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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.

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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).

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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