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Fri, 30 Dec 2005

Spud stacks and other cleat stories. - 22:03
I see Andrew is dealing with some of the problems we all face when we first start using clipless pedals. Sure eventually using clipless pedals becomes second nature and you do not even think about it, however for the first week or so in every new clipless pedal owner's life there are spud stacks, usually with an audience. Heck I remember one of mine, I had purchased a pair of Onza clipless pedals in Los Angeles and bought them home with me around January 1994. I bought a pair of shoes and went out riding, at a traffic light near Telopia park I pulled up, with some pedestrians watching and many car drivers able to see, and toppled over.

I am pretty sure every cyclist using clipless pedals you ask has some similar story or a few such stories. Interestingly Andrew's fall this time was caused by a loose cleat rather than forgetting to twist out, so he is probably doing better than many cyclists in remembering to use the pedals properly. I know the loose cleat problem is annoying, I did the majority of the 24 Hour race solo last year (2004) with a loose cleat, I had wondered why it had been so hard to get my left foot out of the pedals when I stopped, I did not actually realise I had lost a cleat bolt and that it was loose until the day after the race (I think that shows how out of it I was during the race), that and the broken front wheel axle definitely made the race more interesting...

[/mtb] link

Wed, 28 Dec 2005

Making you stop and think again - 17:12
I just finished reading the book The Cuckoo's Egg by Clifford Stoll, it really does make you stop and think a bit. As a large part of net lore (100 greatest moments in Internet history article, a good read) I am somewhat surprised I had not come across this book in the past. The copy I read was loaned to me by a friend who is not a self proclaimed geek to a huge extent who had recommended it as a good read.

I should have been doing a lot of other things today but spent most of it reading the book, ahh well. As mentioned above it makes me stop and think, should I go and recheck my nagios setup, should I run some more log analysis tools, etc etc. Consider that this all happened back in 1986 and 1987, compare the scale of the Internet and the number of people behaving maliciously online back then to today and you start to wonder are you doing enough with security concerns?

[/comp/internet] link

Tue, 27 Dec 2005

Extending the Tuesday loop - 12:05
Most Tuesday mornings I head out with a bunch of other mountain bikers to do the Cotter/Uriarra loop on a road bike. This being the height of holiday season I expected there would not be many others there this morning. In order to avoid riding in the heat of the day I decided to head out early anyway. No one else rocked up so I headed off by myself with my mp3 player on, I decided to extend the loop a bit today as I did not need to be at work around 9am.

Last year when Allan was off work for a while he was trying to talk a bunch of us into doing Condor Creek during the loop, this is not really viable as it would have us returning to town around 8:30am rather than around 7:45am (an extra 10 KM with some climbing). However as I was able to do a choose my own adventure style ride this morning I went out to the end of the bitumen up past Condor Creek, then I also headed out to the end of the bitumen past Uriarra Crossing, and eventually returned to civic at 9am on the dot for a coffee and then home.

A most pleasant way to spend the morning, turning the cranks over by myself, not pushing the pace at all.

[/mtb] link

Fri, 23 Dec 2005

My knees are safe again - 13:42
New RaceFace/SRAM drivetrain
New RaceFace/SRAM drivetrain (Full Size)
After trying to destroy my knees and hurt myself the other week, I finally got around to purchasing a new drivetrain for my hardtail. 2005 RaceFace Evolve XC cranks with an external bottom bracket with the axle attached to the left crank. SRAM PG970 cluster (SRAM finally for 2005 started releasing clusters with a 30 to 34 jump at the top rather than the silly 28 to 34 they used to have) and a SRAM PC991 chain.

I bought the chain at Mals for AUD $50, however the retail price for the crankset in Australia is over AUD $400 so I really could not bring myself to buy that here. The cluster costs around AUD $100 here, so I ended up ordering both cluster and crankset/bottom bracket from the US.

Universal Cycles had good prices so I tried them out. It cost me around AUD $250 for the crankset and cassette including shipping to Australia. They sent it out on Monday and it arrived at work today, considering this is the silly season that is pretty good. Now I will be able to ride the hardtail again next week, wheeeeee.

[/mtb/gear] link

Wed, 21 Dec 2005

Not so much pay for, more a case of implicitly support - 10:45
Lindsay Holmwood seemed to think I was suggesting schools pay for conference attendance, as nice as that would be, I was not really suggesting that. I know from long experience (parents were teachers, many of my friends are teachers) how pitifully underfunded schools are so would not imagine it is possible.

What I was suggesting is that if a student wishes to attend a conference being held during school time for a week, they should be encouraged by the school and allowed the week off with no penalty or problems. This is because requesting to attend a conference shows a lot of initiative, also of course the incredible knowledge gain available from a good conference. There is an issue of what is a good conference and what is not, however the pricing of contiki style conferences (3 day marketing thingy at the beach or similar, you know what I am talking about) are priced well out of the budget of students. Most of the good conferences however appear to be priced very well, especially for students. The two examples I gave of GUADEC and definitely fit the bill.

The problem as I see it is that a school, and possibly parents, would not realise the huge advantage a student would have knowledge wise by going to something like GUADEC for a week over a week of school.

[/lca] link

Tue, 20 Dec 2005

Students at conferences - 13:52
Yesterday I read something on p.l.o.a written by Pascal Klein, discussing a school student attending lca.

It seems obvious when you think about it, however if a highschool age student is in to Linux or related technologies and they are able to attend a nearby technical conference it should be encouraged by the school and parents. Whether the conference is, GUADEC or some other equally great open source related conference. The price is low, especially for students, and in one week of conference attendance a student will gain far more interesting and technical computing related knowledge than would be obtained in any highschool or similar I can think of in a few months.

For example Bdale Garbee's daughter Elizabeth attended lca2005, initially her school appeared to be a little upset at her missing the school time, however with subsequent good marks and probably increase in enthusiasm from lca I suspect they were convinced of the benefit.

[/lca] link

Mon, 19 Dec 2005

MTB Christmas Decorations - 16:52
Mountain Bike Tinsel
MTB Tinsel (Full Size)
Mountain Bike Snowman
MTB Snowman (Full Size)
For the Friday morning mtb ride last week I decorated my duallie as pictured on the left. Red duallie, all it needed was green tinsel. Oh and a snowman, because what is a mountain bike in the Australian summer without a snowman attached to it somewhere. Christmas Cotter/Uriarra loop is tomorrow so I ponder what to add to the bike for that.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 15 Dec 2005

I have new feet! - 16:12
3M Rubber Stick on Feet
3M Stick on Rubber Feet (Full Size)
See my shoes did not fit, so I thought it might be easier to get new feet than new sho.... ahh who am I kidding it is not even a amusing attempt at being humorous, the title of course refers to my missing laptop feet.

This is largely to remind me where I got them, I first went to office works and they did not have them, I later found them for sale at the hardware store Bunnings. Now I think of it I recall buying the feet for my Pismo there also years ago. I got black rather than clear as they are cheaper, and really who wants to sit around admiring the see through feet on a laptop anyway?

[/comp/hardware] link

Wed, 14 Dec 2005

Lessons in drivetrain wear, again - 22:10
If you let your drive train wear out well past the point at which the chain should have been replaced, the cluster and chainrings also wear badly and eventually your drivetrain reaches the point at which the chain skips whenever much power to it.

The drivetrain on my hardtail was well past the worn chain point and into the realms of needing the cluster and chainring replaced also back in May. Today I paid the price for avoiding buying replacement equipment for so long. Every time I stood up or tried to accelerate fast on my hardtail today the chain would skip, on the instances when I was standing my knees made painful contact with the handlebars and on one occasion I almost crashed on bitumen while accelerating.

I guess I have been somewhat lay in replacing the equipment partly because I have two mountain bikes to ride, so I have not paid as close attention to wear on one or the other and to KM ridden. It is my normal experience that approximately every 5000Km on a mountain bike, if you are not replacing the chain more regularly, the chain, cluster and middle chain ring need replacing. Then every 10000Km (another 5000Km later) the same replacement is required but the large chain ring and probably the granny ring also will need replacing. Sure it is possible to avoid this by doing more regular cleaning and replacing chains more often, it is possible to get as much as 20,000 Km out of a cluster and set of chainrings on a mountain bike. I do not however hold to those rather stricter maintenance regimes.

Ahh well time I guess to buy a new drivetrain for the hardtail. The last time I had the knee pain induced by meeting the handlebars due to worn drive train was a few years ago, I had forgotten how much it can hurt.

[/mtb/gear] link

Fri, 09 Dec 2005

Blisters outside the comfort zone - 13:42
As should be expected, when I start doing a sports activity I do not do often, have not done for years or have never done before, things hurt. In this case, kayaking again for the first time in many years. As it was with getting back into running earlier in the year I hurt a lot after kayaking.

I have never done much kayaking or paddling in my life anyway, thus I do not have a particularly effective or efficient paddling technique. There is a lot more to paddling technique than simply sticking the paddle in the water and pulling back. Hopefully with more practice (so far only two one and a half hour paddles in the last few weeks) I will improve.

From last night I have sore shoulders and slightly sore upper arms plus blisters on my pinky fingers and on the inside of both thumbs to show for my efforts. Hopefully that adage about pain simply being weakness leaving the body will hold true in a while, I know it does for cycling to a large extent.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 08 Dec 2005

This is how warranties should be - 21:00
Almost a month ago Crash sent a link to this reallite warranty, absolutely hilarious. I wish more companies would show their sense of humour by putting a warranty such as this on their product.

All products should be warrantied against damage due to drop kicking them into the path of an oncoming run away train after all.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 01 Dec 2005

Open source cookie design attempt, what they missed - 17:44
Malcom Gladwell as is often the case can write a good article, this article I found linked from kottke concerns an attempt to develop a great diet cookie using a few different software development methodologies. On the whole the article is interesting to see an attempt at applying software development methodologies (eXtreme Programming, Cathedral, and Bazaar) to another problem space/industry. From my reading of the article I believe they misapplied the open source model to a large extent.

Gladwell is a great author and often writes interesting and entertaining articles as I have noted in the past on occasion, however coming from an open source geek perspective there are obvious points missed here that show how the open source methodology could have been better applied. For example the quote "Linus Torvald, the Norwegian hacker" shows two problems, Linus' surname has an s, and Linus originates from Finland. The guy who ran this multi methodology project, Steve Gundrum, got off on the right foot, talking with Mitch Kapor as to the viability of applying the open source methodology to this new problem space, however I would suggest the team established did not operate in the manner teams on successful open source projects tend to.

They established a team for the open source group by inviting 15 well known specialists in the related food industry to be involved and make suggestions that would be implemented by Gundrum's company. Asking these people to design the cookie in effect. During the project, when some arguments or difficulties arose there was no dispute arbitration mechanism or established way to make a final decision. Also no one was actually elected as a benevolent dictator, without one or both of those mechanisms I am not surprised the project suffered and many people involved came out of it not particularly happy with the results.

Using the Linux kernel as an example again I think a few things they missed are, lack of benevolent leader, a dispute arbitration mechanism based on something akin to show me the code, ie coming up with ideas or suggestions is not sufficient, it needs to be implemented, tested and proven to work in a satisfactory manner, also some specific specialising in areas may have helped, especially with such a large team. Looking at the goals of the project and dividing up components such that people who may better work on those aspects could have more control over them. However I think one of the biggest failings was the scratch an itch component of free software or passion for it. This project though possibly interesting to those involved was unlikely to inspire passion from them. A combination of technical ability and the passion for the project really does provide a lot of the groundwork for success in the open source world. Even those people paid full time to work on open source are generally still passionate about their work (Linus, Tridge, Rusty, Anton, etc).

The article does mention some of Joel Spolsky's (of Joel on Software) reservations about open source development, and admittedly they could be relevant, however they could also be disputed. The argument about lack of innovation and simply following the herd would be disputed I suggest by looking at the innovation happening in given problem spaces in open source. Some of the desktop software such as amaRok, f-spot or the gstreamer based Fluendo (admittedly this is a company, however it is open source development with Flumotion) are all doing things way ahead of and more interesting than other entries in that problem space worldwide. Sure there are problems that do not mix well with open source development, but a simple argument being made that there is no innovation in the open source would I think is quite narrow minded.

Looking at how close the open source cookie was in second place I suspect that with a better understanding of the methodology and applying it with a group of people that fit well to that mechanism would have somewhat improved results.

[/comp/design] link

Laptop feet go bye bye - 17:36
I just noticed a few hours ago that my laptop (dell x300) is missing two of the rubber stabilising feet on its base. When this happened to my pismo powerbook a few years ago I was able to purchase basic round rubber stick on feet and they worked. The feet on this dell are long thin bits of rubber. I need to have a bit of a look around OfficeWorks or similar to see if they sell feet that will work.

The laptop rattles a bit when I type now unless I have my palms resting next to the touchpad while typing, which is a slightly inefficient typing position and possibly damaging long term. I noticed the missing feet as one of them fell off, however somehow I lost it as I flicked it away before realising what I had just flicked away.

[/comp/hardware] link

Tue, 29 Nov 2005

One Week - 14:02
You are most welcome to sing this entry to the tune of One Week (video) by Bare Naked Ladies (if ever there was a NSFW sounding band name that is it). though I do not know how much it will help.

I saw someone else doing this detailed diary of a week thing, everything you see on the Internets (or if you must wikipedia link) should be copied I thought I would give it a try. (thanks to the fun that is using a proleptic gregorian calendar I am pretty sure the days below are correct for those dates)

Monday May 13 150 BCE, Sittin' around discussin' with Ishvara what name would be good for the son or daughter of god in the Christian religion in a century or two, a few possible names such as Trevor, Cathy, George, Kylie, Rick, Neil or Gwendolyn come to mind, but we do not worry much as no one has to decide for more than a century yet.

Tuesday April 1 2036 CE, One joke someone tried today was suggesting Unix Time would overflow almost 2 years early due to the f00f bug, however this being somewhat geeky other themes proved more popular.

Wednesday February 21 3120 BCE, Someone opened the first Mcdonalds franchise on Christmas Island today, not much media coverage, and due to the lack of people living there they have not sold many big macs since they opened, this may explain why the crabs do not tend to be overweight, though I am not really sure about that.

Thursday July 28 1932 CE, Trying to find a milk carton to do a late Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging post I am once more stumped by the fact the milk carton has not yet been invented, hurry up you lazy swedes and invent the milk carton, I don't have all day to sit around waiting for a milk carton.

Friday December 2 2005 CE, that is still a few days away, how am I supposed to know what I will be doing, silly.

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Mon, 28 Nov 2005

Triple Tri 2005 Report and Photos. - 14:42
Bruce, Shanyn and I had a rather fun triple tri again last week. I was still trying to get rid of my cold and thus was not doing too well. We came second again this year, both Bruce and Shanyn put in incredible performances. Most important of all is we all had fun and the whole team is looking forward to the event next year already.

My photos and a longish report are now online. Strangely when I started writing all that I thought I did not have much to write, so I was amazed at how much I ended up writing.

[/mtb/events] link

Sat, 26 Nov 2005

Silliness and fishing - 11:47
I do not usually feel the need to defend stuff I put here, especially when placed in the I Let Myself In With This Chainsaw category but what the hey I got a bite on the ol' fishin' line so here we go.

The category I placed that post in is quite deliberately somewhat full of nonsense and whimsy. If I actually feel like saying something seriously it does not go there, if I feel like making stuff up and joking that is where I will put it.

Also I was to some extent making a jab to the left field of defence, as Scott Adams recently pointed out on his diary, neither side of a rather prominent religious issue tend to make well founded arguments. I thought to myself, lets have some fun with this. I know full well the weak points of my suggestion that the people created in such a manner would not have a clue, when seen from a religious angle these people would be informed by the $DEITY in question in some manner and it would all come out rosy and happy and the birds would be singing and all that, but where is the fun in making nonsense stand up to criticism well.

Of course my own angle on it is that the sort of people who are pushing ID in the US and other similar claims are trying to do that themselves, make nonsense stand up. It was with some interest I saw an article the other day suggesting we are somewhat wired from birth with a built in need to believe in the supernatural, so maybe people do need their religious views rather than scientificly grounded ones.

Personally I would simply prefer more people to be able to compartmentalise their life so they could live with their own religious convictions and yet allow the world at large to utilise scientific advances rather than attempt to suppress or mutilate science because it differs from their personal world view or threatens their perceived power in the world. (I view this as similar in many ways to the dark ages in our history)

[/various] link

Thu, 24 Nov 2005

Different cultures, different stationery - 22:31
A the moment I am for some reason unable to find my Shaefer calligraphy set, not a large problem as I still have my small Parker set readily available. Ink cartridge calligraphy pens in both sets. However with the Shaefer set I also have a number of dip pens and some other supplies. Currently I am mostly interested in finding all my ink (cartridge) writing supplies to see if I still have a plain ink cartridge pen around anywhere. I wish to write something with an ink pen and they are completely unavailable in news agencies. (well for anything less than AUD $100 it seems).

With this inability to find cheap ink based writing supplies rather than ball based I have a remarkable cultural difference bought home I had never really noticed before. While going to school in England in 1993 for a year, and I imagine the public school system there is still similar, all writing had to be done with ink cartridge pens, no ball point or biro style pens were allowed to be used. Thus every WH Smiths and other news agent had a ready supply of ink based writing equipment. Here at home I have, as stated, found such items almost impossible to find. A local art store suggested I go check out a specialist paper (stuff to write on, not news paper) shop in the Canberra Centre as they apparently stock ink writing equipment.

Due to the fact I still have my small Parker calligraphy set sitting around readily available I would not even mind if I were able to find a parker nib to fit that is suitable for writing (ie not a wide nib such as used in calligraphy), I will have to make a visit to the Canberra centre and try my luck I guess. Still it is kind of strange to note the complete lack of ink pens in regular supply here in Canberra.

Thinking about paper also reminds me I bought some really gorgeous hand made paper at a paper shop in Porto in Portugal in 2002 that I have not yet used, though I have no idea where it may be, probably hiding out with my calligraphy supplies.

[/various] link

Wed, 23 Nov 2005

This cause and effect may give the kooks a pause - 22:22
Sure I almost said this may cause them a pause for a thought, but then I remembered how unlikely it is that a thought has ever really entered their head rather than just passed through as a repeater for kook radio. However stop for a second and imagine, what if those people (kooks, interchangeable term) who think some $DEITY placed all life on earth at some given point not too long ago are correct, and evolution and all that are all just a big giggle.

Now I know this is hard to accept, but you will need to suspend disbelief just a little bit further, thus accepting that first idea may make this next one more palatable. Assume for a second all these miraculously created people were not religiously inclined loonies salivating over small children or hiding away in some abode of worship, imagine for a second one or two of them had sex, you because it feels good, or it was something to do of an afternoon.

What the hell did they think when the effects started to appear, otherwise known as childbirth. With no period experience, due to evolution, when the female started to increase in girth and have all associated issues, what was going through their heads. How many years did it take them to correlate the sex with the child birth, they may not even appear to be related at all, and with the religious mind seeming all intent on banning all forms of reasonable science anyone suggesting the two (sex and childbirth) were related was probably burned at the stake. Then when pregnancy reaches its culmination, all the pain and weird things going on, followed by the appearance of a little human. Heck the religious mind may even take this as some form of exorcism, thousands of women and newly born children were probably put to death. $DEITY may have needed to intervene at some point to put a stop to the silliness.

Getting back to reality I think we should be glad of evidence and observances as we and other animals evolved to keep current reality of how the species propagates understood by the practitioners (in this case the practitioners being all of us).

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Mon, 14 Nov 2005

Weird and wacky french animation - 16:12
So I was in Bundanoon the other night and they were showing the movie Les Triplettes de Belleville, an animated movie length feature released in 2003. The movie shows cyclists to be a somewhat obsessive compulsive sort of bunch (we really are), and has a large number of rather strange visuals or ideas running through it.

Definitely an entertaining and worthwhile movie to see, some hilarious sections, some strange bits, not a lot of dialogue so you need to concentrate on the imagery to get a lot from it also there is some good music. Tres cool. The "car chase" at the end is really highly amusing, the seemingly endless number of ways the broad shouldered mafia can crash cars is fantastic.

[/leisure/screen] link

Tacos rock - 16:07
So I went over to help a friend out with some computer issues the other day, as a thankyou they served a rather good dinner. Tacos, I have not eaten Tacos for about 8 years, I wonder why not, they absolutely rock. Also very easy to prepare, get some sour cream, some cheese, cut up some tomato and lettuce, get a jar of taco sauce (spiciness to taste) and choose the base sauce, meat base, or refried bean base or something else. And you know what, they taste great. Mmmmmmm tacos.

[/leisure/food] link

My 2005 Highland Fling 100 KM mountain bike marathon. - 12:23
Well I still have that cold, which is rather annoying, however it did give me a great reason to slow up and take it easy yesterday. I have uploaded my Highland Fling photos and a few words now. The event was a lot of fun, an absolutely fantastic course for a 100 KM race. The weather was perfect, the marshals and everyone else out there was good. Highly recommended.

[/mtb/events] link

Fri, 11 Nov 2005

Riding with a cold is a bad idea mmmmkay? - 22:26
As the triple tri is fast approaching, a number of people I ride with were keen to be shown around the bike legs. We covered the first bike leg about a month ago over two consecutive weeks on Friday morning rides. I decided the second bike leg could be covered on a Thursday morning with a slightly earlier start and slightly later finish. Finally Thursday this week there was no rain and at least a few other people had said they would be there to be shown the way.

With people expecting me there, the day before was of course the one on which I would develop a cold, I tend to get a cold maybe once a year. Ahh well I went out and did the ride anyway, feeling like crap and probably only made it through due to having two paracetamol tablets before hand. When I got back home after the ride I felt so bad I had to lay down on my bed and sleep for an hour and a bit before I could muster the energy and brain power to go into work.

Interestingly while out on the ride I think we discovered the location of most of the flies in Canberra. Sure there were a few flies buzzing around in places during the ride, however when we got to the top of Bluetts I do believe we found the majority of flies in the Canberra region, I was crawling with them, if you think there are a lot of flies on me here think again, that is nothing compared with the black crawling mass all over me at the top of Bluetts on Thursday morning, fortunately they seemed to stay there once the others arrived and we rode on.

Anyway I strongly advise against riding when feeling fairly unwell, I was able to skip the ride this morning, unfortunate as I never like to miss a ride but it would not have been sensible, after all I have the Highland Fling around the Bundanoon area this weekend, a 100 KM mountain bike race, at which I strongly suspect I will need to go very slowly if my current health is anything to go by. I definitely need to shake this cold by next week in order to do well in the Triple Tri, after all I do not want to let my completely kick arse team down.

[/mtb] link

Questioned about blogging at the noble palace - 17:14
I was out for dinner on Wednesday night at a Chinese restaurant in Woden called the "Noble Palace" (noble palace review). Not trying to muscle in on Mel or Rusty in the reviewing space, but I must say it was indeed damn good food. One of the people I was dining with who had recently been travelling throughout a lot of Asia for work (China, Korea, etc) was impressed as heck saying it was on par with the best she had tasted there. I did have one complaint I guess, we had a part of around 20 people and ordered one of the banquet items from the menu. Though the food was good there was not very much of it. Even Kate was still looking for more to eat once all the food had disappeared, and she is not a big eater at the best of times. It was to a large extent made up for by the quality of the dishes though. Oh and their dessert offerings are rather bland and pointless also in my opinion.

Interestingly while there I got up from my seat to walk to the toilet and a diner at another table asked me what the word on my t-shirt means. How do you describe blogging to people that say oh some computer thing? I used the term, it is an Internet diary that anyone can read. Interestingly later in the evening Russ' daughter Avril complimented me on wearing a cool t-shirt, so at least some people at the dinner appreciated it.

[/leisure/food] link

Mon, 07 Nov 2005

What is it with Holbrook. - 22:15
Driving through Holbrook the other day got me to thinking what I am sure is on the FAQ list for the town. What is a submarine doing in a country NSW town no where near the coast? Sure some people have attempted to come up with a reasonable answer, something about renaming it from Germantown during WWW1 and choosing a submarine war hero and maintaining a link to submarines over the years. But really who is ever going to believe that. Obviously not the townsfolk or the council, on the FAQ and the council page about about Holbrook there is nary a mention of the submarine.

Can the people living there even see the submarine in the park there? When a visitor asks them about the submarine in the town do they look at said questioner in askance, What submarine? I can not see anything like that and I think it may be a bit hard to hide one in the park there. Maybe the submarine is sort of like a submarine patent, and no one could see the submarine, or the town (after all there is a sign on the highway claiming it is the submarine town) until the day when some other town elsewhere claimed to be a submarine town, and hey presto Holbrook appeared and pointed out an established history since a name change in 1915.

Of course there could be another reason for the submarine, kind of like a nuclear bunker but this one is for the town council in case of floods. No one will even know they left as the submarine will be able to sneak away under the water, it will just be Noah, a bunch of animals and the Holbrook town council.

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Commentary on the weblog usability thing. - 22:07
I made mention of a Neilsen when I made some updates recently. A the time I did not put much stock in most of the recommendations, but did apply some to this diary. I also noticed many others tended to think the recommendations were out of whack.

Today I saw a rather good commentary on why they are a bit off. Pointing out the seeming lack of understanding of how diarys/blogs really differ to corporate websites and other similar medium has skewed the recommendations heavily.

[/various] link

Did I really wear those shoes? - 21:03
Currently my good/current pair of cycling shoes (2005 Model M180-B shoes) has broken again and I am awaiting a warranty replacement from Shimano. So this weekend I wore my previous pair of cycling shoes, what was second from top of the line in Shimano mtb shoes back in 2002. Though they feel weird they are still wearable, just a little worn out everywhere. However as I wore them this weekend at the race in Victoria and got them very muddy I hosed them off yesterday and then let them sit to dry. I forgot to put newspaper in them and they were not yet dry this morning when I wanted to ride to work. All of this is to explain why I wore my really old cycling shoes to ride to work today.

My older pair of cycling shoes, purchased sometime around 1997 are Lake, with laces and two velcro straps. A nice enough pair of shoes I thought up until I stopped using them, now days if I wear them on a bike as I did today I wonder how I could ever have ridden in them at all. They rock on the pedals, feel loose when I pull my foot up on the pedal stroke, as if I am pulling the shoe off the sole. They are incredibly worn out on the sole and to one side due to pronating a bit much and really feel completely different to how shoes I wear now days feel on the bike.

I suppose the good news is the replacement pair shimano are giving me is the 2006 model equivalent to those I broke, and it looks like it will be a bit tougher in the areas (all around the toe box) I have been continually breaking this older model.

[/mtb] link

The Gravity 12 Hour race was a heap of fun. - 17:27
Last week I mentioned I would again be competing in the Gravity 12 Hour mountain bike race in Rosewhite in Victoria. Sam, Ben and I went down there, raced, had a fantastic time and all of us are damn happy with it, and keen for a repeat next year.

I have my gravity photos online with a few words. Also I notice Bill Clarke (a work colleague) has his photos up also. One, a panorama shot shows off the campsite and surrounding hills and mountains well. He also has two photos of me, thus proving to a greater extent I was really there (who knows I may have had someone else take the photos and am in fact a couch potato sitting in front of a tv 24 hours a day).

[/mtb/events] link

Fri, 04 Nov 2005

Gravity 12 Hour mountain bike race - 09:42
As in previous years I am competing in the Beechworth Chain Gang Gravity 12 Hour mountain bike race this year. Once again I am teamed up with Sam and Ben in the three person mixed category. Our team name this year is "Ride Babysit Ride" which may be somewhat accurate as Maxine and Nikita will be camping with us of course.

Last year was a little bit muddy (read this as understatement, in reality it was the muddiest event I have ever competed in), the year before was a little bit warm (I was dehydrated and needed to visit the hospital upon my return to Canberra to rehydrate).

The weather looked as if it may be wet again with the long range forecast last weekend, however it now appears we could be up for a reasonably dry event (almost anything will be dry when compared with last year though). Anyway Sam is hell keen after missing out on racing this last year (probably the year to miss one if you have to though) and I am sure it will be fun. I just have to go into work briefly before driving to Victoria, and am sure I will be under prepared food wise at the event, ahh well I can buy stuff.

[/mtb/events] link

Tue, 01 Nov 2005

500 Mile Email Limit - 22:19
This is cool, freaky but cool. This story of a sysadmin trying to find out the cause of a email fault reported by the statistics department claiming email would not deliver to locations much more than 500 miles away.

Reading it, by the end it makes perfect sense, but half way through I was going through the same thoughts he must have been, wtf is happening sort of thoughts.

[/comp/email] link

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 00:00
Meyenberg Goat's Milk
Got Goat's Milk?
As has been pointed out, a milk carton may contain other types of milk, Cows are not the only source of contents for these venerable containers. To the left is a milk carton containing Goat's Milk from the company Meyenberg (large producer of Goat's Milk in the US). It can be argued that Goat's milk is healthier for you or at least it may be a better baby food than Cow milk.

Though I would suggest the biggest advantage me be that we will never see another milk carton desecrated with big black splotches, through Goat's have been known to have black splotches, the image of a Goat in the public mind does not, thus opening up milk carton designs to whole new splotch free realms.

[/various/milkcarton] link

Showing you why we need science. - 00:00
We really do need science, otherwise no one would be able to make a proper appraisal of the utility of a chocolate teapot (seen last week on ploa or similar), this really is lots of fun, reminds me of the Twinkies Project I had a link to on my links page back around 1996. (yes I know many of them are dead links,really I could care less).

[/various] link

Ooohh look a coincidence, maybe - 00:00
I just happened to glance at my posts per month thing in the left hand column here and look at what I saw. September 2004, 27 posts. September 2005, 27 posts. October 2004, 15 Posts. October 2005, 15 posts. Almost kinda spooky maybe sorta.

[/comp/blogging] link

Wild Horse Ridge - 00:00
So a bunch of us drove down to Talbingo on Saturday morning to ride Wild Horse Ridge. Heaps of fun was had, the weather held off for the duration of the ride. We camped over night there intending to ride the next day if the weather continued behaving. It rained all night and on in to Sunday so we packed up and drove home. However we had a fantastic time on Saturday riding up to Budong falls and the top of Wild Horse Ridge and subsequently riding down Wild Horse Ridge. We even saw Wild Horses up near the top.

Anyway myself, Dave McCook and Andrew Cassie all took photos, I am hosting Dave's and mine. The people present on the ride were Michael "Crash" Carden, David McCook, David "DAS" Sutton, Andrew "Madge" Cassie (on a single speed), Craig "Darren? " Armour, Tony (mate of Jaymz's from Townsville), James "Jaymz" Davies, and myself Steven "Bender" Hanley.

[/mtb] link

Wed, 26 Oct 2005

Ahhh bugger I slept in again, no wait I didn't - 05:37
So I woke up 20 minutes ago and thought, oops I slept through my alarm again and missed the morning ride (the weather was finally clear this morning too) then I looked at my watch and realised I had not. With day light saving this weekend it really is damn light this early in the morning, so by now it appears as though it is 7am or something outside (sound and light levels). Good to see I get to join in the ride and did not sleep through my alarm (or turn it off and roll over back into sleep).

Of course the fact I got ready for the ride then turned on my laptop and checked email and wrote to my diary rather prominently displays what a raging geek I am.

[/mtb] link

Tue, 25 Oct 2005

Footpaths out to "get you" - 21:59
So I hear you wonder what does this yonder footpath upon which you may wander have to do with a complete understanding of yourself. Who knows, but I have to say the footpaths are not telling me anything. They just sit there all cememnty and solid keeping their secrets. I stop walking for a minute and ask the footpath "How's things Mr Footpath?" (This may be seen as sexist but I lost my book on footpath sexing so really have no idea how to work out what gender a given footpath may be so Mr it will have to be). You know what? the footpath doesn't even answer me.

I mean it could help us out so much if it did, a footpath is surely a useful source of information, I may in fact have been walking on the next Einstein of the footpath world. It would have saved us years of study if the footpath had told us putting our children on a diet of happy pills wont make them happy, instead scientists have spent years and untold monies trying to find out why drugging children up to their eyes with happy pills does not create happy bouncy children.

You know, maybe the footpath has a secret, it may know who stole this duck and is keeping quiet to protect the perpetrator. Hah I say, the duck stealing fiend has been foiled, the show must go on, and it did, the duck's understudy got quacking and was up on stage in no time.

There it sits staying silent and solid, it may indeed get you, it is after all a good listener, with nary a whisper of what it has heard repeated theron.

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Thu, 20 Oct 2005

Will a person of a diachronic persuasion be wary of wild animals? - 22:24
You can see it now, someone wandering down the street their heads lost pondering the origins of the German habit of joining words together to create really long new words, do they reserve some small part of their minds to look out for rampaging lions, elephant stampedes or vicious Chihuahuas? (okay so I admit the segue at the start of this post was just an excuse to use the word diachronic)

A book I was reading contains a list of suggestions for "Ways of escaping attacks from wild animals (probably)". For example to escape from an unfriendly lion they suggest.

Wait until the lion is five feet away and then ram a large pair of step ladders down its throat.

From the tone of that I am sure you can see we need more hints and tips in this vein or we simply will not be safe from wild animals as we walk the streets having diachronic thoughts.

Thus I have a few contributions to the cause.

  • Chihuahuas: feed them to your snake.
  • Aliens: Abduct them, get in first.
  • Poo slinging monkies: far too cool to be wary of, give em some peanuts (thanks to Juzzy)
  • Poo slinging politicians (ie all of them): Nuke them from orbit.
  • A Grue: Run, scream, struggle, and die a horrific death or open the curtains to let in the sunlight

[/various] link

The problem with having clean bikes - 22:05
So I cleaned my road bike and my hardtail mtb on Sunday, both needed it fairly urgently, the mountain bike had not been cleaned since before the WSMTB 12 hour race in early September, the road bike for even longer (they do not get dirty so easily). The drive train on the road bike was half replaced so cleaning the chain rings to go with he new cluster and chain was a good thing. The hardtail drive train is pretty much cactus now too, but I cleaned it and will continue using it for a while.

Anyway the problem I have now encountered, after cleaning both frames, components, other bits, etc is the bikes look too good and I am wary of getting them out in bad weather. It rained again today and I had my mountain bike sitting in my office at work, with the rather lovely paint job I have on that frame it really does look good. As soon as I ride in rain or even dust it will not be so shiny and nice looking.

I suppose this shows I am somewhat bike obsessed, that I could sit and stare at my own bikes when they look so good, the clean drive train on the road bike appears almost jewel like and I even chose to ride the mtb to work today so as to avoid getting the drive train on the road bike messed up.

Good news on the bike front is the hanger I needed for getting the rocky mountain rolling again arrived on Wednesday (along with a spare), thanks to Aaron for getting hold of these for me. I can now clean off the duallie, replace a few outers and cables (some are trashed anyway) and put it in the garage and avoid riding it due to it being too clean also.

[/mtb] link

Reasons weight loss can be annoying - 11:19
So I have been heard from time to time uttering that I would like to lose some weight and get down to around 80 KG, I seem never to have mentioned this here, but hey some people have heard me say this. The primary reason being I suspect I can sustain that weight reasonably easily and it will mean I can climb a lot faster on the bike. Though considering how much riding I do, looking at the fact I have been approximately 88 KG for the last 3 years or so there is obviously some thought that has to go into the weight loss (or dieting maybe).

Anyway the Sunday night following the Mont I checked out my weight on the scales and was surprised to find I was 5 KG lighter than when I checked in the morning sometime a week before the Mont. Leading up to the Mont I was usually around 90 or 90.5 KG, even when checking in the morning (the time of day you are at your lightest, after waking up, or in my case after waking up and exercising for a few hours). After the Mont however I was, all of a sudden down to 85.5, at night too. With the plan of losing weight in order to climb faster this was a good thing, though surprising, I decided I had better hydrate well for a few days to ensure I was not dehydrated or anything, though as I had not competed in the race or done much strenuous for a while it was unlikely.

I thought I may as well work on keeping the weight loss going so I have been careful to eat less at all meals since then and it appears to be working as the last few mornings when weighing myself I have generally been around 84 KG, for the sake of cycling I hope I can indeed get down to around 80, however the problem I have encountered is my clothes fit even worse now. The main point of this post is to complain my clothes are all too big. I suppose at least my cycling clothing all still fits as it is Lycra style rather than baggy.

Sure pants and jeans and stuff purchased about 5 or 6 years ago have been too big to wear well for 3 years now, but the annoying thing is a pair of jeans I purchased about a month ago requires a belt to stay up now. I dislike wearing belts and thought I would be able to avoid them with this new pair of jeans, but noooooo I went and lost weight and have to wear a belt. Stupid weight loss. I also had difficulty sticking my tummy out and showing off a real beer gut when I tried to, so I am no longer a real Australian male or anything either due to lack of significant beer gut.

I will continue to work on this weight loss thing a bit as I really would like to climb faster and put in a much better performance in the three bike legs of the Triple Tri in a month (November 20th).

[/mtb] link

They noticed we went quiet. - 10:53
Mikal just added to the blog entropy with his post about a work mate noticing how quiet some of us have been. I have to admit I was a little surprised when I saw there was only one post over night on ploa, I suppose this is, in part due to the fact Mikal has not been posting anywhere between 100 and 2^32 posts a day as he tends to when he is no sick and resigned and moving overseas and all that. I guess I have been a little busy this month also and have not really been making many posts.

I was however reading a rather interesting book last night that could be the source of many posts, however the book is at home so it will not be the source of posts until at least tonight.

[/comp/blogging] link

Wed, 19 Oct 2005

about:sjh updated - 11:59
I just updated the about me page linked from the top of this diary. Changing the status of the Linux conference section, changing my current bikes status, rewording a few things and adding in my hackergotchi and some links to other photos in part due to reading a weblog usability page by Jakob Neilsen I found linked on kottke today.

[/various] link

Sun, 16 Oct 2005

Complimentary exercise? - 22:10
Good to see Leon still appears to be enjoying his cycling, he wonders what sport would be good to compliment the cycling and exercise the upper body. My suggestion would be kayaking, on flat water with a racing kayak it can be fun, faster than expected and a damn good workout. Of course using a slalom/rapids kayak is a lot slower than a racing kayak but they are likely more common.

I may be saying this as I need to get out and start doing some kayaking again soon (I have not done any for over 7 years currently) as I will need the skills up a bit for competing in a few upcoming adventure races. However unlike swimming it is no where near as boring, and unlike squash (which is anaerobic anyway) it is not high impact. There is a small problem of finding a kayak and paddle, however friends often have them, as do some outdoor clubs, such as the ANU mountaineering club.

[/mtb] link

Fri, 14 Oct 2005

The incredibly cool Ximian Frisbee I wrote about in January is no more. I leant it to Mikal for a number of months so he could ask the lca2005 schwag supplier about getting them made for the conference. After annoying Mikal about getting it back for a while, he had apparently had it in his car boot and kept forgetting to bring it upstairs at DCS, he finally went to get it one day for me and it was not there. Catherine had thrown it out thinking it was not needed or supposed to be there.

Thus I no longer have an incredibly cool Ximian cloth frisbee, I wish I could find someone who sold these things. As I described in January it is a light weight nylon material with a canvas edge filled with ball bearings. Kathmandu makes a travel frisbee that is too thick and bulky, many many online sites mention dog frisbees, however they all tend to be similar to the Kathmandu one and are far too bulky feeling.

Does anyone know where Ximian sourced these from, or of a supplier somewhere that can still sell them? I would be keen to buy a few, probably good as Christmas presents or something anyway.

[/comp/schwag] link

Thu, 13 Oct 2005

Are the cakes surreal today? - 16:53
When you see a surreal cake, you know what I mean, something that looks suspiciously like a vacuum cleaner, that is infact an edible slab of chocolate spongy goodness, swinging through the trees in your local library. Do you ever think to yourself, I wonder who bakes those cakes, or does this sight only make you hungry?

If you do sit around pondering the identities and habits of those artisans of Daliesque though never fear I will not reveal the answers to any of what you wonder, you are most welcome to continue sitting there as long as you wish.

Lots of people have been known to use colloquial phrases such as "as dumb as a box of hammers" or "as queer as a three dollar bill" however there are some variations. "As queer as a one or two dollar bill" may indicate the speaker belongs within the box of hammers genome for example. If you look around there are more interesting examples of these colloquial terms anyway. "As queer as a football bat", "As queer as a bottle of chips", "As queer as a screen door on a submarine", "As queer as a lemonade sandwich". All of these are of course variations on As camp as a row of tents though with a more American bent.

All you need to do is think up something that is rather obviously strange or unusual, put it after "As queer as" and you will be able to start your own americanised homophobic colloquialism production business. This is surely going to be far more profitable than selling underpants.

If you are however keen to see bats used in football (either the black flying rodent like creatures or the sports person's arm extension) I have to ask why the heck not? They use them in ice hockey and the violence of that sport attracts fans everywhere, if you used bats in football the game would be more violent and thus attract much larger crowds, after all everyone loves to crowd around a train wreck out of some ghoulish fascination. Letting some prejudice show, if the increased level of violence manages to kill off a few more AFL, RL, RU or NFL style footy heads the world will be a better place anyway.

If on the other hand black flying rodents become a common part of the average game of football, those Daliesque chocolate spongy vacuum cleaners flying through the library will no longer be so surreal after all.

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Tue, 04 Oct 2005

2005 Mont Australian 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race, post 1 - 21:41
Most mountain bikers in Australia know, the 24 hour race is on this coming weekend. 2420 riders, 640 teams on track (including 170 solo entrants), around 5000 to 7000 people will be on site in Kowen forest over the weekend. This is the largest 24 hour mountain bike race in the world currently (and has been for the last two years also) if you look at it from the number of competitors all up or number of solo entrants perspective.

aerial campsite photo before the race
Kowen Campsite on the Sunday before the race.

By Thursday afternoon that will almost not be recognisable due to all the marquees and other equipment we have being put up there from today onward. Then on Friday morning we open the gates to the competitors (until that time most of them get in to the course for practice laps by riding 5 KM from one of the gates into Kowen) to come and set up camp, Solo entrants and possibly the pairs category entrants will be able to set up their camps in the open grass area. The schools teams also get to set up in one of these areas specifically set aside for schools. Corporate teams have a marquee provided as part of their entry (with gas heaters in them too) all the other categories (3, 4, 6) set up in the pines forest section on the top right.

The final information letter to teams, what is likely to be the latest map and the current rider list are on the CORC website in a recent news item.

There will be a few interesting items this year but I should refrain from mentioning these until after the race, things that seem likely at the moment are ABC news rocking up to do a piece on the race on Saturday (apparently ABC news is the most watched tv show in Canberra), due to ABC being there Win is likely to show up also, possibly others. SBS people will be around the race also, along with Jim Trail (who does work for the SBS Cycling Central show each summer) who is of course racing and doing various commentary things for us and for others. (on 2CN radio in Canberra tomorrow at about 11:45am Jim will be interviewing Trent Lowe about the event and other stuff too).

The ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope will be out there doing the race start, Simon Corbell (ACT Planning Minister) will be competing in a team. Various Australian Olympians and other highly ranked athletes such as Lisa Mathison, Trent Lowe, Sid Taberlay will be there.

And you know why all this happens? Because it is a whole heap of fun. I will try to upload some words and photos a bit over the next week form the event, I am not competing this year so who knows how it will work out, I will however not have much time in front of a computer until next Tuesday though.

[/mtb/events] link

Shiny new wheels - 18:29

The silver wheel label, changes colour with different light (full size)

The rear hub, showing off the Miche cassette (full size)

Both wheels, the label is in a different light (full size)
Since my road bike front wheel blew up the day before the Alpine Classic this year I have been borrowing a front wheel, first from Alan and then a spare one Ben had sitting around.

About two weeks ago I pulled another spoke hole on the Mavic MA3 rim on the back, I then grabbed the front wheel that had blown up in January and pulled the rim from it to put on the back wheel. However I decided it was finally enough, I really should go ahead and order the wheels I had been avoiding buying for months. Another contributing factor was my rear hub has been getting worse, for about a year now it has made some funny noises, been in need of a serious service and had the freewheel start to fail (both becoming a fixed wheel breifly and not locking until after more than half a crank rotation).

Pictured above, Campagnolo Centaur 32 Hole Hubs (I chose Centaur as they are a whole lot better than Veloce, effectively they are the same hub as the Record hubs), Mavic Open Pro rims (not my first choice, but the price for the complete wheel set was too good to turn down) and DT Competition double butted spokes. The cassette which I have on there is a Miche 11-28 (lots of gear range) 9 speed cassette I purchased with some of the lca2005 gift voucher.

I am a fan of standard wheels, 32 spokes, good quality components, these should last fairly well, the tension feels a bit lower than I expected, however if they go a bit out of true after a few weeks I will wander in and pay Ian Downing to rebuild them, though expensive that would make them far more bomb proof then anything else.

I bought the wheels for AUD $550 (including postage) from BikePro in Victoria. This is a great deal, usually a pair of Centrau hubs is around AUD $350, Mavic Open Pro rims are around AUD $120 and the DT spokes would normally be more than AUD $1 each.

[/mtb/gear] link

We hooked another one - 16:26
Good to see MRD is now hooked on mountain biking. Just a few days left now until the biggest 24 hour race in the world (based on number of competitors, around 2450 people entered, 170 of whom are riding in the solo category) the Mont Australian 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race is on this weekend in Kowen Forest ACT.

Unlike some previous years I am not competing this year and am instead taking on more of the on the weekend event management tasks, after being involved with planning the event for a number of years I thought I should help out Russ and Dave and CORC in general on the weekend too. So I have taken from tomorrow through to Monday next week off work (inclusive) in order to be out at the event centre getting stuff set up. At least all the work will be worthwhile once we see how much people enjoy the race.

There are teams and competitors coming from all over the place so obviously MRD could put this on his calendar for next year as a good goal, get in a team at the Mont.

[/mtb] link

Sun, 02 Oct 2005

Gale Onomatopoeic? - 16:09
On Friday evening I was somewhat surprised to learn that The Wizard of Oz character Dorothy has a surname. Sure I suppose I should have guessed that, but I really never thought of it, and now find it somewhat surprising, the surname is "Gale". When I read this I thought to myself it is almost onomatopoeic, what with her being carried off to Oz in a hurricane. However I did not think to myself "Gale" is sort of onomatopoeic in this context, rather I thought that name is kind of like that word for words that sound like what they mean. Obviously I was unable to remember the term onomatopoeic.

So I searched for the correct term and came across the answer at a rather neat website, Ask Oxford. Somehow associated with the OED this site has a lot of useful answers and other resources that would be useful or interesting while writing. The FAQ section alone answers a bunch of interesting questions and there are various other sections that are interesting also, such as a list of disambiguations of commonly confused words.

[/various] link

Thu, 29 Sep 2005

No inspiration? - 21:51
So many blogs have one of those posts, the post that starts off with "I have no idea what to blog about" and pretty much ends there. This is probably one of those posts. I have no idea what to write, or should I even write something? No inspiration, I obviously need a source of inspiration, where art thou inspiration?

I could go wabbit^Winspiration hunting but where would I begin to look, maybe I had better hope inspiration comes from some external source, like say alien abduction. Who knows it could happen, though if it does, I hope it is some cute fluffy little aliens, cute fluffy friendly little aliens, not big scary aliens. Big scary aliens would be a bad source of inspiration, you would be sitting there all quaking in your boots... assuming of course you are wearing boots? Who knows you may be wearing slippers, or pumps, or spd sandals. Okay so for the sake of argument, you are sitting there quaking in your spd sandals while the big scary alien is scaring you. After all that is what big scary aliens do isn't it.

After all if the alien was sitting there with a tea service and scones it would be a big tea and scones alien and not a big scary alien. Anyway you obviously wont get inspiration from the big scary alien, nor for that matter would you get any from the tea and scones alien, what with it being too busy with its tea and scones to do any inspirin'. So it is obvious really why it has to be cute fluffy aliens that sit around giving inspiration. They could give you all sorts of inspiration, you could write blog posts about bunny rabbits, and harmless little kittens, maybe even the harmless cute fluffy aliens could be the focus of your newly inspired blog post.

But really how likely is any of that, maybe I had better face facts, I can think of nothing to write about, I hope my poor little blog does not have to be put down or anything because of it. Ignoring for a minute how difficult it is to put down some virtual object, just think about it, if you have a piece of paper, or a pen or a gherkin. You could put it down on that table (assuming you are near a table, rather than the camel you are probably closer to, in which case you would need to put it down on the camel). How do you hold some virtual object in order to put it down?

[/various/ilmiwac] link

I think that kind of flopped - 00:24
My attempt at milk carton blogging this week, an interview with a milk carton, really tanked I think. It took me a long time to think up ideas of what to include in there, I do not think I adequately connected things together, and I was unable to "bring the funny" at any point I can see.

I suppose what Jeremy suggested when I mentioned I was "trying to work out a way to write an interview with a milk carton and make it not sound absolutely stupid" may hold true. jk: "yeah, i think you might be stuck there."

I thought I may be able to make it work, heck the interviews fafblog do are generally brilliant such as this with an Enormous Pumpkin or this with God, though of course the people writing Fafblog are far funnier than I.

[/various] link

Wed, 28 Sep 2005

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 12:46
Today rather than a passive display of information pertaining to milk cartons or some photo of a milk carton I thought it best to sit down with one of these revered calcium rich liquid containers and ask a few questions of it in order to further understand the life and times of your average milk carton. Thus I present you with.

Interview with a Vampi^WMilk Carton

sjh: So why is it that Buffy so regularly kick's your arse?
MC: Who/What is this Buffy of which you speak?

sjh: Oops, yeah I was still lost with the whole interview title mixup in my head, there must have been a milk carton involved somewhere
MC: Whatever

sjh: So you are a milk carton, when people wander up to you in the street, how do you prove to them that you are in fact a milk carton? Or do we need to take it as an article of faith that you are a milk carton?
MC: Well in my case there is a fair amount of Scientific Method that could be applied to back up any claims I make in relation to actually being a milk carton. My mostly rectangular cartonesque shape, labels pertaining to my milky contents, I would hope there is no need to extract milk from within and test that, however that is also an option. I hope not too many would feel the need to tickle, prick or poison me to learn how identical I am to other milk cartons.

sjh: So you are fairly sure anyone wishing to apply scientific methodology will believe claims that you are a milk carton, however what do you claim to those who wish to ignore such methods?
MC: If a bunch of skeptics wished to ignore scientific methodology and were really not interested in learning more I could get away with murder, I can go around claiming to be a herd of buffalo or a carrot cake and there would be no sensible way to refute my claims, it may even be fun.

sjh: There is a continuing theme in the collective conscious of many people about the missing person's ads that have appeared on milk cartons in the past. Conspiracy theorists may suggest milk cartons even had something to do with the disappearance of these people, what do you think of all of this?
MC: Sure there are many theories about what may have happened to all those people on the milk cartons, you should of course be careful of what to believe lest people think you a little strange.

sjh: You really don't seem to be answering the questions posed to you, is there any reason you are simply touching on the topic and then trying to distract me with possibly related information?
MC: No Comment

sjh: Thank you for your time, I hope you have no problems returning to your milk cartony ways after this brush with blogdom.
MC: No comment.

[/various/milkcarton] link

Tue, 27 Sep 2005

The sheep are scared, what's next Brain? - 15:10
Riding out in the country today, along a bitumen road, 20 metres from fenced in paddocks full of sheep. It would appear the sheep have sufficient distance from me that they would not be afraid. One would think they may even be brave enough to come close to the fence and taunt me as I ride past. Insults and taunts such as "Baah Baaaaah Bah Bah Baaaah" or the rather cruel "Bah Bah Baaah Baaaaaaaaah Bah Baaah", none of this happened though. Instead the sheep ran further away from the fences on both sides of the road as I rode past.

Woohoo I instill such fear that even the sheep are running scared, next step either Profit or World Domination (heck why not both). Ignoring for a moment any other interpretations of scared sheep.

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Sun, 25 Sep 2005

The 100 things meme a snarky review - 19:11
So it probably could be shorter, it would be easy to make even less sense too. The link is to the site of some random amusing blog I found. His top post when I found it was a response to the "100 things about <insert your name>" meme that pops up on blogs often, number 9 is absolute gold.

9. I am great in bed. Seriously, I can sleep like you wouldn't friggin believe! Coma like. I was almost buried once!

I found that via a movie review blog, 16mm Shrine I saw linked from MeFi on Thursday. Brilliant stuff: Snarky, well written, many non sequitur interludes. Fun to read for all involved.

[/various] link

I Wonder - 19:00
Could this be shorter?

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Fri, 23 Sep 2005

Special conference features for the little people - 21:44
I notice Arjen Lentz discussing a mysql t-shirt he had on his baby daughter, I do not know if he is planing to have a line of baby clothing available for sale at the next mysql event, or is simply considering it for the mysql clothing line they have somewhere.

I do however think it is interesting to get a few special items like this for a conference or event. In the case of lca, part of what makes the conference fun is little special features organisers have at the conference or similar. Such as the Perth guys putting unusual hints in their DNS records and the hidden badge label stuff on their rego system (which we copied).

One of the cute things we (2005) did was copied an idea from the Adelaide people (2004) and got some kids clothing made up. Partly because our organising crew followed in the footsteps of the 2004 crew and their were 3 babies born to organiser's families in the course of the year leading up to lca2005 and partly because it looks cool to see babies and young kids wandering around in your geeky t-shirts. (well we all seem to think so)

It is good to see Arjen is at least working on some of these fun sort of aspects, the fun or unusual items are often one of the lasting impressions from a conference. Well that and hearing DaveM make our brains melt talking about making the Linux networking stack go even faster (CALU talk).

[/lca] link

Thu, 22 Sep 2005

Hi ho hi ho its off to link we go. - 19:05
Well I have not done a two things for a while, 1) post to the various category, and 2) post a bunch of links I have seen in the past while that interested me. Time to fix this easier stuff, before working on the harder stuff like splitting the atom, finding Newton's groove or starting it with a big bang not a whimper. (all of them available here)

From Suw Charman some incredibly amusing suggestions relating to English Folk songs on how to avoid having the last three stanzas of your life totally sucking, probably with the involvement of a doleful ghost.

In Canberra there are food markets at Belconnen and Fyshwick, fresh produce will often be there from Thursday morning onward. On Saturday mornings there is a farmers market on at Epic (Natex for people who have not adjusted to the latest name change yet). Anyway the markets have reasonably good produce, and the produce available from the Farmers Markets is generally great (quality and price). Of course it annoys me that it is only 8am until 11am on Saturdays as I am almost busy with some riding related activity during those times.

Anyway on the subject of fresh produce and why you should pursue this in your diet, this post, 10 reasons to eat locally grown produce is a worthwhile read.

More stuff from Suw Charman, here pointing out how off putting Coca Cola tastes in the US, this is of course largely due to the US obsession with using Corn Syrup as a sweetener in everything. Of course it would largely depend on what you grew up with, and in Australia and England we are used to Cane Sugar based sweetening. I too find most corn syrup sweetened foods to taste vile so would be tempted to say "Sing It Suw". (I can not get away with saying Sing it Sister, for many obvious reasons I suspect, ahh well)

I saw this during the tour, then did not blog about it, ahh well. Stuart O'Grady is regularly one of the most amusing, interesting and cool professional cyclists in the peloton in my opinion. Anyway I loved this quote late in the tour this year. A pretty tough day coming up today... "Yeah, it's been really easy over the past two weeks."

This game they apparently were playing at the recent debconf in Norway, Assassins sounds pretty cool to play at a conference or some other gathering of people.

There was a bunch of stuff online a few months ago about how we have relay short circuits in our brains for items that are familiar to us. This article titled Why your brain has a 'Jennifer Aniston cell' talks about it. I thought it was interesting largely because thinking about it, it appears our brains do a form of huffman encoding with this.

Paul Graham generally turns out great essays to read, I kept this link in my to blog file in early march sometime, a quickie Paul Graham Essay on Writing I am sure it is a good read, otherwise why would I have kept it in the file...

Enough from the file for now, time to escape for home and get some sleep. (damn just as I was spell checking and fixing up this post a bit before uploading Bob tagged me to lock up CLUG for the night), one more then, this somewhat surreal furniture is pretty cool.

[/various] link

Wed, 21 Sep 2005

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 14:32
Feel Good Wednesday Edition

Feel Good Milk Carton
Well do ya punk? (full size)

[/various/milkcarton] link

Tue, 20 Sep 2005

Naming schemes again and non obvious contact methods - 16:40
So I noticed on Planet Debian this morning Benjamin Drieu was asking about naming schemes for computers. I have previously talked here a bit about problems finding a good name when you do not have scheme, so I thought I would share two of the naming schemes he did not mention that I have seen in use.

As I said in my previous post, at a job I used to do around 2000, the scheme in use was alcoholic drink names, I found the list of proposed drink names and those in use at the time I left when I looked around some backups just now also. A scheme we use where I currently work is types of penguins (which ran out quickly, so we used some other penguin related things for a while too). More exactly Benjamin did not suggest a naming scheme as a species of animals or similar (well apart form the suggestion of fishes).

So I was going to email him (or post a comment on his blog if that was an option), so I click on the link and bring up his blog, I can find no email address there anywhere, even encoded to stop spammers getting it. There are no comments (which I do not mind as I do not like web forums) available, heck he even has geek code about himself on his about me page and a photo but absolutely no way to contact him. Admittedly I am sure google could work out his email address quickly, and I can find out his Debian email address (if he is a developer) easily, but it still strikes me as strange that there is no way to contact him that can be easily found on his home page or blog anywhere.

Interestingly I just noticed Andrew's site and diary do not list any obvious way to contact him (though he does mention a GPG key so one could look up a public keyserver and hope I guess (or ask google and work it out).

[/comp] link

Sun, 18 Sep 2005

The Banana Sandwich Theory - 09:04
This could instead be titled the turd sandwich theory I suppose. When you are working your arse off for a period of time, whether it be riding for hundred's of KM or moving furniture or some other sort of big physical effort for a number hours any food is liable to taste a whole lot better than at other times.

Crash reckons the best hamburgers in NSW are sold by the Wee Jasper take away, this is likely largely due to the fact he has only ever eaten one of their hamburgers after riding more than 100 KM over some large hills. Crash reckons there is a good chance you would be rhapsodising about a turd sandwich to all and sundry if you had eaten one after 150 KM into a head wind over big hills. Thus the reputation of the hamburgers in Wee Jasper probably needs to be considered with some scepticism.

This all came back to me yesterday while helping my sister move her furniture and belongings into storage in Sydney before her pending world travels, we made some banana sandwiches. These were truly brilliant banana sandwiches, however due to the physical effort involved in the moving process I did wonder if they were, as it seemed at the time, the epitome of banana sandwiches or not.

In reality we can probably be grateful that when we are out busting our arses on some huge ride, whether it be the Polaris Challenge, Alpine Classic or an epic into the mountains with a bunch of friends that the food we eat will, irrelevant of content, be some of the best we have consumed in our lives. Just be happy we are so easily catered for by the food we brought on the ride and that we do not need to find the elusive five star cafe at the top of Mt Coree.

[/mtb] link

Sat, 17 Sep 2005

How can you tell if you are as camp as a row of tents? - 22:15
It appears, if the title is anything to go by I am in search of some really bad colloquialisms, or maybe I just need to get in touch with my own raging homophobe. One possible response to the question I heard is "You have had a few pegs in the wrong places". If I were serious at this point you would expect me to be donning my white pointed hat and robes or taking up a position in the US Republican party (if they are not already synonymous?)

In answer to the question I could just link to the James Dobson's notes on detecting if your Son is gay (actually I can't as it appears the original article has disappeared, however Fafblog and the Apostropher to which I linked said it all much better) and suggest that my work here is done, there is however the small problem of that document being impossible to read with a straight face. Ahh yes if the gaydar pings wildly in the presence of your male offspring (notice of course in this obviously male centric world there is no questions raised about the female offspring) you must rush out and cure them of this abomination in front of Alanis^Wyour $DEITY.

But I hear you ask, given the option to choose your own $DEITY, what reason is there to be upset here, after all you may worship at the church of Big Gay Al's Big Gay Animal Sanctuary, or any manner of fun loving and sensible (or not) house of worship. Indeed it is even written down in a few places that it is a good idea to allow people to choose their own religion (and have free speech and a bunch of other stuff). If we go ahead and let people choose something, rather than insisting on a prescribed text it would be folly to get upset over something as unimportant as someone having a slightly different sexual orientation to the so called norm. Wouldn't it?

I probably only wrote this post because I cracked up upon hearing the expression used in the title, ahh well.

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Fri, 16 Sep 2005

Operation: ANB is a great post - 12:02
So Aaron has only been doing this blog thing for a little while, but I must say he seems to be continually posting some interesting stuff from his travels in Canadia.

The guest blogging practice really can work and be amusing as is appears Aaron has discovered with this post about the IKEA Nationals 2005, a great example of the blogging artform, photos, text, humour all based on an every day experience.

[/amusing] link

Fairy Tales in the Key of Klingon - 10:21
I have been wondering for a few days now if there were some way I could work this link into a post, however I have given up in failure and, due to this being most amusing, will dedicate an entire post to it.

I first saw this link on Kottke back in August, and have since seen it in other places. Another Mcsweeneys list, Klingon Fairy Tales. Including "Goldilocks Dies With Honor at the Hands of the Three Bears" and "Jack and the Giant Settle Their Differences With Flaming Knives".

Now I am just waiting for someone to write more than just the titles, as Kottke suggested, think of the titles as read by Michael Dorn with his Worf voice. This does make one wonder what other fairy tale titles one could think up for various characters in various shows and movies?

"Jack hopped on a plane to Bora Bora to avoid the Giant so he could Live, Grow Stronger and Fight another Day" as told by Methos (that link has been updated far more recently than

"Snow White and the 7 dwarves sat around drinking beer and eating burgers, mmmmm Burgers" as told by Homer Simpson.

"Little red riding hood breaks a press-on nail while fighting the werewolf" as told by Buffy Summers.

"How the white knight had new legislation passed to better support Old Mother Hubbard and was brought the finest muffins and bagels in the land" as told by Joshua Lyman

[/amusing] link

Thu, 15 Sep 2005

2005 NZ-O WSMTB 12 Hour race - 14:31
As in previous years the WSMTB 12 Hour mtb race was on and I went up to Sydney to compete. After I put our entry in Heidi decided she would be flying over to Australia to compete in the Mont Australian 24 Hour race and to focus on it a bit, thus the prospect of flying to Australia twice in less than a month was not a good one, so I had to find another team mate this year.

I eventually gave up the prospect of doing well in mixed pairs and asked Morgs (the guy between Heidi and I in that photo) to compete with me in mens pairs. Morgs is a damn fine rider, skill levels well above most of us mere mortals and a great guy to have a beer and sit around telling tall stories with too. This promised to be a good weekend. Also Morgs had never raced or even ridden around the Yarramundi course so he was in for a treat as it is a really fun mtb course.

Driving up to Sydney a bit later than intended on Friday arvo (I was held back in Canberra doing some work in preparation for the Mont 24 Hour I had to get done that week) I knew I was going to miss out on a practice lap. I caught up to Sam, Ben, Nikita and Max on the highway, the whole family was sick and it did not bode well for their race, they had been stopping often for Max to be sick on the way up. I followed them almost all the way to Richmond from there, however I saw the battery light come on in the car so had to stop at a mechanic. Annoyingly my alternator had failed, so I had enough time to drop all my kit at the accommodation and drive back to the mechanic at Londonderry. This meant I would have to get away from the race for an hour or so the next day to pick up the fixed car. Ahh well I was not getting home otherwise.

Morgs and Allan drove up in Morgs new car (S*b*r* Forester) after they were able to get away from work and arrived at the accommodation around the time I got back from the mechanic. The Canberra (and extras such as Warren) crew (Morgs, Allan, Crash, Warren, DaveS (on the left), Jim, TerryE, AlanV, DaveE and Garrett) headed out for dinner in Richmond and afterwards tucked in for a good sleep in preparation for the race.

I decided to dress up for the first lap of the race (including the run) as Marea had fixed the top from our 2004 Polaris outfit on Thursday. Pictured here in its full glory. :)

shiny Steve having fun on the first lap
Having fun on my first lap (photo by John Hardwick of Mountain Bike Australia Magazine) (full size)

There is a slight drawback to this outfit though, and the reason I was actually quite happy it rained for most of the duration of the 2004 Polaris, this outfit does not breathe well and is far too hot to be worn in hot weather. I survived through the heat on the first lap and changed to cooler clothes quickly. Morgs headed out for one lap and on his return I went out for a double. We settled in to doubles until around 4pm when we decided the laps for the rest of the day would be singles again.

On my second and third laps I had some cramping problems, obviously I had not been drinking enough, with the temperature heading for 31 Celsius on the day there was a possibility of a repeat of serious dehydration as I had at the 2003 Gravity 12 Hour, keen to avoid this I started drinking lots, getting through 1.2 litres of sports drink, and 1.5 litres of water before heading out for my next double. I had driven across to pay for the new alternator in the car and get my car keys between my first and second double, I was worried Morgs would have gone through already by the time I got back. Unluckily for Morgs he had a flat that he had to repair with glue on a lap then so I had some time to prepare for my next double lap.

In keeping with the drinking lots theme I went through 2 litres of water in my camelback and a 750ml bottle of sports drink in the following 1h25m of the double lap I did at this point. As it got cooler when evening came on my drink lots practice paid dividends as I headed out for the dusk into darkness lap and felt fantastic, I was able to start going fast again and really got to enjoy it a lot. When I got back from that lap Morgs said he was stuffed and it would be his last lap he was heading out for. I was not sure if I wanted to do more laps myself or not at that point. I was keen to wear the silver outfit again now it was cool, but I had suffered in the heat and was not sure if I would. In the end I decided not to, so did the other Canberra crew people we were hanging out with, thus before the race had even finished, in an attempt to avoid the traffic mess leaving post race we had packed up and returned to the accommodation and were sitting around drinking beers and telling stories of the day.

Almost everyone at the race was hit hard by the heat, I know for a fact the Canberrans had difficulty, going from our morning rides in 1 or 2 degrees, or day time rides in 15 or 20 degrees to racing in a humid 31 degrees was not easy. Cara Smith, racing solo said she cramped up for the first time in her life during this race, I saw a lot of people looking like they were going through hell with grimaces on their faces out there on the course. However irrelevant of that I suspect everyone had fun, I know I did and will be back next time.

[/mtb/events] link

Wed, 14 Sep 2005

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 14:59
Wednesday edition.

Milkcarton rules for today.

  1. There is no Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging
  2. You do not talk about milk cartons.
  3. There probably was not even a Tuesday or a milk carton more than five minutes ago.
  4. You must put away the hot pink pants on Sunday arvo in Victoria
  5. If you are attacked by a milk carton wielding criminal in Arkansas you may defend yourself only with a similar milk carton
  6. There is no rule 6

[/various/milkcarton] link

Ode to talkative cereal - 12:42
Yeah that cereal, the little one in the corner that looks like puffed rice, not the serial in the place with long sleeved white jackets who would like to be on the loose and armed. The little puffed rice'esque cereal, that may in fact not be puffed rice at all. Who knows it may be a weet bix (ahh the joy of English, where the plural of Weet Bix is Weet Bix) or a Pterydactal (a lesser known form of breakfast cereal dating from some 80 million years ago, this breakfast cereal looks remarkably like a large flying lizard, do not let it fool you though, it tasted great with a bit of milk).

Anyway while chatting with my breakfast cereal this morning, discussing the vagaries of economic rationalism as it is applied to pasta sauce purchases ("what if god wanted pasta sauce" sung to the tune of the Joan Osborne song) made by converts to the church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster it got me to wondering, if I post something here, when you take into account my ability to Tipo, is anything written here intended to was some other message supposed to appear out of the mess that are these posts?

Just think, if we could combine dyslexia (bringing to mind the buttload quote "I am dyslexic of borg prepare to have your ass laminated") with Typos and apply this behaviour to many bloggers around the world, maybe they do not all write about their cats but are instead writing insightful posts into the modern world in which we live. Then again maybe not.

What to believe about the posts appearing on blogs around the world may possibly be influenced by other things, such as people adding the music they are currently listening to on the end of their posts. Why we need to know this is beyond me, though if they post about Alternative Rock how do we know they are not looking at another rock?

Alternative rock is the name given to one stone when you're looking at another stone. The term was coined by photographer Edwin Blastocyst when looking at one stone and speaking about another

After all this, how do you really know this train of thought arose while talking with a rather insightful rice cripsie? If I was not talking to my bowl full of bacon and eggs on toast with fresh milk poured upon it what was it that really sparked this post? Maybe it was simply more adventures in searching for blogthenticity. After all, the other day in an interview Heather was seen to suggest

if someone is just yakking about their cereal and how many errands they have to run and here they are living their life and describing it in the most banal way possible then it doesn't matter if it's the best looking site I've ever seen, I probably won't go back.

if I can not talk about my breakfast, I had better find something interesting to talk to my breakfast about, and the realities of pasta sauce in the modern world is as good a topic as any.

Mmmmm ... cows.

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Mon, 12 Sep 2005

The Young Tycoons - 15:18
Last night I was still in Sydney after the 2005 WSMTB 12 Hour race I rode in on Saturday. I was visiting my sister, Jane, and we decided to go and see a play our cousin (Ashlie Pellow) had mentioned she was performing in. The play, "The Young Tycoons" (this may be a semi permanent link to a description of The Young Tycoons), being performed at the Darlinghurst Theatre Company was pretty damn good. For most of the play I was laughing a lot, it was a really funny and quite well executed play.

The Sydney Morning Herald reviewed the play in their weekend edition this weekend, they have the review and a photo online (the photo is of Ashlie and Nicholas Hammond (imdb link)). (if you do not wish to register to read the SMH pages Bugmenot can easily supply login details for you). The SMH review is on the whole pretty good, I can not say I blame them, I would recommend seeing this show if you are in Sydney in the next 3 weeks.

The show sort of critiques the Packer/Murdoch dynasties and influences, the fun poked at the rich and famous is really good to see here, though Ashlie did not have a huge presence in the play as the play really was focussed on the men, I am happy to see she came across as one of the two smartest most well balanced characters in the play, though considering what we learn about Nicholas Hammond's character through the play Ashlie's character could come out as the most sane and sensible seeming character of the play.

I loved the performance of the character Ted, especially when he fires his son, absolutely hilarious. Nicholas Hammond also plays his part really well. Interestingly, Ashlie pointed out how amazing it was to be working in a play with Nicholas Hammond, being the uncouth I am I had not heard of him so had to go look at the imdb link for Nicholas Hammond. As Ashlie pointed out he played "Friedrich von Trapp" in the original The Sound of Music movie, I (being the geek that I am) was interested to also see he played Peter Parker/Spiderman in the 1970's Spiderman tv series (though until today I did not even know there had been a Spiderman tv series, thus proving once more I am DC Comics geek and not much interested in anything Marvel generally).

Anyway a good night out was had, even though Jane was feeling too sick to hang around for drinks with Ashlie for long after the play was finished, I did not mind too much as I had to get up and drive back to Canberra around 5:15am this morning (okay so I get up around 5:30am most mornings, but going out for a ride is worth that, driving is not fun)

There is some information about "The Young Tycoons" on the Darlinghurst Theatre's Now Showing page at the moment if you want to see a bit more information too.

[/leisure/theatre] link

Tue, 06 Sep 2005

How exactly does one go about "Watching the sausage"? - 21:24
So I freely admit, Fafblog is pretty neat, in theory we all may be Fafnir, however irrelevant of our status as Fafnir I would recommend reading Fafblog.

I do need to ask one eensy weensy question though, no not "Giblets: Are you a big girly man?", instead I feel the need to ask, how exactly does one go about "Watching the sausage"? And what exactly do you get out of watching this tubular meat product?

As a small experiment, lets try it out shall we?

A Sausage

So what is the above Sausage doing for you? Does it incite you to riot? Are you sitting there planning a bbq that was not on your social calendar until your eyes alighted on the tubular meat product? Will this pair of sausages have meaningful insights on the problems faced by your political party of choice?

Should we simply sit around watching the Sausage or should we compose some questions for the sausage, stage a sort of Sausage interview if you will.

So Mr Sausage, how about dem Bulls?

[/various/ilmiwac] link

Get some blogthenticity! - 21:23
Given that this is supposedly a blog I had better do something to ensure you all believe that it is indeed a blog. Ahh but what I hear you ask gives a blog that oh so necessary street cred? Ahh of course, photos of cats are on all blogs everywhere, that must mean something, I had better do something about that fast.

Schroedinger's Cat
There, that may or may not be a photo of my cat ready for posting to Mongolia or simply wondering how to play alive and dead all at once.

There we go, back to our regularly scheduled adventures in belly button fluff.

[/various/ilmiwac] link

My Stromlo report from today - 21:03
Another day another stuck in a rut should try something else but haven't, climb of Stromlo from work. Ahh well it is a good test case to see how I am riding. I did a little bit better today. 1h7m45s from work and back, 36.3KM, which is around 32.5 KMh, the climb itself was pretty good I kept above 20 KMh almost all the way to the boom gate (on two occasions I dropped to 19.something and then picked it up again) however that did leave me struggling a bit more on the easier top half of the climb, I dropped to 19 for longer periods there. Time at the top was either 11m30s or 10m30s (I simply looked at my watch at the bottom but forgot which minute it said for my start) I suspect it was 11m30s though as I doubt I had a 1 minute improvement since Sunday afternoon.

[/mtb] link

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 20:53
So yeah this looks like a night time edition of the afternoon milk carton blogging, ahh well we can't have everything. Actually *milkcarton* I think maybe that last statement about not having stuff could in fact be correct. For the life of *milkcarton* me I can not think of anything to write here or a photo to take and place here *milkcarton* that involves those oh so important calcium rich liquid containers.

It could thus be su*milkcarton*ggested there is no real point to this post, after all what is a blog post on a given subject with no content about the subject? Of course maybe I just need *milkcarton* to keep up the meme, or maybe there is some sort of subliminal message here keeping this post on topic. If it is some subversive *nerdlihc ruoy retfa era snotracklim* message I hope it is a good one and not some sort of satanic death metal scare story thing.

[/various/milkcarton] link

Sun, 04 Sep 2005

Have a break, have a Stromlo - 17:11
So, in need of some exercise and a break from what I have been doing most of the day today I headed out once more for a climb of Stromlo and return, this time from home. 38.75 KM, approx 1h15m and 30.9 KMh average the climb itself was 11m30s. Still alas not great, I really do need to get out and do some long road rides (120 KM or more depending on the climbs) at a reasonable pace again soon as that really will help put on form. Another thing that should help is we will be starting the Tuesday morning Cotter/Uriarra loops every Tuesday until May or so again this coming week. These are good as they are done at pace and, if you really want a workout, you can get to the top of the climbs and go down to the last rider coming up rather than sitting waiting at the top too.

On another note, I had my mp3 player on for the ride, and when I got back home and sat down, the silence of no music was almost startling. Listening now to the rather fun Revelling album from Ani.

[/mtb] link

Sat, 03 Sep 2005

Doing the 53x12 thing - 16:34
A friend who has recently had some time off the bike and wants to get back into the sport gently said when we go for the first few rides they do back on the bike, to make it fair, I should use the hardest gear on my bike. On the road bike this is of course 53x12. I was just riding home from Kaleen a few minutes ago after dropping off some things I had borrowed from another friend, I thought I would try it out, at least to satisfy my curiosity on how hard it is to push that gear everywhere.

Well it is not easy, and it felt like I was grinding my knees to a paste the whole time, though the cadence I was doing was similar to my on road steep climbing cadence when using 39x26, hardest were the starts from being stopped at a road crossing or similar. However, and why I suspect this may not work as a making the ride fair measure, pushing such a big gear I continually was upping my speed to around 40 KMh or more on flat sections, simply to make the pedals easier to spin. That speed is just a bit high for someone getting back into the sport, I think maybe just the insistence on a gear a few clicks harder would suffice to make a ride harder and stop me from trying to spin faster.

It is interesting to note, part of the Tridents Tri club morning training ride they do on Wednesdays consists of finishing off the session with a big ring, stay seated section from Parkes way all the way out to Scrivner Dam along Lady Denman Drive. Pushing 53x12 would be a whole lot harder if you can not stand up.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 01 Sep 2005

Feeding the addiction - 15:36
I wholeheartedly agree with Mikal, riding a bike is a fantastic way to reduce stress and it is a kind of drug. I have said in the past (that post is even about using cycling as a stress reduction tool) that I am a cycling addict.

I fed the addiction today, with the intention of getting some quality kilometres done at a steady pace I was planning to head out for a lap of Cotter/Uriarra with Sue (as we did two weeks ago) in an effort to work on building my base back up. Sue however pulled a reverse double pike with a twist or something, some excuse about having no bidons at work or something. However she had by that point talked Rob Allen, Dave Moten and someone I had not met previously named Tim, into joining in on the loop. Rob is a fair bit stronger on a bike than I, Dave Moten is one of the best climbers in Canberra on a bike and Tim was no slouch. Eek none of this taking it easy with guys like this even their slow pace would require some effort.

As evidence of how poor my current form is, for this 61.5 KM ride, which in summer we do on Tuesday mornings at an average speed of approximately 31 KMh often, today my average was only 29.2 (the ride took 2h6m today). Now I know to people who do not cycle this does not sound like much, trust me it is a pretty huge difference out there, the difference is mostly due to my poor climbing form. Sure I will never be able to climb faster than Dave Moten, however I hope to have much better form back in the next few months. Ahh well it was a gorgeous day out there and we all had a great ride.

As for Mikal's comment about feeling somewhat sweaty, I would suggest a shower can solve the feeling sweaty problem rather well.

[/mtb] link

Leon does not appear to trust quill stems - 10:26
For some reason Leon appears to think quill stems are prone to failure. I have no idea why he thinks that, they are as reliable as most other parts on modern bikes. The steering mechanism on any bike relies on friction to avoid slipping, whether one uses a threaded (quill stem) or threadless (aheadset) setup at the front.

For a description of the various stem mechanisms Sheldon Brown describes them in the context of adjusting handle bar height, specifically look at his description of threaded stems. Sheldon also has a page up with some details of doing failure tests on various stems and he mentions the places he found failures and with what frequency with threaded and threadless systems.

There are a few reasons why you may prefer to use a threaded setup, even though they are far rarer these days. Of course one possible negative, in these days of aluminium being so prevalent in bike parts threaded headsets freeze inside the steerer tube. Jobst Brandt has a discussion on ways to get them loose and points out the system remains from the days when steel was the prevalent material.

[/mtb/gear] link

I am happy to report derailleur hangers work - 08:39

What's left on the frame (full size)

The hanger (full size)
Riding through Bruce Ridge on the shared use single track this morning with Ben, Tanja and Peter I thought I had a stick in my spokes. Stop, look, no stick, hop back on and pedal, can't pedal, stop have another look and notice (because this time I was looking for more than a stick in the spokes) that the derailleur is in the wrong place.

As the hanger is the same colour as the frame I was initially afraid the frame had snapped instead of the hanger. Fortunately upon closer observation once I got home I realised it was just the hanger. (this is after all the reason derailleur hangers are used on aluminium and carbon frames, so they break rather than the frame).

I was lucky to be riding at Bruce Ridge and Black Mountain this morning rather than Majura too, it was a nice down hill roll all the way home and I did not have to scooter or walk for 4 KM as I would have had to otherwise.

Of course now I have the small problem that the Rocky Mountain importers do not bring replacement hangers into Australia, fortunately however Allan Bontjer also has a similar Rocky Mountain frame and he purchased a few spare hangers from Simon's Bike Shop in Vancouver. So I will order myself a few new hangers, and give Allan one to replace the one he fixes me up with when they arrive.

[/mtb/gear] link

Wed, 31 Aug 2005

Anonymous blogging - 22:39
I do not really need to point out that this is not an anonymous diary, heck even without reading the about page it is fairly easy to work out who I am.

At the recent blogher conference (women in blogging conference) one of the sessions was titled How To Get Naked (There is Audio available of that session now, the panel consisted of Heather (dooce) Armstrong and a few other well known public bloggers). The session topic was that of blogging where everyone knows your real identity. This of course brings into focus the other way to blog, doing so anonymously.

One rather brilliant (in my opinion) example of a good anonymous blog is Fafblog, I have no idea who these people are, but damn are they funny, insightful, clever, biting, esoteric, etc. The EFF recently released a guide on How to Blog Safely, or anonymous blogging.

If one were to start an anonymous blog, they would avoid linking to it elsewhere, would avoid telling people they know or who read anything they write elsewhere about it as them linking to it or telling others about it could also be suspicious. Should one just go about writing what they hope is good content and blog like no one's watching? (because lets face it, it is pretty much a sure bet that no one is) Consider the recent statistics from technorati in their latest State of the blogsphere. The number of blogs is doubling every 5 months currently, a new blog is created almost every second. Even ignoring the spam blogs that appear on blogspot and other services, this is a huge number of blogs. As pointed out in the article I linked to about cats the other day, most of the blogs out there are rubbish, and far too many of them seem to contain endless photos of pet cats.

So if you write a bunch of stuff and do not use your existing reputation or google juice to pump it into any sort of readership how does it get noticed? I think the only way really is two fold a) have a lot of good content on it. and b) use tagging services and other techniques so posts from it will start to appear in the appropriate places when being searched for. It is fortunate that good content matters more than almost anything else, otherwise spam blogs would be far more successful than they are currently. Also a good anonymous blog is obviously done for the art, for the sake of the blog, to improve ones writing or thinking on some given subject, it has no bearing on any real world social status or status of the author on the Internet, a form of art for the sake of the art.

[/comp/blogging] link

Tue, 30 Aug 2005

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 16:25

Baked goods or milk cartons in disguise? (full size)
I was wandering through a supermarket this morning and came across this milk carton among baked goods. I suspected initially that this was simply more evidence of how poor the camouflage abilities of your average milk carton really are. Just like the OAK milk carton attempting to hide among gums and wattles, here was a milk carton attempting to hide amongst croissant's and pan au chocolat.

However this got me wondering, what if I was wrong, what if in fact the camouflage on the milk cartons were brilliant, but it takes a few seconds for them to adjust, and I caught this carton in the location before it was able to camouflage itself. What if this cupboard were full of milk cartons cleverly disguised as baked goods. Does this call for a test, should I attempt to eat all the baked goods here and see if that will give me a hint as to their real status as a type of croissant or a milk storage container?

[/various/milkcarton] link

Mango flavour hash browns. - 10:27
I have had a hankering for hash browns for about a week an a half, the shop across the road from my house did not have any in stock. Finally last night I went shopping at a large supermarket to stock up on stuff and they had hash browns in the deli. Yay. Thus dinner last night was mushrooms, scrambled eggs, hash browns and toast, yes breakfast is in fact the new dinner, who needs any of this old fashioned dinner dinner? Of course in the interests of ensuring my hash brown cravings do not go unanswered for as long I bought few more than I ate last night, now I just need a Tardis style freezer I guess.

Speaking of mango flavour (no not the hash browns) I was pleasantly surprised to find one of the bells fruit bar flavours is mango, why I had not noticed this before is beyond me, however eating an orange coloured bar last night I thought, this does not taste much like apricot, then I looked on the packet and found it said mango. Mmmmmmm mangos (well processed barry stuff that has mango flavour in it, but hey). Maybe I should cook the mango chicken on cous cous dish I have had ingredients for sitting around the kitchen for a few weeks, well mango chicken and hash browns on cous cous of course...

[/leisure/food] link

Sat, 27 Aug 2005

It's a Blorthday and I will write crap if I want to! - 18:50
Well actually yesterday was arguably the first anniversary of this online diary, however the post I made on August 26th last year sucked and was somewhat short and insignificant. It was not until Friday August 27th 2004 I posted anything of any interest to anyone (hell I am not sure if I have posted anything of any interest to anyone in the last year as it is, ahh well)

Thus for the heck of it, to encourage the view that blogs are inaccurate and dates may be picked at random and because I did not remember to check the date of my first ever post until today (I knew the Blorthday was coming up I just had not checked which date it was exactly). As for the term Blorthday, well what else could I call it Blogthday? Diaversary? Trevor?, though alas the use of Blo encourages the Blog connotation and I still have not come to like the word Blog much.

Some stats

[18:56:47] 28 oneiros sjh ~/diary/data>find -name '*.text' | wc -l
[18:58:37] 29 oneiros sjh ~/diary/data>wc `find -name '*.text'`
12875  96471 620439 total

Including this post (so far) that is 337 posts, 96,471 words. Whoda thunk I could rattle on about crap that much, though this is still not a real blog, I have yet to post photos of my cat, possibly made more difficult by not owning a cat, maybe I had better wander into the RSPCA and ask if I could take a photograph of a cat which I could use to provide some authenticity to this diary. Who cares if they think I am a loony, I am sure it must be done, all in the name of blog truth.

Today I hopped on the road bike at 7:50am and headed out for a 100 KM ride with the Bilbys (Tharwa, Cotter), got home at 12:40pm and hopped in the car a 1:10pm to head out to pack up the course from the 8 hour race at Sparrow Hill and then head out to the Kowen XC course to lay out the course for the Bilbys off road duathlon tomorrow, I got back home around 6pm, time now for some food I think. (this was all to attempt to provide some blogthenticity of boring shit no one cares about, which in the absence of cat photos may be the best I can do to be like every other blog on the planet).

[/various] link

Fri, 26 Aug 2005

More of that slow news day stuff - 12:07
As I mentioned on Wednesday I had another Canberra Times interview about some mountain biking issues on Wednesday afternoon, the story appeared in the paper yesterday. Kate (CORC President) scanned the article about rangers pulling down the dangerous North Shore style obstacles. The only real omission here is that the article claims they received an anonymous tip off about the obstacles when in fact CORC informed ACT Forests a few months ago that there was some dangerous constructions in Tuggeranong pines that we strongly recommended should be removed. Of course the item on Win news did not mention that, and alas I forgot we discussed this at a meeting 3 months or so back when I was talking to the journalist. None of the ACT Forests staff who are directly responsible for this side of things were available on Wednesday either so only the Environment ACT people were involved. Fortunately in this article at least we (CORC and mountain bikers) did not come across poorly.

I am hoping the work the CORC Trails Advocacy team has been doing over the past two years to present a need for an extreme mountain biking area to the ACT Government will be successful, though ACT Laws still make this hard on the land owner/manager, in South Australia they have been able to create such parks with properly/safely constructed obstacles and ensure the land manager and people constructing the obstacles in their parks are not liable for injuries of riders in the parks.

The slow news day title of course refers to the thing a few weeks ago where they quoted me in the paper with a photo.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 25 Aug 2005

Where do you buy every day stuff online in Australia? - 10:48
Okay so I am a computer geek and cycling fanatic, thus I often buy computer equipment and cycling equipment online from Australian and overseas retailers. I know of a fair few existing retailers of such items, I can find new retailers fairly easily. So if I want a hard drive or a cycling jersey or bottom bracket I know where to look. Also a few others things like cds or dvds sort of occur to me, either look internationally at Amazon or cdbaby, or look locally at a place like (though now that I think of it I do not, off the top of my head know of an Australian online cd retailer, though I suppose qualifies, after all, as is the case with ezydvd, it has physical retail outlets also, however they do sell online. Thanks to Mikal I also know of a great place to buy technical computing books.

However I have absolutely no idea where to look for less specific stuff to purchase online, say you want to buy a few pairs of socks, or a television (and compare specifications of a few), or some cutlery, or a microwave. I was wondering a few months ago how much a given size tv would cost here (Mum has leant me a large tv for the foreseeable future and I was curious about the cost of such an item as I would never consider buying a tv myself it is not something I had any idea of what it may retail for). Just today I spent about 15 minutes looking around yahoo's Australian only directories in shopping/clothing areas, trying searching google and froogle for Australian only retail outlets, etc. I was searching for someone who would sell plain sports socks such as reebok, billabong, quicksilver, addidas or whatever and ship them to you in the post.

Sure for this sort of more generic stuff most people I suspect would prefer to go to a physical retail outlet, however it just seems o be a waste of time to me, to walk into Civic (because driving would just make me unhappy and agro, driving is not a nice or pleasant way to do anything) (and I do not like locking my bikes up in town as they cost a bit) from work, find a shop, buy some socks, walk back to work. There goes 40 minutes minimum for no real good reason. Of course this could just be my male anti shopping gene in full force, but it really does sound like a huge waste of time I could use to do work or ride bikes or something instead. Searching google for something as simple as "clothes shop" and selecting Australia only really does not show anything particularly useful, nor was wandering around for a while doing me any good. Maybe I had better capitulate and simply go in and buy socks at one of those physical retail outlets.

[/various] link

Wed, 24 Aug 2005

Wearing the wrong socks for an interview in a warm building. - 18:56
The building in which I work at ANU was built in the mid 90's sometime, the heating/cooling system apparently works (the building is sealed so the air conditioning does not just head out the windows) by running the heaters and coolers at all times and balancing the output of them to attain a given temperature. For the past few weeks the entire cooling system has been broken, so the heaters have been pumping heat into the building unchecked by air conditioned coolness. This is bad as it means the entire building is somewhat uncomfortable to work in, it is however even worse in my area surrounded by lots of small heaters that some people call computers. I really hope Facilities and Services can fix this soon it is becoming rather stifling, I keep sneaking into the cooled machine rooms for a few minutes just to cool off.

Now in an effort to drive away the two and a half readers I may have of this diary I will talk about the socks I wore to work. These socks are worn out to the extent there is only thin gauze sock skeleton material across the bottom of the sock, I should simply throw away this, and a few other pairs of my socks and go buy more, the problem is (especially in the heat mentioned above) that my feet get smellier and feel icky all day.

On an aside there was another Environment ACT sort of backed thing going around on Win TV news tonight in Canberra and something will appear in the paper tomorrow. I have not seen the TV piece however I hear it came across fairly badly for mountain bikers as a whole. A Canberra times Journalist rang me for some input from the CORC perspective, I suspect that will appear in the newspaper tomorrow. Hopefully the piece will not come out too badly but I really have no idea what angles they are looking for here.

[/various] link

Tue, 23 Aug 2005

Racing in a fast team or showing off old scars - 18:36
On the weekend I competed in the local (CORC run) round of the Working Week Series of 8 hour mtb races, I also set the 14.2 KM course we raced on. I competed in the Marathon Pairs category in a mens team, my team mate was Rob Burrell, one very fast cyclist (he got one of the top 20 lap times on the day). Photos should be up soon at pixelpics, interestingly they are using a photo of me doing a jump currently on their front page where they mention the race. (which means I can see my race number was 689). I have results up from the race on my race results page too.

Anyway it is always good to do races in teams with people who can ride fast, this weekend, due to being teamed up with a rider like Rob, we came 3rd in the Mens Pairs category, my laps tended to be around 5 to 8 minutes slower than Rob's most of the day. Another example of this is my 2003 Mont 24 Hour race team, due to being teamed up with riders as fast as Dave, Julie and Aaron we came first in our category by over an hour. I do not think this is really rocket science, A good team is a key to success in cycling, Lance Armstrong has proven that pretty conclusively over the past 7 years.

As for showing off old scars, Mikal is getting into his cycling, he seems to be enjoying it, including a 23 KM ride on Saturday, even though he had another fall on the ride. He claims his scar on his knee is cool, and that it bled lots. He suggested I should try for a scar on my knee during my ride out to Stromlo this afternoon as all the cool people have cycling related scars on their knees. I decided it was best not to aim for this today, after all, in my case, acquiring knee scars in cycling accidents is so last year (and I still have purple skin marking those scars on both knees over a year later)

My ride up stromlo was a bit lacklustre today, 12m30s for the climb itself, the entire ride out and back was 1h12 minutes today, an average speed of 30.0 for the 36.4 KM ride. Slower than last week even, ahh well maybe next week I will improve.

[/mtb] link

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 18:28

Milk carton bigger than Black Mountain tower (full size)

The majesty of the milk carton (full size)

Hiding out in a burnt out Mt Stromlo Observatory telescope (full size)
Looking for milk cartons in the wild again today. The first shot rather obviously shows that milk cartons can be larger than Black Mountain Tower (perspective? whats that), which may explain why this one is not trying to hide or use camouflage. The second show, of this oh so large milk carton, showing how Majestic a milk carton perched upon a rock can be.

Looking around some more, I notice this milk carton seen in the third photo on the burnt out window sill of one of the old Mount Stromlo Observatory telescope buildings at the top of Stromlo. The disguise capabilities are equally poor here, however the burnt out building may offer the milk carton some protection from predators.

Oh and for all those of you who may wish to point out this was posted after 6pm and thus no longer afternoon, pish, it was still afternoon in Western Australia, so just imagine it was posted by someone there (it wasn't, but that is just a small detail)

[/various/milkcarton] link

Fri, 19 Aug 2005

More good food on campus soon... - 13:50
I can understand why Mikey is somewhat pissed off with a certain eating establishment near his office on campus. I have mentioned once or twice in the past how disappointing and overpriced the food from ANU Union caterers is, and I have to say the instance of a catering outlet Mikey refers to really is bad even compared against some of those closer to this side of campus, well at least that is my opinion.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel though, the new JCS building that is being built (or possibly finished already, the big green ugly looking building) on the oval opposite Mikey's work will have a cafe, the owner of a certain eating establishment I like a lot (mentioned and used a lot during lca2005, about 50 metres from my office) has taken out the lease for the cafe that will be in this new building once finished. This will not be a ANU Union establishment, and if the two cafes they already run are an indication (Pickle and Discovery) it will be something to look forward to for all the people on that side of campus. (there really is not much nearby in the way of food outlets over there).

Of course I do not know how public this information is, or should be, ahh well it is out now. Interestingly Nick may price things a bit cheaper at the new cafe in order to encourage people to go there, it may even be worth hopping on the bike and riding across campus if he makes things a lot cheaper.

[/leisure/food] link

I suspect Andrew is somewhat pissed off. - 13:29
I was walking back from civic after getting an eye test and came across Andrew and Sarah Pollock, they were sitting in Andrew's car parked on Hutton St on the edge of the University. Andrew understandably was somewhat annoyed, Sarah pointed out to me what was wrong. All 4 of the tyres on Andrew's car had been slashed by someone.

Andrew rocked up to the uni this morning for a 1 hour lecture, and parked out in this more public area due to the difficulty of getting parking access in the uni and headed off to the lecture, his was the only car there at the time. I imagine sometime while he was in his lecture some fuckstick walked past and seeing it was the only car there thought it would be fun to make all 4 tyres go flat with a knife. "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG IN THE HEAD OF SOMEONE WHO DOES THIS?" I mean really what sort of mindset has someone wander past some random car on some street and slash all the tyres for no reason?

Sarah had rocked up to give Andrew a lift once the tow truck rocked up, NRMA had already been but could not do much with so many tyres flat. Thinking about it, with modern car tyre technology flat tyres are quite rare, this is one of the few reasons I can imagine that would cause a tyre to go flat now days, but really what sort of idiots do this to cars? One of the tyres was not entirely flat, I suspect the idiot responsible was seen and yelled at before they could properly slash the las tyre so ran off.

[/various] link

Thu, 18 Aug 2005

Yet another reason to love Canberra. - 11:58

Around 30 KM from Canberra, a great way to spend a lunch break (full size)
I headed out for a lunch road ride around Cotter/Uriarra with Sue and Rob yesterday. Gorgeous weather and yet more evidence of why Canberra is so good. A 2 hour road ride, with some good climbs that gets you out well away from the city. We went yesterday as I thought I had a meeting around lunch today, for something Andrew, Mikal and I are working on, however this morning we had to reschedule to some time next week.

Riding this morning was just another example of how good Canberra is again, Majura pines for an hour or so on the mountain bike with Ben and Ron. Now to finish working out the ppc64 debian port details, run the debootstrapped image and get it mirrored locally. I wonder where Alioth is hosted, I can not find out looking around the wiki page or gforge'esque setup on the machine itself.

[/mtb] link

Wed, 17 Aug 2005

This thing is not supposed to break? - 11:46

Broken BB axle (full size)
Riding home from work yesterday on the road bike after riding out to Stromlo and back, I crossed a road back up onto a footpath and suddenly my right leg fell and hit the ground with the pedal, crank and chain rings still attached gouging into my leg a bit.

Obviously my bottom bracket axle had snapped, this is a road bike, it is not really under a huge amount of load so should not really happen. I had however heard a clicking noise from this particular bottom bracket for a few months, I had thought it may just be the bearings going, I checked the frame carefully after getting it back from the fix and was sure it was not a new crack. Ahh well I now know what the clicking noise was.

I am glad it happened so close to home and only took me 5 minutes more to walk home, if it had happened 16 KM away at the summit of Stromlo I would have needed a lift back to work or home.

[/mtb/gear] link

Daily grind has a few more opening hours - 10:10
Hmm Hugh got back on the blogging horse and has decided to do posts about places to eat, a bit like Mel maybe, though less veggie focused (I thoroughly recommend Mel's posts btw).

Anyway Hugh mentions having lunch at the Daily Grind over near his office area. I have not partaken lunch there, however have been there at breakfast, thus his "Lunch Only" hours suggested may be somewhat incorrect. I do agree it is a good place, prices are low and the breakfast menu is pretty good and the coffee is up to par, I liked it more than the other place I have been to in that area which AFAIR is on the same street as Hugh's office and a few blocks up.

[/leisure/food] link

Tue, 16 Aug 2005

Mt Stromlo wins again - 17:45
As on previous occasions I headed out this afternoon for a ride up Stromlo from work on the road bike. Pretty much identical time to the last time with 30.9 KMh average, 1h10m time and 36.4 distance on the computer. There was a tail wind all the way out which was nice, allowing me to keep an average above 33 fairly easily all the way to the base of the hill.

I had a upset feeling stomach a bit today and had lunch about an hour before the ride, those to combined to give me a stitch during the climb. When I got to the flat bit half way up before going through the boom gate I had to back off so the stitch would not worsen, then I was unable to put real effort in again for the rest of the climb and kept my speed around 20 rather than 23 or 24 all the way from there to the top. The climb itself was around 12m10s. I suspect my diet today and last night was not ideal, too much meat and not balanced well enough with fruit, carbs and vegetables.

The reason I suspect a diet problem yesterday and today is I hit a fitness flat spot on the way home from just past cotter road back to near yarramundi reach, I was simply unable to put real speed into the bike and was often dropping to 23 KMh on slight rises. Anyway hopefully I have gotten over this a bit as I am heading out for a lap of cotter/uriarra at lunch with Sue. I must remember to eat and hydrate too.

[/mtb] link

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 13:30
Unable to find inspiration for some milk carton photo today, and no one has sent me photos of exotic foreign milk cartons from all over the world yet, so once more I will resort to some links to milk cartony things.

For the geeks among us, this is an interesting bug filed against some milk cartons. I wonder if these people really want to run gdb on the core of a milk carton or not (the core of a milk carton would probably just be a whole bunch of milk, unless someone filled the carton with something else, like gravel).

For anyone who was massively confused by the above paragraph (heck knowing how little sense I make sometimes I suspect that would be almost everyone) I found this milk is milk blog, lots of stuff pertaining to milk cartons and cases put to the US FDA pertaining to milk cartons.

[/various/milkcarton] link

Mon, 15 Aug 2005

Why no comments? - 21:48
So Mikal has often pointed out he uses a blog as a place for him to search for stuff or an extended bit of his brain (long term storage with a google interface). He also thinks of blog engines as neat CMS for a website, a good publishing engine. Mikal though also has comments enabled now days, which is more blog centric than a simple website. The idea of a community to make a blog more interesting for people as a whole exists, and appears valid even for sites with a really small readership.

I wonder if the primary reason I have not put comments on here is simply because of my own severe dislike of web forums? A few people have told me in the last few months that comments would be really neat here. Sites like Farkin (Australian Mountain Biking hangout) or most of the more popular blogs (Fafblog or Dooce (on her photos)) have comments and an active community. I personally can not imagine any reason to use Farkin when there is email or other mechanisms, maybe I am just sticking my head in the sand too much.

Like Mikal maybe I should try this comments thing on here some time.

All of this thought was inspired by reading a post about losing blog readers by the Tomato and Cucumber guy.

[/comp/blosxom] link

Speed of light, Avogadro's, Tomato and Cucumber and other universal constants. - 21:13
While eating dinner I wandered around some of the blogroll links on blogs I read regularly. The Aadvark Speaks is one such site I stumbled upon, on the whole well written and a good read. He suggests that Tomato and Cucumbers are a universal constant (when paired together, and generally when in the presence of a sandwich). Who knows they might be, I personally look forward to reading of any scientists accelerating Tomato and Cucumber to the speed of light.

As for his telepathic waiters, maybe they have 802.11 or something chips implanted in their heads, who knows anything could happen. Interestingly this guy lives in Austria, I wonder how many Arnold's he knows?

[/amusing] link

Xmas in July in August mtb ride down the Oaks. - 15:07
Yesterday I was up in Sydney for the weekend in order to join in the annual mtb-oz Christmas in July in August ride (XiJiA and I really have no idea how Mikal would pronounce that). This started a few years ago because the list ride that happened at the real Christmas time in 45 Celsius temperatures was too hot to contemplate a repeat, thus doing the ride in the middle of winter was agreed upon as an alternative.

I went to the 2003 and 2004 instances of this ride. On both those occasions a few other Canberrans were also there along with the Sydney siders, also the trains were running to the blue mountains so there were large numbers of Sydney listees. This year I was the sole Canberran, and the trains were not running to the blue mountains so the ride (known as the Oaks, this is from Woodford to Glenbrook in the lower blue mountains near Sydney) had somewhat lower attendance.

For once though there was a pretty god turn out of riders at the earlier start time to ride up hill as well as back downhill so Dave@ and I were not the only hill climbing nutters. There was quite a lot of uphill traffic on the ride on the day, heck Lisa Mathison (Australia's best female XC mountain bike racer currently) was there, she past us going uphill and downhill. Anyway I took photos of the XiJiA ride and put them online with a few words again.

[/mtb] link

Sun, 14 Aug 2005

Where did they hide Arnold? - 20:16
While driving up to Sydney on Saturday, I got to wondering, how is it that I know no one named Arnold? I knew an Arnold a few years ago but as far as I know that is the only example of an Arnold I have ever met. I asked my sister about it when I got to Sydney, she claimed she knows an Arnold, he is Austrian and lives there.

I got to thinking maybe all the Arnold's are hiding, so went looking for Arnold. I looked under the rug and didn't find Arnold. I rang Moe's and asked for Amanda Huggenkiss but Arnold didn't answer the phone. From this extensive search I believe I can conclude that Arnold is indeed hiding. As Jane said she knows one in Austria I suspect they are all hiding there. Like Bruce hiding out in Australian Academia, I may find Arnold if I ring the Governor of California's office and ask for Arnold (and he is Austrian too, spooky) though they may simply lock me up for that.

Of course another blow came when someone pointed out to me that Arnold J Rimmer is a hologram so can not be used as conclusive proof that Arnold is not hiding in Austria but is instead travelling through space with a mutant cat an android and a bloke named Charles Lister.

[/various] link

Thu, 11 Aug 2005

Snow at the pines - 20:38

At the northern end (full size)

Near the exit of the pines (full size)
As Crash and a few others have mentioned, the snow that fell yesterday in inner city Canberra was a somewhat rare occurrence. After Crash had the fun of riding in the snow, I got a bit of that experience this morning also. There was still a fair amount of the stuff on the ground at Majura Pines and in th vineyard and surrounding areas this morning. Ron Brent had his camera phone with him this morning so took a few photos, two of which I have uploaded here.

It is almost a shame I will not be in Canberra this weekend, last year Crash, Jaymz and I headed out to the brindies for a ride up Warks Rd to Bulls Head with the last few KM in the snow, that was a heap of fun and it would be a good weekend to do that now too. Ahh well.

[/mtb] link

I let myself in with this chainsaw - 09:10
I was rereading the Liberty Meadows "Big Book of Love" last night at home. A reprint of most of the 1997 run of Liberty Meadows strips. One strip had Leslie in Frank's room going on about being sick with some other random disease. The end of the strip Frank asks Leslie how he got in. Leslie answers "I let myself in with this chainsaw" and he is pictured holding one. So sure the context may just confuse the issue, and maybe you had to be there, but I cracked up big time. I think that would be a great title for a blog "I let myself in with this chainsaw".

Anyway for anyone who wants some more obvious humour, go have a look at what is on Fafnir's list of things to do.

[/amusing] link

Wed, 10 Aug 2005

More of that folk music stuff... - 17:40
I just got hold of 4 new albums, 3 by Lorna Bracewell and 1 by Deborah Smith.

Last week someone on one of the planets I read (Linux Australia, Debian or Gnome) mentioned a cdbaby sale, selling a lot of their stock at USD $5 per album. I have purchased music from cdbaby a few times in the past, all my Kathleen (Bird) York and Melissa Ferrick albums come from them. They retail many lesser known artists that would otherwise not have much of a presence in global retail chains or outlets.

So I wandered over to the site and browsed around for a while, listening to a bunch of the samples with some of the albums I decided on buying 3 Lorna Bracewell albums. "Don't Stop Now", "Little Miss Obvious" and "God Forbid". I also bought an album by Deborah Smith, "Stay Awake". So far I have listened to the Deborah Smith one once, last night, however most of the listening I have been doing has been to the three Lorna Bracewell albums.

The albums arrived yesterday, freedb did not recognise any of the albums, I have since attempted to submit freedb updates so hopefully that will be fixed soon. Last night and today at work I have had all three albums on repeat play.

So far I really like the sound of the first two albums, "Don't Stop Now" and "Little Miss Obvious", though as I start to get used to Lorna's singing style and am able to listen to the lyrics better I notice the lyrics on "God Forbid" are, unsurprisingly (it is a more recent album, with more experience behind it), better on the whole, though strangely the sound still does not appeal quite as much as that of the two earlier albums. An interesting sound and voice, I am definitely happy to have purchased these three albums, I suspect as usual this stuff will grow on me more over the next few months too.

Before looking around cdbaby last week I had never heard of either of these artists, it is always a good thing to find more music you enjoy.

[/leisure/music] link

I'm sorry Dave I can't let you do that - 15:44
I just saw a freshmeat announcement in my blog reader for libnodave. I wonder how much the person naming the library was giggling at "2001: A Space Oddessy" when they named this library?

[/comp/software] link

Extra goodness with disc-cover - 14:49
So I have been using the program disc-cover (online disc-cover server for those unfortunate enough not to have unix on their desktops) for about 5 years now. I keep a copy of all my cd's I listen to in the car rather than the originals as I would be heart broken if the car were broken into and I lost all the original albums. Also it means I can keep the originals in the house.

disc-cover looks at a cd in the drive does a cddb/freedb lookup and produces a postscript (or other format) output that can be used in the jewel case. Anyway yesterday I received some new cds (I will blog about this later) and the artists are not well enough known to have listings in freedb. Grip and other programs thus displayed unknown and such. I wanted to generate a cddb entry to place in my ~/.cddb/ directory that these programs could use. Freshmeat and google did not produce much of interest for outputting the correct file. Much to my delight after glancing at the disc-cover man page I was reminded that one of the output formats available is cddb.

disc-cover -n -t cddb

Generates the hex string used to name a file and the file Artist_-Disctitle.cddb which I was able to rename into my ~/.cddb directory and all works fine. I suppose I should look at uploading the album details to freedb, however last time I looked about 5 years ago uploading to freedb was a non trivial task, though I notice there appear to be applications that can do that more easily now days.

Anyway disc-cover has once again proven to be damn useful.

Update: I notice on the FreeDB FAQ they mention grip as an application that may be used to submit new track information. Now I have valid labels and grip has the information I should be able to work out what button to press to do this. (I use grip as my cd playing/ripping application).

Update2: So reading the FAQ closer it does appear though they tell you there to use some application I should be able to send the updates in a basic email, copy the entry generated by disc-cover add some items such as DGENRE and DYEAR, as this will be the first upload leaving the revision at 0 will be fine and all should work. I worked this out simply by looking at some existing entries for albums I already have cddb files for.

Update3: The first submissions I tried had blank subject lines, I noticed the developer link on the freedb site and found a Submit new entries document for developers of software, it appears that is the only thing my first submission attempts were missing. Anyway it is good to see that document there I do not recall finding it when I last looked at submitting track listings.

[/comp/software] link

Tue, 09 Aug 2005

ANU IBM Power 5 boxes for Linux on Power work - 17:05

Mikal at the rack (full size)
Tuesday last week we took delivery of 2 4 Way SMP IBM Power 5 Boxes. 1 TB of disk, 16 GB of RAM, paritionable into separate machines. This is part of the IBM Linux on Power initiative to provide university and community access to PowerPC hardware for porting Linux software to.

One partition has been set up on one of the machines and called and it will be used for CLUG hosting and information soon. Mikal (pictured) was hanging around when we started unpacking the hardware and putting in the rack so helped out.

It was also thanks to Mikal we arrived at the naming scheme for the primary power 5 boxes and the management console. The two large power 5 boxes, once online will be known as Tridge and Paulus (ANU DNS already has them registered) and the management console is known as Hugh. Tridge and Paulus are both ex DCS members (and Tridge is still a Visiting Fellow). I will leave it for other ozlabbers to explain the humour (somewhat childish maybe, but then we (DCS) have the ANU DNS names computer, box, cluster and server registered also) of the management console name also if they so choose.

Our current plan is that will be the more publicly accessible machine and more stable for world wide access. will be more restricted to ANU affiliates, staff or students and either as a whole or partitions on it will be used for research and development that may be less stable (such as kernel hacking). As we see usage patterns emerge once the machines have users we may make use of more partitions or configurations on all the machines.

[/work] link

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 16:17

Milk Carton in the Bush (full size)
I was out mountain biking this morning and sighted a milk carton attempting to blend into the native Australian bushland. I was able to get close enough to take this photo. I am afraid this species of milk carton may be somewhat rare due to how poor it's attempt at camouflage here is.

There are no OAK's here and thus attempting to blend into GUM or WATTLE or similar will not work with the OAK all over the place. If I was able to so easily spot this milk carton and take photos I am sure the natural predators of milk cartons are also able to take advantage of this stupidity.

[/various/milkcarton] link

Mon, 08 Aug 2005

Hurty from the weekend - 15:15

Metrogaine map (full size)

Started out with the Bilbys road ride, which today included the Annual Bilbys Hill Climb race, like most other Bilbys events the winner was chosen based on guessing your time and the person closest to their guess wins, watches and bike computers are confiscated and given back to you a the end of the race.

Results should shortly be online, I was 31 seconds slower than my guess of 15:00, much of this slow time can probably be accounted for due to my recovering from the cold that had me mostly off the bike for two weeks prior to this, and my low form currently anyway. The race from the base of the Mt Macdonald climb over the hill and on to the Uriarra Road T-junction is a good distance for something like this.

Gary Rolfe was one second faster than his predicted time and Billy Griffiths one second slower so they took home the trophy between them (the Baldwin-Rolfe Hill climb trophy, named after two of our life members Gary Rolfe and David Baldwin). After the race we finished off the road ride, the long group I went with heading to Condor Creek then back via Uriarra for coffee at Dobinsons.

After about 1 hour at home I hopped in the car with the Duallie and headed out to Sparrow Hill to do a lap of the course I have planned out for use in the 8 hour race there in two weeks, the distance is still a bit long so I have to lop about 1 or 1.5 KM off the loop before I finalise the course, anyway 95 KM on the road in the morning followed by 18 KM on the mtb in the afternoon. All of this cycling was quite enjoyable, it sort of kick started my body back into exercise after two weeks of not much, and I did not hurt at all after that effort (my body is somewhat used to cycling)


The level of hurt was however bound to change today, I had entered the ACTRA 2005 Metrogaine with Ben Crabb (Ben is quite a capable runner). The course we covered is marked in blue on the map I have photographed to the left. According to the Google Maps Pedometer the distance we covered is approximately 31.6 KM. As I have had a cold for around 2.5 weeks prior to this I had not actually gone for a run for 3 weeks. Now I am recovered from the cold I can get back in to my running, though not today, today my entire body aches all over and just walking around the place hurts. On the no pain no gain idea I must have gained a lot of something yesterday.

I did however have a fun day out, Ben and I only had one occasion where we messed up navigation (the little squiggle around on O'Connor Ridge) and lost about 5 minutes. We completed far more than we expected we would be able to and are both happy with how the day went. According to the results we scored 1030 points and ended up in 22nd overall. Of course no where near Dave and Adrian's team, over all winners on 1740. (Dave and Julie both ran a 60 KM Ultra Marathon Saturday a week before too)

[/mtb] link

Fresh Roasted Coffee - 14:45

Dried bean soup ingredients (full size)
When reading about coffee and what helps ensure good quality coffee, the most often repeated suggestion is to get your coffee as fresh as possible after roasting. (Along with getting Arabica beans). Thus when Crash and Mel mentioned a coffee retailer in Mitchell that sells coffee they roast on the premises I decided I had better try it out.

The shop is "The Fresh Roast Coffee House" in Mitchell, they sell Jindebah coffee. I rode out to Mitchell on Friday morning and purchased two 250g packs of beans. An 100% Australian Coffee, "Premium Dark Roast" and a pack of "Indian Monsooned Malabar" a Strong variety. So far I have ground and sampled some of the Australian coffee, very nice stuff, prepared with a single cup drip filter.

On the subject of coffee maybe I should see if Mum and Norm feel like selling their manual coffee machine, they do not appear to use it (Mum does not drink coffee, and Norm if he drinks any seems to drink Moconna instant) and a coffee machine with a 15 bar pressure capability would be a same to let go unused.

[/leisure/food] link

Fri, 05 Aug 2005

Those chemists, always making things 'splode - 15:19
So I looked out my office window a while ago and noticed some smoke forming, it seemed to be coming out of the Research School of Chemistry. So it was not particularly surprising a few minutes later when we were all asked to evacuate DCS due to a chemical fire in RSCHEM. The smoke was getting into our (DCS) air conditioning and was definitely changing the smell of the air.

Once we evacuated we were all told DCS had been sealed for at least 2 hours and they suggested we all go home. I wandered home (my road bike is still in my office) and I wonder if now would be a good time to hop on the mountain bike for a few hours....

DCS may be open again by 5pm, not sure yet.

Update: We were allowed in briefly around 5pm to fetch anything we needed (in my case, winter cycling tights, insulin pen, home keys, laptop, road bike, running shoes, running tights, a few other things) and in theory the building will be open for staff again by tomorrow morning. The entire building still retained the smell of the smoke that erupted from RSCHEM.

One of my house mates mentioned many other buildings around ANU were evacuated, even on the other side of campus, at one point they considered evacuating some of the halls and colleges also. Talking to someone in the building when I was picking up my stuff I learnt the Firies tried putting the fire out with foam, when that did not work they resorted to water, this has them wondering if run off from it will negatively affect Sullivans creek. I still do not know the cause or any more detailed information about the fire.

ABC has a story about the explosion in the uni science lab too which provides explosion details but not much more information.

[/work] link

Out there with the negative temperatures - 10:45
Spending the mornin' out there, y'know, on Everest, and explorin' the wilds of the Amazon jungles, and on a pith helmet wearing safari through Africa and in an adventure race in Patagonia and on the Moon and explorin' the outer reaches of the solar system. Out there, this mornin' with the Negative temperatures. And what were all the temperatures doing? Were they taking in the majesty of all this "Out there" we were experiencin'? Were they grateful at the chance to race through Patagonia or walk on the Moon? No, not at all.

The temperatures were just bein' negative, saying stuff like "Are we there yet?" and "Why do we have to hang around on this cold drafty Moon?" and sayin' "Hah you are never going to make it to the top of Everest!" and "I bet we get caught and eaten by Amazon cannibal pygmies" and all manner of other depressin' things. Them temperatures, they just don't know how to have a good time at the moment, all they can be in the mornin's is negative.

[/various] link

Wed, 03 Aug 2005

The evil that is the Rav 4 - 16:43
The Toyota Rav 4 is evil, ever since they appeared on the market my sister and I have done a mock rocket launcher aiming/shooting thing whenever we see them on the roads or parked or wherever. One of the most evil, annoying, wrong headed and plain out should not exist cars that do unfortunately exist.

I saw one on Tuesday morning with a little children's mobile and a child car seat, I am sure it steals babies, luring them in with the mobile, locking them into the seat and stealing them away. There you have it Toyota Rav4's steal children, irrefutable proof.

[/various] link

Time trialing into the sunrise. - 15:30
This morning I awoke to my alarm at 5:30am, grabbed my phone (my alarm) and rolled over and went back to sleep. Oops. Needless to say I missed the start of the ride at 06:00am at Dickson. I woke up with a start once more at 06:08am and decided to go do a different ride. On the bike by 06:24am I headed out the federal highway to ride a return trip via the Sutton road overpass.

This was the first morning in about two weeks I have not felt sick with a cold while out riding, so I was happy to be able to put a bit of effort in to the ride. I was planning to meet up with the others for coffee at Dickson around 07:30 so did not have heaps of time (so doing a climb of Mt Majura or similar on the way back in was not an option today).

On the ride I stayed in the drops, low and pushing the pace for about 80% of the ride, the rest, generally when climbing, still at a good pace I was on the hoods. For example the climb up to the first hill top as the highway leaves Canberra I was on the hoods or out of the saddle pushing a bigger gear. As I topped this climb I saw a wondrous pink sunrise with pink fog sitting below the clouds in the distance. If only I had my camera with me I could show you all what you missed out on by not being out there this morning at 06:45am.

I got to the cafe at Dickson with an average speed of 31.1, riding time around 1h5 minutes, on the whole it was a bit slower than I would like, however I did take it easy toward the end, and it is the middle of winter and my form is down, in summer I should have been able to get the average around 33 or 34 KMh. Of course I should do this sort of thing more often (moderately hard to hard effort by myself so I can keep the pace pegged), if I do maybe I can improve on summer expectations.

[/mtb] link

Tue, 02 Aug 2005

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 16:25

Imprisoned Milk (full size)
They have these milk containers walled in and behind glass (this photo was taken while holding the fridge door open, to allow the plight of the milk cartons to be captured more clearly), the milk cartons can not even feel the sweet air of freedom without outside assistance, the other dairy product packaging was not massing around attempting to set the milk cartons free. Oh these poor milk cartons, trapped until some kind and generous human comes along to set them free.

Though I wonder what other patrons at the retail outlet thought of some nut in cycling clothing taking photos of milk cartons in a fridge, that is of little interest however when compared with the plight of these imprisoned milk cartons. I am however glad to see that even in captivity the natural order of things is maintained, the milk carton is on top lording over the new and far less important 2 L plastic milk containers.

Update: I also just noticed, if you do not wish to be infected with footy head issues you can still buy the remaining milk carton with no Canberra raiders stuff printed upon in. Yet another way to ward off the return of Raiders Lime. (yes Lime flavoured milk sold by Canberra Milk in the early 1990's when the Raiders won the end of season thingy a few times)

[/various/milkcarton] link

Fri, 29 Jul 2005

A sentence, that stops me like a brick wall - 15:44
With the Ani random quotes in my email signatures I am often stopped by the brilliance of a quote on outgoing email, I definitely make the effort to read them when I send email because they are so good. Today I was stopped by how much I love this quote:

i want somebody who can hold my interest, hold it and never let it go
someone who can flatten me with a kiss, that hits like a fist
or a sentence, that stops me like a brick wall
   Asking Too Much - Not A Pretty Girl - Ani

Whoever/whatever Ani may have specifically been singing about here I can not help but think how true it is, friends who can make you think, those who do indeed say things that stop you like a brick wall are important and valuable. I love the imagery Ani uses at times like this.

Still on the subject of music, I have a compact flash based mp3 player which I listen to while riding some times. Most of the music on it is Ani, Missy Higgins, Jodi Martin, Dave Matthews Band, so on the whole folky/cruisy. As much as I love all this music it does not exactly get the blood pumping for high paced riding or anything like that. Often in mtb videos and such there is music that definitely would get you psyched for going faster.

I was listening to a Bare Naked Ladies album (Stunt) and a Mighty Mighty Bosstones album (Let's Face It) the other day at home and though both groups sound very different, both albums have a great feel for cycling especially if you are out for a hammer session, maybe I should load these up on the mp3 player and give them a go.

[/leisure/music] link

Slow news day? - 13:43
That newspaper photo thing I mentioned yesterday, well this sort of freaks me out, there is a 1/4 page sized photo of me in todays paper to go with the article. (scan of the article, I did not want to retype it)

The title of the article is a bit interesting, "Rare species 'at risk' from bikes in nature reserves" however headlines often are deliberately inflamatory. Fortunately on the whole it appears the content of the article came through alright, they quoted me in a way that comes out positive about the whole thing.

I bought a copy of the paper today as I am sure Mum will want this, and she is overseas still so it is not being delivered to her place currently.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 28 Jul 2005

ACT Mountain Bike areas hit the news - 19:04
Today the ACT Government Chief Minister's department made a media release, Mountain Bike Riders Reminded to Stay Off Designated Walking Tracks. Largely as an information exercise, trying to get some newspaper coverage and other coverage in the hopes of informing the wider mountain biking community about the Environment ACT regulations. Many mountain biker's do not know or pay much attention to this.

The main thrust in reality is a focus on some highly contentious tracks near Majura Pines. Many walkers groups and community groups worry about the mountain bikers riding on two tracks in the area. There are in other parts of Canberra multi use tracks with proper signage that appear to stand up to lots of use and all users are happy. I do however agree with the idea of closing the tracks near Majura to all users for regeneration as they were originally placed in a bad location for any users.

On the whole the best future course of action is for Environment ACT to recognise mountain bikers will not be going away or disappearing, irrelevant of the status of tracks around the city. If they work with the the mountain bike community in a similar manner to the Wellington City Council in NZ and allow the creation of sustainable IMBA standard tracks that allow all users to traverse them safely with no degradation would allow all users to attain a happier use status with all the other users.

Anyway a journalist from the Canberra Times rang me this morning for the CORC response to the release. We had received a heads up about the release early in the week and I hopefully responded sensibly pointing out we (CORC) do on the whole support the point of the release and are trying to push further cooperation with land use planning for allowing mountain bikers to fit in well with other users in the future.

The journalist said they would like to get a photo to go with the article, and asked if they could photograph me for it, I agreed to meet a photographer at Majura Pines at 2pm for a photo. The photographer eventually rocked up 40 minutes late, we got the photos and I headed back to work. I wonder if the article will appear tomorrow or in the next few days in the paper, giving me a few more media ho seconds of fame or something...

[/mtb] link

Wed, 27 Jul 2005

Pleathe don't wear a pith helmet with a lithp. - 21:21
I do not actually own a Pith helmet myself, sure I have Swedish Lapplander hats coming out my ears and a variety of other hats from your standard beanies to mirrored eastern looking hats. However my hat collection lacks a Pith helmet, I wonder if that is a bad thing. My cousin Jackson has a Pith helmet, and a safari suit he can wear with it, I wonder if you can still wield a machete and hack through jungle if not properly attired.

The lack of wild exotic jungles in and around Canberra will probably mean I will not find out for a while, I could at least buy a Pith helmet to mount on my bicycle helmets when we go exploring new mountain bike locations, who knows being made of cork it may even provide added protection. (I was most distressed to learn there is no WikiPedia entry on Pith Helmets, alas I do not know enough real information about them to do more than a Stub I suspect)

[/various] link

Tue, 26 Jul 2005

Tuesday afternoon milk carton blogging - 15:19
I am glad to say Leon got in on the act and blogged some exotic (well if you do not live in WA that could be the case) non standard (Soy) West Australian Milk Cartons, everyone else is yet to join the fray however.

As I have not been in a supermarket for a bit I was unable to photograph large numbers of milk cartons in a common habitat (are they imprisoned with in the fridges? do they ever try to escape? I had better put on my Pith Helmet and head out on a milk carton safari and learn the answer to these questions sometime soon) so today will simply share the results of some research (typing some random string about milk cartons into google) to further the plight of milk cartons everywhere.

It appears some USAanians know how to have fun with Milk Cartons. There are all manner of things happening, from Milk Carton Regatta's in Hawaii (check out that Dragon Boat), a Milk Carton Boat website for making the things and racing them in Minneapolis to blokes simply out for a paddle in their Milk Carton Canoe.

Of course there may be downsides, such as what do you say when cows milk starts leaking out of your pig, or how do you justify claims that children find milk in a plastic bottle sexier than milk in a carton, what is the world coming to when milk cartons lose their obvious sex appeal, the horror.

[/various] link

Broken/Ugly bits on Mikal's site. - 13:46
Well Mikal asked so I may as well respond. Not so much broken but damn wrong looking. Mikal still has broken/messed up css (screenshot). And those new tag things he is doing, putting an image next to the tag text, it looks oh so wrong, especially in an environment like ploa where it stands out all ugly and wrong compared to the rest of the things there. If you must link to two indexing/tag services can you not work out some way to do it without using images. Oh also the tag images render badly in the GTKHTML component (probably not as css compliant as gecko) I use by default with liferea.

Speaking of problems with bloggy web pages, one of the reasons I no longer use planet to read aggregates myself any more happened on ploa again yesterday. Michael Ellerman posted something which included text with tags not properly closed. When this is collected with lots of other posts all the posts below it in the page have a smaller text size. It would be a good idea if planet parsed the posts it includes to see if there are some of the common opening tags with no closing tag, such as bold, italic, font size, etc. No idea how much more that would complicate the planet code to include html parsing capability.

Of course one extremely hacky way to make that look cleaner that comes to mind is for planet to enclose each entry in a table cell, most browsers appear to close font and bold and italic state when table cells end. There may be a way to deuglyfy this stuff in css, after all the rest of Michael Ellerman's blog page is not affected in the same way as ploa.

[/comp/blosxom] link

Mon, 25 Jul 2005

Monday night inner tube blogging. - 22:19

Fixed tubes (full size)
I guess one of the things that can get on your nerves from time time is fixing inner tubes. Sure you can get 5 tubes (road or mtb) for AUD $20 from Kerry so it almost seems not worth the time to fix them. However unless they are trashed beyond repair I feel wasteful if I do not reuse inner tubes to death.

The photo is of 5 of them, post repair I fixed them up on Friday, left them in my office over the weekend and they were all still inflated them. Good to go. Now if only I can get rid of this cold and get back out on the bike I will be much happier.

I suppose I would be much happier also if I did not have three mtb tyres in the shed with huge holes from sidewall failures or sticks lancing through the tread that has made them useless while there is still a lot of tread left on the tyre, ahh well time to buy more tyres I guess, at least the tubes were easily recovered, and I can try sewing up the tyres with sidewall failures and see how they hold up too.

[/mtb] link

Faster exif - 21:57
So I notice Michael is trying to use ImageMagick to extract exif tags and he finds it kind of slow. Strange that, using perl and yet forking processes to learn stuff turns out to be slow. So I had a look through apt-cache search exif perl output and found the libimage-exif-perl library, not native perl, there is c code there to make it go faster, based on the exiftags utility. This is likely however to be a lot faster than forking a process and relying on the implementation in ImageMagick being fast.

I installed the library, had a look around for a photo I was unlikely to have modified at all (and thus would still have all its tags) and found my 2004 Triple Tri photos. Using the following snippet of perl code.

time perl -e 'use Image::EXIF; use Data::Dumper; my $exif = new Image::EXIF \
("img_0869.jpg"); my $all_info = $exif->get_all_info(); print $exif->error ? \
$exif->errstr : Dumper($all_info);'

I get the following output.

$VAR1 = {
          'unknown' => {
                         'Min Focal Length' => 'num 24, val 0x00AD',
                         'Focal Units/mm' => 'num 25, val 0x0020',
                         'Manufacturer Notes' => '942',
                         'Canon Tag1 Unknown' => 'num 06, val 0x0000',
                         'Interoperability IFD Pointer' => '1540',
                         'Comment' => '614',
                         'Canon Tag4 Unknown' => 'num 01, val 0x0000',
                         'Canon Unknown' => '1448',
                         'Flash Activity' => 'num 28, val 0x0000',
                         'Max Focal Length' => 'num 23, val 0x0207',
                         'Autofocus Point' => 'num 14, val 0x0000',
                         'Canon Tag4 Offset' => '1224',
                         'Supported FlashPix Version' => '808464688',
                         'Flash Details' => 'num 29, val 0x0000',
                         'Unknown' => '1600',
                         'Canon Tag1 Offset' => '1116'
          'other' => {
                       'Vertical Resolution' => '180 dpi',
                       'Canon Tag1 Length' => '92',
                       'White Balance' => 'Auto',
                       'Exif Version' => '2.20',
                       'Resolution Unit' => 'i',
                       'Focal Plane Res Unit' => 'i',
                       'Image Digitized' => '2004:11:20 17:58:35',
                       'Canon Tag4 Length' => '68',
                       'Shutter Speed' => '1/807 sec',
                       'Focal Plane Vert Resolution' => '7741 dpi',
                       'Image Generated' => '2004:11:20 17:58:35',
                       'Bytes of JPEG Data' => '5141',
                       'Metering Mode' => 'Pattern',
                       'Chrominance Comp Positioning' => 'Centered',
                       'Compression Scheme' => 'JPEG Compression (Thumbnail)',
                       'Horizontal Resolution' => '180 dpi',
                       'Image Type' => 'IMG:PowerShot A60 JPEG',
                       'Digital Zoom Ratio' => '1',
                       'Offset to JPEG SOI' => '2036',
                       'Image Compression Mode' => '3',
                       'Digital Zoom' => 'None',
                       'Sequence Number' => '0',
                       'Focal Plane Horiz Resolution' => '7766 dpi',
                       'Flash Bias' => '0 EV',
                       'Base Zoom Resolution' => '1600',
                       'Meaning of Each Comp' => 'Unknown',
                       'Self-Timer Length' => '0 sec',
                       'Zoomed Resolution' => '1600',
                       'File Source' => 'Digital Still Camera',
                       'Owner Name' => '',
                       'Exif IFD Pointer' => '196'
          'camera' => {
                        'Firmware Version' => 'Firmware Version 1.00',
                        'Camera Model' => 'Canon PowerShot A60',
                        'Equipment Make' => 'Canon',
                        'Lens Size' => '5.41 - 16.22 mm',
                        'Maximum Lens Aperture' => 'f/2.8',
                        'Sensing Method' => 'One-Chip Color Area'
          'image' => {
                       'Vertical Resolution' => '180 dpi',
                       'White Balance' => 'Auto',
                       'Contrast' => 'Normal',
                       'Rendering' => 'Normal',
                       'Compression Setting' => 'Fine',
                       'Image Height' => '1200',
                       'Image Orientation' => 'Top, Left-Hand',
                       'Color Space Information' => 'sRGB',
                       'Macro Mode' => 'Normal',
                       'Focus Mode' => 'Single',
                       'Exposure Mode' => 'Easy Shooting',
                       'Exposure Time' => '1/800 sec',
                       'F-Number' => 'f/2.8',
                       'ISO Speed Rating' => 'Auto',
                       'Image Width' => '1600',
                       'Scene Capture Type' => 'Standard',
                       'Image Size' => 'Large',
                       'Drive Mode' => 'Single',
                       'Lens Aperture' => 'f/2.8',
                       'Sharpness' => 'Normal',
                       'Metering Mode' => 'Evaluative',
                       'Horizontal Resolution' => '180 dpi',
                       'Shooting Mode' => 'Full Auto',
                       'Image Number' => '108-0869',
                       'Saturation' => 'Normal',
                       'Flash' => 'No Flash, Auto',
                       'Image Created' => '2004:11:20 17:58:35',
                       'Focus Type' => 'Auto',
                       'Flash Mode' => 'Red-Eye Reduction (Auto)',
                       'Focal Length' => '5.41 mm',
                       'Exposure Bias' => '0 EV',
                       'Subject Distance' => '2.720 m'

real    0m0.068s
user    0m0.034s
sys     0m0.002s

All this, including the time to load the libraries (Data::Dumper and Image::EXIF), the perl interpreter, the image file from disk. Executing on my 1.4 GHz laptop. Admittedly that was the second time I ran the code snippet, though I used a different image filename, so the libraries and interpreter were likely already hot in memory, it may blow out to all of 0.1 of a second if it has to do all that.

Use native perl and available libraries to make things fast, it makes a lot of sense. It seems I often think of the perl bridge building quote in this sort of situation. Of course it kind of sucks if you are trying to write a book about using ImageMagick and find you have to use other tools because it is not as fast as you want or something.

I notice Brad (the guy who started livejournal) often gets heavily into making perl go fast, worth reading sometimes just to make you think about what he is doing.

[/comp/software] link

Thu, 21 Jul 2005

It was so cold the Froze Hose. - 13:24
After returning home from my mtb ride through Majura this morning I was discussing how it was a tad chilly outside this morning between 5:45am and 8:30am with one of my house mates. She piped up that it looked cold and that the other morning it had been so cold outside the Froze Hose. I know I should not make fun of it but it had us both laughing at the accidental word flipping and I felt the need to share it with the world.

Anyway it was indeed cold, this is some of the weather I really love riding a mountain bike in through winter. The ground (especially with the recent moisture from the rain) has lots of gravelly sections where you hear the ground crunching beneath your tyres. I remarked fondly of this sort of thing in response to Alli hearing it beneath her feet while walking in Finland. The sound of the crunchy ground below your tyres really is a cool thing, just one more thing that keeps the fun level up there when riding through winter in the -3 or lower temperatures each morning.

With the recent rain there is a bit of water still around the place at Majura, this has made the ground fairly tacky which really is a joy to ride, you can corner well and have a lot of fun riding around, so much fun I think the Friday morning ride will head back over to Majura tomorrow.

[/mtb] link

Wed, 20 Jul 2005

Andrew it too leet to use a small browser window - 15:04
Actually Mikal I believe people have noticed problems with the css in Andrew's diary in the past.

Below is an email discussion I had with someone last week.

On Wed, Jul 13, 2005 at 09:43:05PM +1000, Some Person wrote:
> Does Andrew Pollock's blog break for you? I can't read it because the
> calendar breaks out of the left column and overwrites the right
> column. I can't see all of the left column (it stops half way through
> your name) and it doesn't scroll because it floats in an absolute
> position.
> I've tried firefox, my default browser and it's horrible. It's very
> slightly better in Konqueror and I admit I haven't tried lynx.
> Okay, I'm on a 15" CRT at home and I haven't used it on the 19 or the
> 30 inch LCD at work... but still...

On my monitor at work (1280x1024) it looks fine as the calendar is within
the floating left side margin area.

However on my laptop the calendar does indeed float over the text of posts
and make it harder to read, also the bottom of the floating bar is cut off a
bit. My laptop is 1024x768 though I have the browser windows a little
thinner than 1024.

> Do you see it cleanly?

See above

I pointed this out to Andrew about three months ago, he did not seem to care
much either way.

I admit I tend to read most of it in feeds anyway, I generally only load the
website up when I am referring to a post he made in one of my own.

> Anyway, good to see the guys blogging their trip to USAnia. I wish them well.

Indeed, though they still have not blogged a photo of an exotic US milk
carton, bastards...

        See You

Of course what Andrew really needs right now is a bunch of idiot geeks applying pressure for him to waste time he probably does not have spare in order to fix something like this.

And yes Mikal you can not really comment with out a black kettle situation arising, after all your entries tend to spread out over/under your google ads and other such annoying things.

[/comp/blosxom] link

Tue, 19 Jul 2005

Microcosm's all over Australia - 21:02
Leon should not be particularly surprised to find many varied and different never seen elsewhere flora around Perth. Tim Flannery points out in his book The Future Eaters and in other forum that Australia has a rather incredible makeup with respect to the number and diversity of species. A whole bunch of factors contribute to this, and I recall reading in The Future Eaters that parts of South West WA were renowned for areas of scrub land where there are unique flora that only exist in areas of a few square KM and no where else in the world.

[/various] link

Neil Gaiman Live - 20:21
Tonight I attended the Neil Gaiman lecture in MCCT1 at ANU. I found out about it from his Journal as part of his current world tour (this being the Australian Leg) promoting Mirrormask and Anansi Boys.

I took along some of my Sandman books and my copy of Neverwhere for the signing, however in the end decided not to wait around (there were around 400 people in he theatre for the event and most of them subsequently lined up for the signing). Right now I am a few hundred metres away back in my office as there is a bit left to get finished at work just now.

As for the lecture, Neil is a fantastic sort of guy I reckon. One of my favourite writers, and this being the first time I have seen him speak I am happy to say he comes across well in real life. He opened by playing the Mirrormask trailer and then some other Mirrormask items. The movie looks like it will be a good watch. Apparently Sony has not committed to a release in Australia, if you want to see it here you may want to write a letter to Sony. Of course when it is release it may be enough to simply buy the DVD from Amazon or similar. Some of the questions the audience members asked were also pretty good, I at least not not feel too embarrassed by my co inhabitants here in Canberra.

Rock on Neil.

[/leisure/books] link

Tuesday afternoon Milk Carton blogging - 14:32

Magnetic cow (full size)
This may not look much like a milk carton to the untrained eye. (or for that mater to the trained eye) I suppose anyone suggesting that this is not in fact a milk carton may have some semblance of accuracy on their side. Okay I admit this is a photo of a soft toy cow with magnetic feet.

However it is a cow, think about, the cow is the raison d'etre for the milk carton, without cows there might now even be milk cartons. Oh sure I hear you speak of Goats milk, soy milk and coconut milk and all manner of strange alternatives. However with out the ingrained connection with cows milk that exists in our society we may in fact have ended up with some alternative packaging. (forgetting for a moment that blame for the Tetra Pak (along with Safety Match, Ball Bearing and Dynamite (reference)) can be placed on the heads of the Swedes)

The cow with the magnetic feet pictured was acquired in the Udder Cow Cafe in Comboyne before the 2005 Polaris Challenge in March. Really what better item is there to brighten your office if you are unable to keep a milk carton handy, but a cow with magnetic feet.

[/various/milkcarton] link

Mon, 18 Jul 2005

No milk carton blogging, what a waste of a trip to Americania - 17:51
Andrew and Mikal are both back from their trip to Americania. I ask you what was the point, as far as I can tell neither of them did any Exotic Milk Carton Blogging while there. Though Mikal it appears is too busy writing image web publishing code for a chapter of his book or something, using the images from his trip to put them online for the big bad Internet to see.

Though all around the world there are people feeling let down by this turn of events, there may be light at the end of the tunnel. The annual OzLabs migration to Ottawa each winter has happened, there are a whole bunch of geeks with digital cameras over there right now that could get with the program and blog their Milk Cartons. Chris, Hugh, etc, you know you want to.

[/various] link

Fri, 15 Jul 2005

Lack of easily available flavours and efficiency - 22:57
Being you common all garden average Linux geek I have all the design capabilities of a brick. This well explains the look and feel of my diary and other sites I put online. Sometimes functional, never pretty. Thus I was quite disappointed when I went hunting a few times for pretty blosxom flavours with css and all the other stuff ready to go looking swish. There really do not appear to be many places to get hold of a wide variety of pre packaged blosxom flavours to look good. There are a fairly large number of flavours to add functionality, such as rss2 and other things, but that is quite different.

Thus when I was setting up WordPress on Calyx for Aaron this afternoon I was really quite impressed at the huge number of different WordPress Themes that are available. For Aaron I chose Ocadia but there really are a lot out there.

The other thing I suspect I will notice with this setup is it will be more efficient than blosxom. Mikal has run into issues trying to run blosxom dynamically, I could well have similar problems as the number of posts here increases. Blosxom is good for the small size and plugin architecture, however it does not run in a particularly effective manner, especially when you have huge numbers of posts, which it looks at in some manner every time it runs.

So long as Aaron does not get hit with loads of comment spam or similar the WordPress setup there will likely not use much resources on the server, partly due to the database back end of course, however I suspect using the php (effectively like using mod_perl with out need to open many files on disk due to the db) will help a lot also.

I keep thinking sing the new Inotify patches RML and others have been getting into the kernel is mighty tempting to make a blosxom style engine more efficient, though that would negate the simplicity and portability somewhat.

[/comp/blosxom] link

Thu, 14 Jul 2005

Boring stages - 22:40
The tour stages on tv live right now is supposedly a mountain stage. Liars, look at the stage profile, there is not even a single Cat 1 climb, nothing harder than a Cat 2 climb. Geez the sprinters are on the front of the peloton with their teams chasing down a break away, obviously the sprinters have a chance of winning the stage today.

Any stage sprinters can win is going to be boring to watch live I reckon. So sure there are a few Australians who sprint well, who cares, I don't. Just because Australians may do well is not a good enough reason to make a stage worth watching unless you have excessive amounts of spare time.

This was a problem with the live coverage last year, 3 of the 5 stages they showed live were sprint stages, SBS probably thinking the Australians doing well in the stage would encourage an audience. How much more wrong can they be, real Mountain Stages are where its at. Fortunately with the live coverage of the entire Tour this year we can tape and watch the mountain stages and the time trial stages and simply watch the highlights package for the rest of the stages.

[/mtb] link

Doing battle with the arch rival of the day - 21:52
As I had missed out on a ride this morning (for some reason my phone's clock was an hour out, thus my alarm woke me an hour late) I felt the need for a bit of a ride this afternoon. My enemy of choice for the day was Mt Stromlo (satellite image) (wikipedia). This is a climb I enjoy doing, it suits me quite well, and I am able to compare times with past efforts.

Today, starting from work and arriving back to work, riding the road bike, was 1 hour 10 minutes, distance 36.14 KM, average 30.9 KMh with a 59.4 KMh max. So 2 minutes slower than last December, and 2 minutes faster than on the mtb in January for the same ride. However I really did not feel too fast, mirrored by my performance climbing Stromlo on Sunday just past.

On Sunday I was unable to hold my speed above 20 KMh for the entire ascent, dropping to 18 or 19 KMh quite often. Today was worse, I was unable to get my speed over 18 KMh for the first half of the ascent. I kept the top half at 20 but not much over that. The total time for the climb was still around 12 minutes, which is an interesting thing, all three of the larger oft ridden road climbs in Canberra (Black Mountain, Mt Ainslie and Mt Stromlo) take me approximately 12 minutes at a hard pace even though they are all very different styles of climbs.

I think this lack of uphill speed helps show my form is indeed a fair bit lower than it was back over summer, which I guess mirrors most of my friends in that our form is better in Summer due to increased hours riding.

[/mtb] link

Tue, 12 Jul 2005

The thin white line - 22:53
While my mother is over seas (Europe and the US) for 6 weeks I have to go out and water plants and check mail and such a bit. She lives in Gunghalin, an 11 KM ride from my place. So I hopped on my road bike at 20:40 tonight to head out there. All was fine until I was almost there and my light battery ran out of juice.

I should not have been surprised, it was one of my oldest batteries (a vistalite 2.2 Amp hour stick from early 2002) and I had already used it for about one hour this morning on the 5 w bar light. When the sticks are new they tend to last about 2.5 hours on one stick on a 5 w lamp. Ahh well tough luck to me, I should have swapped sticks before heading out or put another stick in the other battery holder next to the bidon.

Anyway this reduced my ride home to having only a single led key ring flasher mounted on the handle bars for forward lighting. Though some roadies appear to believe that is sufficient front lighting I don't. I hopped onto the bike paths for the entire ride home. At times on the ride home I was most thankful for the white line painted down the middle of the bike path, that line was pretty much the only visible hint as to where the bike path was.

The issues surrounding bike path location, whether bike lanes on the edge of roads or located elsewhere came to mind again during the ride home. On the whole I far prefer to use bike paths when I can rather than roads. The roads where there are bike lanes along the edge may raise the awareness of car drivers somewhat, however in my opinion they are not safe. Cycling anywhere in the vicinity of cars is not safe, however when one is in a hurry the road's usually follow the most direct route between two points. What I was reminded of on the ride home is roads will usually follow a much less undulating route also. If you are in a hurry hills slow you down.

[/mtb] link 2006 Call For Presentations is open - 22:48
Partay! The CFP for lca2006 is now open. After reading that announcement email go and submit a really cool abstract.

[/lca] link

Environmental Controls in the Car - 18:16
I sort of know Stuart's pain, in Summer (yes in Canberra, I admit I am soft when it comes to warm weather) I have been known to think rather seriously about going for a drive somewhere for an hour or two simply so I can bask in the air conditioning available in my car. So far my dislike of using the car has overcome the urge every time, though I have stayed at work longer or chosen to do more work on a weekend a few times in summer to get into the air conditioning.

[/various] link

Join in the flight of the puerile cake shop humour and avoid the coffee bags - 17:37
There is a shopping centre in the Canberra suburb of Dickson, at those shops is a cake shop named, appropriately, Dickson Cakes. Apparently my father was known to find that amusing, it is good to see that the cake shop is still there to entertain us some 20 or so years later.

It appears Andrew and Michael have yet to join the latest Milk Carton blogging revolution. They do not really even have an excuse do they? On a plane for 14 hours, Andrew having not slept for 48 Hours, possibly staying in a hotel with crap Internet connectivity. Pish, they had lots of options. The first one that comes to mind is hijacking the plane, forcing it to redirect to Singapore (brilliant Internet connectivity in that airport) and taking a photograph of exotic Asian milk cartons in Singapore. I am sure there are other milk cartons they could have photographed along the way.

Speaking (sort of) of things to consume with milk, there was a promotional Robert Timms coffee bag delivered among the junk mail over the weekend, I bought it to work with me today and am sampling the product. (yeah I drink my coffee white, no sugar) My recommendation, avoid coffee bags. This is far too similar to instant, which is strange as I would think a single cup drip filter as I use often at work would do a similar job, who knows maybe it is the coffee.

Still speaking of things to consume with milk, while eating my vita brits this morning I was for some strange reason thinking up some epic tale of adventure, horror, woe and vita brits. The problem is I now can no longer remember any part of it, I was going to tell it to Jane and now my mind is blank as to this epic vita brits story, ahh well back to boring and mundane breakfasts with only a bowl a spoon and some vita brits rather than a sword, a fork lift, a mystical orb and a breakfast cereal. On the subject of vita brits, I sort of decided to switch to them from weetbix a few years ago for two main reasons, Sanitariaum add sugar to weetbix, vita brits dont, as a Diabetic (and possibly a bit of a health nut) I prefer an option with more complex and natural sort of carbs. The other big reason was Weet Bix is owned by Sanitarium a religious nutcase organisation, Vita Brits is owned by Uncle Tobys, still a company but not a bunch of raving lunatics at least.

On the subject of things you probably do not want to consume with milk, Fish. (unless you have some sort of fish milkshake fetish, which really would be worse than Raiders Lime (I guess we just have to hope that Cronulla never wins the premiership, Shark Milk, yay. (though, as I do not pay any attention to football of any sort, I really have no idea whether they have ever won or anything)))

[/various] link

Mon, 11 Jul 2005

Don't whine about Debian, if you care, fix it. - 16:33
Again on p.d.n this morning I saw a post from David Nusinow, in semi rant mode suggesting anyone who whines about Debian should instead fix stuff. I wholeheartedly agree, if you want something fixed in Debian you can pretty much always get involved in some manner and get it fixed. Okay so sure it may take some effort to change such things as the entire release process or repository layout (ask AJ about the amount of work involved in that sort of thing I guess), however the point stands you can get involved and get stuff fixed.

Some of the comments to David's post suggest the NM holdups are the reason not many people stick around and help. I personally disagree with that, if you feel the need to be classified as a Debian developer to do useful work on Debian. I would look at that as some strange need for status or a dick swinging d.o email address for no apparent reason. At least from the perspective of doing useful work. If you want to create packages of software you use or need it is not particularly difficult to find a maintainer to look over them and officially upload them and all that. On the other hand if you want to do other things to help Debian there is a whole lot that can help with out need for maintainer status.

The biggest gripe a lot of people appear to have is how slow the release process is, there are ways to help with this, the biggest I would suggest is to attempt bug fixes and monitoring or better yet with the aim of assisting release readiness the release critical bugs page. If you see something you want to help on, or even if you are not sure, look though some bugs, see if you can duplicate them, work out a solution and provide a fix to the bug if you can. Anyone anywhere can help out with bugs or make an effort to fix things. Doing real helpful work if you care enough is oh so much better than sitting around on Debian Devel whining or arguing about stuff.

I am not really the best person to comment here as I am generally extremely happy with Debian, do not generally do much work toward bug fixes of random software (ie stuff I do not use), however I do not find there is much to complain about with Debian either.

[/comp/linux] link

Chinese extreme sport: Pushing the man strollers, or start a milk meme - 13:21
I noticed on p.d.n this morning that Alexander Schmehl appeared to think it a little strange that the first photo he took in Helsinki was of a milk carton. I personally do not see it as such a bad thing, heck he could get a meme going.

DCS Milk (full size)

So I took a photo of the department milk sitting on the stove top in the tearoom at work to help him along on his path to world domination via his new blog meme. I do not however get points for milk in an exotic location. Maybe someone else could, like the world travelling gnomes, maybe photos of milk cartons from the top of Mont Blanc, or while scuba diving in the Barrier Reef, or given the month get some photos of riders in the Tour with milk cartons. Mikal and Andrew should at least get the travelling milk carton photo thing going while they are in the US this week, heck Mikal even has a new camera he intends to stalk^W take lots of photos with.

A Metafilter post mentioning the recent successful skateboard jump over the Great Wall of China had an interesting item of information. I have not bothered researching to learn if this is accurate, however it appears China has a Minister for Extreme Sports. Neat, I am sure they have all the regular boring Ministers for Defence and Employment and whatever else, but in amongst them is a Minister for Extreme Sports, not just the Minister for Sport. I have no idea how effective it would be but would it be cool to have someone with dreadlocks skateboarding through the new parliament house to a cabinet meeting with Howard and his cronies. A minister who takes the weekend off to go snowboarding throughout winter and all manner of other fun things. So sure I am sort of applying a stereotype here with the dreads and the board riding, and yeah I know Ministers often do not have actual experience participating in the practices their department covers, but what the hey.

Hopefully the Minister for Extreme Sport will not be needed to preside over Lori's latest idea. Noticing that Pasi (like most blokes) did not enjoy shopping, and found it tiring and mind numbing (compared to say 3 ice hockey games a week or long mountain bike rides or whatever, which do not tire the guys out much at all) and yet feeling there is a need for some input from her boyfriend during shopping expeditions occasionally Lori thought up the idea of a Man Stroller.

One of the most important aspects of this idea of course (and the reason it should not need to be presided over by an extreme sports minister) is that the woman is in control of the stroller, the stroller is not motorised or controlled by the guy. The obvious reasoning is to avoid the stroller becoming another dick swinging contest, a V8 powered stroller that can do 0 to 60 in 5 seconds is not a useful addition to the shopping malls of the world. As Lori suggests, the guy can stay entertained by the dvds and beer and glance up for the occasional reassurance about clothes not making their partner look fat and all that. I do not know if it would work for me, I do not go in for TV much, or beer, however a laptop and a wireless connection, so umm okay if that were available it may just work....

[/various] link

Fri, 08 Jul 2005

Just when you were getting ready to ignore the place... - 15:08
When I saw mention late Wednesday night of the location of the 2012 Olympics being announced, my thoughts were running along the lines of, well that gives me just another reason to ignore London for some time in 2012. I was living in Sydney during the Olympics in 2000, I did not go to any events, heck for one week during the Olympics I was in Perisher, skiing.

I have to once more admit, I only watch sports that I do myself, or am keen to do. Cycling (all disciplines), most winter Olympics disciplines (especially skiing, both XC and DH), Adventure races (even with the pathetic races and coverage that does get aired anywhere currently). In the Summer Olympics I may watch the road race or mtb on tv (though getting tickets to attend the mtb live was difficult in Sydney as that event sold out first). Thus when the announcement was made my reaction pretty much mirrored that of Giblets on fafblog, "Now Giblets gets to ignore the Olympics in England!".

Of course just as I was gearing up and getting ready to ignore London some more 7 years from now, some shit happened. Though it is a little annoying that there really is no way to ignore this currently. Sure it is a tragedy and all that, however I fear the media is herding us all too far into the US culture of fear.

This morning I was talking about this with an mtb friend who is a clinical psychologist, he mentioned, when he and his wife were living in Canada back around 1994 they were visited by an American friend, who when some minor mildly terrorist related incident occurred, she sat glued to the 24/7 tv coverage on the US TV stations for the duration of her stay in a state of mild panic, while the coverage itself was mostly pointless. Items like interviewers talking to other interviewers with no new information or anything of importance going on, constantly pushing their message of fear further into the psyche of the viewing public.

This has not changed much, it has probably worsened since 1994, and it is spreading far beyond the US. Last night all 5 free to air stations spent a lot of time covering the same stuff, heck two of the channels were simply broadcasting the CNN coverage. Even with no new information they continually reiterated what they knew and tried to present other angles on the information we all by now knew.

We can be thankful for the Internet, if you do not want to you are able to avoid having excessive amounts of crap forced upon you, this is quite probably more evidence of the future of entertainment, being able to chose what you want to interact with and not having it pushed at you. You can find out a lot of information about the situation in London online, or you can ignore it.

[/various] link

Wed, 06 Jul 2005

Creepy crawlies at NLA - 11:44
I suspect at least someone was listening to Mikal (or put some more thought into the problem) over at the National Library archive. A quick glance through logs for starting in September 2000, the first occurrence of "" in the logs is June 16 2005.

Since that first hit I have had 1715 hits from the crawler, downloading everything from ride photos, race reports, results, diary entries and many other things sitting around in the various subdirectories linked on Someone may have noticed the owner of resides in Australia, it is far more effective than crawling any of my domains ending in .au as I don't use them currently.

[/comp/internet] link

Tue, 05 Jul 2005

Helooooo Clayton, or them shrooooom and chicken rolls on the path to world domination - 21:21
We all know how common mushroom and chicken sausages are, in reality they are coming out our ears, like when magicians pull a coin out the ear of some unsuspecting audience member. However in this case and on so many other occasions in the modern world the object being removed from ones ear is a mushroom and chicken sausage. Due to this frequency I was completely unsurprised last Friday to find the campus bakery had mushroom and chicken sausage rolls for sale, they have to use all the extras somewhere, otherwise all those poor magicians would be out of a job.

If you manage to escape the mushroom and chicken sausage avalanches you may fancy some fish, or at least to go fishing, if of course you do not enjoy fishing you may hope to catch a cat fish the size of a grizzly bear which means you only need to go fishing, say about once a decade. Big fish are no longer as active or popular as they were in the late 90s but who knows there may be frozen fish milkshake on which to suck before you ever thought to maintain a diary.

Peter Harvey^W^W Rodana Mykynzy^W^W Steven Hanley, Canberra

[/various] link

Mon, 04 Jul 2005

The beetle town and pgo - 20:15
Mikal seems to be wondering what is up with Sydney and the Mini S Cooper, he probably has not noticed that Canberra appears to be the VW Beetle capital of the world, Stewart, Pia and Bob's daughter Gemima all appear to have noticed that every second car in Canberra is a Bug.

Andrew likes the new p.l.o.a theme, suggesting it is the best he has seen. I would like to point out it is almost identical to the p.g.o theme put in place about two months ago that, at the time, got a lot of positive comments. I suspect MRD created this with suggestions/hints from that theme anyway. I have noticed one problem with the new theme, my previous post, viewing it on my 1024x768 laptop screen, with the image and tables has been made even thinner, as the text does not flow across the table columns, the text being so thin means it goes a lot further down the page, sort of like writing for Suck I guess.

[/various] link

Lilac Camouflage - 13:52

One hell cool helmet (full size)
No I have not broken another helmet, however I saw this one and had to have it. A cheap helmet that fits me well, and whats more it is sort of like Lilac Camo. Helmets hardly get much better. I am happy to say the fit really is good, I wore it riding yesterday for a few hours and the helmet does not rock forward and back at all and sits on my head nicely. I sort of miss the adjustable peak of the Giro E2, but hey I can wear the E2 any time I want still so it is not that bad.

And as for my predilection for different colours and stuff for my bikes this helmet is brilliant. I think it works much better than various other efforts in pink camo too. Isn't this great, the next time I go riding through a field of slightly off colour flamingos, absolutely no one will be able to see me from above.

[/mtb/gear] link

Thu, 30 Jun 2005

Please take the crack pipe away from those parents - 19:49
On p.l.o.a today I saw a mention of this Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing site. Some woman takes on the task of providing some critique of the baby names some people on an online baby name forum come up with in their interests of uniqueness or some other half arsed ideas.

I agree wholeheartedly with anyone who says this site is funny, it truly is an amusing read, I am sure Mum and Jane will get a kick out of it, Mum because she so often pointed out these similar sort of crimes against children she had seen in her years as a teacher, and Jane so as to have more ammo to use when trying to get a rise out of mother, oh and because the snarkiness present in the comments on this site is damn good.

Oh and speaking of Babies, is anyone painting their house any time soon? <g>

[/amusing] link

Wed, 29 Jun 2005

Food Intolerance - 17:06
I tend to get my bread from Brumbys bakery every week, when I go and buy 2 loaves once a week I usually buy another small item or two. So I was eating one of these during lunch after my run today and I notice the paper bag had this big claim about all bread from Brumbys containing no preservative 282. Wondering what this was on about I went googling.

The most informative site on this an a lot of other food intolerance issues appears to be Fed Up With Food Additives (though to some extent it could also be seen as a marketing vehicle for Sue Dengate's books). This has opened my eyes to a large extent to the fact I, and many others should give a lot more thought to what is in the food we eat.

So yeah I started writing this post yesterday evening (when it was dated), it is now about 7:30pm on Thursday night, I am still at work, the rain is pouring rather heavily outside, I should be at home building up my road bike again, however I have yet to build up the want to get my clothes soaked so may as well finish writing this.

Searching google for food preservative information or food intolerance can show up a fair amount more information so I will not discount this site out of hand as a marketing vehicle for Sue Dengate's work and can accept it is probably mostly true and accurate. It does become scary to think how many different seemingly minimal things could cause problems with your own health or the health of your children. Though there is another side in that you do not want to jump at shadows, even using the elimination diet I am sure it can take a lot of time and effort to track down any problems simply sue to the variation in diet most of us go through on a regular basis.

I may read a copy of the Fed Up with Asthma book at least and see what it has to say, I have some asthmatic and phlegm problems, mostly related to doing a lot of exercise, however this does become tedious considering I have an exercise induced cough and phlegm, often when not exercising too, that has not gone away for a number of years. Anything I can read and try out to see if it helps is probably worth the effort.

This post was going to be a lot longer last night when I started writing it, however I had to go to a meeting and did not get time to write more until now, ahh well blog apathy can happen any time.

[/leisure/food] link

Tue, 28 Jun 2005

Why the song? - 18:48
I have no real idea why I continually choose a specific song when talking about equipment failures on my bikes, I do not even know if I have ever heard this song, I know nothing more of it except for the title. Heck when actually thinking about the equipment failure I usually sing Queen's "Another one bites the dust" song in my head as I have heard that song, know some lyrics and actually like the song and the artist. All I can really think in relation to the strange title choice in email or blog post I guess is, Oops I did it again.

[/various] link

Nowhere to hide - 13:43
Okay so this post is about running rather than cycling, however I feel I can stick it in this category as it is all with the goal toward riding better. Over the past year I have headed out for a run, about 40 minutes, maybe once a fortnight, or less some months when I got busy. Basically not much running at all, and it always hurt so I did not get keen enough to do more.

For years now Paul Mason and others have been pointing out to me that when they run a fair amount they pretty much find themselves unable to keep much weight on. The point being that running does indeed appear to be a fantastic sport/activity for weight loss. This can probably be easily seen when you look at people like Paul, Dave Baldwin (on the right), and other friends who run a lot.

In my case I have not lost any weight in the last three years, early 2002 I lost about 8-10 kilos when I started cycling more than once a week again (by more I mean 7 to 10 times most weeks now or around 20 hours on the bike most weeks). Sure I could focus on diet and do more targeted training and I may find myself losing weight, however I worry about messing with my diet too much due to my insulin dependant diabetes, and though I may do some more targeted training soon, however a large part of why I ride my bike so much is I love doing it, I worry that if I try doing targeted training more (and thus by myself more) I may not enjoy it as much, I can but try it out though.

The idea with running of course is to lose some weight and increase my pain threshold and ability to handle a hard workout more. So I decided to increase my running from the occasional run to doing three one hour runs every week. Starting last Monday I have been doing this alright, well alright if you count being very sore all last week. Dave said the run I did last Monday and Wednesday, and again yesterday is about 9KM. The route, from work, up between the Botanic Gardens and CSIRO, up to the saddle between Black and Little Black, down around the back of Black Mountain to the lake and back into ANU. Or the reverse of that. On Friday last week I did a flat run, the Commonwealth Ave, Kings Ave two bridges loop from work, this only took me 50 minutes. Anyway the black saddle and lake shore thing took me approx an hour both times last week and again yesterday. I am however happy to report it hurt a lot less yesterday.

After finishing the run yesterday and now today, due to the complete lack of pain in my legs, and due to the fact I was not much particularly faster yesterday than Monday week ago, I can see from this or next week on I have to make myself go faster. If it is not hurting it could be argued I need to make it hurt more, otherwise what is the point of running? I have to admit, running is not a comfortable sport, for me at least. There really is no where to hide, on a bike I can coast, even climbing I can take it fairly easy. On foot there is no coasting, you have to keep running, walking really is a heck of a lot slower. I hope soon I will get to the point that I can do a run at a lower heart rate and breathing level (of course at that point I will indeed push myself more if I want a work out) so I will at least have an option of cruising to some extent. I am sure my current running pace is an easy cruise for Dave.

There is however the rather (In my opinion) relevant quote from Michael Carden to think about here too. "If god had meant for us to run we would not have been given bicycles", how true.

Anyway, I am going try this running three times/hours a week for the next few months and see if it helps me lose 8 or so kilos. If I can lose that much weight I really will be able to ride up hills a lot faster, assuming of course I can keep my riding power at a similar level.

[/mtb] link

O Cyclists, Where Art Thou? - 12:37
There were not particularly many cyclists out on the roads this morning. Tuesday through winter I do a shorter easier loop than the Cotter/Uriarra we do in Summer on Tuesday mornings. Over to Scrivner dam, up Red Hill, to the end of Mugga Way, across Kings Ave bridge through Russell Offices and up Mt Pleasant. Because this is a fairly easy ride I start a bit earlier than the others and do a climb of Black Mountain on my way over to Scrivner.

Most Tuesday's there will be maybe 4 or 5 of us from Scrivner onwards, I will see maybe 4 other people climbing Black Mountain at 6am or there about. The CCC have a group doing Red Hill repeats with many people joining in, usually we will see another 10 or 15 cyclists doing Red Hill repeats while we do one.

This morning, there was only one other person on the loop I did, there was nary another soul on Black Mountain anywhere, and no one on Red Hill either. Also, apparently the Southside bunch hour of power ride only had about 10 people rather than the normal 20 or 30 they get through winter. I begin to wonder where all the other cyclists were today? It was perfect weather for cycling, rather warm for this time of year, the roads were all dry, good visibility (no fog or similar). Maybe everyone became too attached to their doonas last week in all the rain (though there was only one morning I did not cycle last week due to weather so who knows)

Morgs has a good excuse (a Tuesday regular) as he is in Canadia and then onto Switzerland and France for six weeks of Mountain biking and watching the Tour and stuff (yes everyone else here in Canberra is jealous as heck of the trip), I do not know what Crash's excuse is yet, he seemed ready and raring to go for this morning in email yesterday, as did Allan.

[/mtb] link

Oops I did it again - 11:18

Both seat stays (full size)

Left Stay (full size)

Right Stay (full size)
Maybe I should learn the lyrics to the song from this title, after all I seem to need the term fairly often. As you may notice from the photos to the left, I have broken another road frame. This time the Apollo steel frame I have been using since breaking the Lemond.

Since a wet ride with the Bilbys on Saturday two and half weeks ago my road bike had a creaking noise, I thought it may have been water induced so took out the seatpost and bottom bracket and regreased them both well. No improvement, slowly the noise has been getting worse. Finally today I thought it has to be the frame, lo and behold I was right. With my track record I guess I should have looked at the frame first.

Fortunately I have the Lemond frame back so I will be able to swap the parts onto that frame again and get this one fixed. I will not have time to do the swap over tonight as I have a dinner to attend, I guess I will be riding the steel hard tail with slicks on with the Bilbys road ride tomorrow morning, it will be interesting to see how much harder it is to keep up with the fast group.

[/mtb/gear] link

Mon, 27 Jun 2005

Hell On Wheels - 11:09
I went to a Bilbys club viewing of Hell On Wheels (or Hellentour) last night, around 90 of the club members rocked up to see this movie. For anyone who does not know, the movie is a documentary of the 2003 Tour de France based around the Telekom team (now T-Mobile), in particular the focus was on Eric Zabel and Rolf Aldag.

Many cycling people I know have lauded this movie as brilliant, I do not think I can go that far. It was good to watch, an enjoyable insight into the team and the tour. However I did not find it inspiring. I do not think they showed how hard the tour probably is, sure there were crashes and hard days, but they did not really show how much it must hurt to get through that event. Also as much as I loved some of the scenery they showed of France I do not think they really showed how incredible the tour really is. For me, sure it was a good watch, and I will probably tape it when it airs on SBS next week, but this is not something that inspires me to go out and ride or anything, I will simply have to use my own normal motivation to go do that.

Riding a bike is a heap of fun so I want to go do it because of that.

[/mtb] link

Sat, 25 Jun 2005

Strange breakage - 23:33
I changed the machine I am using as the gateway/firewall at home finally today. The old machine has been problematic for about two years, for some reason it would not cleanly boot up a more recent kernel, nor would it reboot cleanly, also it would sometimes panic when high memory use processes were running such as large rsyncs. It appeared it may have been a memory problem however after testing that it appeared it was something in the motherboard.

Anyway the new machine does not display the problem and is a fresh install of the new debian stable with the 2.6.8 kernel from that. This means I can finally do load balancing and priority for ssh and things like that on the gateway so bulk transfers will not make everything slow. (My flatmates all seem to be bittorrent or kazaa or whatever addicts)

When I first booted the box up and put in place I could ping machines the Big Bad Internet, however I was unable to make a tcp connection, tcpdump would see packets returning but they never seemed to get up to the application. This really had me stumped for a while, eventually I tried swapping the NIC hooked up to the ADSL modem with the NIC hooked up to the house LAN, to my surprise I found I was now unable to make tcp connections with machines in the house.

So it appears this NIC could process some packets such as ICMP, however did not fully process, or caused some other problem with TCP packets at least. I pulled the rather lovely DEC Tulip (one of two I purchased in 1999 because I wanted some real DEC Tulip cards before they ceased to exist) out of the old box and put it in in place of the card with the strange behaviour. Once the machine had booted with the Tulip everything worked perfectly.

The card with the strange behaviour is an older Tulip, a 21041 (10 MBit with a coax connector and cat5) rather than the 21141 now in there, both of them are using the de4x5 driver so it does not sound like a problem with the driver. Anyway, this is a really strange hardware problem.

[/comp/hardware] link

Fri, 24 Jun 2005

Region free in .au by law? - 11:40
I notice some discussion about purchasing Region free DVD players in .au. Michael and Mikal, AFAIR the reason you should not be surprised at finding DVD players purchased in Australia are region free is due to the Australian law on this.

From my recollection (I can not be bothered googling to see if I am smoking crack or if this is an accurate recollection) Australian law forbade region encoding. Most of the countries in the westernised world also forbade region encoding by law, only the US had (and probably still has) an allowance for this practice.

Originally he manufacturers made the DVD players for the US market and attempted to sell the region encoded players around the rest of the world. Eventually they realised they could not get away with that, for at least 5 or 6 years now almost all players sold in Australia were region encoding free. Now the amusing thing is the manufacturers to some extent got sick of it and now most DVD players being sold in the US are also not encumbered by region encoding.

There is one other unfortunate aspect here though, software, and hardware with that software, still often has region encoding issues, so Apple DVD drives, MacOSX, software on Windows to play DVD's etc, all of this stuff will often still be broken. Probably because it comes out of small minded US centric firms and in the case of software there is no production penalty or an easy legal penalty if produced in this damaged state.

[/leisure/screen] link

Thu, 23 Jun 2005

Hunting for the rose - 21:57
Mikal has from time to time mentioned he has a photo of a rose that people deep link to from all over the world, or have as their blog header image or something. The mikal rose photo is here, just so I can do the link thing to annoy him too. He has warned, just to mess with the minds of the millions of teenage girls linking to the photo, the image may change at some future date to a naked mikal photo, so be warned, just in case you feel the need to click on the link.

I wondered for a minute if other rose photos would be popular if say I put one online, I used to have a photo of a rose as a desktop background on my computer back in about 1996 so I think I have a photo somewhere. Then I decided there was no really good reason for me to put a photo of a rose online, I will simply have to live with the dope or marijuana leaf image from my old website. Of course I did not know when I first used that image that I should name the image file something descriptive (though the photo did predate google so maybe it was not quite so relevant back then). Anyway in order to correct that oversight I have copied the image twice and named it marijuana_leaf.gif, and dope_leaf.gif.

marijuana leaf
/ dope leaf

[/various] link

Wed, 22 Jun 2005

Linkeriffic - 23:10
It appears global housing prices are going to crash (from kottke) and cause one hell of a economic hell everywhere, Britain and Australia are already leading the world in the dip.

Someone on mtb-oz pointed out this word/etymology nazi (at smh) guy that should entertain however briefly.

This is the obvious ways to do teleconferences that don't suck, if we could all have the virtual room thing we really could split up offices more.

Dans Data had a link to this article explaining nuts and bolts, good read, and includes the amusing quote "a nut or bolt with six threads acts very much like an infinitely long nut or bolt (and it's a lot cheaper)". I had better cancel my order for those infinite length bolts, it is no the length that matters, it is the 6 threads... or something.

I do not remember where I first saw this list, but I recently saw it again on Metafilter, who does and who does not look good on HDTV, interesting to see who is on each list and some of the special mentions too. I am not particularly surprised Britney Spears can look far worse than most people suspect.

Strange, watching Wimbledon on tv just now, The Scud playing someone on centre court, the net just fell down, pretty bad place and time for an equipment failure.

I think this one was on kottke. If you ever listened to the Paul Simon song "50 ways to leave your lover" and wondered what the other 46 reasons are (he only mentions 4 in the song), here are some suggestions for the other 46 ways to leave your lover.

As a chocoholic I can understand the sort of euphoria Cory found with this "I have seen God in a cup of chocolate" post, mmmmmm chocolate.

If you ever wondered where best selling authors get their ideas, here is Neil Gaiman's take on his own Muse, as he points out though, anyone can get ideas, the follow through and writing them up into a novel or making some other work of art, there is the really hard part.

Maybe Jared Diamond has it wrong as to what makes a dominant society, at least if this is correct. "Apparently, creating a dominant cultural apparatus is simply a matter of alternately pleasing and punishing one's testicles." <g>

Almost enough links cleared from the to blog file for now, I just feel the need to leave you with this link explaining how light saber's work, amusing and cool all in one link.

[/various] link

Sun, 19 Jun 2005

Brilliant Batman Begins - 23:17
I am, as I have said in the past, a comics geek, thus I was looking forward a great deal to seeing Batman Begins (imdb link). What can I say, the movie was incredibly good, they have indeed rescued the Dark Knight on the big screen.

Even Katie Holmes did not annoy me too much, as for the rest of the cast, it was oh so very good. Lucius Fox actually comes to life in the way you expect Lucius of the comics to be (even if Morgan Freeman is a bit older then the character in the comics). Christian Bale plays a properly psychotic Batman and holds the focus of the movie well enough, though I saw the movie as a whole as a brilliant tribute to the comics in so many ways, more than simply a story about Batman around Christian Bale.

Hopefully Jane will not read this before she sees the movie on Tuesday night as this may give something away now that is not obvious, even on the IMDB cast list. I was impressed with how they did Ra's Al Ghul, the first moment I saw Liam Neeson in the prison room talking with Bruce I thought ahh this looks just like Ra's, thus when they soon suggested that Ra's was someone else and Liam Neeson was Ducard, I wondered why they had done the makeup and look as they had. I am glad to see the first impression was correct, definitely an incredibly good portrayal of Ra's by Liam, and different enough, and yet oh so much the same as the comics to keep me interested. Also they did not give away much of the back story behind Ra's as is available, such as the Immorality, this allows them to use Ra's to great effect in future films. I really hope they bring Tahlia in next time they use Ra's too.

Some of the changes to the back story were surprising, but they worked, such as the death of his parents was after leaving the opera rather than after seeing the movie "Zorro", however the reason for leaving the opera helped the back story for the movie well. Rather than choosing to go around the world looking for the best people in all disciplines to train with in order to be better they showed a different origin for Bruce's formidable skill, however once again this works. Though in the future they may still be able to develop more of the back story and show that he did have more training before the stuff in the temple, which would still work, after all he was able to handle himself very well in the prison prior to the temple training.

I could go on and on about this movie and how bloody awesome it is, however many would be more and more bored by my writing, especially those who have no idea what I have been rambling on about above. I strongly suggest you go see this brilliant film. By far the best comic book adaption I have seen in modern times this could become my favourite movie of the year.

[/leisure/screen] link

Fri, 17 Jun 2005

No WWS race this weekend for me - 19:40
So Penny and Rob have both come down with really bad Flu, having trouble getting out of bed, riding bikes through the illness would not be a good plan, thus the trip to Killingworth (Newcastle) for the next Working Week Series race is not going to be happening. I decided against heading up by myself to compete as a solo and will instead dedicate my weekend to riding here and other stuff I should do here. Also the cost becomes more prohibitive, petrol, entry, food, when solo, and my car is still in getting roo repairs so I would have had to pick it up from the smash repairers half way through the work.

Alas I still have not ridden at Killingworth, however I am sure there will be more chances to do this, such as MTB-OZ list rides or simply heading up there for a weekend and hanging out. Rob and Penny have never seen Newcastle so they seem keen on going there at least once.

I wonder what there is to do in Newcastle apart from riding at Killingworth?

[/mtb] link

I no longer have to kill for Moses - 19:05
As previously mentioned I would love to get hold of a copy of the Missy Higgins cover of Moses by Patty Griffin, I have cause to celebrate as I have now got a copy. Last night while googling around for more information on this track I discovered Triple J have recently released an album, Like A Version, that contains this song.

The recording is from the live recording Triple J did, that I heard on the radio a while ago, the album as a whole is pretty good too, a collection of artists and groups performing covers of songs they really like. I still have never actually heard the original version of the song Moses by Patty Griffin, however I have a Melissa Ferrick cover of it on Valentine Heartache, and though Melissa does this well, I adore the Missy cover.

For the first few hours I had the one song on repeat play, eventually I decided I should listen to the rest of the album. On the whole the album is pretty neat. Jebediah singing "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" is cool, Little Birdy with "These Boots Are Made For Walking" is fun, The Cat Empire doing "Hotel California" is interesting and definitely engaging. Though I have sort of become bored with listening to John Butler Trio in the last two years, their version of "Message In a Bottle" had me hooked somewhat. Clare Bowditch singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is incredibly similar to Jeff Buckley covering the song and comes out well.

[/leisure/music] link

Thu, 16 Jun 2005

Join the Smith club. - 13:54
It appears a lot of Linux people in Australia have been along to see the movie Mr & Mrs Smith (imdb link) since it opened here last Thursday. I may as well join the club and own up publicly to having seen it. I saw it at Belconnen last Friday night. On the whole I liked it quite a lot.

I had seen the short for the movie while at the cinema to see HGTTG (imdb link) a few weeks earlier, I thought it looked like it would be a really bad implementation of a mildly amusing premise, however I felt the need to see it possibly for the laugh value. Thus I went along with really low expectations, I think that helped, they actually made it better than the trailer suggested it could be, sure it is a modern Hollywood action thingy, but hey it was fun and not as cheesy as I was expecting (though it was still as completely over the top as I expected).

Sure, in my opinion Arnie (I am unable to think of Arnold Schwarzenegger when I hear someone utter that now days, when I here someone pronounce that I immediately think of Ani Difranco) and Jamie implemented the secret spy sort of life thing a whole lot better in True Lies than Brad and Angelina have here, but I was pleasantly surprised.

On the subject of movies, it has been a strange month for me, I tend to go the movies rarely, maybe two or three times a year. I spend most of my time out of work doing cycling related activities. In the last month I have been to see 3 movies, and I notice that Batman Begins (imdb link) opens today, which for me is another must see. I do not have time until next week, however it seems I can go see it with friends on Monday night so that works out fine.

I never saw the 3rd and 4th Batman movies (Val Kilmer and George Clooney) and I generally deny that they exist, the last Batman movie that was not complete crap had Michael Keaton in the lead role and was directed by Tim Burton (Batman Returns, and of course the first of that series, Batman). I am a DC comics fan, not particularly a Batman fan, but it is good to see any DC title brought to life on the big screen well.

On Friday evening, Prue and I had been planning to make it to the 7pm screening, but we were a few minutes late, and with the theatre being packed we decided to wait for the 8:45pm screening instead, with an hour and a half to kill in the Mall we set off for an adventure. I almost never go inside Malls, or for that matter near large numbers of shops these days, mostly because I have no interest in purchasing products unrelated to cycling or computers most of the time and it is not wise to lock a bike up in Civic or Belconnen or other places like that. I do not like using the car if I can avoid it so do not go near those places often. Prue was shocked to hear I did not know of the existence of many of the stores we walked past.

There was one positive outcome of being near so many shops, in Rebel Sport I found a Netti helmet that fits me and only costs AUD $50. This is a remarkable event alone as the only other helmets I have found that fit in the last two years are the Giro E2 (AUD $275 RRP) (which is my current helmet) and a tight fit but in a squeeze the Met 5th Element (sells for AUD $289), the lower models in the Giro and Met lines do not fit at all (why they only make their most expensive models large enough is beyond me). So to find a Helmet from Netti that fits and does not cost too much was great, however it gets better. They have a model in Lilac (Netti Pangea, Lilac), how cool is this I can get a Purple/Pink helmet, finally, usually helmets in those colours only come in Womens sizes.

[/leisure/screen] link

Wed, 15 Jun 2005

Light and fluffy salt - 16:27
On BoingBoing Sunday June 5th there was a link to some Nina Gordon music and to her website. I had a listen, clicked around and thought this sounds good. Nina was one of the lead singers and song writers of Veruca Salt. I quite like a lot of Veruca Salt music, though found it was a bit inconstant, some brilliant tracks, some I didn't like much at all (Nina is no longer a part of the group, they are however releasing another album soon, who knows how it will sound). Anyway Nina Gordon released an album in 2000 called "Tonight and the rest of my life", there were samples on her website of all the tracks on the album, that along with the sample suggested by BoingBoing interested me enough to get a copy of the album.

Looking around on Amazon I saw the album for sale on the Amazon used retail thing for USD $3.77, so that with a shipping cost of USD $5.49 meant I could get a copy of the album for about AUD $12, rightio then.

So the album arrived around lunch today and I have had it playing in my office since then. Initially (remember it often takes me weeks or a few months to really grow into an album) I like it, more consistent lyrics and sound than Veruca Salt I think, a bit fluffy (lyrically) in places, and definitely soft female vocal rock (Jane often accuses me of being an excessive fan of this style of music (Leonardo's Bride (Abby Dobson), Rebecca's Empire (Rebecca Barnard), Sleeper (Louise Werner), etc). Anyway I like it, lets see how it grows on me.

[/leisure/music] link

Tue, 14 Jun 2005

Leisure, or not enough of it - 22:13
So Michael's cropping of Jon's Hackergotchi reminded me I should write something about Jon's post the other day on Exhaustion. Last Tuesday Kottke had a link to a rather interesting article on why Crunch mode working is really bad in the long term.

All of this does tie in together, I promise. It surprised me to learn that Jon used to work over 100 hours a week pretty much full time. That really is not healthy. The article I linked to above points out that other (not computing related) industries have known for over 100 years how unhealthy it really is. Research by the US armed forces indicates your intellect suffers sooner than your endurance/strength, so work requiring correct answers coming out of your head will be hit first. Fortunately it seems Jon no longer goes about this silly work pattern, his current sleep issues are caused by his young son, a common ailment among new parents.

I have been thinking about the article a bit over the past week, and watching some of the things I am doing at work during the hours I am supposedly most productive compared to other times. I wonder how skewed my behaviour is with the fact I am usually awake from 5:30am every work day to go cycling.

[/leisure] link

My very own Hackergotchi - 15:15
Earlier today MRD mentioned he had added Hackergotchi support to Planet Linux Australia and requested that people email him their Hackergotchi and IRC nickname (similar to Planet Gnome).

I looked through a bunch of photos and eventually chose one taken of me at last year's Mont Australian 24 Hour race. I followed Wouter's instructions and made my own hackergotchi. MRD asked for them in 70x74, which did not quite fit with mine, so I have two, one in 57x74 and one in 70x90.

[/comp/internet] link

Monday 6 Peaks ride. - 11:41
As we tend to, the Bilbys had a peaks ride yesterday. For the first time we also included a Mt Majura option at the start. 07:30am from Dickson pool for Mt Majura, to meet up with everyone else at 08:30am at ANU for the rest of the peaks (Mt Pleasant, Mt Ainslie, Red Hill, Mt Stromlo and Black Mountain in that order).

I was taking the Mt Majura group so rolled up in the 0 degree Celsius temperature at the pool, Ron and Ella also rocked up for this first climb so we headed off. On the climb we came across James and Gary too. Running a few minutes late we met up with the others at 08:40 at ANU and all of us (about 25 riders) headed towards Mt Pleasant.

It was a fun, though tough day out, my form is still a fair bit down due to not having done as much riding as normal in the months leading up to lca, it probably does not help that my road bike at the moment is not as light and sprightly as the Lemond either. The extra weight however may have helped me get the top speed of the day, on the way down Ainslie. Next time I think we should include Mt Majura in the ride for all riders, not just as an option, it really is a nice climb, definitely easier than Ainslie.

I did not go out riding this morning, heavy rain last night, and I had to take my car to Fyshwick for post Kangaroo smash repair work. I rode the steel hardtail back to work from Fyshwick after dropping the car off. I will need to pick the car up before all the work is completed on Friday afternoon in order to drive Rob, Penny, Bec and myself up to Newcastle on Saturday for an 8 Hour mtb race on Sunday.

As some paint work is necessary for the roo repairs I am also finally getting the bonnet of the car painted properly to repair the problems arising due to a bodgy paint and lacquer job sometime in the past prior to our purchase of the car. I also need to get a 300,000KM service done on the car in the next few weeks, so it looks like an expensive few weeks of car ownership coming up. It is however worth it as it allows me to get to events and stuff out of Canberra.

[/mtb] link

Sun, 12 Jun 2005

Junior MTB Camp - 18:17
So I spent today as a coach at the CORC 2005 Junior Skills Camp #2, with a range of boys and girls from ages 8 through to about 15 we had a pretty good group, around 25 riders.

The coaches there were Jamie and Belinda Green, John Graydon, Luke Graydon, John Henderson, Ben Henderson, Nick Webb and myself. Bev Anderson-Tranter (ex world motor bike trials champion and superb bike handler) and Paul Burbidge-Smith also helped John Graydon and I with our group all day today.

At the start of the day we headed out for a short ride to a piece of single track upon which Jamie could grade the kids and put them into a group of similar ability and age. With three groups, John and I ended up with the group of mostly younger kids. After this we rotated through a series of skills sessions, Bunny Hop and Cornering practice on the open ground at Innabaanya and a Climbing & Descending session and Hops and Drops out in the forest all before lunch. Then after lunch we headed out for a trail ride for an hour and a half so the kids could practice the skills they had been working on all morning with the coaches around.

On the whole I would say the day was a great success, all the kids seemed to get a lot out of it and confidence levels in the group I was with were continually increasing all day. Belinda did another splendid job organising this and getting everything prepared. It would definitely be good to do more of these as getting kids into mountain biking and helping them have fun doing it is a really important aspect of the sport, both for the future of the sport and for getting kids out having fun and staying fit on bikes.

[/mtb] link

Thu, 09 Jun 2005

I had better watch out, I had better not... - 22:46
Woah, 3 posts to the diary a day for the two days prior to this. If I don't watch it I will turn into Mikal, sending updates to my diary 16 trillion times a week... oh bugger another one just got ou...NO CARRIER

[/various] link

Wed, 08 Jun 2005

Uncyclopedia - 22:14
So I found out about this Uncyclopedia from a BoingBoing post mentioning what Cory thought was a great Zork parody some user had put into the Uncyclopedia. The Uncyclopedia is (wait for it) a Wikipedia parody (geez I bet you never saw that coming), and I have to say there is some incredibly funny content on there already. Whoever said the Internet does not have a sense of humour needs to read this.

From the front page news item right now suggesting "Canada and California have announced plans to merge. The new country will be called Caca." to the pages on such topics as Australia and New Z'land (hey where is lca2006 again?), or other fun such as Linux or Star Trek. This has had me giggling for hours.

[/amusing] link

Using exercise to reduce stress - 21:43
After reading Mikal's post about being stressed I wandered into his office and suggested he take up cycling as that is what I use to reduce stress. I was not kidding, it really works. He has since updated the post asking if anyone has suggestions on how to reduce stress.

Cycling may not be the solution for Mikal, however I would very strongly recommend taking up a regular exercise program in order to reduce stress, increase happiness and a whole bunch of other positive things. There is a fairly large amount of evidence around the place to support the notion of exercise as being one of the best methods with which to reduce stress.

Both the documents I link to above make many good points. You actually have to make time to exercise in your life, there is no way to find time for it in our increasingly busy lives, you actually have to restructure and fit regular exercise in, a form of lifestyle adjustment. From the second of those links

Regular exercise not only strengthens physical health; it can help you handle stress by...
  • relaxing tense muscles
  • helping you sleep better
  • releasing endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin and dopamines -- chemicals that give you a sense of well-being
What activities best treat stress?

The main thing is to find things you like and commit to doing them regularly.

  • For many, repeating the same motion for a period of time has a relaxing effect similar to meditation. Rhythmic exercises that can provide this effect include swimming laps, walking, running and cycling.
  • Some people enjoy exercises that focus on breathing and fluid movement, such as yoga and tai chi.
  • Others prefer exercising in pairs, for instance, by playing tennis or dancing the tango.

All of this is definitely true, the endorphin release or whatever from regular intensive exercise really is like some sort of feel good drug, I openly admit I am a cycling addict, and to some extent an outdoor exercise addict. The point of finding something you enjoy is also important, if you do not marginally enjoy it you will be less likely to do it. I for example abhor exercising indoors and can not think of much worse than doing exercise in a gym. This is fine as I can exercise outdoors so easily year round in Canberra.

If you do not have a huge amount of spare time and can handle the activity I would suggest running is an excellent form of regular exercise. For the amount of time spent on the activity you get a huge fitness benefit (definitely superior to cycling in fitness per unit time) and it falls into the whole intensive exercise with repetitive/meditative qualities class of activities. Again it doe snot quite suit me when compared to cycling, and running is a far more injury prone activity also, but as the above, and I also, suggests finding exercise you really enjoy doing is the important thing here.

Another good thing about exercise in the case of families is, if your kids see you out there exercising as a regular part of daily life, it will be more heavily a part of their psyche as they grow up that it is perfectly normal to exercise a lot, and thus they are more likely to do so also, and thus be healthier happier adults, less stressed and less a part of the disturbing child obesity statistics.

[/mtb] link

Freeride crossing t-shirt - 21:26
Okay, so I know I have a habit of salivating over cool t-shirts from time to time (such as some of those pointed out by preshrunk), also I often lament the fact there is no similar readily available source of cool/unusual/cute/amusing cycling jerseys. So although this is not quite filling the need, it is combining the t-shirt and cycling ethos remarkably well.

This t-shirt I call freeride crossing from the UK company Puzle is truly one of the coolest t-shirts I have ever seen. I originally saw it linked on Singletrackworld last year and it stuck in my mind. Of course a few things stop me buying one, a) I have too many t-shirts to go around spending money on them and b) UKP 17 is kind of an excessive amount of money to spend on a t-shirt.

The last few times I half heartedly tried to track this t-shirt down by looking around the Singletrackworld web site I was unsuccessful, this time I used the magic of google and found it on the second hit with a search for " t-shirt".

[/mtb/gear] link

Tue, 07 Jun 2005

Lack of transparency in Government opens up big problems. - 18:26
There was mention this morning on BoingBoing about judges in Florida tossing out DUI cases when defendants ask to see the source code of the breathalysers that read the amount of Alcohol present in their system. I find this fascinating.

The companies that manufacture the breathalysers do not want to release their internal implementation details to anyone, and thus because there is absolutely no proof or independent audit here of how these things really work the case has to be thrown out of court.

When I was talking to Mikal about this I suggested that due to the fact I do not drink often or much I personally would not be exploiting this specific style of loophole, however I thought it opened up a whole lot of things to wonder about the legal process, Police implementation of technology and the transparency of such. Think about speed cameras and speed radars, I imagine the Police have some testing framework for Radars and some other devices, but how extensive is it? How much can it be trusted? Mikal mentioned a case in Victoria where lots of speeding fines had to be ignored due to a problem with a speed camera.

Some googling found this The Age article about this case, they found a number of cameras were faulty and withheld infringement notices from those cameras for a while. Mikal mentioned it took an ACA story about some Datsun 180B unable to to get over 80KMh on a race track with a race driver that had been booked by the cameras at 120KMh to get some sort of response on the issue.

Now I would suggest against going out and trying to get a speeding ticket from a speed camera simply to test the "show me the source" argument in court, but it does make you wonder what processes of government really should be more open and transparent. I do not hold out much hope in the short term that the general public will understand the need for this though, the ACT Voting system, which had been released as a completely open system has since been placed under a more closed form of source distribution with the source code no longer under a fully public licence and less transparent to the public. Sure the actual release of evacs used in any given election undergoes a full audit process and that audited release is frozen for that election, however the whole process is far more hidden and there was not much public outcry in ACT or Australia about this change.

It also makes you wonder, in what ways can you possibly convince the general public to push for a more open and transparent government, one is to convince them it would be in their benefit, if under Australian law a DUI or speeding fine could be avoided without full transparency it may for example push the process toward that goal along if people exploited that.

[/comp/ip] link

Moonride 12 Hour in Rotorua - 12:22
Okay so this is somewhat delayed, I posted before heading to New Zealand about competing in the Moonride 12 Hour Mountain Bike race in Rotorua and my trip to NZ. I still have not put my photos online, however I did write up some experiences from the race a few days later in Taupo and send them out in an email. So with the idea of easy cut and paste diary entries, here is most of the text from my race report on the Moonride 12 Hour race I competed in on May 14th.

Sitting in an internet cafe in Taupo right now so no photos or online report, just something quick.

As a bunch of you know I competed in the Moonride 12 hour as a solo entrant on Saturday. Heidi was there in a team of 5 too. A friend of Heidi's, Lisa Morgan, also rode solo and kicked my heiney.

The course was 9.1 KM (if you include the loop through the 12 hour camp area all 12 hour racers had to do), mostly rather sweet flowing single track, a bit of flat fire road you could really open up (35KMh or so) if you were so inclined. Around 2000 people were there for the weekend (there was a 24 hour race and a 12 hour race on at the same time), like the Mont in .au this is the oldest 24 hour and 12 hour mtb race in NZ I think.

10am start and 10pm finish. I got my entry from the organisers as the bell sounded for the start, I ran back to the tent, grabbed my camel back and waited for the entire field to go past before hopping on the back.

First time through the course was slow as was expected, but I subsequently did another 2 laps in a row after that and it opened up a lot. They had an automatic timer sensor thing and a tag we all wore on our ankles that made it register as we rode over the mats. The wife of the event organiser Murray had told me to attach it to my frame and I do not think it registered for the second two laps, and maybe not the first (was in a big crowd at the time), I eventually attached it to my ankle and kept that ankle down every time I rode over the mats and it worked from then. Teams only had one tag so they did not have individual lap times recorded.

I met up with the guy who handles the timing for this and the NZ national series and he worlds stuff next year and rode with him yesterday and today so I was able to talk to him about all the timing stuff and Russ and I will probably converse with him on some of the timing stuff a bit.

The course was fun, but I have to say it was not brilliant, it got more fun as the day wore on, my last few laps, in the dark, were the best.

One of the fun laps was about lap 12, Heidi headed out on the track at the same time, so I told my body not to cramp and upped the pace from solo pace to race pace. We did a sub 30 minute lap together, which was my fastest lap of the day by a few minutes. All in the dark. I complained Heidi was making me ride fast and that it hurt, she said I should not whine as I was the one in front of her for the entire lap setting the silly fast pace.

Anyway I completed 14 laps in the end, 135 KM or so, Lisa completed 16 laps (she did not stop all day, I (because I am soft) stopped a fair bit) (2005-06-07, interestingly, I have looked at the results since returning to Australia, the timing systems have us both on 15 and 17 laps respectively, I suspect this is because it recorded our crossing the timing mats on the first mini loop through and included this in the lap count, also this means it obviously did record all my laps even though I did not hear the buzzer on two occasions)

The winner of the 24 hour solo, Andy Rhodes (the guy who did the Naked lap at the World Solos in Whistler) did 43 laps. I forget the other details but photos (I was race number 76 AFAIR) and results will probably appear in the next few days on

We stayed in Rotorua for another day and a half, and rode more on Sunday and today. The trails we got to ride out of the race were incredible, they blew the ones in the race away. Although there were some sweet sections (long sections with lots of berms you can do in the big ring) in the race, there was nothing as cool as "Be Rude Not To" or "A Trail" in the race. Heidi mentioned a 24 hour race she did with Lisa up here last year (N-Duro or something) included those tracks and a bunch of other fun stuff. I would highly recommend competing in that 24 hour and am somewhat tempted myself.

I am now in Taupo for the night, planning to ride the Craters of the Moon pack tomorrow morning and try for Tree Trunk Gorge tomorrow arvo.

More fun to be had the rest of the week.

Update: Posting this today on 2005-06-07, of note, the results are available online now, as are some photos. Looking at the 2005 Cateye Moonride at Marathon Photos will allow you to search for them, or currently the Moonride website has a page with the Moonride Photos embedded. You can find my photos searching for "Hanley" or 76. Lisa's photos are "Morgan" or 96. Heidi's team is team 420 (Tumeke Tribe) on 24 laps.

The other cool news, in relation to the N-Duro races, I had a look at the website and discovered the 24 Hour race is actually on in February, on the 4th and 5th next year. I will be over at 2006 next year from Jan 23rd to Jan 28th, so I will hang around for a week or two in New Zealand and will be able to compete in the N-Duro 24 Hour on some of the incredibly cool tracks there. Lets just hope I can convince a few friends to do the race in a team too, should be a hoot to get an Australian team over there for it. Mikey will hopefully also be at, and may be interested in the N-Duro race the next weekend.

[/mtb/events] link

Broken Seat Post Bolt - 07:52

An imaginative solution someone else thought up.
Out on the road bike this morning, I did a Black Mountain climb at 6am, caught up with Rob and Penny at the top and had a chat with them for a bit. From the bottom I headed off toward Scrivner to meet others for the Tuesday morning loop we do during winter. James caught up with me on the way, Crash and Terry were at the dam when we arrived. All morning, and yesterday, while riding the road bike I had the feeling the saddle was a little bit low.

This may have been due to having the saddle height reasonably high on the steel mtb. Anyway I thought I would try putting it up half a centimetre when I got to the dam. I did this and as I was tightening the bolt again when I herd a snap, I had snapped the seat clamp bolt. Alas I did not have my Topeak chain breaker with me so I was unable to try the rather imaginative bodge job as pictured in the photo on the left. Anyway I am at the pickle having coffee with the others who got to finish the ride now, I rode home,swapped bikes and will take the road bike into the shop later today to get a new bolt for the road bike so it will be ready to go out tomorrow morning.

[/mtb/gear] link

Mon, 06 Jun 2005

Say bye bye Krispy Kreme? - 16:14
Now this is interesting (found on kottke). The article talks about how abysmally enronesque the management of Krispy Kreme was after going public in 2000 or so. A company that has been around for 75 or so years looks like it may go bankrupt. Personally I could care less, I have never eaten a Krispy Kreme product and have no intention of doing so, however Michael seems to be quite a fan of their product, as are a few other people I know. So I thought I would comment on this.

I recently noticed Krispy Kremes for sale from the back of a rent-a-ute trailer at the Belconnen mall carpark here in Canberra (completely ignoring the EULA on the Krispy Kreme boxes saying you are not allowed to resell them), also the outlet Michael noticed at the Domestic airport in Sydney does not cook them on site as it was simply a stall. The point of all this is the article above suggests the best way to save themselves is for Krispy Kreme to revert to their original product of hot donuts made in front of you at the franchise.

I can actually understand the lure of fresh hot donuts, one of the best sources of donuts in my experience is the mini donuts shop on the train platform at the Perisher Valley ski tube station. Even when I am staying in my lodge in Perisher I often make the effort to go to the ski tube centre and down to the platform and buy myself some of the fresh hot donuts there. Cold clammy glazed or coated donuts from some supermarket or similar however are a dime a dozen and hold no real fascination.

Whether Krispy Kreme will go bankrupt or not, I do not know, or particularly care, it is however interesting to see yet another possible victim of going public and dotcom style expansion problems even though they have a product that is not directly tied to computers or dotcom at all.

[/leisure/food] link

Thu, 02 Jun 2005

Kernel upgrade time - 14:15
So I tested the new toy yesterday with an older 20 GB drive lying around at work and all seemed fine. I went and ordered a 200GB WD 8MB Buffer IDE drive to use as storage for backups and other not particularly frequently accessed data at home, I thought 200 GB because, heck this stiff is cheap now days, the drive was about AUD $160, with AUD $12 shipping, comparing this to spending over AUD $500 on a 12 GB drive just 6 years ago it really begins to freak you out a bit.

Anyway I went to plug the drive into my laptop and found it did not work with my 2.6.7 based kernel. Tony was around, and as he recently upgraded his laptop kernel (his permalinks are currently broken though) we plugged the device in there to see if it would work with the new larger drive. It did, thus it appears the usb-storage upgrade that happened around 2.6.9 is indeed better, or at least better for this specific hardware combination. I guess I should finally put the time in and upgrade my laptop kernel, what fun I have to look forward to</tic>, ACPI DSDT patches, a few other patches, SWSUSP, etc.

[/comp/hardware] link

Wed, 01 Jun 2005

IDE to USB2 bare adapter. - 16:37

R-Driver II USB 2.0 to IDE Adapter (full size)
I saw this item reviewed on dansdata a while ago and it appealed to me as a rather neat toy. Thinking about external drives a bit recently and I thought what the heck I want to have one of these. They ship from the US for USD $38 ($3 shipping worldwide for anything sold on that site), I ordered it on Friday afternoon and it arrived on my doorstep at home (though I put work as the delivery address) this morning.

Unlike Dan I have not done any transfer speed tests or anything, I have plugged a 20 GB drive lying around at work in to test and it worked fine. The Power adapter is only needed for 3.5" drives, laptop drives are powered by the USB connection itself. Due to the US source the power plug (not pictured) was available with vertical flat, round, or the square British plugs, Dan suggests bending the US flat plugs to the Australian angle, however the thing works fine with any standard computer/kettle/etc power cable so there is no need for that.

Something I like about this is it is very compact, geeky and bear metal. If you happen to have a bunch of drives around you need to check out, or put stuff on you need not mount them in anything, simply plug it in and away you go. This has interesting implications for JBOD solutions (possibly slow of course) too as you can put a bunch of disks in some case with a few fans, and usb leads coming out of the case to another computer. Anyway I think it is a rather neat geek toy.

Update: Mikal complained I had not linked to either USBGEEK.COM or more specifically to the R-Driver II Product page (which was on the cables page (which has a few variations of this product and some other cool stuff, though the version 1 of this device is possibly dodgy, and is not double sided anyway)). I am sure Mikal is far more interested in some of the other products sold here, such as the Cafe Pad or Vacuum.

[/comp/hardware] link

Tue, 31 May 2005

Maladjusted Bicycle Emporium now online - 17:52
So the shop I tend to frequent most often for all my cycling needs is the Maladjusted Bicycle Emporium, owned and run by a bloke named Mal (yes you can all laugh at the Punne in your own time <g>). Mal himself is not much of a computer person and has been avoiding anything to do with them for years, a few members of his staff and some of the distributors however have finally convinced him they needed a computer, with an Internet connection, in the shop. This means you can contact them via email or via their website.

Unlike some people who put something online, it is good to see some of the staff are putting an effort into the site to have some information up there about things they sell, prices, stuff they are doing, etc. Anyway this is simply a shameless attempt to give some google juice to a bike shop I like.

[/mtb] link

Which airline are you? - 17:19
It appears today's blog meme is talking about Qantas and airline baggage handling problems. I may as well get in on the act, considering I have less posts this month than any other since I started the online diary it is not going to hurt or anything.

I personally disagree with Mike on Qantas and quite like them as an airline. Reasonable service, good facilities in their lounges or their partners lounges, when you consider the size of the Australian travel market and the deals that have to be done in order to fly routes in and out of various countries they cover a good number of international routes. Sure they throw their weight around a bit domestically trying to do monopolistic things some times, but all companies will do that.

The other part of the blog meme/discussion thing with Qantas and baggage handling is an interesting one. Sure airlines are involved in the baggage handling on and off their planes to some extent, but each airport does have a lot of influence and man power involved with the baggage handling. So baggage delivery problems can not always be blamed on the airline. I have never had bag delivery issues flying with Qantas, however I have with Air France and Air New Zealand.

Flying into Madrid in 2002, we had been booked on Qantas from Canberra through to Paris and Air France from Paris to Madrid. So Canberra to Sydney on Qantas was fine, Sydney to Singapore on Qantas was fine. Then in Singapore we were paged and asked to go see an Air France representative (our entire flight over was under Air France). They had overbooked the Air France flight from Singapore to Paris (Air France, like many of the US Airlines, still overbooks fairly heavily), so they had arranged to place us back on the Qantas plane (the one we flew from Sydney on) that would be arriving at Paris about 5 minutes later than the Air France flight (though at a different terminal) and they gave us 220 Euro's each for the trouble of arriving a few minutes later. (admittedly, as we were arriving at a different terminal they moved our connecting flight to Madrid from an hour after landing to one later in the day (4 hours later AFAIR)) All of this was good by our reckoning and we headed back toward the Qantas boarding gate. Only to be paged again, so back to the counter and we are told that, on top of the 220 Euros they would be upgrading us to Business Class on the Qantas flight for the inconvenience they caused us (oh the horror of being 5 minutes late). We were definitely pleased, this was to be the longest leg of the flight over, 14 hours in business class is not a bad thing.

So we arrived in Paris, got over to the Air France terminal and hopped on the plane to Madrid, Jane was informed of the delay and would be meeting us there at the later time. Upon arrival in Madrid neither my backpack or our Mother's suitcase were there. Some confusion with the changes of flights in Paris had caused the bags to stay there. Our bags eventually turned up and were delivered about 8 hours later to the place we were staying in Madrid that night. Now sure it was annoying not being able to shower and change clothes for 8 hours after being on the go for 32 hours, but with the bonuses we had already received for "inconveniences" I was not too upset. Also if we had the experience or foresight of Chris to pack a change of clothes in our carry on, none of this would have been particularly bad.

The bag late experience that had me a little more worried was Air New Zealand misplacing my bike bag on the way to New Zealand in June last year, there was a problem with the Qantas baggage handling ground staff in Sydney that day and a lot of flights were affected, mine among them, and my bike bag was not put on the plane I flew across to NZ on, my backpack was there so I had my clothes and all. However Heidi and I were starting a ride the next day on the South Island, and my bike was the almost new $4200 dual suspension mountain bike, definitely something to worry about. Fortunately Heidi and I were getting the morning ferry across to Picton the next day and my bike arrived at the airport on the flight from Sydney that arrived at Midnight so our travel was not messed up (it would have been far worse if we had been getting the Friday evening ferry across).

Now I do not recall what the exact cause of the Air France baggage handling problem was, but it is interesting to note it was a problem with the Sydney airport baggage handling system as a whole that affected flights for many airlines on the day of the Air New Zealand problem I experienced. Thus I suspect to some extent baggage handling problems can not be entirely blamed on the Airline.

[/various] link

Mon, 30 May 2005

Hit a roo - 14:36
While driving to Tumut yesterday morning to compete in the 2005 ACTRA Cyclegaine, with registration opening at 8am and knowing the drive took 2 hours (via Picadilly Circus) I picked Marea up at 6am. On the way through Coppins Crossing, doing about 70KMh, about 1KM before the crossing a Kangaroo jumped out in front of the car, I saw it maybe half a second before it hit.

We stopped, turned around and went to look at the Kangaroo, it was dead, completely motionless and off the side of the road. When we went to get out of the car to look we discovered the impact with the side of the car had broken some stuff. The front passenger side door could not be opened and the left hand blinker is now clicking about twice as fast (apparently that means it is slightly broken).

So Andrew definitely has a point, Kangaroos do not have good road sense. This happened next to a farmers gate at about the only place the road down toward coppins crossing widens enough for a kangaroo to be out of the way of headlights and it hopped across in front of me as I got within 5 metres of it. This is a large part of why we do not do the Cotter/Uriarra roadie ride through winter, in the dark there are too often Kangaroos or Wombats next to the road that we can not see until they hop or Wander in amongst the bunch of bicycles (doing 60 KMh down toward Cotter in the dark).

Now I have to give the insurance company a call and see if I can sort out getting this fixed.

[/various] link

Thu, 26 May 2005

Back in the game - 16:26
Well I guess I should post a diary entry once more. I returned from NZ on Monday evening so am settled back home and at work. I crashed in Majura Pines this morning and skinned my left knee and hurt my back a bit, my back is hurting a bit still. NZ was a hoot, photos and a detailed write up will probably appear in a while.

Clearing the links a bit, this vi reference mug (found on kottke) would probably be a great gift for Jeremy (who enjoyed pointing out that at lca 2005 vim had just under half of total preferences and vi was second with ~ 1/5th) or any other vi fan, or maybe as a subversive gift to a non vi user in an attempt to make them use it more. I am predominantly an emacs or joe user so who knows what affect it would have on me.

Editor stats from lca2005

    name     | number 
 vim         |    220
 vi          |     99
 emacs       |     93
 nano        |     24
 XEmacs      |     21
 gedit       |     12
 joe         |      6
 kate        |      6
 nvi         |      5
 Notepad.exe |      4
 kedit       |      4
 cat         |      2
 bbedit      |      2
 jed         |      2
 vigor       |      2
 ludwig      |      1
 vile        |      1
 Dde         |      1
 ae          |      1
 SCite       |      1

Clearing some links, this kitten war (found on kottke) site is apparently rather addictive, at least Alli and Chris thought so, I would not be surprised if it uses up an inordinate amount of cat lovers time, Martijn for example may well become hooked. Someone on boingboing has pointed out a longer running site of a similar nature, Rate My Kitten, too.

Back on may 5th this story was linked from kottke, it is good to know that even if stealing underpants may not be profitable, you may be able to make a living from T-shirts in this day and age. Seemingly 1. think up a design 2. sell it on a t-shirt 3. profit! actually works. Definitely a good read about more cool t-shirt stuff, if only cycling jerseys had such creativity applied and were so easily available. (I suspect the price may kind of limit the market, T-shirts can sell for AUD $15 or sometimes less, Cycling jerseys sell for around AUD $80).

I am admittedly a comics geek to some extent, so along with pop culture references and other thighs I admit I thought this Bad. Motha. Fucka. (once again found on kottke on may 3rd) list was rather cool. The author listed 100 people he thought deserved a Bad. Motha. Fucka. wallet as owned by Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction. I wholeheartedly agree with many of these, and leant something about some people in there I had never heard of. Also it helped convince me I totally need to see he Joss Wheedon series Firefly soon. The list includes the likes of Inigo Montoya, Spike, Ford Prefect, Herbie, Rod Serling, Chthulhu, Dangermouse, Peter Venkman, Lt Uhura, Jay Garrick, Data, J'Onn, J'Onnz, Zoe Warren, Eric Draven, and Scully plus a bunch more.

Back on April 14th, Dooce had this to say about boy bands

What is not up for discussion, however, is Led Zeppelin and how much she will love them, how she will kneel at the altar of The Who and pray to the God of Radiohead. And lo, I command that she name her first child Pete and her second child Townshend, lest her soul and flesh burn for eternity, her salvation lost to The Demon, Boy Bands.

Oh so true, friends don't let friends raise children who listen to boy bands or Britney or similar market created pop crap music.

Also on April 14th was this on Boing Boing about the automatic academic paper generator (I also saw some comments about this on Planet Debian, and from Brendan at work). The Paper Generator is released under GPL and they authors actually had a paper created by it accepted by an academic conference. I wonder if this sort of thing will become popular with cheaters or similar, GPL'd software that will pass your degree for you.

Yet another rather cool (or should that be 1337) thing from google. 600673, or google in leet speak. All the results come back in leet too. As for jokes (which I of course was not talking about) I agree that this joke is good.

What do vegan zombies eat?

More humour from The Onion, a story titled "Pope Killing Virus Claims Another Victim" which had me giggling for a while. I found mention of it in a story linked from kottke about how the Onion staff go about creating the Onion.

Anyway I have a bunch more stuff in my to blog file but have run out of time, maybe I will get around to more later tonight.

[/various] link

Thu, 12 May 2005

Moonride and other stuff - 13:54
My posts to this diary may be even more sporadic next week (or possibly non existent) as I will be out of town. I am flying over to New Zealand tomorrow and will return on Monday 23rd May.

The plan is to do some mountain biking for a week and then head down to Dunedin for the Ghosts gathering on the 21st and 22nd of May. (Ghosts of lca Past is what I mean by this, similar to what happened here in August last year.)

Heidi mentioned she was competing in a team of 4 or 5 at the Moonride 12 Hour race (yeah I did suggest to her that a team of 4 is a bit soft, but this event only allows Solo or Teams of 4 or 5). There is a 24 hour Race on at the same time, starting tomorrow night at 10pm, The 12 Hour race starts at 10am Saturday morning. Anyway I got in contact with the organisers and managed to get a place riding as a Solo in the 12 Hour race which is cool.

All this means my schedule tomorrow is for a long day. Fly out of Canberra at 6:50am, Arrive in Wellington at 14:30, hop in a rental car and drive north to Rotorua, hopefully arrive in Rotorua before 10pm and register for the race and go to sleep at a backpackers I booked into. At 10am the next morning I get to start riding for a little while, see how much I can get through until 10pm. Should be fun.

After that I am currently planning to hang around Rotorua at least until Monday for some more riding, then probably head to Turangi at the bottom of Lake Taupo for some riding there, or maybe to National Park not far from there for some other riding. Should be a fun week, I will attempt to fight with Internet terminals or cafes from time to time, getting ssh access if possible.

[/mtb] link

Tue, 10 May 2005

Bring on the Rustyisms - 19:36
As Mikal mentions we had a post lca organisers dinner at Rocksalt last night. Very good food and wine, though it appears I am a Scallop slut.

The idea of dining out to me, to a large extent, is to consume dishes you could not cook (either due to skill or not wishing to put in the effort) at home. So recently dining at a rather fancy restaurant in Sydney (April 8th, the night of my sister Jane's honours graduation and birthday this year) one of the dishes I had was some form of scallop (I mean the sea food, not the fried potato things). Last night I once again ordered a scallop dish as an entree, this may eventually be as bad as my eggplant while eating out habit, who knows.

One thing of note, after a few glasses of wine, Rusty started sprouting the odd entertaining quote, or "Rustyism". Not necessarily incorrect, mostly amusing, though one somewhat strange. Mikal wrote some of these down with pen and paper technology and claims he will share them with the world at large soon. Bring on the Rustyisms.

And more of my weird Mikal blog stalking, I did not bother reading his brother's post, but I wonder what Mikal is on about here with the uniqueness thing. I have no idea who Dan Brown is, I refused to see the Titanic, Jane and I both decided it was going to be asinine crap and the 1953 movie is good anyway. (and more accurate) Fortunately my girlfriend at the time (1997) saw the movie and agreed with me that it was crap so I was spared the pain of sitting through the movie. OF the recent LoTR and Star Wars movies, I saw the first of each, but have not had the time (well inclination and thus made the time) to see any more since. I have however read the first 4 Harry Potter books, largely because I am a book junkie and my friend Rebecca was going on about how great they all were. They were IMO reasonably entertaining, but not as many seem to think the second coming or anything.

[/various] link

Mon, 09 May 2005

Steel MTB Dairy Farmers Hill Meme - 12:20

The steel hardtail not long after getting it (full size)

The resurrected Steel Hardtail this morning (full size)

View from Dairy Farmers down the lake (full size)

So I thought I would start a meme, sure this is one that a) not many people can easily participate in and b) probably would not interest many others. Not long after purchasing the KHS Steel Hardtail fame two years ago I took it for a cruisy loop of Canberra fire trails sort of ride. (photos here)

On that ride at one point, while at the top of Dairy Farmers hill I took a photo of the bike leaning against one of the few surviving trees in that area. No that I have the steel hardtail back again, and it does look somewhat different, I thought I would continue the theme. So to the right are two photos of the steel hardtail, one about two years ago and one this morning, pretty much the same view otherwise.

I had a most enjoyable ride too, and the third photo is from the same place but looking back up Lake Burley Griffin. This is one of the best views of Canberra available IMO. Many people never get to see this view as they do not go up to the top of Dairy Farmers. This does of course make you miss things such as the Bacon Christmas party some of my mtb friends used to do. Thursday morning near Christmas, ride up to the summit of Dairy Farmers with chicken and champagne and other goodies. Have a glorious breakfast up there and then descend through the winding single track to finish off the morning. (Champagne makes the single track far more challenging than one is used to also :)

[/mtb] link

Sat, 07 May 2005

The Sheepman cometh - 23:33

Sheepman? (full size)
Sure I know people use the large amount of space available on their cars to advertise sometimes, I do however wonder if this man really wants to advertise his super hero name so blatantly....

[/various] link

The fun of being back on the steel hardtail - 17:29
So I stayed up fairly late last night building up the steel hardtail. I had taken the frame and the alloy hardtail to the bike shop to have new headset cups fitted and the fork swapped over. I then did the rest of the build last night.

This morning I drove out to sparrow hill to ride the single track loop there with Paul C, Ben M, Angus H, Nigel H, Adair F, and a friend of Adair's. The steel hard tail was a joy to ride again. I absolutely loved it. The smooth (muted I suppose) feel over bumps compared to the alloy hardtail. The handling of the bike over all. Damn I love this bike.

Anyway I have added some photos of the fully assembled bike (in the shed, before the ride this morning at home, post ride with dust, and with the new Bendy Bender figure mounted). The photos were added to the set I posted on Wednesday of the painted frame.

I am really looking forward to putting the KM in on this bike again now.

[/mtb/gear] link

Wed, 04 May 2005

Bender Bicycles - 12:56
So I got the steel mtb frame back from the painting place yesterday. With the colour I chose and the stickers I wanted. I reckon it looks damn good. I am definitely happy with how this all turned out. Also fairly cheap, as previously mentioned, the frame repair was AUD $280. The sand blasting cost AUD $25, the paint job was remarkably cheap at AUD $100. I found a guy here in Canberra who has been doing Bike frames a fair bit in the last three or our years and has gotten somewhat adept at doing them well.

[/mtb/gear] link

Tue, 03 May 2005

Random Ani sig thing - 15:13
I previously mentioned a plan to have random signatures in my email using quotes I selected from all Ani Difranco songs. As lca is now over and I do not feel the need to advertise the conference in my signature I thought it was time to finish implementing this. (after all only about one hour was required to finish it)

The perl code may be found here and the source data is this files of quotes. It is not particularly difficult to change the code to use a different data source and different thing to print. As for the code, it would be pretty easy to implement a random selection of a quote every time the program runs. My ideal implementation however uses each quote from the file once until it runs out then starts over again, the same quote can not appear twice in a row.

To do the easy only random implementation I would only need the read_quote_file, serialise_quotes and remove_random_quote functions (it could in fact be simplified far more than this too). So I added command line options (give it an alternate data source, and alternate cache file, an alternate static sig content file, a unique option and a help option). Run as is it uses the default filenames that I set in the code and sits out a random quote.

For my usage the unique option maintains a cache of quotes that diminishes every time the program is run with the -u option. I used Data::Dumper to store the cache, messy and hackish but really easy to do. Anyway pretty basic code, did not take long to implement, and sure it can be simplified a lot (lets hope it does not get out of hand (on the recursive mkdir case, Tony removed a few more characters from Jeremy's example, maybe he should blog about it)) but it works and passes the test case I created for it (small files, missing files, running a thousand times, using various options, etc) though I did not bother making it handle bad input data correctly, oh well no matter.

Getting back into geeky things lightly.

[/comp/email] link

Mon, 02 May 2005

Welcome Tony Breeds - 13:08
After many months of having a diary Tony Breeds has finally said to us we are aloud to publicly link to it. There is however only one entry there, he removed the two somewhat amusing entries from last year to b replaced by some "obligatory" post lca message.

Tony claims his life is too boring and he has nothing interesting he can say on a diary, geez that has never stopped any of the rest of us. If we are not making our readers cry out in boredom on a regular basis we really are trying too hard or something. Tony said he may start to update as often as Rusty or Alli do, who knows, maybe we can guilt him into it if we all link to him lots.

Speaking of not making readers cry out in boredom, Fafblog detailed another great historical moment yesterday, it definitely had me giggling.

Speaking still about making people bored, I notice I have not been posting here much last month, not working hard enough at raising the level of your boredom, I will probably be able to get back to more regular posting now, though I still wont be doing 10 posts a day such as Mikal has been known to.

[/various] link

Fri, 29 Apr 2005

tcpdump into remote ethereal? - 21:32
So yesterday I was debugging a network thing and needed to run ethereal on a machine upon which I did not wish to have it installed. Thus the normal way to do this would be use "tcpdump -w somefile.tcpdump -s 1500 -i ethN not port 22" or similar and have the entire packets being dumped placed somefile.tcpdump, copy the file to a machine with ethereal installed and look at it there.

I think that is a bit of a pain in the arse to do, so I was thinking it would be neat to be able to run ethereal directly on the output coming back over a network link.

My initial thought to try this was to use netcat and output tcpdump over the wire that way. Something like "tcpdump -w - -s 1500 -i ethN not port 22 and not port 3000 | nc otherhost 3000" then on otherhost I could try typing "nc -l -p 3000 | ethereal -r -". So I tried that and ethereal balked at reading from stdin. The next one to try was a fifo, so using "mkfifo etherealdata ; nc -l -p 3000 > etherealdata" and running ethereal and telling it to open that file. However though I have not looked closely it appears ethereal probably tries to mmap files or read them all in at once or similar, thus opening a fifo just wont work.

Looking at the start capture option in ethereal there is currently no way to capture actively on anything but an ethernet device. I am thinking maybe ethereal needs a patch to be able to start and stop captures on some given file handle, ignoring the data on that filehandle at other times, and thus make it easy to capture on stdin or similar.

Of course there may be another solution to this I have not thought about yet. I notice over the last year or so I really have not done much in the way of cool or fun geeky stuff, I think maybe I should do some more fun geeky things again. Maybe this can be a gentle start back into it.

[/comp/software] link

Wed, 27 Apr 2005

2005 Anzac Day Epic Photos. - 17:51
So after being rained upon somewhat heavily and not making it all the way to the summit of Mt Clear during the Anzac Day Epic in 2003 we had some unfinished business in the area. The plan, a warm up loop followed by some climbing to make it to the summit.

One and a bit hours drive south of Canberra at the Mt Clear campground near the bottom of the ACT border myself and 17 others got going on the 2005 Anzac Day MTB Epic. The weather was perfect, track conditions could not have been better, the company rocked, all in all a bloody great day out on the mountain bike.

I uploaded all my photos in order to show everyone who was not there what they missed out on, poor buggers.

[/mtb] link

My lca photos online - 14:21
To add to the collection (Michael Davies, Marc Merlin, and for a list) of photos from lca online. I have just uploaded a few also.

[/lca] link

Tue, 19 Apr 2005

Another new talk - 10:57
We had another speaker pull out, Wim Coekaerts was told by his doctor it would not be safe to fly to Australia at the moment so was unable to come over to speak. Fortunately Andrew "Tridge" Tridgell has offered to do a conference presentation on top of his Thursday morning keynote.

Tridge will be talking on Friday afternoon in MCCT1 following Mark Shuttleworth's talk from 14:30 to 15:15. The topic will be on some cool thing Tridge has been doing recently and will be a great presentation.

At the moment it appears the Friday afternoon MCCT1 stream is cursed, I just hope Jon Corbet stays in the country until Friday afternoon...

[/lca] link

Mon, 18 Apr 2005

A speaker replacement - 19:19
One of our speakers had to return to the US, Jimi Xenidis, we have been able to find a replacement speaker for his session in MCC T1 on Friday at 13:30 to 14:15. Mark Shutleworth has agreed to speak about his space flight experiences and Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu Linux) on Friday afternoon. I hope you all enjoy this talk as much as the other really cool stuff we have happening a the conference.

The conference program will be updated later tonight (in all supported formats including LaTeX, html, and the new iCal version for people to use in their personal organisers or Korganiser or similar)

[/lca] link secret wmd business - 17:23

Organisers moving something? (full size)
I managed to take this photo late last night of a few of the lca crew (Jeremy, Tony and Andrew) moving something that may be the secret lca plutonium stash, or it may be something harmless, who knows?

[/lca] link

Sun, 17 Apr 2005 2005 is go - 17:28
No one else on the ground at lca has talked about the conference yet, I guess because the rest of the crew are too busy and the delegates are too excited.

Anyway all is cool, people are here and doing early sign in, vibe is happening. I am eating lunch (yes at 5:30pm) and in a few minutes will drive to the airport to pick up some cool speakers.

I hope everyone else is having fun here too. Oh and happy wedding day Jeff and Pia.

[/lca] link

Fri, 15 Apr 2005

Use the laser for good - 23:54
So many people will have seen this story about Laser Controlled Zombie Flies (I got the link from BoingBoing), which of course has people saying things like "I, for one, welcome our remote-controlled headless zombie fly overlords."

Of course, when, some time later today I was reading Bruce Schneier's writeup on the difficulties involved with hacking the papal election system and I came across the following line

I read that the Vatican is worried about laser microphones, as there are windows near the chapel's roof.

it had me thinking, yeah thats right, and you probably do not want the papal election to be hacked by headless, laser remote-controlled catholic cardinals.

[/amusing] link

Good ol' stat has been around a while - 21:22
In order to take my mind of other stuff while eating dinner, I took up the challenge presented by Stewart as commented on by Mikal, has the command line utility stat been around for a while in debian?

So I do not have any of my machines still running buzz or rex these days, so I can not simply log in and have a look. I had a look around, as noticed by Stewart stat is in the coreutils package now days, which is part of base. Looking back through some archived debian distributions I can find some traces. In the current sid coreutils changelog.Debian the first entry is from 2002 stating it is a combination of the old base packages textutils, fileutils and shellutils. Those older packages do not appear to contain it, however looking at a Contents file from 2.0 (hamm) (released in 1998 AFAIR) there is a stat program, in the utils section rather than base, in a package named stat.

So it looks like stat has been available for a fairly long while in debian, I also suspect it has been in debian since that time, and in coreutils since the package was created, in the changelog for coreutils the first mention of stat is.

- stat accepts a new file format, %B, for the size of each block reported by %b

Which is dated Mar 2003, as it is not a message along the lines of adding stat to package, I think it has been around for a while and in base at least since 2002. I say, I think, as I can not summon the effort required to track the history of the command in debian simply to suggest Stewart may be being lazy, after all I am lazy too.

[/comp/linux] link

Wed, 13 Apr 2005

Missy Higgins first headline tour, Canberra gig - 23:48
Tonight I went and saw Missy Higgins and two support artists (Dave Macdonald and Serena Ryder) at the Canberra gig of her first headline Australian tour. I went with Prue, her friend Liz and Rob Parnell (long time friend of mine, who I rang this morning to see if he was keen as some other friend had dropped out)

I have been a huge fan of Missy Higgins ever since hearing her unearthed performance on Triple J 3 or 4 years ago. Until her self titled EP was released I was subsisting on the recording of "All for believing Triple" J had for download and the few real audio files of one or two other tracks. When the EP was released I was so excited I talked a friend at Triple J into getting me a copy a month before it was released, then I bought a copy as soon as I could anyway. Needless to say I am an avid fan and love the fact Missy is getting so much popular recognition in Australia (and the US too I should note).

Before going in to the seats I saw Chris, Kelly, Martin (BCG) and Mel. As I have no idea about music and BCG does I suggest reading what he writes about the gig if he does a review. I had a chat to them about the impending gig, how excited I was, what the hell I was doing slacking off from organising lca, etc. I forgot to thank Martin for getting me hooked on Jodi Martin, I am sure I will remember one day. I was telling Martin about a brilliant cover I had heard Missy perform on Triple J one day but could not remember the details. The song I heard covered was Patty Griffin's song Moses, I adored the Missy Higgins cover and would love to get hold of a copy somehow, it has not yet been released on any album so I can not buy it alas. Heck I would even like to hear the Patty Griffin version as I have not heard that (I have a Melissa Ferrick album with a cover of Moses which is why the lyrics were familiar)

I really should start talking about the gig I suppose, after all, sleep beckons. The opening support act was Dave Macdonald (spelling?), who I found unexciting. He was a very good guitarist, in his playing you could hear some really interesting techniques and combinations of ideas. He meshed his voice very well to his guitar music, however I found his voice completely uninspiring and uninteresting. Many of his tracks had a common sounding basic melody going, however he added some rather cool bits on top of it in different songs to differentiate. It sounded like he had some switch or similar on the guitar to change tuning or acoustics easily as it seemed to switch from a deep hollower sound to a higher pitched squeakier sound a few times. As for his voice, as I said it did not interest me, he had one lyric that really stood out in my mind which was great. "the junkies in the subways are the canaries of our souls" which has some good imagery and language use.

The second support act, Serena Ryder, can be summed up in one word I think. Brave. Serena opened with a vocal number that came off brilliantly, if the rest of her set had continued in that vein it would have been amazing. After this though she picked up a guitar and it started going downhill. For an artist with such an amazingly capable voice it was a shame she did not have the guitar skill or some other instrument with which to back it up. Especially following a guitar player as good as Dave Macdonald, Serena's lack of guitar ability shone through. Worse yet she had some tuning problems and eventually requested another guitar from backstage, seemingly one that was not her own. I was interested a fair bit in Serena's music mostly because of the capability of her voice as she used it in most of the tracks she played. If anything though she overused her voice, using it at times as some form of instrument with which to hit you over the head, going from quiet to loud within words of the lyrics for no real apparent reason.

This reminded me of an mp3 John Zigman told me about a few weeks ago, some friend of his had sent it to him, it starts of really quiet for a few minutes, so much so that you need to turn your speakers way up to hear anything. Then a few minutes in this voice says really loudly "stop looking at porn at work and spying on your co workers" or something along those lines, basically designed such that if played at work it will be heard by everyone on the floor due to having your speakers turned up so high. I am however probably going off on a tangent here, the comparison did however make me giggle. Speaking of amusing tangents, this is a good sig as used by Dave@

Never go off on tangents, which are lines that intersect a curve at only one point and were discovered by Euclid, who lived in the 6th century, which was an era dominated by the Goths, who lived in what we now know as Poland. - Nov. 1998 issue of Infosystems Executive.

I may however have become sidetracked once more, I liked Serena Ryder's voice, but agree with what Rob suggested,she really needs to go away and learn to play some instrument really really well in order to use it in support of her voice.

Most of us were of course there to see Missy Higgins perform, and I am glad to say she did not disappoint. Missy herself did a stunning job. Opening with a new (unreleased) song and then continuing with a fairly good range of tracks, almost half the material she performed was unreleased which I personally enjoy (woohoo new stuff). My favourite Missy Higgins song, Special Two, was performed last of the night and I enjoyed it, Scar was in there somewhere. Ten Days and Nightminds came across differently, as did a few of the others, which gets me to the part of the performance I struggled to get used to or enjoy. There was a largish backup band playing with Missy, some features of it were cool (as suggested by Missy herself) such as an Accordian. However there was a bit much backing music noise at times I thought. Somewhat drowning Missy and her wonderful piano playing out, or sometimes simply being too loud and solid for the song being performed. Part of my problem here I am sure is being unused to hearing some of those tracks with all the extra instruments, however I really would like to see the volume or noise level altered a bit.

This is Missy Higgins' first headline tour, and it appears she is handling it well, at times Missy did seem somewhat overwhelmed to be the headline act and on stage wowing so many people, however at the age of 21 I think she is handling this amazingly well. I look forward with much anticipation to seeing how Missy Higgins music develops over the coming years.

To conclude (for now) Missy Higgins rocked and fun was had.

Update: BCG has yet to put a review up, however Michael Neuling has mentioned the gig, and he reminded me of something else, Josh from The Waifs was playing guitar for Missy, which is pretty cool. I remember when Missy introduced the band and I thought, is that the same Josh Cunningham, I was too far away to see him clearly obviously it was (I guess there are not huge numbers of capable folk guitar players named Josh Cunningham in Australia so the odds were good anyway)

[/leisure/music] link

Tue, 12 Apr 2005

A whole lot more information for just went out - 22:39
I just sent an email to the various forum with more details people attending need to know. Read it here if you did not receive it by email.

[/lca] link

Which was first? - 10:08
Well according to Mikal it was the blog and not, as many suspect either the chicken or egg.

tags for this post: blog chicken egg

[/amusing] link

Mon, 11 Apr 2005

Shaving those excess links from the file - 23:37
Well I still need to complete the email to all delegates for lca2005 I intended to send out today, it is well after 11pm, I have to be awake at 5:15am in the morning and I have a bunch of other stuff to do, why in hell am I blogging (apart from having no time for the activity for a while and thus not having done so for a while) ahh well creative mismanagement of time in the blogspace happens once more.

In response to Mikal's ponderings on shaving direction, I always go with the grain, basically because otherwise I get the ingrown hairs and pimples and stuff as he has kind of noticed. I had more than enough problems with acne as a teenager (I was on roaccutane (also an abc radio program about roaccutane) for a while among other things) so I tend to try to avoid anything faintly resembling acne now days.

As for shaving those links, though I do not yet have time to write about my chicken coop terrorism in response to Mikal building a chicken coop, I do feel the need to offload some links (half the reason being so I can find them again easily).

From boingboing, cool the English language wikipedia will be available on cd/dvd, this is probably a great resource, basically an article with links to and suggestions how to find good images and the like online. After spending some time in the last few weeks for the conference and myself trying to find artwork for things it sounds great if it can be made easier.

From time to time Mikal, myself and others have commented on how annoying Planet is as a news aggregator, one of the big problems is it has completely and utterly broken date handling that is non trivial to fix. I saw a link on planet debian somewhere about someone using Rawdog for this task (aggregating feeds into a webpage), well documented and hopefully not as broken, if I ever have time I should check it out. (oh and unlike planet, this is in debian)

Heh, this fucking beautiful fucking piece of fucking writing fucking rocks. (like a great like excuse to like swear my like arse off like on my blog, like you fucking know?)

So during lca meetings and I suspect at other times Mikal has a habit of being creative when he answers the telephone. The Apostropher suggested these creative Pizza place answers (in audio so you could podcast them I guess) were amusing, who knows.

On another note I have had my Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream album playing since getting home at 8:30pm, damn fine album this.

I have a bunch more links I really need to clear out of my must blog about file, but for now I need sleep more. First thing tomorrow get the instructional email out to lca delegates. The longer I leave it the more of a book they will have to read in one email...

[/various] link

Wed, 06 Apr 2005

Street Directory - 17:51
How I continually forget this is beyond me, however there is a street directory site someone showed me a few months ago that is far easier to use than whereis. Putting here now so I can find the street map street directory thingy that does not suck as much as whereis.

My big problem with whereis is how horribly slow it is, this street directory site seems to respond almost instantly. Also people used to reading Sydways or Melways or whatever will find this style of map easier to read, of course the opposite applies to people used to UBD maps.

[/various] link

Sat, 02 Apr 2005

DIY lights or frames. - 16:51
Friday week ago I was looking around the web for information on making stickers for bicycle frames and details about painting and paint choices. I stumbled across Suzy Jackson's website, a most useful resource. Suzy lives in Sydney working for CSIRO (ATNF) and went to the effort of learning how and subsequently building herself a steel road bike frame. On those pages she has details about how she did each individual step, and some details of the second frame she built for use in Audax style events.

I rang Mikey to ask him if he had seen her website or if he knew her. Mikey had indeed seen the site, and had hoped to meet up with her at the Alpine Classic this year in order to see the 3 Watt Luxeon light Suzy built for herself.

Though I do not have the time, or I think the inclination to build myself a frame, there would be a lot of learning and time spent to get it right, I am impressed with this effort and the write up of the process is extremely interesting. I do not think I want to go to quite as much effort as Suzy did to create stickers for my mountain bike frame, nor do I wish to paint it myself, however it is great to see people doing all of this themselves. Also I have been thinking of ways to combine a long lasting light for the helmet with a powerful HID light on the bars and I like the look of the light she made, I should talk to Mikey and Pete and see if we can work out a way to put one together, also with the regulator that will allow use of the nightstick rated batteries I have with the light.

[/mtb] link

Fri, 01 Apr 2005

A mountain bike course should be inspiring - 23:19
The backstory here has a lot to do with the bush fires that hit Canberra around Christmas 2001, the story continues with the 2003 bush fires that ravaged Canberra on January 18th 2003. The Canberra mountain bike community lost an amazing trail network in 2001, and then we lost the remaining parts of that network of incredible single track in 2003.

The network of single track extending through Greenhills had been built slowly since around 1995 and 1996 by a host of trail gnomes, the Kowalski Brothers, Alan of Jelly Bean fame, DeathMarch, etc. The tracks from Mad Cow descending from Dairy Farmers hill through Freight Train, or various other nearby tracks, onward to the magic that was Labyrinth and on toward Bombalina and Jelly Bean, or a whole host of other options available for a single track loop through the area. All of these tracks, within easy riding distance over the centre of the city were often taken for granted until we lost them. This area was a mountain bike Mecca drawing people from all over Australia, and for good reason, the riding in Greenhills was something to be savoured.

Flowing tracks, not all smooth, not all bumpy, berms, good use of contour lines, the occasional obstacle or diversion around something more difficult to ride, stretching far enough to enable complete loops on single track as long as 15 or even 20 KM. Also with the tracks this close to town motor bikes were rare users of the area, though often they could be heard, or sighted on Mt Stromlo itself (where there were more tracks, and more to come too)

The first Mont 24 Hour race was held in 1999, the course utilised a loop set up on single track and fire road through the Greenhills area, a similar course was used again in 2000 and 2001. After the 2001 bush fires the 24 Hour race had to move most of the course over onto Mt Stromlo for 2002 and use some of the new tracks developed off the back of that hill with a final 5 KM looping back through Tricky Dick and Back Track on the campsite side of the river in Greenhills. The tracks on Stromlo, possibly due to less use, possible due to more motor bike induced damage, and at times due to the design and layout of the tracks were not quite as good as those in Greenhills that were lost to the fires. However finishing up on 5KM of incredible greenhills track before coming back into camp certainly helped bring the grin on once more.

Anyway using these trails that had slowly appeared and changed over the years we ran the 24 hour race was a godsend, the availability of good tracks meant a course could be constructed for the event that would inspire riders and put a grin on their faces. In a race (I would argue in any race, but certainly in a 24 hour race, especially one we like to think of as the best mountain bike event in Australia) the course should be fun, it should be so much fun that team riders become jealous of the solo riders as they get to keep riding and thus have more fun. Team members should be sitting in their camp wishing they could be out there doing a lap all the time, you should finish a lap wanting to go and do another immediately because you had so much fun on the previous one.

After the 2003 bush fires CORC had to move the Mont 24 Hour race to a new location, we chose Kowen Forest, in the north east corner of the ACT this area remained unburnt and was the largest forest area left, all of which meant we could hold mountain bike races in it. The biggest problem however is, due to the distance from the centre of town, no mountain bikers had ridden in the area much or had the inclination to develop trails, CORC had to go in and develop a brand new 17 KM race course from scratch. Paul Cole volunteered for the task and subsequently spent week after week driving and walking through the forest areas working out where a basic loop might be able to go and getting ready to put new track in. Paul did a fantastic job in mapping out the basic loop and getting the tracks in with teams of people motivated to come and help we did get a course in there rather quickly.

Now we get to some problems, first, to build good single track is difficult, and time consuming. The International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) have a host of articles and links and such about building the best quality single track you can. Properly constructed tracks should last 30 or 40 years with little to no maintenance under a heavy load of riding. IMBA have a team of people that travel the world and consult with mountain bike groups around the world, and run trail building courses and training. The IMBA guys have been to visit us in Canberra a few times and many of us have participated in some track building work with them. However to build IMBA quality tracks can take such a long time, even with a team of 5 to 10 people you may only be able to develop around 200 metres of track in 3 or 4 days. All this depends on the available materials, the soil structure, the slope and contours and a few other elements.

CORC did not have the man power or time to build the 24 hour course to these standards, for the 2003 race we had to get a course in and ready in time for the race, other concerns were secondary. We also come up against some other problems in Kowen Forest. Because of the size of the forest and the distance from town the area has always been popular with motor cross riders, long before we started venturing into the forest. They have a few varied motor bike single tracks spread through the forest though they mostly used to spend their time riding on the fire roads. Once we started putting tracks into the forest they started using them, almost as soon as they appeared. Some motor bike riders have the skill to be able to improve rough tracks as they ride them through their style and use of the throttle. Most however do not and do not give any thought to the fact their bikes can rip a track to pieces on corners and braking.

However I would argue that the better constructed a track is the less damage a motor bike can do to that track. Fun single track has a quality known as flow. You never have a downhill section that picks up speed followed by a sharp corner as this requires breaking heavily before the corner and loosing speed for the flat bit afterwards. Instead to go downhill you should finish with a long gradual corner to change directions, followed by a turn up the hill a bit to wash of speed naturally. Transitions to quick turns and sharp corners should not be made immediately either, tracks should gradually get tighter or have a forced rise or other speed impediment just before a slow section to speed is washed of naturally. Also tracks should follow contours well mostly, veering up and down with a well benched edge into the side of the hill if the ground is not flat. You also have to ensure tracks are designed so water will run off them naturally rather than pool anywhere on the track or run down a section of track causing water induced ruts. One more consideration is the use of berms on fast corners to keep speed and flow as it should be at that point. To construct a berm properly you need to build it with rocks to keep it in place under load, then pack dirt into the rocks, preferably wetting the dirt before use to get a more resilient berm.

If you put the effort into designing tracks as detailed above a motor bike would also follow the flow of the track, not cornering (with excessive thrust biting into the trail) or braking suddenly for a corner (with their much higher weight) and powering out of the slow corner (thus digging up the track some more). Most sections of the 24 hour course do not have the above considerations taken into account, and a few times brand new unridden sections of track have been put into the race not long before the event. Untested track, that which has not been ridden will not have any problems worked out and is likely to be both rougher and more susceptible to damage than older or better designed track.

Now I am not saying the track sucks as it currently stands, the 24 hour race is still a lot of fun. The event itself is great and any riding can be fun so there is enjoyment to be had, however in my opinion the course does not inspire people as described above. Previous courses or other courses however do and have brought this level of awe and fun into the sport. Alan Anderson has built a large amount of tracks in Sparrow Hill and also built some of the more fun tracks in Greenhills. Rod Higgins designed the Nationals course that used to be out at Blue Range before the 2003 fires wiped it out. Richard Bonjter has ridden a bike more than most people and also has built the occasional fun single track (of which some were burnt in Greenhills). The Kowalskis have built some inspired tracks in Greenhills and even one track that is now used in the new Mont course was built by them, and I must say it is one of the best sections of track in Kowen. So I have been talking to these people and working out ways to go about this fun track business. Alan and I will be out in Kowen a bit getting a good idea of what needs to be done to improve the 24 hour course. All of this is with the aim of making the 24 hour course more fun this year.

I have a list of 7 dates (some just one day, some the entire weekend) leading up to the 24 hour race that we will announce soon on the CORC website during which we hope people who agree with my ideas above and want to put the effort into improving the existing 24 hour course loop will come and help out at. Often when building a track it appears to flow when walking through it, it appears to be smooth as silk when walking over it, but as soon as you ride a bike on the track you realise that those two things are not entirely true. I want people to come and help, come and spend half a day or a whole day on one existing 200 metre stretch of track, bring their bikes out and make each section we work on flow, make each section tough to stand up to motor bikers, make each section of track we work on a hell of a lot of fun to ride.

Initially I think, as suggested by Jim, we need to ensure the start and the end of each lap are incredible fun. Fortunately we have the switchbacks at the start which are a hoot, and definitely a signature piece of the course. If we can work out some way to put a signature piece in the last 2 KM of the course also that will help people's memories from each lap be positive. There will be other work after that too though. We probably also need to do some maintenance to the switchbacks to help them stand up to the punishment from motor bike riders and from the race itself.

[/mtb/events] link

Need a new different atom feed generator - 19:03
I noticed some of the timestamps on my diary were messed up. I tracked it down to the time having the first digit in the hour removed from the time. I have not worked out exactly why but the atomfeed plugin I put in place on Wednesday is breaking the times. Mikal did ask my why I did not simply make the atom feeds with a flavour rather than this mechanism. The main reason was this is the thing I found to do it on the blosxom plugin page. For now I have disabled the plugin (so the atom feed link is broken currently) until I find an atom feed flavour I like.

[/comp/blosxom] link

Wed, 30 Mar 2005

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

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

Sourced from here.

[/lca] link

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

[/comp/blosxom] link

Tue, 29 Mar 2005

Sold Out - 23:09
I really need to go to bed, and I still have a TODO list for lca stuff for today that is unfinished, however I feel the need to mention this (even though both Mikal (with countdown) and Jeremy have already done so). 2005 sold out earlier today, we have a limit of 500 delegates imposed upon us by the largest theatre in the complex we are using for the conference. We had an alternative plan available to allow for more people we could have implemented 8-10 weeks ago, however registration numbers at the time suggested we should not, thus we stuck with our original limit of 500 delegates.

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

[/lca] link

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

From the timing seat with coffee (full size)

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

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

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

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

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

Oh and I have the results online too.

[/mtb/events] link

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

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

[/comp/internet] link

Mon, 28 Mar 2005

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

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

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

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

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

[/comp/software] link

Sat, 26 Mar 2005

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

[/mtb/gear] link

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

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

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

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

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

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

[/various] link

Thu, 24 Mar 2005

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

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

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

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

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

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

[/mtb/gear] link

Tue, 22 Mar 2005

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

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

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

[/leisure/food] link

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

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

[/leisure/books] link

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[/various] link

Mon, 21 Mar 2005

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

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

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

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

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

[/mtb] link

Sun, 20 Mar 2005

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

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

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

[/amusing] link

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

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

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

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

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

[/comp/internet] link

Fri, 18 Mar 2005

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

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

[/mtb/events] link

Tue, 15 Mar 2005

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

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

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

[/comp/internet] link

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

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

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

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

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

[/comp/internet] link

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

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

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

[/amusing] link

Mon, 14 Mar 2005

Bright shiny head torchy goodness - 15:38

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

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

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

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

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

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

[/mtb/gear] link

Wed, 09 Mar 2005

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

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

[/various] link

Have a cow - 13:21

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

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

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

[/mtb/events] link

Tue, 08 Mar 2005

Thinking along the same lines - 18:53
It is kind of funny, though at times annoying, how with distributed groups of people working on similar things, there can be misunderstandings even though you are thinking along the same lines and there really ought not be. Looking at what Joey Hess has just written about a recent Debian release team meeting seemed so familiar to me. is run as a project of Linux Australia, it is however run by a team of people selected each year in a new location. Due to this the Linux Australia committee are not on the ground seeing the day to day conference business, and the crew for any given year do not see the Linux Australia day to day stuff or concerns often.

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

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

[/lca] link

Mon, 07 Mar 2005

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

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

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

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

[/various] link

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

[/various] link

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[/leisure/music] link

Thu, 03 Mar 2005

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

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

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

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

[/various] link

Tue, 01 Mar 2005

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

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

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

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

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

[/comp/design] link

Sun, 27 Feb 2005

Maps of Sparrow Hill - 11:07
On Friday I uploaded some maps of the Sparrow Hill single track network from Russ Baker. Unlike the older maps of Majura or the sadly burnt Stromlo and Greenhills, these have contour data, this makes them a bit harder to read if you are used to the old maps, but in the end they will be more useful. I uploaded a low resolution map for viewing, printing and general reference, for those who really want the huge view a hi resolution map.

[/mtb] link

New STI Levers for my road bike - 10:37

Two new 105 sti levers and bits (full size)

Broken right hand sti lever (full size)

Functional Left hand Ultegra lever (full size)

Odd socks^Wlevers (full size)
For the past two years I have had difficulty with the shifting on the right hand sti lever on my road bike. This is the lever that moves the back derailleur up and down the 9 sprocket cluster. The problem has been that the inside lever used for downshifts has not worked independently, I have had to hold the outside lever still with my fingers while I downshift with the inside lever.

Shimano STI levers often fail in this manner, usually it is the back shift lever that goes, probably due to much heavier use than the other lever (and I suspect, more complexity in the lever). However STI levers cost a lot, a pair Ultegra STI levers as I had on the bike retail for ~ AUD $500 for a pair, or if imported around US $200 for the pair. This is somewhat steep, especially if you consider a Campagnolo Centaur groupset (with all but hubs) can be purchased for AUD $900, which is effectively equivalent to Shimano Ultegra, full Ultegra can be purchased for around AUD $1100.

With the high price of replacing levers, because I was still able to shift gears I simply got used to the change and continued using them. Last Wednesday the right hand lever finally stopped working and a few minutes later popped apart with springs and nuts and little bits of lever going everywhere over the road. I was finally forced to buy some new levers. I am thinking of getting a Centaur groupset on my Lemond frame when I get it back, so I decided not to spend the money on Ultegra, I got Shimano 105 sti levers, this is the next groupset down the range from Shimano. The pair of levers still cost AUD $430 which is kind of ridiculous.

I only bothered putting one lever on the bike for now, the Ultegra lever on the left hand side still works fine. I noticed when using the 105 lever they really, noticeably feel cheaper than the Ultegra levers, the click feels a bit plasticy or wishy washy, not such a positive feel, I also notice the lever has a lot of plastic in the assembly, most places where the Ultegra lever is made from aluminum this is plastic. Now it is time to ride the road bike, and look forward to two minute noodles and toast for meals for the next fortnight <g>.

[/mtb/gear] link

Sat, 26 Feb 2005

Crazy hats in the monkey sphere. - 20:27
Once again time to throw some links up here and get them out of my to blog file. Being a free software fan as I am, the use of unencumbered data formats or source data is always a good thing in my world view. This free fonts blog I saw a link to on Metafilter is a cool resource.

The 2005 Independent Food Festival Awards site is deadly. A collection or blog links to the best (With cool and quirky names too) submitted food items from food blogs around the world. I found the link via kottke, and I have to say some of the food sounds delicious, such as the Best use of a Tortilla, mmmm fresh Tortilla.

Again from kottke, an article for photographers pointing out that a better camera does not make you a better photographer. Basically saying fetishising your camera equipment is pointless and wastes valuable time that could be spent taking photos and thus becoming a better photographer. This argument is quite accurate, and really needs to be employed often in cycling circles. A better bike does not make you a better rider. Getting out and riding a lot makes you a better rider, as does increased fitness, which comes largely from more riding.

In the vein of those modified movie titles, are these new romance novel titles. (source BoingBoing).

I saw mention of a Crazy Hat Day, at some school (not at the Melbourne Cup), damn some of them are cool, I almost wish my school used to have that, what with my attempt to out hat Jim's 2003 Polaris hat last year. (I later learned he was simply wearing a beanie high on his head, not anything as cool as a felt Lapp lander hat). I wonder if we should instigate a crazy hat day at work.

For the heck of it, an article talking about the Monkeysphere (it sounds cool) and if you really feel the need to waste some time, reading through the 0xDEADBEEF archives (I link to the Metafilter mention of the list as there are good links into it and comments) should do it for you, both of these came from Metafilter.

[/various] link

Fri, 25 Feb 2005

Our experience with Dell Thermal Event error - 22:18
Late last week some of the Dell Optiplex gx270 desktops in the department started spontaneously shutting down. Upon restart we saw the error "Previous shutdown due to thermal event.".

This suggests something like fan failure allowing the case to become too hot, so last Friday I looked closer and noticed the power supply fan in one of the systems was indeed dead. We replaced the power supply and the machine appeared to work, at least initially. Ringing Dell we requested they rectify this problem with a few replacement power supplies (4 machines had failed at this point).

On Monday we discovered the machine with the replacement power supply dead again, and it would not stay up for more than 5 minutes after booting due to over heating for some reason. All this time I had been googling around a fair bit trying to find if anyone had any real suggestions about what could cause this (happening to more than one machine in so short a time was unlikely to be a simple hardware failure, too much of a coincidence).

Google showed some Dell support pages which were no real help, if you see the error "Previous shutdown due to thermal event." check that both fans are operating. Well yeah, they were not, but replacing them did not permanently fix it, and we had already been through that. A few comments in various user forums suggested some sort of mother board problem, however were not more specific and only said in some instances Dell had replaced the boards and the problem had gone away.

Dell phone support said they would send a few power supplies, and new CPU's with new fan units, this was their suggestion to us, so they had lined up a tech to come over (a day or two later than our support contract stipulated they should have fixed the problem by).

The tech rocked up with one replacement power supply and fortunately a replacement motherboard (just in case), even though we had reported 4 failures at this point. As soon as we described what was happening to the tech he said "Oh the capacitors on the board near the CPU have failed, they will be leaking or bloated". Apparently this has been happening with a large number of these Dell machines and other similar models. A worrying thing to find out when we remember we have approximately 120 Dell Optiplex gx270's in the department.

We had not even thought to look at the capacitors or anything, fan failure and overheating did not suggest to us that this could be the problem, of course that google searches and Dell tech support also did not suggest this as a possible cause is why I am writing this now (in the hopes, that if it happens to someone else, they can read this account of what a possible cause for the error "Previous shutdown due to thermal event." in Dell desktop machines and other similar hardware.

I suppose, possibly, it should have occurred to us to look at the capacitors, we have had large scale capacitor failure in the past as many nodes of our 192 CPU Bunyip Beowulf Cluster. The capacitors in many boards blew up, leaving large black holes around where they were mounted on the mother board. (Bob has some photos, I can not find them just now after a quick search though)

The failures in the cluster were after prolonged periods of running nothing but sse2 instructions (by prolonged I mean a few days or even weeks at a time), that sort of constant current load was not initially factored into the boards by the manufacturer (Epox). Fortunately in that case Epox replaced all the mother boards with boards that could handle the high current for sustained periods.

In the case of these Dell desktops, most of them have not been working too heavily, sure many run intensive integer stuff for one of our researches (a computer farm) in out of hours time, and they are all turned on 24/7, but this is not particularly high usage. It has been suggested by some other people on campus that

Dell is only the latest in a long line of affected electronics manufactures. MSI (used by Protech), Gigabyte, ABIT, ASUS have been affected over the past 2 years. Motherboards, video cards, TV tuners, apparently even some stand alone DVD players and other home electronics - anything these capacitors have been used in - have been playing up as well.

References: 1, 2, 3.

Since the Dell tech mentioned it had been happening a lot, we have started opening up a large number of the computers in the department and found many capacitors bloated or leaking, just waiting to fail. If you have a Optiplex gx270 maybe you want to have a look at the mother board, the large capacitors near the CPU are the main culprit.

[/comp/hardware] link

Thu, 24 Feb 2005

Tetris to bore you with - 23:46
On Metafilter this morning was a link to Tetris1d, this made me laugh, a lot.

Boingboing had a link to a new flashified version of a Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy text based adventure game, written by Douglas Adams himself, originally released in 1984. I have not looked at it yet, however it promises to be good, if you are a fan of Adams work, are a fan of text based adventure games, or like wasting away the day playing flash games.

On a comp/software note, I received an email from Lars Lindner (the Liferea author) in regards to my diary entry two weeks ago, in which I noticed a disk access every 5 seconds seemingly from Liferea. Anyway Lars pointed out how I could configure this off, I did so and it worked, I have now updated the earlier post. Don't you love free software, though I had the option to learn how to fix this (hop on the mailing list and ask, read the source, etc) I did not pursue this yet. Then today I get this email from the author pointing to additional ways to configure the software and it fixes my gripe.

In reality I should remember to check gconf for stuff that is gnome related, I have had issues in the past with various other gnome software, and people like BCG have pointed out gconf keys for configuring the apps, I guess I just forgot (I do not run a gnome environment, just some of the cool applications).

[/various] link

Wed, 23 Feb 2005

Weird Pros - 11:25
As many people by now know, Hunter S Thompson died this week, I really did not know much about him, though I have seen his representations in modern pop culture from time to time. Anyway I just thought I would mention, this is a hell cool quote.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."-HST

And now updating this entry, so as to avoid excessive posts, another amusing quote, this time in reference to Eleanor Gould, who also died recently, damn maybe I should get the Jim Carroll Band playing.

She could find a solecism in a Stop sign.

[/amusing] link

Tue, 22 Feb 2005

Damn noisy machines - 22:09
One of the controlling nodes for the large Beowulf cluster here (the machine just started making a racket (the power supply fan failing) as it is across the other side of the TSG area here I can hear it. I should wait for Bob before doing anything like shutting it down and replacing bits, so I think maybe it is time to go home, not everything I was trying to get done is finished, but hey it is after 10pm.

On a side note, I got the Jodi Martin album Twenty One Stairs today (as kind of recommended by BCG and the order placement mentioned here), I had to put a cheque in the mail and send off for it, and as it appears the retailer linked from the Jodi Martin website is out of stock of her studio album "Water and Wood", I am trying the postal request and delivery method for that album also. Once I have listened to Twenty One Stairs some more I will probably talk about it more in the correct category (this post is yet more evidence of why I want multiple category post capability in blosxom).

Oh and yeah I notice Hugh mentioned buying and using some white lightning lube on his recumbent. I agree the wax based lubes are good as you have a nice not messy drive train, however the thing I notice is they do not last very long before reapplication is necessary. I use dry lubes on my mtb usually, and have to relube once every 40 to 100 KM most of the time (so often more than once a day, and in endurance races usually once per lap or every two laps), on the road bike I tend to use wet lube (tri-flow being the standard) as it lasts a lot longer between reapplication, and the lack of dust to gunk it up means the drive train can stay cleaner. Of course for Hugh, YMMV.

[/comp/hardware] link

Eben and the GPL as discussed by Groklaw - 17:09
Eben Moglen is a speaker at 2005, delivering a keynote address. Eben is the original Author of the GNU General Public Licence and is the General Counsel for the Free Software Foundation. Thus he has a lot of experience in the licencing of free software, the theories behind the licences and also in legal issues surrounding software licenced under the GPL.

I mention all this because today I saw on Groklaw a really good article "How Not to Kill the Golden Goose" talking about why the GPL is and has been necessary and why it has allowed Linux to ignore commercial interests rather than pander to them.

The article and the comments contain some good imagery or metaphors and views. Such as pointing out how Linux is more comfortable for users than proprietary software

Proprietary software lets me use their software, but only the way they want it used. Like staying at a friend or relatives house. They want certain things in the kitchen done a certain way, and this spice goes on the right and that one next to it, and those glasses can't go in the dish washer, and this pot has to be shined with this product, blah blah. At home, I make those decisions, and if I want to stand the little bottle of basil on its head in the spice rack or throw it in the freezer or mix it with the pepper, there is nothing but common sense to stop me. Do you understand?

Or later when discussing how businesses seem so short sighted, they see this huge cash cow and wish to subvert it to their current way of doing things, even though in the long term that will kill it off.

silly. Business sees one golden egg, Linux, and all it sees is gold, this minute, and if it needs to grab it, killing the goose to get it, so what? I know it's hard to change one's way of thinking, but this is a time when you simply must. Why? Because if you shut down the way Linux was developed in some misguided attempt to bottle it, or remove the license that made it so powerful, you will destroy it. And that's just counterproductive. Instead, you need to figure out not how Linux and the GPL need to change for you, but how you need to change for it.

This is a current concern in the way businesses, end even, unfortunately, governments around the world tend to operate. Governments often do not fund education anywhere near as much as far less important services, if you remember that the more educated your populace the more productive your entire country will be, and thus more prosperous in the world, it does make one wonder about the lack of funding to education around the world. Or in Australia some obvious recent examples, the Australian government selling off Telstra, or in Canberra, the DFAT building, which was sold to private enterprise. Both these actions bring in a large immediate cash swell but in the long term (20 years or more) will cost the government (The Australian People) more. This is the same sort of mindset that seems to behind (though possibly unconsciously) a business wishing to privatise and subvert Linux, a technology that they could never afford to develop or extend into the future.

PJ writes some great stuff here, I should mention a year ago when we were discussing who the invited speakers for 2005 should be, PJ was on the short list. However no one we knew had seen her speak and we could not find out easily if she would be able to deliver a great keynote. In the end we decided to invite Eben Moglen, who will bring a relevant and important perspective to the Australian and international Linux development community members attending 2005, especially in light of the FTA issue in Australia and the Legal issues surrounding Linux currently.

[/lca] link

Photos from the Cotter/Uriarra loop road ride this morning. - 14:08
So I had been wondering about taking photos more often, and I was wondering what photos taken while riding from within a road bunch might look like. I combined the two and have uploaded the results from the 65KM Cotter/Uriarra loop road ride this morning. 32 of the photos were IMO reasonable to put up, the rest I took were too blurry, dark, looking at nothing, etc. Anyway it is a great ride, with hills, not much traffic, away from the city and we were blessed with a great morning for it today.

[/mtb] link

Mon, 21 Feb 2005

Pickling, p123 and doing stupid things faster with more energy - 16:46
So I was looking around for a good She-Ra t-shirt, not for any specific reason, apart from noticing 80's Tees don't have a good one. I found one one some site but did not like it much, however on that site I saw a brilliant coffee mug.

This is the perfect mug for the likes of Matt Barr, Dave@ or Dave "Morgs" Morgan, their feats of silliness on mountain bikes are really quite alarming at times. Matt doesn't drink coffee though, shame on him for messing up the latest plan for world domination.

On planet Gnome this morning I saw some blog meme thing mentioned by John Fleck.

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 123..
  3. Find the fifth sentence..
  4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions..
  5. Don't search around and look for the "coolest" book you can find. Do what's actually next to you..

As suggested, we "bloggers" are all lemmings so here is mine

The book is ISBN: 0954452909

The option is turned off by default because it causes problems in domains that have wildcard MX records.

This morning I mentioned to Nick (owner) and Adam (barista) at the Purple Pickle that rather entertainingly, if you search google for "Purple Pickle" the first hit is for sex toy, my own website gets hits 3 and 4 currently. Nick and Adam and the other staff are in the cafe business, not the website creation business. However Nick wondered why their website was not the first hit.

Lets see now, first off, until this morning I did not even know the cafe had a website. Secondly it is a mostly static site and really does not provide enough of what a popular website would need if you were aiming to have a popular website. The basic premise of this is to provide information that is interesting to people who may come by your site but is still related to your product. I thought I had linked to some article about this a while back, but could not find it from a quick search.

For example a cafe may put some articles about what to look for in good coffee, or coffee making, or information about different coffee beans. The same sort of stuff could be put online about their other products. More than just pricing of a few items, mostly static on the site is needed. However I had to admit it would be difficult to maintain a good website for a business sin this manner, especially when, unlike Tilleys and some other cafe's the Purple Pickle does not have regular events that would bring traffic back often, thus a lot of effort really would be needed to make their website a good destination for people on the web. And really when you think about it, this is not a core business, they have not lost any sales due to people not realising they have a website, so it is not a problem really. And heck if this is anything to go by, my mentioning the cafe website may well get into google, which seems to be the thing that Nick expected would happen magically as soon as they had a web presence (of course it doesn't, but explaining that would take too much time and effort).

Of course another thought on their site, there is bugger all text content, which makes it far more difficult for search engines to do anything with. Whoever they had make the site for them did the create a static site thing well enough, but has made it harder for it to ever get noticed.

[/various] link

Not as sunny bit still fun - 13:34

Towards Civic (full size)

Corner before the steeper section (full size)

Onto the steeper section, from handlebar height (full size)

After claiming how much fun and how lovely the descent off black mountain is last week, I thought I would take some photos today when I did it again before work. Alas it was not quite such a wonderfully sunny and inspiring morning, I still had a nice cruise around before work though.

[/mtb] link

Sun, 20 Feb 2005

What influences bike buying decisions? - 23:10
I have been reading the latest copy of Ride Cycling Review and Australian Mountain Bike today and it got me to thinking about what things really tend to influence my bike purchasing decisions. All of which I am sure are largely subjective.

First off I am a fan of steel as a frame material, also I suspect I would like titanium, though I have never ridden extensively on a frame made from this so I do not know for sure. Things I look for in a frame are reliability, strength, good build, good for the intended use. My road bike is a Lemond steel framed ultegra equipped bike. My better mountain bike is a Rocky Mountain dual 3dlink based dual suspension bike. Though Lemond is not a long running marque of road cycling such as Colnago, Bianchi or Scapin the frame is good for what I use it for, as a diversion from mountain biking for fun and fitness. (Though as Richard has broken his 3 times and I have now broken mine once, I wonder if the strength and reliability criteria is really there with Lemond). I admit when I was looking to purchase my first ever road bike in 2002 I did not put much thought into it, my criteria was, steel frame, my size, ultegra or 105 level groupset.

On the other hand I put more thought into my last mtb purchase. After breaking my steel frame in a crash early last year and being relegated to my aluminium hardtail frame I decided I should buy a dual suspension bike. Rocky Mountain has been around for a long time (in mountain biking, road cycling on the other hand is a much older sport) and they have been using the 3dlink suspension design since around 1995. Due to the longevity of the brand and the people I know who have ridden them and liked them, I had a very high opinion of Rocky Mountain mountain bikes. When I rode it and discovered I liked the ride characteristics and feel a lot more than that of the Kona Kikapu models (I rode one of them for about 1.5 months in 2003) I was keen to buy the Rocky.

If I wanted another road bike I wonder how well placed my aversion to Aluminium and Carbon Fibre is. I do not think I would ride a Carbon bike from most brands, the only one I can think of that really appeals to me is the Bianchi (and geez that white carbon looks sexy, I was sitting behind someone riding one on Thursday morning last week), and to tell the truth I really have no idea why I would like to ride this bike. One of the bikes reviewed in the latest edition of ride is a Teschner aimed at the mass market a bit more than most of his bikes. This frame, made from aluminium with carbon rear end again should not interest me so much. However this time I think I can understand why it would interest me, it is hand built here in Australia, Teschner's bikes have a really good name locally and internationally, and it would at least be comfortable with carbon front and back to take away road buzz.

Of course this diary entry was brought to you by the theory of N+1, after all we all "need" more bikes <g>.

[/mtb/gear] link

Sat, 19 Feb 2005

Rebuilt the road bike back wheel properly this time - 23:40
Due to thunderstorms being forecast for this afternoon (they did not eventuate however) I headed out on the road bike with the Bilbys Saturday morning ride rather than head out for an all day mtb ride I had been planing earlier in the week. Early in the ride I paid for the lack of effort and time put into building my back wheel after the last rim replacement, I had a spoke break, and due to how bad the spoke keys in the Topeak multi tool I had were I was unable to fix the wheel enough to continue on the long ride. (I use Park Tool spoke keys at home, and I am starting to think, as I have the same gauge nipples on all my wheels (which is the black park tool spoke key size) maybe I should simply buy two more and carry one in each of my road and mtb tool kits) I turned around, rode home, fixed the wheel and road out to meet them coming the other way on the long loop. Anyway after this (yet another problem stemming from the bad wheel build) I finally loosened off the entire wheel, put in a new spoke, oiled the nipples and put the effort and time into making a straight, reasonably well tensioned wheel, this should now have less problems.

While riding back out to meet the bunch again I saw a rider in a Purple Pickle Peddlers jersey whom I did not immediately recognise. That is kind of strange as I do know every person who owns one. Anyway after thinking about it for a minute I realised it was Aaron's sister Danielle, out for a ride with their Father (I think), good that is cleared up and no one has been selling their Pickle jerseys on the black market or something.

[/mtb/gear] link

Indian music and Awesome random pants. - 23:12
At dinner tonight I mentioned to my sister some Bollywood music site I had seen. On BoingBoing in December there was mention of a site put online by someone that is aimed at getting you hooked on Bollywood music. The next day someone else made a rather impressive cd cover that could be used for this collection of music, this also got onto BoingBoing

Anyway I have yet to download and listen to the Bollywood music placed online by David Boyk, but it is apparently good.

I was reading Sarah's diary yesterday, which is hosted by blogspot, when I noticed an interesting feature of the blog software. Blogspot provides some buttons along the top, one of which is "Next Blog". What this does is randomly selects another blog hosted by blogspot and loads it. Kind of like using Google's I'm feeling lucky button when searching for all blogspot blogs. This is pretty cool, sure you hit upon some crap diarys, you also however will from time to time find something to entertain you. Such as this guy who in his profile lists his interests as "Pants" (and yes I am pretty sure this is not Jeff in disguise), and has some amusing posts. One of which reminded me of something Jez Spackman pointed out at the Purple Pickle one morning.

The main Barista at the Purple Pickle is a guy named Adam, he does not serve coffee to tables particularly often as he is too busy making it, however when he does he has a distinctive character trait. Unlike most wait staff who simply say "Here you go" or some variation when handing you your coffee, Adam will always say "Awesome" as he hands you your coffee once he has identified who it belongs to. Jez liked the behaviour, something different to liven up the day.

[/various] link

Fri, 18 Feb 2005

Bidon monopolies - 19:35
I have a rather crappy cycling bidon (drink bottle) at home. I own a lo of bidons, but the rest are all pretty good. I was wondering about crappy bidons and good bidons due to this crappy one.

In Australian cycling circles almost every bidon you either buy or get given at an event is made by one company, BoA (crappy website, but you can see what they make). All but two of the drink bottles I own at home are made by Bottles of Australia, including the crappy drink bottle.

The crappy drink bottle came from the 9th Australian Masters Games, which were held in Canberra in 2003, I was given the bottle more recently though. I found out fairly easily the difference in bottles is due to there being a budget bottle available from BoA made from crap plastic. Looking at the website the specs of their budget bottle are indeed quite distinct from those of the original bottle (no prices here, but I am sure schwag suppliers like PaddyWack can give you a quote if you care). This discovery does however lead my to the question of, why in hell did the 9AMG people decide to hand out crappy bottles, every cycling event I go to that does a bottle run gets good quality bottles.

Oh well no matter I have many many good quality bottles from other sources. (which is good as they do actually wear out, I go through about 1 bottle every 6 months, with three in high use on my three bikes, and some I keep in lower rotation use for times I need to use more than one bottle on a bike or at an event). Most of the bottles seem to wear out after about 2 years of somewhat continuous use. (the place they tend to wear out is splitting on the lid where the plastic that holds the lid on to the bottle comes apart and slowly splits the side of the lid).

Of course the entry title is a bit of a misnomer, there are other sports bidon makers in Australia, the two I own that are different are NSW State forests bottles, they have a screw cap lid (which is really strange to use when you are used to normal bidon lids) but on the whole work fine and are made with good quality plastic. I guess the 2004 bottle was also made by someone other than BoA as it has a screw top lid, I can not check as I did not get one at the conference, of course I could probably get one from Mikal as he has the overflow stock of stuff from last year's conference in his garage currently. Also I see other crappy bottles around, such as a Sydney water bottle on a shelf at my sister's place that has a small circumference plastic bite valve on top instead of the traditional rubber surrounded larger bite valve.

Of course I am probably just being a bit of a gear snob again in using the good BoA bottles almost exclusively. Just what I get given a lot, and am used to I guess.

[/mtb/gear] link

Thu, 17 Feb 2005

Mikal's bra - 19:17
News just in, lca 2005 crew member Mikal has just promised he will be wearing a sports bra during 2005 to show off his bustline.

[/lca] link

That house must have been doing at least 30 KMh. - 14:17
Another fun morning on the bike, once again, due to low mtb numbers on Thursday morning, I headed over to Woden at 5:30am this morning for the Southside bunch ride on the road bike. Followed by the Flat coffee ride with the AIS crew and a leisurely (I had been intending to go do another ride after coffee but that was called off, so more coffee time) coffee at the Purple Pickle.

So in the Southside bunch ride, as we pulled onto Adelaide Ave we were behind a truck with a house on it, for the duration of the time we were following it it punched a great big hole in the wind for us to draft and did a similar speed. Thus we (a bunch of ~ 40 cyclists) were drafting behind a house moving at 30 KMh. One of those moments that as Rove might say make you say "What the" when hearing about it.

[/mtb] link

Wed, 16 Feb 2005

Riding on the train pants off - 22:51
I seem to recall Chris bought one of these radioshark things, search, no I stand corrected, he talked about getting one but there is not yet a Linux driver. Anyway BoingBoing had a mention of one today which reminded me what a great thing it would be. The majority of radio tuners available for computers are FM only, generally hooked up with a TV tuner card too. Martijn tracked down rather expensive isa or pci card a few years ago that could do both AM and FM and some other stuff and bought one. He then of course was hit by the problem of trying to receive AM in the noisy (lots of radio wave activity) environment of a computer case.

The reason AM is so important in my opinion is the ability to tune into Radio National and record shows you like (Tivo style) on the computer. There is some other great content on a few other stations in Australia that is (at least in Canberra) only on the AM band too. An FM tuner just is not interesting, so sure Triple J is fantastic and we are lucky to have it, but you can stream it from the net already, and other similar music from other Internet radio stations.

The radioshark gets around the inside computer interference by being external, it is not particularly expensive, now all we need is a Linux driver, an AM and FM radio tivo would be seriously cool.

Other random stuff to include in this post, I found this rather interesting document as an unrelated link in a google search the other day, "HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux", this was initially put together at OLS in 2002 in a BoF, good reading and it has some important points about what to think about if you are serious about encouraging women to become interested in Linux and participate actively in the community. Of my friends, Kristy Bennett and Alison Russell would probably both have some rather good comments on this also as they have both dealt with the atmosphere for a number of years.

Now on a completely unrelated note, to go rather well with the annual MoonAmtrack (mentioned previously) day is this link I saw on kottke this morning, The Fourth Annual No Pants! Subway Ride which as we all know is the sort of event Jeff Waugh either started or will be starting in Sydney any day now.

[/various] link

Tue, 15 Feb 2005

That google juice thing - 14:42
So Andrew has been surprised by the way google juice affects stuff in the past. I must admit I just got a big surprise too. I have known for years I tend to have reasonably high google juice, but this one still surprised me. Last week I posted on my diary some stuff about Louise Werner, lead singer of the British group Sleeper. Today I noticed some google hits in my apache logs from searches for Louise Werner and Sleeper, curious I googled for "Sleeper Louise Werner" and simply "Louise Werner" I am now the top two google hits on that subject.

When I think about it I can see why, the band do not appear to have their own website (they split up anyway AFAIR) and there do not appear to be many fan sites online any more and as mentioned I seem to have some google juice, but it does kind of annoy me, I do not have much information about the band or the lead singer Louise Werner on my website anywhere and thus do not give them a fair treatment if someone is looking for information. Oh well I hope no one is offended by the lack of relevant information if they happen to come here from those searches.

[/comp/internet] link

Mon, 14 Feb 2005

What a wonderful descent - 18:51
I have whined about this a bit in the past, the ANU Student union food is far too expensive and pretty darn average. I needed something more to eat, and wandered over to get some hot chips, the price has gone up this year to AUD $4 for a bucket of chips, and they are not even good chips. If I instead hop on my bike and ride 3 minutes to O'Connor shops (which is close enough to home I could just get more food at home I guess) I can get hot chips from Flatheads Fish cafe at AUD $2.20 per serve, similar size serving, and fresh cooked and much tastier. This is yet another shining example of the ANU Union food being extremely over priced, it is a wonder students can buy anything there. In this instance I rode over to the shops.

Anyway on to cycling. I arrived at work around 8:30am this morning, dropped my bag and stuff and hopped back on the road bike for a climb of black mountain. Damn that is a nice descent, it is a shame it is over so quickly, but on a morning like this it is almost magical, descending the smooth road with the sun glinting off the lake to my right through the trees doing about 70kmh, ahh the joy of exercise and being outside. I finished off with a lap of the lake on the bike path just to spin out and get a more reasonable workout. Good to see the change of bike did not impact my climbing much, at a good (but not too hard) pace I still got to the summit in 12 minutes to the second according to my bike computer, which is a pretty standard time for me to climb black mountain.

[/mtb] link

Sun, 13 Feb 2005

All^WSome of what you probably never wanted to know about me. - 14:12
So a few weeks ago I added the About link to my diary on the left, however I had not actually written an about me page yet so it was a dead link waiting for the hordes of people to scream out in rage at being unable to find out more about me. Well that never happened, however I thought it best not to leave a dead link there even though no one was ever going to read it. So today I wrote some stuff and put it in the About page. Maybe I will even put a photo directly in the page (there is at least one linked there) sometime, but right now I am heading off to the cinema to see The Incredibles with Crash and his daughter Madeleine who, though I love Toy Story 1 and 2, at 5 is possibly an even bigger fan of the Pixar movies than I.

[/various] link

Sat, 12 Feb 2005

The replacement road bike - 21:05

Before (full size)

After (full size)
After Ben kindly leant me the replacement road bike, I stripped the frame down, and transferred all the bits from my bike to the new frame and forks. I had to buy a new bottom bracket as my cranks sat out a lot further on this bike than the cranks Ben had on there. I also had to buy the cable guides to go on the downtube shifter knobs as I have STI shifters. A new seatpost, the frame needs a 26.8mm seatpost, I had a 27.2mm post on my road bike, the post Ben had in there was sitting well beyond maximum safe extenstion (about 2 cm of post were in the frame) where Ben had it sitting.

The photos to the left are the before and after shots. I had a quick ride on the bike today, it really does feel very nice. The weight is about the same as my bike was (not much heavier), the frame size is almost perfect for me, the rake on the forks is a bit different so changes the handling slightly but it will not take long to get used to. I have to continue using Ben's front brake and front derailleur for now also as my own do not fit the frame or forks correctly, but it all works well and I am going to have some fun riding this until I can get my frame up and running again, who knows maybe I should just negotiate a price for the bike with Ben and buy it, having extra bikes and bike frames and such is a good thing.

[/mtb/gear] link

Better photos of the break in my road frame - 20:57

full size

full size

full size
After taking the rather blurry photos the other day I found a copy of my camera Manual online at the Canon website and worked out how to do macro photos with my camera. (it really is pretty damn easy) so I took some more photos of my frame (now with all the parts stripped off the frame) to show off the break in the chainstay.

[/mtb/gear] link

The Phantom was married on my birthday. - 20:35
The other day I was rereading Frew #634 Phantom, the wedding issue, when I noticed the date on the wedding invitations. November 24th, how cool is that, The Phantom was married to Diana on my birthday. This is I am entirely sure a small things please small minds occasion but what the hey <g>.

[/leisure] link

Fri, 11 Feb 2005

Strange behaviour from liferea - 22:47
I have been using the liferea aggregator for a while now to read news feeds on my laptop. Tonight I noticed my laptop hard disk was doing a disk access every 5 seconds. As I did not have much software open I found this a surprise. In the end I tracked it down to liferea.

Wondering what was causing it I straced the program

[22:35:10] 101 oneiros sjh ~>ps auxw | grep liferea
sjh 26098 0.1 1.9 49256 12416 pts/6 Sl 22:21 0:02 /usr/bin/liferea-bin
[22:35:19] 102 oneiros sjh ~>strace -tt -p 26098 -o /tmp/sout
Process 26098 attached - interrupt to quit
Process 26098 detached
[22:35:59] 103 oneiros sjh ~>egrep -v 'ioctl|gettimeofday|poll' /tmp/sout | less

Which gets rid of the stuff it is doing a lot of and leaves me with the remaining system calls and the time at which they happened. Looking at this there is something obvious happening every 5 seconds that would indeed cause a disk access.

22:36:04.928666 mknod("/home/sjh/.liferea/new_subscription", S_IFIFO|0600) = -1 EEXIST (File exists)
22:36:04.928740 open("/home/sjh/.liferea/new_subscription", O_RDONLY|O_NONBLOCK) = 13
22:36:04.928783 read(13, "", 256)       = 0
22:36:04.928812 close(13)               = 0
22:36:09.928930 mknod("/home/sjh/.liferea/new_subscription", S_IFIFO|0600) = -1 EEXIST (File exists)
22:36:09.928992 open("/home/sjh/.liferea/new_subscription", O_RDONLY|O_NONBLOCK) = 13
22:36:09.929036 read(13, "", 256)       = 0
22:36:09.929065 close(13)               = 0
22:36:14.929187 mknod("/home/sjh/.liferea/new_subscription", S_IFIFO|0600) = -1 EEXIST (File exists)
22:36:14.929253 open("/home/sjh/.liferea/new_subscription", O_RDONLY|O_NONBLOCK) = 13
22:36:14.929296 read(13, "", 256)       = 0
22:36:14.929324 close(13)               = 0
22:36:19.929446 mknod("/home/sjh/.liferea/new_subscription", S_IFIFO|0600) = -1 EEXIST (File exists)
22:36:19.929502 open("/home/sjh/.liferea/new_subscription", O_RDONLY|O_NONBLOCK) = 13
22:36:19.929544 read(13, "", 256)       = 0
22:36:19.929572 close(13)               = 0

It is a named pipe, which could change the behaviour of disk activity but still, under normal circumstances the following would apply.

Because it closes the file every time the disk does a sync. I had a look through the config options for liferea and can not find one to tell it to stop doing that, of course I have the option to look at the source and find out why all this is happening, but for now I think I will just stay annoyed at it. Unless anyone knows how to stop this behaviour?

Update: As mentioned the Liferea emailed me and told me how to disable these updates and it has stopped the disc accesses.

There is a gconf option to disable the checking of this pipe.

If you want to do so set the boolean gconf key /apps/liferea/disable-subscription-pipe

I started up gconf-editor and hey presto there are more configuration options there, and this one worked. Thanks Lars.

[/comp/software] link

Unable to access - 21:49
So around 2:30pm this afternoon something broke on the link between Comindico and Apex (where is hosted) Apex have their downlinks through transact and when I spoke to them on the phone around 4:30pm they said they still had not heard back from Transact as to what was causing the problem. Now, after 9pm something is still broken. From ANU I get the following traceroute output.

[21:54:04] 1 diver sjh ~>traceroute
traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 38 byte packets
 1  sneakya (  0.371 ms  0.305 ms  0.226 ms
 2 (  0.548 ms  0.436 ms  0.450 ms
 3 (  0.557 ms  0.438 ms  0.456 ms
 4 (  0.557 ms  0.443 ms  0.454 ms
 5 (  1.307 ms  1.303 ms  1.077 ms
 6 (  16.171 ms  14.794 ms  15.102 ms
 7 (  15.485 ms  17.360 ms  15.313 ms
 8 (  28.724 ms  29.073 ms  28.620 ms
     MPLS Label=354 CoS=3 TTL=1 S=0
 9 (  29.312 ms  28.825 ms  28.473 ms
     MPLS Label=350 CoS=3 TTL=1 S=0
10 (  28.359 ms  28.577 ms  28.593 ms
     MPLS Label=442 CoS=3 TTL=1 S=0
11 (  28.346 ms  28.592 ms  28.327 ms
12  * * *

From pretty much everywhere else I get the same endpoint stopping traffic,, which at a guess is the comindico north Canberra gateway or something.

I have written in the past about how annoying it is to be disconnected from my email when is inaccessible. So far with the downtime of around 7 hours it really is starting to get ridiculous. Yes I openly admit to being an Internet addict <g>, and I want my email. That this takes the Bilbys website and a whole bunch of other sites offline on calyx along is just more annoying.

[/comp/internet] link

Thu, 10 Feb 2005

At 9:09am learn how to use a knife to open a can of whupass. - 21:05
After opening CSIT N101 at work for the Programmers SIG I came home to do some more work on getting the replacement road bike up and running. I still need one or two bits I think. I don't really have much else to say, I spent more time today at work with Bob tying up some of the last few loose ends on the new Student Lab image for all the computers there. (120 Debian boxes) so I might as well throw some links up. Oh yeah another new house mate moved some stuff in today, she is still waiting for some more of her furniture so will move in for good next week, just one more of the three new house mates still to move in.

Metafilter had a link to a blog by some french guy, 09h09, in which he takes a photo of himself every day at 09:09am no matter what he is doing or where he is. He has been doing this daily since October 2002, that is a hell of a lot of dedication. I kind of like it too, the guy makes me think of Peter Wingfield a bit. It has me thinking, something some people (such as Heather Armstrong) do is make the effort to put a photo on their diary once a day. Martin Pool will often upload photos also, being an avid photographer and all that. Maybe I should upload more here, of course Alli, Andrew and others would simply argue I would just be feeding my diary addiction more.

Last Thursday Metafilter had a link to this site about Knife Skills for Chefs. I enjoy cooking, and my family and friends tell me I am reasonably good at it, however one place I would love to improve is in knife handling. Professional chefs can cut up vegetables in a fraction of the time the general public can. I guess it makes sense, I have skills in computing, cycling, skiing, etc that I spend a lot of time to maintain. As the site suggests, practising cutting vegetables helps a lot, and this site helps explain how to cut all manner of different vegetables most effectively so you get it right as you practice. That site is useful and links to some other stuff such as knife care.

Oh and for Heidi and Mike, I think maybe they should buy each other one of these T-Shirts next time they hand out a can of whupass.

[/various] link

Wed, 09 Feb 2005

More Neal Stephenson - 21:44
To go with the rather good Stephenson interview on Slashdot a while back, BoingBoing just had a link to another pretty good Stephenson interview, this time talking a fair bit about how the public may perceive "The Baroque Cycle", and some other stuff too.

Thinking about it I really should try to borrow copies of that series and read them sometime.

In other unrelated stuff on the Interweb thingy, Kottke had a link to an amusing poem, I Ate iPod Shuffle, in loving memory of the cautionary note that was for a time at the bottom of the Apple iPod Shuffle page "2. Do not eat iPod shuffle.".

[/leisure/books] link

Another Broken Lemond Zurich road frame. - 10:14

full size

full size

full size
This morning on the way to the start of the Wednesday morning road ride I do I heard a new clicking noise from the bike, I did not stop to check it out and decided to continue riding. Somewhere not long after passing Scrivner Dam however the whole back of the bike started swaying and the click came back with a vengeance.

We stopped to have a look and found the frame broken. Damn. So I have broken another bike frame. Richard Bontjer has an identical model Lemond Zurich road bike and his has broken three times in the past 10 years, so I suppose it does happen. Apparently the Lemonds from that era broke where they were welded often. We do not know if it was a quality issue or what, it is annoying though.

Fortunately Ben Crabb has leant me his old road bike, which has a rather nice steel frame (painted red so it will go fast too :) until I can get my frame back on the road. This means I will still be able to do road rides easily with big enough gears (mountain bike gearing is too small and you end up spinning out the biggest gears pretty quickly riding one on the road)

The break as can be seen in the photos to the left is on the chainstay on the drive side right where the dropouts are welded to the frame. I apologise for the blurriness of the photos, I can not find my camera instruction book just now and do not know how to put it into Macro mode for photos.

[/mtb/gear] link

Tue, 08 Feb 2005

Women in rock and Paul Graham - 22:39
This is cool, on Kottke this morning was a link to an article discussing the problem of there no longer being many female rock bands or lead singers, compared for example with the mid 90s and talking about some of the reasons. The cool thing is the article is either written by or from an interview with Louise Werner of the Brit pop sort of band Sleeper from the 90s. I am quite a fan of Sleeper, I have the albums "The It Girl" and "Smart" by the group, also back in 1999 I uploaded a bit of a Louise Werner fan page. As for the article, I tend (as Jane has noticed often) to listen to and like a lot of female lead singer based groups (I love Leonardo's Bride music for example) and it is kind of a shame if there are not as many women in all genres of music.

Hugh brought to my attention today another really good Paul Graham essay. This one targeted at the youth but applicable to anyone, another good read.

[/various] link

Mon, 07 Feb 2005

More warnings - 22:28
In honour of those strange warning labels, because I found them so hilarious the first time I ever saw a list of them I feel the need to share this link. Found on a Singletrackworld forum, another list of warning labels that make you wonder about the human race. Most amusing.

In other news, BCG put a few more reviews up. He was at The Waifs concert at the Canberra Theatre on Friday night. Good to hear he loved their music, Dave and Julie were there too and said it was pretty cool. Of course they played Tilleys on Thursday night which is an even better venue to see them, but it also sold out in half a second or something. Dave and Julie said the concert was good, of course Dave has been seeing The Waifs perform fairly regularly since their first ever appearance at the National Folk Festival a number of years back. Anyway Martin liked The Waifs performance (I don't blame him, I love The Waifs music), and also their support act Jodi Martin, who he had seen previously. I had a look around her site a listen to some music, good stuff so I ordered her two albums.

[/amusing] link

Sun, 06 Feb 2005

A naming scheme would make it easier... - 22:51
So most places that have a lot of unix computers have a naming scheme for them. This is because the name of a computer with unix installed is an important part of the computer, and the naming scheme makes things easier. For example at work we used penguin types and similar stuff until they ran out (crested, adelie, canopus, aptenodytes, emperor, king, royal, megadyptes, etc), the place I used to work in Sydney had a naming scheme based on alcoholic beverages (my desktop was Guinness, some other machines were gin, rum, cointreau) or the debian project which has a naming scheme of sorts too.

The reason this makes ones life simpler is because you do not have to spend much time choosing a name when you get new hardware, I have never had a naming scheme for hardware I use at home or whatever, thus I often spend a while thinking up new names. Every time I have gotten some computer running in the last few years I spent at least an hour trying to decide on something to call it. My desktop at home now days is called russo, due to my adoration of the actress Rene Russo, my old laptop (Apple G3 Pismo Powerbook) that now belongs to Mikey was named "shiva", though not because of the Indian god as you may expect, instead it was due to the DC character Lady Shiva. The name shiva was easy as I had set that aside as a name for my laptop for a year or two prior to purchasing one, the desktop name russo was a change from something I used for years previously that I decided should change.

Other machine names have never been as easy or straight forward. has the name calyx, which took Martijn about half a day of looking for interesting words in dictionaries and encyclopaedia's and much discussion to choose. Some other machines I have are "groki", "sarzi", "innuendo" all of which have similarly long and drawn out tales attached. The laptop on which I am typing this took me a few hours of thought to name also, I eventually chose "oneiros" which is another name for The Sandman created by Neil Gaiman. It took me a while to even decide what sort of name to look for too.

Compared to the above drawn out process, naming schemes are fantastic, pick a scheme, create a large list of possible names, hey presto new hardware requires picking the next name in the list.

On an unrelated note, I saw a link to this site "Where The Hell Is Matt" today, an American guy who was working in Brisbane, packed up and went travelling for a while and this is his travel diary. Not so unusual or interesting I suppose, except he has a very cool, inspiring sort of video on his site. See the dancing link, he does this cute little dance everywhere he visits and tapes it. (the music will probably be familiar to some Australian's as it was used in SBS advertising for a while). I admit the guy is a pretty good writer too looking through some of his posts, entertaining, inspiring, fun. Makes you want to travel. Oh and yes the Kiwi's are in a conspiracy to use the number 6 in sentences as often as they can I am sure.

[/comp] link

Sat, 05 Feb 2005

Locking your bike to twinkies may be humorous - 22:57
This morning kottke had a link to this diary entry about locking your bike in NYC, some good points there, though on the whole a bit short. Other random links I could throw out today may be something about the Potted Meat Museum for those of you who really want to find the spam, or the Wikipedia Style manual if you want to write better (heck I should read and learn it myself).

The twinkies thing kind of has a story behind it, in 1996 or so I created a website, on this website I attempted to be humorous, with the help of my sister I created some content. From time to time I added to the content over the years though the last real update was in 2000 sometime. The website still exists "Flammable Object, Do Not Ignite - Maximum Daily Allowance of Sanity". I should admit I still find some of the stuff quite funny, though I have no idea if anyone else does. The newer items are "How to create your own website" which makes me sound like a beer obsessed woman chasing pyromaniac with an unhealthy Ani and Harlan Ellison obsession. Although the latter two may be accurate the first three are not (well I hope not), anyway reading that page, I was stunned at how poor and unpolished it all seems, though the amusing bits in there made me think of the brilliant Fafblog, I am not in their league, and I remember that page took a week or so to write at the time, hard work.

The other recent addition was the "Essential Items for Parties", this did not make me cringe as much reading it, however the turn of phrase I used was not as entertaining to my eyes today. Anyway I remember trying to be funny was hard work, and I still have no idea if it appealed to anyone elses sense of humour. On the quite likely chance it did not appeal to other people, I had a links page, on the links page there are now a lot of expired links. Fortunately one thing, something my sister found, is still there. "The Twinkies Project", T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. stands for Tests With Inorganic Noxious Kakes In Extreme Situations. Real humour, somewhat early Internet humour too, because we all want to blow up a cake from time to time.

Speaking of cool t-shirts, as we weren't, I have been watching a recent Ani dvd, Trust, on rotation at home for the past few hours (where watching means in the same room as it is being displayed). Something I noticed at one point in the dvd was a woman wearing an incredibly cool t-shirt in bright (azalea) pink with "This Is What a FEMINIST Looks Like" written on it. Google found the t-shirt for me here. If only I did not already have so many t-shirts I could buy one and wear it proudly. Pink is hell cool and Jane always calls me a raging feminist. Of course this is the reasoning behind why Preshrunk is so good but so annoying at the same time. There are so many cool t-shirts there but I already have many many t-shirts. For example, this site found on preshrunk, 80s Tees has so many cool t-shirts and other stuff. A Pink The Flash T-Shirt, A Pink Supergirl Cap (I don't wear caps), Pretty much any of the Monty Python Shirts, and so it continues. Really, What Would Ninjas Do? (unfortunately I probably have too many coffee mugs too).

[/various] link

Fri, 04 Feb 2005

The wayback machine and the font of all knowledge - 23:16
There is a lot of assumed knowledge among user groups and communities. Whether it be in jokes or simply something you expect someone else to know if they do are a member of some specific group. Among avid web users irrelevant of their personal specialities there are a few sites I would expect many people know about today. The most obvious of these today is Google, two others I expect most heavy web users would know about these days are Wikipedia and the Internet Archive.

I suppose due to the fact I count these as assumed knowledge by heavy web users today I was somewhat surprised to hear my sister Jane only found out about the Internet Archive in the last week and until I mentioned had still not actually consciously heard of Wikipedia (I have written about it here previously so she probably saw mention of it without taking in the information).

The Internet Archive is basically what it says, the web is changing daily, sites that once existed either change or disappear. Since 1996 the people running the Internet Archive have been archiving data from the web. Disk space is getting progressively cheaper so why the heck not, on the site itself you can access entire snapshots of sites or whatever from any time since the archive started. I have previously linked to the archive from a diary entry, referring to it by the colloquial name "The Wayback Machine" (they use this themselves, the term originally comes from Rocky and Bullwinkle) when I wanted to reference a website Jim Trail used to maintain for Triple J that is no longer online at ABC. This like google is yet another fantastic use of gobs of disk space on cheap x86 computers running linux. Reading the Wayback Machine FAQ is a good plan to learn more about it.

Wikipedia on the other hand is an online massive collaborative encyclopaedia. Wikipedia itself provides a good definition of what a Wiki is. This is lightly moderated and relies on the accuracy of the data added to it. Like any other source of data it should not be relied upon entirely, simply use it as yet another source of data on some given topic. I have commented on Wikipedia in the past (search google for " wikipedia" if you want, I can not be bothered linking to all the entries here). Others I know well (Martin Pool, Rusty Russell, Chris Yeoh for example) have all commented on the reliability issue in the past. As have other people such as Danah Boyd and Cory at BoingBoing to name two. WikiPedia has many advantages of traditional encyclopaedia's, one of which that quickly becomes obvious is on pop culture and recent events. I can almost guarantee Dr Who, Star Trek, The Simpsons and other cult tv phenomena do not get anywhere near this much coverage in any traditional encyclopaedia. Nor will there be coverage of events the day after they happen, or even as they are happening as there often is on WikiPedia. WikiPedia is not alone either, another good example of a massive collaborative online encyclopaedia is Everything 2.

There you go Jane, and anyone else who had not heard of these two rather cool sites, go have some fun.

[/comp/internet] link

Thu, 03 Feb 2005

Funky banners - 22:13
Jenny Cox kindly created a few interesting or unusual banners we could use on the lca web site. In the same way google change their banner image from time to time we thought it would be cool to have something like that for lca.

Some of them may be specific to one day but we wanted to show them all as they are pretty cool, so we simply put them up on random rotation. Each banner links to a short description of what the image is about also. Even more reason for you to go check out the conference website and sit there hitting reload, or reading a few different pages.

[/lca] link

Wed, 02 Feb 2005

More on plugins - 18:54
Have I mentioned before that Mikal is evil? Ahh good I have. A few days back Mikal wrote his first blosxom plugin to implement technorati tags. Useful though it may be, it is not exactly what I am interested in. So it got me to thinking.

In the same way Tony has been known to put off completing easy action items as they are that easy... I have yet to write the story tag lookup thing the way I want it as it is easy. The technorati tags thing got me thinking of a harder class of problem though.

I notice Movable Type and some other diary software stuff allows entries to be placed in multiple categories. Blosxom gives you the concept of categories by letting you place files in a directory, the directory becomes the category. Blosxom does not easily support placing posts in more than one category.

If I wanted a post to show up in /mtb/gear and /comp/hardware or something (say a gps receiver I use when cycling) I have to choose one. It would be neat if I did not have to choose, but everything else still worked correctly.

Using symlinks or some top level database for the entries subroutine and other stuff may allow you to get some of the functionality, however other plugins are unlikely to work when a fundamental assumption is changed. This is because the posts are placed in a category, the category is not simply an attribute of the post. On my diary on the left I have the categorytree, calendar and flatarchives plugins displaying information. If the entries subroutine returned an entry for every file it found, yet some were symlinks and thus one entry only the calendar and flatarchives plugins would have incorrect counts. However if the entries routine only returns an entry for every real file and ignores extra entries that are only symlinks or a copy of an existing post in a different category the categorytree plugin will fail.

I am thinking of various ways to play with this such that I can keep the simplicity of blosxom (text files in directory structure) but allow multiple categories for a post. As I said Mikal is evil for distracting me once more. Maybe he wont be so evil once he returns from yet another trip to Microsoft headquarters in Seattle next week.

[/comp/blosxom] link

Tue, 01 Feb 2005

The only reason to reboot is a hardware upgrade. - 12:51
Mikal mentioned he only reboots computers when he has to, Mikal linked to a post by Scoble where Scoble says he doesn't find bugs in certain software or systems because he reboots his palm computer every day. Scoble said he learnt this was the best way to do things when working with System 7 Macs back in the 90s and he still does it with computers he works on today.

I would imagine Mikal and I are not the only people who find this behaviour incredible. There is no good reason to reboot a computer in my world view unless you have to do a hardware upgrade (such as replacing the entire computer). Okay admittedly you still need to reboot to upgrade the kernel (if an important kernel security fix must be applied), however that may change (though it is not a kernel developer priority currently). With hot plugging there are instances where you do not even have to shut down a computer to add new hardware or upgrade hardware.

As an example my previous desktop at work had an uptime of around 730 days, from doing an software image install until it was replaced with the new faster hardware we purchased for the next round of deployments. On that machine I currently have an uptime of 363 days. I use this computer every day at work for a whole variety of things, it does not sit in a corner gathering dust. If you need to reboot to avoid bugs, I would suggest using a less buggy operating system.

[/comp/linux] link

Ani going for another Grammy? - 12:14

Front coverfull size

Backfull size

Sleeve offfull size

Lyric book/insidefull size
Ani's album Evolve won a grammy when it was released for "Best Recording Package". Basically for having a really cool jewel case and song book. It was of course not an actual Jewel case but something different.

The new album that was released 2 weeks ago, Knuckledown arrived in the mail early last week. I wonder if the rbr people are trying for another Grammy, well probably not trying, but who knows they may win it. I really like the new album case. The scribbles around the hand that move away when you slide the cardboard out, the different sort of song book inside, the look. All good.

As for the album, so far I like it alright, however I know from experience it usually takes at least a month of extensive listening to any new Ani album for it grow on me.

[/leisure/music] link

Mon, 31 Jan 2005

Grammar testing of multi lingual swearing at stupid laws - 12:28
I have been trying to track down a snippet from one of my Ani albums. It is not part of a song lyric so can not be easily searched for. At one point Ani was talking about the clear channel banned songs list. Ani was amazed at the stupidity of placing some of the songs on the list. I have been listening through a few of the live albums for the past hour and have yet to find the snippet (update). I have to say this sort of thing, where Clear Channel owns something like 90% of the radio stations in the US makes me so glad we have Triple J in Australia. (speaking of which, the hottest 100 last week, how cool was it that Missy Higgins got 3 songs in the top 50, 2 of which were top 10) About a month ago I saw this entry on BoingBoing about clear channel held a contest in a few US cities where the winners received Breast Enlargement Surgery, yet more proof of how messed up the US is.

For some reason this Fafblog link (tongue in cheek of course) suggesting the US government should lie to us has been sitting around in my to blog about file for a few weeks. Hell funny, but then fafblog normally is.

While I am throwing links up to get them out of the to blog about file, about 15 days back BoingBoing mentioned a site called Human Clock. From the description shows a photograph of the current time, with the photo changing every minute of the day (all 1,440 occurring minutes on Earth!) Thus you end up with a rotating picture clock sorta deal.
This is pretty neat, a new photo every minute with the time somewhere in the photo, anyway how bad can a site be if it talks about the sport of Unicycle Jousting, I personally still want to see people playing Unicycle Hockey, Andrew Rowe (mtb friend) was on the Australian Unicycle hockey team a few years ago.

If you feel the need to learn to swear in many languages, this page (from Metafilter) may be for you. Of course it does not quite work as swearing is a culturally trained thing and only works to a large extent, due to the local culturally trained responses. In the Stephen Fry book Paperweight there is a chapter "Saying Fuck" in which he points out that one of the strange things about swear words is how society is trained to react, finishing up with the line "It is a coitus of a worry, in fact it scares the living faecel solids out of me".

Heeeeeee, When spinning rims are outlawed, only outlaws will have spinning rims. (from Metafilter)

I have not tried the grammar test mentioned, however Jane may like it, on the other hand, like many of the commentators, she may find it a bit easy.

Yet another use for beer, this is some hot shit, and I love some of these bad reviews from Defective Yeti, in particular:

"No better than whatever you might pick up while wearing a blindfold at Blockbuster, even if you happen to reach into a trash can."
Update: The snippet I was looking for is on the So Much Shouting So Much Laughter double album, on Stray Cats. At the end of track 9, Napoleon. Here is the transcription.
so driving in LA once, and listening to the radio, fucking generica radio, all the radio stations now are owned by one guy I think, did you hear about that list of songs that are banned. cause you have to play them before you can stop playing them, it is a list of songs that clear channel has banned, walk like and egyptian, new york new york, this list is unbelievable, it completely exemplifies the utter stupidity that is governing everything corporate and/or politiical at this point, I mean people with absolutely no sense of metaphor made up this list.

[/various] link

Thu, 27 Jan 2005

Speakers and Early bird - 22:55
The early bird registration for 2005 is closing in a few days (Jan 31 is the last day). If you have registered already but have yet to pay, unless you pay before Feb 1st you will be re invoiced for the full attendance fee. Sure even at full price lca is still one of the cheapest technical conferences to attend anywhere, and that is completely ignoring the fact that it is incredibly cool (a heck of a lot of fun), however why let the early bird rate slip past you if you can pay before the end of January.

Have a look at the speakers we have presenting at the conference this year. I dare you to survive more than the first day without having your brain melt out your ears and form puddles of brain all around the conference venue. Anyway as I say in mtb circles, fun will be had. Be there!

[/lca] link

Wed, 26 Jan 2005

Mime as a public deterrent - 22:30
Once again I feel the need to throw some random links up (quick way to make a diary entry). What would you do if a Mime started imitating you when doing the wrong thing, of course I don't think we can get a Mime to follow Howard or Shrub (unfortunately Molly Ivins wrote that before he got into his current role) around all day.

I wonder if you could mistakenly be asked if you would like dahl with that... (outsourcing to India)

With this flash thing you can waste time finding out how tall some famous people (from boingboing) are. Another site has details about an annual railway mooning day (metafilter), also on Metafilter was this new take on a computer keyboard, I can not quite see Mikal giving up his Natural keyboards for these however. I was interested to see how this artwork was instantly recognisable as Groening, I guess Simpsons is stamped into our brains, well mine at least.

Often I think Canberra is way ahead of the rest of Australia and often the world in the smoke free attitude that prevails here. (government mandated to some extent), it is wonderful walking into Bars and such with no cigarette smoke around, I wish Cafe's could eradicate it outdoors also. So I discovered from Kottke a link about the country of Bhutan banning smoking in public and the sale of tobacco products. That sounded cool, however I found out Ireland has already banned smoking in public, I do not know if that applies to pubs and such, if it does moving to Ireland is a good plan.

[/various] link

Tue, 25 Jan 2005

It's dead Jim - 16:04

Close up of the broken hubfull size

The top half of the wheelfull size
I am a mountain bike rider at heart. I find the activity far more fun/challenging/enjoyable than road riding. I do however ride a road bike a bit. I bought my first road bike at around August 2002, more than 10 years after becoming addicted to the sport of cycling and mountain biking more specifically. I spend most of my disposable income on replacing broken mtb parts and cycling events and gear in general.

From the above you an imagine I am quite happy that although I own a road bike, they tend not to break often, road bikes can do many thousands of KM, and only wear out tyres. This is a good thing, however from time to time things on the road bike break. This is one of those times.

On Saturday morning, Sue, Crash, DeathMarch, Allan, Marea, myself and a bunch of others headed from Bright over to Myrtleford (a pleasant flat 30 KM along the Rail Trail) for a breakfast of bakery goodness. At this point all was fine with my bike.

About half way back to Bright after breakfast I heard a crack noise and my front wheel jammed in the fork. At first I simply thought I had run over a branch and a stick had lodged between my front tyre and fork crown. Upon stopping this proved to be an incorrect assumption. The front hub had cracked and three spokes came loose.

I am not particularly upset, the front wheel came with the bike when I bought it second hand, in the last two and a half years I have probably put close to 20,000 KM into this bike. The guy who owned it before me bought it some time around 1996 and I suspect put far more KM in than I do (he is a lot fitter and faster, which often means more road riding).

Anyway the wheel is dead, and I have to spend money on my road bike. I am currently most tempted by a Campagnolo Centaur 32 hole front hub, double butted dt spokes, a reasonably light rim, maybe ritchey or velocity or similar (as previously mentioned I don't really like Mavic) all laced up with a three cross pattern (strong, reliable, etc). The hub costs about AUD $200, the rim probably AUD $100. Bike stuff costs a lot, oh well.

[/mtb/gear] link

Mon, 24 Jan 2005

Some stuff for today - 22:21
I will post some stuff about my alpine classic tomorrow, I just thought I would quickly throw some links I saw out here (yeah yeah to ensure I get a post today, blog addicted diary whore that I am).

I found a lot of these on boingboing or metafilter, some on kottke and the following about newspaper index on Killian. Newspaper Index is a site that indexes online newspapers all over the world, looking at Australia I could have sworn there were more, so it may not be close to complete, but it is interesting/useful.

From an article about Kryptos I found a link to this page about Unsolved Ciphers, I did not realise how many there were, kind of cool that even with computers and such today we can not crack everything. Here is some insight into police work. A way around some recent TiVo stupidity (which alas will not affect us here in .au as we still can not buy TiVo's retail).

Yet another make your own mp3 player site, this may be the one I emailed Crash months ago who knows, now google can find it if I try to recall where the page with the home brew mp3 player is.

[/various] link

Fri, 21 Jan 2005

My first Alpine Classic - 09:46
I am about to drive down to Victoria in order to take part in my first Audax Alpine Classic. Basically a 200 KM road ride with a few climbs in the Victorian Alps. Staring at bright we head out to Falls creek over Towonga Gap, turn around, ride back over Towonga Gap, down to Bright and then Ride up to Mt Buffalo and return.

I am heading down there with Mikey, Allan, Richard, Cath, (all of whom have done this event before) also along will be Marea, Susan Kleven, and various other people I know. The ride will probably be reasonably tough work, but that part of Australia is gorgeous, and we all tend to line up for these challenges anyway. Hopefully fun will be had.

In other news, Sam and Ben gave birth to their second child last night. A baby girl, Nikita was born at 12:57am January 21st 2005. Congratulations to all, and it is good to see Maxine is a proud and happy elder sibling already.

[/mtb/events] link

Thu, 20 Jan 2005

Ahnoo Deekus - 21:34
Have I mentioned how much Mikal scares me from time to time? If not, I should. Michael Still is a strange and scary individual from time to time. Apart from things like fixing the gaping problems with current DNS servers by implementing a DNS server in shell, the really scary thing (well for today at least, I am sure we will learn new frightening things about Mikal tomorrow) is that he pronounces all Acronyms. Rather than pronouncing the individual letters of most acronyms like any fish hatchery employee would, Mikal pronounces the acronym how he sees fit.

ADSL became Adsil, SDK became Sehdek, etc. Obviously according to Mikal he studies at and I work at "Ahnoo Deekus" (ANU DCS), and we are working towards putting on a fantastic Elkae (LCA) in April.

On another note, I have not tried the program out yet, however Metafilter had a link to MoonEdit, a Multi Platform (linux and windows) collaborative text editor. It works over the Internet with slow links an such using multi player game style predictive movement algorithms. Every user has their own cursor and text highlighted in a specific colour. Emacs can do some of this, however I suspect this would be a lot easier to use and understand (separate cursors, colour, etc).

[/various] link

Wed, 19 Jan 2005

Michael, David, Michael, David, Michael, etc. - 22:04
I have noticed there are a huge number of people named David, and named Michael in the mtb community around Australia. I guess I notice as I hang out with them all a lot, if I looked at the wider community I may see a similar trend. Anyway I think I just found out why. Some data from the US Social Security department, Most popular given names 1960 to 1997 (linked from). The information is from the US, so maybe Australia is different, google can probably answer that.

It does, almost, I eventually found this page in Victoria linking to a search engine that returns the information I am interested in. In Victoria, 1960-1969 the top 3 are David, Peter, Michael. 1970-1979 top three are David, Michael, Andrew. Thus it appears the trend holds. Alas it also completely debunks some Monty Python Sketch, well for Victoria at least, who knows maybe Bruce is hiding out in New South Wales.

[/various] link

Floppy monkey things - 16:38

The Ximian frisbee on my desk full size

and in flight full size
I attended the 2002 Guadec conference in Seville, Spain. Brilliant conference. Anyway on the last day Miguel, Nat and some other people threw Ximian frisbees into the audience. I was lucky enough to catch one (pictured to the left).

This frisbee is made from a shiny material with the graphics printed upon it, bunched up a bit with a material tube containing ball bearings surrounding the material. Known commonly as a travel frisbee due to how well they compact (and maybe due to how well they show up on airport scanners with the steel ball bearings <g>) this is a very cool bit of Schwag. Kathmandu make a travel frisbee, however it is made from a more solid material and thus feels different, it also does not have Monkey logos.

I know a few people (that is where he works now, however better pages are here and here) who would kill for my Ximian frisbee. (Michael because it is cool Ximian schwag with monkeys, Jason because it is a cool frisbee that tempts you to play with it all the time and does not feel sucky like the Kathmandu one)

Of course now days, Ximian was purchased by Novell, you probably can not get new Ximian schwag for love or money today. So unless Jeff or someone has secret contacts and can source such stuff I doubt Michael or Jason can get one of these. It would however possibly be cool to get new frisbees made with the ball bearings and equal floppiness.

[/comp/schwag] link

Tue, 18 Jan 2005

Real scientific warning about Brumbys ready made statue - 15:16
Andrew may have decided to write more stuff about what he does day to day from a technical perspective. This is to a large extent what Mikal has been doing for years, keeping an online diary thing so he has a resource of what he has done in the past and how he did it that can be searched via google. That other people can read it is to some extent a side effect. I have to admit I am google searching my own diary fairly often now days to find stuff I remember linking to or writing about.

I just ate some Brumbys (bakery chain in .au) ready made bread roll things for lunch. They are not yet on the website so I can not link to them directly. I got a coupon thing in the mail yesterday that advertised these. Basically a bread roll with a filling, the fillings are Bruschetta, Cheese and Tomato, Banana and Custard, Honey and Peanut Butter. I sampled the "Bruschetta" and the "Banana and Custard" rolls, quite tasty, and reasonably cheap at AUD $3.50 for two. Obviously the advertising worked on me, and others. I would not have bothered going via Lyneham on the way to work to get some lunch unless I had seen these in the coupon ad. The woman who served me at the bakery asked if I knew why so many people had all of a sudden heard about these ready made rolls today, obviously lots of people had asked for them, I suspect largely due to the coupon ad.

As for the other stuff, Anil has a link today to a page of product warning labels that contain scientific truth. I found it amusing, kind of like the are people really this stupid labels, but different. Metafilter had a link today to this Stand by your statue blog, kind of cool, I am sure I have seen Nick doing this from time to time.

[/various] link

Mon, 17 Jan 2005

To The Pain! - 11:13
I am a fan of the movie "The Princess Bride", humour, adventure, action, etc it has it all. Anyway I was thinking about the bit near the end where Westley is confronting Prince Humperdinck. Humperdinck proposes a fight to the death and Westley counters with proposing a fight "To the pain".

Now a few of my other mtb friends are fans of this movie also, I was thinking the next custom Jersey we get should be a Princess Bride themed jersey with that quote on it. We all seem to be keenest on events that are hard and painful. A jersey with a Princess Bride theme, such as a scene from the sword fight or similar and the quote "To the pain!" on it would be hell cool. There are a number of cool amusing things from the movie we could incorporate on the jersey to keep the in jokes on the jersey up.

[/mtb/gear] link

Fri, 14 Jan 2005

Leonardo living in a treehouse with many titles - 13:57
Seen on we make money not art today was this "Suspended spherical home". Another cool thing out of Vancouver in Canadia. They will be for sale, or rent soon, they look cool, are low impact and would even be fairly well hidden once aloft.

Danah mentioned this list of titles on a United booking form.

Mr, Ms, Mrs, Miss, Dr, 1sgt, 1stLt, 2ndLt, Adm, Baron, Baroness, Bishop, BrigGen, Brother, Cantor, Capt, Cardinal, Cmdr, Cmst, Col, Count, Countess, Cpl, Cpo, Dean, Duchess, Duke, Elder, Ens, Father, FleetAdm, General, Governor, Gysgt, Hon, Imam, Judge, Lady, Lcpl, Lord, Lt, LtCmdr, LtCol, LtGen, LtJg, Ma, Major, MajorGen, Mcpo, Mgysgt, Minister, Monsignor, MostRev, Mother, Msgt, Mstr, Pastor, PettyOff, Pfc, Po1, Po2, Po3, President, Prince, Prof, Pvt, Rabbi, RearAdm, Rev, RightRev, Scpo, Senator, Sfc, Sgt, Sgtmaj, Sir, Sister, Smn, Smn1, Smst, Sp4, Sp5, Sp6, Sr, Sra, Srta, Ssgt, Swami, TechSgt, VeryRev, ViceAdm

Damn thats a lot, I know one Commodore (from the Navy) however Cmdr apparently stands for Commander, thus he is not even represented here, the list may be overkill to some extent, I wonder if Lucy's official title is in there somewhere, it may mean airlines wont confuse her with a government minister (see the "Christmas Party Career talk" item on December 12th)

On Metafilter there was mention of an article about the discovery of a hidden laboratory that was used by Leonardo da Vinci for studies of flight and various other scientific work he carried out. Neat.

[/various] link

Thu, 13 Jan 2005

T-Shirt comments and laptop Pizza. - 22:27
Mikal told me I should write about this while we ate pizza tonight. The other week I saw a link on Metafilter about (reading the comments is suggested) a laptop bag/box made from a pizza box. Apparently the link hit slashdot also, however I missed that as I have not actively read slashdot since sometime in 1998.

Also almost amazingly I have yet to write something in my diary about a rather cool t-shirt Andrew gave me last week. Today I had 5 people comment on it when they saw me wearing it, maybe I should photograph it and write something, it is almost to be expected that I would considering the t-shirt.

[/various] link

Fun morning on the bike - 09:58
The last few weeks not many people have seemed interested in the Thursday morning mtb ride, so this morning I hopped on the road bike and headed out to ride with the southside bunch. Leaving home just before 5:30am, I picked up Bruce (the guy who did all the run legs in my triple tri team the last two years, he bought himself a new road bike recently and is keen to do a bit more riding), we rode out to Woden along Adelaide Ave, going at a reasonable pace so Bruce sat behind me all the way. Arrived a bit early (5:52am), sat around chatting with Morgs for a bit and we all got rolling. Thursday morning in the Canberra Southside bunch is a recovery/easy pace ride so it was pleasant rolling through Curtin, across Scrivner, through O'Connor, up Ginnenderra drive into the AIS, back down Belconnen way and over to Limestone Ave, at this point Morgs and I split away and headed toward Dickson for the Flat Coffee ride, did another few KM with them before breakfast, also a nice easy pace. 60KM racked up on the road bike before breakfast, now a lunch time mtb ride to look forward to in the heat. Wheeee bikes are fun! :)

[/mtb] link

Wed, 12 Jan 2005

Author resources - 22:41
I am not, nor particularly want to be, an author, however there is a chance Jane does, or other people, so I think I should put this here. Neil Gaiman posted to his diary today "Everything you wanted to know about literary agents...". Mostly containing an email response from an editor he knows who could answer this well. The editor Teresa Nielsen Hayden has some sound advice, and provides a lot of interesting links on the subject or related stuff to things authors should research, or things authors should avoid.

[/various] link

Cute but overpriced - 14:59
So in the keynote at Macworld one of the items announced was a cheaper Mac with no screen, keyboard, mouse, etc. Just the box. Sure I can see this can be cool for people who want a Mac but have the other stuff already. Personally I just am not interested (I suppose to some extent because I am not stuck in the world of windows). The new computer, MacMini is a good size, about that of a cd drive by the looks of things. Definitely cheaper for the grunt available than the briQ (though not quite as rackable), however as this is not aimed at the rackable or smaller, market for servers, I would be far more likely to go for an x86-64 box and run Linux on it.

I saw a suggestion yesterday (prediction 3) that if Steve Jobs wants to spend some of the money in the bank to entice more people to Apple, he could with this new machine subsidise it by US $100 per unit, the person suggesting that thought the price may end up being around US $350 per unit, now after the announcement we see they cost US $499 per unit. Sure it is still cheap, but unless you have a hungering for MacOSX it is not cheap for the grunt. I am happy to run Linux, the price for a reasonably grunty MacMini in Australia (80 GB disk, 1 GB memory, 1.4 GHz G4) is over AUD $1400, for that in Australia (from eyo as an example) you could purchase a Shuttle Form factor 939 kit (SN95G5) ($440), Athlon 64 3200+ ($313.50), 1 GB Ram (2 512 Apacer chips) ($264) (2 means with the 939 you get much faster memory access), Radeon 9250L 128 MB AGP ($69.50), 200 GB Maxtor IDE HD ($193.60), Pioneer Dual layer capable DVD (all formats) writer (cdr etc also) ($132). AUD $1412.40. Same price, Linux would run a hell of a lot faster on this and it is still a small footprint sitting on your desktop.

I admit there are people out there who use MacOSX, and there are crazies out there who use windows, oh well IMO their loss. I also admit I am suckered a bit by the idea of a cd drive sized desktop to run Linux on, and I always thought the Apple Cube was cute, though overpriced. I also like running Linux on non x86 architecture (sparc, ultra sparc, m68k, powerpc sitting in my house, though turned off now days as I don't actually use the systems any more).

Update: Seen on Kottke just now, a flickr image with instructions on how to convert your iPod to and iPod Shuffle in three easy steps. Cute/Amusing, I agree with Mikal though, the price of the new device is pretty good for its capacity and size.

[/comp/hardware] link

Tue, 11 Jan 2005

Mtb's are slower, not by much though. - 20:41
Back home working on some of the stuff, the ride was good, hard work, fun climb, etc. As for the time, on the bike computer it said 1h12m for a 36.7 KM ride, average speed was 30.5 KMh. This is interesting, I did the same ride (work, summit Stromlo, back to work) on the morning of December 6th last year (Monday), when I did it that day I was on the road bike and it took me 1h8m for the same route. The fact that there is only a 4 minute time gap is interesting. This is not a controlled environment and I may be at a different fitness level than a month ago, but I do tend to be pretty consistent year round, it is good to see a slicked up mtb is still fast. I definitely noticed it on the climb though, where on the road bike I stayed above 20KMh all the way up the climb and was hitting 24 or so on some of the upper sections, on the mtb I was climbing between 17 and 19 KMh and only hitting 20 on the upper sections.

Update: I just remembered, I tend to be a bit faster in the afternoons/evenings than in the mornings, no idea why, but it may have contributed to the low time gap.

[/mtb] link

Need to ride - 18:27
As brilliant as fafblog is I need to stop reading for a bit. I have not ridden much since Friday. This morning I slept through my 5:15am alarm (very rare for me to do this) and thus missed the Cotter/Uriarra loop, I awoke at 5:55am, decided to wait a bit and head out for the flat coffee ride some of the AIS staffers do. Due to this and the rain yesterday I wouldn't mind a ride. I have my hardtail at work with slicks, so my plan for the evening is, hop on speedy mtb, ride out to the summit of Mt Stromlo from the ANU Acton campus, ride back, grab my stuff from the office, go home. At home I need to change tyres on the road bike back to 23c tyres. Tweak the back wheel a bit as the build last week was a rush job. Send out the latest bunch of action items for the lca crew to work on, make and eat some dinner, it would be helpful to buy some fruit and other stuff at the supermarket, though I don't think I will have time tonight. If I finish stuff before bed time I could I am sure amuse my self some more reading faf.

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Faffing about potatos wont be old in 5 minutes. - 15:34
Yesterday on BoingBoing there was a link to some diary entry comparing Alberto Gonzales to a Baked Potato. Alberto Gonzales is the new US presidential nomination for the US Supreme Court, that however is not as important as the fact that this comparison is funny stuff. I read more entries and found this weblog Fafblog often pokes fun at the US administration, and whether you enjoy the slightly political bent or not it is constantly very funny and clever. For example, in the vein of Time's man of the year they nominated Fafblog's man of the year. Definitely on par with, and seemingly consistently more entertaining than Rory.

As for the 5 minutes thing, yesterday Kottke mentioned Dooogle, a search engine that only returns results about Doogie Howser M.D.. The concept of the search engine is amusing for about 5 minutes, after that I think it may get old. At least Whereis Anton changes and does not age as easily. Of course thinking about 80s children's shows got me thinking about shows other than Doogie Howser, such as how much I enjoyed Out of This World (teenage girl who's father is an alien, she can stop time by touching her fingers together), how much I like the theme song from that show, Bing Crosby's Swinging on a Star, and how much I would like to see the show again, though I probably would not enjoy it as much today, oh well (at least it apparently never jumped the shark). It is good to know some friends such as Mel and Lana can sing that theme song from the show word perfectly today.

[/amusing] link

Mon, 10 Jan 2005

Who knows what is happening in the world today, we may all be too busy to find out - 20:25
On Crawford Killian's diary there was a link to an article discussing whether journalism can stay alive as the number of current news aware people dwindle. Newspaper editors in the US got together and started talking about the figures published regarding these dwindling numbers. "in 1964, 81 percent of Americans read a daily newspaper, while today that figure hovers around 54 percent." The other figures presented by this are to some extent even more alarming for purveyors of news media. Even TV Newscasts have seen ratings plummet in the last 20 years.

Interesting article, it had me wondering about some of the further reasons it may have missed. I myself an a culprit of not following current news media assiduously. In the case of newspapers I quite enjoy reading them, however I do not have the time to dedicate to this activity and thus don't. For TV news I hardly watch TV and definitely have never found the TV newscasts that interesting to watch. Part of this is the TV newscasts exaggerate the middle ground more than print media, and print media already cater to a lower denominator to some extent. I would not be surprised if this trend is evident throughout the rest of the developed world.

By this what I mean is I do not make an effort to watch the TV coverage as it does not interest me, and in subjects I do not take an active interest in already (ie cycling, computers and computer science) I do not have the level of interest necessary to find out what is happening (using valuable time). For those subjects I have an active interest in, no broad spread journalism (print or broadcast) is going to be in depth or focused enough that it will hold my interest when I already know the subject so well.

My behaviour, and that of others who have forgone the reading of newspapers and even following news could as the article suggests be in part due to the push for commercial productivity in modern society. In the modern time poor world many enjoyable past times may fall by the way side. This could indeed be a really bad thing. An essay I read a few weeks ago talks about the virtue of idleness. As people are pushed to be more productive and the time to sit around doing nothing focussed and pondering whatever the heck they want disappears society will become less productive not more.

This is because the time to sit around pondering whatever allows your brain to process and mull over previous input information, kind of like composting, something good comes of this, we learn by experience and being able to incorporate our experience and knowledge into a greater whole is worthwhile. If we are all kept busy all the time we do not have time to think up new stuff.

On the point of society becoming less productive if people do not have time to think and be smart it is worthwhile having a look at some of Paul Graham's essays on hackers and smart people and productivity. For example his essay Great Hackers, where he links variation in productivity, and the smarter people being far more productive to wealth and success. This is very true, however if you look at the smarter people they spend a lot of time doing things not at all related to being smart or their work or whatever, they spend time relaxing and doing fun things, or sitting around enjoying their leisure, this gives their brains the time to be smart.

So following the news is decreasing, to some extent because people are time poor, and given a choice of what to spend time doing they will often choose other activities rather than following the news. The cjr article does point out some other interesting suggestions about problems in the news coverage industry, such as that some research indicates that the light readers or youths that appear to be ignoring news in their droves are interested in the following topics "health/fitness, investigative reports on important issues, the environment, natural disasters/accidents, and education", and yet many news programs or papers are covering celebrity news or similar fluff due to marketing or perception of public interest reasons.

Anyway no real conclusion on this stuff, just throwing the links out there with some of my own rambling thoughts, what more can you expect from a diary entry. (oh and yeah I started writing this while sitting in a meeting about mtb stuff last night, but did not finish it until Tuesday afternoon)

[/various] link

Enthusiastic kids - 17:44
Saturday I got a lift to Sydney with Jaymz, dropped off at my Sister's place in order to pick up my car. I hung around for lunch and played Trivial pursuit with Jane and some of her friends, hopped in my car around 7pm, thus did not get home until after 10pm. Sunday I did not go out riding as I had a bunch of stuff to get done (lca, house stuff, corc, etc). Two days off the bike, I thought I would head out for an hour or so after lunch today. It rained after I finished the work I was doing until around 2pm, thus no rides since Friday morning. I am right now somewhat keen to get out and do some exercise.

Mikal saw a performance of The Tempest (found with the google search "tempest"), performed by 11 year old children with only one week to learn their lines. According to Mikal it was fantastic, and although he had bit of difficulty seeing kids he has babysat as characters in the play he really enjoyed it and thought it may be worth seeing it done by professionals.

I would not be too sure, it is a good play to read, one of the more interesting/entertaining non comical Shakespeare plays. I have seen it performed by Bell, read the play, seen movies that have been loosely based around it etc. However I would posit that the performance by 11 year old kids may be one of the best ways to see this play. Two years ago a theatre group with many teens or younger in their troupe performed some Shakespeare plays at the Gorman House arts centre. Sitting around on the grass in the courtyard seeing a selection of little people (teenagers and such) perform Shakespeare with their enjoyment and enthusiasm shining through was fantastic. I saw this with my non cycling friends I often go to the theatre with and they shared my view that the enthusiasm and fun the performers had or were having being so obvious was a good thing. One of my friends (Prue) was even tempted to join a theatre group and get into this herself.

On the other hand professional actors such as the bell troupe, though they are probably having fun (otherwise they probably would not be actors) learn to act to the extent that thy hide the enthusiasm and fun. Sure the performance is more polished and all that, but I think the kids have some spark that makes up for that.

[/various] link

Fri, 07 Jan 2005

Large MMC Card and Card Reader. - 12:39
As mentioned I ordered a large MMC card (512 MB) for my palm pilot. (from Exeltek who appear to be one of the cheapest sources of flash cards and similar in Australia most of the time) The card arrived today, along with a new 9 function usb card reader.

I purchased a usb card reader from Exeltek about a year an a half ago (Transcend brand) and it has never worked properly in Linux (2.4 and 2.6, though I have yet to try 2.6.9 or higher which have a new usb-storage implementation finally). When I purchased that one it was about AUD $70 AFAIR, now the new one I just received was AUD $25. I am pleased to say it works flawlessly, I have tested it with my new MMC card, with the 1 GB CF card from my MP3 player and the 128 MB CF card in my camera. This is all good.

As for the MMC card, I can now use backup to flash software on my palm pilot, and store books and documents and such to read away from a network connection which could be cool. Maybe I should give my old not linux friendly card reader to Brad or Mikal to assist with their scheme to take over the world with more usb gadgets than most usb gadget factories.

[/comp/hardware] link

Thu, 06 Jan 2005

preshrunk operating system metaphors and yellow snow - 22:30
I saw this a few days ago on metafilter or boingboing, an online diary concentrating on cool t-shirts. Preshrunk daily adds one or more links to sites that sell or give away cool t-shirts or similar. Though it has only been going a little while it is very cool so far, I especially love the Jesus Helps Me Trick People, Chewie is my Co-Pilot, Bacon is a Vegetable from one site and I was amused by the Republicans for Voldermort, Please Do Not Eat This T-Shirt and I live in Beer at another site. Many other cool T-Shirts have been linked to also. I however have far too many T-Shirts to go around buying more as it is, I wish someone had a site like this for cool cycling jerseys, though that would mean manufacturers would have to make cool cycling jerseys and not many do.

One of the best essays on the subject of Linux and open source I have ever read is In The Beginning There Was The Command Line by Neal Stephenson, annoyingly on the cryptonomicon site it is not available to read as plain html. Anyway recently with Neal's blessing some guy has put up an annotated version which brings it up to date a bit more and is in html.

All skiers and other snow lovers hear often the do not eat yellow snow instruction, for good reason, for those who want to see some on the computer you can go and make some yellow snow here.

[/various] link

Neverwhere - 11:15
I finished reading the Neil Gaiman book Neverwhere last night. I loved the book, of course I should not be surprised by this as most of the stuff Neil writes is brilliant. The book was written after the screenplay for a mini series that aired on BBC in the 90's, DVD's of this series are available and I would love to watch it if anyone has them.

The story was based on the idea of a different almost medieval sort of underground society in London, where people in the western society living above ground don't see or know anything about the other society. The story set interesting and entertaining characters in some familiar places and some unfamiliar places and an adventure unfolded when a man from London above got caught up in London Below. I am hooked (I already own some of the Sandman collected editions) I should go buy myself a copy of American Gods now I suppose, oh and a new copy of Good Omens (by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett) as Maxine managed to remove (never to be seen again) the first 50 or so pages making it a little harder to reread.

Who am I kidding, like Michael I suffer from Book Addiction, and am lucky to walk out of good book shops with any money remaining.

[/leisure/books] link

Wed, 05 Jan 2005

No palm backup bad - 16:38
Fuck. I opened my palm (Tungsten E) to add two entries to the calendar so I remember they are on and found it had run out of batteries. The fun bit of course is I have not been making a backup of my palm for the last two months or maybe longer (I can not find where I was storing the backups the last time I did them regularly from a quick look around). In the world of cheap huge flash storage I think one really neat feature would be a snapshot backup onto flash storage in the device.

I suppose if I put a large MMC card in my tungsten there is probably some way to program something that could copy the contents of memory to the card when asked and restore all the databases from that copy on request if you do lose power. I can understand why the main memory in the palm is not flash storage due to the limited write lifetime, I am annoyed that there is no way to back stuff up (or restore it) without plugging the palm into a computer and syncing it. Snapshots of the entire internal memory by date or something would not even use much space on some of the huge cards available these days.

Now I get the fun of tracking down all the contact details and dates and other things I had loaded if I am unable to find my last backups. Even with the latest backups there will be a lot of missing stuff.

Update: I was googling for this sort of thing and found it, CardBackup or SaveBackup. I am buying a copy of one of them and a large mmc card for my palm now.

[/comp/hardware] link

One great song left, but oh so depressing - 15:02
For a change from listening to Ani, Dave Matthews Band, Missy Higgins, Counting Crows, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Melissa Ferrick, Joni Mitchell and Leonardo's Bride all of which tend to be on my standard play list at work and home. I put some of my Pearl Jam albums (Vitalogy, Ten, Vs) on to play at home last night while rebuilding my road bike back wheel. I recall enjoying Pearl Jam a lot back around 1995, now however almost none of their music really excites me that much.

From listening to these albums again a lot of it, to me sounds too similar and I do not discern the lyrics well. The only song I really still love is Betterman from the Vitalogy album, I find this kind of freaky/scary due to the subject matter of the song. On a Pearl Jam performance that was televised about 8 years ago (MTV Unplugged or something, I remember Eddie did a Pro Choice (abortion) protest thing in the performance, which, when you consider how messed up the right wing religious anti abortion stuff in the US is is a good thing to encourage your fans with I reckon) before playing Betterman Eddie said "this is for the bastard who married my mama".

Listening to the lyrics of Betterman you can see how it is about abusive relationships and how some women are unable to get out of them. So although I adore the song and how it sounds, it is sort of depressing when you think about the subject matter. Admittedly I also sort of still like the songs Daughter and Rearviewmirror, both off the Vs album, these songs are about child abuse or child learning difficulties according to many interpretations, so yet more depressing subject matter. At least Rearviewmirror is possibly about escaping from those situations/difficulties.

Of course maybe I should just continue listening to the music and stop thinking so much about the meaning, almost the over analysis of which I accused some fans of engaging a while back. However all I really wanted to say was the only Pearl Jam song I still love is Betterman.

[/leisure/music] link

Tue, 04 Jan 2005

USB interfaces to cool people - 14:56
Mikal made a bunch of New Year's Resolutions, according to Mikal "Apparently all the cool people are making new year's resolutions". I have not actually seen any other New Year's Resolutions online in the last few days, so I wonder who Mikal is referring to as "Cool", he did not link to any such diary entries as supporting evidence. Of course in Mikal's world, maybe it was Andrew, Matthew, and Catherine making the New Year's Resolutions, as they do not have online diary's (though Andrew and Matthew have both had email addresses from the day of their births) Mikal was unable to link to their resolutions.

Speaking of Mikal's family, this diary entry at Dooce had me thinking of Mikal...

little-leaguers, set to take after their very athletic and thick-necked fathers. I can pretty much guarantee that any child of mine will take one look at a baseball and immediately ask where its USB port is.

As Andrew and Matthew grow up I am sure they will expect every single device in the house to have at least one USB interface. Fortunately Catherine is well aware of geekery and accepting of this eventual reality.

[/various] link

Mon, 03 Jan 2005

Yet another cracked rim - 18:17
Today we headed out for another longish road ride, 208 KM at an average of 28.9 KMh. The route was Home, Cotter Road, Uriarra Road, Mountain Creek Road, Through to Yass, then to Jerrowa, Dalton and Gunning for some lunch, back home via Gundaroo and the federal highway (avoiding Sutton). The ride was a lot of fun however my back wheel went out of true, upon looking at it I discovered another crack surrounding a spoke eyelet.

The rim is a Mavic MA3, I have had this same problem far too often with Mavic rims in the past, the Mavic Open Pro rim on the road bike before this cracked in a similar manner. On the mountain bike I have often cracked Mavic 517s. I have never cracked a non Mavic rim on the mountain bike, I should probably seriously consider a non Mavic rim on my road bike now, however the cheapest way to get the wheel going again is to buy another MA3 and lace it up with the existing hub and spokes, changing to another rim would most likely require spokes of a different length.

While out on the ride Mum rang and invited me to Dinner, though I am a bit worn out I am going out anyway, due to the road bike back wheel problem I will need to ride one of the mountain bikes out there now. Another 22 KM out and back to Gunghalin on top of the rest of the riding for today, oh well I am sure it is doing me good.

[/mtb/gear] link

Sat, 01 Jan 2005

Mt Clear and surrounds. - 23:10
I am amused by the filename for this diary entry, 2005-01-01_01, such a repetition, I suppose the whole small minds thing applies once more <g>.

Last night Russ, Jaymz and I rocked up for the Majrua Pines NYE night ride. We had a good time, though I did not get back from the ride until after 1:30am, and then got to sleep around 2:30am. This did not bode well as I was to wake up around 7:30am in order to get out to the NYD ride we had planned from Mt Clear campground down to the Naas/Boboyan intersection via Horse Gully hut and the Naas fireroad.

The ride was a lot of fun today, at an easy pace, through some gorgeous bushland. I took a bunch of photos and have already uploaded them. Next year Marea is keen to do the ride to the summit of Mt Clear and continue along the ridge line from there before descending to Naas again, sounds like something to look forward to. (for a bit of history, Marea, Stephen and I did a ride in the Mt Clear region on NYD 2004 also)

On the good news front, my car was not quite as broken as the Mechanic originally thought so he was able to get it fixed in time and Jane now has it and I will not have to get all the way up to Macksville to pick it up after all. I get to sleep in a bit tomorrow, no early start or too late night so hopefully I will not be quite so tired tomorrow.

[/mtb] link

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