Archive for 2004

I think I missed my chance to get Warrick to sign as my guarantor for the passport application; he's on his way to California by now. My own fault, really, but everything is always so busy around this time of the year that I just haven't seen him for months. I couldn't even go to the going away party since it was on the same night as the work Christmas party (and with the size of the company I'm working for, every person counts).
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This will be my last post this year – Dee and I are going camping in South Australia for the next two weeks, and it’s unlikely there will be mobile phone coverage, let alone wifi internet access. Of course, it doesn’t really both either of us, and is in fact one of the reasons we are going. No communication, no computers, no technology. Time to recommune with nature perhaps. A spiritual recharge, certainly.
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I recently found a nice informative site about bringing pets to the United Kingdom. We've got a cat - a cranky, fussy, self-concerned ball of fur and claws - and we're more than just a little attached to her. (When we were looking for apartments, the property manager asked Dee if we “…couldn't just get rid of the cat?". Dee was suitably indignant, and chastised her. “Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm a cat person,” was the reply.
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[Mishoo] Fuji FinePix A310 as webcam in Linux In the spirit of biting off more than I can chew, I’m considering jumping into getting my Finepix S7000 to work as a V4L device! It’s well beyond my current capabilities (but not beyond learning!), and that’s probably the main reason that I want to try. The second reason is that I want a webcam that I can use in Linux, and I’ve already got the camera, so why not?
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I finally finally got around to getting my passport picture taken today. It was in a dodgy booth in Spencer Street train station, and I'm not sure it's appropriate (I don't know how close-up it's meant to be - the application form has specific measurements of head-size, but I'm going to try with what I've got) but at least (at last) it's done. As you can see from the photo below, I wasn't sure how many times the flash was going to go off!
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The Official Site of Benjamin J Heckendorn I stumbled onto Ben’s site somehow (don’t ask me how – I’m drunk) and I’ve decided that I want to be just like him. Since that’s never going to happen, I want to instead place his work on a pedestal and use it as inspiration for my own – he’s a freakin’ genius! In case you don’t want to look at the site, he takes game consoles (playstation 1 and 2, ataris, whatever) and converts them into handheld portable excitement stations.
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I’ve been doing a lot of different stuff at work lately, which I find very refreshing, and although it’s not enough to keep me totally commited and concentrated on work it’s certainly enough to stop me from getting bored. See, I was hired as a Java developer, and since I started I’ve been working on a later-than-late project, just trying to get it through the door and save some little face for the company.
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Yesterday we bought packs - it's almost like we're really going! The packs are from Bakpakka in Chadstone Shopping Center, which we stumbled into because we happened to be in the area for a Post-Exam Party. It was one of those things - we were looking at other things (like labrador pups in a petshop window), and I said something like, “You get a shiatsu massage and I'll entertain myself in the camping store!
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I had my exam today, and I'm fairly sure that there is no way I could've possibly passed. It wasn't so much that I didn't know the material (although I didn't), but more the way in which the questions were asked – all very “application-specific”. They didn't, for example, ask for the mean given a particular probability distribution function; they asked, given that Fred the Barber cuts 32 peoples’ hair in any given hour, how likely it is that he cuts seven crewcuts in 10 minutes on a Friday afternoon.
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With exams over I can finally get on with the real work of living. It’s a weight off my chest, that’s for sure. And I’m actually excited about just how much more I can do with my time, now that I don’t have to waste all my free time feeling guilty about not studying. I’m off to Chris’s place this weekend for exactly that – figuring out what we can do with our time.
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I may be looking for new work soon. Wait, that’s not true — I will be looking for new work, and am currently. What I meant was: I may be out of work soon. It’s a matter of urgency, really *grins*. Not part of my masterplan, but it might be unavoidable with the way things have been going at work. How so? Well today the Managing Director was given the arse.
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With a possible change of circumstance in the wings, it's never been more important to get everything sorted out: to disconnect (as much as possible) from this life here, and to free myself up so I can get up and go. Ideally I'd like to be gone by March; I don't think that's entirely impossible either. If I could get ready earlier, I would, but I don't think Dee would come with me (and it's not an adventure without her).
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We may have another buyer for the car! He looked today, and seems very interested, but first we need to get it checked out by his mechanic. We’ve agreed (informally) on a pretty good price for him, not as much as we were hoping for but it will nevertheless be good to get it over and done with. No more car!! But I won’t say any more. I wouldn’t want to “jinx” anything!
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I just had a thought about the syncml server. First, we set up the (open source) syncml servlet somewhere. We might need to do some work on the user accounts and authentication, and we’ll also want a nice web interface for registering for the service. Once done, any software that can syncronise with a syncml server will be usable (although I don’t know many that are), if only in a limited fashion.
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A slight backwards step today when the guy lined up to buy Angelina (the Celica) reneged on the deal — I guess he “didn’t have the minerals”, or something like that. It’s a bit disappointing, because I want all the loose ends tidied up as soon as possible. Of course, it’s more important that Danielle be happy, and she seems okay — “These things happen for a reason.” Very mellow indeed!
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Well, we sold Danielle’s car! It’s been bought by someone in Sydney, and they’re doing the paperwork tomorrow. No more pretending we’re in The Fast and the Furious, flying along the roads as “pilot” and “navi”, taking corners at a speed that would’ve flipped the old Hyundai Excel (Dee’s previous car). But then again, no more car loan repayments, expensive services and huge petrol bills. And no more fear of it getting stolen from the carpark (we are in Fitzroy, after all).
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Yes, it happened — I’m one of four co-maintainers for the gnome-utils project (which encapsulates a number of individual apps). Quite happy about this, as I’ve been using and playing with Gnome since I first got started with Linux circa 1996 (8 years! Can you believe it?!). I’ve always thought it was the future desktop, and the whole project structure appealed to me, but I’ve never had time to put in the effort of developing anything for it.
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Today I volunteered myself as the new maintainer of a Gnome project, gnome-utils. Of course, by the time I shot the email off there had already been several other offers, but Glynn Fosterkindly suggested that having a couple of maintainers might be a good idea. Nice, considering he doesn’t know me at all and I haven’t given much to Gnome as yet. Reputation takes time, as always. However, it reminded me of the gdict Gnome dictionary software, which is part of gnome-utils.
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The human mind is quite amazing. On the one hand, I can’t remember things like, “call the doctor for an appointment”. On the other, I can remember my username and password for this website, 3 months later. I don’t know why that would be, but I suspect it’s to do with the relative personal value I associate with each task (to which the memory is related). Going to the doctor has low associated value, but writing in a weblog has high value.
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I'm at the airport right now, waiting for Dee's arrival from Brisbane (more on why she was in Brisbane later!). Why not wait until I get home and use the broadband connection?? Well, surely it's obvious - this is so much more authentic. I haven't had a bad aeroplane/airport experience yet! I've welcomed new people (Dee's family), I've sent the ol’ mother-in-law (sort of) packing back to Darwin, and now I'm waiting for my to return.
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Sync4j is an opensource Java implementation of the SyncML protocol, which is used to synchronise mobile-user-interesting information such as contact details (addressbooks), bookmarks and calendars. SyncML is used by and supported in a number of different products, mostly synchronising clients for PDAs and mobile phones, and is notably lacking in some other high-profile products (Microosft Outlook and Exchange). This usually means that each particular PDA or phone has it’s own Outlook-like information store which may or may not synchronise with Outlook.
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It's another grey and rainy monandaeg in Melbourne, Australia, which is perfect weather for writing in a blog or two). Unfortunately I had a big night on Saturday and I'm only just recovering (should've had an earlier night than I did last night, it seems). Whenever I catch up with my friends these days, it is with the realisation that I've only got a limited amount of time before I leave the country.
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It's another grey and rainy monandaeg in Melbourne, Australia, which is perfect weather for writing in a blog or two. Unfortunately, I'm at work, so my writings today are on borrowed time (whilst compiling, for example, or sitting in another boring meeting). I've been thinking for a little while about what I actually believe in – philosophically, theosophically and spiritually I guess. What I see as core truth in all spiritual teaching.
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Dee is considering selling her car – it’s an almost-new Toyota Celica ZR, black, with all the bells and whistles. As such, we’ve got a fairly large car loan currently hanging over our heads, and I think it has been stressing her out somewhat. Naturally. Anyway, now she’s talking about selling the car, paying off the loan and getting something cheaper but still fun, such as this 1966 MGB. Now, I’m all for this: I’ve wanted an MG for a long time now (an Austin Healey, actually, but they’re so close it doesn’t matter).
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It’s Sunday night and I’m watching the Big Brother eviction – pathetic, yes? I’m not sure how it is in other countries, but in Australia the magic of “Reality TV” has well and truly worn off. We’ve seen about 5 series of Big Brother, Australian Idol, Popstars (the Australian Idol copycat – or is it the other way around?), not to mention at least 3 different “home renovation” shows (like “The Block”).
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I have a coffee table! This is a small, but significant, achievement – ever since I moved out of my parent’s house to go to Uni, it seems like I’ve been living a temporary life …. actually, that’s more than just a little dramatic; it’s more like long-term student-living, using whatever hand-me-downs and left-over housey stuff (including crockery, cutlery and furniture) happened to be available. And that’s fine, whilst you’re a student.
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It's Friday night, and I'm drinking VAT69 Scotch. Not the greatest tasting whiskey in the world, as far as I can tell, but it was $24 (lemme see, that's about 9 pounds, or 13 euro) so who's complaining? I've put it down to an acclimatisation expense - everybody drinks scotch in Scotland, right? Just like champagne in France or warm beer in England … stereotypes come from somewhere, after all grins
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Got through another week, and very happy to have done so. It's been quite hectic this week, with a software release today (which we post-poned thanks to network issues - the other company in our building does web-streaming every Friday, it seems, and we share the Internet connection). Moreover, the release was/is to be on the new deployment platform, and that's a whole different can of worms (remember the good ol’ days, when worms came in old fashioned paper bags, not cans?
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Well, thanks to the helpful advice of bEcS, I've gone to the Post Office and picked up a passport application form – the first step! Now, of course I went during my lunch break, and I had to tell my colleagues that I was going, “nowhere, really, just curious … we've talked about visiting New Zealand, we've got some friends from there. Thought I should be prepared.” I'm not about to tell them I'm counting down to leaving the country, possibly for good.
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I’m in IT — in fact, I’m a computer programming (of all things). Today I got to work after a glorious long weekend (spent camping on the coast: drinking, reading, smoking, eating, talking and playing cards … in short, bliss) to find that not only did nothing work, everyone thought it was my fault. Okay, I’m dramatising. In actual fact it was one of my team members insinuating that I had “dropped the ball” on this one.
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It's certainly not easy to get out of Australia. Lot's of little requirements (it's worse than software dependencies) before I can even think about it: I need a passport, which means I need a birth certificate, and my parents birth certificates, and some other identifying material, and an interview, and the fees. Worse, I'm starting almost from scratch (and that includes knowledge and knowhow). It's even harder to get into another country.
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“Most children like to collect things. At four I started to collect documents of my own development as correlated with world patterns of developing technology. Beginning in 1917, I determined to employ my already rich case history, as objectively as possible, in documenting the life of a suburban New Englander, born in the Gay Nineties (1895)– the year automobiles were introduced, the wireless telegraph and the automatic screw machine were invented, and X-rays were discovered; having his boyhood in the turn of the century; and maturing during humanity’s epochal graduation from the inert, materialistic 19th into the dynamic 20th century.
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I'm sure everyone goes through it in the “blogspace” universe – a personal weblog started, ignored and ultimately forgotten … followed by a resurrection when the blogger remembers how much fun it really was (being one voice out of millions; why isn't it this much fun to stand in a mall and talk to anyone who will listen?).

Welcome back, Chronofiles.

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