flavoured crisps don't actually taste like chicken.

And it's not just a little difference, it's a lot different.

Now, there's a man outside the window so I'm going to log off...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I've had enough of Lost

Sigh.

What started out as a promising and intriguing show descended into a horrible morass of crossed storylines and inconsistent plot mish mash. I like a complex series. I like it when the audience is kept guessing, when the characters have a lot of depth and when a story goes beyond ‘real life’. That’s half the point of watching television – it’s about forgetting what you see every day and watching something different.

Lost, however (and apologies in advance for the horrible pun) has lost the plot.

I don’t mind having to suspend my disbelief. I like it. It makes me think of things that I wouldn’t normally have thought about. But this series seems to have a set of writers who are having a constant tug of war about what the plot will be. Maybe they flip a coin for each episode to see which will be the dominant element that week.

There are so many damned contradictions – especially when it comes to The Others. First, they are superhuman. Then they are normal humans that need guns. Then they know everything to the point of being psychic. Then it swings over to them using surveillance equipment even though they’d have had to rig thousands of cameras and microphones all over the island in order for them to be of use.

It just goes on and on. There is no internal consistency. It seems like the writers just add new features for each episode according to what they need – and plot be damned.

And the repetition! Oh my, the repetitious repetition. Either people in the US are so feeble-minded that they can’t remember what happened two episodes ago or the writers / producers think that. There’s reminding the audience so that they can follow the story, then there’s beating them over the head with it screaming, “remember this? Remember this!” and then there’s padding just to make the series longer.

I just tuned out and stopped watching after the first few episodes of Season 3. There’s one island, no there’s two. The crash was an accident, no, it was deliberate – no! it was an accident after all. Ben is a psychic superhuman genius who orchestrated everything. No wait; he’s a feeble dying wretch who just wanted a doctor (to perform surgery that could be done relatively easily at any one of thousands of hospitals). Oh, Eko is a tough guy who can be exploded (by being about seven feet from two sticks of dynamite in an enclosed concrete hallway), then imploded (did the hatch implode, explode or just abandon the series in disgust?), then mauled by a bear (and polar bear no less) and after all that he goes running through the jungle for hours only to be thrown around by a black cloud.

And that’s the best that they could come up with for a monster? It’s like they started the series with either the intention of never showing the monster or simply neglected to come up with one because they didn’t think the series would take off like it did. Then they found themselves painted into a corner and said “oh nuts, now we have to show the monster, what is it?”

Urgh, I could go on and on, but I’ve wasted enough of my life on this drivel. After I type this, I’ll be happy not to watch, read or have anything to do with this show.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Pure Woosh

This is so far beyond bored it has reached excited

Well, it's been an interesting day. And by interesting I mean frustrating.

I've been helping someone setting up their server and it's been a most frustrating experience. The instructions are cryptic, the support is more of a hindrance and the connection is unreliable at best, downright mean at worst.

On the plus side, it's now stable and running fine.

In unrelated news, I'm hungry, so I'm going to go grab something to eat.

In related news, I've been doing a bit more work on loneverse.com, and it feels good to be finally doing something a bit more proactive for it. I had been seriously considering buying a graphics tablet but decided against it, at least while I'm here in Sydney. I might pick one up when I get back to Perth though.

And I saw someone wearing a t-shirt that had "Pure Woosh" on it. I have no idea what that means.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Cheap apples =/= good apples

I've been buying a lot of apples lately. They're tasty and a good pick-me-up.

Well, not a <i>lot</i>, just more than I normally would. Sundowners, Royal Gala, Cameo and a bunch of others that I've been trying out. Yesterday when I went to do a spot of shopping, they had the regular apples at around $4 a kilo (more or less) and they had some Red Delicious for $2 a kilo. So I figured I'd give them a go.

Yuck. Soft, powdery, flavourless - I'm glad I only bought a couple and not a whole weeks worth. I'm mighty tempted to just chuck them out, but I hate wasting food. So yeah, cheap apples are not always good apples.

Also, last night there was a barge in the harbour shooting off fireworks. It was pretty cool because I'm so high up, I was pretty much level with the fireworks. They weren't too far away either, probably about two hundred meters. It was really loud. Pretty short display, but was still okay. I think they may have just been testing or something because there wasn't a crowd and there didn't seem to be a reason for them to be setting them off.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Found a Fountain

Walking around the city, I found this really spectacular fountain / water feature out the front of a hotel. Anyone who has seen it will recognize it:

Beautiful blue water feature with naked blue lights
(Click image to see bigger version)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Powerhouse Museum - lots of pics!

Yesterday I went out to the Powerhouse Museum here in Sydney - and I loved it! It's such a massive place, with all sorts of interesting stuff. I was like a little kid in a candy shop running back and forth looking at all the exhibits. I took loads of pics, but I'll only put up the more interesting ones.

The plasma ball - always a favorite hair raiser

This is one of the biggest plasma balls I have ever seen. I was sooo tempted to touch it but a) I have short hair and b) they had signs on it "beware with electrical devices" and I didn't feel like frying my camera and mobile phone. Not that it would have happened, I just prefer to err on the side of caution.

The plane from Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome!

This one was neat. The above photo is of the one of many aircraft they have hanging from the ceiling. This one I liked because it's the same model that the aviator used in Mad Max - Beyond the Thunderdome. I didn't realize that it was a production model. So I learned something new...

These next three pics are of this HUGE seaplane they have hanging in one of the main spaces. I have no idea how they got it in there without pulling one of the walls or the roof out. It really is big, and you get a bit nervy standing underneath it. I'd have loved to be able to get up inside it.

The seaplane, suspended from the ceiling.

A better view, from the front of the seaplane

Got this great pic during a lightshow - the seaplane looks great.

And one of my "favorite" displays: technicians at work.

Repairmen work on one of the exhibits at the Powerhouse Museum

These two chaps were technicians working on one of the displays in the robotics section. I don't know why I found it so intruiging. Maybe because when I first saw them it didn't click that the door was open and they were working on the display. I must have thought for a moment that they were part of the display... oops.

Sputnik! Or at least a model of it.

Sputnik! Well, I assume it's a mock-up. That's not the sort of thing that Russia would let out of the country very easily. Although I did find it interesting that the museum had a lot of Russian space stuff - loads more than they had American stuff. I wonder why that is...

Whatever you do, don't exceed the speed limit.

One of the displays is a "zero gee simulator" which is quite disorientating. You get a really curious feeling when you're in there. On one of the walls was the above sticker - not sure why I liked it so much, I guess I just like that type of humour.

Danger Will! Beware of my flaying arms!

There are so many jokes I could make about this robot... :o)

I took heaps more pics, but I wouldn't be doing the displays justice. It's a lot better to see them in person. They have steam engines, cars, construction gear, nuclear accelerators - too much stuff to mention. If you're in Sydney - go visit this place. It's not free, but it's damned cheap.

Oh, and that night there was a great sunset to boot:

Cloudy sunset over the Blue Mountains in Sydney

Thursday, May 1, 2008

owww

Earlier today I ate some subway sandwiches and had the toasted.

Nice hot sandwiches are fun and all, but I must have bitten a part of it badly or something because I tore a bit of the roof of my mouth. Never even felt it.

In other news, I went to the Powerhouse Museum today. That was an absolute blast! It's great. Took loads of photos, I'll have some and a proper report up tomorrow.

Also, I now have a whole bunch of movie to go through. I'm all set for the return to Perth in the middle of the month. There'll be a four day gap where I'll be off-line because I'm taking the train. And obviously there's no wireless connection in the middle of the desert (not that the train goes through the desert, but you get my point).

Fun, fun, fun.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Just hanging' around

Nice and quiet day today, not a lot going down and the weather is nice.

Not much to actually report on today but earlier on I was in the city and noticed a sign and couldn't help take a photo of it:

Silly signs seen in the city

Not incredibly funny, but I wanted to share.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Scenes from a balcony

Just a couple of pics that I've taken from the balcony here at the place I;m staying at. The view is pretty good, better than lust looking at a blank wall.

On a rainy day looking out at Darling Harbour

I can see Anzac Bridge

The photos above and below were taken on the same rainy day. The bridge that you can see is Anzac Bridge in Sydney. The rain was pretty heavy and it was going most of the day.

It's so misty I can barely see

The photo below of the setting sun came out rather well. Of course, it is slightly over exposed but I'm still fairly impressed considering that it was taken with a little cheap digital camera on auto.

The setting sun, looks good but slightly over exposed

I love the cloud formations

The photo below of the setting sun in the cloudy evening sky is one of my favourites so far. It came out really well, the light was good and overall I really like it.

My favorite shot of the setting sun. Looks great and came out really good

The rain on the city streets at midnight. Looks really nice and it came out surprisingly well considering how dark it was. Another of the shots that I really like.

Rainy city streets at night.

Nice shot of the evening light.

The colour didn't come out quite right on this last one, but it's still a nice photo of the sunset. I like taking photos of the sunset because home is in that direction...

Really nice sunset with Anzac bridge in the midground.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

There was a bit of a queue...

Today I had a bit of spare time so I figured that I'd go to the Powerhouse Museum and check it out. When I got there, the queue to get in went around the block. Why? Beacuse it's school holidays - duh! of course there would be a lot of people going for these two weeks.

Since I had overlooked that tiny detail I figure if it's best to wait until after the school holidays to go down and have a look.

Other than that, it's been fairly quiet. Not a whole lot on the work front and not a lot on the social side. But that's okay. I was thinking of going and getting a graphics tablet so I can draw on the laptop. They aren't particularly expensive and they are the same price here as they are in WA so I'm not really saving or losing money by buying one here or there.

The main difference would just be how much time I have available to learn to use the silly thing and the possibility of it being damaged in transit whilst I'm traveling.

Do I feel like buying a second one when I get home?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Random Musings

This is just some random stuff that's been floating around in my head for a while. Most of it won't make a whole lot of sense, but I just really want to get it out so I can have a look at it.

Life is messed up, but that's about average. I was offered a really nice job that includes accomodation and everything included right in the heart of the city. And it wasn't some little dingy place - this was a big three bedroom $1500 a week swanky pad. I didn't take it for a variety of reasons that I won't go into, but I'm really torn about it.

I'm getting ready to move back to Perth. Sydneys fun and all but I'm not really acheiving anything here and if I'm going to be sitting around not acheiving then I'd rather do it at home.

Might get an iPod. Used one for the first time a few days ago and they are very intuative and easy to use, I loved it. Not so sure that I love the price tag, but that's why I *might* be getting one. If I can find an option that suits my needs and isn't too expensive then I might go for it - but I probably won't.

Life sucks, but everyone knows that.

Skydiving seems to be out. It's not something that I want to do on my own and the group that I was going to go with all disbanded and decided not to or something. I'll look into doing it in Perth.

Reception sucks as well.

Overall, fitness is looking good. Lost a fair bit of the old waist, but I'm not sure how much I can attribute to exercise and how much I can attribute to poor diet...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Does magnetic generator = free energy?

I have done about three minutes worth of research, so it's not like I'm fully appraised of this, but I was wandering around YouTube and found some interesting vids.

First, the claim: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAk3tiaOewo

Basically, this chap is saying that you can get "free" energy out of a magnetic arrangement motor so it becomes a generator. For this thread, I'll use the definition that a generator is a device that creates more electrical energy than you put into it (a standard petrol generator converts petrol into electricity).

Sounds like a load of bunk, right? There's no such thing as free energy, anybody who knows anything will tell you that.

Anyway, looking around I found a few samples which (appear) to use the same principle in order to achieve motion (and potentially generate power) without putting energy into the device (ie - it's a generator, not a motor). Essentially, it consists of a ring of magnets placed around a centrally spinning assembly that also has a magnet. The trick is that each magnet is slightly further back than the previous magnet, so as the rotating magnet spins, the attraction becomes smaller.

Here is an amateur "working" sample that illustrates the placement of the magnets: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdJkL3L-344

Okay, so that one didn't work very well, but it is a hand-made jobby and so one can't expect it to be perfect right off the bat. So let's look at a more professionally built unit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCANbMBujjQ

Here you can see the possibility. The device has been built to a tighter tolerance and has a counterweight on the back. Presumably the magnets have been matched in order to ensure that the attraction for each magnet is at the same intensity. However, we don't know for a fact that all the movement is being generated by the magnetism alone. You can see that there is a device, presumably a magnet / coil assembly (ie - a motor) at the pivot point with some wires going off to the right.

If you think that this idea works then you would assume that it is a motor being used to get power out of the system - the device is a functional generator (albeit, only a small amount of power).

If you think that this idea does not work, then you would assume that it is a motor being used to put energy into the system and keep the device spinning.

I don't know either way as I have not looked at the device in person.

From simply looking at the magnet arrangement I can see how the device might work (in theory) by having the magnets attracting the rotating magnet in a rail-gun type manner and as it spins around, it is attracted towards the magnets in turn. However, one would assume that it would be attracted to the closest magnet and simply stop there (as seen in the amateur version). However, there is at least one group who have made a working generator (or at least claim to) that they say is capable of generating enough power to run a house.

That's a fairly big claim.

Anybody else heard of or know something about these?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Reaching new Heights!

Well, see if you can guess what I did today. Shouldn't be too hard, you've probably already looked at the pictures rather than reading what I've written here.

The famous Sydney Harbour Bridge

That's right, it turns out that not only can you go to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but you can also climb all over it.

The arch, in the insert you can see one of the many groups that walk on the bridge

Obviously, for safety reasons you can't have loads of loose items being carted around by distracted tourists above a major city thoroughfare, so personal items (which includes cameras and mobiles) are not allowed. Dropping an expensive camera is bad, but dropping it onto the windscreen of an 18-wheeler in heavy traffic is really bad. I'm a tad upset that personal cameras aren't allowed since there are loads of little things on the bridge itself that I'd rather take photos of. But we must follow the rules. Or bend them when nobody is looking.

What I did was to go down in the morning and do the whole climb, go back to the apartment and then return to the bridge with my camera. Obviously I couldn't get back up onto the bridge itself and take all the really interesting photos that I wanted to take, but I was able to take some more down in the open areas.

One of the bases of the bridge

That's one of the bases of the pylons that support the whole structure. I love those massive bolts and the whole engineering aspect of the whole thing. There isn't anything for scale (if I had my tripod I'd have jumped into the picture) but those bolts are thicker than my leg.

The bridge deck below

That's the view of the roadway as seen from one of the towers on the south end of the bridge. They look dead solid, but they are actually hollow and mainly for decorative effect rather than any "proper" purpose. The extra weight does help anchor the ends, but they could have done the same job with solid concrete one third the volume. But it's prettier this way.

It's a fairly rigorous climb, about two and a bit hours on the structure itself and another hour or so of pre-work (getting gear on, learning the safety rules, etc) so overall it's about a half-day activity. With my running back and forth, it ended up being the whole day.

I'm fairly tall, and there are several really narrow and cramped bits where you really need to scrunch down to get through. And you do work up a bit of a sweat, even with the gentle pace. It's about the equivalent of being on the 40th floor when you're at the top so it's a bit of a climb.

And of course, gotta do the big touristy pose:

Yay, the tourist. Me at the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

If you want more info or are in Sydney and want to do the bridge climb yourself, check out Bridgeclimb and have a go. I recomend it!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Would you believe it?

Can you believe it? It's raining in Sydney ... in April!

The rain in Sydney falls gently.

What are the odds of that happening? Heh, at least I managed to stay dry and do my shopping today.

Not a whole lot to say about today other than the usual. Managed to get a bit of coding done and have a few ideas for more work on loneverse.com and maybe another essay or two for my main site.

Annoyingly, the ideas aren't enough to properly flesh them out and do what I want with them, but hopefully I'll be able to flesh it out a bit more into something useful. So overall, it was a good day today for me.

Unlike this poor chap:

Poor chap, van broke down

He (the red van) was stuck there for a while (you can see him in the first picture as well), but a towie came and got him soon enough. Hope it wasn't too expensive a problem to fix. And he wasn't rear ended, despite a few close calls.