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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Other online diaries:

Aaron Broughton,
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March
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2005
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Wed, 30 Mar 2005

Mindless linux.conf.au 2005 flickr fun - 18:30
So I have been seeing these spell with flickr links for a week or two now, I guess repeated exposure eventually became too much and I felt the need to type this one in.


LTrain Logo CircleN_01uXp.e.r.i.o.dCONo parkingF_01p.e.r.i.o.daU
2Brought to you by the number zeroDirty Zeroclaim check 5

Sourced from here.

[/lca] link

Added some feed formats - 16:58
So for some random unknown reason I added rss 2.0 and atom feeds to my diary today. Mikal seems to think it is a good idea, anyway links are at the top and bottom of the page.

[/comp/blosxom] link

Tue, 29 Mar 2005

Sold Out - 23:09
I really need to go to bed, and I still have a TODO list for lca stuff for today that is unfinished, however I feel the need to mention this (even though both Mikal (with countdown) and Jeremy have already done so).

linux.conf.au 2005 sold out earlier today, we have a limit of 500 delegates imposed upon us by the largest theatre in the complex we are using for the conference. We had an alternative plan available to allow for more people we could have implemented 8-10 weeks ago, however registration numbers at the time suggested we should not, thus we stuck with our original limit of 500 delegates.

It is a good feeling to reach this point, though once more I am sure there is still a fairly large amount of work in front of us, all of you coming to the conference, are going to have a great time, if you missed out, book and pay early next year for Dunedin, New Zealand in January 2006.

[/lca] link

First Australian Solo Only 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race - 22:03

From the timing seat with coffee (full size)

Showing the view into the darkness (full size)
On Saturday and Sunday CORC ran the first Australian Solo Only 24 Hour mountain bike race. Similar in style to the MONT Australian 24 Hour Race which we also run, except in this event only solo competitors were allowed, no teams.

At the Mont we have had around 70 to 100 solo entrants the last few years, maybe 15 women and 65 men, we decided to hold the Solo Only race in the hopes that more people would choose to race and try out the solo endurance thing if there was no choice at the event, and the event would be more relaxed due to the significantly decreased numbers. Unfortunately due to our current Event Calendar being rather full, and the fact that you can not run a 24 hour race in Canberra during winter due to the cold temperature, the only weekend we found we could conceivably run this race was over easter.

John Graydon and Russ Baker put a fair amount of work in leading up to and during the race and we had a pretty good event happening, due to the unfortunate dates and that this is the first event of its kind we had lowish numbers. Just under 50 competitors started at midday on Saturday, this is not too bad when you consider that the first Mont 24 Hour we ran back in 1999 only had 160 competitors in total.

I was feeling a little bit guilty as I had avoided having anything to do with running the event or helping out with it (due to other concerns), so when John asked me to come do some timing for a few hours I volunteered, and to help Russ out I thought a graveyard shift would be a good plan. I rocked up and sat at the timing desk entering the riders as they went past from around 11pm until 3:15am or so, it was pretty good to get a feel for what the event was like, definitely different to the Mont now days, a very relaxed and fun vibe around the place, also unlike the Mont where there are riders coming through more than once every 7 seconds even during the night now days, there were often 15 minute breaks between riders passing the start/finish area. I took some photos at around 2:11am (on the left) to show what I was seeing for a few hours there.

I must say, interesting though it may be, I doubt I will start a regular blog update with 02:11am photos, unlike the 09h09 guy I have mentioned in the past.

Oh and I have the results online too.

[/mtb/events] link

Do we really have to use it for good causes? - 12:47
After Mikal put the effort into a high ranking in google for a certain phrase. (he is now the top 4 hits for that phrase in google) It appears other people are keen to be recognised by google and thus the Internet world for for interesting activities, at least if Chris' entry is anything to go by.

The title of this entry is of course in reference to using your google juice for good or evil.

[/comp/internet] link

Mon, 28 Mar 2005

Faster directory reading - 20:13
I suppose if Jeremy is responding to some of Mikal's perl it will not hurt to also.

Mikal asks if there is a faster way to read a directory than using open and ls and stuff. This reminds me of a buttload entry a bit

<Schwern> Are we using perl to generate a shell script?
<Schwern> Its like building a bridge across a canyon so you can tie a rope and cross with that.

Anyway with perl and TMTOWTDI the answer is yes you can do this faster. Michael, the simplest way is simply using opendir and readdir, if you look at the documentation in "perldoc -f readdir" you can probably see an example. Using native perl is always going to be faster than launching a separate shell (which you probably realise, explaining why you wondered if there is some faster way).

Of course looking at the things you have been asking today I wonder if the perl module File::Find may help you out with doing some of the stuff you need.

[/comp/software] link

Sat, 26 Mar 2005

Frame Photos - 22:23
I have placed the photos of my two newly repaired bike frames online so you can see the rather lovely work done by Wayne Kotzur.

[/mtb/gear] link

Plundering Pez in a sideways room - 21:25
I feel the need to link to this, mostly for the following brilliant quote with it's associated imagery.

It boggles the mind how infinitely unlikely this is. It's like if you found someone pirating CDs, and it turns out he actually had a peg leg and a parrot on his shoulder and sailed around the Caribbean saying "arrrrrr!" and plundering booty.

One TV show I enjoyed a great deal about 8 years ago was The Pretender, it was with glee that I saw this Pez dispenser mp3 player on BoingBoing the other day, it would be the perfect item for Jarod who had quite a fascination with Pez.

This is kind of neat, some uni students who were trying to think up a gimmick for a party decided to hold a party in a gravity defying room, other random interest stuff I saw recently, from BoingBoing this flickr gallery of transparent seeming laptop screens, or this comment on the FedEx Logo, I admit until this point I had never even noticed the invisible arrow in the logo either. I suspect the logo kind of works on a semi subliminal level with many people, a traditional going forward image.

Some new technology that enables network traffic to use the human body as the physical layer for networking is pretty neat, I guess avian carriers really are 20th century technology now. The fact that some companies are already testing devices with this technology is pretty cool, I wonder if they will work out ways to enable different body parts to transmit different data somehow?

Many cities around the world have bicycle couriers, alas in Canberra there are none, partly due to the small size but also due to the way the city is laid out (large geographically separate major town centres with the planning and design of the city pushing toward the fucked up car centric retardedness of Las Angeles (of all the cities I have visited around the world Las Angeles is the one I despise the most)), thus I am unlikely to leave my job and become a bicycle courier. On the other hand Toronto does have bicycle couriers, and this guy did exactly that. Got sick of the office life working as a programmer and went to work as a Bicycle Courier. The write up there is interesting reading, he does seem to love his new job, it is good to see people who enjoy their work.

[/various] link

Thu, 24 Mar 2005

Fixed Frames - 18:32
I have broken a frame or two in the last year. My steel KHS mtb frame was in need of a new down tube and top tube, and probably also head tube due to the scale of these replacements. My Lemond road bike was a small break on the drive side of the rear chainstay near the dropout.

Three weeks ago I rang up Wayne Kotzur to speak about getting these frames fixed. Wayne is one of the better frame builders in Australia, although he has not been building many frames recently, he has been doing repairs. Wayne said he was pretty sure he could fix the Lemond quickly and that he would have a look at the KHS and see what he could do.

Yesterday morning I got a call from Wayne saying the two frames were fixed and awaiting pickup. In less than three weeks Wayne had picked up both frames, fixed them both, and dropped them off. The cost, AUD $42 for the Lemond fix, AUD $150 for the labour on the KHS and AUD $98 for the new tubes he had to buy to fix it. Adding GST to that the cost for the KHS repair was AUD $280. This is amazingly cheap, I was expecting between $300 and $400.

I am, as I have said in the past, a fan of steel as a bicycle frame material and these two frames have both been great bikes to ride. As I am happy with the ride characteristics of the KHS (geometry and feel etc) I was keen on keeping this frame. Also the cheapest steel (of reasonable quality) mtb frames available in Australia are the On-One geared frames from the British company On-One, these cost ~ AUD $750.

The Lemond fix was small enough that Wayne applied some primer and some violet paint on top and I can use it with no more painting. The KHS on the other hand needs a new paint job, I am tempted to get it powder coated and will have some fun choosing the colour.

I will take some photos tomorrow of both frames and the areas fixed and upload them for anyone interested to see.

[/mtb/gear] link

Tue, 22 Mar 2005

The Annual Spicy Fruit Bun Festival - 18:05
So I eat a few Easter buns. By easter buns I mean spicy fruit buns sold leading up to, during, and for a little while after Easter. My rant/beef with all this is that no one appears to sell spicy fruit buns most of the rest of the year. Woolworths some years continue selling spicy fruit buns (even with a cross on top) calling them red cross buns or similar until August, however they do not always continue selling these, and it varies from year to year and store to store.

Some bakeries sell a fruit bun year round, however the few I have tried simply do not taste any good due to the lack of spices. The nearest reliable taste I have found is the Tip Top Retreats Raisin Toast which is what I eat the rest of the year (either as raisin toast at home, or at work as an afternoon snack around 6pm with butter)

The bit I do not understand is why there is no spicy fruit bun sold by any of the bread companies, or by bakeries the rest of the year. I can not imagine consumers would not buy the buns during the rest of the year when they buy so many around Easter.

[/leisure/food] link

More Earthsea books - 17:54
Yay, I just found out there are some more books in the Earth Sea Trilogy by Ursula K Leguin. Rather fittingly I found out about the 5th and 6th books in the "Trilogy" after reading some stuff about The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (another well known "Trilogy") on Wikipedia and linking through to the BBC h2g2 site and finding some stuff about fiction books.

I already have the first 4 books in the Earth Sea Trilogy, the last 2 definitely look like they would be worth getting hold of.

[/leisure/books] link

Playing noughts in crosses in hippie clown pants - 10:06
I was wrong in my recollection that the only sitcom I have enjoyed in the last 10 years was Mad About You, I was recently reminded I loved Dharma and Greg (even if Jenna Elfman is one of those disturbing celebrity scientologists, the show rocked). The show ended with a flash of a page of text the producer Chuck Lorre used to say all sorts of random stuff on. Recently BoingBoing had a mention of Chuck Lorre's website that has an archive of all the closing credit messages from the entire run of the show.

Both Bruce Schneier and Metafilter have featured this recently, If your current evil evil overlord plans revolve around world destruction rather than domination you may want to check out this page detailing various methods that may be used to destroy the earth and the possibility any of them will succeed. It appears destroying the earth is more difficult than Hollywood thinks.

BoingBoing had a link to some latte art on flickr (and links to older BB stories about latte art). Definitely cool, though it disappears after your first sip or two. This reminds me of the Guinness head art I have seen, such as 4 leaf cloves, or leprechauns carved into the head of a pint of Guinness. I strongly suspect the occurrence of these art forms is inversely proportional to how good the cafe or pub serving it is (the seeming pretentious quality of the art form just strikes me as something cafes with really good coffee or Irish bars that rock would not be doing)

I keep saying Fafblog is brilliant, yet more evidence of this with their suggestion there has been too much free speech, they also point out yet another place the US government should crack down on once they have silenced bloggers. The Verblogs that happen through out the US on a daily basis are such an obvious security threat. Then of course there is this post, after all, everyone owns a "Big Book of Monkeys an Elephants", an entertaining idea, this reminds me of the British comedian Paul Merton who in Paul Merton the Series (made in ~ 1991) asked the question, what is it with shoe repair and key cutting? Why are two seemingly disparate services so often provided by one vendor. Or even the rather cool baseball caps mentioned in the Dawning fanfic (this a link to Dawning 2, Debby's entire Dawning collection no longer appears to be online) with some of the following humorous combinations on them: "Smith's Feed Store and Discount Cray Computers", "Acme Milking Machines and Reconditioned Atlas Rocket Boosters", "Mom's Famous Apple Pies and Worldwide Diplomatic Initiatives to Go".

The other day Neil Gaiman mentioned a game he plays with his daughter Maddy when they go out for lunch.

Took Maddy to Sakura for lunch, and we played our usual variant of naughts and crosses (AKA tic tac toe) on the inside of the chopsticks wrapper, where we each have to draw something rather than doing Os and Xs. (In the past we've played such epic variants as bunnies vs monsters and fish vs body parts. Today it was mouths vs noses and boys vs girls.)

I thought this sounded cool, my contribution to the art form is below, though I played against myself in The Gimp so it may not count.

Once or Twice I have mentioned that Andrew gave me a really cool T-Shirt, I have yet to model it online however, I have seen photos of Scoble wearing one of these, and various other people. One of Heather Armstrong's legion fans gave her one of these t-shirts the other day so I will leave the model duties up to her. Thanks for the shirt Andrew, very cool

I think it was the Apostropher that had this link, a blog that comments on the wedding entries in the New York Times had something about a somewhat new age seeming wedding the other day. Nothing really that interesting about it (though somewhat frightening possibly) except for some of the quotes in the critique and some in the comments. Such beauties as: "It's like a vegetarian having their dinner plans printed in Beef Magazine", "who wears the hippie clown pants in this family" and "gay vegan robots". It is worth keeping this link around simply for the quotes, and you know the piss taking of weddings advertised in the NYT is probably always good for a laugh.

We all know the Shrub administration is B0rked, the whole thing with schools in the US teaching Christian Creationism rather than the more scientifically founded theory of evolution, well it is no surprise they get away with that sort of crap. I liked the suggestion that, as they claim they teach it as an alternate theory to the scientifically founded theory of evolution, they should in fact teach other alternate theories too.

Lastly, though Alli has probably become bored and stopped reading by this point I feel the need to comment on the Crunchy Mud Alli found herself traversing in Finland. Crunchy mud is indeed cool, we get it fairly often here in Canberra in winter too. Mountain biking in Majura Pines or up in Kowen early in the morning after one of those -7 degree sort of nights I often hear the crackle of mud crunching under my tyres as I ride over what were once squishy but now solid tyre tracks. It is good to see that, despite the cold, Alli and Rusty appear to have had a great time in Finland.

[/various] link

Mon, 21 Mar 2005

This weekend's riding - 20:45
Saturday: Michael Burden (mtb friend) is moving to Melbourne, he had a send off ride at Majura Pines on Saturday afternoon, followed by beers at Edgars. It is sad to see Mike leave, he has been a staunch attendee of the Thursday morning mtb ride for a few years and lots of fun to have along on rides in general. Anyway two hours on the mountain bike, followed by a few beers. A well spent afternoon. 26KM all up.

Sunday: Richard (DeathMarch) rang me up early last week asking if I was keen in a epic sort of ride on the weekend, specifically a lap of Googong dam. We chose Sunday and put the word out, Richard and I rode from home (both of us live inner north) to meet the others out there by 10am. Leaving home at 8:10am we got to the dam fore shores car park at 09:30. Oops a little faster than we may have expected, oh well good chance to lie down in the sun for a while and wait for the others to show. Pete Hanson, John Brown, Jaymz Davies and Jaymz's friend Bryce rocked up to join in the fun. We crossed at Gelignite Crossing rather than venturing the further 4 KM out and 4 KM back for Flynn's crossing. The lap of Googong is 40 KM with the odd hill thrown in. The ride out is 30 KM. By the time I got home I had 100 KM clocked up on the mountain bike.

I have placed the brochure and map onto calyx as the map at least took more than 2 minutes to find with google.

Monday: This being Canberra Day and thus a long weekend in Canberra meant the Bilbys standard public holiday Monday 5 Peaks ride was on. I had volunteered to look after the bunch and do the ride. The 5 peaks were Mt Pleasant, Mt Ainslie, Red Hill, Mt Stromlo and Black Mountain, ridden in that order. The only climbs among those that really require any effort are Ainslie and Black, though even those two are reasonably short climbs. We started a 8am and were finished sitting around at Dobinsons in Civic drinking coffee and chatting by around 11:40am. Approximately 70KM, fun was had. I really do have to get Gary Rolfe out on a ride up Mt Majura sometime as the road up the back of that would be a good addition to the ride, however Gary will not approve it for the Bilbys bunches until he has ridden it himself.

It has been raining fairly heavily for the past few hours so I do not know if I will be able to head out for the 65 KM Cotter/Uriarra ride before work tomorrow yet.

[/mtb] link

Sun, 20 Mar 2005

Are you inspired with your tub'o'lard? - 22:37
The take away at the Lyneham shops is somewhat (in)famous for a speciality they serve. Deep fried Marsbars! Can you imagine, a marsbar dipped in batter and placed in a boiling tub of lard. I can hear your arteries hardening as I type.

I have however just seen evidence of something even more gastronomically extreme, the Apostropher has an entry mentioning a bar in Georgia that serves two rather inspired dishes: "Hamdog: a hot dog wrapped in a beef patty that's deep fried, covered with chili, cheese and onions, and served on a hoagie bun topped with a fried egg and two fistfuls of fries." and "Luther Burger: a bacon cheeseburger served on a Krispy Kreme doughnut bun.". Personally I wonder if anyone actually eats these dishes and lives for more than another 10 minutes.

The Apostropher does on the whole appear to regularly be quiet amusing (or terrifying depending how you view some of the stories they link). As seen by reading about a Japanese Parent Pining for the Fjords or maybe this Legally blind guy who got a gun licence or a US citizen going for a stroll through Canada in winter. I am beginning to think I had better subscribe to this rss feed.

[/amusing] link

Never underestimate the bandwidth - 19:40
The title of course comes from the line in Tanenbaum's computer networks book, "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway."

One of my house mates is running ICQ or similar and it appears to happily use all available bandwidth all the time. This means the latency to Internet sucks for ssh and other interactive stuff. Web browsing even is slowed, and it uses a lot more than half the available bandwidth if I start a large download.

I need to use some form of bandwidth management or queueing on my NAT box, probably something akin to the traffic conditioner mentioned in section 15.8 of the Linux Advanced Routing and Traffic Control HOWTO (which is a little bit out of date now but most of it probably still applies).

I have thought about setting this sort of thing up for a while, so ssh has low latency, however my NAT machine is running an old 2.4 kernel and I do not have the appropriate modules compiled in, the last time I tried a newer kernel out it only got half way through the boot up process. It is time to try another new kernel, this time a 2.6 kernel I reckon, however it will take forever to download 33MB of kernel bzip2 with the current issues on the network. This got me to thinking, it would be faster for me to ride into work, ftp the latest kernel image onto usb memory stick or similar and ride home than it would be for me to download one through the degraded bandwidth into the house.

I would hope I have avoided under estimating the bandwidth of a usb memory stick in a pocket while riding a bike to and from work :)

[/comp/internet] link

Fri, 18 Mar 2005

2005 Polaris Challenge report and photos - 18:49
I have uploaded my 2005 Polaris Challenge report and photos for you all to enjoy (or be afraid upon seeing, wait til you see the outfits :). Thankyou to Marea, the other competitors, the Darkside and the Comboyne community for a most excellent weekend.

At this present time I have not proof read the report, I spell checked it, but that does not fix everything, so I may fix things up, also Marea has not yet read it so she may have some stuff to add or fix when she does.

[/mtb/events] link

Tue, 15 Mar 2005

Are technorati tags doomed to go the way of html meta tags? - 23:09
Has anyone else noticed Mikal has been blogging with great frequency over the past 5 days? Anyway he noticed that technorati tags have been polluted by spammers already. A lot of other people have been wondering when this would happen also. About a month ago I read something written by Anil Kumar (I have no memory of where I found the link to his diary originally)

As he points out, google no longer gives Meta tags any ranking due to spammers, and once google (or any other search engine) starts giving any note to technorati tags spammers will use them. Well it happened, if you search for some topic Mikal has blogged about the top few links almost always point to the technorati category he put the diary entry in. I am sure this is happening to many others, thus spammers are interested.

It looks like technorati tags may well (as many have predicted) be doomed.

[/comp/internet] link

Write like no nobody's watching - 22:35
Okay so I stole the title from the Satchel Paige quote "Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching.", the sentiment applies here however.

Mikal once more mentioned some of the reasoning behind why he started blogging. It is good to see he knows his reasoning and is still happy with this. It appears many people seem to want to do it for strange reasons that almost seem doomed to failure.

Looking at various somewhat prolific bloggers suggest some reasons or methods on how to blog (2005 Bloggie winning entry), why some blogs succeed and some don't and how blogging may help your career (found on Anil Dash) (some of which Mikal and his co-workers appear to have been discussing recently also).

An interesting point, at least to note if a Blog is popular, the people who write them tend to enjoy or love writing. This is upheld in a lot of the above. Blog if you want to and want to write, and want to have something to say. Other reasons will probably not satisfy you. Mikal fits in here as he blogs because he wants to to satisfy his reason for doing so.

As an obvious example, Heather Armstrong won 4 of the 2005 Bloggies, she updates Dooce daily, and puts effort into writing it, she also appears to enjoy writing it. Like free software with Release early, release often as a mantra. Write like nobody's watching, write early, write often, etc. Or at least satisfy your own reasons for blogging.

[/comp/internet] link

There are less efficient message passing algorithms - 21:10
Mikal said something 1 along the lines that leaving messages for others to read in version control logs for a website is the world's least efficient message passing algorithm.

I guess this does depend on your definition of message passing and how the carrier is implemented, etc. It does however seem possible that Mikal has not yet read rfc 1217 (especially when using shuttle launch vehicles) which is likely to be a slower carrier for message passing algorithms than rfc 1149. (unless the avian carriers are dead I guess, which may indicate a need for rfc 2549)

1. What is it with the permalinks in Mikal's diary anyway, they show up on his html output, but my rss feed in liferea does not get a permalink I can copy with right click. Strange.

[/amusing] link

Mon, 14 Mar 2005

Bright shiny head torchy goodness - 15:38

Princeton Tec EOS Light (full size)
I got home from from the 2005 Polaris Challenge late last night (around midnight). Marea and I had a hell of a lot of fun at the event this year. No major mishaps, we fared pretty well. A full report will follow soon. For now I feel like sharing the new toy fun.

For a while I have been thinking I should get a head mounted light I can wear around when camping. One would probably be useful for other stuff also, such as pulling computers apart, or working on a bike, especially doing both activities in sub optimal lighting conditions. The light shines where you are looking and frees up both hands for doing stuff.

The Luxeon LED technology has been getting more and more attractive all the time. Mikey built up a 3 Watt Luxeon star into a very sweet bike light, brighter and far more efficient than a 5 watt halogen light. I had in mind that a Luxeon would make a rather good head torch, brighter than a few LED's and better energy usage than halogen lights.

One of the items of compulsory equipment at Polaris is a torch for the overnight camp, I had a Maglite handy for that, however upon arrival at the event centre on Friday afternoon I saw the Princeton Tec lights Huw was selling at the event and this EOS 1 Watt Luxeon based light was far too tempting to ignore. 3 Brightness levels and a flashing mode.

I used the light a fair bit on Friday night while marking up my map as I found the lighting in the accommodation we stayed too dim, then at the camp on Saturday night I did not even need to use the two brighter settings, in the tent and wandering around camp the dimmest setting was easily bright enough to do everything by.

Lightweight, handy size, probably waterproof enough to swim with so it will survive heavy rain, works well. I am a happy purchaser. The price was reduced from the normal AUD $89 to AUD $69 at Polaris.

[/mtb/gear] link

Wed, 09 Mar 2005

What t-shirts? - 20:51
Sitting at a Bilbys committee meeting, and I am amused somewhat to see Sarah is obviously wearing a T-Shirt Andrew bought her, similarly geeky to the rather cool shirt he gave me, Sarah has "#!/usr/bin/girl" emblazoned across her chest.

Looking around the room there are not many other interesting shirts, Christine is wearing an ANU t-shirt (as a phd student at Stromlo it makes some sense), Dave is wearing an MTB-O Team Finland cycle jersey, Allan is wearing a Canberra Half Ironman 2003 competitors t-shirt, I am wearing my Don't Fear The Penguins t-shirt (given to me by a friend in the US back in 1997 when they saw them on Rob Malda's private web page, there appears to be nothing on the web about these t-shirts anymore, Rob stopped selling them I suppose). Everyone else is doing a better job of not pandering to the capitalist tenancies of blatant advertising on their clothing.

[/various] link

Have a cow - 13:21

2005 Polaris Challenge Map (full size)
The 2005 Polaris Challenge is happening this weekend, last year Marea and I competed in this event, then it was held near Batemens Bay. This year the event has, for the first time ever, moved north of Sydney.

Three weeks ago we were told the event theme (and fancy dress theme) for the event this year was Cows, Dairy and related paraphernalia. Two weeks ago we learnt the location of the event. The event Centre is at Comboyne, inland from the Mid north NSW coast just north of Taree. Marea and I have outfits ready this year and are looking forward to the event, Polaris is always a lot of fun, you have to be a smart and capable navigator, bike fitness alone does not help particularly to amass points.

I have not arranged any sort of Internet connection up there, but I will have my camera and there will be photos online next week sometime. Looking at the event map (pictured left) the area has some pretty nasty hills (event centre at 600m, some places on the map sitting around 50m or 750m above sea level). The map does not look quite as incredibly hilly as the 2003 Polars map in the Burraga area near Bathurst, but (and this comes as no surprise to regular Polaris competitors) the area is anything but flat. We are driving up there tomorrow afternoon to give us all day Friday to gain some familiarity with the area. Fun will be had.

[/mtb/events] link

Tue, 08 Mar 2005

Thinking along the same lines - 18:53
It is kind of funny, though at times annoying, how with distributed groups of people working on similar things, there can be misunderstandings even though you are thinking along the same lines and there really ought not be. Looking at what Joey Hess has just written about a recent Debian release team meeting seemed so familiar to me.

linux.conf.au is run as a project of Linux Australia, it is however run by a team of people selected each year in a new location. Due to this the Linux Australia committee are not on the ground seeing the day to day conference business, and the linux.conf.au crew for any given year do not see the Linux Australia day to day stuff or concerns often.

Both groups of people want the same thing, a kick arse Linux conference each year, however due to the lack of face to face time and the fact that the groups have separate day to day concerns misunderstandings often happen. The good (or bad, depending how you view it) is that when such communication breakdowns or problems occur, after taking the time, or if there is face to face time, to understand what each group of people is actually talking about or saying, it usually seems we were all thinking almost identical things, but somehow the mechanism by which we communicated this did not convey this well.

We can probably all sit around over a beer sometime after the conference is over and laugh at it, and on the whole things happen the way we expect them to.

[/lca] link

Mon, 07 Mar 2005

Minions are one in a million - 21:15
Userfriendly had a link to this photo of a Cornish town named "Minion". Obviously this is one place the British can find a good source of Minions. I found this more amusing than the fact that there is a member of CORC with the surname "Minion".

This all got me to thinking about that line out of The Whitlams song Up against the wall from the Eternal Nightcap album: "She was one in a million, so there's five more just in New South Wales". And it makes you wonder how common are Minions really?

Looking at ABS and using the suggestion from The Whitlams, I found that NSW has a population of ~ 6.7 million currently. Looking up the whitepages I found there are 6 Minions in NSW (8 show up because there are two in ACT). Interestingly none of the Minions show up in NSW in Metropolitan areas. Thus we already can derive some information about minions, if the Cornish example above, and this is an indication. Minions shy away from living in cities in preference for the country. Anyway, in NSW minions are approximately one in a million.

It is interesting however to note that ACT has 2 Minions with a population of ~ 400,000, this means we have more Minions per capita than NSW. I wonder there is any interest in working out Minion density for all the Australian states? Possibly not, unless of course, like Mikal, you have need of some with which to effect your next plan for world domination, whatever it may be.

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No longer getting pickled sex toys. - 15:25
It appears that the google search I mentioned a few weeks back, searching for "purple pickle" no longer returns a sex toy as first hit, I am now first hit. I wonder if I should be pleased or not, of course I could go the other way as Mikal has and attempt to be the first hit on google when people search for pr0n, porn and sex toys. I am not entirely sure that is the best world domination plan available though.

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Missing the point. - 11:42
This is not negative post, despite the title, this is about how incredible the Jodi Martin song by that name is. It can take a few months for an album to grow on me, and often even longer for a new artist. There are of course occasions when a particular song will just open up to me and I will fall in love with it however.

As an example of an album or an artist taking a while to mesh with me, lets use Ani Difranco. When I first started listening to Ani it was due to hearing some of the Little Plastic Castle album played on Triple J back in 1997 or so. I thought at the time that it sounded kind of neat, so bought the album, at first I did not listen to the album much. A few months later I put it back on and started playing it a fair bit more, not long after that I was hooked, something about the whimsy in some lyrics,the poetry in others, the amazing guitar work, the subject matter, whatever. This started my love of Ani Difranco music and lyrics, from then on I was hooked, however it definitely didn't happen immediately.

It still takes a month or two to get hooked on most new Ani albums (though I am, a year later, still not much of a fan of listening to Educated Guess), of course once in a while a song hooks me immediately, such as the new version of the song Not a Pretty Girl that was released on the live double album So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter, that song had me hooked almost from the first note, Ani, in my opinion nailed that song this time round. (before this I liked it enough on the Not A Pretty Girl album, but it was just another reasonably good Ani Difranco song).

I am sure I am no different to many people in how my music taste is caught, or how it evolves over time, enough talking about Ani for now though. I have mentioned Jodi Martin once or twice, I have her live album "Twenty One Stairs".

Now I am not a muso, so unlike BCG I am unable to comment on musical elements with any real knowledge of what I am talking about. (speaking of BCG, I remember one of the cool things about having him as a lecturer in a First Year Computer science subject was he would have Counting Crows, or Van Morrison or other good music pumping through the theatre before the lectures started while we all arrived) I will simply say what I think filtered through my listening capabilities.

After about two weeks, I have to say I like Jodi's music. It is not a simple guitar and singer folk music, there are elements of Reggae and of Blues in the sound she produces and the music. On the whole I think this album will continue to grow on me for a while yet. However one song suddenly hit me, knocking me over and leaving me most pleased to have purchased the album. Track 3 on the album, "Missing The Point" is pretty amazing, opening with solid beats from an Organ or similar, Jodi starts singing and this sounds like some sort of church choir, deep and rhythmic music similar to what you may remember hearing in movies such as Sister Act. The choir feel stays there throughout the song, largely due to the Organ and the rhythm to the lyrics at times. Jodi does however vary her voice and use of lyric delivery bit such that it stays interesting and forceful throughout. I was sitting in my office one night listening to the album about a week after getting it, and this track really did make me stop and listen. Magic stuff.

Update: thinking about it, I am often amused that the Ani album that hooked me was Little Plastic Castle, this is the album was the point at which, if you speak to many of the die hard fans from the early 90s, Ani Jumped the Shark, for so many early fans complained she no longer sounded the same and that they did not like the way her music was evolving. I just don't see the problem, sure it sounds different, but it is still incredible from a lyrics, guitar or simply listening perspective. Ahh well some people will not put up with change easily.

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Thu, 03 Mar 2005

Fruit food - 11:13
At work during the day I tend to eat a fair amount of fruit. I have a carrot, apple, pear, banana and orange. In summer I tend to have a nectarine and a peach also, in winter I have two pears and two apples often instead. For lunch I have a sandwich or similar, then I eat the fruit and carrot through the day. Today I an out of fruit at home, I usually buy my fruit once a week at the Dickson fruit shop, I have not recently had spare time to go stock up during the day and thus I ran out. I wandered across to the Uni supermarket and bought a pear, apple, peach, nectarine and banana a few minuets ago, it cost about AUD $4.50. I buy 6 days worth of fruit at Dickson for AUD $15 - $20. It really shoes why it is more effective to fruit shop at a supplier when you look a the price difference involved. Tomorrow morning, I may just have time to pop over and by more fruit. I do not however think I could possibly get through AUD $200 worth of fruit every fortnight as Mikal said his family does, which means I may not be able to get it home delivered as they do.

Last week on kottke there was a link to an article, "A Vernacular Web", that sort of reminisces about how the web used to be in the 90s. Entertaining to read through and remember what our websites used to be like (I will not link to any of my old geocities pages, even if there is a small chance they still exist, but yes I did create some seeming monstrosities).

Cory on BoingBoing had a link to this article about two British students who are planing to travel to the US and spend 8 weeks breaking lots of stupid laws. Rock on.

I know I should let this one be, but I just love how much fun can be had with the English language sometimes. Michael Davies finished a book review in his diary with the following statement. "On a scale of 1 to 5, this book is a must read.", this of course has me wondering where exactly on Michael's scale, using the numeric units 1 to 5, does the point "a must read" fall?

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Tue, 01 Mar 2005

How many programmers can you fit in a telephone booth? - 19:06
A few months ago Michael Davies wrote about the Fog Creek (Joel on Software) office design. The premise for Fog Creek was, they want to attract and keep the best and brightest programmers, thus they went to the effort of creating office space that would entice these people.

Today Mikal commented "It's impossible to work in a cubicle." suggesting that offices really do help a programmer with their work. I should admit one of the reasons I really like working at a University is they give you an office, Michael has an office here also, as a PhD student, however he does not have one at work as a senior software engineer.

Anyway this all ties in in an interesting manner also to something Lars Wirzenius wrote about recently. Having just read an IBM paper from 1978, "IBM's Santa Teresa Laboratory -- Architectural design for program development" (google can display an html version if you wish), Lars commented on how much it sucks that employers do not seem to think about the environment for programmers as much today as they did then.

I admit it does seem to lack sense for software companies, that base their business on producing good software (well one would hope they do that, though many do not appear to make that a primary goal) would forgo this sort of office plan so often. Michael Davies and Michael Still (both of whom I know personally and respect) both seem to agree with the ideas presented in the IBM paper or by Joel, I wonder how many others agree?

Oh and apparently some people have no idea where I got the title of this diary entry from. You obviously never participated in Telephone booth stuffing.

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