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

Steven Hanley hackergotchi picture Steven
Hanley

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December
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Sun, 28 Dec 2008

Canberra Yacht Club Web Cam - 09:27
So I knew CYC had a web cam so I could view what the wind looked like on the lake to go paddling there. However When I googled for Canberra Yacht Club I only got the Southern Cross club pages (the group that owns the CYC) concerning the club. The link to the actual operational website did not turn up.

Thus this is to remind me where to find the Canberra Yacht Club website and the Lake Burley Griffin webcams linked from the front page there. I guess the URL should have been obvious to me without a google search.

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Wed, 24 Dec 2008

Good Bond - 23:04
My sister and I went to see the new Bond movie today, Quantum of Solace. Although the title is somewhat lame, the movie itself was in my opinion an excellent Bond movie. There was not too much of a focus on action, it was not over the top and the entire move developed the character really well I think.

The dynamics between the major players and what happened through the movie was interesting and entertaining, there was no incredibly annoying and IMO stupid card game like in the previous movie. Also the bond girl thing did not happen as it normally does which I think improved the movie.

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Sat, 20 Dec 2008

Marbled Cupcakes with Blueberries - 08:51

Marbled Cupcakes (fullsize)
So someone on p.l.o.a (who is also vegan) suggested it is the time of year for baking. Who am I to argue, this photo is of a batch of Marbled cupcakes with buttercream icing and blueberries on top from the Vegan cupcakes book I got the other day.

As vegetable shortening is not readily available in Australia (unless I buy some Crisco from David Jones, imported by USAFoods in Melbourne) I decided to simply use Nuttilex in the icing. The other option is mixing in some Copha (which is a coconut oil product, solid at room temperature) however it seems the icing has turned out alright, maybe a bit runny but it worked.

[/leisure/food] link

Fri, 19 Dec 2008

Hamster out of focus - 12:51

Broken Hardware Label (fullsize)
I noticed a hard drive on a bench here with the label affixed to it written by one of us "Broken Harddisk - username - May 2005". Thinking about it I considered the fact that there was excessive information on the label, to anyone here it is fairly obvious that this is a hard drive.

We always ensure broken hardware has a label like this attached with the name of who noted it was broken and the date on which we noted this. However thinking about this excessive information I began wondering if we could instead try messing with people's heads. Instead of saying broken hard disk we could instead say Broken rabbit.

This of course led me to take the photo to the left, after all is that not what you consider and accurate and useful statement about the hamster in the photo?

[/comp/hardware] link

Tue, 16 Dec 2008

Garmin doing good on warranties - 16:43
When my Garmin Forerunner 305 finally really died with the crack and subsequent internal soaking I thought I had to send it away to the US and pay the repair fee in US dollars as well as getting it over there and back. I am happy to report that Garmin is a much easier company to deal with for us Australians than that.

I finally decided I wanted my HRM/GPS enough to arrange the shipping to the US and contacted Garmin. I was pleased to discover they allow you to send it into the Australian Garmin support people and they will repair or replace the unit for the flat fee they use of around AUD $109. I sent mine in last week and today in the mail a brand new Forerunner 305 arrived.

It will be good to be geeking out with my wrist hardware again during my run tonight and ride tomorrow morning. Thanks Garmin for making this an easy and painless process.

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Yay for international book purchases. - 15:29
After reading Little Brother recently I was keen to buy a copy. I also wanted to get hold of the Last Watch book by Sergei Lukyanenko, and I had been keen on getting Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. However of those three only The Graveyard Book was available in Australia already. The Watch book did not get released in the US when it was supposed to, however I discovered it had been released in the UK. The other books were also available there. So i made an order with Amazon UK to get those three books, and while buying from there anyway I also got a copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

I was happy today to receive all of these books in the mail at work, yay some good reading, some fantastic food and hopefully some more things to keep my mind occupied at the moment. Once again showing it would be so much nicer if things were released internationally at the same time so I could have bought them locally.

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Sun, 14 Dec 2008

Dougs again - 23:21
Every time in the last few days I have had time to think or look around it has hurt or I have been upset. Fortunately my friends have helped me out, trying to keep my mind occupied and busy. However today I ended up with a large stretch of time and ended up finally watching the new Doug Anthony All Stars dvd.

I was somewhat ecstatic a few weeks ago when I saw in an ABC shop catalogue that a new Doug Anthony All Stars dvd was available. I have mentioned here from time to time that I am a long term fan of their stuff. I still have the London video and a cd from Edinburgh, however when I moved back from Sydney in 2001 I somehow misplaced my copy of the so called New York video (Live at the National Theatre) and the Edinburgh Years movie. So I have been somewhat bereft of Dougs material to watch.

The new dvd that has been released is a collection of lots of their Big Gig material which is great to see. I remember watching the show when it was first on tv, however I do not remember the content, so to see more DAAS from then is great, I can also see a lot of their material and notice how it changed in the time between those shows and Dead & Alive or DAAS Kapital.

It would be great if more of DAAS Kapital (weird though it often was) were also available now days. I enjoyed watching the first of the two dvds tonight and am happy to say reliving my memories of all those songs and the attitude they would take trying to get a rise out of any situation and to mock and piss take any religion, famous situation or personage if they thought it could be in bad taste or just downright funny was good to keep my mind occupied for a while.

Lots of fun, thanks Tim, Rich and Paul.

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Wed, 10 Dec 2008

And so it appears to be over - 23:31
So after around 7 wonderful months in a loving relationship it appears that as of tonight we are no longer together. I am upset and trying not to cry at everything I see around me. The hardest problem is we both admit to each other we love and adore each other, however due to some concerns about something that happened to us when we met my now ex partner says she feels we can not be together long term. I think it is time to go and cry myself to sleep.

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Mon, 08 Dec 2008

A nice bushwalk - 15:09
A rather uninteresting title, however it pretty well sums up the experience. I had a quick look at some of my maps last week and decided for Friday and Saturday we would head out for an overnight bushwalk from Corin down to Orroral Valley, camp there and then walk up to Honeysuckle Creek and on around the back of Mt Tennant to the Namadgi Visitors centre on the Australian Alps walking track.

On Friday starting fairly late (11am ish in the end) we walked along the Square Rock track, turned off toward Smokers Trail and walked down that all the way to the Orroral Valley walk. We finally stopped and camped in the valley around 4pm and that was really rather lovely.

Doing the late start thing again we did not get going until 11am on Saturday, which was probably a little bit too late as looking at what was in front of us there was a lot of distance, some big hills and some interesting looking tracks. Got to Honeysuckle for lunch around 1:30pm and enjoyed a short rest while eating. Then headed on to the rather spectacular Alpine Walking track, this is a spectacular walk, really lovely bush surrounding you, a variety of scenery and terrain and it finishes off going down the Mt Tennant walking track to the visitors centre.

The walk was really good, however i stupidly did not take the normal precautions I would with my feet for a long rogaine or for an adventure race, so I ended up with blisters on my little toes and just under my big toes. Silly really as if I had simply used socks I know are good for a long rogaine, slathered my feet with Guerneys Goo and put sports tape on at the first sign of any problem I would have been fine. Fortunately my feet are already feeling a lot better today. Fun was indeed had.

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Thu, 27 Nov 2008

Filling the void somewhat - 19:38
For many years one of the best restaurant's in Canberra was Bernadette's at Ainslie shops. This was a true vegetarian cafe/restaurant. Not simply an imitation meat place like Au Lac or Kingsland, sure I like both of those places, however the food and dining experience is very different to that of a place like Bernadette's or in Melbourne Veggie Bar or Soul Food.

The sad thing is Bernadette's closed a few years ago leaving Canberra with greatly decreased vegetarian dining options. The good news is in the last year two new places have opened that bring back the Cafe experience (breakfasts and lunches), one of those is Satis at Watson shops and the other is My Rainbow Dreams at Dickson shops (between the post office and Hudsons) run and owned by Sri Chimnoy students. I of course am used to Sri Chimnoy from the racing side of things.

Though I like Satis, it does not stand out, maybe because they are not incredibly vegan friendly, who knows, though I like it, I do not feel the need to visit there regularly. Rainbow dreams on the other hand is really good. They always have a variety of yummy sweets (cakes, cookies, chocolates) that are vegan. They have vegan ice cream and can do smoothies and milkshakes. Their scrambled tofu is really tasty and so far every time I have had it I have enjoyed it.

On top of their standard menu they often have a yummy vegan bake of the day, they have a number of different soups and curries and pies available for take home meals. You can also read a bit about Sri Chinmoy there and buy some of the books (plus they have other interesting items to buy unrelated to Sri). Also you can buy ice cream cones from them which should appeal to more than just the Vegetarian crowd, maybe that will help hook them.

I also have had a few good talks with the people working there and am glad to hear they are enjoying doing the vegan cooking and baking, also they are interested in trying new recipes and I will probably exchange recipes with them from time to time. After all more Chai Latte Cupcakes being made anywhere would rock.

Every time I have eaten there (I have tried to get there once a fortnight for a while now) I have enjoyed the food and been greeted by friendly staff. I really would recommend it to anyone, not only vegetarians, they make an effort to show how good really healthy food can taste for anyone. I am happy to see My Rainbow Dreams successfully bringing some really good vegetarian/vegan food back to Canberra.

[/leisure/food] link

Easy Dell HSDPA SIM access - 12:15
So my Dell XPS M1330 came with a built in Dell 5520 WWAN HSDPA card. This shows up on the USB bus and appears to work in Linux using usbserial (with vendor= and product= arguments to modprobe) with ttyUSB0 appearing correctly in /dev.

Originally I had no intention to use it, and the laptop came with it specced for Vodafone usage. Recently however Telstra and Optus have both started offering prepaid wireless broadband. I was wondering how easy it would be to change the SIM to one of those networks. After all lsusb currently outputs

Bus 002 Device 019: ID 413c:8138 Dell Computer Corp. Wireless 5520 Voda I Mobile Broadband (3G HSDPA) Minicard EAP-SIM Port

The book that came with the laptop has good instructions on how to pull it apart and access various parts of the hardware. So I had a glance at the WWAN instructions and was easily able to open it up and look at the device. However when I did this I discovered that the SIM was not attached to the device at all.

At this point I googled more accurately for details about the location of the SIM in Dell laptops with HSDPA devices. It was at this point I discovered an article on the Register that said Dell's are not tied to Vodafone and quite plainly pointed out to me the location of the SIM is in the Battery bay.

And hey presto an easily accessed Vodafone SIM is indeed sitting right there, it should be no problem to put a Telstra or Optus SIM in on a prepaid plan. Telstra appears to have better coverage by far, their USB devices may or may not work with Linux, however I know from experience the Optus USB device does work with Linux. However I do not need either for this laptop, Optus offer a SIM only prepaid kit for AUD $30, Telstra do not mention offering it, however forums suggest you can walk into a Telstra shop and ask for a 3G prepaid kit and request that it be wireless broadband enabled for around AUD $30 also.

The other nice thing I would like to note from this experience is how good the book that came with the laptop from Dell is, that it has good detail about accessing most of the hardware in the laptop is very useful and means you are less likely to break things if you want to look inside.

[/comp/hardware] link

Tue, 25 Nov 2008

30th entertainment - 12:48
So I did the ride up to Goulburn after work again yesterday and rode back this morning. My legs are a bit sore, however they do not feel as bad as last Monday so maybe I am getting some riding form back. The time up was 2h55m including 5 minutes stopped inspecting a tyre and pumping it up (I was worried it was flat, however it had simply gotten low in the week and a half since pumping it up) and on the way back this morning 2h50m. I had a headwind most of the way up last night and this morning really noticed a strong headwind along Lake George, however the rest of the ride felt relatively head wind free.

The subject I guess is in relation to the fact I turned 30 yesterday, a few people were asking if I was doing anything for my 30th, they seemed surprised to hear I was choosing to ride to Goulburn after a day at work.

I am getting more and more tempted to get my Lemond steel road frame fixed and get that road bike running again, the cyclocross bars on my Jake the Snake are not as comfortable on long road rides (small drop, my hands do not fit as well) and I think the steel frame will probably be a little bit nicer anyway on that ride. Also the bars on Jake, being oversized and with cyclocross brakes in the way make fitting a time trial bar hard, I am thinking more and more I would like a time trial bar on the bike for the ride to Goulburn and back. It should allow me to knock a few minutes off without much effort and stay somewhat comfortable doing so once I am used to using it.

The only problem with the above idea is I will look far too much like a triathlete doing that.

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Fri, 21 Nov 2008

Racing? Who's racing its speed wilderness tourism! - 17:12
I mentioned some of my friends doing XPD in Tasmania back in 2006. For some reason I did not make mention here last year of XPD 3 in the Whitsundays that some of my friends were also racing in.

Right now, xpd 4 is on and teams are closing in on the half way point. They started at around 2pm on Wednesday and have been going pretty much non stop since. The weather is pretty cold and wet down in the Victorian alps at the moment and there are blizzards forecast in the higher region the ~ 210 KM bike leg will be passing through.

Danielle, Dave, Randall, Heather, Libby, Chris, Nathan, Bleeksie, Danealle, Keith, Matt, Wayne and Sean all appear to still be out there having a lot of hardship^Wfun. Good to see Tangerine and Blackheart/Salomon are in the top 3 after 2 days of racing.

I have to thank the bio for Jerome from the Securify team for the quote I used in the title of this post. I think it sums up one of the joys of XPD well. Speed Wilderness Tourism is a lot of fun.

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Tue, 18 Nov 2008

Dinner reading, that got extended - 10:11
For a while now I have been meaning to read the Cory Doctrow book Little Brother, it is not yet available in Australia (being released in January next year) and I was not sure enough I wanted it to get it from Amazon. Fortunately for me Cory has it available for download so you can make your mind up. I decided to open it and read a bit while I ate dinner last night.

I ended up finishing the book (fortunately a light read), I have to say it really is good, highly entertaining, realistic in that you can see how that situation could already happen in the world, and though I am a computer geek and thus aware of the technologies discussed I have to agree that it is well presented and can inform a huge number of people about what they can do with computers (and what is done by authorities) if they just sit down and read the book.

I want to buy a book that is being released on Amazon on November 25, so I am now happy to say I can add a copy of Little Brother to the order when I make it. Sure the book is apparently a Young Adult novel, however as is so often the case (Neil Gaiman's recently released The Graveyard Book for example) a so called youth aimed book may still offer many delights and interesting content to anyone who reads it.

Thanks Cory for a entertaining and informative tale.

[/leisure/books] link

Mon, 17 Nov 2008

That was better - 10:26
Unlike last week when I had many punctures on the highway, this morning I got home with none. I bought a new pump and two new tyres for the road bike last week, the new tyres are Specialized Armadillo's which are rumoured to be the most puncture resistant road tyres available. I did not bother with Kevlar rim strips as they slide around, are hard to put in place and may even cut into tubes.

The other nice thing was I made it home in 2h40m from Goulburn today, which gives me hope that once I get a bit more speed and fitness back on the bike I can reliably do the ride in under 2h30m even with a bit of wind around. (admittedly the conditions were almost perfect this morning, cool, overcast, not much wind). I look forward to seeing how I go on Wednesday.

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Wed, 12 Nov 2008

Comedy of punctures - 12:24
After work yesterday I again headed out to ride to Goulburn with the plan to ride back early this morning. I was still feeling a bit rough and coughing, I don't think from a cold, I suspect more from just pushing myself pretty hard at the Gravity 12 Hour race, I tend to forget, although it does not feel that hard at the time, doing an enduro event in a team does take its toll on my body. So I felt I was riding a little bit slower than I wanted to, however I was on track to get out there in just under 3 hours. I had to get to a dinner celebration and was cutting it close time wise anyway.

As I passed Collector my saddle bag snapped off again, I stopped to put the bag in my camelback pack and noticed my front tyre had a slow leak and was almost flat. I stopped longer to pump it up again and got back to riding. Around 12 KM later I noticed the front was almost flat again, now I was only 20 KM from Goulburn, however due to the stops and likely needing to stop more for more pumping I was running late for dinner and decided to call and ask to be picked up at the Federal Hwy turn off toward Canberra as I could get there pretty quickly. That arranged and fine I rode on, 2 minutes later my rear tyre got a puncture and went flat instantly. I stopped, changed the tube, extracted the wire that caused the puncture, pumped up and rode on.

I arrived at the place I would be picked up and while waiting changed my front tube as well and started patching the tubes that were flat (I carry two tubes and a patch kit on my road bike). With one tube fixed and starting the second tube I was picked up, threw everything in the car and got to Goulburn. It was only when we got there I realised I had left my pump lying on the verge off the side of the highway. Eep, fortunately I had pumped up both my tyres and fixed one tube. I hoped I would be able to pick up the pump from the verge in the morning, not get a flat in the first 12 KM of riding and make it home.

Getting to sleep fairly late after the rather fun dinner went very late I decided I would have to leave later than planned as only five and a half hours sleep would not help me in riding home. I got on the bike riding back by 7:35am, planning to make it home by 10:30am and to work by 10:45am. When I got to where I left the pump, I did find it, however a truck or something had been a long way onto the verge over night and flattened and shattered the pump. Oh fantastic, well I did not have any flats last week so I could hope I would make it home without any more.

Luck was not with me, within 2 KM my rear tyre went completely flat with another puncture. I was able to make it to a rest area and started asking some people stopped there if it was possible to get a lift to Canberra. I was incredibly lucky that one man there in a ute on the way to a work site in Canberra offered me a ride home. I ended up arriving around 9am and actually got to work at a reasonable sort of time.

I have always known flats are a little more likely on the Federal Highway than other places due to the amount of small stuff coming off cars and trucks that are on the road much more than on smaller roads. This time all three flats were caused by small (1 to 2 cm lengths) bits of steel wire most likely from the steel belting in car and truck tyres. I also knew my back tyre was more vulnerable due to being close to worn out and in need of replacement. Last week I was lucky to do the ride with no flats.

I will replace the back tyre and I think try putting Kevlar belts inside my road tyres under the tread so small bits of wire or glass are less likely to be able to get to the tube and buy a new pump of course. I am in debt and thankful to the person who gave me a lift to Canberra this morning and lucky to have been able to get a lift in such a way. I hope positive Karma goes out to him in some way soon for this generous gesture to me.

Lets hope my next trip remains puncture free.

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Tue, 11 Nov 2008

My map board - 13:39
Just as an assist so I can google my memory easier, I often need to remember what brand my map board is, rather than have to search through email or similar from when I purchased it a few years ago I should just have a link here telling me I have a Windchill Map Board. I really like these boards (I have two in the garage at home) as they sit a bit higher than Miry and also the screws to attach them are not so fiddly and short (so I am not afraid of them coming out and being lost to such an extent). They are a little heavy, however they are well constructed and have good support. I had to get one of them fixed in 2007 and the replacement part was cheap and sent up to Canberra quickly. Thanks Windchill for a good, functional, well priced product.

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Mon, 10 Nov 2008

Gravity again - 14:48
I was once more able to go down to Victoria this weekend and compete in the Gravity 12 Hour mtb race with Sam and Ben. I think we are all pretty happy with our race. Of the 195 teams there racing on the day we came 29th overall. The mixed threes category was again pretty hot, the overall winning team also won mixed threes. Interestingly the rest of the top places in this category were all on the same number of laps as us (19, compared with the 22 laps of the winners), though the team in front of us finished their 19 laps 10 minutes in front of us.

I keep going on about not having much speed at the moment, and it is kind of true that I was going at a pace further below anaerobic than I probably would with more bike time in my legs, I was still remarkably fast. With pretty much an identical loop to last year I managed to do most of my laps only 2 or 3 minutes slower than the same laps last year. Also interestingly my lap times got a bit faster as the day progressed, first lap above 38, second two below 37 minutes, fourth and fifth around 37 to 37:30 then the final lap (only half in gathering darkness) was only a minute slower at 38:30. My cycling base is standing me in good stead and now I just have to build up again and get some speed back. The build up of good endurance will be helped by riding to Goulburn and back a bit. The race speed I am not sure I will get around to working on as I never seem to any other time.

Previous years are 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and a mention of 2007 here.

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Fri, 07 Nov 2008

This week in exercise - 11:10
After getting home on Tuesday I did not head out for any more exercise that day. On Wednesday I still felt a bit tired so did not road ride in the morning. I did however go to the paddle time trial that evening. Cracked 54 minutes with only around 100m of drafting so was fairly pleased with that. Due to being at a CORC Committee meeting until after 11pm and then having to return my boat to its shed I did not head out to ride or anything on Thursday morning. Went for another paddle, this time a fairly easy 8km with a friend in Matilda last night.

This morning I headed out on the Friday morning mtb ride as normal and we all had fun. Tonight I will drive down to Rosewhite in Victoria to compete in the Gravity 12 hour for the 6th year running. Should be a fun race there tomorrow with Sam and Ben. I have not done any running since before my recent cold and should try to get out for some next week if I can. At the moment I am mostly hoping the race is not particularly wet this weekend.

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Tue, 04 Nov 2008

A few road kilometres - 14:47
So I will likely be going to Goulburn a bit over the coming months. I thought the best way to get there and back is of course on a road bike. A 90 KM ride each way is a good hit out for the legs, who knows I may start to get some modicum of bike fitness and speed back if I do this.

I rode out there after work yesterday, leaving home at 4:45pm I arrived around 7:40pm. I ran out of water, only carrying two full 750ml bottles. I wasted some time trying to find rest stops on the way out with potable water, however they all say not safe for drinking now days. I decided to live by Crash's quote, "Dehydration is now, gastroenteritis is later" and ended up filling up from a rest stop anyway. The ride there was remarkably nice, a head wind along Lake George but a side wind in many other places during the ride.

This morning, due to today being a public holiday in Canberra (and Victoria), I was able to take it easy coming back. I had a coffee this morning at the bike shop/cafe/greengrocer Greengrocer on Clifford which as a truly fantastic place (both in concept and in real life) then started my ride home. Annoyingly I had a head wind the entire ride home, also due to my lack of riding this year I did start to suffer pretty badly by the time I reached the climb out of Lake George. In the end the ride home took me around 3h20m so a bit longer than the ride out.

Hopefully this bit of riding will help me out at the Gravity 12 hour race this weekend in Victoria, especially as Sam has a new bike, so she will be on fire with fast laps and Ben has been doing some pretty hard exercise recently so has some fitness on him. It will be interesting to see how this same ride feels when I try it next week. Due to the highway being a bit boring and noisy I had my rockbox enabled Ipod playing the whole ride and stayed as far onto the verge as I could most of the time.

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Mon, 03 Nov 2008

Stonefest was fun - 15:28
As I mentioned, on Friday and Saturday I headed out to Stonefest at UC. The best acts I saw, IMO, were The Grates (wikipedia) and rather surprisingly for me (as I tend to dislike hip hop sort of stuff) TZU (wikipedia). Other good performances were Regurgitator (wikipedia) (they played a really good set of their music), Faker (wikipedia) (because their lead singer (Nathan?) is a really lively and charismatic performer) and of course what was really the headline act of the festival The Dandy Warhols (wikipedia) were good.

Patience had a lot of energy on stage during The Grates set, also she did some crowd surfing and seemed to be having a lot of fun. TZU had a really interesting feeling of energy and enjoyment about what they were doing. Also a rather cool sense of humour came through in their playing and lyrics I thought. Though I did not cotton on to the music played by Faker much I was amazed by the antics the lead singer got up to and it really made their set fun. The crowd was a bit rude on Friday night (no idea why, they seemed much better behaved by Saturday), so there were some unfortunate things that happened, such as some heavy object being thrown into Quan's head during the Regurgitator set, frankly I would not have blamed him for stopping and walking off stage when it happened as it seemed to knock him around pretty badly. I did see a number of other objects in the air, such as a shoe narrowly missing the Faker singer while he was up on a stage support pylon and a number of cans of drink thrown toward the bands or over the top of the stage.

However if I simply ignore the annoying incidents the festival was fun and you were able to get remarkably close to the front without being mauled much when compared to the squash that may be experienced at bigger festivals.

[/leisure/music] link

Wed, 29 Oct 2008

Some more paddling - 20:42
So I am definitely not doing the Hawkesbury classic this weekend, as I had not paddled more than 10 KM in one hit between March 30 and last Sunday (the paddle I did on Sunday was a cruisy 18 KM in Matilda with Danielle) I am simply not prepared to do 100 KM in one go this weekend. Instead I will go to Stonefest and Cirque du Soleil this weekend, pretty much going completely the other way from an all night exercise fest.

However I have finally been paddling a bit more, on the weekend I did the 18 KM paddle I mentioned, and as day light saving happened the BGCC time trials have been on again. So far I have managed to rock up to two of them. One two weeks ago and another tonight. Surprisingly when I consider the fact I had not paddled at pace since March and I have not paddled much, and that tonight I am still suffering from the effects of a cold I have had for a week and a half now. I managed to do somewhere in the 54 minute range both times for the 9.6 KM time trial.

I am fairly happy with this as I was expecting to be a lot closer to 60 minutes again now, I guess I have the technique improving now days and doing the time trial more over summer will simply help me refine both technique and paddle fitness.

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Tue, 21 Oct 2008

Another great few days of food in Melbourne - 22:26
Although we are blessed in Canberra to now also have My Rainbow Dreams at Dickson for vegetarian/vegan/ceoliac eating (along with the limited selection elsewhere in Canberra for dedicated vegetarian friendly eating). As I noted after my last trip to Melbourne they really have it good down there for a huge variety of great places to eat.

Arrival was Saturday afternoon, stayed with friends and had home cooked food, then Sunday morning brunch was had at Invita (scrambled tofu and a number of yummy cakes/muffins were eaten/sampled), dinner that night I wanted to go to Lentil As Anything again however the St Kilda restaurant had run out of food by 8pm and it was too late to get to another. Fortunately there was a Mr Natural (the pumpkin pizza and vegan pizzas were both tried, both with Vegan cheese on top also) vegetarian pizza outlet across the road. They have vegan cheese and all was well. Their pizzas were good, though not as spectacular as I had hoped.

Monday morning brunch was at Soulfood (Vegan big breakfast and a number of muffins and cakes were sampled/eaten) which was good, then dinner at Soul Mama (I had the medium, which allowed me my choice of rice and 4 of the dishes to be served with it, all I tried were very good) in St Kilda (on the waters edge in the baths complex) which was large, vegetarian, fantastic view sitting looking over Port Phillip bay and a large variety to choose from at pretty good prices. Lots of yumminess.

This morning I met up with an mtb friend for breakfast, once more at Soulfood, then had a soy chai later in the day at Invita again, then I had lunch at Vegie Bar (Mee Goreng which is hokkein noodles, tofu, mushrooms, tomato sort of sauce with some chile, veggies and a peanut sauce) before flying back to Canberra this afternoon.

Oh and I had the chance a few times over the trip to go past Lord of The Fries again and actually was able to try out the vegan nuggets, definitely yummy and highly recommended.

[/leisure/food] link

Tue, 14 Oct 2008

An excellent Mal Webb gig - 13:09
I have not been to the National Folk Festival for a rather long time now, largely because there almost always is some mtb or similar event on at Easter I tend to be somehow involved with. This may explain why I had never seen Mal Webb, or maybe he was there last time I was and I missed him. Anyway I was able to rectify my lack of knowledge about Mal Webb when I saw him at the Folkus room in Mawson on Friday night.

This man is an incredibly talented musician who also happens to be really funny and a fantastic performer, he also seems to understand use of sound and instruments better than almost any performer I can think of. The performance was a lot of fun, and seeing him use his repeat loop box, drum beats form his mouth, pygmy yodeling and a lot of sampling of sounds plus really funny lyrics was worth far more than the entry fee to see the gig of $15.

I ended up getting both the cds he had for sale at the gig, his new album "Dodgy" and his second album "3 Cheers for Peace and Quiet", I have had them both on repeat on my ipod yesterday and today. (I was working out at the 24 hour mtb race at Stromlo all weekend so could not listen to them there). Anyway I have to highly recommend all of his music, and suggest trying to catch him if he plays near you. My favourite song by far is "Your One Drop" though I am sure that will chop and change as I listen to his stuff more. Anyway you can hear that song on Mal's Myspace page. While you are there listen to Carrot, URFES and anything else you can too.

I suppose you could almost expect me to love this music, after all as they quote on his website, Ani Difranco's assessment of Mal is "You're a freak".

On a side note related to this performance, I have never been to the Folkus room before, so when we sat down I was looking around at the decorations and what do I see but a curtain with a large black and white photo of Robert Johnson on one of the curtains hung up in the venue. Earlier on Friday I had read/heard about Robert Johnson for the first time reading an article in Vanity Fair about a potential 3rd photo of him that has now been seen publicly.

[/leisure/music] link

Fri, 10 Oct 2008

Signs and shirts - 12:20
A few years ago I mentioned a cool t-shirt from a company in the UK called Puzle. I always refer to this as a free ride crossing shirt. However they called it something else (road sign or some such). I never bought one even though I really liked the design as they were far too pricey (something like GBP £25, not including postage). The online store has closed sometime in the past few years.

Since that time the store closed and I was never really able to find the image again. Using my old post, the Internet archive and a Google search I found the page on Singletrack that had copies of the image. They still had the image on Singletrack, so now you too can see the free ride crossing t-shirt including the variety of colours available. Tres cool, almost tempting to print one myself as a one off now I have the image.

What led to the slightly deeper search for the image was that I saw an entertaining quote on an image in an online article yesterday about confusing traffic signs in the US. Their interpretation of sign number 8 was I thought most amusing. "Yield to people doing wheelies, backwards, into traffic." And I suppose you really should yield to a cyclist doing that, if for no other reason than to stare and wonder. Of course it is entirely possible for fixed gear cyclists to wheelie backwards (as you can see 50 seconds into that video) so the idea is not completely out of left field, simply somewhat unusual.

The free ride crossing t-shirt also makes one think of alternate ways highly skilled riders could cross roads. There was the gap jump over the Tour de France a few years ago (2006 Tour I think). Kind of like A and B lines for road crossings.

[/various] link

Thu, 09 Oct 2008

Silicon Support Bracelet Breakages - 15:26

Some of my previously broken bracelets (fullsize)
So the good news is that it is October, otherwise known as Breast Cancer Month, which means all the pink ribbon products are in the shops that support the cause. Although I am tempted to buy an entirely pink mountain bike such as is sometimes seen in competitions around this time of year I have instead limited my make a statement style pink purchases to the silicon wrist bracelets.

The photo to the left shows some of the broken bracelets. Strangely they just do not last particularly long. I buy 4 or 5 every year and that pretty much lasts until the following October. Still far more interesting that LAF yellow bracelets IMO and they match a lot of my race gear better. Also they still support cancer so I am not completely deserting the idea behind LAF Livestrong bracelets.

[/various] link

Slightly different weekend - 15:14

Matilda on the shore of Myall Lake (fullsize)
So the weekend of kayaking turned out a little different to the original plan. We had to leave later than planned on Friday so went to Sydney and stayed at Jane's place. Had breakfast at Badde Manors on Saturday morning with Jane then headed up through torrential seeming heavy rain to Taree. Not wanting to kayak or camp in the rain we stayed at my Aunt's place, had lunch with more family who came to visit on Sunday and finally got down to Myall Lakes on Sunday afternoon to head off to camp somewhere.

The lakes are a gorgeous area and I am hell keen to go back for a longer trip sometime. The weekend on the whole was enjoyable even though it turned out differently to the plan. It may be nice to camp on the lakes at a non long weekend/holiday sort of time (school holidays are on currently) as there would be less speed boats and water skiers around (you can see a speed boat in the photo). The peaceful camping was rather often disturbed by the noise of power boats. Still it was all fun really.

[/various] link

Wed, 01 Oct 2008

A little bit of exercise - 16:35
On Sunday I once again had the opportunity to compete in the Sri Chinmoy Googong Multisport Challenge. Somehow, even though I have hardly done any exercise (read training) in 6 months, I fell out of the boat in the paddle leg (and took almost 10 minutes to get back in due to the waves washing into my boat coming from the other side of the dam with the wind) and set a pace that felt like cruising in all the legs on Sunday I was only around 2 minutes slower for the entire race than last year. I have no idea how I managed that, but hey what does it matter, the race was a lot of fun and everyone there seemed to have fun.

Due to not sleeping well on Sunday night and probably being a bit tired from the race I did no exercise on Monday and simply went to stretching class. Last night I went for my first real night ride, at night on the mtb, in quite a while with Sam. She was trying out a potential new bike, I took out the single speed and gave the ayups a good hit out. Night riding is fun I need to do more of it. This morning I went with the medium bunch in the road ride, however sat on the front most of the ride so got some work out, I still need to pick my cycling up again. I am looking forward to starting to do some more serious KM on the bike again in the coming months.

Exercise wise I am beginning to doubt I will be able to compete in the Hawkesbury Classic this year. After last year I have a fairly good idea about what preparation I need to do for the race. I have hardly sat in the boat for more than 50 minutes at a time paddling this year, I definitely have not done a few 30 KM paddles or other good preparation. I also do not feel as confident as I would like in my black boat at the moment to go for an overnight exhausting paddle in it. As the event is on November 1st and 2nd I do not have much time to decide so really have to come to terms with the event and how I want to approach it, or simply skip it until next year.

I am heading up to Myall Lakes this long weekend to have a weekend of kayak camping in Matilda, however I am not classing this as paddle training for Hawkesbury.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 25 Sep 2008

Doing it backwards or unlink returning ENOSPC - 16:28
So this is not directly Linux related, however it is kind of entertaining/strange. I have been mucking about with Solaris Logical Domains a bit this week at work, as part of this I was reading up on how ZFS works. This may well apply with LVM snap shots in Linux now also. However when reading about out of space behaviour on ZFS with snapshots I was somewhat entertained to see one specific point.

Due to the way snapshots work on ZFS there is a possibility you will get an ENOSPC returned when trying to unlink (rm) a file. This is of course completely reversed from the intuition most people will have, to free up space remove some files. Out of curiosity I looked in the unlink man page on Linux and in the rm source code on Linux, at a cursory glance neither of them will deal with ENOSPC (unlink does not mention it as an error).

Without testing my guess is that in such a case unlink (2) would return EIO.

[/comp] link

Mon, 22 Sep 2008

Dark Knight, good - 13:26
Yesterday I finally had time to go along to see The Dark Knight (wikipedia) which I have been looking forward to for a long time, since the previous Batman movie, Batman Begins, was IMO the best super hero movie ever and really a fantastic movie to see this new one promised to be good. It was, however I still think the Batman Begins movie is significantly better.

Yes Heath Ledger's Joker was incredible, redefining the character on screen (though to learn why this is not exactly new for the character in comics, have a look at this good post about why The Joker is The Batman's arch enemy to get a good understanding of the character and how it has developed) and the humour in some of the characters (notably the superbly cast Alfred and Lucius Fox) was still evident as it was in the first movie. However though this was a great super hero movie, it did not I think bring enough of a new look into the primary characters that we did not already see in the previous film.

Maybe I feel let down a bit as some comments online I have seen since the movie was released suggested we got a fantastic look into Batman's internal battle with his psyche and his wish to break his own rules, however I just did not really see that come up in the movie that much. Sure it appeared, but not in a defining or challenging way to the audience. We also did not get to see the extension of the Batman myth by his own behaviour to the same extent as we did even in the half of the first movie we saw Batman in Batman Begins.

I should clarify this by saying I still think this was a great movie, and the second best super hero movie ever, however I think it is possible it could have been better, though I do not quite know how.

[/leisure/screen] link

Pygmalion and Annie in one day - 12:40
On Saturday I had been intending to go along to see the play Pygmalion at Canberra Rep (play link), I like Canberra rep, a friend (Jess) is playing Eliza, and the matinee at 2pm seemed like a good time to see it. So along I went, it was a good production, came off seeming rather professional and definitely got the story out well. The actor playing Freddy did a good job of appearing to be an annoying idiotic fop. I liked this, not as much as I enjoyed Arcadia, however mostly because I found that story fascinating and the presentation with the dual times acting at once really cool and I had never seen or read the play previously. Still a good play and I recommend it.

While at theatre 3 I saw the ad for Annie playing at the Erindale Theatre performed by the Canberra Philharmonic Society, however the last night of the season was Saturday, so if I wanted to see it that was the only night to do so. I have not seen Annie live before, and though I remember watching the movie when I was young I do not remember much about it. About all I remembered was it was about a red head orphan girl and adoption or something by someone rich. Oh and a scene with her on a bridge with cables and lights and stuff all around in the dark.

It was interesting to see both the shows in one day, the performance of Annie was good, even though it was a more expensive show it seemed less professional and practised than the Pygmalion play. Maybe I do not go to enough musicals to really get the feel for them. They also had to deal with kids and animals (yes they had a live dog on stage, happily sniffing crotches (its own and an actor's)) and a rather large cast. I still think both were worth seeing and both were indeed entertaining so fun was had.

[/leisure/theatre] link

Fri, 19 Sep 2008

I had a health scare - 13:33
So I have been thinking whether I should write about this here or not, however I largely keep this diary as a way of reminding me about stuff or looking up things that have happened (a web search-able interface to my memory) and what happened was significant.

I have been a diagnosed Insulin Dependant Diabetic (Type 1) since October 4th 1995. In my case I have 4 or 5 injections of insulin a day and have to monitor my health and sugar levels and my diet and exercise regime to a greater extent than most people.

In the last 13 years I have never had a hypo (not enough sugar/too much insulin) or hyper (too much sugar not enough insulin) that required medical intervention. When I have my sugar levels go low, say overnight, I have always previously woken up with some of the symptoms (sweating, shaking) and have been able to go and get some food.

On Wednesday night this changed, at around 4am I became aware of my surroundings, with my light on, paramedics all around me, a big needle in my right arm and my partner off to one side dressed in work clothes. I had a diabetic hypo that I did not wake up to and was unable to handle myself. I have no memory of any of the goings on (even though I apparently was sort of responding and pointing and sat up for the paramedics and had a needle put in my arm). My partner said I was coughing and she asked if I was alright, I did not respond in a sensible manner and she worked out there was something very wrong with my behaviour and I guess realised I was not aware of myself properly.

Fortunately the paramedics were able to get my sugar level back to normal and I was able to stand up and then go and get some real food to keep the sugar levels up until breakfast time. I was also very fortunate my partner was there and noticed the problem and acted upon it effectively. Yesterday morning I saw my GP, got a referral to see the endocronologist I have always seen, some forms for all the blood tests and other related tests I do at least once a year and I bought myself a new Blood Glucose Meter which is a lot faster to use and requires less blood than my old one.

As for why it happened, and why I did not wake up or respond as I always have previously to my body displaying the symptoms of low blood sugar. It is a combination of things and a mistake I made before bed on Wednesday night. After two tough runs on Tuesday I had been feeling fairly flat and did the medium road bunch ride on Wednesday morning, at the end of what would normally be an easy ride for me I felt absolutely wasted, I felt more run down and unable to ride than I have for many many years. I think I felt worse than I have after 24 hour solo mountain bike races or 2 days of non stop adventure racing.

So I suspect my body was very depleted in its energy stores and needed some time to recover before things functioned normally. I did not head out for a paddle on Wednesday night, however we had dinner as normal and I had baked some yummy chai latte cupcakes. I was feeling bloated and my tummy felt somewhat expanded or sore for most of Wednesday evening, thus although I had a cupcake not long before bed I did not feel like eating more. I should have stopped and done a blood test, however simply skipped my supper, had my night time injection and went to sleep.

The problem there is skipping my supper which is generally a necessary part of my diet to balance the long term insulin I have before bed to last through the night. I do not know why I felt so bloated, maybe it was part of my body reaction to feeling so run down and sore from the exercise strain, maybe it was unrelated. However the combination of my body not being in its normal state and thus probably needing rest and thus not responding as per normal to low blood sugar and forcing me awake so I can get food into myself to counter act a low and the fact I did not eat my supper so I was far more likely to run out of sugar in my body overnight before the insulin ran out combined to make this a problem.

This was definitely quite a nasty experience and also a kick in the pants to make me pay a lot more attention to my diabetes again and work to keep it stable and ensure I stick to my proper eating plan.

[/various] link

Tempting fate - 09:38
So I know this is unfortunate news for the North Lyneham shops, and I really hope the organic farmers market shop has come through unscathed, however this news item I noticed from ABC makes me wonder if maybe the owners of the fitness centre that burnt down last night were not tempting fate a bit when they named their business "Flames Fitness".

[/various] link

Thu, 18 Sep 2008

Pip... - 18:41
So I am not sure this should be in a leisure category, however it is about food. Recently the mandarins available changed, where before the loose skinned, seed free, or close to seed free and tasty mandarins were readily available everywhere. In the last few weeks these have disappeared at most fruit shops, or where they are still available have been bordering on being bad (ripe, or rotten, or something else wrong).

In their place is a larger variety of mandarins, however most of them seem sour. There are large mandarins, small mandarins most of them seem to have tight fitting skin and they all seem to contain a lot of seeds. Today 2 of the 7 pieces of fruit/veg I had on my desk at work to eat during the day were mandarins of the sour, small, tight skinned and many seeded variety. I was amazed to find there were 20 seeds in a piece of fruit so small when I ate my first, so it was even more surprising to find there were 30 seeds in the second mandarin today. How can there be so many seeds in such a small piece of fruit and still have any fruit surrounding them.

[/leisure/food] link

Tue, 16 Sep 2008

Completely missed the blorthday this year - 12:15
Though I already have a habit of missing the blorthday by a few days, this year I really put in a good performance and missed it by a few weeks. However back in late August this diary turned 4. Previous blorthday posts exist of course. And in another continuing trend I have been posting less in the past year than previously.

Stats are

[11:37:42] 7 shiva sjh ~/diary/data>find -name '*.text' | wc -l
832
[12:18:41] 8 shiva sjh ~/diary/data>wc `find -name '*.text'`
...
28950  221341 1378957 total
[12:19:10] 9 shiva sjh ~/diary/data>

Only 136 posts since the last look and only another 4000 words or so, not prolific, not even approaching that. I do however still like having this place to write stuff when I want so for now it is staying around.

[/various] link

Thu, 11 Sep 2008

Fairly unobservant - 15:26
When I broke my collar bone in April, the road bike (well cyclocross bike) I was riding that day suffered some damage also. The front wheel was scalloped and broken in many places. The Saddle was broken and there was a nasty case of road rash on the STI shifters, everything else appeared fine however.

When I first started riding the road bike again, around 5 weeks after the accident, I thought at the time the right pedal was somehow rotating strangely or off in some way. However I put it down to getting back on the road bike with my collar bone in a state and ignored it. I also obviously got used to the sensation while ignoring it.

A few weeks ago I was doing some commutes on the cross bike with chunky tyres and was using 2 bottles in the cages often. Watching my legs rotate I noticed the right leg was hitting the frame and bottle a bit and yet the left leg was a huge distance out from the frame and anything else. Intrigued I then analysed my riding on some of my other bikes, I happily found the other bikes did not show off this trait also thus I was fairly sure my entire body had not somehow become unbalanced toward one side on the bike.

This did however mean something was obviously wrong with the cyclocross bike. Today I finally bothered taking it in to the bike shop and they measured some stuff, at first they were also flummoxed, until someone thought to measure the distance of the cranks from the frame. It turns out I bent my right crank inwards by 11mm in the crash, it was not hitting the frame and is not obvious unless you know to look at it for it being bent in compared with the other crank.

So I sort of suspected all along something was wrong, however made myself ignore it and get used to it. I am probably fairly lucky I have not been doing much riding this year so I have not changed my pedalling or muscle action or anything to accommodate the problem with the bike. Now I really do have to seriously consider buying a new groupset for this bike with a triple on it in order to enable it to climb in mountainous country more easily.

[/mtb/gear] link

Mon, 08 Sep 2008

Another Angry Doctor Done - 16:49
Last year I headed down to Mogo on the south coast to race in the Netti 100 KM Enduro known as the Angry Doctor. Tom and Alina of AROC Sport run this event and do a damn fine job of it. I headed back to ride again this year, with even less riding in my legs than last year I was in cruise mode to a much greater extent than last year.

Thanks to Dave and Helen for letting us stay with them down there again this year. Thanks to Tom and Alina for putting on another fantastic 100 KM race. This year the first 50 KM was a lot more interesting and I thought somewhat more fun than last year. However due to access issues, land clearing and some other issues the second 50 KM had less single track and some other changes, though it was still good it was not quite as much fun as last year.

A bonus from the weekend was I again had Matilda my Pink Mirage Double Kayak with me and we headed out for a little paddle in the inlet just north of Mossy Pt on Saturday afternoon and we found a dolphin playing around in the water between Mossy Pt and Tomakin. Lots of fun, chasing the dolphin, watching it swim under Matilda, and moving all around us for a while.

The Angry Doctor itself was good fun, I knew I would be on cruise mode as I had not ridden my bike much since March (Broken collar bone and sick through a lot of winter), I think the last time I did more than 70 KM in one go, even on a road bike was back in February or March. So I headed out for the first 50 KM taking it easy, not pushing the pace. Stopped to help one person with a mechanical, stopped for food and drink for a bit at the Aid station, chatted away with people near me on the course had fun in general. By the time I got to the end of the first 50 back in Mogo I realised I was actually going faster than expected as I arrived spot on 3 hours back into Mogo.

So I hung around the half way point chatting away for a while and hanging out, then with cruise mode engaged even more I headed out to do the last 50. I stopped a few times to eat and watch people ride past, I kept on being far more cheerful and laid back than people around me probably wanted to hear and stopped for a while at the aid station too. Eventually I rolled back into Mogo in around 6h 56m with no soreness anywhere and having had a really enjoyable and fun cruise around a really fun and interesting course in a lovely part of the country.

[/mtb/events] link

Fri, 05 Sep 2008

Broken Forerunner 305 - 11:33
When I broke my collar bone in April I was wearing my Garmin Forerunner 305. It got a crack in the case at the time. It kept working fine however, well except that water could get inside. This tended to be a problem when paddling as bit of water would get in. However the problem would be worse if the watch was submerged. The watch was submerged for a bit earlier this week and got a lot of water inside.

Strangely it still worked for the rest of that session and the data was downloaded to the computer. However when I went to turn it on the following morning for a ride it no longer worked, I have discovered that it seems to be unable to hold onto a charge and does not seem to get a satellite lock. It will turn on when plugged in to the computer, however after trying to get a lock for a few minutes when away from a computer it will then turn off and not turn on again until I plug it into a computer.

Unfortunately I bought this in the US and will now have to try sending it back to Garmin in the US rather than deal with someone local. When I bought it the price difference to buy in the US compared to buying locally was over $200. If I was buying one today I would buy it locally as the price is now better in Australia than it is to buy in the US and get it shipped over. This is all due to a huge price drop in Australia about a month ago on all Garmin stuff.

It is kind of strange after becoming so used to having speed, distance and HR data for all my sports to no longer have it on my wrist for my last few sessions (paddles and rides).

[/mtb] link

Thu, 21 Aug 2008

Possible New Hobby? - 16:52
So last weekend I purchased 34 pieces of pine, untreated measuring 1.8M by 42mm by 19mm. I need to find the time this evening or tomorrow to cut them all in thirds and sharpen one end of each. Obviously I am taking up the new hobby of vampire slaying. Well that or I need posts I can hammer into the ground to affix signs to for the 8 hour race this weekend at Stromlo. The first option is however so much more fun.

I remember that Kendra had a favourite stake, Mr Pointy I believe. I wonder if all the 102 stakes I make need names. Coming up with 102 names for pointed wooden objects could be a challenge, and possibly boring, of course it could turn out fun, like finding an axe for every letter in the alphabet (oh no that post had Buffy as an inspiration too).

If this is indeed a mountain bike race, and as it is at Stromlo where trees with branches or off cuts sturdy enough to slay vampires with may be rare still it could actually be useful to have wooden stakes easily available at each intersection in the off chance there are vampires that need slaying on the course anywhere. Sure this is only a day time 8 hour race this weekend, however the 24 hour race later in the year may have issues of this nature. Who knows.

[/various] link

Fri, 15 Aug 2008

Oooohhh Shiny! - 16:06

The Ayups wrapped up (fullsize)


All the kit from above (fullsize)

So I am sort of making bad jokes in the title of this post, however I do like my new light setup for riding/running/etc. As previously mentioned I was able to borrow some AYUP lights from my friend Danielle. Her adventure racing team has AYUP sponsorship this year and has been able to loan sets of ayups out to people around Canberra for them to try out. I was lucky enough to use a set for a few weeks.

Running with them is fantastic as you have a lot of light coming out, and due to the multiple angles can have one light pointed near your feet and one light pointed ahead if you need on rough terrain. On the bikes the system is really light and provides far more useable nice light than 20 or 30 W of halogen lights ever seemed to. Also definitely more than my luxeon based Silva L1, though one would kind of expect that with 2 Cree LEDs per light in the AYUP kit.

Anyway I felt the need to get a set, so $650 later I am now the owner of the 2008 Enduro kit, this gives me extra batteries, mounts, and a running head band. I also ordered another mount so I can have three of my bikes ready for them. I think anyone who knows what colour most of my race gear is can guess what colour I chose for the lights without looking at the photos on the left, good to see the shade will match my mountain bike and double kayak so well.

With the 4 3 hour batteries and 2 6 hour batteries I can keep both lights lit for 12 hours non stop, or if on foot and only wanting one light a full 24 hours without recharging. All my use of the loaned set has given me a huge appreciation of having these light weight and bright lights. I look forward to lots of fun out there using this set I now have bought.

Oh and I hear that from time to time when AYUP are out of stock of parts the wait can be horrendous. I was very lucky, I made my order for the lights on Tuesday and they were in my office by Friday. Rock on for quick service.

[/mtb/gear] link

Wed, 13 Aug 2008

Making tests harder - 14:32
Last week at work I was thinking about some of the exams run here and wondering if we could make jokes about making them harder. For example in the computer networking class. Hand the student a cage with a few pigeons and a copy of rfc1149 and to pass they have to communicate some message stored at the place the pigeons call home.

Another possibility for that class was to hand them some computer equipment, such as an Altair 8800 (I think we have one in the computer museum here at work), a few components that may be able to read the outputs of that and communicate to a modern network and ask them to write the contents of a web site on a ipv6 only web server.

I am sure there are many other interesting concepts for making the assessment harder, heck in reality a few years ago I was arguing for the final assignment in the computer networking class to be an exercise in exploiting a planted hole in some software. This would involve telling them some basic details about the hole. They would then have to understand network capture (wireshark), c coding (writing the exploit), manipulating network calls and sockets and data from code to get a meaningful result, layout of the system they are exploiting (we would give them references and details) and be able to analyse and collate data well. We could give each student something slightly different (we can generate each problem with some code generation mechanism) so they can not easily copy each other. Their task could be to gain some form of access through this hole and place a defined piece of data on the system they are exploiting with their implementation.

At the time (and probably still) it was deemed too difficult for the class and also somewhat off focus as it had more than just computer networks topics involved. All of the initial silly ideas I was having last week though of course reminded me of the rather amusing GRADUATION EXAM - AUTHENTIC ASSESSMENT I recall seeing a printout of in the 90s sometime, a common Internet jokes item. Lets see you pass that exam in 4 hours.

[/amusing] link

Mon, 11 Aug 2008

Chai Green Tea with a Penguin - 11:22

Chai Green Tea (fullsize)


With a Penguin (fullsize)

A little while back I noticed a new organic food shop near ANU, the mob from the Belconnen markets, As Nature Intended had opened up another shop in one of the new building developments near the Rydges hotel. They have some good (though expensive) supplies for cooking, and they have a cafe (also a little expensive) with very good coffee served.

So breakfast was had yesterday at the cafe, the Vegan Big breakfast on their menu (it may be downloaded), really good home made baked beans, marinated tofu and roast veggies (they had run out of mushrooms alas) all with toast. After breakfast looking around the shop there were many tempting things. I mostly restrained myself until I saw the item pictured to the left.

As a Linux geek, someone who enjoys green tea and someone who has been drinking a lot of chai recently I was unable to pass up buying this box of tea bags. It is a penguin propped open in half with a guy drinking tea in the middle and it is chai green tea. I almost suspect I will need to keep the box in my office once I finish drinking the tea contained within. How cool.

[/leisure/food] link

Tue, 05 Aug 2008

Bean Bag Goodness - 17:05

Square shaped Alta Bean Bag (fullsize)
A little while back I got myself a nice large bean bag so as to have a fun pink relaxing place to sit at home. At the time when I trialled it out in my office and again that night at the Canberra Linux User Group meeting I got to thinking it would be neat to have a bean bag in the office.

As for the pink bean bag at home, I can report that at first it felt a bit over full, the first few days with it I thought it could use less beans, however it has seemed to settle a bit and is more comfortable now for one or two people. I can also say that two reasonably tall people do indeed fit fairly comfortably together on it to watch a movie and/or relax.

A few offices around the building have couches or similar so people can relax on them in order to comfortably read papers or similar (this is a university after all), it sounded like a good idea. So I now have another bean bag, the people at Blob Beanbags suggested another line of bean bags they do called Alta Beanbags, the large pink bean bag was a little bit too big for my office, however the jumbo sized Alta Beanbag fits better.

It seemed a bit harder to fill than the first bean bag, however with help from a colleague and the use of a large cardboard funnel I was able to get 300 litres of beans into it. Initially I thought it was not full enough, possibly due to my first impressions of the pink one being that it was too full. However after looking at the seating suggestions on the website and trying it out in a few different positions I changed my mind. I like the way this can be sat on easily in a number of different ways, the material is slippery, however so long as you sit down in a manner such that the beans and bag support you well it cradles you in that position. I like it, though I almost fell asleep while trialling it earlier so I must be wary not to get too comfortable at work in it...

[/various] link

Roti round 2 - 16:01
Yesterday I mentioned my first attempt at Roti, last night to help finish off a rather nice pumpkin, spinach and chickpea curry I thought I would take to heart some of the lessons learnt and information gleaned online. So I made more Roti.

This time I used a heavy base stainless steel pan, not quite a Tawa, however I think it is the closest easily available item I had to use. I added a little bit (a few dribbles) of oil to the dough mix before starting to add water. The pan was cleaned off between the cooking of each individual Roti. A quick spray of canola oil was used on the pan surface between each Roti rather than excessive amounts floating in a wok as happened in round 1. Oh and I used self raising flour wholemeal flour.

The bread tasted and felt a lot healthier than round 1, less oil throughout. The bubbles appeared during cooking once the pan base was hot enough, the first two or three Roti were cooked before the pan was hot enough I think. The main problem this time was the bread was not as flaky as good Roti often is when you get it at a restaurant, this may mean I need to fold it over some dribbles of oil once the dough is made as some sites suggested. The other even more annoying problem was that the good bubbly Roti was awfully dry, so it cracked when handled and bent a lot rather than a nice malleable bread you can easily tear and scoop with. I wonder if making the dough just a little moister will help with the dry feeling.

As yummy as it all was it took a lot longer and was more labour intensive to make Roti than simply heat or cook some brown rice, thus I think I will keep Roti for occasional meals and when eating out and stick to brown rice with most of my curries and other Roti friendly dishes.

[/leisure/food] link

Mon, 04 Aug 2008

Roti round 1 - 16:32
Last night to accompany the curry for dinner I tried my hand at making Roti, I followed the directions on one of the first google hits for Roti Bread recipes (here), however this did not specify the amount of oil to cook with, or the need for a pan or griddle like a Tawa (heavy cast iron, thick base sort of thing). Also the lack of backing soda or SR Flour means they did not bubble much.

On the whole they were still yummy and very enjoyable with the curry to eat and scoop the curry with. However I think too much oil was used in the cooking, and I used a wok, I should have used a heavy based pan or similar. Anyway I learnt a bit and plan to try again, definitely a good basic bread to make and tastes yummy fresh and hot with a curry or similar.

[/leisure/food] link

Tue, 29 Jul 2008

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 17:35

Vitasoy Heart, Yummmmmmmmmm (fullsize)
What do you know, it is Tuesday afternoon and I have a 1 litre UHT container of the yummiest milk sold sitting in my office ready for a bit of Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging.

They add oats to this soy milk to give us Vitasoy Heart, so most of the Vitasoy milks are already among the yummiest available (definitely superior to So Good), however this one really is fantastic. Now if only more supermarkets stocked it.

[/various/milkcarton] link

Fri, 25 Jul 2008

Cold typing solution - 15:56
So the heating is playing up a lot at my place currently, either on hot all night or not coming on and the controller displaying a flashing spanner. All manner of problems that mean the gas bill is stupidly high and yet we are often cold. Last night it was off and thus when I got out of bed this morning it was 9 degrees Celsius inside. Hopefully with some heating technicians coming back and forth, last week, today and again twice next week it will all be working again by the end of next week.

However one thing I discovered this morning, when it is really cold and you have a laptop with aluminium palm rests such as my dell xps m1330, metal can be mighty cold to rest ones palms on when typing. It made typing a little bit uncomfortable. When I mentioned this dilemma to an academic at work he made a rather interesting suggestion. I should simply run some CPU and disk intensive job on the laptop for 20 minutes before I sit down to use the machine, by that point there should be enough heat around the keyboard to use it more comfortably. What a thinker.

[/various] link

Thu, 24 Jul 2008

Wines from Plonk! - 17:32
So I had been wondering what to get my mother for her 60th birthday celebrations, the actual celebration is tomorrow even though her birthday was yesterday. However I will give her a gift tomorrow, I feel I can safely write about it here as she never actually reads this unless bludgeoned with a link to a particular entry.

It occurred to me that Mum and her partner drink wine with food and like to try out a variety of different wines. After getting some wine recommendations from Jane I set about finding somewhere to buy some nice wines from knowledgeable staff. I had Plonk at the Fyshwick Markets suggested and they sounded good as they focus on smaller labels and more variety than you may find from a large bottle shop chain.

I grabbed my car from home at lunch today and drove over to have a look, I walked away with what I think will be a reasonably nice gift of 8 bottles of wine from them, 6 whites and two reds. The wines I got are.

  • Lake George - Pinot Gris
  • Lake George - Shiraz
  • Brindabella Hills - Chardonnay
  • Pikes Clare Valley - Reisling
  • Krinklewood - Verdelho
  • Pizzini - Sangiovese
  • Tohu - Sauvignon Blanc
  • Garden Gully - Sparkling Shiraz

The Tohu comes from Marlborough region of New Zealand, apparently this is quite an award winning wine. Three of the wines as you can see are very much local and the others are all Australian. I liked the guys I talked to in the shop and we even talked about the possibility of them supporting some mountain bike stuff with CORC.

[/leisure/food] link

Mon, 21 Jul 2008

My weekend in food - 13:47
So over the weekend I was down in Melbourne, I ate a lot and did a fair amount of shopping. (one of the items of clothing I bought were some new Jeans, made by Helly Hanson, how cool is that, I can sort of think of it as if I were buying outdoor/race gear made by Helly Hanson and it is instead functional clothing I wear the rest of the time). Anyway one of the things that occurred over the weekend was consumption of a lot of really yummy food.

I suppose I could say it all started on Friday evening before catching the flight down when I made some pizzas topped with organic tomato paste, onions, pumpkin, fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, capsicum, sun-dried tomatoes and kingland soy cheese. Yummmm, ate too much and then got a lift to the airport, the plane was running late which was fortunate because dinner took a bit longer than expected.

Saturday morning Soulfood Cafe was the venue for breakfast, Jane (sister) was in Melbourne for a few weeks for PhD conferences and research, also a mtb friend moved to Melbourne recently and is living a block or two away from Soul food in Fitzroy so they were at breakfast to catch up. Had a yummy chocolate cup cake, a blueberry muffin, a big veggie breakfast and a fruit salad, oh and a great soy mocha.

Lunch was had at Vegie Bar with a slightly laksa like broth that contained some very good sesame dumplings, some good Roti with Dhal and then a spectacular stuffed vegan mushroom. Dinner that night was at Lentil As Anything in St Kilda, getting there late there was not a lot left, however what was there was fantastic. A really yummy spicy pumpkin soup followed by a curry platter (a beetroot curry that worked well due to the sweet beetroot and savoury curry, a Moroccan hot pot curry and a pea and potato curry of some sort. Both the dishes were served with good Roti once again. At the end of this day I was somewhat full of food and almost rolling around the streets I think.

Sunday morning was breakfast at InVita Cafe at the Queen Vic markets, they had fresh out of the oven hot vegan blueberry muffins that were to die for which I followed with scrambled tofu on pumpkin bread. Lunch was at Silly Yaks cafe in Northcote where I was able to tuck into a Mexican bean burrito with salad and a good bruschetta (the bread had an obvious potato taste but was actually fairly good I thought). This was followed a few metres down the road at Coco Loco, an organic, fair trade chocolate bar. They had vegan Chocolate Mousse that was fantastic, rich, creamy, held its fluff and worked really well (something I really want to work out how to make, maybe using agar and soft tofu in a blender will help... who knows), vegan waffles in deep rich dark chocolate and they had something they call Kashew Mylk, somewhat obviously a milk made using Cashews. So I had a rich dark chocolate and orange hot chocolate with the Kashew Mylk. All very satisfying.

At one point on Saturday evening I had wanted a snack and Lord of the Fries seemed appropriate. So I had a cone of fries with French Canadian sauce (using vegan cheese) and damn that was good (though definitely waistline expanding) this on Sunday afternoon heading toward the airport I wanted to try out their Vegan nuggets, alas they were out of stock, however I had more fries with the same sauce and a yummy vegan hamburger. Then ran for the airport thinking the plane would be leaving before I got there. Upon arrival at the airport they rushed the checking and then the plane was delayed for 2 hours. Oh well I had a fun, if somewhat waist expanding Melbourne weekend.

[/leisure/food] link

Tue, 15 Jul 2008

Waiting for workmen and trying to offend - 13:26
I know of a t-shirt I would love to wear on occasion (say in Sydney this week) that says "I found jesus, he was behind the couch" (that sounds like a very fafblog sort of thing to say too). All this reminds me of my attempt to really offend some religious types one easter in the Friday morning mtb email. It amuses me often when I see how far Paul's scripts in Good News Week go toward trying to offend pretty much anyone. (though the content here is definitely toned down when compared with most Doug Anthony All Stars material he dealt with).

Last night for example he was talking about the young priests pinup calendar (makes me wonder more about the WYD stuff when they have such a calendar) and Paul commented it is not so unusual to have pinups, after all Jesus was the first pinup in the church. Oh and more offence against WYD, I liked the expansion of WYD SYD I saw recently, Would You Do Some Young Dude.

On the waiting for workman thing, I know everyone experiences it and has to deal with it, however I was at home for a while today as I had a call from a company coming to look at the heating to learn why it is playing up. I was told sometime between 11am and 1pm, which is kind of annoying when you have to leave work for that period, and many people would need a day off for that sort of gap, and it is no where near as bad as some of the telstra things when they give you a half day period. I got home at 11am, did vacuuming for a while, some other cleaning, lay down and read the newspaper, etc. There are a pile of things to do at work and I was not doing them, though I guess I should have taken a laptop home with me to do some work while waiting. So partly my fault (I thought of that when I got home at 11am, ahh well).

[/various] link

Fri, 11 Jul 2008

Causing scenes - 13:50
This is not an important Internet resource, however it is yet another example of being able to find out about cool stuff happening elsewhere in the world thanks to the Internet. I have known about this group and some of their stunts for a while (2 years or so maybe, though it is fascinating to see they have been doing this stuff since 2002 or so). I finally felt I should talk about it here because they just keep doing really cool stuff.

From the title you may have guessed I am talking about Improv Everywhere. The group started in New York, the idea is they think up some harmless but strange stunt to pull in public and then go an do it en masse. The idea is that if you saw one or maybe two people doing this it would not be unusual, however to see 100 people or more doing something strange all at once, with all of them claiming to have no knowledge of the others. That becomes a form of mass performance art.

The recent stunt with twins on a train (hmm they could make a snakes on a plane rip off t-shirt for this stunt) is a fantastic example of being able to think of something unique to brighten the days of many people who stumble upon it, also doing something so unusual as rounding up all those twins to pull it off successfully. Many of their other missions are clever and fascinating to see how they turned out in public. One I thought stood out as well performed and interesting though not on such a grand scale was The Moebius, looping through the same 5 minute performance in public at a Starbucks and seeing how people there notice it as it happens over and over again. I thought my cousin Nick would appreciate this one a lot (though he is likely to enjoy the whole concept anyway).

It is good to note other chapters have popped up around the world (including one in Sydney (I wonder if Nick already participates). Anyway some fascinating things to see that this group has done.

[/various] link

Tue, 08 Jul 2008

How to capture one image from a v4l2 device - 17:22
So after seeing Mikal wondering about it again yesterday, I had a look at some source code, decided that it could be done but it would be nicer to do it with existing software. I recalled seeing ffmpeg or mplayer commands that may in theory be able to do a capture of a single image. Then I stumbled upon a way to do this with gstreamer filters and sinks.

"gst-launch-0.10 v4l2src ! video/x-raw-yuv,width=640,height=480 ! ffmpegcolorspace ! pngenc ! filesink location=foo.png"

As one command captures the image at that resolution into a file foo.png. This is on my laptop, however I tested this with the QuickCam 9000 on my desktop with a resolution of 1600x1200 and it worked, the focus meant it took a while but it popped out a good image. Gstreamer really is cool, I still remember seeing Federico talk about GMF (Gnome Media Framework, which is what became GStreamer) at CALU in 1999 and being excited by it.

[/comp/software] link

Mon, 07 Jul 2008

Science Fiction Hands - 17:14
So I know I should not throw stones, however I almost can not help this, Mikal has a recent post with the title " On the potentially sorry state of second science fiction hand book stores in Sydney", making me wonder why you would go looking for a second science fiction hand? Did he lose his first science fiction hand? I guess when you recall that these are science fiction hands he is looking for, a book store is as good a place as any to look for one. (I know Mikal probably meant to say "Second hand science fiction book store" but who knows, maybe he really has a need for more than one science fiction hand.)

Of note if Mikal has a day or two spare to spend looking for cool books in Sydney the ultimate second hand book store is the institution known as Goulds in Newtown. I say you newed a day or two as nothing seems to be sorted well, however there are many treasures to be stumbled upon all over the two stores.

As for v4l2 software I also note there are no easy ways to capture images from v4l2 webcams, I can easily capture a video stream with a few applications and than splice it, though trying to do that in headless mode is not as easy. I have a quickcam pro 9000 on my desk to play with and this laptop has a built in uvc based camera, I was contemplating writing an image grabber to use v4l2, however have no real need for the images yet so had not done so.

[/various] link

Cooking breakages - 13:40
On Saturday night while cooking three of the yummy recipes from Veganomicon (the book Davyd has referred to a bit). (the recipes were "Greek style tomato zucchini fritters with fresh herbs", "Jamaican yuca shepards pie with sweet potato kidney beans and plantains" (though we used purple sweet potato and banana), and "eggplant potato moussaka with pine nut cream". We followed this with a yummy chocolate cake with soy cream cheese with lemon and jam filling and chocolate with fresh berry icing) I managed to break some cooking implements.

While I was trying to press some ingredients down into a blender I cracked the handle of one wooden spoon. So I got another wooden spoon out of the drawer and then while pushing the same ingredients down I pushed a little too far and the blender tore a chunk from the middle of the spoon. Oops too wooden spoons sacrificed in the name of the dinner party. All the food was incredibly yummy, the 12 people at the dinner all had a great evening and all I really need to do now is go and buy myself more wooden spoons. Maybe I had better buy a few spares. Oh and no one there was allergic to wooden spoons, so all was fine.

[/leisure/food] link

Fri, 04 Jul 2008

Looking for some ingredients - 14:18
So for something I wish to cook the recipe suggests Cassava (Yuca, Tapioca) and Plantain. So sure I could possibly get away with sweet potato and banana. However the recipe already contains sweet potato as well and the banana (even with green bananas) may not be quite right. So I was wondering where in Canberra I could possibly get these ingredients. I rang some organic food stores and they have Tapioca flour, however none of them have the roots whole.

I have also rung a few Asian grocery shops, one of them said they had Cassava so I could head out there, however I have not found Plantains yet. I guess I should check out the Fyshwick Markets tomorrow to see if I have any luck there.

[/leisure/food] link

Wed, 02 Jul 2008

The Shadow of the Wind - 18:10
I have not had much time to read books in the last month, however just before Geoquest someone handed me a copy of the Carlos Ruiz Zafon book The Shadow of the Wind suggesting that it is a good read. I had some spare time up at Geoquest to sit and read it in the sunshine however did not finish the book until this week, I have been home sick on Monday and Wednesday (today) this week so apart from sleeping I also finished reading the book.

I like this book a lot, I do not notice any clumsiness in language or similar that can sometimes appear in translated works. The story is rather interesting, Daniel and all the people surrounding him constantly have new facets open up concerning their characters. I also think it shows some interesting aspects of Barcelona, though I have not been there so do not know how accurate the depictions are. The book with in a book aspects in the story are also interesting, and I like the concept of the cemetery of forgotten books. Definitely a good read, and though I may be tempted I had better not spoil any of the story for anyone who may read it.

[/leisure/books] link

Fri, 27 Jun 2008

Doors? Who needs them - 14:33
Maybe we really will have to use chainsaws to get in. Last week and this week the main entrance doors on the building I work in have been playing up. For example last week I was walking out and they seemed to be opening normally, so I kept walking, they then suddenly stopped and closed a little bit, I whacked one shoulder into them fairly hard, if I had hit the other shoulder that hard it may have been damaged again. For some reason uni security decided they would be better left fully open and turned off during the day yesterday, however they then had to come along and clamp/bolt them shut yesterday at 5pm.

This morning after 9:30am they still had not come back and unbolted the front entrance doors. After all, who needs doors really? We could just break a window and climb in and out of the building that way. Or maybe we really should let our selves in with a chainsaw. Okay sure there are other doors, however it still amuses me that the main doors are broken. Of course this also reminds me of the quote from the first Back to the Future movie. Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads. We can rework it to "Doors? Where we work we don't need doors."

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Thu, 26 Jun 2008

Some furniture to accessorise the laptop - 15:23

The beanbag to use with this laptop (fullsize)
Contrary to what may be guessed at by the t-shirt I am wearing in this photo, I am not trying to make my office just like those on the t-shirt. This new bean bag is going home, however it really does suit the laptop fairly well doesn't it?

I wonder what the people in Civic thought of me today watching me walk back to uni from target carrying four 100 litre bags of polystyrene beans on a very windy day. Mikal was somewhat annoyed with me that I did not give him a heads up so he could come and laugh at me doing the walk here. He did however help me fill the bag and take the photo, activities that were in his words either annoying or strangely satisfying at times.

The bean bag is a Jumbo sized denim bag purchased from Blob Beanbags, it seems well made, the zip can be pushed up inside a little sleeve so kids can not easily open the bag, also I purchased a liner with it so it is easy to take the beans out and clean the bag. Rather comfortable really, maybe I should actually get one for my office.

[/various] link

Tue, 24 Jun 2008

Dinner conversation tidbits - 13:23
Last night, out at a post Geoquest dinner with a bunch of ARNutters and others I was almost rolling on the floor laughing at one of the conversations going on. A discussion among three of the people at the table about different rectal flushes in stock and how to use them was indeed most unusual dinner conversation, it is fortunate the three people in question are a doctor, a nurse and a pharmacist all of whom work at the hospital. If you did not know what they did in their day jobs and you overheard the conversation eyebrows may have been raised...

It was most amusing when Matt and Amanda came back to the table from getting drinks, sat down and upon hearing this conversation thought they had come into it at a bad time, I had to tell them that on the whole there was probably no good time to enter the conversation. Funny though it all was.

[/various] link

Sat, 21 Jun 2008

Serious carrying capacity - 13:06
On my 4 current working bikes I tend not to have a pannier rack mounted. Largely because I use the road bike and main mtb as race/training bikes and the fixie road bike has no rack screws and would not be suited to carrying panniers. The single speed however has rack mounts, and though it seems silly having a rack on my single speed mtb I have not bothered putting together the components and frame I have mostly ready for a touring bike yet. However I decided I wanted to use my panniers a bit once more for my shopping and other stuff.

Until I can get the last few parts and time to build the touring bike up the single speed seemed the obvious choice. Usually when I do my shopping I just take along a 35 litre backpack or similar and hope I can fit everything. I just mounted my pannier rack, both my panniers and a rack top bag onto my single speed, there is some fairly serious carrying capacity on that bike now. (see the photo)

Sure the capacity of this bike even with a ruck sack on my back is dwarfed by a bob trailer style arrangement and is made to seem puny when compared to the Dutch Cargo Bicycles such as those sold by a friend of mine in Victoria (follow the link). However I have yet to purchase either, although the Cargo Bicycles are sort of tempting, possibly due to how rare they are on Australian roads. Still the carrying capacity of two panniers and a rack top bag should enable me to carry a bit more home easily from the markets and shops (meaning I can do both in one trip and not do two trips)

Time now to ride to some shops and buy some items I need, than past uni to visit the co-op bookshop to buy a birthday preswent for Sam and Ben's daughter Max who is celebrating turning 6, also need to grab a projector from work to use at a dinner for BGCC tonight for a paddling slideshow on in the background.


Serious load carrying capacity with 2 panniers and a rack top bag (Full Size)

[/mtb/gear] link

Fri, 20 Jun 2008

When you have to suppress your geek side - 12:14
So I had a piece of computer hardware someone had dropped off in my office that they wanted to know if it was working, they had failed to get it working (it had shown some failures in windows and did not come online again) in windows. So I said I would have a quick look in Linux and see if it is something that could be worked around or fixed up or if it was a real problem with the hardware. After a quick look I decided it was failed hardware and thus the item in question is dead.

The geek suppression thing comes along as they guy who had dropped it off is named Jim. Thus I had to stop myself ringing him up and uttering the line "It's dead Jim".

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Almost the silent serenity of falling snow - 10:52
Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in my warm office looking out at the grey over cast skies with rain threatening to fall and wondering if I really wanted to go kayaking that evening. However as I had arranged to do the session I headed over to the boat shed to hop on the water anyway, the rain that fell on me as I rode over did not improve the outlook, however the lake appeared glassy and still which helped.

Once we actually got onto the water and paddling it was actually a beautiful evening for kayaking, glassy smooth water, warm due to being overcast and a lovely night to be in the middle of the lake paddling around. Near the end of the session some light rain started to fall and I heard the most amazing sound. I could hear the soft patter of rain falling on the lake water, a really quiet clinky sort of noise with silence all around me otherwise. I encouraged the 4 others out kayaking with me to shut up and listen for a second as it was really lovely moment. It reminded me of being out in the snow with windless heavy snow falling down around you, mostly silent and closed off from the world and yet the movement and feel of the falling snow covering up the old snow.

We were pretty lucky to finish paddling then as the rain just started to get heavier at that point. After putting boats away I rode back to Danielle's place to borrow a set of AYUP lights from her for a few weeks to try them out. I have been thinking of upgrading lights for a while, after using vistas and my Silva L1 for so long. The AYUP kit is pretty damn impressive. I put the lights on my mtb handle bars and good helmet last night ready for the mtb ride this morning.

Of course when I rolled up to ANU for the ride this morning it was raining and guaranteed to be muddy, however 3 other people rocked up to go mountain biking, so we headed out and had a bit of fun riding in the rain. The lights really do a great job, I had no problem seeing the track or where I was going and did not need to concentrate any where near as much (I have only been using my Silva L1 to ride with for a while now). I will try the lights on the road bike next week a bit in the mornings, however from this one use of the borrowed lights I am fairly sure I will buy myself a set. Thanks to AYUP and Danielle for the loaner set. I also have a running head band to try with them so I can see how they go on the Tuesday night run next week.

[/mtb] link

Sun, 15 Jun 2008

Geoquest 2008 - Support crew role for me - 22:57
So I did not compete in geoquest this year, and thus do not have an almost 10,000 word story about how it went. I was there though as support for Danielle's team 4TC. So I took photos (what you mean I should stop standing around taking photos and actually help the team, pish what a silly notion...)

Photos from the experience are at the normal sort of place. Geoquest 2008 - Supporting 4TC with a fair few Tangerine photos in there also.

[/mtb] link

Yummy new dinner - 22:34
Just so I do not forget this dish I thought I had better record it here. Tonight for dinner I fried together onion, garlic, eggplant, tomato, 4 bean mix (can) and spinach with chinese five spices, mild paprika, cinnamon and pepper added. In the microwave I heated some sweet potato in some water with brown sugar and then added some sweet potato to the fried mix and the rest mashed up. Put the mix of stuff into a baking dish, spread the sweet potato on top, poured sesame seeds over the top and dribbled olive oil over it all then placed in the oven for half an hour at 190c and then grilled on high for a few minutes at the end. Damn that was one heck of a yummy meal, I decided on doing this while I was wandering around the markets buying fruit and veg today. Ate a yummy salad with it all, most enjoyable.

Next time I think, for a bit more bulk, and for the colour variety, I will do some potatos mashed and in the mix as well so I can swirl the orange and white colours together on top.

[/leisure/food] link

Fri, 13 Jun 2008

Interest in data from an email spike - 13:56
A few minutes ago in my work email I saw an email appear from the ACT NTEU division. The surprising thing about this email was they attached a 47 MB file to the email (they really should have put a link to it and said it was a large download). Sure if you are at work the size does not take long to download, however it is rather bone-headed for any members to be given an email that size at any other location. (once expanded with the attachment encoding it becomes a fair bit larger anyway).

I can not find the department NTEU person to learn if there are any numbers on how many staff on campus are actually union members, nor can I get hold of the campus wide email system admin people so I can not predict how much this hit storage and network load on the email systems campus wide. I could do some analysis on the department email server, though I am not sure if that would provide much insight. As I suspect there are a fairly large number of union members on campus and they all will have received this email as it is valid email and will have come in through the spam filters.

[/comp/email] link

Wed, 11 Jun 2008

Lake Safety - 18:47
A lot of my paddling through winter is done on Lake Burley Griffin at night here in Canberra. My AR friends and I want to be safe and visible out on the water for obvious reasons. However there is a rule the water police sometimes enforce that you should not use red flashing (or red constant on) lights to on your body or boat. This is somewhat annoying as flashing LED safety lights for cycling are very cheap and easily available. Many of us resort to using flashing white with our head torches, or simply ignore the rule and wear a few flashing red lights anyway.

Julie sensibly has some proper suction cap attached safety lights she bought for this purpose, last year I used flashing orange road safety beacons sold by jaycar, however these were not easy to mount, not water resistant (and thus obviously not water proof) and seemed a bit cheap. Last year on Dans Data I saw a review for battery powered glow sticks known as Krill lights. Although they do not come in pink at the time I decided they would be really good safety lights for my boats while out paddling.

Today as I am getting back into night paddling again at last I finally received a pair of krill sticks. I got a 180 degree AA stick to put in front of me and face forward so as not to leave the glow in my field of vision directly and a 360 degree stick to sit at the back of the boat. I can tie them on at each end and sit them upright on velcro so they should stay in place reasonably well and still be quick to swap to another boat or remove.

The photos below probably shows fairly well the difference and the nice blue glow.


Blue Glow from Krill Lights (Full Size)

[/mtb/gear] link

Tue, 10 Jun 2008

A good AR transition tip - 16:24
This weekend I was up at Geoquest, however rather than competing I was a support crew for Danielle's team 4TC who came 5th in the race this year almost an hour behind Dave and Julie's team Tangerine in 4th place. Results are on the Leaderboard and I took photos I will probably upload in a while.

Anyway one thing that I thought benefited me a lot being a support crew was being able to watch and analyse the transitions of other people and teams and see ways to do it well. On 4TC Liam was extremely fast and motivated through transitions. He also kept very careful track of the time spent in transitions, one tip I took away that I think would be important to use myself is to have some audible alarm going off during transitions at some time interval so you are aware of how much time is slipping away from you not moving in a transition.

Liam would get his watch to beep every two minutes or something so even when busy getting their shit together the team would all be able to hear how much time was passing. This I think would really help show you the need to get moving and get out of transitions fast. Especially if you could tell your watch to use a different beep (maybe louder or more annoying) as the minutes pass.

There are a few other things I noticed about effective use of time and support crew resources that I think would be worth writing down so I do not forget them.

[/mtb] link

Wed, 04 Jun 2008

I am the leader of the land! Who da Man? - 11:25
Anyone else who has seen Keating the Musical is possibly laughing right now after that title. The show is of course a musical based around the political life of Paul Keating until he lost power in 1996. The mere concept of a musical based on modern Australian politics sounds entertaining enough to me, however being a fan of Keating's style (G'Day Scumbags) it made this almost necessary viewing. Jane has seen it twice, as of last night Mum has now seen it twice also.

What can I say, it was a heck of a lot of fun. The band (guitars, drums, sax, etc) playing all the music was at times a bit too loud over powering the singers. The performers were really spot on with their characterisations and the songs all worked remarkably well. Jokes to be spotted in the lyrics all the way, some great political commentary (especially in the last slow song of the evening) and a highly entertaining evening out. I saw it last night and still have many of the songs ricocheting around in my head. Unfortunately the season here in Canberra is short this time (until Sunday) (this is the second visit) however it is touring regional centres and ending up in Sydney. If you get the chance I think it should be seen.

Interestingly your political leanings are unlikely to affect your enjoyment, Jane's boyfriend went along and has more right tendencies than the rest of us and yet he loved it and thought it poked fun at the ALP, however Jane, Mum and I all loved it and yet saw it poking fun at the Liberal Party.

[/leisure/theatre] link

Tue, 03 Jun 2008

Harlan the documentary - 15:26
This is so freaking cool I doubt I will calm down until I get the chance to see this documentary. I followed a link from Neil Gaiman today to a Harlan Ellison interview. This interview is about a Harlan Ellison documentary, Dreams with Sharp teeth - A Film about Harlan Ellison. I had not heard about this film before, but now I absolutely have to see it. Harlan Ellison has been my favourite author for at least 15 years now, probably longer, the man is an absolutely amazing writer.

There is a trailer and some other content on the site, however I have not yet worked out where I can find more details about the documentary or if it is touring the world. Searching Amazon for the title I only get books. It appears to have only been released recently though. It screened at SXSW and there is a good review from that online and there is also an imdb page. I hope to find out more and see the whole thing sometime. Rock on Harlan.

[/leisure/screen] link

Sun, 01 Jun 2008

Not all bumper stickers suck - 10:54
This afternoon I pulled up at some lights behind a car that had two bumper stickers I actually sort of liked on the car. Sure my car has a CORC sticker, however that is really just a logo. On the whole I tend to dislike bumper stickers as they tend to be boring/banal and uninteresting. Sure I am still looking forward to seeing someone with a Baby In Boot sticker or sign. However until that time I can stay entertained by the occasional amusing sticker.

The car I saw today had a sticker saying "Weird Load" which I really liked. It played on the wide load signs you see, however it also has a sort of Hunter S Thompson feel to the slogan and to some extent a Weird Al feel. Anyway it made me smile, and thus look closely at what the other sticker they had said. "Engines By Scotty, 0 to Warp 7 in no time" or words to that effect. Which will amuse the inner trekkie in many of us.

[/various] link

Sat, 31 May 2008

Another reason cycling through winter is hard for non cyclists - 18:14
On Thursday when I arrived at work I happened to give some thought to the clothing I had been wearing to go out cycling that morning with the temperature around 2 degrees Celsius and stay comfortable. People living in Sydney do not have it so hard as people living in Canberra, however Sydney has other problems, such as horrendous traffic and not much cycling friendly infrastructure.

On Thursday morning I was wearing the following items (with original purchase costs) CORC cycling socks ($10) and Ground Effect wind proof fleece socks ($25), Ground Effect tights with wind proof fleece from knees down ($99), knicks (a cheap pair I got at the Mont sale for $49), a poly propylene thermal (Kathmandu sale item for $19), Short Sleeve cycle jersey (Alpine Classic jersey, $70), arm warmers ($20 back in 2002), long sleeve fleecy lined winter top (A Netti top I bought in 2002 for $90 (or so)), Mont wind proof cycle vest (one of my favourite pieces of kit, $80 at the sale), Ground Effect fleece beanie with wind proof material over the ears ($19), helmet (not counting this in the price as all cyclists in Australia wear one in theory and you do not need one as expensive as mine), Ground Effect winter gloves ($39) over poly propylene glove liners ($8 at Kathmandu).

As it gets colder (down to -7 some mornings) I will also have neoprene booties ($80) over my cycling shoes, an extra poly pro thermal, and a full length sleeve Mont (or similar) wind proof jacket ($130) oh and often fleece gloves under the wind proof gloves. However if we simply add up the costs of what I was wearing this Thursday morning it comes to a rather staggering AUD $528. Considering I was riding in the dark that ignores the cost of lighting and also ignores how much I spend on bikes. Sure you can ride slowly not working up much of a sweat or exposing yourself to the wind as much in cheaper gear and be comfortable enough. However to actively enjoy cycling in cold temperatures and be able to do it a lot it helps having all the warm comfortable gear that protects you from the elements.

Of course clothing gets smelly quickly when you sweat in it a lot so I have more than one item of most of that gear to enable me to get out most days a week even in winter and stay active. Fortunately lots of it lasts a long time, however the cost of getting into cycling in winter is somewhat prohibitive when you first start doing it (such as the Bilbys novice program participants who keep going through the following winter).

I guess to counter balance this you can look at how much many people spend on petrol, when you consider I filled my car up with a tank of petrol for AUD $60 last week, it was the first time I had filled my cars petrol tank since March (I filled it in Sydney to get back to Canberra following the kayak race I did up there). I can comfortably get around by bike all through Canberra in winter, get my groceries often by bike, do other things by bike and can avoid using my car a lot.

However the point I guess I am getting at in the title is, most non Cyclists think $500 is about as much as they could conceivably justify spending on a bicycle. If they then find out to cycle through winter they may need to spend almost as much on clothing it is quite likely to put them off.

[/mtb/gear] link

Thu, 29 May 2008

La Muerte, my little black boat - 21:30

La Muerte - Time Bandit (fullsize)
So I finally got around to naming my Time Bandit Multi Sport Kayak. La Muerte, the Spanish word for death, however as it is a feminine word and I am a fan of Neil Gaiman's Sandman, the goth girl style Death from the series seemed like a good name. I have been told many a time that boats need female names, and though this could be seen as macabre or tempting fate I decided I liked it enough to go ahead and do the naming.

For more photos of La Muerte I have a photo page up now.

[/mtb/gear] link

Some system config updates - 15:39
So I have been using xterm as my default terminal for years, however on Wednesday morning when Tony noticed this he suggested I should look at gnome-terminal as it has some advantages such as ctrl click url loading. I could not however get my font (the default system fixed size 10) to look right or be sized correctly in gnome-terminal, even though in xterms it looked fine.

After lots of mucking around with fontconfig and other things trying to track down the issue, Tony suggested I look at the resolution for fonts in GNOME System -> Preferences -> Appearance :: Fonts :: Details wondering what my DPI for fonts was set to. His was set to 96, mine however was at 112. So I changed this and all of a sudden the font in gnome-terminal could look identical to my xterm fixed font. Rock on, something I should share with the world here in case it comes up for others. Getting the font size right in the terminal application is important as my brain is so used to a certain look there.

On another note I should probably stop bagging the nvidia setup as much as I have been, sure it is a pain I can not use xrandr commands to automatically do funky stuff in a scripted environment, however I can at least use the gooey tool nvidia-settings to do the stuff I want, even if it is not as nice as doing things automatically. Still it sure would be nice if nvidia opened up and allowed open source development with full specs to the hardware. If this laptop had been available with the Intel chipset I would have specced it with that for sure.

[/comp/linux] link

Wed, 28 May 2008

The Donnas live (oh and some Melbourne Bands) - 18:58
Last night at the ANU Bar The Donnas played as support for Kisschasy, the first support act of the night was The Getaway Plan. As you may already be able to tell, I like The Donnas, they put together some great modern catchy rock tunes. The Donnas set really did rock out the venue in my opinion, however The Getaway Plan were a bit heavy and a bit grungy sounding and not something I would listen to more of. The same sort of applies to Kisschasy, I had not knowingly listened to them until last night. After the gig was over I realised I have heard some of their songs on JJJ and around the place.

Still it was a reasonably good evening out and it is healthy for me to expand my music horizons from time to time. On an entertainment note I am however looking forward to next Tuesday night a lot more, I am going to see Keating the Musical, which should be highly entertaining and a lot of fun.

The worst thing about the entire evening was how late it ran and how slow things moved between sets. In the past I have been to gigs in Sydney and other places where the doors open at a given time, I thought I could leave it a little while and still see the first act. This has caught me out some times, and I have missed half sets or entire sets a few times. Thus with the tickets saying the doors opened at 7pm, I was worried last night we would miss something when we rocked up at 7:40pm. This did not happen, instead they had us all outside in the thick cigarette smoke (alas people are still allowed to smoke outside in crowds) until the line started moving a little bit at 8pm. The first act played at 8:30pm, finished by 9pm and then there was over half an hour of getting bored (or drunk in many cases there it seems) until The Donnas came on just before 9:40pm. There was another really long break between before Kisschasy also, we ended up going over and sitting down near the pool tables while we waited.

[/leisure/music] link

Yet another sign I may work with computers - 18:26
how many lcds is too many?
How many lcds is too many? (Full Size)
I noticed this is likely a sure sign I work with computers or am a geek today, in my office I had 5 lcds displaying something. Admittedly the two on the right are showing the same thing on a dual head computer doing an install without configuring the dual heads.

Sort of reminiscent of Jon's experiment in the office a while back (though not as cool). On a side note I am writing this post on the new laptop, the first time I have written a post on it. I must say the keyboard is awfully nice to type on.

On the whole most things work really well, which is impressive, not much configuring or mucking around and things just work, Linux really is improving all the time toward a better desktop experience. I am trialling using a normal default Gnome environment and so far it seems to be going well.

My biggest annoyance is probably the nvidia graphics card, that I can not yet use xrandr 1.2 stuff to do funky things with x output from within X and a few other problems (apart from the most basic problem of it being closed source crap). Next I need to work out how to enable vga output to projectors to be on all the time and a 1600x1050 output to a screen at home to watch dvds and such on.

When I tried to set up a 32 bit chroot yesterday debootstrap failed so I need to hunt down the reason for that if I want to be able to see flash (more closed source crap) videos. Still I like this new toy, infact I will be leaving my old laptop at work when I go home in a few minutes as this seems capable of doing everything I need in a laptop configuration wise already.

[/comp/hardware] link

Tue, 27 May 2008

Vista removal injuries - 16:19
So it would be funnier to be able to say software removal injuries, however that is not entirely accurate. Yesterday when I was removing the vista sticker from the palm rest of my new laptop, the sticker came off and there was sticky gunk underneath that was a bit harder to get rid of. I carefully tried to slice most of it away, which worked well except for two small scratches, however the last little bit was still there. So I got a wet cloth and rubbed at it vigorously with my right thumb knuckle.

I did notice at the time, however around 20 minutes later I felt a burn sort of feel on my knuckle, I looked at it and realised I had a vista removal injury, a bit of skin that had been rubbed away and burnt a bit in he process of removing the gunk. Oops, I wonder if I should not admit publicly I did something this silly. However the concept was too funny to pass up, I have a vista removal injury, more proof that Microsoft products are dangerous and we should stay away.

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Mon, 26 May 2008

It arrived - 15:09
two laptops, new and old
Two laptops, old oneiros left, new shiva right (Full Size)
two laptops, new and old
Lids open (Full Size)
So the new laptop I mentioned arrived this morning, I took the photos you can see on the left before I had even turned it on. Though I had already scratched the palm rest area slightly getting the vista sticker off and then I put a penguin sticker on the lid. The colour is really spot on, a metallic pink very similar to my mountain bike, I can sort of, in my head justify this as being race related gear as I download my GPS and HR training data to my laptop, and also do some CORC or Bilbys stuff on my laptop.

Anyway I have booted into a Debian Lenny daily amd64 build iso and installed Debian from that, still pretty bog standard. I will probably have to use the Nvidia closed source drivers as the NV driver though it is driving the screen nicely and appears to handle xrandr for using a projector nicely will not to DRI yet.

As choosing the name of the new machine is important I was a little worried about what to call the new laptop. However as I no longer had the machine shiva I was able to reuse that as a laptop name.

[/comp/hardware] link

Sat, 24 May 2008

2008 Ride of Silence, Canberra, ACT, Australia - 17:41
Today in Canberra the first local Ride of Silence was held, the aim is

The Ride of Silence is held yearly in cities across the world. For the first time in Canberra, join other cyclists in a silent ride at a slow pace to promote safer roads for all road users. Riders are encouraged to wear armbands: black for everyone, or red for those who have been injured by motorists.

The 2008 Canberra Ride of Silence aims to:

  • remember those killed or injured whilst cycling on roads.
  • raise awareness of the need for all road users to respect one another and to use roads in a considerate manner.
  • promote the importance for cyclists and motorists to obey the road rules.
  • remind the community that cyclists are ordinary people who have a right to safety on our roads.

Along with a number of Bilbys I went along and rode with everyone else around the short loop. I think on the whole it was a positive experience, everyone riding behaved well, we had a lot of media coverage/exposure that seemed positive (though we need to wait for the articles to be published to be sure), there was a number of MLA's there speaking so it had ACT government notice.

I know a lot of the ride was to promote cross awareness between road user groups and that we should all behave well with each other. One aspect I found strange is that most of the speakers (the MLA people in particular) mentioned they were motor bike riders and that it helped them understand cyclists. Sure I understand that they are also a minority group that most motorists somehow ignore or fail to see, however I found the constant motor biking mentions during the speeches a bit jarring.

I also went along today as the ride has a special interest to me and my family, I have never explicitly mentioned on this diary previously that my father was killed while riding his bicycle to work back in 1985. I was five years old, Jane was three, obviously neither of us have good memories of him (Jane probably has none), all I can really remember are images. Things I know about Dad are mostly imparted upon me by stories other people have told me. Dad was riding to work as a teacher out at a high school in Weston creek, he was running late so rather than ride along the bike paths he was riding on the Tuggeranong parkway, as he was crossing molonglo river (there is less than a 1 foot wide verge on the bridge there) a person in a car behind him was looking in their rear view mirror and swerved into him.

So all of our family has been touched heavily by driver inattention and someone forgetting to stay fully aware while in control of a 2 tonne weapon on the roads. Anything that can help promote awareness of road rules and all road users is a good thing.

The recent crash into a bunch of cyclists in Sydney where a driver deliberately ran into the back of a cycling bunch, then overtook them and slammed his brakes on causing them to run into his car, and subsequently driving away. Is an even worse example than simple inattention, however one of the things that was raised yet again in the radio and newspaper responses to this incident is the dislike so many road users seem to have of cyclists and how little they understand the people who ride bikes.

One complaint you often hear from drivers is that cyclists should get off the roads as they are not paying road use fees and often there is even the claim they are not paying taxes. How this computes in the heads of those people making the complaints is beyond me. In a bunch of cyclists everyone (well those over 18) will pay as much tax as others, and most adults cycling also own cars and choose not to use them if they can ride instead, which means we are paying as much for the roads as anyone else and yet are creating far less wear and pollution.

I hope the ride of silence and other events in moderation can continue to raise awareness of cycling as a mode of transport, exercise or fun in Australia.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 22 May 2008

Typo Eradication Advancement League - 18:18
This is fantastic, though I almost feel it should not be in /amusing. I have not even read the articles or website yet, just saw the links on Metafilter. The quote on Mefi was enough to get a laugh out of me.

Immediately, Herson spotted an offense - a second - floor awning outside a tarot shop that advertised "Energy Stone's." They climbed the stairs to the second floor and approached a middle-age women with a quizzical expression. "We happened to notice the sign for energy stones," Deck said, "and there happens to be an extra apostrophe. 'Stone's' doesn't need the apostrophe."

"And?" she asked, her voice flat with annoyance.

"And we wanted to bring it to your attention," Deck said.

A look inside the daring lives of Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson, vanguards of the Typo Eradication Advancement League.

A Chicago Tribune article and their website are linked. Okay so sure I am not exactly the person who should laugh at typos, however as one of the comments points out, this is not exactly typos they are getting stuck into.

Also I should note it is pretty sad I have just effectively duplicated a Mefi post here.

[/amusing] link

Wed, 21 May 2008

Oooohhh funny - 17:29
So I read Kottke, Dooce, BoingBoing, Metafilter and other stuff, I would normally expect to have heard of long running bloggers that are hell funny and well known. Strangely today on BoingBoing I found a link (that is day 1, also day 2 and day 3 are up) to some guy taking his family to Disney World, and his write up is hilarious. Looking on wikipedia I find out James Lileks has one of the oldest personal blogs still updated and has done all manner of other things.

I read through one or two other bleats and he really is consistently good, there does not appear to be a feed link, but it could be worth the effort to remember to visit sometimes. The description of eating at a place called O'Hungrys due to it being suitably Simpsonesque is a good example. I like it. It comes as no surprise after reading some of his stuff that he is a professional writer and obviosuly enjoys the craft enough to do it in his own time (blogging), do anything enough and you improve in your practice of that craft.

As a side note, I could even use the first day report for another Annual May Zombie Post, what with the Zombie Thumpers he photographed at Disney.

[/amusing] link

Tue, 20 May 2008

Break into song - 16:28
On BoingBoing Cory put up a link to another HOWTO talking about how to do something people in his latest book Little Brother do. In this case it is HOWTO Lie to authority figures. I have not read the entire HOWTO he links to, however the last line quoted amused me greatly.

I like to stay relaxed by singing Irish folk songs to myself. The kind of song that goes on and on and on.

In the context of using this when lying to throw people off the fact you are learning I was mentally thinking how out of place it is (of course I also removed the "myself" from the quote). It is sort of like a Bollywood movie surrounded by figures of authority. Anyone breaking into an Irish folk song spontaneously is either lying or who knows what.

Of course the mention of Irish Folk songs reminds me of the fantastic thread on makinglight a while back pointing out things learnt from British folk ballads. The Doleful ghosts and the rest of it are all hilarious.

[/amusing] link

Mon, 19 May 2008

Little laptops that can - 18:15
With apologies to Walty Piper I must say the power available in modern laptops is staggering. I am getting a new work laptop sometime this week (or maybe next). The laptop I have been using since August 2004 is a lovely Dell X300, a small, light portable laptop that I still find remarkably powerful and useful. Specs are "Intel(R) Pentium(R) M processor 1.40GHz, 640 MB RAM, 60 GB HDD". The laptop I chose to replace this is a Dell XPS M1330 (they come with pink lids, how could I pass that up). This will have a T9300 CPU (Dual core 2.5 GHZ, 6 MB of L2 Cache), 4 GB of RAM, 320 GB HDD, built in dvd burner, a host of other things, a pink lid (I may have already mentioned this, but I am excited about that) and still only weigh around 1.8 KG (thus still be portable).

All this in such a small package is mind boggling to pretty much anyone who has been around computers since 486 or earlier model chips powered most PCs. I doubt I will be getting any Heidelberg Scars now.

[/comp/hardware] link

A a kde/gnome/kernel developer attraction? - 18:07
I wonder if the projects I mention above should try a new avenue to attract more developers to their projects rather than something with only a few thousand lines of code. Point out that you will have much more time for sword fighting if you work on one of these projects. I guess that is one of the problems with new hardware, modern it are so powerful you have hardly picked up your sword and the compile is finished.

Though Anton with his kernel compile speed metric of kernels compiled per second may never have time to get his sword fighting practice. Of course he probably does not need to practice, after all he is Anton Blanchard.

[/various] link

Throwing off those childhood lies - 16:52
I saw a link to a new Paul Graham essay so had a read of it, this is titled Lies We Tell Kids. Like most of his essays it is an interesting read, I like that he mentioned none of his beta readers agreed with all of the content.

I used to wonder somewhat simply about the Santa Claus thing, I thought why are parents not honest about it all. This essay touches on this but fortunately focuses on bigger and more important aspects of the wool society pulls over the eyes of the youth. As for the Santa Claus thing, it may be part of the helplessness Graham discusses, friends with children tell me they love to see their kids eyes light up at all the Christmas stuff and you do not want to see that light disappear from them.

I rang one of my friends who sends his daughter to a religious school, yet both he and his partner are not that way inclined, I was wondering how he dealt with this. For his daughter he had the response that his upbringing was deeply religious and yet he got past it, thus he hopes the same will happen to his daughter.

On the whole question of lies I think one element to keep in mind that for kids at least if they manage to lie it is an impressive intellectual feat (well in the very young). Some research Schneier linked to in February is interesting in that it points out lying is a more advanced skill then telling the truth as you have to conceive of an alternate reality and convincingly sell that reality. Of course as Paul Graham points out almost every adult in a given society is in on the alternate reality being presented to some extent.

[/various] link

Sun, 18 May 2008

My photos from a rogaine yesterday - 08:54
Yesterday Amanda and I competed in the ACT Champs 8 hour rogaine. Matt was doing the 24 hour (as were other friends such as Dave and Julie, or Mark and Selina). Even with rain or sleet most of the day and bitterly cold temperatures it was a fun day out. I love Tallaganda, though I ride there sometimes, that sometimes is never often and I think it is an underused National Park. Anyway I took some photos and put them up where I usually do.

[/mtb] link

Fri, 16 May 2008

An xkcd update - 15:37
Since the last time I put a list of some funny xkcd comics up there have been more. And what do you know, for a geek this is still consistently the funniest web comic available (well I think so).

So I thought I should throw a few of the links to some that have appeared in intervening time, if for no other reason than so I have more easily available ammunition in my on going argument with Jane about what is actually the funniest web comic. My deluded sister seems to think it is Cyanide and Happiness (well hey they have met in real life (Randall and the C&H people (see the side bar comment from Jeph)) when obviously it is xkcd. Anyway some of the newer really funny strips follow. Of course, when reading xkcd remember the alt text is often as funny as the comic.

Give me a pointer can you, Nacho cycles, Messing with pronunciation, sudo Sandwich, more raptor humour, a combined megatokyo and xkcd piss take, Ask Knuth, misusing slang, Pokemon dismissal, a new ip datagram transmission format (like the tanks or orbital vehicles, or avian carriers), dont go into linux internals on a date (the alt comment goes along with the JWZ quote about software design for college guys), I know regular expressions, Kayak future not so much funny but it suits me, more hammer time, Tree houses and raptors on the brain, The problem with wikipedia (oh so true), Random Number, Lisp or perl, RMS Ninjas, Cat Proximity, The difference between scientists and others, Keeping yourself entertained with numbers, LOLcats in real life, Online package tracking Danielle said I was a geek the other day, all geeks understand though, Another zepplin joke, Raptor attacks goto programmer, programmers slacking off, Head out for an interesting life shows one of the lovely things seen in xkcd sometimes, Don't take two nerds shopping, A real big budget action movie for firefly fans, Strange night thoughts (this sets of my amusement at the quirky and strange), Bobby Tables sql injection in a name, plus the alt text is wonderfully amusing, Python, import antigavity, Nerd sniping, Fighting back against annoying music, sane build environment?, real programmers, Someone is wrong on the internet, Summer Glau blog venting, Overzealous wireless autoconfig, Spork genetics and a raptor joke, Making hash browns (sporks again too, read the alt text).

[/amusing] link

Wed, 14 May 2008

Neat saddle bag feature - 11:00
Another thing that broke in my big road crash was my saddle bag, it broke in the same place as the last time however as this was in a crash I did not think they would repair it again. So I ordered myself a new one from T7. Road bikes are often about clean lines and minimalism, thus having a hulking great big bag filled with tools, tubes, clothing, white goods, etc is not the norm (unlike on the mountain bike, or worse the contents of mountain biker's camel backs after a few years (I knew I would find that air compressor if I looked everywhere...)).

Thus this is a small saddle bag, as was the one that broke on my road bike. There is a problem with such a small saddle bag, I carry two spare tubes and a multi tool on the road bike for flats and repairs. This should be enough, and it was always one heck of a squeeze to fit it all inside. However there have been occasions when I have had more than 2 flats while out riding by myself. Last time it happened was a work day, well before any bike shops opened and I was out past Tuggeranong, I got my mother to come over from Gunghalin and pick me up that day. After that experience I taped or somehow attached a small patch kit to the bottom of the saddle bag so I could fix more than two flats. This did not stay attached easily and was in harms way a lot.

So after this long winded story I can get to the really neat feature of the new bag, it has a small zip up compartment underneath, in which there is a water proof cover, however as I see no need to carry a water proof saddle bag cover it is the perfect location to stash a small patch kit with glue, patches, sand paper and wet wipes. What a fantastic addition, it does not increase the size of the bag too much so you can still look like a roadie, yet it gets me out of the more than two flats problem in a neat manner. Good design T7.

[/mtb/gear] link

Mon, 12 May 2008

Cheap babies - 15:09
Maybe I need to stop my sense of humour grabbing me by the scruff and ensuring I find things like this amusing, however I could not help myself this time. When I see the Baby on Board signs on the back of many cars the thought always crosses my mind, it would be more fun if you could get "Baby in Boot" signs, sort of like those fake hands poking out of a boot, but far more horrifying for most people to consider. Thus when I saw an ad on Woolworths website saying something about Down go the prices on baby care with a cute little baby in the picture. I could not help but think it would be more amusing if it said something else. (the drop shaddow on my text is a bit dark and slightly off colour, but on the whole the change worked)

Down go the prices on babies

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Replacement Helmet - 13:39

Pink Giro Animas
Pink Giro Animas (Full Size)

For years now I have worn a Giro E2 as my primary bike helmet. When I first started wearing it Bell helmets were rare in Australia (previously I found Bell helmets fit well), after trying out a number of helmets (including cheaper Giro models) the E2 was the only one I found that fit well at the time. Since using it I have also come to love the adjustable height visor and generally found it a really good helmet to wear.

When I broke my helmet last month I sent it off to the Australian Giro importer as they have a crash replacement policy, they will sell you a replacement at 40% of RRP. Once you include postage this would have put my new E2 at around AUD $170 to 180. I had already made use of this policy last year so all seemed fine. However the Giro importers rang back to say they would have no E2 helmets in stock until June sometime. So I started to look around online, a number of friends have bought their helmets that way and it was likely to be cheaper. I could have bought a new E2 for around AUD $160 including postage, however I happened to notice the Giro Animas mountain bike helmet model came in a really good pink flames colour. How could I resist getting more pink race gear, even though it will forever clash with anything red. So I ordered this (a model not available in Australia) and it arrived today.

I and I suspect many other customers love the ability to track packages being shipped, Danielle suggested I had too much time on my hands and am obviously a geek when I mentioned I knew my helmet had arrived in Sydney on Friday morning. However I could not help but look once a day or so and see the progress of the shipment until it arrived here. Anyway though I like my lilac spare helmet, this new helmet is far more comfortable, has an adjustable visor and comes with the added bonus that the flamingos I hide amongst do not even have to be painted lilac.

Date  	Time  	Location  	Event Details
May 12, 2008  	06:58:00 AM  	CANBERRA AUSTRALIA  	Out for delivery
May 12, 2008 	05:56:00 AM 	CANBERRA AUSTRALIA 	Arrival Scan
May 12, 2008 	04:11:00 AM 	SYDNEY AUSTRALIA 	Departure Scan
May 9, 2008 	08:55:00 AM 	SYDNEY AUSTRALIA 	Completed customs clearance process
May 9, 2008 	08:39:00 AM 	SYDNEY AUSTRALIA 	Arrival Scan
May 7, 2008 	11:10:00 AM 	JAMAICA NY UNITED STATES 	Departure Scan
May 7, 2008 	06:11:00 AM 	JAMAICA NY UNITED STATES 	Arrival Scan
May 7, 2008 	01:04:00 AM 	WILMINGTON OH UNITED STATES 	In transit
May 7, 2008 	12:56:00 AM 	WILMINGTON OH UNITED STATES 	Arrival Scan
May 7, 2008 	12:01:00 AM 	WILMINGTON OH UNITED STATES 	Departure Scan
May 6, 2008 	10:52:00 PM 	LOUISVILLE KY UNITED STATES 	Departure Scan
May 6, 2008 	08:05:00 PM 	LOUISVILLE KY UNITED STATES 	Departure Scan
May 6, 2008 	03:45:00 PM 	--- 	Shipment picked up from seller's facility

[/mtb/gear] link

Sun, 11 May 2008

An unflappable trust of our intelligence - 22:13
The title to this post pretty much sums up the over riding experience I have of my relationship with my mother. To put it more obviously, Jane and I have always found mum to be almost unflappable, to the extent that for years Jane made all manner of statements and claims in an attempt to get a rise out of her. However along with this calm demeanour our mum has always trusted Jane and I to have intelligence and think things through ourselves. Even from a young age she would not often outright tell us not to do stupid things, instead she would suggest that in her opinion it was ill considered (or stupid), however she would let us make our own choices and decisions about our behaviour.

I like to think this trust she has put in our intelligence has gone a long way to making Jane and I the people we are. I like to think we are both well adjusted sensible individuals in this modern society, and so much of this is thanks to mum. I love you mum, and look forward to many more years of seeing if Jane or I will ever get a rise out of you :)

[/various] link

The Annual May Zombie post - 21:43
I missed out on this tradition last year, however after a year off from making a zombie related post in May (tough schedule that...) I was sitting reading the Sunday life (sun herald magazine) in the kitchen, listening to best of James, waiting for the cookies I am baking to come out of the oven and I stumble across Zombie News.

It appears Sega has released an English teaching game for some Nintendo platform, English of the Dead. You fight off waves of zombies by spelling out words, of course maybe the zombies are just trying to enlarge their next meals...

On the same page of Sunday life I was entertained to see something about Slacker Yoga, you practice this suspended on some form of webbing just above the ground. The guy who created the concept is described as a "ultra-endurance yogi athlete". As much as I enjoy stretching and yoga style activities I think I am happy to refer to myself as a professional geek, or I guess in sports terms as a mountain biker, cyclist, kayaker or adventure racer.

[/various] link

Another ad, still a shame about the product - 10:47
Last July I commented on the fantastic Carlton Beer ads (linking to those I liked (I do not like the Flash Dance ad)). A few days ago a friend mentioned she had seen a new Carlton ad with some sky diving in it.

Though in my opinion this is no where near as funny as the Canoe ad or the More horses/Metal ad, it has a scale and amusement value on par with the Big Ad, this definitely an ad you should watch. Strangely one of my housemates went skydiving yesterday, it must be a theme for the weekend.

[/amusing] link

Thu, 08 May 2008

Yet Another Cycling Jersey - feeding the addiction - 16:33
google cycling jersey
My very own google cycling jersey (Full Size)
Yes I have a Cycle Jersey Addiction (though the number decreased by one when my CORC jersey was cut off me at the hospital. (though I will probably replace it as I like my current CORC clothing, I still have two of the old style jerseys, fortunately the jersey that was damaged was not one of my irreplaceable jerseys (out of print or small print run))

Anyway as can be seen to the left I have acquired another cycle jersey, one that I suspect will be somewhat rare in Canberra, though to some extent this is obviously a corporate looking jersey, I think it is a rather good design and will be rare enough here I will enjoy wearing it. Thanks Mikal.

[/mtb/gear] link

Move a little thing to python - 13:44
At ANU there is an online (web page) searchable phone database for all ANU phone numbers. A few years ago (July 2002, according to the version control dates) I spent an hour or two writing a command line program in perl that queries this and prints the results. I find it much easier to use a command line application than open a tab in a web browser and find the appropriate page and enter a query when all I want is a simple bit of information back. I suspect most of the staff in this department are similar (Computer Science).

Sometime last year I realised that though the URL I was using on the ANU Internal Web still worked it seemed not to interface with the latest phone database for the uni so it sometimes did not match people I knew worked on campus, other times it contained out of date numbers for people. However there were other important uses for my time so I did not bother looking too closely into updating it when most of the time the old results were still good enough.

Finally this week Bob noticed there were no matches coming back, it seems the old interface no longer connected to the database correctly. Thus I opened the program and had a look at updating it. The old program used LWP to fetch the page with a GET request. The newer interface now on ANU Web works properly with a POST request. Also the result page is more complex to parse than the old one (more complex regular expressions, or maybe a small state machine needed). Still it did not look too hard to spend an hour or so fixing the old perl code up to get the new page and parse it properly for the desired results.

However I hit a snag when for some reason LWP did not fetch the entire result from the web server that was returning the data in chunks. A tcpdump session showed it simply closed the request rather then fetch all the data. At this point I could have debugged the perl code and fixed, after all there is no good reason LWP should not work. However I thought to myself, I have been keen to write python a bit for a while. Bob bought the Mark Lutz Programming Python book for my office and I read through about half of it. So why not rewrite the program in python. See how a perl hacker can transfer to using python at least for a small program.

I am happy to say that the page fetching in python even made perl look complex, the code that did the job (and worked, doing a post request fine) was

   name = ' '.join(sys.argv[1:])
   params = urllib.urlencode({'stype': 'Staff Directory', 'button': 'Search', 'querytext': name})
   f = urllib.urlopen(searchuri, params)
   r = f.read()

Cool I thought, this is hell easy, what a fantastic language, I will forever give up my perl ways if everything is this easy and obvious. Obviously this was not going to last, I guess partly because my brain meshes with perl well after so many years, and I am used to perl associative arrays, classes, modules, and regular expressions. Anyway I now had my result from the search and all I had to do was parse it and extract a form that can be printed on a terminal nicely.

First I tried using the python regular expression matching and needed to create some hideous regexp to match the data returned. I also discovered that when a search matches more than about 2 people the data is returned in a different format. Fortunately in this second case the format is really easy to match against with a regexp. Even though the regexp language is similar/identical to perl I was still getting my head around the documentation for all of what I was doing and could not at first construct a regexp that made sense to parse the first sort of data. So I decided to get a HTMLParser and extract the data I wanted without the crap in the tags.

My first attempt was to use the HTMLParser module, however I soon found that this threw an exception when ever I fed it the page from the uni with the matches in it. I tried except: pass in the hopes it would keep on going, however it stopped there and did not process the rest of the page. So I had to change to using the htmllib.HTMLParser which was almost identically easy to use and managed to process the entire page.

Next I wanted to store the data until all matches were found, in perl this would be trivial using a multiple level hash or an array of hashes. Of course the most obvious way to do this in python now I think about it is using a list of dicts. However I had my brain stuck on using a multi level hash. I found this was most difficult in python as you need to initialise dict entries and can not simply assign arbitrarily into them when you need. I needed to use the following construct.

if (D.has_key (key1) == 0):
   (D[key1]) = {}

if ((D[key1]).has_key (key2) == 0):
   D[key1][key2] = ''

s = D[key1][key2]
D[key1][key2] = s + data

Which is obviously a bit more verbose than the perl vernacular of $H{key1}{key2} = $s; I think that dicts do not yet work this easily is a problem, however someone has assured me that future python releases will have dicts that can work as easily as a perl hacker would expect. Anyway rather than next go on to the now obvious that I thought about it list of dicts I was still stuck on the idea of using a pair of keys to access some value, thus a tuple seemed obvious to store the data in a dict still. However this meant that when I extract the values from the dict I can not simply use len on the dict collection as it does not accurately reflect the number of records.

Which of course was the perfect chance to go and learn how to use map and lambda in python, after all I use map in perl often and it really is lovely to have functional capabilities in a language you program in. Using a number as one of the record keys I was then able to have constructs such as (after refactoring to list of dicts I did not need the high = expression and modified the second expression slightly)

high = max (map (lambda k: k[0], D.keys()))
and
name, phone, address = map (lambda k: D[(i,k)],['Name', 'Phone', 'Address'])

The first to find the number of records from the numeric key and the second to extract the information I was interested in printing. The second especially is often used in perl to extract matches with a [0..N] or range(N) sort of thing when you get things with multiple function calls into a list. Such as the perl expression

my @emails = map { $res->getvalue ($_,0); } (0..$res->ntuples-1);

The final problem I had was when printing the data, in perl and c I can do

printf ("%-20s %-12s %46s", name, phone, address)
However in python the string formatting in print did not justify or cut off arguments as expected. Also string.rjust and string.ljust did not limit the size of strings if they were larger than the field size. So I needed to do the following.

   print "%s %s %s" % (name[0:30].ljust(30), \
                       phone.rjust(12), \
                       address[0:45].rjust(45))

That final concern is not really a problem, and arguably clearer as to what is going on than using printf formatting as a c programmer is used to. Anyway if anyone who works at ANU wants to use this from a command line or anyone wants to see it I have it online for download/viewing. There may be a few places I can clean this up better, and the version online is stripped of comments. I can understand how people like the way python works, the code really is almost like pseudo code in many ways, it does most of the time work the way you expect it to, it is a little hard to wrap my perl oriented brain around, however that does not take long to work around I expect. Also anyone complaining about whitespace formatting in python, IMO you are deranged, it really is not an issue needing to use whitespace for program layout.

[/comp/prog] link

Tue, 06 May 2008

Something different at Stromlo - 22:02
The ARNuts run this evening was from Matt and Amanda's place over to Stromlo and on to the purpose built running track. Matt, Keith and I ran back early after a lap and a half on the new track and I think the others (Mark, Susie, Heather and Selina) headed up to the summit then back through Duffy. For me this was the first time I had been on the running track.

I have been out at Stromlo helping build the mountain bike trails since CORC started work on them and it has been great to see the mountain biking side of Stromlo Forest Park come together. As for the running track, Keith said he thought it was a bit boring, and considering we all tend to prefer trail runs I can see where he is coming from, however I personally thought it was really good. There are a few different possible short cuts to make the loop shorter for different training purposes. On the whole it was much more interesting than running around an oval, especially if you are running by yourself, oval track sessions are generally only fun in groups in my experience.

Anyway I had fun and the soft surface of the track was much nicer on my shoulder and upper arm muscles than the other surfaces we ran on tonight.

[/mtb] link

Fun music - 12:59
I just wandered down to the pickle to grab a coffee, they have recently installed a flat panel tv screen on the wall and keep it playing channel v music videos. (though we offered them a purple pickle peddlers slide show, they did not want it, no idea why <g>). Anyway the song playing when I walked in was the Foo Fighters, Learn To Fly which I think on top of being a catchy tune is a hilarious video clip. Seeing Dave do all the different characters and the others also in there with the humorous somewhat cliched (think Airplane movies) movements and story line. Lots of fun that clip.

This of course reminded me of another highly entertaining Foo Fighters clip, their Footos (Mentos style) Candy that appeared in the Big Me music video was also a highly amusing romp to a good tune. Speaking of the Foo Fighters, Danielle and Ben went to their concert in Sydney on Friday night. Both said it was a very good gig, it sounds like the audience got their moneys worth as they played a two and half hour set. Speaking of amusing video clips, I still wish I could remember the name of the Cruel Sea clip from around 1999 in which Tex Perkins and the rest of them did a fantastic piss take of boy bands, wandering around in white linen suits singing in harmony.

[/leisure/music] link

Sun, 04 May 2008

Hitting the wall like a champion - 21:00
The other week when the Fat Cyclist was talking about preparing for his upcoming 100 Mile desert ride on a single speed commenters suggested one of the things he was sure to do with that plan was bonk (hit the wall) spectacularly. I had a good ol' laugh at Fatty's response to the suggestion he would bonk in one of the comments.

i intend to bonk in a manner most spectacular. see, if you're slow, people just say you're slow. if you bonk so bad that you're barfing and pale and hallucinating and talking to Elvis in Norwegian, people revere you. that's what i'm shooting for.

Most endurance sports people have experienced something akin to this in the past, heck a recent one I recall happening to Crash was a rather spectacular lack of energy almost causing him to call for a lift home with in 1 KM of his house. I guess I should ask him if Elvis can speak Scandinavian tounges when I talk with him next.

Interestingly Fatty got through his ride easier than ever before it seems.

Considering I put this in my mtb category I guess I should at least mention what I am up to. As I said previously I am running again, this week past I have been using my right hand and arm on the handle bars again while riding, so I picked up my road bike from the shop yesterday and did some riding on it. I can once more ride on the road, I am still a little while away from mountain biking due to the need to be able to move quickly and lift the front of the bike smoothly. Also yesterday Danielle and I headed out in Matilda to see if I was at all able to paddle yet. The good news is I can once more paddle, not fast and it will definitely be a while before I can do so at a competitive pace and not have my muscles tire, however I am once more able to do most of the sports in which I participate. Good news that.

[/mtb] link

Another good comic adaptation - 20:32
Last night I went to see the movie Iron Man with a friend. I am somewhat a comics fan and in the past collected some DC titles, hence I loved the movie Batman Begins as they stuck closely to the original material and had characters that mostly worked extremely well in that context (though I still have to admit Stardust is my favourite movie in recent years) (probably closely followed by Amelie, though I do not know if I can count that as recent any more, 7 years ago). Enough with the tangents, I am attempting to point out I like comics and yet know very little about any Marvel titles. (which is why I think Batman Begins is the best super hero movie filmed yet, simply because I discount or ignore Spiderman 1 or X-Men 1 as I know very little about the source material)

I had thought the Iron Man movie was produced as part of the new independant Marvel Studios setup, however reading the appropriate wikipedia page and the Iron Man page linked at the top I learnt this was not the case. Though it is interesting to see the discussion about script writing and letting the action flow around a credible story "There was much improvisation in dialogue scenes, because the script was not done when filming began (the filmmakers had focused on the story making sense and planning the action)." Which I think came through well. The movie as a whole was entertaining, appropriate humour, showed a sense of how horrible war is and was a good action flick. I liked it.

[/leisure/screen] link

Thu, 01 May 2008

People who really get the strange humour - 23:15
So I have mentioned from time to time how funny Fafblog can be. Today I have once more been reminded why we need posts from Fafnir in the world. Though I try to come up with strange stuff at times I can never seem to do it with such polish and style and such a well thought out voice as Faf. Sure there is some political bent to Fafblog, however at times like today there is no obvious hint of political content and still the humour is there. On that note I am out of time for today.

[/amusing] link

Another Ubuntu annoyance - 22:03
I was bitten once more today by Ubuntu forcing the use of UUIDs for disk labels (in grub and other places). We have a lot of systems at work (student labs) where we update or synchronise them with rsync rather than some install mechanism such as cfengine and fai. Thus if a grub menu.lst or an fstab is copied over and not automatically modified a machine will not boot if it uses uuid for a disk label.

Unfortunately in Ubuntu there is no way to disable this in grub, the uuid change is hard coded into update-grub in /usr/sbin. At least in Debian it is still optional. Anyway I had forgotten to modify update-grub to remove the uuid stuff and had installed a new kernel on a student server, then reboot the machine and hey presto it did not come back online.

If it were not for the need to run this server on Ubuntu to be similar to the lab image and easy environment for a student to duplicate at home it would be so much easier to run Debian on it again. Of course to compound the issue this was a server I had to wait until after normal hours to take offline so I was messing around with after 7pm.

[/comp/linux] link

Wed, 30 Apr 2008

Searching for a surface - 22:22
If the camel disappears there is an obvious need for a surface on which to place objects in a gravitatively agreeable direction. Where do we find such a surface I wonder, this may call for some more scientific testing. Get one random object, such as a keg of beer (though of course if you want higher beer volume, you may want a shopping trolley full of beer cans, and really, don't we always want more beer on our websites) or a former prime minister (crash test dummy Howard), or the number 17, according to a math lecturer I had that is the ultimate random number.

That 17 is not an object and instead some quasi thought based construct or something should not deter us, after all the camel was there in the first place simply so we had somewhere obvious and natural to place a blog. This of course brings us to the question of how we can place these random objects, if they are truly random (which brings up problems related to the need for a RNG and some source of real entropy) wont placing them in some order just mess that up. The question of where we place things once the camel escapes is also in need of consideration.

Scientific testing of various new and unknown locations that are more or less not camels will be needed. A table is one such item on which we can place things. A large body of water, such as the pacific ocean is another such object. This has the added bonus that some objects may or may not float. Also some objects may or may not be eaten by sharks, giant squid or a Grue. All these eventualities bring a number of opportunities for betting on outcomes, though if doing so wastes as much paper as the damn form guides that appear in newspapers too often we may need to give up and give the ants a chance at society.

I wonder if a society of ants would have people farms, who knows maybe they already do?

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Spoilerriffic - 22:06
So this may not be the best character trait, and admittedly I may only be posting this on the off chance I can up my posts for the month before tomorrow. I am somewhat addicted to spoilers, I am happy to go around reading TWOP or similar before shows air here. When reading books or other things with endings off in the distance I have been known to skip ahead to find out how things end before going back to reading through the entire book.

I realised this once more tonight as I was reading something new, I am trying to fight the urge to skim ahead, I want to find out something about a character, and yet I know I should simply continue reading in a linear fashion. Interestingly I generally do not mind spoiling the ending for myself, however I often want to share, my sister and others have to remind me not to from time to time. A simple warning, if I ever start to tell you some ending early, remind me not to.

[/leisure/books] link

They have it tough up there - 14:41


View from the deck (fullsize)

The weekend just past I camped out on a property up near Nimbin where Matt and Amanda were being married. A lot of us at the wedding were adventure racers, so Matt and Amanda catered well for us, taking us to Mt Warning for a 700 metre vertical hike on Friday then out for night lawn bowls (some unusual activity such as you may find in an urban race) that night. The wedding was on Saturday and then on Sunday we headed down to Byron Bay for the day.

The panorama view above is from the deck of Amanda's aunt's house looking over toward the border ranges on the left and the ridge on the right is obscuring Mt Warning (it is at the edge of the Caldera (which can be seen easily from space), we were staying just up above Nimbin.

I created the panorama with the program hugin, I have not bothered following the tutorial about balancing the colours better so you can see where the three photos sort of join, however I think the image looks alright, it took a few initial tries to get it to that point. (I have never used hugin before). Anyway great weekend away, thanks Matt and Amanda (and congratulations to you both). The temperature change on our return to Canberra was definitely a shock to the system, it sure was nice up there.

[/leisure/holiday] link

Mon, 28 Apr 2008

Update on deb package archive clearing. - 14:44
In response to my last post, In email and online a few people have suggested using file:// URI's in sources.list as that stops apt from using the cache. That would indeed fix the problem for the one machine I was talking about in the post (the mirror itself) however I should admit I had also been thinking about it with respect to all the desktops and servers and such that use Debian or Ubuntu in the department here at work.

They all have a 100 Mbit (or better) link to the mirror, and it seems silly to have them using local disk storage once an entire successful apt run is finished. Andrew suggested the Dpkg::Post-Invoke rule could be used to run apt-get clean, my understanding upon reading the documentation last week was that would run clean after every individual deb package as installed. I guess it is likely when installing large numbers it may not be run until after the post-inst script, however without looking close it appeared to me it may mess up install processes somehow. I may have gotten that intuition wrong, however as pointed out in the other online response it will not work for some use cases.

It still seems the only current way to solve this is to add apt-get clean to cron (or of course write a patch for apt that allows a Apt::Install-Success::Post method or something), not really a huge problem for now, however as I said strangely different to dselect and my expected capabilities.

[/comp/linux] link

Wed, 23 Apr 2008

Keeping /var/cache/apt/archives empty. - 13:02
On mirror.linux.org.au I noticed we stored packages in /var/cache/apt/archives. I think this is somewhat silly considering the machine is a full debian mirror (it is ftp.au.debian.org) (okay so we do not have security updates on there, but that is not a big download cost).

So I had a look at the apt.conf and apt-get documentation and /usr/share/doc/apt/examples/configure-index.gz and a bit of a look around online to see how to disable the cache. I thought it may be bad to completely disable the directory for packages to sit as apt places them there when it downloads them. However as the partial directory being used for packages in transit I wondered if that was where packages were kept during the install process.

Anyway I tried adding Dir::Cache::Archive ""; and Dir::Cache::pkgcache ""; to a new file /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/10pkgcache. This however did not change anything and packages were still left in the archive. Next I tried setting both items to /dev/null, that caused a bus error when running apt-get install. I was kind of hoping there was some way to tell apt not to store files after it has run, dselect runs apt-get clean upon completion, there appears to be no way to tell apt to do a post install hook and run clean when finished. (assuming apt ran with no errors in the case the post install hook runs)

The only way to do this appears to be to place apt-get clean in a crontab somewhere, which is a pain if you are short on disk space so would like to get rid of packages as soon as installing is finished. Interestingly /dev/null was also changed by what I tried above, it became a normal file and I caused some other processes depending on it to fail. Restarting udev did not recreate the device (even though the udev config said to recreate it as a char device with the correct permissions set) instead it reappeared as a normal file with the wrong permissions, some other running process seems to have interfered with /dev/null creation. Anyway that was easily fixed with /bin/mknod, now if only the emptying of /var/cache/apt/archives were so easy without resorting to cron.

[/comp/linux] link

Tue, 22 Apr 2008

Oh so good to exercise again - 23:37
Tomorrow it will be three weeks since breaking my collar bone. Before that I had a two and a half week break after Jindabyne in which I had only done a kayak race in Sydney and half the road ride leading up to the crash. Thus I have been a bit edgy and sort of climbing the walls wanting to do some exercise. Finally today I decided I had waited long enough and I would be able to run so long as I was careful of my right arm/shoulder and if I ran on a grass track (predictable, soft surface).

So I headed over to the Bilbys track session at Dickson ovals, and oh my god it was wonderful to exercise again, even with the huge shock of getting my heart rate up there for the first time in five weeks. I sure have lost some fitness, previously I could cruise at five minute km pace with my HR sitting around 155, this evening it was sitting at 175 at that pace, then near the end of the session I decided to finish off with a faster lap (around 4 minute pace) (laps were around 600 M with a 50 M warm down (walking for me today) before starting another) and my HR got up to 188, I have never seen it pass 184 since getting the HRM so I sure am down in form.

Time for bed now I think, I have just finished packing and preparing stuff for my trip to Queensland tomorrow afternoon for Matt and Amanda's wedding on the weekend. Back in Canberra late Sunday night after that.

[/mtb] link

Mon, 21 Apr 2008

Cookie recipes galore - 10:28
Soft chocolate chip, apple, coconut cookies (or snickerdoodles) are one of the foods I like to make for racing and long rides. However I am sure many people will appreciate that any cookie is a fairly good food in all manner of situations. Thus I was happy to see this link on Metafilter today, a list of what the author thinks are the 50 best cookie recipes on the Internet.

Some of these really do look wonderful, as soon as I can exercise again (and thus burn off excessive amounts of chocolate, sugar and butter) I need to look into trying out a lot of these. I think Crash should show the list to Jo, after all I know she likes to bake the odd yummy item, and he benefits from that anyway. Maybe I should challenge Jo to a long term bake off, we could both bake one of these recipes a week, swap some of the finished product and try them all out over 25 weeks or so.

[/leisure/food] link

Sat, 19 Apr 2008

Participating the BarCamp way - 15:02
So I suspect this is of course one of the main interaction channels that Barcampers are expected to use, however I am finding it interesting to do it here today. Barcamp is promoted as a place where you sit around with your computers engaging in the content online as well as off line all throughout the day. Part of the online thing is most of the people there will have a web presence, likely a blog of some form.

So when I have talked to people during the day, or when someone has given a presentation, I have looked for the link they placed on the Barcamp page and been able to go read some of their blog and see what they talk about more. I probably should participate to the extent of adding myself to the wiki, after all I am here all day. However it is interesting to note Bob and I have both had the same sort of reaction to our involvement. The Unorganisers suggested we all sign up to some yahoogroup or something for more of the discussions leading up to hosting the event. As far as I know Bob did not join, and I did not either, too much effort involved to sign up to another mailing list. So I just had a look at adding my name and diary link to the BarCampCanberra page and to edit the wiki requires a login so I decided not to bother.

Sure it makes perfect sense that to edit the page you need to go through some form of authentication to stop spammers and such from blowing the wiki apart. I simply can no overcome my web forum/online login apathy enough to sign in here, kind of strange, though I notice Bob has not done this either.

[/comp] link

Reminder that other people exist - 14:33
Listening to Dr Stephen Dann (or ANU Page, he really needs to get his staff photo updated as he does not look that silly/wrong I promise) giving a talk about getting his completely non Internet savvy and seemingly not up on modern Internet culture students up to speed on what many of us geeks and Internet people consider normal and everyday.

It is a highly amusing presentation, he has been talking about many things we all know and recognise that his students seem to not understand or know about. He mentioned that the Comp Sci students he had the first year or so he ran the course no longer do the subject as they seem to think they do not need it, so all the students are marketing commerce students who do not live in Internet culture.

Something that I am reminded of listening to this is that we often forget there are people dissimilar to ourselves out there. For example a somewhat elitist example I often have to remember is that most people in the population are not university educated, however living in Canberra and hanging out with people who generally are, and working at a university, I often forget that not everyone shares my background. Dr Dann is dealing with non Internet savvy people and trying to induct them, it is interesting to hear his experiences. Good talk.

[/comp] link

Getting deeper into the materials - 13:31
On the badges being worn by the people at Barcamp most people in the room have various letters across the bottom that describe what geek things they are involved in in shorthand. The short hand is a geek periodic table of elements that is hanging up on the wall in N101. I was briefly chatting with Kate Carruthers before she headed off to the speed networking session. I instead of being a sociable well adjusted geek and joining in that session remained sitting here typing away on the laptop. Wondering something about the Unorganiser Stephen Collins I headed to the BarCampCanberra1 page to see what he put up there. Realising that people had put their website links on there I paged down and found the Kate Carruthers link there. On her blog there is a link to the Geek Periodic Table of Elements which was created in Sydney a few weeks ago.

So the fact that people using the abbreviations on their badges is so prevalent today it had me wondering if there would be a cool way to obfuscate this a little bit (so I admit I like geek in jokes). Alas the symbols on the table are not the same abbreviations as found on the real periodic table so his is not quite as simple as I first hoped. My idea is if you select your list of elements to put on your badge and then could arrange them in such a way as to create materials or more complex things made up of the elements bonded in specific ways. For example water is H2O (two hydrogen molecules bonded to one oxygen molecule), so if you had a drop of water drawn on the bottom of your badge you are indicating your geek interests included H and O (you could even use it as a way to indicate you do H more than O if you want to be exact about this).

The idea above falls apart a bit as the letters do not match the elements. However if you wanted to go ahead with this obfuscation you could simply use the elements in the same place on the table as those you select to try and choose various compounds then represent these compounds on your badge rather than the letters them selves. However no one would easily be able to work out what you mean now as they would need to know the chemical make up of the compounds you use, know where those elements are placed on the periodic table and then have memorised the geek periodic table to the extent they know what geek interests are in those positions.

This is however a unconference that focuses on cool geeky online apps to some extent, you could fairly quickly extend the geek periodic table to enable translating from a selection of geek elements into a selection of real materials and have some symbol suggestions for the materials. People who want to use the obfuscation could use the tool (in both directions) to work out what is on a badge.

[/comp] link

User interface discussions - 12:23
So the talk that just finished a few minutes ago was asking why we have not evolved our computer interfaces significantly in the last 40 years. The presenter mentioned the 1968 Douglas Engelbert Demo (definitely recommended watching). A few people in the audience suggested a large part of why alternative interfaces (touch screens etc) are not pushed out to the world at large is the technology and reliability of these devices is still not there for reliable and cost effective deployment.

The presenter did have a definite point, when you consider where interfaces were at in 1968, why has there not been more research into different interfaces for different use cases and scenarios. It occurred to me that it is interesting to look at life possibly imitating art. In the Neal Stephenson book Snowcrash. Most users interface to the virtual reality world via the real life interfaces there and also appear to access computers in reality via a VR environment. However the hard core hackers all still access the low level real code with a keyboard and VDU and a Unix style command line interface (not too surprising from Stephenson when you consider his brilliant essay In the Beginning ... was the Command Line)

So there are likely to be real uses for the currently accepted interfaces all the time, however the uses of alternative interfaces is likely to apply in a more specific use case scenario, and thus manufacturers, designers, researchers exactly need to somehow align and market them in specific ways and inform the people who want that use of a better (if it really is better) way to use the technology.

An amusing aspect that came up for me (from a cycling background) was the question asked why in The Tour de France the UCI has banned recumbents. The person asking the question has obviously drunk the kool-aid on offer from the HPV community on this issue with there constant claims that they are obviously faster and superior for all uses. The reality of this is that they simply can not climb as fast, thus any race with climbing (such as The Tour de France) will make them useless. The reasons they do not climb well is they can not be made as light as a modern diamond frame road bike (they can be easily purchased at 6 KG ready to ride now) and you can not get out of the saddle in a recumbent and really work more muscle groups, the limitations of muscle uses restrict the ability to go hard up hills. Also when climbing with the rather limited motor available in a human body the aerodynamic advantages of a recumbent do not matter at such low speeds and can not overcome the advantages of low weight and more muscle groups.

Thus Paul had some basis in suggesting that one reason computer interfaces have not advanced is that they are rather optimal for the purpose, though I strongly tend to agree more with the presenter that computer interfaces have a lot of room for improvement.

[/comp] link

Barcamp thing - 10:28
So a bunch of people were keen to hold a Barcamp in Canberra. Bob and I were asked if we could ask DCS if the event could be hosted here. So Bob and I are here today (with a broken collar bone I am of course unable to do anything active, I had however volunteered to be here today anyway if Bob had been unable to make it) to provide any venue stuff and setup and venue care.

So it will be interesting to see how the talks and other stuff go all day, there are a rather large number of people here so it is likely to work well. Right now there is a talk about Meraki on.

[/comp] link

Fri, 18 Apr 2008

Swordfighting - 19:56

Clothing damage (fullsize)
On Wednesday there was mention on Neil Gaiman's blog of a scar on his daughter Maddy's face, Maddy got the scar at 5 and now 7 years later still tells people she got it in a sword fight, which is what, at 5, Neil suggested she tell people. (Maddy since claimed he said "in a sword fight with Spiderman" which seems to have confused him, though he does reference Heidelberg Scars) I thought all of this was fantasticly amusing, that a young girl go around saying she got her scars in a sword fight.

This got me thinking, the xkcd Richard Stallman sword fighting comic and the subsequent gift of a sword to him means if RMS ever has some obvious scars the best reason he can give people is he got them sword fighting. Any geek in hearing distance is likely to crack up laughing. (and I have to say RMS' response of what he will do with the sword is fantastic)

Though I probably can not claim the broken collar bone, sustained while tearing up the vest to the left, as a sword fighting injury. I wonder if I can claim the tattered clothing and the scars on my face if any hint of them remain once fully healed as some form of Heidelberg scar.

[/amusing] link

Tue, 15 Apr 2008

Good News Week is back and online - 11:20
So as I have mentioned from time to time, I am a huge fan of the Doug Anthony All Stars. Since their final tour in 1994 (I saw them live in Canberra when they performed here that time). Of the various projects Tim, Rich and Paul have been involved in since, my favourite by far has been Good News Week. Hosted by Paul (and Tim and Rich have both appeared on episodes of the first series) this is one of the funniest shows ever aired on TV in Australia in my opinion. I used to watch it on ABC and then Ten when the first series was on, I went to some of the live tapings in Canberra, and laughed a hell of a lot.

Thus I was of course upset when the original series ended, then I noticed it was back on early this year. At first I thought it must simply be re runs (though reruns of a 7 year old current affairs/news based show do not make sense, so I do not know why I thought that), however by the time the fourth episode was airing I realised it was a brand new series, so I watched it and loved the show as much as ever. Since then I have had my Myth box set to record the show, however for some reason SC Ten is not working on my myth box and I have not worked out why, I missed a few episodes since than and again got to watch it last night.

Kristy sent an email to linux-aus asking if anyone had a recording of the show in order to get the bit about Jon's geekiness at the start of the episode. So I ended up having a look at the Good News Week website and was pleasantly surprised to find they have all the episodes of the new series on their video page to watch at any time with flash player. The hidden danger of this is that I then stayed up far too late watching most of the episodes I had missed and some of the other content.

The other danger is that when you are watching something this funny and you are laughing so hard you end up crying a lot and you have a broken collar bone, laughing like this can be somewhat painful. Still I love this show, I am so happy it is back on tv now. It is not really Paul that makes the show so good either, it is the stuff the guests and team leaders say that really is so hilarious. Such as the brilliant (though you may need an appreciation for bizarre to like this so much) line from Ross Noble when dissing Doritos. When another guest said they were the best triangular snack with a Mexican twist, Ross pointed out cheese on toast cut in half was just as good, when pressed for a Mexican twist he said you need only put a Chihuahua on the cheese toasty. After all what better triangular snack is there than a cheese toasty with a small dog?

[/leisure/screen] link

Mon, 14 Apr 2008

For those new to world history. - 12:03

nazi olympics protest

This photo on apostropher today is a surprise on a few levels. For a start the author of the placard has never actually looked at the history of the Olympics, or even bothered to google their placard question. Of course that the placard must have appeared at one of the recent Olympic torch relay protests the even more surprising aspect of this question comes up when you look at the history of the torch relay.

From wikipedia

The relay of the flame from Greece to the site of the modern games had no ancient precedent and was introduced by Carl Diem, with the support of Adolf Hitler, at the controversial Berlin Olympics as a means to promote Nazi ideology.

Heck when the torch came to Sydney in 2000 some students protested the torch relay due to the Nazi origins of the practice.

[/various] link

Fri, 11 Apr 2008

Athlete injury stages - 12:36
One of my friends works as a physio for elite athletes. Thus she often treats athletes with injuries who are all keen to get back into their sport as soon as possible. She has mentioned there are stages her patients go through when injured.

Denial, Depression, Anger and Acceptance. While injured you can apparently float around between all these stages a bit, moving forward and backward as the mood takes you. When I had the stitches in my elbow last year I was still able to do a lot of activities so was not in this situation really. This time of course is different. Maybe I should try to analyse what point in this cycle I am at in any given time.

The acceptance stage is in theory the most useful as you accept the injury and simply ask what to do to get better as soon as possible. Then do exactly that, the idea of doing everything you are personally able to to control recovery, after that try to remain positive and simply hope things will improve quickly.

I will hopefully learn something about myself going through all of this and should remain thankful it was not significantly worse. From what I have been told by those following in the bunch when I crashed, I actually bounced up off the bitumen on impact. Also Glenn did a somersault or two while clipped in before he hit the ground. Considering that my head was scraping along the ground and we both hit hard in that region we are incredibly lucky we did not do damage to spine or other such major systems around our heads and neither of us suffered concussion.

Oh and I have now ordered the pink helmet I mentioned yesterday (though not from Amazon, I bought it from Cambriabike).

[/mtb] link

Thu, 10 Apr 2008

Not meant to own one - 15:51
just before lca2008 this year I saw a fantastic 2 GB usb memory key in the computer shop on campus here at ANU. Around 4mm thick and 1cm by 1.5cm square with a metallic pink top, made by pqi. I bought one and took it with me to Melbourne. However I did not attach it to anything (such as keys or phone) and lifting m wallet out of my pocket one evening in Melbourne it also came out of my pocket and was lost forever.

On my return to Canberra I bought another one and all seemed fine. I tied it onto my phone and was able to slip it inside the leather phone cover so it stayed put and was out of the way. This was until last Wednesday morning when I crashed and fractured my collar bone my phone was in a back pocket of my cycle jersey. Though the phone has come out of the crash unscratched and working as well as it was previously. The usb key has a bent pink metal cover and the back of the plastic bit where the chip contacts are is scratched a bit.

After seeing APC tests in which the USB keys still often worked after much more severe torture than this one would expect it would still work. Alas I plug the key into a usb slot and nothing happens, definitely dead, tried it in multiple computers with a lot of wiggling around of the key. So small pink usb key junkie that I am I wandered over to the store today and they no longer have the 2GB key in pink, and they rang the importer who also no longer has them, only blue or black which really is not as cool. Thus it appears I am simply not meant to permanently own a cool small pink usb key.

I did however see a helmet in the Giro line up that is a rather cool pink, maybe I should get that to replace my broken helmet.

[/comp/hardware] link

Fri, 04 Apr 2008

Non dominant hand again. - 19:04
So I am being reminded of my issues with using my non dominant hand again. Though this time it is even harder as I have to keep my right arm immobile. Typing is slow, and today I finally overcame the difficulty and slobbishness to shower and shave again. Also with sitting at home a lot I am feeling a need to clean up a bit but really can't. Ahh well hopefully I will remember better when I get well and am back to being out doing stuff more than being home.

Steve Barry very kindly visited today (the day before his wedding) in order to give me hand with some tasks around and about today. Very much appreciated friendly gesture there. I hope Steve and Wendy have a great cycle touring south west WA honeymoon next week onwards. Time now to cook some rice to go with a curry I managed to cook (Steve chopped some veggies for me too) today and read more of the newspapers.

[/various] link

Wed, 02 Apr 2008

More of that evidence that road riding is a bit unsafe. - 17:04
So road riding has once more proven far more dangerous than mtb.

This morning coming downhill through deakin on hopetoun cct in the bilbys medium bunch. I was on the front on the left with glen next to me on the right. Riding fairly fast into the bumpy roundabout above the shops I took a very wide line to give glen more space. My wheels lost grip on the bumps and slid into and bounced off the gutter. I left the bike at some point and landed on my right shoulder. My bike bounced into the middle of the road in time for Glen to go over it and get launched over his bars also onto his right shoulder. Tony also came down behind us and did some damage to his fingers.

I have fractured my right collar bone and also had to get three stitches around my right eye brow. I have a sling and have to keep the right arm immobile for a week then will slowly regain movement.

Glen has a level 3 dislocation of his AC joint and is in a fair amount of pain. Drugs are helping him with this. (Ron will know what this is like as it looks similar on his shoulder to Ron's dislocation from the mugga loop a few years back). I am now at home and Glen should be home soon, he is very happy no Surgery will be required. Glen will also need to keep his right arm immobile, for two weeks, then do some extensive physio for awhile.

Thanks to Browny, Tony and the other riders who have helped today. Thanks to Dr Julia and the others at the hospital. Lets hope i get better soon and can get back out there.

Oh also the mtb skills clinic should be able to go ahead this weekend. I think I can find another coach to replace me.

Typing with the left hand only is slow and difficult so I will save you all from reading a longer blurb. Stay safe and ride mountain bikes kids.

[/mtb] link

Tue, 01 Apr 2008

I hope it is not just the date - 18:16
I just had a delightful surprise when I saw a feed with new posts in my feed reader. It is possible Fafblog is back. The first post to the site in almost two years appeared today, then another one appeared. It has been suggested that they are messing with us, it being April 1 and all. However there has been a fafblog redesign from the green look to a new look. Lets hope Fafblog is back for real.

[/amusing] link

Mon, 31 Mar 2008

Great product names - 13:01
I think I noticed this a while back, however did not think much about it apart from a quick giggle. However I think it is worthy of further notice. Sea To Summit (an outdoor equipment company in WA) have a product they retail which I think has one of the most creative but recognisable names possible for such a product. This is an item adventure racers and other serious outdoors people really do need when they are in the middle of nowhere. Go have a look.

[/various] link

Lifestart Kayak for kids on Sydney Harbour - 10:25
My first paddles on Sydney Harbour went well on the weekend. Great weather, a cruisy paddle on Saturday and a fun race on Sunday. I put all the photos and a few words online from the event.

Lifestart Kayak For Kids 2008.

[/mtb/events] link

Thu, 27 Mar 2008

Awareness Test - 22:12
Someone pointed this out to me today when I was showing them the way cool Carlton Beer Ads. This could go in the mtb section, however I am putting it here (/amusing). It has also been pointed out to me that this was on a list I read the other day, someone posted the URL http://www.dothetest.co.uk without any other explanation, thus I did not waste the time to click on the link. Oh well.

Anyway go watch this Awareness Test on youtube (or elsewhere).

[/amusing] link

Tue, 25 Mar 2008

Polaris Challenge 2007 - 12:21
Well I mentioned late reports recently, I guess this time I have given up any pretence of ever writing a report for this event. However I did take photos and put comments with them shortly after the event. So I have finally decided to upload the photos from my 2007 Polaris Challenge. I wrote a report with photos for my previous three Polaris events I competed in with Marea (2004 Murramurang/Clyde, 2005 Comboyne, 2006 Delegate).

For some reason I just never felt like writing this one up, maybe it was our lacklustre performance (coming in late on both days), maybe it was my mood toward the event at the time. Then when I still had not written a report by the time I found out the event was never going to happen again, I was not in the mood to write it up. Anyway the photos are interesting (or scarring depending upon how you look at a Rocky Horror themed Polaris and lots of men in stockings).

[/mtb/events] link

Thu, 20 Mar 2008

My 2007 Triple Triathlon report - 16:49
Wow, last year I did not publish my triple tri report until Feb sometime, this year it did not happen until March. I had better be careful with this lagging report habit, November is not that far away.

Anyway Bruce, Larissa and I competed in mixed threes last year and continued the stream of not coming first, who cares though because it is an excellent event. We had a heap of fun and were surprised at finishing well considering I did some running and Bruce some riding to see if we could go slower.

The report is in the normal sort of place, 2007 Sri Chinmoy Triple Triathlon, To The Teeth.

[/mtb/events] link

Tue, 18 Mar 2008

2008 Sri Chinmoy Jindabyne Multisport Classic - 16:59
With a really nasty cold, a bruised hip and not much swim time in the last 6 years I went and tried to finish the Jindabyne Multi Sport race solo on Sunday. The previous two years I had competed in a team doing all the mtb legs. As I have been saying to just about everyone, if on a given day you are so sick you would stay home from work, don't go out and race swimming, kayaking, running and mountain biking for 11 hours non stop, it really is a silly way to try to rid yourself of a cold. Even if it is a really beautiful course and a spectacular event, don't try this at home kids.

Anyway if you want to read about it I put my 2008 Jindabyne Sri Chinmoy Multisport Classic report online in the normal sort of place.

[/mtb/events] link

Fri, 14 Mar 2008

ClapClap is a good read - 12:42
The air conditioning has failed at work again, thus the only nice places to be are the machine rooms (too noisy) or the common room (which strangely stays cool, maybe serviced by a working air conditioner in the CSIRO side of the building). Thus I am hiding out in the tea room for a while. While here I have been reading some more of the ClapClap.org blog that had the Hallelujah analysis I linked to last week.

This blog has some really great posts, such as commenting on formulaic structure of House and other US TV, cynicism in The Colbert Report and why it works, that Ugly Betty is mainstream and different and yet works really well, looking at what Ferris Bueller means and a bunch of other good stuff if you read through.

Good stuff. Oh and speaking of House, in a convergence of all this stuff, I wandered into the living room last night catching the last few minutes of an episode of House, it was the episode with the death row prisoner on which they played Hallelujah.

[/various] link

Thu, 13 Mar 2008

Cotton wool pre race - 12:43
Last year, the morning I fell into the fountain, Dave Baldwin had a nasty crash, resulting in a broken thumb and a fractured hip. This crash was two days before the triple triathlon, Dave was unable to compete (he had entered as a solo, would have been his 7th triple tri as a solo or something).

Fortunately I have not been injured to that extent, however on Tuesday night at the ARNuts trail run I felt my left hip get painful, my hip flexor muscles were in a bit of pain. I think this was due to the steep hills we had been climbing and descending, and I had modified my running style a bit compared to how I normally run in order to try and keep my HR lower. I stretched my hip carefully, and all the surrounding muscles at stretching class yesterday. By the time I was heading out for a mtb ride this morning it felt pretty much better (though still a little sore to run).

Then I made a silly mistake on the mtb this morning, deciding to change directions onto a different track too late and missing a corner, my wheels slid out and I fell sideways landing on my left hip. Ouch, the already sore area is now in more pain. I think if I am careful, rest it and do not stress it I should be alright by Sunday. The reason I need to be able to run by Sunday is I am doing the Jindabyne Multisport Race as a solo entrant. Maybe we should wrap ourselves in cotton wool before important events, or I guess as my stretching instructor suggested, maybe have a rest day once in a while.

[/mtb] link

Get people to pay attention to communication - 12:14
James suggested I should tell the world about this theory, I suspect because I am wearing the t-shirt, he thinks I need to live up to it. We were discussing some email James had sent to a few colleagues trying to arrange a time to do something to their computers. James was complaining they were busy and tended to ignore the email.

I suggested we obviously need to use some new more immediate communication mechanism, this "old skool" email thing just was not working. So how about smoke signals, older and slower you may argue, however if used indoors, the fire alarm will be set off and everyone will be aware some form of communication was in progress assuming everyone knows smoke signal communication is in use. Maybe the fear of having time wasted by a smoke signal generated fire drill will mean more attention is paid to the less drastic communication forms. Also most of the rfc's I reference here may not work well for in building communication.

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Fri, 07 Mar 2008

YACOH (Yet Another Cover Of Hallelujah) analysis - 12:11
I feel the need to link to this analysis of some of the history of the song Hallelujah (from kottke1), the many recordings of the song and the rise of the song in popularity and how it has changed.

I adore this song (which means I am in agreement with a lot of people if the article is correct), though I have never seen the OC, I remember watching the west wing episode in season 3 when this played and thinking it worked well. It is interesting to see how the song people know tends to be the Jeff Buckley version, even though now days other covers are getting more notice. The section in the article that points to the longevity of this song best I think is

This is the beauty of the pop song: it's an artistic hooker with a heart of gold, always willing to be used. It can become a tool, but a song isn't a Matisse - if it's used as a washcloth, just wring it out and it's good as new. We may call something the "definitive version," but it's not, not really. It's just the temporary consensus, a beautiful beach house built always within reach of the next great flood. There's a blaze of light in every word, it doesn't matter which you heard, and every song contains a thousand possibilities - or, at least, the great ones do. Hallelujah's place in the pantheon was assured only by the song's mutability; were it not open to change, it would have remained an ignored album cut.

The many different verses available for use when covering, the different Hallelujahs you can interpret, these have made the song last so well and enter our collective conscious so deeply. I also like to see the commentary in the article and some of the comments about the musical structure of the song and how Buckley's cover in particular really used that well with the notes and chord structure. As I have previously mentioned, I really like the Clare Bowditch cover, oh and the KD Lang one.

Oh and Jane, if you are reading this post, I think you will really enjoy the analysis.

1: I found this and a few other links interesting on kottke today, which just proves it is a great site, even at times such as now when it is not really kottke (the status of which changes, obviously).

[/leisure/music] link

Mon, 03 Mar 2008

It's a Political Scandal Suffix Gate - 14:09
I notice a heading in the CT today mentioning the council scandal happening in Wollongong currently, the headline refers to the scandal as Gong-Gate (maybe the journalist is simply a huge fan of alliteration, who knows) and it occurred to me the use of a -Gate suffix really is a bit too common now days.

Of course there is a wikipedia page on the subject of Scandals with a -Gate Suffix, which I can understand. And if you look at the commonly understood usage, that this is for political scandals, sure okay we can use -gate on the stuff going on in Wollongong, but do people really have to use it in so many silly places?

People using the suffix in relation to BAFTA, Nipple, Diana, Camilla, Martha, Sports issues (Kobe, Granny (Rugby), Skating), etc. I think shows a lack of imagination or a lack of real use of this colloquialism. Bit scandalous really</tic>.

[/various] link

Sun, 02 Mar 2008

Oh no I seem to be changing too - 20:43
So one of my favourite Julie stories pointing out how us lesser mortals do not compare is about the time she accidentally ran 50KM rather than 30KM in a training run. Yesterday morning I did a 23 KM paddle in Matilda (Mirage double) with Danielle, then coached a mtb skills clinic in the afternoon. However today (Sunday) I had been intending to do at least a full Jindabyne training session of swim/paddle/run/bike in a row. However I was feeling tired, really average and a bit sick this morning when out on the lake doing paddle support for the triathlon I just did not feel up to much more than sleeping when I got home.

So I have been laying on the bed a lot today, however I realised I had left my Mont Duo Jacket at the sailing club in Yarralumla this morning. So rather than driving over there, or even riding as I normally would, I head out for a leisurely (5:45 to 6:00 minute km pace) run around the lake, 20KM on foot simply to pick up my jacket and at least get some training in today. I pegged my HR around 145 and dawdled along. The scary bit it I enjoyed the experience. I fear I have changed a bit.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 28 Feb 2008

Another paddle pb - 13:19
Though I did not mention it here, two weeks ago I once again got a new paddling pb with 51:50 or so over the 9.5KM course we use on Wednesday evening for the time trials. I guess I had been rabbiting on about these a lot so thought I would give it a miss. However last night I did it again, this time I got under 50:30, I did not press stop on my GPS for a bit after crossing the line so am unsure exactly what time it was, the GPS stopped recording with 50:29 on the watch.

I did not wear my PFD and attached camel back from which I can drink while paddling so I stopped at the bottom of the course (probably about the time my HR spiked right back down to 130 BPM) do blow my nose and have a drink from a bottle. Thus once again I can see it would be possible to go faster. I am happy to see my goal of cracking 50 minutes by the end of the season appears to be on track.

[/mtb] link

Wed, 27 Feb 2008

Memo to Nat Cap Authority: Trains do not tend to float well - 11:11
I have no idea why I never noticed this before, however driving across the lake to pick up my time bandit (kayak) this morning (to paddle in the time trial tonight) I saw an unusual sign as I came off Commonwealth Ave Bridge towards parliament house exiting to loop around under the bridge and head toward the yacht clubs.

I did not have my camera with me, however the sign is easy to explain. The text was "Lake Ferry Cruises" (or words to that effect) and there was a small icon of a steam train next to the words on the sign. I understand the Lake Cruise ferry now launches from the Southern Cross Canberra Yacht Club rather than the Acton Ferry terminal it used to depart from.

However my issue with this is the rather obvious fact that trains really do not float particularly well and are not well known lake cruising ability. One would think there is a possibility the National Capital Authority could have gotten a more accurate pictograph for display on this sign when they requested it be put up on the side of the road there. Even more interesting is the fact that the National Capital Authority offices are a few hundred metres from this sign, I wonder if someone there cringes every time they see the sign on their way to work?

On another note, in the bunch ride this morning we had a very negative experience with a car on Belconnen Way. In the fast bunch, while travelling at around 40 KM a short while after crossing through Coulter Drive heading out to the edge of Canberra. A car passed the bunch and then turned left in front of us into their drive way about 30 metres in front of the bunch. We were very close to having a monstrous crash and some nasty injuries and damages to the 18 or so people riding in the bunch, it was a close call.

What in the hell is wrong with a person who would do something like this, recklessly endangering 20 people on bikes at 6:20am in the morning when they should simply have waited the 1 or 2 seconds until we were past their driveway and they could then get into their home. Their address appears to be 39 Belconnen Way and their number plate is YEQ 913 (a dark coloured modern (Commodore or Falcon or similar) sedan). It beggars belief that anyone would drive like this deliberately trying to cause injury to a group of fellow human beings. (in front of their own home too, which would be a rather interesting call for police and ambulances if we had been unable to brake and spread across the road in time to avoid their car).

[/various] link

Tue, 26 Feb 2008

Be exact - 16:42
Maybe I am being pedantic, maybe I am simply looking for an excuse to write a diary entry, however I found this sort of amusing today.

Someone on irc said "what a f***ing day", which we can of all course assume the intention of the sentence from. However if we assume glob expressions or some kind of regular expressions it could be all sorts of strange kinds of day.

[16:40:38] 53 jackass sjh ~>grep ^f...ing$ /usr/share/dict/words | wc -l
70
[16:40:42] 54 jackass sjh ~>grep ^f.*ing$ /usr/share/dict/words  | wc -l
318

The first is of course assuming we are simply replacing each * with some random letter and looking through the dictionary, the second option is treating a * as a sort of glob expressions as a shell might expand it, though more than one * is overkill of course.

I do wonder, maybe the day has been filling up with fooling around filming fishing and farming things...

[/various] link

Mon, 25 Feb 2008

API design and error handling in code - 21:12
I am catching up on some posts on planet Gnome and I came across this post about error handling with g_malloc and a response agreeing with it. I find this interesting for a few reasons.

First it is true that putting in full error handling in code when using fairly standard libraries can take a lot of time, complexity and ugliness. However there should be some way somewhere to find out if errors happened I suggest, largely so you can deal with them if there is a situation they may be likely. Also understanding that libraries can fail in calls and what this means is important for coders, even if they do not handle them all. When marking assignments at uni I am keen to see that students have thought about error conditions and made the decision about what level of complexity to trade off against what likleyhood certain errors have of occurring.

The above issue with assignments however does tend to be students who are newer to programming than most free software hackers so there are considerations in both directions there. As for the other reason the above posts interest me, it is cool to see Cairo getting such props for great design again. Carl and co have done a stellar job with that library.

As I continue reading the planet I can see more entries in the thread.

[/comp/design] link

Thu, 21 Feb 2008

X and KDE out of sync - 17:59
So a new Dell Latitude D430 one of the academics at work has was showing some problems with getting X to work as we wanted. It is now running Gutsy, which seemed to not pick up on the intel video driver at first when I removed the i810 driver. However the more annoying thing I found in this setup is that when there is no xorg.conf kdm works fine, however kde reverts to some lower resolution. Although I can change that with xrandr, if I try going into kde display resolution settings they do not work if there is no xorg.conf.

In the last while the Xorg crew have been doing some great work to ensure X will generally run better with no config file around, working things out as it starts up and all that. However kde (at least the version in Kubuntu 7.10) has not caught up to the idea of querying the X server or working with it to that extent yet.

I hope the newer kde releases are heading this way, also I should check out gnome and see if it handles this cleaner. One thing I should note though is xrandr really is seriously cool. I found the thinkwiki xrandr page to be one of the best for describing cool stuff it can do.

[/comp/linux] link

Tue, 19 Feb 2008

Paddling up north on the weekend. - 15:08
My sister and I drove north to Macksville (near Coffs Harbour) on the weekend to visit our Grandma. I took my Time Bandit with me so I could do some paddling while I was there. Last year in Geoquest I missed out on the Bellingen River paddle, as it is a popular spot for paddling and there are guided paddling tours and such there I was keen to have a go on it.

Seeing how I had the boat with me I thought it would be good to paddle from the Pacific Highway bridge over Warrell Creek out to Nambucca Heads. This creek/river was used in Geoquest in 2006, though as I was in the half I did not get to paddle in it then either.

I forgot to wear my HRM/GPS on Saturday paddling in the Bellingen river, when I started I decided to paddle upriver for 40 minutes to an hour and then turn around and start coming back down. I found this was probably not the smartest thing to do as the river was flowing fairly fast and whenever it narrowed there were easy grade 1 rapids, which though lots of fun to paddle downriver through were somewhat challenging to paddle up.

Instead I probably should have put in at Thora and paddled all the way out to the coast from there, which would have given me fun grade 1 rapids fairly often down to Bellingen then the lovely river paddle from there on. On Sunday I remembered the HRM/GPS so you can see the map or detailed data if you wish.

This paddle on Warrell Creek was a lot prettier than most of the paddling on Bellingen river I thought, on the whole a very pleasant few hours. The photos from both days can be seen on the page I put online for paddling Bellingen River and Warrell Creek.

[/mtb] link

Fri, 01 Feb 2008

Casa Del Gelato - 11:33
Completely by accident last night after dinner, Mikal, MRD and I stumbled into Casa Del Gelato to feed MRD's Gelati habit (the man is hooked on the stuff, he seems to be on a constant sugar high here at lca due to feeding his gelati cravings).

Interestingly we had no idea that this was an award winning ice cream and gelato outlet, sold on premises and no where else. If Andrew Chalmers is to be believed this gelato wins awards and prizes in Italy so we were lucky to stumble in there by chance. Just using this as a reminder of where to get ice cream and gelato in Melbourne.

[/lca] link

A few more days at geek Nirvana - 10:52
I am wearing the t-shirt today so I should probably live up to it and write some stuff. There have been some seriously cool talks at lca. I adored the Parrot talk from Allison Randal, largely because it is incredible to see how far Parrot has come and how capable the entire set of tools based upon it now is. I am seriously tempted to show it off to some academics at work and see what they think of it for next generation language creation. At the same time yesterday there was a talk about a fire fighting robot, from what I hear this is likely one of the best talks this year. Everyone I spoke to who was at the robot talk thought it the best they have seen.

I liked the keynote yesterday from Stormy Peters, though when she mentioned the Iranian child care centre example, it sounded as if it were part of her research, the example comes from the book Freakonomics and it seemed a bit weird to have it unacknowledged. I tend to agree with a lot of what I have heard about Bruce's keynote, he was simply repeating stuff we have all seen before if we read his stuff a lot. IT was good, however alas not as cool as I suspect it could have been. I was really looking forward to his keynote so I may have built it up a bit in my expectations. However Anthony Baxter was a good keynote today also so makes up for it a bit.

Google non professional delegate party last night was alright, though the venue was a little strange, I am surprised Leslie chose it, she flew out from the US a while back to check out venues, so I imagine it did meet her requirements for the laid back atmosphere. Mikal had gone down to get the venue ready early, MRD and I wandered down to hang out with Mikal until other delegates rocked up. Around 9pm Mikal, MRD and I headed off to have dinner elsewhere and continue chatting. MRD and I spent the night learning of all manner of things that were or were not "Googly" according to Mikal. Of course with Mikal's sense of humour and heavy sarcasm who really knows what is or is not real. Fun was had, one more day of full on conference to go, fun is being had.

[/lca] link

Tue, 29 Jan 2008

How not to prepare for the first day at lca - 10:45
I arrived in Melbourne yesterday morning around 7:45am (06:40am flight out of Canberra) and managed to get to Melbourne Uni around 8:30am... alas I was not ready to tackle the first day at lca and the Debian Mini Conf as much as I would have liked.

On the weekend I competed in the AROC Edge of Reason 25 Hour Adventure race near Narooma on the coast. I was racing with Dave and Ben in the team My Physio Keeps Me Moving, alas the Physio got sent to Europe for work and missed the race, however I was her replacement.

The Leaderboard and results and race news are all online so you can see it took us 38 hours to complete the race trekking/running, paddling and mountain biking out through the bush and on the ocean. I had fun and had a very easy/relaxed race. I think Dave and Ben had a pretty hard time of it due to never having done such a long race before and not having the training base in them that I and many others have.

Dave and Ben's partners were both racing in the 50 hour race (longer and tougher), they were on different teams, Dave's partner Selina finished in first placed mixed (the premier category) 3rd overall in 44 hours, Ben's partner Danielle finished in 2nd place mixed, 4th overall in 45h40m. Good to see such good results for both of them.

I had been hoping to finish the race by around 2pm on Sunday so I could have a snooze for a few hours before driving back to Canberra. However with the course being longer and tougher than expected and with the speed we travelled I did not finish until 9pm, I then had to get back to Canberra, have 2 hours sleep (got home around 2:30am) and hop on my flight to Melbourne for the week of geeking it up at linux.conf.au.

With 2 hours of sleep and a little bit of activity outdoors for 38 hours non stop, when I sat down in the Debian mini conference yesterday morning I was finding it difficult to stay awake. Thus I have to admit I was a little too tired to be able to concentrate on the miniconfs all day. I am thankfully a lot better now after a full night of sleep and am enjoying the Gnome Mini Conf a lot.

[/lca] link

Wed, 16 Jan 2008

Dollars per second? - 20:45
So tonight I took the new toy out for the first time trial since getting it. What do you know I got another pb tonight. The time keepers said it was 52:38, I did not stop my watch immediately upon finishing so have a few more seconds on the HRM. Still good to see the speed happening, now I just have to work on cracking 50 minutes before the end of the season.

One of the people at the club asked me if I had worked out the dollars per second as I had purchased this new toy. I do not think I want to work that out just yet, maybe with a few more minutes knocked off it will not be so bad.

[/mtb] link

Wed, 09 Jan 2008

Count the superfoods - 14:38
Many articles online recently have mentioned various plans to include so called superfoods in a diet. Because I recently bought a lot of fresh blueberries and have since been eating them with breakfast I thought I would see how many of these foods I have been eating most days.

Of those mentioned, so far today I have eaten Apples, Avocado, Blueberries, Dark Chocolate, Honey, Low fat yoghurt, Oats, Oranges, Tea, Tomatoes, and dried Apricots (Dried superfruits). I expect by the time dinner is over I will have added Beans, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Garlic and Onions at least.

Of course one problem is trying to eat these in suggested quantities, such as 1-2 cups of fresh blueberries per day, a practice which simply is not economically viable in Australia (even if you had weekly access to the fresh blueberry farm). I suppose some people would point out I tend to be a bit of a health and fitness nut here though, after all I have also done 50 KM of fast paced road riding today, a stretching class and on Wednesday evenings would normally do a 10KM paddling time trial too.

The interesting thing here I think is that I had not even considered my food intake against the superfood list until I looked it up, so realistically anyone could be careful about eating healthy even if they are not in the mood for the amount of exercise I participate in.

[/leisure/food] link

Tue, 08 Jan 2008

Low impact sports - 15:54
So MRD has discovered the problem of many who run a bit. Running is a high impact sport and you have to really work on not getting injured. Sure if he lived in Canberra I could recommend a few people he could see about running injury prevention, correcting running technique, or simply ways to manage running to keep such injuries down. Adelaide is a little bit distant for me to know of similar people there to suggest though.

I do however notice Michael has discovered the addiction/endorphin rush of hard exercise and how much it really helps to reduce stress and make everything in life better. There are other sports which much lower impact that can keep the hard exercise endorphin thing happening. I am of course somewhat partial to cycling which is a very low impact sport, also paddling is a fantastic sport for low impact high intensity exercise (as I think evidenced by the number of veterans or aged people who participate in it heavily, it is interesting to note the Hawkesbury classic MLREC2 class record is 10 hours, however the Veterans MLREC2 record is 9h30m)

Both of the above sports have the rather unfortunate need of large and possibly expensive equipment, paddling having the additional need of water on which to paddle (also arguably a lot of technique coaching in order to lessen any chance of injury). There is another sport that can be useful for low impact high intensity exercise, this of course is swimming. The downside of swimming is how incredibly boring it can be. I imagine Michael has time constraints due to family and work that make getting out for exercise can be an interesting time management problem at times too. Swimming can be made more interesting in a swim squad, however they run at specific times.

I tend to recommend cycling (and as with most exercise, it is more fun with a group of people) for anyone wanting interesting, fun, low impact, high intensity exercise. It gets you the endorphin rush until you can get back into running. On this note, MRD should be recovered by LCA, AfC also gets into running a bit (as I found out when I met him at lca2003 in Perth). Running shoes are light and easy to bring along to LCA, I think the three of us (at least) should think about a morning run or similar one of the days we are at LCA this year in Melbourne. I wonder if anyone else is keen for a 10 to 15 KM run at a gentle pace (5 to 6 minute kilometres) one day?

[/mtb] link

Thu, 03 Jan 2008

When crass commercialism is a good thing - 19:13
It seems offensive when we see Christmas shopping, decorations and advertising sometime in August, we probably often have similar behaviour to the early ramping up on Mothers and Fathers day in the commercial sphere. However I have to say one aspect of this seeming crass commercialism that I noticed this week that appeals to me does exist.

I have mentioned in the past that the annual festival of the spicy fruit bun is a good thing because I adore hot cross buns. I could almost live on the things (okay ignoring for a moment they do not contain enough of a balanced diet to do that). I am able to purchase hot cross buns in Woolworths already, in early January, I do not need to wait until March. Rock on.

In other news I just realised my leisure/food category had completely disappeared from my laptop, probably during a recent fsck. Time to look through my laptop backups and compare against what is on the system to see if anything else is missing that should not be.

[/leisure/food] link

Wed, 02 Jan 2008

Coast ride - 12:24
Some friends and I rode to the coast on Saturday, the fun back way with no traffic (via Araluen). I had my camera with me so there is one of my ubiquitous pages of photos from the ride. (with links to the gps data)

Amanda suggested we all head to the Clyde River blueberry farm before driving back on Sunday, damn was that a good idea. Fresh blueberries at $16 per KG. Yummm I now have a lot of blueberries in my freezer.

[/mtb] link

Tue, 01 Jan 2008

NYE on an island - 20:56
Myself and a bunch of friends ushered in the new year on an island, alas not some exotic location, we were in the middle of Lake Burley Griffin on Springbank Island. It was a most enjoyable and relaxed way to bring in the new year, sitting around talking over wine, beer and a bbq picnic. We all paddled across in a range of kayaks and a canoe to carry more gear.

Alas for me the experience was marred a little bit by my back hurting, to the extent I am finding it difficult to stand up, walk or even roll over in bed. This is a back pain I have had in the past, most recently was back in March after the Jindabyne Multisport race when I drove from Jindabyne, to Sydney via Canberra and then back the following day. My back muscles were tightened and spasming, which it turns out was due to really tight sciatic nerves. On Sunday I was in a car (without a back support as I have in mine now days) for 4 hours or so the day after a long ride, so this may have helped bring it about.

Trying a few sciatic nerve stretches now and it appears they are playing up again. I guess I can blame a lot of this on the fact I have not been doing my stretching routines over the past two or three weeks since stretching class has not been on and it has not been on my mind. I rang Danealle (a physio friend) and she said Voltaren and copious lying on my back or front were the go and I can hope the swelling and stuff goes down in the affected areas.

Hope it will be better soon and stretching class is back on next week which will be good. Right now I can type on my laptop with it on my lap lying down, but it is not as easy as reading or watching movies.

[/various] link


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