sjh - mountain biking running linux vegan geek spice - mtb / vegan / running / linux / canberra / cycling / etc

Steven Hanley hackergotchi picture Steven
Hanley

About

email: sjh@svana.org

web: http://svana.org/sjh
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Aaron Broughton,
Andrew Pollock,
Anthony Towns,
Chris Yeoh,
Jeremy Kerr,
Martijn van Oosterhout,
Michael Carden,
Michael Davies,
Michael Still,
Tim Potter,
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December
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2004
Months
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Fri, 31 Dec 2004

Bring in the new year mtb style - 22:26
Last year at around 11:30pm December 31st Mikey, Russ, Nick, Morgs and I went night riding through Majura Pines to bring in the new year on our mountain bikes. Champagne, Rum and Coke, Chocolate and single track fun were all had. Night riding, such as we do in the 24 hour race and other similar events is a great deal of fun, the fun of riding the first single track of the year was pretty good too. Mikey had first crash of the year too, living up to his nickname (Crash).

Anyway I am about to head over to Majura Pines to meet up with whoever else chooses to be there this year in order to see in the new year riding the mountain bike. Last year no one was overly keen on the champagne so today I grabbed a bottle of coopers pale ale to share around in plastic cups while out there listening to fire works and riding single track. This is obviously my last diary entry for the year too. Fun was had, and I am sure fun will be had next year too.

[/mtb] link

Where I have been tounge twister style. - 21:25
Well, Andrew, Mikal and Michael did this create places you have visited map so I may as well also (yeah sheep that I am).


create your own visited countries map or vertaling Duits Nederlands

On another note I saw a link to this page full of tounge twisters today, who knows they may come in useful one day, possibly as something different on conference badges at linux.conf.au who knows.

[/various] link

Thu, 30 Dec 2004

Pleasant long ride today - 22:45
This morning I met up with Mikey, Richard B, Allan B, Chris N, Marea and an Audax rider named Bob to go do the mostly flat 170 KM (176 in fact) federal, collector, bredalbyn, gunning (lunch), gundaroo, federal ride again. We kept a pleasant pace (average of 28.7) for the whole ride, though some silliness happened at times (chases, hill sprints, etc). The hamburger at Gunning was good, though as Mikey pointed out, after a long time in the saddle a shit sandwich would probably go down a treat so it maybe best not to take the word of a bunch of hungry cyclists on this.

Near the end of the ride I got a call and was told my car would not be ready as early as expected, the mechanic said the engine needs to be removed, and an axle or something, and something in the gear box needed fixing as well as the clutch. The unfortunate thing is Jane will still need to return the rental car on Monday and then somehow get back to Sydney, I will then also have to collect my car from Macksville (and get up there in he first place), oh well shit happens.

I just did some grocery shopping in Dickson by bike a few minutes ago, not too bad, though I still don't like locking any of my bikes up anywhere they could be stolen, I also bought just a little bit more than I can fit in my backpack so carried one bag with bread and fruit home too. I should probably do more shopping by bike anyway, it may force me to be more careful about not buying too much or impulse buying as I have to carry it all home in one backpack.

Anyway as usual, the Friday morning mtb ride tomorrow so I should head for bed.

[/mtb] link

Wed, 29 Dec 2004

Rise and fall of societies - 22:40
A few days ago my sister suggested I read a book by Jared Diamond called "Guns, Germs and Steel" which attempts to explain why western societies have come to dominate the world. I have been reading the Tim Flannery book "The Future Eaters" which takes an even longer term view but does discuss some of the issues about resource usage various civilisations. Today I saw a link to a Malcom Gladwell review of a new Jared Diamond book "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed" which appears to take an even closer view on the same subject of why a society may or may not succeed.

I am about half way through the Future Eaters and so far it is a good read, I suspect these books by Diamond are also if my sister and Gladwell are an indication. I suppose I should add more links the the post above, for now though bed beckons once more.

[/various] link

Tue, 28 Dec 2004

Back in Canberra - 22:14
I have to say I have now found NRMA premium cover useful. On Saturday morning (yes Christmas day) as I arrived in Macksville with my sister, my car's clutch stopped working correctly. Apparently something to do with the mesh plate or some such (I have no idea about car internals), anyway needless to say I was unable to drive it back to Canberra. No mechanics would be open until Wednesday (tomorrow), Jane needed to be back in Sydney by Wednesday morning and had planned to borrow my car for a holiday over new years, I was planning to be back in Canberra. Jane has now already driven back to Sydney, so she can go to work tomorrow and then head up for a holiday afterwards.

My mother pointed out the car was covered by NRMA's premium cover, this entitled me to a rental car that would enable me to continue with whatever car usage plans I had until my own car worked again. As Jane's new years holiday plans place her up around Port Macquarie she will be able to take a detour and drop the rental car we were given off up there and get my car back once the work has been completed.

As for the rental car, I have just drive in back down to Canberra from Macksville today, 8 hours in the car. The car is a Ford Falcon Sedan automatic. A very different car to my Toyota Corolla 4wd Station Wagon. The good features are, new car (~ 9000 KM, compared to the ~ 295,000 of my car) and cruise control. I admit the cruise control was a joy for long highway stretches, I could set it and not have to worry about speeding accidentally or driving inconsistently and thus concentrate more on the traffic and conditions surrounding me. So the car was pleasant to drive, I must say however it enforces my wonder as to why anyone would buy a sedan. The damn things can't fit any gear, when there are perfectly good station wagons available the purchase of a sedan baffles me. I suppose this does bring out my reasoning for owning a car though, to me a car is simply a tool, a mechanism by which I can transport my bicycles (mtb and road) and occasionally skis or some other outdoor equipment.

Speaking of bikes, I have done hardly any riding (I had one of my mountain bikes up north with me, but did not do any big rides) in the last 4 days, something I intend to rectify in the next few days, time now for bed to further this plan for more riding.

[/various] link

Fri, 24 Dec 2004

Speakers announced - 13:34
Invited speakers appearing at linux.conf.au 2005 are Eben Moglen, Andrew Morton, Robert Love, Andrew Tridgell, Rasmus Lerdorf, Rusty Russell, and Anton Blanchard. These people and all the speakers presenting from CFP submissions are listed on our speakers page.

Many cool talks, tutorials and other stuff. Some life on lca-announce again finally with this email telling people about registrations, the speakers and prices.

[/lca] link

Thu, 23 Dec 2004

Over designing standards - 22:55
Recently at some XML conference (XML Dev Con 2004) Tim Bray from Sun spoke about standards design. After my complaints yesterday concerning complex standards this seemed somewhat appropriate. In his presentation Bray said something along the lines of "Whenever people are complaining that a standard is too simple for their application, that's a good indication that the standard is going to be a hit" (source). He was also quoted as saying "If you don't have an urgent burning requirement for things right now. You ain't going to need it. Failed standards have too much stuff in them." (source)

Both these are relevant, both to standards design and simply to programming. Do not do premature design or try to design for features you imagine you may one day want to use. Extreme Programming though of course simply another selection of tools in the programmers toolbox (and not the second coming as some people seem to think) does have some good points. One of which is the avoidance of premature design or coding for "future" features. The ACAP standards yesterday struck me as over engineered for a few basic things to attach to IMAP, using my example of the need for an address book that is accessible with your email. If an email client was to implement an address book functionality in ACAP, it would still need to decide on the format of the address book data in ACAP, and other clients would need to implement this and agree on this also.

Anyway back to the subject of conferences, Rory was covering the XML conference in an amusing manner, and at one point for example paid quite a lot of attention to the shoes worn by a speaker. The shoes a speaker wears are obviously important and must be blogged or covered in some way at conferences. For linux.conf.au we will obviously need to ensure there is online coverage of what shoes speakers are wearing. Mikal will I am sure be keen to self nominate for this task of telling the world about the speakers shoes, even uploading some photographs of their shoes maybe. Lets hope the speakers understand and do not become too freaked out by this behaviour.

[/comp/design] link

Wed, 22 Dec 2004

Why are you not a fish hatchery worker? - 21:29
As mentioned, Mikal is evil, he pointed out how funny and clever this guy (Rory Blyth) is. Yet another thing to use up some time, and damn Mikal was right, the guy is clever and funny. Anyone who says something like

It was a day like any other in 1987.

Unless you choose to differentiate it by the rows of luncheon tables covered with newspaper, plastic, large salmon, and cutting implements.

Aside from that, it was very normal.

The reason I said that "It was a day like any other" is that there's a good chance that you work at a fish hatchery or a morgue. In either case, you should be able to relate easily to the events of this story. On the outside chance that you aren't a fish hatchery worker or an embalmer of the dead, then things might seem a little strange, but let's be honest: It's your fault for choosing a profession so strange that it doesn't involve regular contact with dead fish and flesh-cutting tools.
(source)

deserves to be read, I just have to remember to go read more of the stuff this guy has written now.

[/amusing] link

ACAP for data access appears difficult - 20:50
In response to my post suggesting address book data be placed in an IMAP folder for easy access from any IMAP client. Brad pointed out the ACAP effort. Admittedly I noticed this rfc on the imap rfcs page when I glanced at it earlier, I did however ignore it as it looked complex. Now looking closer I think I was right it is complex.

About two years ago when a vulnerability in the default implementation of ASN.1 was discovered, almost every appliance or library using it was found to be vulnerable. Although many important protocols (SSL, LDAP, SNMP, etc) use ASN.1 no one had bothered reimplementing it due to the huge size and complexity of the standard. The ACAP people say their protocol is supposed to fill "niche somewhere between a full-blown directory service, a file system, and specialised single-service protocol support".

I still think it is too complex, if you think about basic rss and how much it has taken off, there is no real formal protocol or XML dtd, or anything, rss is simple to implement on both client and server end and it tends to work using standard libraries and tools. I did a CPAN search for ACAP, there was nothing remotely usable available in CPAN to speak ACAP, nor was there a Debian library (apt-cache search acap) or something to make it easier. If you have an IMAP client already however, there are a bunch of vCard libraries in CPAN and Debian, the same applies for the other stuff (email with vCard mime attachments) in Bill's suggestion for an address book in IMAP.

The other thing is I have never seen any mention of ACAP support in a feature list for an email client. (though I have not looked explicitly for this)

[/comp/email] link

RSS bandwidth usage - 19:10
Mikal is an evil man, writing a blog entry I just had to respond to (with some research and fact checking) and thus using up time... (or I suppose I could simply stop this online diary thing, after all Andrew is of the opinion (possibly accurate) that I am addicted)

Anyway Mikal wondered why the rss standard could not simply add a field suggesting blog update frequency to rss feeds. Ignoring for a moment that rss is a bit of a mess and not really standardised (with rfcs and other such stuff), this suggestion requires clients to implement it properly, and would require all the feed formats (rss 0.9, rss 1, rss 2, atom, etc) to have this sort of functionality. I generally do not trust clients to implement standards properly, and these are not even real standards.

I mentioned to Mikal a recent post I had seen somewhere like BoingBoing about how someone had implemented a nice way to cut off people gobbling too much bandwidth at the server side. A bit of a google search found the entry I recalled seeing. This keeps track of UserAgent/ip, and takes note of feeders that abuse the system (constantly re fetching data they already have, etc), to do this one would need to keep track of this data in some manner which is non trivial and can use memory or disk. Also of course people behind a corporate proxy or firewall and those on roaming proxy's such as AOL subscribers may have problems with this implementation. The implementation discussed only throttles the feeders that abuse (consume more bandwidth than they should) so people using better clients will not be hit.

I have to say I do not particularly like either of the above implementation suggestions, Mikal's suggestion due to the need for compliant implementations and the fact I don't think predicting your update frequency is worth the effort. The server side enforced limiting due to added load and complexity on the server side and due to the limitations of the method. There really is no way to solve this that I can think of that is likely to catch on. What really needs to happen is rsync in the http protocol (rproxy) needs to be adopted in http servers and http clients.

[/comp/blosxom] link

Address book storage in an IMAP folder - 17:52
Talking with Bill Clarke last night at work about IMAP issues (I was doing work on more features and stuff for our new email system at work) and he made what I thought was a pretty bloody good suggestion. One of the problems with IMAP storage of email, is though you can access your email from anywhere, you do not have an associated address book accessible from anywhere in all email clients that support IMAP.

Bill's suggestion though simple and not some sort of IMAP extension or anything, to me appears elegant and useful. Store address books in a folder in your IMAP mail storage area. I thought, that sounds neat, use some common format such as vcard attachments to emails. So the folder, could be called anything and store an email per vcard file. The email client could be told to use the IMAP folder named "whatever" to get its address book information. Now all we need is someone to write a thunderbird extension and a squirrelmail extension to do this and we will be set.

I did look around google a bit and glance through the IMAP rfcs and could not see that anyone had done anything similar yet, of course I may have missed it. David Gibson has talked about plans to make a better mail retrieval protocol than IMAP from time to time, to get around problems such as the need for tools like offlineimap (and may I note, how cool is it that this is hosted on gopher). David may have thought of some way to add useful information to his protocol, however nothing is implemented yet so who knows.

[/comp/email] link

Tue, 21 Dec 2004

Poetic Ani Sigs - 14:51
To further my point about Ani lyrics being an eminently readable form of poetry or similar, I should talk about my email signature.

From around 1996 until April 2002 my email signature was the same few lines of text

Look Up In The Sky
    Is it a bird?   No
        Is it a plane    No
            Is it a small blue banana?
Yes
Which was deliberately obscure and strange, anyway I finally got around to changing my signature in April 2002 to the following Ani Difranco quote.
You are subtle as a window pane standing in my view
but I will wait for it to rain so that I can see you
   Anticipate - Ani
Which is as you can see the opening of the song Anticipate, I love the quote, and I like the double meaning of the song title by saying "Anticipate Ani".

Not long after Sam (Reinhardt) returned to work in January 2003 after time off following the birth of Maxine (notice the Righteous Baby t-shirt <g>), Sam suggested she was bored with my signature and that I should change it. Obviously not realising my previous tendency to keep an email signature for many years. Anyway I gave it some thought at the time and decided one thing I could do is go through all of Ani's lyrics from all her albums and select at least one quote from each song or poem. Using this I could have random signatures generated from the selection of quotes.

The idea behind this was to show how good Ani's lyrics are due to the fact there is some good quotable snippet from every one of her numerous songs. Anyway I extracted the quotes (in a format that is pretty trivial to parse) and since then have not used them in my signature. I guess for now Sam will just have to put up with the fact my signature doesn't change much.

I did however I think prove the point of the exercise. Though there are a few songs I did not collect quotes from, generally due to them being too short, I did collect quotes from almost all of the approximately 180 songs released by Ani since 1990.

[/leisure/music] link

Gladwell impact, though I still wonder about marketing. - 12:32
Kottke linked to an article about Malcolm Gladwell today, discussing his impact on companies and marketing and various other areas. I have said in the past how much I enjoy Gladwell articles. The article about him today is interesting to see from the perspective of how business have been utilising his ideas. A good read, though as Hugh Macleod often points out, Branding/Marketing/Advertising etc in the forms most recognised today really are, or should be, dying out. In the fast company article there is a quote from Garry Warech of Simmons on his views of Gladwell ideas "This is great. We can operationalize this and help our clients.". Anyone who uses "operationalize" in a sentence should probably have been shot at birth...

[/various] link

Cool/Intelligent people attract Cool/Intelligent people - 11:27
This train of thought came from a post made by Robert Scoble on the subject of ipods and marketing. Scoble said "Let's take a lesson from the geek dinners. I learned that if you get three people who a lot of people want to have dinner with that you'll have a large interesting group.".

He is quite correct, this is one of the things that makes linux.conf.au such a fun and interesting conference to attend. A whole bunch of cool intelligent people rock up to speak at the conference and delegates attend because they can sit around and chat with these people (and hear them speak too, but to some extent that is secondary).

[/lca] link

Mikal is not over analysing. - 10:52
Yesterday I commented on the Ben Folds Five song Brick after seeing Mikal ask a question about how other people perceive the song. Mikal thought I may have been criticising him for over analysing the lyrics, I really wasn't. I mentioned I had not listened to the lyrics of Brick properly until after I heard Ben Folds talking about the song in interviews. I did also say some fans seem to over analyse songs, I don't think Mikal has, listening to lyrics and noticing what they are about is not the freaky analysis I was thinking of. I was thinking more of this sort of thing.

I agree with Mikal that the lyrics in songs are important and can be a form of poetry, heck this is something I constantly point out with Ani Difranco lyrics, they are a form of poetry and worth reading in their own right. I guess I was not so much commenting on Brick, or Mikal's interpretation so much on how some fans may take analysis well beyond what artists ever saw in their own music.

[/leisure/music] link

Fri, 17 Dec 2004

Registrations - 21:43
We opened linux.conf.au 2005 registrations almost exactly two days ago with out much fanfare. Our current plan is to put out a press release, announce on lca-announce and make the list of speakers live at about the same time. Already we have received around 10 registrations from delegates, about half of these have paid already (which is the point at which your place is guaranteed). I promise you will learn of all the cool speakers coming soon.

When I phrased that differently recently, saying "all the call people coming to lca", Jeremy joked, they already know the organisers will be there, so they know who the cool people will be <g>.

[/lca] link

Thu, 16 Dec 2004

P2P sharing extreme ironing in tight lycra. - 17:41
LWN had a link to The World's Smallest P2P Application today. The idea is to point out how ridiculous any attempt to ban the creation of p2p utilities would be. As the author Ed Felten points out "I wrote TinyP2P to illustrate the difficulty of regulating peer-to-peer applications. Peer-to-peer apps can be very simple, and any moderately skilled programmer can write one". Interesting idea, and who knows this may become a who can write the smallest p2p system, in what language, etc. Though the question of libraries used and complexity there may come into question, though smaller code size while remaining readable or understandable is a plus point toward a language and available libraries. (ignoring one hopes a p2p library such that one could write $p2p->new ("client"); or something)

Anyone out there who has not seen extreme ironing should check it out. I saw the link on Metafilter recently, which reminded me of the activity. I first heard about it a while ago when Jim Trail (mtb friend and ex Triple J presenter) put it on his sports page at Triple J (that is the earliest occurrence I can easily find of the extreme ironing photo in the Way Back Machine copies of the page, if interested you can look for more)

Speaking of mountain biking (yeah so I don't want to make a separate diary entry in the mtb category for this), Michael Ellerman from ozlabs wrote a while back on how he thinks it is a pity so many cyclists wear lycra. Michael wonders if many people are put of cycling due to their perception that one needs to wear lycra to ride a bike. Personally I wear cycling clothing for pretty much any ride longer than my commute to work (2KM), I do this because I find it much more comfortable to ride in than other clothing, and it means my other clothing will not be sweaty and disgusting. However many people also find tight lycra off putting, this is why clothing companies such as GroundEffect and N-ZO exist and sell so much of their loose/baggy clothing. More comfortable to ride in than cotton shorts and t-shirt and you don't look like a cyclist. Unfortunately clothing to make cycling comfortable is still all pretty expensive.

[/various] link

Wed, 15 Dec 2004

Card games new to me. - 11:28
At a bbq at Rusty and Alli's place the other day, we played some card games. I believe I have played Spoons before, however I am pretty sure the other game Warlords and Scumbags was a new one for me.

Spoons I believe I played last in 1993 sometime while at a YHA in Ireland. (a rather cool remote mountain lodge in Tipperary AFAIR), the way we played it was not entirely similar to the rules I linked to, it was however similar enough to see he basic premise. This is not so much a card game as it is a game of spoon watching. It can be entertaining, especially once you decide Rusty should be seated a few metres away so his numerous fake grabs for spoons are a little louder or more onerous or something.

The other game, Warlords and Scumbags was also rather entertaining, the way we played is pretty much as described in those rules. Once again Rusty was good at this game, the rest of us just had some fun. Oh and yeah I was going to mention that Lucy should update her blog just to increase the peer pressure Chris and others have been applying, however looking at the page I notice she already updated it.

Looking at Hugh's blog I notice he is talking about riding (and possibly buying) a greenspeed recumbent trike to make his commute to work more comfortable. Hugh wondered if the proximity to the ground with respect to less visibility from car windows would be a problem. Though it is a good idea to put a tall orange flag on the back of a trike such as this, an interesting thing to note is that often recumbents are more visible to traffic than traditional bikes due to being unusual.

[/various] link

Tue, 14 Dec 2004

Fun jerseys - 15:44

Team Six Pack full size

Team Gadget full size

Purple Pickle Peddlers full size

Astroboy full size

T-Mobile Womens Team full size
Some people did not understand my complete joy the other day when I was finally able to buy a black Maladjusted jersey. Due to this I feel the need to point out how much I like fun or unusual Jerseys to ride in.

Team Six Pack
From 1999 to 2002 Michael Carden's 24 Hour team at the Mont 24 Hour Race had a different name. 1999 Team Crash, 2000 Team Shagwell, 2001 Team Gadget, 2002 Team Six Pack. From 2000 onward they had new team clothing each year also. This is the 2002 (and 2003) team gear they wore. I was lucky enough to get an outfit even though I was not a team member.

This outfit has a few cute features, a twist top collar, the beer labels (Genuine Cold Filtered Single Track) contain the text "Established 2002" and "Contains 4.5% Av Skill Content" in small print. The side panels on the shorts are the green bubbles motif again.

Team Gadget
This of course was Mikey's 2001 24 Hour Team Jersey, once again a hell of a lot of fun to wear, the shorts have the text "Go Go Gadget" on the side panels.

Purple Pickle Peddlers
This was the jersey my 2003 24 Hour Team wore for the race. There are a few cute features. We were the Purple Pickle Peddlers (deliberate spelling) as we were to some extent jokingly trying to sell or peddle the wares of the Purple Pickle Cafe (where the cartoon character in the circle came from). There is a Pickle Me Elmo (Elmo in a jar) on the centre back pocket of the jersey. The pattern on the jersey is called pickle plate (similar to the flooring pattern) made up of a woven looking three pickle cross hatch pattern. Also the entire outfit is very purple, the shorts have pickle plate side panels.

Astroboy
Leading up to the 2003 24 Hour race Mikey and his team had decided not to get a new jersey design and once more enter as Team Six Pack, however Alan Vogt who had done the design work for the previous outfits wanted to do something special, so he quietly had about 20 Astroboy Jerseys made and a few of us lucky cyclists were able to buy one. Once more lots of fun to wear.

T-Mobile Womens
Now you may accuse me of selling out as this is the jersey of a US based road cycling team. However I would like to point out they are a womens cycling team, and irrelevant of that "HOT PINK FLAMES", how could I not want to wear this jersey.

Admittedly the Maladjusted jersey is not bright, or a cartoon, or some in joke or any of that, but hey I think it looks cool. Morgs and some of his friends have a jersey with a FreeBSD style demon on it (actually for a company DataFlow), their most recent jersey has a road sign on the back "Warning this rider may crash unexpectedly Next 17 KM" (the 2003 24 Hour course was 17 KM), which is also very cool.

I wish to some extent that someone made a Tux jersey. Currently the jerseys I wish I could own but really can not justify paying money for are SpongeBob and the Cookie Monster jerseys. Truly it seems as if that company is the only one to make really cool jerseys.

[/mtb/gear] link

A tad damp - 12:20
As Andrew noted, we have had some rain recently, which is a good thing. Yesterday we had a slightly less common occurrence of heavy rain. The red patches just leaving Canberra on the map to the left indicate the heaviest rain the BoM radar images display, it is rare even when raining heavily for there to be red patches on the map.

full size
I took the photo on the left looking out the front door of DCS (where I work) about 5 minutes before the radar image, so while the red dot was centred directly over us. It was neat we could have built little snow men with the hail for a while after this hail fell.

[/various] link

Mon, 13 Dec 2004

Recumbent couch. - 11:47
Recently I linked to a company making automobile beds and couches. Today on Metafilter I found a link to a Couch Bike. How cool is that, so sure you can not mountain bike on recumbents, or for that matter on a bike that wide, but who cares, I want one, riding a couch around looks like fun (though probably far less comfortable than a traditional recumbent for various reasons). As the site says "In 2002, two intrepid cyclists rode a human powered couch through Maritime Canada.", yet another interesting way to bike tour Canadia.

[/mtb] link

Fri, 10 Dec 2004

Smart people working, may play dumb for telemarketers, probably will not wear redneck head coverings, and may see strange squirrel behaviour - 15:24
From BoingBoing yesterday there was a link to this study of how creative people work. I think someone should get something from Tridge to put there. What is there already is pretty cool such as Stephen Fry, Neil Gaiman, William Gibson and others.

On receiving a phone call from a telemarketer this guy played dumb, definitely a good performance. It reminds me of something I have been told my father once did. When Mormons knocked on the door, he let them in, listened to them for about an hour, then said, Right my turn, and started explaining English literature ideals or something to them in great detail. The guy I link to above is someone named Paul Davidson, he has a book Consumer Joe: Harassing Corporate America that appears to be pretty cool, he wrote letters to American companies with weird or nonsensical requests and suggestions, and reprints 100 of the letters and the responses he received. Sounds amusing, I wonder if I should get a copy for my cousin Jackson. (Jackson once wrote to the Australian Prime Minister suggesting they get cop cars to be disguised as taxis just to see the sort of response he would get from the Prime Minister's office.)

I mentioned to Dave and Alex this morning that I saw this Common Redneck Head Coverings poster online yesterday. Apparently the US DoJ released some posters on "Common Muslim American Head Coverings" and "Common Sikh American Head Coverings" (source). So someone realised a red neck warning poster may be needed to give to shop keepers in South Asian Rural Areas.

One of the guys I ride with, Dave Morgan (Morgs) has a flatmate, Cath, who I swear must overdose on red cordial on a daily basis. Listening to her speak in an excited manner can be a mind altering experience at times. Anyway I saw this entry in a blog with the author discussing their interpretation of the thought patterns of a squirrel outside their office.

You can't see me! I'm brown and I'm flat. And so is this branch. I'll blend right into the branch and she won't even know I'm here. Never mind my two beady little eyes that she can feel staring at her or my huge orange bushy tail that I couldn't stop wiggling to save my life!!

If I did not know better I would swear Cath said that about squirrel thought patterns.

[/various] link

Thu, 09 Dec 2004

More cool print jobs, and talking about emus with Americans. - 11:59
The capability to print circuit boards sounded cool, however there are other even better uses of printers if this research on printing body parts pans out. I lost a bit of skin, got another possibly impressive scab and bruised my ribs in a crash on the bike path near work yesterday, however it will be a few years before I can power up the printer at work and fix myself up this way. Sounds cool though.

Michael suggests one way to distinguish Australian's from Americans is to ask them to pronounce "emu". Is it just me or do the majority of conversations with Americans not present ample opportunity to talk about Emus? Of course it may be fun to work Emu's into every conversation with an American, after all what more fascinating topic is there but that of flightless Australian avian fauna. <g>

[/various] link

Wed, 08 Dec 2004

Now I can be Maladjusted Black. - 16:56

full size


full size

The first time I saw Mal riding around in a black Maladjusted jersey I was envious, I thought the black jersey rocked and wanted one of my own. Mal had sold all the black Jerseys though, and I was not particularly interested in a yellow, white or red Maladjusted jersey. Since that day around 3 years ago I have constantly pestered Mal to order more Black jerseys (yes I know I am obsessive compulsive...).

Mal's order of jerseys that included black was around 4.5 years ago, he again ordered jerseys from a different supplier about 1.5 years ago, a yellow example of which is pictured left. Apart from the fact none of these were black I prefer to use traditional cycling jerseys with three back pockets made from a shiny material.

Due to the above, I am sure you can understand how incredibly happy I am that Mal ordered and received more jerseys, once again made by hot designs so I know I am comfortable in the cut and fabric and this time there are black jerseys. Woohoo I know own a black Maladjusted jersey. Obviously small things to amuse small minds and all that applies here <g>.

[/mtb/gear] link

Tue, 07 Dec 2004

What other encylcopaedia is this up on pop culture. - 12:13
There has been much discussion in the online media recently about WikiPedia, kind of a battle between this encyclopaedia created by those who show up and the more traditional sort of encyclopaedia. It could almost be seen as an open source encyclopaedia vs a traditional closed source encyclopaedia if you look at it from a geek perspective.

Chris, Rusty, and Martin got into the discussion (Martin links to some other perspectives on the WikiPedia discussions). Thinking about the "Can WikiPedia be trusted?" question is to some extent pointless in my opinion, it is just another information source, all sources should be checked and taken with some amount of salt when you use them (what you use them for will also allow you to choose how much you want to rely on any one or any collection of sources).

I do however think WikiPedia is fantastic! It evolves fast, corrections often appear with in minutes, sure it may have inaccuracies but there is also a lot of cool stuff there. WikiPedia already has a large entry on the 2004 US Presidential Elections heck it even has the 2004 Australian Federal Election which generated a lot less global media and public attention. That however is all quite boring and dry, WikiPedia also contains modern pop culture references, and I have to say, would any other encyclopaedia have an entry about the Underpants Gnomes.

[/various] link

Mon, 06 Dec 2004

CORC XC Race photos. - 15:20
I have uploaded a bunch of photos I took at the CORC XC race yesterday. I only put 100 of the photos I took online, but that is a fair number still.

I took the photos with Russ Baker's Cannon EOS 300 camera as I had left my Canon Powershot A60 at home, I must say, the EOS 300 is a damn fine camera, I was not able to sneak away with it without Russ noticing, alas.

[/mtb/events] link

Fri, 03 Dec 2004

Drive your bed or bathroom. - 17:49
You can hire a chauffeured 4 poster bed for tours of London. The company Cummfy Banana designed and built a street legal 4 poster bed, along with a motorised bathroom, a sofa and a host of racing vehicles that remind me of the Wacky Races cartoon.

Is it just me or does anyone else now want to drive a couch or bed to Sydney or some where. I wonder what sort of bicycle mounting mechanisms could be attached.

[/various] link

Speaker acks - 11:01
We sent the speaker invites out at the beginning of the week. It is very cool to see their ACK's for speaking at lca come back. As Anand said, this is one of the milestones, we have a whole bunch of very cool people who have agreed to speak now.

[/lca] link

Thu, 02 Dec 2004

BCG does reviews. - 17:55
Cool, Martin has another website, Big Cool Guy, he even does some album reviews. I imagine this site may have come about in a similar fashion in the ozlabs office to the Where is Anton site. (some fun in the office generating another website), I suppose I could ask one of them to find out for sure, but that may spoil the fun.

People wondering about the BCG thing may be enlightened somewhat by looking at one of Martin's old business cards, possibly not as much fun as Rusty's Kernel Hocker (instead of Hacker) cards at ltc, as BCG was deliberate rather than an accident.

[/various] link

Must remember to comment on this - 17:43
gapingvoid has mention of a A list of reasons from 36 bloggers discussing the question "Why Do We Blog?". Responses came from a number of somewhat prolific blog writers. Definitely interesting reading, and I want to comment on a bunch of the stuff in there for the heck of it, maybe I will have time tomorrow.

Preparing for an lca meeting tonight, and I have to fix a puncture on my mtb. A pinch flat gained, during the lunch time mtb ride, while trying to ride up a set of steps I have not previously ascended. I guess I need to practice, and remember these points.

[/various] link

Wed, 01 Dec 2004

Any point to these entries or some form of addiction? - 14:26
During November I made a point of making at least one diary entry on every work day. Basically just for the heck of it (and I thought my October calendar looked a bit empty). I do not know if I will continue with this, if this strange habit continues Mikal can probably go and label me an online diary addict.

[/various] link

Full tour coverage! or how will I ever survive July? - 14:10
As pointed out by Allan, SBS have just announced they will show the Tour de France live from next year onward. Since 1991 SBS have aired a half hour highlights package each night of the tour, with their new agreement they will also have the live coverage on late at night. Cycling news also have coverage of the SBS announcement.

I shudder to think how I will live through July next year, I tend to watch maybe 1 hour of tv a fortnight most of the year. The exception is during July when, since 1992 (second year of Indurain's reign), I have avidly watched the Tour highlights package every day and in the past few years also watched the 2 or 3 live stages aired by SBS.

If this is not a good reason to get a Tivo, set up a MythTV or some other form of PVR I don't know what is.

[/mtb] link

New mtb computer, new road rear light - 14:01
I picked the warranty replacements for the Cateye items I had fail today. One cycle computer as previously mentioned and one extremely bright flashing red rear light for my road bike (Cateye TL-LD600-BRR). I use this rear light on the road bike as it is one of the brightest tail lights you can buy, and cars are dangerous to cyclists.

Anyway the computer has the option to set the odometer distance to whatever it was previously set to (say before a battery change or replacing a bike computer), I admit it is temping to reset it to 10,377 KM as my broken computer had hit, however it kind of feels like cheating, I feel I need to put in the hard yards and get the computer past 10,000 again the proper way, which is probably what I will do.

[/mtb/gear] link

Tue, 30 Nov 2004

Bad movie variations - 11:32
Both of these spotted on Meta Filter today. A page titled Variations, the designer said they made these images up for fun, definitely interesting to see the differing design elements and such contained within.

My sister will probably love this site, Bad Movies containing as you can guess, reviews, with video and sound bytes and pictures of apocryphal movies. The complete list of reviewed movies is also there.

[/various] link

Mon, 29 Nov 2004

'Tis the season to decorate a bike. - 20:53

full size
Last year for the Tuesday morning lap of Cotter/Uriarra immediately before Christmas, I applied tinsel and disco balls to my road bike as pictured to the left. It is not a wonder no one felt safe riding near me that day when you consider the front wheel decorations. I wonder what I should do to the bikes this year.

[/mtb] link

Fri, 26 Nov 2004

World city photos and plush toys - 19:42
A resource that could be rather cool/useful, World City Photo Archive collects photos of cities all over the world, have a look, kind of cool.

On the scary plush toys front, one can find plush toast or stranger yet plush toy tampons, both items and others on the site have eyes. I am sure all children want a plush toy tampon with eyes staring back at them...

[/various] link

2004 Triple Triathlon - 11:32
The Triple Triathlon is held every year in Canberra, the event consists of three off road triathlons back to back spread all over Canberra. Starting at 06:00am for teams or 05:30am for soloists in Lake Ginnenderra in Belconnen and finishing around 8h30m later for the fastest teams and 15 or so hours later for the slower competitors. Arguably far more challenging mentally and physically than an iron man triathlon (more transitions, mountain biking and mountain running, etc) for the solo entrant, summiting 10 of the higher trig points around Canberra and on the whole a fantastic day out.

I enjoy doing all three bike legs in a team, in 2002 I did three bike legs in a team of 6 (thus in the team of 9 mixed category), last year I was in a team of three men. This year I again competed in a team of three, our team did pretty well, and had a fun day out there, finishing in 10h11m we were reasonably fast too. I have uploaded a report with photos from the day of our team and other competitors. Lots of fun for everyone involved, even the solo competitors out there for over 10 hours enjoy the race.

[/mtb/events] link

Thu, 25 Nov 2004

The theory of N+1 - 18:22
No this is not a computing or computer science entry, this is about bikes, though computer geeks will probably understand the need, however they focus more on the latest shiny computer hardware and toys.

Cyclists understand the lust for new gear of the cycling type. The N+1 theory is based on this. At any given time the number of bikes you wish to own is N+1 where N is the number of bikes you currently own. Using myself as an example I own three bikes, one dual suspension mountain bike, one alloy hardtail (I specifically say alloy hardtail as I prefer steel as a frame material, however I bent my steel hardtail in a crash in January and due to good steel mtb frames being hard to find I have not replaced it yet) and a steel road bike (the one on the left upon which I am leaning).

Any member of the non cycling public will probably think three is far more than needed, any cyclist will understand why I obviously need many more than three. What I would like to do is get another good hardtail (ti) or (steel) frame, use that as my second mtb. Then build the black aluminium frame into a bastardised road bike (26" mtb wheels with thin slicks, drop bars, v-brakes, triple chainring with a 50 tooth big ring). The biggest problem is that the bastardised road bike would have an alloy frame, but hey it would still be useful, for long rides on unsurfaced roads in the middle of nowhere. (for which Richard has recently purchased a Surly Crosscheck frame built up as a touring bike. (making us all jealous)), so this bastardised road bike would be good to ride on road rides regularly as it is tougher and stops faster, though for long rides on bitumen or when I need to go fast, on the road, my road bike may still be preferable.

Of course there are other bikes I would like and use, such as a singlespeed (though by preference, put together from parts with an old steel frame picked up second hand), a longer travel more downhill style duallie so I can ride off things or down things without worrying so much about breaking the bike (though with a bike like that maybe I should worry about breaking myself more). This is of course just a few thoughts, being an avid cyclist I am sure I can think up more bikes I would want to own. Mal Bennett (owner of the Maladjusted bike shop in Canberra) for example has around 12 to 15 bikes at any given time, I suspect the only reason he owns a bike shop is to make his bike habit cheaper. Strangely all the new models of good bikes that come in, they come in in Mal's size first. Ahhh toys.

[/mtb/gear] link

Wed, 24 Nov 2004

Some random title - 19:35
Scanned from yesterday's "The Canberra Times", I found this amusing.

Seeing as it is my birthday today maybe I should not be at work until after 8pm, writing up my triple tri report and finishing some changes to code that imports data daily before the import tomorrow morning. I would implement the change a different way by choice but for now Bob requested it this way.

[/amusing] link

Tue, 23 Nov 2004

Break at 10,000 - 18:08
The cycle computer on my mountain bike (Cateye Enduro 8) that I swap between the two mountain bikes recently clicked over 10,000 KM. My KM count is a bit down from he previous 10,000 as I bought this computer around July 2003, it did not pass 10,000 until november this year. I am obviously doing too much road riding, my road bike computer passed my mtb computer for the first time ever recently.

Anyway my previous mtb computer reset to zero KM when you hit 10,000 KM, which IMO is a stupid feature as I don't want to have my odometer read 0 every year or so. That computer also didn't handle wet weather too well so I bought the Enduro 8 as in theory it was tougher and more suited to mountain biking, it also had dual trip distance which is useful in navigation events where you pay attention to the distance to or from turns and other features on the map.

During the Triple Tri on Sunday I found I was unable to switch modes, the main button on the computer had failed. It appears mtb computers just don't like going past 10,000 on my bikes. The manufacturer has been kind enough to warranty this computer so I should receive a new one in a few days.

[/mtb/gear] link

Don't let these people navigate - 17:41
Some people started a Fools World Map, based on the queries such as a Texan asking "How many hours does it take to drive to Japan by car?" or those people who wonder if they can walk to Perth from Sydney (well sure they "can").

[/amusing] link

Failure just outside warranty. - 13:14
The 17" LCD monitor (pdf) on my desk at home didn't work last night, nothing happened when I clicked the on switch. The panel had a 3 year warranty, note the past tense, purchase date was 2001-11-15, 8 days after the warranty expired the monitor stops working. Work purchased this panel fairly early on in our move to LCD everywhere, lets just hope all the LCD's at work do not fail so perfectly just out of warranty <g>.

[/comp/hardware] link

Mon, 22 Nov 2004

More instructions - 21:51
In the vein of those oh so important product warning labels (eg, on a packet of nuts "warning: contains nuts"). Tonight I had a dinner at Tilleys with some of my friends, celebrating my impending birthday. Rebecca and Ben gave me a coffee grinder (very cool, now I have to decide if I want to keep it at home or work). The instructions with the grinder include the helpful suggestion "3. The coffee mill cannot be switched on until the cover has been places.". This brings to mind the travelling gnomes, you may not use your coffee grinder before the cover has been on a world tour.

[/amusing] link

Grow a beard or exercise, or something. - 18:06
The World Beard and Moustache Championships will be held in Berlin next year, also you can buy a documentary dvd from the last world championships in 2003.

So not everyone does as much exercise as I do, it makes me happy to see people realise how positive it can be though.

Heh, Shrub just cant get it right.

Ok so I may be posting stuff just to keep the November diary entry count up there, but I was amused by all of the above, or pleased, or whatever. I also notice I need to add more categories here, I am writing entries in the various category a lot.

[/various] link

Sat, 20 Nov 2004

Tricks of the trade - 21:58
Matthew Baldwin in his blog defective yeti (that is a cool domain name) mentioned an article he wrote about "Tricks of the trade". The opening spiel is "For every occupation, there is a catalog of secrets only its employees are aware of -- such as how waiters with heavy platters know to look straight ahead, and never down." (apparently this article was big in the world of blogs when it appeared so you may have seen it already).

This is kind of cool, such as

Nurse
Patients will occasionally pretend to be unconscious. A surefire way to find them out is to pick up their hand, hold it above their face, and let go. If they smack themselves, they're most likely unconscious; if not, they're faking.

I wonder how many people tested this out on their heavy sleeping partners?

Or a particularly sneaky one that requires knowledge of the trick and some skill

Piano Salesman
If you see a potential customer eyeing a piano, estimate their age and calculate what year it was when they were 18 years old. Play a big hit from that year on the piano they're looking at. With a lot of preparation and a little luck, you might play the exact song they were listening to when they lost their virginity, got married, or drove their first car. The emotional resonance will overcome sales resistance and even open their wallets to a more expensive piano.

Baldwin started a website collecting more of the tricks and adding new tricks daily. Of course as these may be based on urban legend or inaccurate information they should be taken with a grain of salt such as this tip for models and the accompanying link Baldwin put there pointing out the fallacy.

Time now for bed as I have to leave the house around 5:30am tomorrow in order to get to the start of the triple triathlon in which I am competing (mentioned previously).

[/various] link

Living in a purple world - 14:26
Anil Dash, in his blog, responding to a suggestion that purple replacing red is bad, comments "it makes me think how much cooler life could be if we'd just recolor everything purple.". I agree wholeheartedly, purple is cool, however not many people who know me would be particularly surprised about my stance.

[/various] link

Fri, 19 Nov 2004

What to do with a domain? - 16:56
In an attempt to segue towards the title, I should talk about nicknames. As far as I recall I have never collected a large number of nicknames, to some extent this is due to my name. My mother chose my name "Steven" deliberately, as a teacher she had seen a lot of carrying on by students making fun of names. To some extent my name was chosen as one that was difficult to make nicknames of. The two nicknames I can think of that I have acquired and have sort of stuck are "Bender", and "Deve, or Devo".

Bender is kind of new, it is related to mtb riding, In January this year I had a crash on my mtb and in the crash as well as writing off another helmet and acquiring some impressive scars (heck women dig scars don't they?) I bent my steel mtb frame beyond easy repair. From this point onward many of my mtb riding friends have called me Bender. I have lived up to this to some extent, on one of my mountain bikes I now have a bendy bender figure (the Futurama character).

My older nickname of Deve, Devo or Stevo the Devo has obvious origins, simply put it is one of the few nicknames that obviously rhymes or works with my name. My cousin Jackson, some of his friends and some of my cycling friends from around 1994 or 1995 were in the habit of using this nickname often. To some extent it may also amuse them due to the fact I probably do not display many deviant sort of behavioural quirks often.

Anyway the reason I bothered explaining all of this was for a while I wondered about getting the domain "thedevo.net" simply so I could send email to my cousin using the address "stevo@thedevo.net". Eventually I thought what the heck, domains are USD $8 per year I may as well grab it. Now as the proud owner of thedevo.net I have absolutely no idea what else to do with another domain. Sure I can send Jackson some email, but I am sure the novelty will wear off after approximately 1 email. As it is I don't really use svana.org that much, in so far as I do everything I need or want to with it and have no time or inclination to do some big web site development or anything. So anyone have suggestions as to what I could do with the domain apart from leaving it as blank as it currently is?

[/various] link

Thu, 18 Nov 2004

Bug fix in cache_timestamps - 13:33
The cache_timestamps module I wrote (and mentioned earlier) had a bug, when you removed diary entries or moved them around it kept the reference to the old location in the cache and displayed it (with no content in the entry). This has been fixed. New version is available

[/comp/blosxom] link

Jump the shark - 12:16
A BoingBoing post today, discussing the rather ill advised addition of more advertising in the face of viewers by TiVo, used the term Jump the Shark. Strangely I had only heard of this term about two weeks ago when in a phone conversation with my sister she told me about it and that she and her friends were using it a lot in their tv viewing.

I googled for the term and found much to my surprise it has seen quite wide spread dispersion into Internet and even non Internet modern culture. Much to my surprise "Jump the Shark" has been in use for quite a long period.

Coined by Jon Hein at the University of Michigan back in the '80s, it refers to the moment when something -- particularly a TV series -- peaks and begins to go downhill into self-parody and decay. It originally referred to the "Happy Days" episode in which Fonzie literally tried to jump a shark in a daredevil water-skiing stunt.
(source)

It is easy to see this applied to many TV shows, however as the BoingBoing entry has done, it is now used outside fandom. Yet another secret inside joke that members of the correct Internet vernacular club will understand and be amused by.

[/various] link

Teenage hookups, empowering women or not? - 09:26
Danah had a link to an NY Times article in a blog entry back in June. The article discusses a phenomenon of teenagers engaging in initimate encounters among friend ship groups or from Internet meetings outside of a relationship style framework. There are a lot of themes in this article that could be discussed along various lines. Danah, in her blog entry wonders, if the women taking the initiative in these encounters with protection and such will further empower them in their life choices, also the experience of these encounters may give people a more balanced opinion of marriage, more as a contract between two people than some hormone induced fantasy of love.

The comments by Danah and others on this entry fortunately go a bit deeper. The article implies the women really do not get as much out of this phenomenon as the guys, it does appear somewhat unbalanced from reading the article. Personally I did not even realise this sort of behaviour had arisen, it is interesting to read that a similar behavioural pattern was emerging in the USA before world war 2. There are obvious advantages, experimentation in emerging sexuality without emotional entanglement (thus being able to keep those things separate in your mind) and thus enabling more informed clearer minded evaluation of relationships and sexual behaviour as you grow older. However I can not get past how unbalanced the hookups seem to be in favour of the guys, it does not seem fair, of course some commentators pointed out that this is still in a male centric/focused society so it may indeed be an advancement viewed in certain contexts.

The article ends with a discussion of first base, etc which when you think about it brings a whole new and quite disturbing interpretation of the saying All your base are belong to us (AYB at Wikipedia)

Oh and on the subject of making blog posts from unusual places I am writing this while sitting in my GP's office awaiting an unexpected consultation after going in to find out what my HBA1C is after my last blood tests.

[/various] link

Wed, 17 Nov 2004

Almost live - 11:10
Our calendar suggests lca registrations will open soon. I had not seen much traffic on the list from the crew on this, so I checked to ensure we were close to schedule. The good news is the CommSecure merchant banking stuff has been arranged by LA and the crew working on the changes we need for the rego system will have something for us to test tomorrow. This means we should be able to start taking registrations at the end of the month.

[/lca] link

Tue, 16 Nov 2004

Check in with your family - 23:13
Sitting on the couch at my mother's place after dinner (the food from the Blue Elephant was good), mum and Jane watching some tv, I am reading stuff online.

A few days ago I realised a blog I stumbled across about two weeks previously belongs to Danah of the Ani Difranco Lyrics web site. Damn does this person rock. In my view this is one of the most useful resources online, simply because all my Ani albums are at home, if I want to read some Ani lyrics and I am not at home this site solves the problem. True to most people this may not be such an important feature of a website, but hey all of those who know me know I tend to be somewhat a fan of Ani's work. (and if you do not know me I am surprised you are even reading this <g>)

I am impressed to learn that Danah has been keeping an online diary or blog for 7 years, that is an eternity in the "blogsphere" (yeah I don't like that term), possibly even longer than Alan Cox (in Welsh now days so read the English translation if you find the Welsh challenging) has been maintaining his. Danah suggests in one entry that we should check in with our families from time to time, so I looked up from the laptop, waved, noticed they were discussing Australian Idol (it was on Rove at the time) so I checked out immediately.

[/various] link

From what weird places do you blog? - 18:57
Sitting in my car in Braddon currently, listening to Ani, waiting for a take away food order. My sister is in town for a week (due in part to finishing her honours and in part to my birthday next week), staying at my mother's place, they invited me over for dinner. This is a change from being at work until around 8pm. Probably a good thing too <g>

I ordered Indian at the Blue Elephant restaurant in Braddon, I admit that though I enjoy Indian, I do not know of any really good Indian restaurants in Canberra, I hope this will be a positive dining experience, anyone have other suggestions in case it isn't? Heck I know more good places to eat in Sydney and I didn't even like living in Sydney.

[/various] link

Genealogy of ideas - 10:53
Another article by Malcolm Gladwell, this discussing the origins of ideas and where to draw the line between simple obvious ideas anyone could have and ideas that are copyright-able due to complexity or combination.

In reality the article is mostly about a case of a playwright using quotes from an older Gladwell article and not acknowledging the source publicly. However it does present some interesting viewpoints. Everyone when thinking of new stuff builds on prior knowledge, this is why we have libraries and why we read and learn in the first place.

[/comp/ip] link

Mon, 15 Nov 2004

'Twas indeed a mud fest. - 18:26
As I Suspected may be the case, the 2004 Gravity 12 hour race was a mud fest. I put a few words and a whole lot of photos online.

[/mtb/events] link

Fri, 12 Nov 2004

TV Nation and perceptions of charisma - 12:22
Paul Graham has two new essays up since the last one I commented on. The most recent of of these essays points out, since the introduction of widespread television around 1960, every presidential election in the US has been won by the candidate perceived to be the most charismatic, irrelevant of politics. As Paul noticed this can to some extent be attributed to the fact that taking policies and other such things into account the two parties are incredibly similar, so charisma may as well be used as a differentiator in the minds of the voters as anything else.

There may be something in this theory, perception of charisma by the voting public, encouraged by TV. Michael Moore suggested in his book Dude, Where's My Country? that Oprah would make a good presidential candidate. Some polls appear to support this notion strongly. Interestingly I also note two recent popular TV or Movie presidents, Jed Bartlett in The West Wing played by Martin Sheen and Andrew Shepherd in The American President played by Michael Douglas both fit the charismatic persona well and have proven popular with the US viewing public.

I wonder, does the Democratic party simply need to find their own presidential version of Robin Williams?

[/various] link

Thu, 11 Nov 2004

I missed Pratchett - 09:08
Damn, I learned late last night while reading Planet SLUG that Terry Pratchett is in Australia on a Signing Tour and was on Campus at ANU for about 3 hours yesterday. I work a few hundred meters from where he was doing appearances and signing books and such and missed out. I really wish the uni had given us notice about this somehow. I still plan to buy the new book, I simply missed out on the chance to meet the author, alas.

[/various] link

Wed, 10 Nov 2004

Print me a cpu - 14:26
Maybe the title of this post is not entirely accurate, however arstechnica has an article about Epson using inkjet technology to print thin multi layer circuit boards. So sure you can not exactly print out a modern computer cpu, and as the article points out, the boards printed this way are fragile so hobbyists would have difficulty mounting them and attaching components. Still a cool application of technology and it definitely has uses.

[/comp] link

Bad food and bible belt hypocrisy - 12:37

Some schools have good cafeteria food

A times article about a secondary school in France in which the cafeteria food is cooked by a top flight chef sounds good. Apparently the chef who has previously worked in some of France's more prestigious restaurants decided he preferred working in the school environment and so far has been quite successful in convincing students to eat real food rather than MacDonald's or similar.

Why wouldn't we all be somewhat jealous of the students, cheap good food at school. At the university I work the university union provided food is easily defined by two parameters. 1. Usually low quality/unappetising and 2. Expensive. There are fortunately exceptions, such as the Purple Pickle, though it is not a union supported cafe. The University union in theory can operate their eateries cheaper due to lower rent and other overheads all of which are provided by the University, they also supposedly should provide cheaper food for the students than they are able to purchase from eateries in the nearby city centre or other nearby shops. Neither of these are true.

Bible belt divorce

Julis Schorzman in his blog brought to my attention the divorce rate statistics from the last US census. He points out a Boston Globe item "that shows the hypocrisy of the Bible Belt lecturing the rest of the country about the sanctity of marriage.", I am not particularly surprised to see this data, Bible belt residents often do not appear to have a good understanding of reality.

[/various] link

Software patents, branding and broken revenue models - 12:12
Hugh Macleod of Gapingvoid wrote again why Branding is dead, a lot of the points he makes tie in to other problems with big companies in the modern era. How these companies want to hold on to the old way of doing things and don't seem interested in trying new ways of making money that would be less offensive to their customers throughout the world. The problem for these companies is that they lose out in the end trying to hang on to dying revenue models. One point in particular caught my attention, "4. "Branding" is backwards looking. It's all about capturing past associations. It's never about what the business could become, but protecting what came before." as this is at the centre of how companies seem to want to do all their business. Patents (notably software patents) are another similar backward looking mechanism that is broken in the current application of them. More of the points on branding being dead and are provided by Cory at boingboing, and though I have not read it this wired article on the subject is recommended.

[/comp/ip] link

Tue, 09 Nov 2004

Was the US Election a Halo movie? - 15:24
Anyone reading the online coverage of the recent US election or reading blogs discussing it is likely to have seen the large US maps with red or blue states.

Irrelevant of the outcome or any issues associated to how messed up the US voting and election system is one amusing thought has just occurred to me.

The red vs blue videos available online and in other places are a a different take on "red vs blue". These videos are recordings of the game Halo with commentary added by the creators of the videos. Many people find the videos amusing, I wonder in what way we can attribute these qualities to the recent US election with all the talk of "red vs blue".

[/various] link

Mon, 08 Nov 2004

We have the linux.conf.au domain back - 12:08
Woohoo. Ready for the conference in April we now have the conference domain delegated to us once more. As Pia would say. Rock on linux.conf.au.

[/lca] link

Fri, 05 Nov 2004

This could be a mud fest - 11:51
I am about to drive down to the Beechworth/Yackandandah/Myrtleford area of Victoria for the 2004 Gravity 12 Hour mtb race. I previously mentioned I was competing in this event, I also competed last year. The weather last year was hot and I dehydrated, it appears that may not be a problem this year. It is raining in Canberra right now, and also raining in the Victorian alpine regions around the race site. Oh well I am sure I will have fun irrelevant of how the weather turns out.

[/mtb/events] link

Thu, 04 Nov 2004

Small delay in some programme data - 22:42
One outcome of the meeting tonight was we will have a delay of around 2 weeks after opening registrations before we put CFP related program data onto the lca website. Currently we are on track to open conference registrations on or around November 16 still. However we probably will not put the speakers online until the end of the month.

A press release with conference registration opening and our list of invited speakers may be a god thing soon, simply to get the word out there about the conference a bit more. There is one group of people running a conference in Australia soon claiming to be running the first "Open Source Developer's Conference", personally my view is they are smaller and focused differently to lca. However some lca crew members and various other people expressed some concern about claims along the lines of "first", considering CALU was held in Melbourne in 1999 they may have a point.

[/lca] link

Wed, 03 Nov 2004

Frodo shaves like a man - 18:16
A bunch of pictures on somethingawful based around the premise of literal movie titles where the title of the movie is based on the promotional poster. My favourites would have to be "Frodo shaves like a man", "Oh shit my car is on fire", "HELP we are being napalmed by x-wings", "Cough". Who am I kidding a like a whole bunch of them. Unlike lots of other content on this site these are not even particularly offensive.

The article I linked to today and yesterday authored by Malcolm Gladwell is from an archive of articles by this author I intended to read. I found a link to his archive of articles a few weeks ago and many of them promised to be interesting. The reason I correlated the article, author and archive link in my head is I read another article by Gladwell, this on perception of trauma in modern society by individuals.

[/various] link

10 things the Chinese do better - 16:29
I have not been to China, so do not know how accurate this is, also the list is in relation to Canada, however it seems to apply to any Western society reasonably. I found a link to this list of 10 things the Chinese do far better than western society. Interesting to think about the points raised. However one should keep in mind many of the things done far worse (Human Rights, Public freedom of thought and voice, etc)

[/various] link

Safety, computer security and mountain bike skills - 12:49
Yesterday I pointed out an article about car safety and perception referencing SUV buyers. This deserves more comment as it ties in to general perception of safety and security in society, and in computer security, also there are aspects that relate to mountain bike riding. Of course my noticing the relations to my areas of interest is not coincidental, using the butterfly principle anyone may be able to tie this article to their personal interests.

In relation to safety and security in general and in the computer world, the quote "what has happened to the automobile world: feeling safe has become more important than actually being safe." applies far more widely today than simply in the car industry. Bruce Schneier has often spoken on how the perception of good security is far more important today than actually being secure and that the two goals are too often disparate.

(small cars) ... are safe because they make their drivers feel unsafe. S.U.V.s are unsafe because they make their drivers feel safe. That feeling of safety isn't the solution; it's the problem.
There are many more quotes in this article that tie in well to the safety in society in general angle, I suggest reading the article.

As for a mountain bike tie in, the article brings up issues about good control of a car making you safer which can definitely be tied into riding and mountain biking.

Safety, for most automotive consumers, has to do with the notion that they aren't in complete control," Popiel says. "There are unexpected events that at any moment in time can come out and impact them--an oil patch up ahead, an eighteen-wheeler turning over, something falling down. People feel that the elements of the world out of their control are the ones that are going to cause them distress."

Of course, those things really aren't outside a driver's control: an alert driver, in the right kind of vehicle, can navigate the oil patch, avoid the truck, and swerve around the thing that's falling down.

In mountain bike riding the more familiar with the bike, the trail and with riding and bike handling in general the less likely you are to crash or have problems of a similar nature and the more able you are to navigate the unknown.

Learned helplessness and the legal practice of (attempting) to sue someone else for bad things that happen to you is prevalent in modern society. (such as lack of accepting personal responsibility)

We live in an age, after all, that is strangely fixated on the idea of helplessness: we're fascinated by hurricanes and terrorist acts and epidemics like sars--situations in which we feel powerless to affect our own destiny. In fact, the risks posed to life and limb by forces outside our control are dwarfed by the factors we can control. Our fixation with helplessness distorts our perceptions of risk.
...
this is what people worry about when they worry about safety--not risks, however commonplace, involving their own behaviour but risks, however rare, involving some unexpected event.
Injuries happen when riding a mountain bike, in reality you are participating in a high risk sport, when involved in an accident it may simply be bad luck, or attempting something you do not have sufficient skill to ride. If you hurt yourself, too bad. Land managers are worried about letting people ride on their land, especially if there are challenging/technical obstacles available on the land. If someone injures themselves riding on the obstacles, the land managers are fearful of being sued by an injured rider unable to take personal responsibility that it was their choice to attempt the obstacle.
Our fixation with helplessness distorts our perceptions of risk. "When you feel safe, you can be passive," Rapaille says of the fundamental appeal of the S.U.V. "Safe means I can sleep. I can give up control. I can relax. I can take off my shoes. I can listen to music."

For years, we've all made fun of the middle-aged man who suddenly trades in his sedate family sedan for a shiny red sports car. That's called a midlife crisis. But at least it involves some degree of engagement with the act of driving. The man who gives up his sedate family sedan for an S.U.V. is saying something far more troubling--that he finds the demands of the road to be overwhelming.

I can not imagine how anyone could feel relaxed driving a car. I have commented on this previously, I find driving mentally draining and not an enjoyable activity. I am after all in control of a 1 or 2 tonne chunk of metal moving at non trivial speeds. If I am relaxed about this scenario I would wonder if I should really be allowed to drive.

If people going through their mid life crisis are likely to become safer road users, or even take up mountain biking, more power to them and bring on the mid life crisis.

[/various] link

Tue, 02 Nov 2004

Car executives amazed that anyone would buy a SUV - 21:05
In Dan's Data letter column #129 there was a link to this article.

About how the SUV is so popular and incredibly unsafe to drive, yet people's perceptions say otherwise and thus they sell well, strange and scary yet kind of amusing.

According to Bradsher, internal industry market research concluded that S.U.V.s tend to be bought by people who are insecure, vain, self-centered, and self-absorbed, who are frequently nervous about their marriages, and who lack confidence in their driving skills.
and
That you can look down is psychologically a very powerful notion. And what was the key element of safety when you were a child? It was that your mother fed you, and there was warm liquid. That's why cupholders are absolutely crucial for safety. If there is a car that has no cupholder, it is not safe. If I can put my coffee there, if I can have my food, if everything is round, if it's soft, and if I'm high, then I feel safe.

[/various] link

24 Hour Report photos and update. - 10:22
I updated my 24 Hour race ride report with some photos and some stuff about mechanicals near the bottom of the report.

[/mtb/events] link

Mon, 01 Nov 2004

Fitz Epic 2004 - 15:51
As previously mentioned, yesterday I participated in the 2004 Fitz Epic (a Pedal Power event), longer and more difficult than the well established Annual Fitz Challenge.

With daylight saving changing between the 30th and 31st I was effectively waking up at body clock time of 3am (4am in new daylight saving adjusted time) in order to get to Tharwa by 5am for preparation and ride briefing and a 6am start. I gave Terry a lift out and we arrived by 5am, seemingly half an hour earlier than we really needed to as no one else was there yet and the ride officials were only just setting up.

We registered at about 5:50am, then while getting my bike out of the car I could not find my helmet and realised to my horror I had left it hanging on the handle bars of one of my mountain bikes in my shed at home. Every one else started the epic at 6am, at the time I was driving home to get my helmet. Finally back in Tharwa in time to start riding by 6:50am I got going. With a 50 minute deficit and likely to be riding alone (thus unable to draft others in the pack) I was pretty sure I would be unable to catch any of my friends.

I settled in to the ride with the goal of finishing before the 18:30 cut off time (which would be a little bit more difficult to do now, due to the late start and not riding in a pack). Mikey had mentioned the climb of Fitz was about 3.2 KM, this is longer than Black Mountain (2.8KM) and steeper (notably it is also consistently up hill with no places to rest, unlike the road climb of Black Mountain) so I decided to time myself on the climb, I tend to do Black Mountain at a comfortable sort of pace in around 12 minutes. By the summit of Fitz the climb had taken me 15 minutes, which I think was pretty reasonable.

I finally saw the front riders coming the other way just as I passed the turn off to Ororral valley, I was still heading to Rendevouz creek at the time and they were on the way back about to turn up to Ororral. As I passed the campsite near Glendale crossing Mikey, Terry, Allan, Neil and Chris passed in the other direction, this was the bunch I would have ridden with all day if I had started with them.

I reached the Rendevouz creek check point at around 08:15am which was pretty good time for the 30 KM out to that point (mostly up hill). I had some insulin, a muesli bar and a baked potato and headed back down toward Ororral. The lead riders on the Fitz Challenge appeared on their way to Rendevouz creek shortly after I started the descent to Glendale crossing. On the way to the Ororral turn off I saw a lot of people I knew who were riding in the Challenge (Sue Kleven, Cath Toet, Jim Trail, Kate Roper, Andrew Thomas, etc). Early on the climb up to Ororral Mikey and co passed in the other direction again, it appeared I had gained about 10 minutes and was only around 40 minutes behind now. This gap stayed pretty much constant for the rest of the day after this.

When I arrived at Ororral I caught up to another Epic rider and left before he did, I was most pleased to have passed someone finally. Then I passed a couple riding the Epic together just before turning back onto the main road from the Ororral road. Once on the road with the rest of the Fitz riders I was surrounded by many other riders for the first time that day, unfortunately they were a this point all a bit slower than me, the riders of similar speed to me would have already passed on their way back down to Tharwa at this point. So I chatted to people as I passed them, after the descent down Fitz hill there was the pleasantly fast section along to the Apollo road turn off to take me up to Honey Suckle Creek. I had predicted this would be the toughest climb of the day, largely due to the fact it is the toughest bitumen climb in the ACT. I was not dissapointed, I was able to ride all the way up, though I did stop for a minute or two an chat to two guys, one of whom was pulling the plug there and returning to Tharwa, the other who intended to finish this climb and pull out upon his return to Tharwa. Mikey and crew passed at speed descending just after I crossed the gate into Namadgi (the national park).

The marshals at the top of Honey Suckle asked me if I wanted sun cream, which was good as I had forgotten to apply any at the previous two checkpoints and didn't feel like stopping to put any of the cream I was carrying on. I had some more food and turned around for the incredibly long descent back down Apollo road. Once I got back on the road to Tharwa no one else was around, so all the Challenge riders had already passed by then, I battled the head wind back to Tharwa by myself. I stopped at Tharwa for a while for food, sports drink, toilet, dumping gear I wouldn't need from my backpack. As I rode out I saw Allan there, he had pulled out of the Epic with bad back pain. Ben Crabb was also there having finished the 90KM ride (Tharwa Challenge). I got moving again and headed on out towards Cotter. There was a headwind all the way through the Tidbinbilla valley and I slowly started to pass one or two Challenge riders, and waved at all the people I knew on the return leg of the Challenge. I saw the lead riders in the Epic turn Corin road as I passed there.

As I arrived at Cotter I spotted Mikey and crew at the food/water refill point at Cotter, so I stopped and chatted, I was now only the climb of Mt McDonald behind them, however due to my slow speed at this point that was still 40 minutes back. I rode up Mt McDonald, got to the checkpoint, grabbed food and water, turned around and finally found the joy of the tail wind. This wind assist made the ascent back to the top of Mt McDonald fast and easy. Refilled with sports drink at Cotter and headed up Pierces, this was bound to be a tough climb, 1KM all constant, steep uphill. Possibly harder (though much shorter) than the Corin climb was going to be later. I made it up all the way, standing up to climb it all, and headed on towards Corin.

When I got to Corin I thought to myself, sure I am in pain and I don't know if I am enjoying myself right now, but I have come this far so I may as well turn right and do the climb up to the summit of Corin. So I did. Neil passed me near the start of the climb, obviously he had tired of riding as slowly as the others and got a jump on them. In that final climb and ride to Tharwa he gained over half an hour on Mikey and crew, who passed me about 25 minutes later half way up the climb. On the final steep section of the climb I did something I have never done before, I walked up a hill with the road bike, The Corin climb is one I can usually do at around 14-16 Kmh all the way up, this time I was reduced to 7-8 Kmh while riding, stopping a few times to stretch and then walking the final section.

Upon reaching the checkpoint I was really suffering and thinking to myself I may pull out once I reach the bottom of the descent rather than riding the remaining distance to Tharwa. I had noticed a problem with clipping in and out of my right pedal for the previous hour or two so stopped at the checkpoint to look at the bottom of my shoe. I found the cleat loose and twisted sideways a bit, fortunately I had not lost either of the screws as had happened in the 24 Hour race three weeks previously. I fixed the cleat angle and tightened both screws, had some more food and got moving.

The final descent of Corin and the discovery that it was only 13 KM not 17 KM to Tharwa from the base of Corin had me feeling better so I decided to finish the ride, and I was still likely to make it in under the time limit. I got to Tharwa at 18:18, 12 minutes before cut off and pretty well under if you consider the 50 minute deficit. Anyway it was a tough day in the saddle, probably good for me in the end, and I admit I did enjoy a lot of the event. Ride time was around 9 hours 20 minutes with 207 KM ridden. This has however strengthened my resolve to get a triple chain ring on the road bike as I really do not like climbing standing up yet I persist in doing these silly long difficult road rides (this and the SLER (Silly Long Easter Ride, 333KM if you can finish it) being prime examples).

[/mtb/events] link

Broken Bits and Bacon - 14:21
Friday sitting in my office I heard a loud noise from my bike, looking at it I found another spoke broken on the back wheel. Fortunately I could still ride the bike as I had the Bacon ride the next morning and was going to be too busy to fix the broken spoke, or the flat tyre on my hard tail before the ride.

Then during the Bacon ride on Saturday morning at on point I was suddenly able to bring the front brake lever all the way into the bars (hydraulic discs) accompanied by a metallic screeching sound. Stopping to look at it I discovered the pad material had come unstuck from the backing plate in one of the pads in the front brake. I had not heard of this happening before, however Peter Gunther (who builds Ethos bikes) was out there at the time and was not so surprised. When I took the bike to Mals this morning the distributor of EBC pads did not seem surprised either, the brakes work again with the warranty replacement pads.

After the Bacon ride Dave Sutton and myself were the only two to continue the grand Bacon tradition of eating Bacon and stuff at a cafe post ride with a visit to the Central Cafe in Queanbeyan. The Central Cafe serves mammoth portions and chips with everything you order (I suspect they serve chips with fruit salad, I have not been game to find out if this suspicion is true yet).

Fun was had.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 28 Oct 2004

Cache Time stamps - 18:44
This diary entry is about a new blosxom plugin I wrote, you can find the files related to this here (the files are cache_timestamps (the plugin) and cache_insert_ts.pl (a helper program).

I complained once or twice a while back about time stamp handling in blosxom. My complaints were centred around relying on the timestamp on the file system to work out he date of an entry and the order of all the entries. There are already some plugins that get around this in some manner, such as entries_index by the blosxom author, and entries_index_tagged (not available from the link there, google can find it).

The entries_index plugin keeps a cache of the time stamps of diary entries and uses the time stamps in the cache by preference. It adds time stamps for new files as they are found. This way if the time stamps change at a later date due to an edit or similar the cache retains the old time stamp.

The entries_index_tagged does the same as entries_index and takes it a step further. It allows you to have time stamps in some format in the diary entry header area. Read the code/docs if you want to know the details.

I wanted the capabilities of entries_index_tagged, with a slightly different way to read time stamps from the entries, also using the same format cache as the two already written. This way like entries_index_tagged if the cache is deleted it will still use the saved time stamps in the files rather than the system time stamps when it finds time stamps in the files. The reason I wanted a different format was I had already been adding time stamps to my diary entries since September as an html commented time stamp on the second line of the file (after the heading). For example <!-- 2004-10-28 19:56:32 -->. Also a few people suggested it would be cool if the plugin had the option to add such a tag to the entries if there was not one using the file system time stamp the first time it sees the file.

So I wrote the module, it works fine for all but adding the time stamps to the entries. The problem here is you need write access to the entries in order to add text to them. Also even with write access the utime(2) system call can not change the time stamp back to what it should be after editing the file unless you also own the file.

Anyway I ended up writing a small helper program that could theoretically be run from cron or similar as the owner to add the files time stamps and reset the mtime. This means you have the functionality even if you do not give write access to your diary entries by the web server uid.

With the add time stamps capability you can rely on the first time stamp being added so even if the file system time stamps get messed up at some point all files will have a time stamp and you need not remember to add one to each entry.

[/comp/blosxom] link

That lost feeling of being disconnected - 14:39
Two computer issues to deal with just now. First before heading out for my lunch time mtb ride today, I was unable to save a perl program I was editing on my laptop in emacs. Looking /proc/mounts I found the partition was read-only, /var/log/syslog said something about an ext3 error. Fortunately I was able to save the work I was doing to another partition, I decided to deal with it when returning from the ride and lunch, pretty simple, log out of my account and unmount and e2fsck the filesystem, mostly annoying more than anything else this time, though file system errors are a stark reminder of the need to backup often.

Upon returning from lunch I found I was unable to connect to calyx (svana.org), I rang the Co-location people and they said they had some problem with router upgrades (un announced and un scheduled) and noticed the route to the colocated machines was not working. It is now back up, however for a little while I felt all lost and alone, unable to receive email or any of that. Maybe I am too dependant on connectivity, time to go to an IA meeting. <g>

[/comp] link

Wed, 27 Oct 2004

Unable to grok %indexes - 14:17
I am finally writing two blosxom plugins I have wanted to use for a while, none of the existing plugins are exactly what I want. (NIH syndrome possibly)

One of the plugins which creates a new entries sub routine is supposed to return %files and %indexes. Looking at the example code of existing blosxom plugins it is easy enough to work out what %files does, however %indexes is beyond me. Fortunately it is only used with static rendering, so I guess I can just leave a bug in the plugin that it will not work with static rendering.

The documentation for plugin developers is not too helpful, all it says is "The subroutine should return references to a hash of files and another of indexes to be built (in the case of static rendering)." and "When run, the subroutine returns references to the files it found and indexes to be constructed when building statically"

I could of course read the blosxom source (only 444 lines) to work it out, though I do not know if I care enough currently, I don't intend to statically render my blog and this is to scratch my own blog itch.

[/comp/blosxom] link

Tue, 26 Oct 2004

24 Hour Race Solo report - 17:04
I finally put my report online of my experience riding in the 24 hour race solo this year. Fun was had. No photos yet, I may add some later.

[/mtb/events] link

Event season is upon us once more. - 11:34
Every year in October/November/December the number of cycling events and other events that are fun to compete in ramps up and I suddenly find every weekend I have to choose which events I want to do.

My schedule for the next 4 weekends in a row is as follows.

  • Sunday 31st October: Fitz Epic
    Every year Pedal Power host the Fitz Challenge and the easier ride options. This year they introduced the new, longer, more difficult, hillier Fitz Epic. 215 KM up all the biggest climbs that can be found on bitumen in the ACT. The time limit they set is 12.5 hours, many of us who have entered doubt we can complete the ride under that limit.
    From Tharwa, Out to the end of the bitumen up Fitz and up from Glendale crossing, back down and then up to the Orroral Valley road. Over Fitz in the reverse direction and up to Honey Suckle creek, which is arguably the toughest climb in the ACT. Back through Tharwa and out to Cotter, back up Pierces creek roll through to the Corin Dam turn off and do that 12 KM climb, on down to the dam, turn around and head back to Tharwa.
  • Saturday 6th November: 2004 Gravity 12 Hour
    I competed in this event last year (good photos, race report) with Sam and Ben, I made the mistake of not consuming enough liquids and suffered pretty bad dehydration. (35 degree heat all day) Upon my return to Canberra I went to the hospital and was finally able to eat food again after having 3 bags of saline pumped into me.
    This year I am competing with Ben and Mikey, I will definitely be drinking as much as I can all day to avoid the same mistake as last year.
  • Sunday 14th November: 2004 Urban Polaris
    I have competed in this event the last two years (2002, 2003) since it moved to Canberra. Like a mini Polaris in the city, not particularly challenging on the navigation front, but a lot of fun no matter what. I hope to compete with Richard Bontjer this year.
  • Sunday 21st November: 2004 Triple Triathlon
    Again I have competed in his event, doing all three bikes legs, the last two years (2002, 2003)). Though there is no technical challenge to the riding I really enjoy the event, getting huge numbers of people out there competing in different disciplines all over Canberra is simply a lot of fun. I just hope it is not as wet/muddy as last year.
There are more events I could do on into December also, though I may feel like taking it a bit easier by then.

[/mtb/events] link

Mon, 25 Oct 2004

Which doctor? - 15:00
Found a link to one of those online quizzes that seem so popular currently. This one to discover which incarnation of Dr Who you are. My result was

The Fourth Doctor
You are the Fourth Doctor: A walking Bohemian conundrum with a brooding personal magnetism and a first-rate intellect concealed somewhere beneath your charmingly goofy exterior. You are perhaps the most terribly clever of all the Doctors, though your occasional bouts of childishness get you in trouble. You never go looking for a fight, but when someone messes with you... good heavens, are they ever sorry they did.

Which Incarnation of the Doctor Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Which pleased me as Tom Baker was and is my favourite Dr Who, however I begin to wonder if, knowing what the aim of the quiz was, did I answer questions (whether consciously or sub consciously) with the aim of this outcome. Anyone else try, or have thoughts on this sort of outcome with quizzes such as this?

[/various] link

Hacking code anywhere - 14:03
I had forgotten I found Neil Gaiman's blog until I ran my planet and read the output today. Neil comments that he loves being a writer, as unlike many professions, you can write anywhere. In his words

Some jobs like for example being an astronaut you can only do in special places like in for example space rockets or outer space or somewhere like that eg the moon. If you were trying to be an astronaut in the supermarket people would just laugh at you and say What Is He Doing Is He Absolutely Barking Mad Or What?
Interestingly free software hackers have a similar freedom, more so than those working on proprietary software. Developers working on proprietary software may often be encumbered by limitations on the source code being allowed out of the carefully controlled environments with in the company network/buildings. For free software developers you can hack anywhere, it can be argued you do not even need a computer and network and power to work as you can develop your ideas alone or in discussions in the pub or anywhere else. Being a writer or being a free software developer, you can express yourself creatively just about anywhere.

This all brings to mind the Dr. Seuss story "Green Eggs and Ham".

Would you like them in a house?
Would you like them with a mouse?
...
Would you eat them in a box?
Would you eat them with a fox?

[/various] link

Successful blog hints... - 10:54
I found this link describing some points on what makes a successful blog. They seem relevant and accurate, also the comments there tend to agree.

[/various] link

It's official - the Platypus is weird. - 09:25
The above is a headline for a story on the ABC news website. All I can say is, don't we all wish we could have a story about us with a title as good as that.

[/various] link

Thu, 21 Oct 2004

Minutes online wihin 20 minutes of the meeting close. - 20:52
Yay for Tony for writing them well. We are working on the changes we want to make for the registration system for this year. Of course I felt it necessary to remind people we want some fun ideas for humorous or just quirky things for the conference which may need to be included here. Such as the cool badges they had at the Perth lca. If anyone has any ideas for in jokes, please don't hesitate to email us (organisers@lca2005.linux.org.au), if you suggest a good one we probably wont even tell you <g>

In other news, in what could possibly be a record we got through the business for tonight in 1 hour and 1 minute.

[/lca] link

Thu, 07 Oct 2004

Minutes and copious action items. - 21:17
Tonight's lca meeting is finished, I am sitting in the tea room at dcs still working on getting some minutes and action item data up onto our wiki and fighting sleep. Bob and Andrew are still here working on making debian more functional on Bob's tablet pc. I should seriously consider a large amount of sleep due to the solo effort at the 24 hour mtb race this weekend. However I need to get these minutes and action items out there so I can forget about it for the weekend and the rest of the lca crew can do cool stuff.

[/lca] link

Wed, 06 Oct 2004

Solo Circulation - 23:49
This weekend the Mont Australian 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race is being held here in Canberra. I am competing in the race as a Solo entrant this year. This means it is up to me whether I go fast, slow, rest, sleep, whatever during the race. My current plan is to simply circulate at a comfortable or easy pace for as long as I can and see what happens.

Tonight I had my friend Prue visit who will be supporting me during the race. Preparing food, mixing sports drink, handling charging of light batteries and various other Sundry tasks. Prue seems keen though somewhat intimidated once she realised the size of the event. With around 5000 people at the race site during the start on Saturday, 2176 riders competing in the race, 524 teams, almost 100 of which are solo entrants this is a big event.

Last year over 7,000 laps were completed of a 17 KM course, the distance ridden collectively was over 111,000 KM, or almost three times the circumference of the Earth. The course this year is 19KM to allow for the increase in team numbers from 440 to 520, the stats will go up a bit due to this.

I guess I am rambling to some extent because I do wonder what I have gotten myself into. This race is a lot of fun, I hope it is still fun, though knowing me I will still have fun, I simply tend to redefine my definition of the term fun from time to time.

[/mtb/events] link

Hoping the timing works out - 23:41
So the new CFP closing date is 12th October. Once this closes the CFP committee have until the beginning of November to work through submissions. Then we have until mid November to decide on the preliminary program to the extent that we have filled spots to show people when registrations open on November 16. I am hoping working out this aspect of the programming is not going to be too arduous and the somewhat tight timing of all these events works out in the end. Of course it is likely good practice for us all to try and get stuff done quickly.

Other aspects of the program can still be varied, we are considering running some sessions until 6pm, or possibly some lighting talks or poster sessions while other sessions are on. Brad Hards has been thinking of a whole lot of different variations and the pros and cons for a long time now so it will be fun to see what we decide to do when the conference rolls around.

[/lca] link

More riding to work - 12:34
Returning to the discussion on commuting to work I have been having with Chris, I admit people who really enjoy cycling are those more likely to commute by bike, I still do suggest for many it would often be one of the more effective modes of transport available.

Chris commented that for most people it really would be slower by bike rather than car. As an example he suggested someone living in Belconnen and working in the Parliamentary triangle would be hard pressed to take longer by car for the commute to work. He is correct, however just to be sure I spoke with a cycling friend about it to get some figures. Julie Quinn I should admit is not entirely average, being a world champion in Rogaining and a multiple winner of of the Polaris Challenge and the Urban Polaris, among many other achievements. However Julie rides to work at a slow easy pace, the sort of pace mere mortals like the rest of us can maintain. Anyway the commute from Macquarie to the Parliamentary triangle takes Julie about 30 minutes at this easy pace. If she includes her shower and getting changed and settled at her desk it is 50 minutes from the door at home to sitting a the desk. Admittedly in Canberra traffic if it is not peak time, the drive to work is 15 or 20 minutes for Julie. Shower wise many people will need a shower in the morning anyway, so it may not be entirely fair to factor shower time into a bike commute time. Julie can probably do the commute to work in around 20 minutes bike bike if she really needs to. Just as I can commute from home to the Woden hospital by bike in 20 minutes if I really need to.

Anyway Canberra is a bit of a special case as we have light traffic, which makes bike riding more pleasant, however it also allows cars to get places faster and means there i not such a large parking penalty near work places. Due to this I got some feedback from friends in Sydney as to their commuting details. Again both of them are cyclists and it should be taken into account that they both love riding bicycles. John Stevenson works for Cyclingnews and has in the past 20 or 30 years worked for various bike magazines, and bike shops and other such places in the industry in Australia and the UK. Dave Hughes who I also asked for some data is also heavily into cycling and has done 24 hour races solo and other such things.

It will be easiest to simply quote what John and Dave said to me directly.

John Stevenson

My run is 26.5km. I've done 57:30, door to door for the inbound and a shade under an hour for the run home. Typically more like 1:05 each way. Interestingly as I have gotten fitter recently the difference has reduced, which says something about the effect of hills on commute times, as it's the homeward run that's gotten quicker.

Best case public transport is ride bike to Sutherland station, catch fast train, ride bike from Redfern to office: 50 minutes if I cut things *very* fine. Walk-train-walk is more like 1:15 so the bike clearly wins even when you take ten minutes at the office to shower and change.

I drive in very very seldom. 40-45 minutes door-to-door is going really well and not doable in peak hour, when it can take over an hour, factoring in finding somewhere to bloody park. And then there's the Repo Man[1] effect on my psyche...

[1] "The more you drive, the less intelligent you become"

Dave Hughes.
In:

23 km bike, record 48 minutes, normally around 55 min. Call it an hour even by the time I lock up the bike and get to my desk. Shower happens after an hour or so of checking stuff.

2km walk to station, ~40 minute train, 5 min walk to office. Basically 1:00 to 1:05, depending on Shitty Rail. Need to have a shower before I go, so I tend to leave 10 minutes after I would on the bike.

Car - it's non peak, so if I could park in the building ($$$$$) it's about 25-30 minutes.

I've done it in peak hour, including a bus to the station. It doesn't save much time over walking to the station, by the time you wait for the bus etc. Bike tends to be ~5 minutes slower, at a guess (I'm fitter as well, but an hour was a pretty common time for me back then), and car is around 50 minutes plus parking, etc.

Home:

27km bike, more hills, record 1:01, normally 1:10 or so. Need to get changed at the office, so call it 1:15 door to door.

Train - crap time of day, so often end up waiting 20 minutes for the train. Generally somewhere around 1:10, often blowing out to 1:30. Downhill walk from the station, but it's still a walk... Also have to put up with the school kiddies on the train (ie, don't always get a seat, though it's rare not to).

Car - last time I did it by car it was around 55 minutes, I think. I did it by Taxi not that long ago, and it took about 1:00, thanks to Friday afternoon traffic.

If I get straight on a train, with a decent book, it's fairly relaxing. But I've rarely felt as good as I do when I bike. Cars are fun, but not in traffic. You've seen the photos to prove I'm a petrol head...

So yeah in Canberra lack of traffic can make the bike commute less effective, though I suspect more enjoyable due to not having to fight the traffic so much, and having many options to travel on bike paths or even off road to and from work. Sydney evens the times a bit between car and bike, and even with very good public transport it can be difficult time wise. In Sydney one technique that is fairly effective is riding from home to a train station, getting a train, and riding from the other end to the office. This gives a shorter time and part of the trip by bike. Canberra does not have effective public transport so that would never be an option.

[/mtb] link

Fri, 01 Oct 2004

Drug testing not open enough? - 18:40
The US professional cyclist Tyler Hamilton has recently been suspended on charges of blood doping. I don't know whether he is innocent or not, however it is interesting to look at some of the issues related to the new test he was apparently caught by.

When the news first hit Cyclingnews carried some of the details, in particular this paragraph.

Tyler Hamilton's case is the first ever positive for a blood transfusion, as up until very recently, doping via this method has been undetectable. A powerful blood test developed by Australian researchers was implemented at this year's Tour de France. The test didn't look for a particular banned substance, but instead examined whether there were any abnormalities in a person's blood as a result of artificial manipulation. At the Tour, it was announced that homologous blood transfusions could be detected, but autologous transfusions could not.

Of note is that it is a recently developed test and this is the first time anyone has ever been caught with this test. That would not be so bad, however it appears there may indeed be serious problems with this test. Cyclingnews spoke with Dr Michael Ashenden (this interview also contains a good glossary of terms on the issue). In this interview the Dr was very closed about some details of the test. Today some researchers and specialists in the field commented (search for the letters "The new blood test #1", "The new blood test #2", "The new blood test #4" and The new blood test #5) in the Cyclingnews letters columns.

First it is interesting to note "Clinical trials for a diagnostic product used in a hospital require 10-20,000 repetitions for approval", however if the papers on this method are to be believed this test has only been performed on a sample of 45 people known to have had transfusions and it was not tested on people known not to have had transfusions. Thus there is no knowledge of the possible false positive rate. (the letters I reference above discuss this much better than I). A noteworthy quote from one of the letters.

...in cyclingnews.com attributed to Dr Ashenden of "Science and Industry Against Blood Doping".

He said they will not reveal all the details of new tests, moreover, "Dick Pound [head of the World Anti-Doping Agency] has said that we don't have to announce a test before we start using it," says Ashenden. "Athletes will know when it is developed because they will be caught. If an athlete chooses to carry on using a particular form of doing when they know we are bringing in a test, they will be caught."

This approach is flat out wrong. In order to restore confidence to the cycling world, dope testing has to be open, transparent, and extensively validated by professional peer review like any other medical standard. This essential process cannot be discarded in an effort to keep ahead of the team docs. Cycling cannot tolerate any doubt in the integrity of the process, even less than we can tolerate doubt in the integrity of athletes.

The test development process must be improved. It's true that the development of tests is in the hands of scientists, but its management is not. I would be much more comfortable with the anti-doping process if it were managed by a professional medical body rather than a quasi-political or commercial body like the UCI or IOC. They need to turn over this process to more independent groups before it's too late to repair the damage to the credibility of the tests and our best hope for recovery.

I comment on all of this to a large extent as it appears the information about the test is being kept secret and that is in itself damaging the entire process. This whole episode reeks of what computer people call Security by Obscurity, and as we all know that really never works in the long run.

[/various] link

Thu, 30 Sep 2004

Another good Paul Graham essay. - 20:12
From Chris I learned of another new essay from Paul Graham. Chris' comments are worth reading, as is the essay.

[/various] link

Creative process of design - 18:06
While looking around at various blosxom plugins I found a link to warpedvisions as this person had some interesting blosxom plugins. Reading through some of their other entries I have decided I should read this blog regularly. Mostly due to their comments on design as a creative process when discussing Blog Zen.

Quoting from the entry

I just have to let the ideas percolate until my subconscious orders them, filtering it all into something better. This is how I've always done design, it just happens that Bradbury uncovered the mechanics of it for me. Forced design is why a lot of software is bad, that and all the compromise added to it. Well, there are probably other reasons commercial software sucks, like honesty and integrity, but that's not the point.

Bradbury also harps on the fact that he writes (and reads) endlessly, which is how he feeds his subconscious. He's right: that's how creativity works, it needs to be fed and cared for. I never realized it, but that's how my design process works, as it's really a creative force (versus a pedantic force). Pedantic may be the wrong word, but when designers attack a problem from the meticulous, anti-creative angle, the result is not cohesive -- and is often forced beyond the workable.

[/comp/design] link

Wed, 29 Sep 2004

More injured Bilbys - 13:25
Two weeks ago I Wrote about Gary Rolfe breaking his arm mtb riding. Alas it seems injuries are happening to Bilbys currently. Last week a car drove into the middle of the southside road bunch and Ulisses Da Silva suffered a broken collar bone in the resulting collision, Uli is another Bilby (and like me a committee member). Today during the Wednesday morning Bilbys road ride there was another injury. Riding around a corner, damp from rain, both the wheels on my road bike lost traction, I thought for sure I was going to have a nasty crash, I don't know how but somehow I kept the bike upright. Unfortunately Ron Brent was not so lucky, he went over hard. Hitting his helmet and breaking it, gaining some serious road rash on his right leg and dislocating his right shoulder. We all waited with him until someone was able to give him a lift to the Hospital. I hope you get better soon Ron.

Update: I talked to Ron soon after I posted this entry. His shoulder popped back in before he got to the hospital, which is good. However there is some tearing in ligaments and tendons plus some strained muscles so he is out of action on the bike for around 3 weeks, and out of swimming for a bit longer. Ron mentioned it doesn't hurt at all while sitting or lying down now, and hurts a bit when standing due to the sling on his sore neck muscles.

Update: I also never said what happened to Gary Rolfe. Gary's Radius was shattered in three places, his wrist was pulled off the ulna a bit also. So tendon and ligament damage, they had to shove it all back together and then pin the radius up with a few pins (operation). The doctors considered him lucky not to have broken the Ulna, also they commented his bones were in very good shape on the whole. Probably in large part due to being incredibly fit and a healthy diet with good calcium intake. Gary got a new cast made of fiberglass on friday as the swelling had gone down enough. The cast probably comes off in about 8 weeks.

Both Gary and Ron are busting to get out training again soon as you can imagine.

[/mtb] link

More on the Linux v Sun discussion - 11:25
This morning I notice in Miguel de Icaza's activity log he makes mention of the Sun and Linux kernel discussion I have talked about Previously. Miguel suggests Greg KH is missing the point. I am not so sure, Greg was not as Miguel suggested arguing with the "everything we do is fine, there is no need to improve" viewpoint. Greg is a well balanced guy and looking at the crap he has dealt with on LKML and other places over the years he definitely seems to understand and respect other viewpoints and will change when a technically correct and superior change is displayed.

Miguel commented about Greg rejecting the Sun guys API stability arguments. I don't know that he rejected them so much as pointed out that that the API is stable in the kernel <-> userspace interface and has been for many years. Kind of like GTK or Mono or something having published API's and having internal structures. There is not much software if any that needs to use internal structures and such with those libraries. In the kernel though if someone has out of tree kernel code it has to keep up with the kernel internal structures. Andrew Morton has talked about this issue at OLS this year as have various other people, code that gets into the kernel will be maintained.

Of course the trick then is getting your code into the kernel, to do this you really need to grok Linux kernel culture and work with it. Mikal pointed out there seem to be exceptions where Linus or others appear arbitrary. Such as FUSE which Mikal suggests wont get into the kernel as Linus thinks it is too close to a Microkernel model. Personally I would hope there are good technical reasons FUSE has not been accepted rather than simply saying all file systems should be implemented entirely in kernel space (after all do we really want GMailFS in kernel space?) Of course Linus is only human (unlike Alan (more Linus quotes)) and has been known to allow code into the kernel in a strange manner in the past. Such as when Dave Miller got the bottom halves stuff in a few years ago. (anyone got a link to something about this I wonder?)

[/comp/linux] link

Tue, 28 Sep 2004

Bouncing Cows - 18:34
So Bob was looking at some of the xscreensaver-gl things on some machines here at work today, out of curiosity I installed them on my laptop. I must say the bouncingcow screensaver is truly brilliant.

Oh also Chris is right when he says "I estimate he puts more kilometres on his bike than I do on my car. I've driven about 26,000km over the last four years" about me. I tend to do around 10,000km a year on the mtb and around 8,000km a year on my road bike. However I do agree this is a significant amount when you consider almost none of it is commuting (my commute is 1.5km each way) I have some other stuff to respond to Chris' post once more but I am waiting for some stats from friends in Sydney to include them tomorrow sometime.

[/various] link

Mon, 27 Sep 2004

Reasons to ride bikes - 18:54
So here I am responding to Chris again on some bike issue. Chris did some sums on the cost of a car for Australian drivers after one of his co workers pointed out figures for car owners in the US.

Chris did note that people will always make time for things they are truly interested in. Which is good, and correct, also I have to remind myself often that the majority of people are not as interested in Cycling as I am. I may take it to extremes (doing a few climbs of black mountain this evening and having a ball doing so) but there are some things about bicycle commuting that Chris didn't mention.

The two big ones are it can often be faster, especially at heavy traffic times, and the other point is it is less stressful than driving a car. To explain why it is often faster. Any commute that takes less than half an hour generally will not make you sweat excessively so you may get away without showering at the end of the commute. You also need not hunt around for parking spots or similar and have to walk from the car to work as bicycles will generally be stored in your office building somewhere.

The above is not really that helpful as it does come down to making time for something you really enjoy to a large extent. The big win for bike commuting I find is it is far less stressful and it wakes you up. Personally I find driving sucks, especially in traffic. However for me cycling lets me loosen up mentally and physically and gets my mind and body working, siting in a car driving somewhere just aggravates and annoys me. To some extent this has to do with mind set, however I find if I have not had a good ride (well exercise) in the morning I am not as alert and ready for work as otherwise.

[/mtb] link

Buggy Bike Lock Considerations - 11:40
Last week I commented that there is a bit to think about with the Buggy Bike lock stuff that has hit the Internet recently.

First as Chris noticed it is not exactly recent and new information.

John Stevenson (from CyclingNews and previously in many other bike industry positions here and in the UK for a long time pointed out this.

>http://thirdrate.com/misc/krypto.mov

Gee a movie of a lock design defect that was known about ten years ago:

http://groups.google.co.uk/......

That it's still possible to buy u-locks with this gaping design flaw
*ten years* after it was first revealed just indicates how serious some
lock companies really are about the quality of their products.

I was taught that trick (and several others) by a bloke who'd found
himself living on a Nottingham council estate full of petty crooks and
been taught by them in turn. The bottom line is that there are several
attacks that will open most inexpensive u-locks.

If you want something serious, spend big and make sure it says 'Trelock'
or 'Abus' on it.

Just about every lock marketed at cyclists is a toy.

Kryptonite does alas fall into the toy category. And apparently there are movies on that site and others for opening the other key whole types on most common locks. Including the new modified straight key Kryptonite are now marketing.

As seen on SingleTrackWorld, Kryptonite are coming to the party with respect to giving consumers replacement barrels that are less buggy. Of course if you read the forums with those two articles people have noted that the new barrels and locks on them that Kryptonite are offering consumers are almost as bad.

What has happened with this new information on the Internet is now rather than only bike thieves and the like having the information pretty much everyone can easily find out about it. Sure bike lock companies should not have been relying on Security by obscurity, and alas they have not gotten entirely better. As John says try Abus or Trelock brands, motor cycle locks and companies supplying them (ie these two brands) are a lot better than most bike locks.

[/mtb] link

Fri, 24 Sep 2004

Of course Sun doesn't really get it. - 11:40
Yesterday I commented on some Sun developer noticing the sour grapes attitude of the LTT developers. Interestingly today on LWN there was a link to a diary entry from some Sun engineer going on about reasons he thinks Sun cant use Linux or work with Linux kernel development people. Greg K-H (Linux kernel developer) has a rather good rebuttal to this. Interestingly he pretty much points out that working with the Linux kernel developers on some feature until everyone is sure it can go in to the kernel (will be maintained, is of high quality, that it will in fact be used and useful) is how you go about getting stuff into the kernel. You do not simply put code in because some marketing or management person says it is absolutely necessary.

[/comp/linux] link

Thu, 23 Sep 2004

Sour grapes in kernel coding - 19:36
Sitting in CLUG currently and not really paying attention to the talk, I should probably do some blogging. (well I could do some work, but hey this is different) On Andrew Over's blog today he wrote something about the DTrace features in Solaris 10. Now personally I don't really care about DTrace, however I read his links anyway. It is entertaining to see some comments from one of the Sun engineers about the Linux Trace Toolkit developers.

Basically the LTT developers are whining about LTT not being accepted into the mainline Linux kernel causing the LTT to lag and allow dtrace to be a more advanced technology. I have to agree with the Sun guys here, it seems to be sour grapes. In the case of the Linux kernel you simply need to work with the kernel maintainers the way they wish to work. First provide code and tests or performance data to back up your ideas to prove that some feature should be in the kernel. Then publicly work with the kernel maintainers to integrate your code and ideas in small patches. Do not try to develop elsewhere for some amount of time and then submit a huge monolithic patch then whine when it is rejected.

[/comp/linux] link

Mon, 20 Sep 2004

Diary apathy. - 22:12
I wondered why Andrew's server was not responding this morning, I guess this explains it. Otherwise the reason I am writing this now is I feel I should respond to some of the things Chris has been learning about bike locks recently with some more in depth information, however as it will take time to collate the facts and dig up information I would prefer to go to bed now in order to be awake at 5:15am for the Cotter/Uriarra loop. Chris, if you happen to read this, there are already a few brands that are not as broken, Abus is one, and Kryptonite are in fact providing new not so buggy parts for consumers. However there is a whole lot more to consider with this that I will attempt to explain tomorrow sometime.

[/various] link

Trying to be a real blogger. - 19:23
So yesterday Mikal said I was not a real blogger as I did not respond to him in my own online diary. Here is take two. Michael has had a discussion in blog land the past few days about blog discovery, today he talked about Google hits and macho measuring or something. It appears Mikal is simply still looking for more ways to find someone's BogoTridge count, which in this instance will be even higher as Tridge doesn't blog any more.

[/various] link

Getting some riding in. - 12:19
After having last weekend off, and a slightly lower than normal week cycling KM wise last week (230 KM Monday to Friday inclusive), it was good to get some KM in this weekend. On Saturday I headed out with Morgs and the rest for a pleasant 175KM road ride (Federal Highway, Collector, Bredalbyn, Gunning (lunch stop), Gundaroo, Sutton, Federal Highway). Yesterday I hopped on the mtb and rode out to Kowen with Richard Bontjer for some time on the 24 hour course. Richard went home after one lap, I had another lap before heading home.

On my second lap I had a small crash, sliding out around a corner, not bad, just some grazes on my right arm and leg. I stopped for a few minutes after the crash and sat on my bike until I was sure I had regrouped. The course this year is 19KM, the lap took me 1 hour 12 minutes, including the time I stopped after the crash. This was at an easy pace with no significant hard effort put in, so I should be able to do a similar pace when riding solo in the race.

At the end of the second lap I was starting to run low on food and water so I decided to head back into Canberra, this time via the Federal Highway and Gunghalin so I could visit Gary and find out how he was going with his arm and all. Gary seems good, he is handling the pain well and is already talking about getting back on the stationary trainer and into running again in a few weeks. Anyway it was good to have 281KM of riding this weekend to make up for the slightly low KM count during the week last week.

[/mtb] link

Fri, 17 Sep 2004

Mountain Biking Breaks - 11:24
So on the regular Friday morning mtb ride today. We went riding in Majura Pines this week.

9 people at the cafe at 6am, on the way over John got a pinch flat on a gutter, so we waited for him, just as we approached the gate I got a call from Gary Rolfe wondering where we were, we rolled in to sight as he finished calling. Another 6 people including Gary at the gate, the list of riders was now

Dave B, Julie Q, Alan L, Andrew Rowe, Adair F, Angus H, Alex R, John B, Steve H (me), Gary R, Jaymz D, Andrew? (friend of Gary's), Ben C, Pete B, Christine B

15 people for the morning ride.

So we climbed on in and on the entry to the first ST my front wheel went into a rut, washed out in loose sand after the rut and I went over the handlebars, oops, oh well no harm done so on we went.

Due to the size of the group we had to wait about 2 minutes at the end of most single tracks. Then through Pitt st I was able to to the gap jump three times in a row while waiting for everyone to catch up. I must say though flow wise I prefer the double at the bottom of the first straight section of Pitt st over the gap, it is a really smooth jump that double.

Even with the huge group I was aiming to get to the top of the northern end ST today so we pushed on pretty fast and climbed up the switchbacks at the northern end (just to torment Andrew R on his single speed )

The descent from the northern end put a huge grin on everyone's faces. I was attempting to drop Angus from my back wheel all the way, and got out of his sight a few times, he did alas see flashes of me through the trees so I did not quite manage it.

Upon regrouping we headed toward the dam, taking the alternate route through the two new large gullies at the bottom there, I went through both and stopped to watch everyone else come through, about 5 people had come through both and a few more through the first when everyone stopped. Gary Rolfe crashed in the first gully, his guess is he saw the rut at the bottom, and went through it a bit sketchy then kept looking at the rut and was kicked over the bars, he put his left arm out and landed on it. At first it didn't hurt much he said, though he heard a noise, upon looking at it however it was at a strange angle.

So Gary broke some bones in his left arm (he is left handed, which will mean he can not write for a while). Unfortunate for Gary as in his own words he was just starting to regain some form he lost through illness over the past 6 months, and was looking forward to doing well in the road race this weekend and in up coming events. Heck Gary was the person who talked me into doing the 24 hour solo this year, on the basis of saying "if you ride solo I will ride solo", he is obviously not riding in that event this year (which will be the first 24 hour race he has ever missed riding in)

So everyone send their best wishes to Gary for a quick recovery and lets hope we can keep his spirits up.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 16 Sep 2004

The ongoing turning to the darkside - 15:16
Although I tried to interest a bunch of people in a real off road Bacon ride this weekend, everyone is intent to ride their road bikes Saturday. The darkside beckons, or something. Heidi may have a point that Morgs is roadie scummm <g>, after all the road ride that is happening is a longish one he and Chris thought up. As I am planning to spend most of Sunday on the mtb I guess I can join in with the roadie stuff on Saturday. Alas poor Bacon I knew him Jim. (that sentence will only make sense to Baconners so don't stress if it seems strange)

As for this week, well was up doing stuff for the Bilbys pretty late Tuesday night, so got to sleep around 12:30am, I forgot to set my alarm, and thus missed out on the Wednesday morning road ride, however as I woke up at 9am I probably needed the sleep anyway. So for the rest of the day I was looking longingly outside wanting to go for a ride. Eventually just before 5pm I hopped on the road bike and rode over to Mitchell, back to ANU, out to Warramanga and back to ANU. A nice 45KM at a mostly easy pace. This morning was Majura with Jaymz, Mike, and Tanja. (Jez opted out as, being a man of leisure currently was heading out to Kowen with Andrew Rowe at 8am for some bigger kays) Lunch was a fun play on Mt Ainslie, so far today it was 26KM this morning, 10 KM more commuting and running an errand, and 18KM at lunch. All fun.

[/mtb] link

Tue, 14 Sep 2004

Approaching my regular fitness - 13:41
Last Tuesday I had more difficulty than usual staying with the others on the Cotter/Uriarra loop. This week was easier, I was able to climb in the middle to the front of the group, however usually I would be able to drop all but the fastest climbers. So I am still not quite back to form. I had the entire weekend off the bike, which for me is exceedingly unusual. I really want to ensure I don't have a cold at the 24 hour race. I intend to do a bit of epicosity this weekend on Sunday, and hopefully can talk people into a longish Bacon ride also on Saturday (Tuggeranong pines from Manuka and return anyone?)

I helped with timing and stuff at the CORC 3 hour day night race on Saturday and admittedly was glad not to be racing as it was raining heavily, freezing cold and muddy. Sunday turned out fine, however Marea had to go to Sydney suddenly on Friday arvo so I wasn't doing the cyclegaine anyway.

The cyclegaine had some things happen, Andrew Rowe and David Baldwin had to finish with only 3 hours of effort as Dave's rear derailleur (XTR, AUD $300 worth) exploded after a small stick got caught and twisted and broke everything. Michael Carden and Allan Bontjer competed as a team of ring ins, replacing the original team of Jim Trail and David Morgan completely, teams of ring ins amuse me.

[/mtb] link

Timestamps and rss dates - 13:23
The problem I noticed when I started using blosxom about timestamps and the need to use date -r can be alleviated with some of the plugins on the blosxom plugin registry. For now I will continue manually keeping a list of time stamps of all the files in my diary when I first uploaded them and use that to reapply correct times when I need to change something.

I noticed when Mikal pulled my lca entries into a planet-lca that the time stamps of entries pulled from my Diary rss feed were wrong. AJ pointed out that standard blosxom needed to be patched with the <pubDate> tags and pointed out the debian blosxom package was likely already patched. He was correct so I copied the debian tags into my blosxom.cgi

[/various] link

Thu, 09 Sep 2004

Still feeling kind of flat - 18:04
Tuesday morning I did the 65KM cotter/uriarra loop on the road bike. I at the time still had sore legs from the weekend, which was a shock as I have not had such sore legs for more than a day after an event previously. I suspect the cold hanging on to my body is partly to blame. It was fun though for once I had to actually put some effort in just to stay with the others. Wednesday morning I did not get out on the road bike with the Bilbys as per the norm due to heavy rain. This morning I rode through Majura Pines with Mike and Jez, saw Tanja and Mal out there too. Lunch today was a nice easy ride around the Mt Ainslie area, we will probably be doing some of those trails again tomorrow morning, though for longer and with more climbing. This morning was around 24KM, lunch was 18KM.

As for this weekend, I still have not decided if I want to compete in the two events, Saturday afternoon/evening is a CORC 3hour day/night race, Sunday is the ACTRA 6 hour cyclegaine (mountain bike navigation event, a bit like a 1 day Polaris Challenge) which I have been planning to compete in with Marea (same team we rode the Polaris this year). The weather forecast looks miserable and neither Marea or I are feeling in top form, it may be a good idea for me to relax a bit this weekend, after all my solo effort at the 2004 Mont Australian 24 Hour race is looming.

[/mtb] link

Toys and locations - 11:34
Yesterday morning Tony, Mikal, Kristy and I did some visiting for lca. Looking at the venue we will hold the Professional Delegates networking session in, and visiting a toys and other such vendor crap (as Mikal likes to call it) supplier. Overkill is hardly enough I am sure, so having 4 of the lca crew visit works fine. The venue for the networking thing is pretty cool so I think we are happy with that. Officially Mikal is the guy doing vendor crap, and thus choosing the most off putting, bright, etc shirts he can for lca organisers to wear during the conference and dealing with the toys and such we give to delegates and speakers. Everyone else wanted to come along just to see the cool toys I am sure. Well Tony and I wanted to order some business shirts with the lca2005 logo which we intend to have for sale during the conference for delegates to purchase.

[/lca] link

Michael's comments on the five worlds of software development today. - 11:16
I have commented to MRD that the stuff this Joel on software guy writes is often pretty good. Michael made two comments I wonder about though. Letting paid developers working for big companies do polishing. Sure this I can agree with, however MRD adds "cross-platformness" to the list of polishing tasks. I suspect companies in general wont really work on this, whether it will be cross architecture or software platforms. A company will work on the platforms they ship, not on all platforms or architectures. This is something Linux does better than any closed system, it is fully supported on many many architectures. The interesting item to note is the commercial Linux distributions support far less architectures than Debian. And Linux is in theory a single software platform on any given architecture anyway (though Michael is possibly commenting on GNOME's ability to run on non Linux platforms also).

The next point of interest is where MRD talks about internal software that allows people in a company or development group to get the job done more effectively. If we reference back to the recent Paul Graham essay on Great Hackers he suggests a large company may be able to employ great hackers if they can work on this sort of project. Even if the software the company sells would not interest thee people, the intermediate software they may develop to allow all the other developers in the company to work better may be a good target for them. I suppose in referencing this and looking at the projects MRD talks about you can see some correlation between great hackers and the intermediate software, Samba, Apache, PHP, etc.

[/various] link

Twelfth Night - 10:55
Last night I participated once more in a ritual of sorts my non cycling, non Linux, college friends and I do. We went to the current Bell Shakespeare play at the play house theatre in Canberra. I got them all interested in going to the theatre back in college (year 12 for those non Canberrans around) and it has stuck. We tend to see the Bell productions and about 4 other productions a year (we would see more but for lack of time and money and organisation for this sort of thing)

Anyway we have been doing this for around 8 years now, and seen a few different performances. The Bell production that came to Canberra earlier this year, "Servant of Two Masters" was absolutely brilliant, not Shakespeare, so different for Bell, however it was one of the funniest things I have seen in years. Last night was the current production of "Twelfth Night" and though it was good, something about the show didn't jibe with me. I didn't like the fools in this play, but it was not just that. I hope I am not getting too blase or anything about this, I hardly see my non cycling, non geek friends apart from these outings.

[/various] link

Tue, 07 Sep 2004

That mtb stuff is a heap of fun. - 12:01
The 12 hour race was a hoot. Heidi and I rocked up and registered around 6pm on Friday so did not go out for a lap of the course. After talking to others we found out the course was identical to last year so we probably did not need to check it out. Instead we headed to the motel and met up with the other people we knew staying there so we could all go find some dinner. (Heidi was most pleased they had VB at the restaurant, apparently that is somewhat scarce in NZ)

Saturday dawned and we got ready to race, I volunteered for the start lap, which involves running a few hundred metres to the bikes and then heading on out for a very crowded lap of the course. I had a cold the two weeks leading up to this race, I thought I was over it, however I noticed when trying to use my top end speed on the bike my breathing was more laboured than I am used to and I was coughing more than normal. Strangely when you consider the crowding on the first lap, my latent cold and the run we did to start I ended up doing a 33:37 first lap, last year my fastest lap was 35:50. I did however end up paying for this effort later in the day. Heidi headed out for her first lap and had the bad luck of a puncture in the first single track.

When I headed out for my next two laps in a row I did start finding breathing and a flat feeling in my legs proving difficult, I even ended up warding off cramps, it appeared I was definitely not on form for this race. Heidi wasn't either so fortunately neither of us felt we were letting the team down. We decided to ignore results and just go out and have as much fun as we could, I was doing as many jumps and other things I could on each lap and generally having a ball, Heidi also started to enjoy her laps a lot more once all possible pressure about results was off.

Around 5:30pm we decided to have a bit of a break, then as it started to pour with rain and thunderstorms hit we cracked open the beers. All in all we had a really good time at the race, who cares about results. (okay okay so I admit we are already planning strategies for wining next year, the winning mixed team this year did 18 laps, the same number as we did last year. Heidi and I both know we can improve so we want to go for it again next September)

[/mtb/events] link

Thu, 02 Sep 2004

Panic over dns, what work for lca this week (where are we going today</plagarise>) - 21:29
Last night I was writing various lca information and on checking the links worked I found linux.conf.au did not appear to resolve. Fortunately it was not off air, simply munnari.oz.au was playing up and not properly responding to queries. I imagine this is just another in the line of many panics I will have, whether well founded or not, leading up to April 23rd (the end of the conference) next year.

As for where we are going today (rather poor deliberate plagarism), we had another meeting and again it appears we had more people than actual jobs to do at the moment. This could be a good thing, when there is a lot of work to do we should have the people available for the work. I still need to work on letting go a bit and allowing lca crew members to do their own thing more and just being around to ensure things get done.

As for media wise, Rusty has volunteered to be the media contact person for the conference. This is cool as he has the gift of the gab (kissed the blarney stone or similar) in the context of media and people in suits and the like. Also he knows the guff about linux.conf.au pretty well.

[/lca] link

The WSMTB N-ZO 12 hour commeth. - 09:52
This morning I had my normal thursday morning jaunt, one and half hours of mtb riding in Majura Pines. Mike Burden accompanied me this morning, distance and time on my bike computer are 25.6 KM and 1hour 31min respectively.

So there is a 12 hour mtb race this weekend in the western sydney area. I have competed in this race both in 2002 in mens pairs with Andrew Rowe and last year (2003) in mixed pairs with Heidi Flaxman. The race is held between Richmond and Springwood on the edge of the Blue Mountains in Yellomundee National Park. Every year the course has been a heck of a lot of fun, with interesting technical obstacles in places around the course, good flowing single track, basically a huge variey of really good mtb terrain, lots to look forward to :)

Heidi is one of the fastest female mtb riders in Australia, so having her on my team last year was a good thing, the plan had been to win. We thought we had, heck they gave us first place on the night of the event. A few days later when the results were put online we discovered we had in fact come second by 3 minutes. (which after 12 hours is pretty close I suppose)

So this year we intend to learn from our mistakes and see what we can do better. Last year there were a few obvious blunders we made, though I think I can lay the blame for the three minute loss at the end on my preperation for my final laps.
The obvious mistakes were

  • Not checking the results often, especially as night hit and being complacent with our lead.
  • Due to the above mentioned complacency Heidi and I both decided to ride slower laps in the night, thinking we need not push so hard any more we started lapping the course about 4 or 6 minutes slower than we were capable of doing (during the day we had both been doing 36 to 39 minute laps, neither of us slow down more than 2 minutes in the dark and yet ended up doing 42 to 46 minute laps for all our night laps)
  • The big mistake was on my part, I had been hoping Heidi would want to do our final lap crossing over to 9pm so had eaten enough food for doing one lap at the end of the race rather than two. When I ended up doing two laps in a row to finish the day off I had not eaten enough and "Hit the wall" (ran out of energy), my last lap of the day was 53 minutes, 7 minutes slower than any other lap I had done all day. The second placed team had been slowly clawing back the 15-20 minute margin we had over them ay 6pm and then my final lap was when they were able to overtake us.
So learning from the above, do not ever get complacent, keep hammering at full tilt for the entire event, and prepare for doing extra riding or other similar eventualities if need be.

So Heidi has flown in to Australia from where she is now living in New Zealand, and we are getting ready to try to make up for last year. What ever happens though it should be a great weekend with some really fun riding :)

[/mtb/events] link

Issues with blosxom's files and timestamps - 09:42
So one of the problems I have noticed with blosxom for this diary is that due to the fact it simply uses files in a directory hierarchy for all diary entries, the timestamps on the files are used for sorting entries.

A problem with this arises if you need to update or modify an entry, or maybe when recovering from backups or various other similar actions. If the timestamps change, the diary entries are rearranged.

Fortunately as Mikal pointed out, blosxom is a 444 line perl program so trivial to modify. My plan is to use a time stamp in an html comment somewhere in each diary entry file and make blosxom use those to sort the files. Another option is simply using those time stamps in a post processing step and that step can read them and use date (1) with the -d option to ensure they are in the correct order for blosxom. It is not a difficult problem to get around.

[/various] link

Wed, 01 Sep 2004

Earlier agenda next time - 18:37
I put a few items on the agenda for our next lca meeting last night. Talking with Michael Still I decided not to add more this time and we can simply concentrate on getting these few items done, plus our open action items.

One thing of note here, Michael had the view that it appears there are a lot of us meeting fairly often and not getting a whole lot done. Part of this may be because we have a large group of people all rocking up and there really is not a huge amount of work to be done for the conference right now. Another aspect could be I am not managing the people resources as well as I should. Also I may not be delegating and trusting others enough, I really need to find ways to ensure all the lca crew members feel it is their linux conference and if they write announcements and other items in their style without me hanging over their shoulders it may help a lot.

The thing I really need to make time to do tomorrow is to start sending out the updated cfp notice to as many places as possible. Oh yeah anyone who hasnt yet, please submit to our cfp.

[/lca] link


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