Got back into Canberra last night after staying in Hay for a night. Adelaide was fun but busy as usual and could have easily done with another week there. Brief run down, got lots of McLaren Vale wines, dinner with Brad and Tennille with virgin 5 year old Noritake Ivory Lace dinner set and shiny new house, Christmas breakfast with my folks and lunch with Jo's folks, usual Christmas eve in Hazelwood park, much painful driving around narrow Adelaide streets, more Barossa wines, riding Kraka's rebuild BMW R65 motorbike. No New years resolutions. As with most things, I can't see the point in doing anything different just because of some arbitrary timing, although you can still all buy me presents to celebrate the earth being in the same position relative to the sun than it was when I was born. Similarly for some dude who lived 2005 odd years ago. Anyway, in that spirit, we are celebrating NYE at Martin and Mel's (where I'm blogging from now). Mel is cooking her world famous Floor pie, which is otherwise known Choc Chip cookie pie. "Mmm, sacrilicious."
Back in Adelaide for a few days over Christmas. Driving around Adelaide is much more frustrating than in Canberra. The roads are very narrow, bumpy, full of traffic lights and on road parking, as compared to Canberra. The speed limit on main roads is normally 60 in Adelaide but often you can't travel at that speed. In Canberra the main roads are 80 and usually you can travel at the speed limit. I don't remember it being this bad when I lived here. The changes they want to make to improve the situation are all cheap and incremental, rather than spending large amounts on real infrastructure that would solve the problem for far longer.
Another big weekend. Two party's Friday with the work Christmas lunch followed by a party for Matt. Way too much to drink (if that's possible) and managed to give Matt a 2 day hangover. So all in all, a pretty productive night. Saturday did Christmas shopping at Woden. Jo almost killed me and my useless hungover brain but we managed to get through the crowds and get everything done. Saturday night went to Martin and Mel's for dinner. Mel cooked up a storm as usual and a good time was had by all but another late night and drunken taxi ride home. Sunday, went to Paul and Alli's for a quick afternoon tea. Due to all of our recent activities/visitors, we've not seen them as much as we'd have liked to, so it was really good to catch up. Alli has been keen to go for a ride on the R6 so I took her for a 1/2 hour ride up into the hills. She seemed to enjoy it, as did Paul at the sight of seeing his wife back in one piece.
Bugger, lost by only 1 point at netball last night. The opposition was relatively rough and the centre was a complete klutz. Chris asked the centre after "Are you wearing new shoes or something?" to which he responded "Nah, I just fall down a lot."
Another long weekend. Went to Adelaide for my Great Uncle Gordan's 90th birthday. Saw John Howard on the way to the airport who was being tail gated by his security car. I understand that he needs security but it seemed that even a minor accident would have caused the security car to plow into his car, possibly causing more damage than any terrorist. Had dinner Friday night with the Adelaide Hungers crew. Saw Duncan and Alex's lovely new home, met our photographer and celebrant and saw the wedding location. Our photographer does digital photos and I had to bite my tongue pretty hard (for fear of Jo killing me) when he started talking about copyright issues and why we couldn't have the raw picture files. Other than that, he seemed like a pretty good guy to do our photos. Our celebrant has only done 1 wedding before but is amazingly enthusiastic and really nice. She also has a great house and two lovely boys. She'll be great. The wedding location also looks as good as expected. All in all, it's coming along pretty well.
Another good game of Bask... Netball last night, and this time we even won. I felt really good running around, got a few interceptions and scored some goals. We seemed to do a good job of giving full court pressure which led to a number of turnovers. I think we got the better of the umpiring so I wouldn't be surprised if the other team didn't enjoy the game as much as us.
Yay, The West Wing starts again tonight!!! Mum and Dad were over for the weekend. They caught the train down from Sydney on Friday night after Dad went to his annual conference. We had high tea at the Hyatt with Paul and Alli on Saturday and went for a few walks. They've been here a few times, so we didn't bother doing too many touristy things.
Despite losing, we had a good game of netball last night. The opposition was really nice, the umpiring was OK and we made some good plays. Last season, we lost lots of games after moving up a division due to doing well the season before that. The season seemed doubly hard on team moral as we started to expect to win (after winning often), and we didn't win at all. It seems like only now are we starting to enjoy netball again, rather than enjoying winning. Anyway, I also learnt a rule I didn't know (the hard way of course). If you fall over you have to stand up, without moving your feet, before passing the ball, all within 3 seconds. Update:Yes, I updated this message, but before I noticed Rusty's post... but not before Jo pointed it out to me :-(
Quite busy weekend. Friday night I went out with some guys from work. We had some dinner by the lake and then headed into town for coffee. A full moon was out, so it was really nice by the lake. Saturday morning, Jo and I looked at some wedding decorations, then I picked up Andy on my R6 and took him for a brief ride to the Cotter and around Canberra. Later, we had him and Kerry around for dinner which was a good night other than both Jo and I feeling sick later on. We thought it may have been food poisoning, but Andy and Kerry were fine and we didn't have the same thing for lunch. Anyway, Sunday we had lunch with Martin and Mel then headed home to feel sorry for ourselves and practice raising one eyebrow (Mel bet me that I couldn't learn how to do it in 1 week).
Went roller blading on weekend around Lake Burley Griffin with some of the guys from work. Some of the paths are really smooth and hence are great for blading. We also discovered a nice mobile coffee place down by the lake which Jo and I tested out on Sunday with much success. Also went Geocaching and found Ben and Lisa's cache. It's been there for 3 years and is still in pretty good condition. Also went to the Russell's for some dinner and MAME action. They bought the same TV stand as Jo and me. I guess this makes up for us buying the same wine rack as them.
An interesting article on the lingering effects of jet lag. I would definitely say I was fuzzy for about a week after coming back from Europe. Jo also said she found it very hard to concentrate during the day when she went back to work, even 4 days after arriving home.
My lip didn't swell up much until about 24hours after the bee sting and then it started to swell. It's still not that big and it doesn't hurt. I played netball on Tuesday for the Barflies. They are in a much higher division than the Blue Penguins who I usually play for on Wednesday. Anyway, the game was great even though it ended in a tie. Wednesday night's game was also pretty good this week. We managed to only lose by 4 which is pretty good since we usually lose by a factor of 4. As usual, Jo ran around like a mad woman. I was a goal shooter for a while until we realised was I doing well at getting set up for the shot, but missed every opportunity.
I used my new GPS to measure my time and speed into work this morning. I've updated the my graph as well. The difference between my bike speedo and the GPS seems to be pretty small. Did a bunch of wedding stuff on the weekend along with some geocaching. Geocaching seems pretty nerdy but I must admit, it was fun. I found this cache which was only a 20-30min walk from my house. I think I might try some more difficult caches with Jo soon. Jo and I also watched Spartan. It was a pretty typical action movie but there seemed to be a deliberate lack of character building which gave the movie a weird feel. You didn't miss any vital information and it was definitely an interesting way to make it.
Sigh. It makes me wonder how far to the right we are going to swing before people wake up. Oh, that reminds me. On the plane home, the guy in the seat next to me started talking politics. He told me that governments were right to ban homosexuality because the dying out of the great civilizations was due to an increase in homosexual relationships. Hence the government should stop our civilization dying out by banning gay marriage.... This man votes!!
My Russian office mate Vitaly asked me today "What's the difference between crunchy and crispy?". I couldn't think of a clear answer and neither could anyone else I asked. There's a difference but it's not obvious to me how to explain it to him clearly.
Ben pointed this article out to me. I think the author shares a lot in common with my feelings about the ALP.
No I didn't fall off the end of the earth, I was just in Europe for the last 4 weeks. Went to Rome, Florence, Verona, Venice, Antwerp, Paris, Oxford and London. I have a bunch of photos but unless someone wants to offer me 1/2GB of storage somewhere on a web server, I don't have a link to them.
My last post seems to have generated someinterest. I guess there are 2 parts to this conversion. Are the stats correct and assuming they are correct, would it really make a difference to anyone sensible . I'll admit, I'm not completely convinced of either. There are a couple of things I want to add. Firstly, there were additional stats from the Pedal Power meeting. In Canberra 10% of trips are less than 1 Km and 40% of trips are less than 5 Km. Both within riding distance (ignoring terrain and luggage). Secondly, cars obviously scale with distance better than cycling. In practice this may not be important, but psychologically it makes a big difference. It's similar to people wanting unlimited internet access when they never use more than, say, half of their given quota anyway. People like to know the resource is available on tap if required. Of course, alternative forms of transport like buses, train etc are available to fill this void for cyclists. I think the points Stephen makes are very subjective and could be argued either way for a particular person and/or route. For example, I find riding my motorcycle in the transit lanes down Adelaide Ave during peak hour far faster and less stressful than using the "green force fields" on my push bike. But I understand a lot of people would disagree. I think there are a number of different ways we can get the participation rates up for cycling and many of these were discussed at the Pedal Power meetings. Personally, I see a lot of merit in encouraging people to just give it a go. People can then decide on their own whether it's good or not. From the experiences of myself and friends, a lot of people do see the advantages and decide to keep riding to work. 1. Sensible here is defined as anyone that would read my blog, which is the same definition I use for insane ;-)
I've been meaning to find these stats which were quoted at the Pedal Power meeting by the Green candidate. Ben found them here this morning:
Ivan Illich sums up the effect in these startling figures: "The typical American devotes more than 1500 hours a year (which is 30 hours a week, or 4 hours a day, including Sundays) to his [or her] car. This includes the time spent behind the wheel, both in motion and stopped, the hours of work to pay for it and to pay for gas, tires, tolls, insurance, tickets, and taxes. Thus it takes this American 1500 hours to go 6000 miles (in the course of a year). Three and a half miles take him (or her) one hour. In countries that do not have a transportation industry, people travel at exactly this speed on foot, with the added advantage that they can go wherever they want and aren't restricted to asphalt roads."
It's a pretty amazing stat. Even if it's out by a factor of 2 or 3, it's still makes cycling pretty compelling, although it's pointless if you still own a car (or 4 :-P). Canberra's a fantastic city for riding but the majority of people still drive to work. I've been riding 30 min to and from work about 2-3 times a week for 6 months now. It's really easy and for me all it took was for me to get off my arse and try it. Sure it was more difficult initially, getting organised and getting my fitness up, so it was worth persisting a number of times. It's also made me a lot fitter and Jo has noticed a significant improvement in my overall physical and mental well being (as well as becoming a "dirty hippy"). A lot of people say they can't do certain things because they're too busy or their life doesn't let them. Certainly this is true for some people, but for the vast majority of people the problem is caring enough to make the time. People will always make time for the things they are truly interested in.
We had a pretty busy weekend. Work dinner on Friday night, followed by a mini pub crawl. Got home at around 3am but fortunately didn't feel too bad on Saturday. Bummed around most of Saturday. Sunday went to the Nerd fair (commonly known as the Book fair) with Martin and Mel and spent the rest of the day at a picnic with work people at Weston Park.
Riding into work today, I ended up talking to someone on a racer who was doing the same pace and also going to the ANU. We rode most of the trip together and by the end, I'd managed my best average speed of 30.4KPH. It really does make a big difference riding with someone.
I went to a Pedal Power meeting last night. It was a special "What will politicians do? ACT Election issues" meeting so there was senior state representatives from the 4 major parties. Overall all the parties want to continue the good work already done, so there wasn't too much difference between them. The Greens did state they would divert money from a drag strip to other activities including cycling. The best received question from the audience was about police attitudes to cyclist that are hit by cars. Currently, if a car hits a cyclist, very little is done by the police unless the cyclist is killed. This seems unbalanced considering the risks that the cyclist takes compared to the cage protected car driver. A lot of other issues were about advocacy, cultural change and getting the participation rates up. It was a good night and it was great to see Ben and Lisa again.
I was thinking about getting a new speedo for my push bike but then I saw this. Very compact at less than 80 grams, far more useful than a bike speedo and avaliable for around AUD $200 (WalMart sell them for US$120). Very neat.
5th of Marth 2005 is the big day. We have booked the Old Cave at Hardy's Reynella Winery. In other news, the weekend was mostly productive. Went out to dinner with Martin and Mel and bored them to tears with wedding crap, then went to see The Corporation. Ran into Ben and Lisa who were also getting their dose of left wing idealism. Saturday was lots of shopping (still haven't had a hair cut) and Sunday Alli invited us around for afternoon tea. Paul is away so it was just Alli, the cats and us.
Work organised a ski trip to Perisher Blue yesterday. I've not been skiing for 5 years so I was a little concerned at how I'd go. Fortunately, it's like riding a bike and I was quite good straight away. Simon Gregory Mitchell was in the same boat as me. Anyway, it was a very fun day and everyone had a great time and no one got hurt. (Note for the hungers mob: no one else understands moose calls)
We tried some cookies and cream tea at work. Lets just say, the concept is far better than the reality... and, er... the concept sucks!
Rather busy weekend. Friday night we had some of my work people around to our place for beer and pizza. Saturday was badminton at the ANU and a BBQ at Anton and Jeremy's. Sunday Martin and Mel came around for a long lunch. ... and in case you've been living on another planet, the election was called, so we can finally get rid of Howard.
I'm doing some control theory design work at the moment. Different to my usual hardware R&D but still fun. I'm surprised at how much I remember from university about PID controllers and how to tune them, although I did brush up a few years back when I was contracted to UPS company. Seeing Machines has close links to the robotics lab at the ANU so I've found some people I can bounce ideas off, although I think our requirements are low enough that we can avoid having to get too funky with our design.
Went to Shogun and the Pancake Parlour with Paul and Alli on Friday night. Alli still has a cold and I think Jo and I got a mild dose of it. The rest of the weekend was pretty slow. Did some shopping and riding and looked for some accommodation for our trip. Dad is going out to Mallala later in the week to drive the new Audi S4. A 235KW 4WD beast.... not that I'm jealous.
I went out Friday with the guys from work to celebrate the big release. We started at 4pm and went to about 5 different pubs. I felt pretty ordinary on Saturday and only managed to drag myself out of the house to get to Paul and Alli's for dinner. Jo was away all weekend in Adelaide visiting family and friends. She got back this morning and went straight to work. I don't think she'll last too long after getting up at 4am.
Wohoo, we just released FaceLAB 4.0. Probably our biggest release since v1.0 with lots of new technology. Well done to the team (which doesn't include me). The website has been jazzed up for the release. BTW in case anyone is interested, we have a couple of software positions open here and here.
There's an interesting thread over at the LinuxSA mailing list concerning LCA 2004. Seems somepeople aren't that happy with what went down.
I've been keeping a log of the times it take for me to ride into work. Here is a graph of my average speed vs date. I'll try to keep it updated.
We moved house on the 20th June and I hurt my ankle on the 21st of July. The initial inconsistency in average values was caused by sometimes riding in with Ben and sometimes not. Overall, my average is definitely getting faster.
A Current Affair was at work yesterday. Fortunately it didn't end in our CEO being chased down the road by a film crew. It'll be interesting to see how they present our technology. You could definitely put a big brother swing on it.
Went to Iori and The Knightsbridge Penthouse on Friday night with Jo. Iori has great food and service although the setting at Shogun is better. The cocktails at The Knightsbridge Penthouse seem to have way too many ingredients. Saturday, Jo and I walked up the mountain near our house. It's only a 1 hour return trip and it's one of the best views of Canberra. My ankle seemed to hold up pretty well although I was somewhat tentative on it over the rocky sections. I also went for ride on my treadly to see how my ankle would hold up. All seems good, so I might try to ride again this week, which will be the first time since I hurt it.
I got this email sent directly to my Google mail account over the weekend (note mneuling.webhop.org comes to this page)
Dear Michael Neuling
Today I found mneuling.webhop.org and I think that our website, de Groots Best Restaurants of Australia, www.bestrestaurants.com.au may be of interest to your web site visitors.
I would appreciate if you placed a link back to our Restaurant Portal site with the following infomation:
de Groots Best Restaurants of Australia www.bestrestaurants.com.au Australia's restaurant directory with online bookings, gift certificates, vouchers, function venues, specials, menus, winelists, photos. Search by cuisine, price range, or location
We would be happy to place a link to mneuling.webhop.org on our links page;
If you have any other cross-promotion ideas, let me know.
Benjamin Christie Director of Business Development de Groots Media ( Australia ) email@example.com
The FTA debate is getting stupid. John Howard gave this quote when arguing against the ALPs PBS dodgy patent issues with the FTA:
We are also against it because it would harm the operation of the existing intellectual property law. It would introduce an element of uncertainty, it would discourage investment, it would discourage innovation and the creation of new ideas, which are precisely the things that this country ought to be encouraging rather than discouraging.
Chapter 17 already introduces these issues. Why stop now Mr Howard?!?!
Just look at Prozac for the treatment of depression.The difference between the patent product and generic product is $20.Zantac, for the treatment of reflux and ulcers - again a $20 difference, a $20 extra cost to the consumer if these generic products don't get on the market. So the stakes are high for the Australian people.
Firstly, Proxac is off patent. The premium brand Prozac does the government more but it only costs only the consumer $4.10 above the normal co-payment. Similarly, premium brand Zantac is only $2.17 above the normal co-payment. Even when Proxac was under patent, the consumer only ever paid the normal co-payment amount ($3.80 for concessionals and $23.70 for generals) not $20 more. This is what the PBS is there for, to protect the consumer. The government is the one that bears the cost.
I took Mattie for a spin on the R6 last week. He seemed to really enjoy it and it may inspire him to get bike running. We did the initial riding course together but he hasn't done much riding since. Mum is also over this week. Over the weekend, Jo, her and I went out on the two bikes for a ride. We also out to the Lanyon homestead and A Foreign Affair both of which are excellent. Oh and we have the FTA. At least we have 2 years to implement chapter 17.
Quick update on my ankle. It's getting better but still doesn't have full strength or flexibility, probably about 50% there. I can now walk without a limp on the afternoons, when it's warmer but the mornings are still bad. The Netball team did pretty badly last night. Again, only 3 regulars and one of them had the flu and had just stepped off a plane from the US.
My ankle is getting better, although it's far from 100%. I can walk now but only slowly and it's better in the afternoon when it warms up. Thanks to those who emailed me with good wishes. Had fun with Matt and Shelby on the weekend. Did a few touristy things. Went to Milk and Honey but I'm not sure I'll go back. The food is great but the service lousy. One weird thing they did was collect unused sugar packets from our empty coffee cups to redistribute to other customers. Surely if you are going to do that, take the empty coffee cups as well so you don't look stupid. Also, looks like Jo's boss is a stoner. I guess that explains her recent promotion.
OK, so I screwed my ankle playing netball. Nothing is broken, it's just badly sprained. It'll probably take 1-2 weeks to get better. Unfortunately it's my left leg (gear changing leg) so riding the motorbike is a little tricky. Also, I broke my no sick days since year 10 streak. Matt and Shelby are staying with us ATM. I was telling them I should have a a bell while I'm disabled so I could ring it and Nurse Hartley would know I needed something. So they bought us one from Bungendore, only problem is it's made from wood. I think Nurse Hartley is happy.
Went out Friday night with the boys from work. Ended up at The Phoenix getting rather messy. Matt tried his hardest to be chucked out but to no avail. Alli came over Saturday to go to the gym with Jo and for dinner. Sunday was pretty lazy. Finished some unpacking from our move a few weeks back as Matt and Shelby are visiting us this week and the spare room was still in a bit of a messy. Also did some treadly maintenance which seemed to help. I managed my best average of 26.8KPH over the 12.6K ride in this morning. Still pretty lame compared to 40KPH average over 240KM that the Tour de France competitors are capable of in 1 day.
Real estate agents are just plain dumb. We rang our current ones to give them our banking details so they didn't end up in plain text over the net. Afterwards, they email us with a question and put our banking details in that email.
Went to see Super size me last night. I'm amazed at how much soft drink people have and think that it's OK. One dude was drinking 2 gallons of non-diet soft drink per day and was wondering why he went blind.
The latest Crypto-Gram is out. As usual, a good read. Bruce Schneier has the ability to write very concisely and clearly on complex matters, making them seem simple. Jonathan Corbet from LWN also seems to have this skill.
Unfortunately, every time a significant Linux conference is on, all the guys disappear and we have no netball team. With OLS next week, we are very light on for team members... and we lost again last night.
I was riding my push treadly into work this morning and noticed my head light missing. So I back tracked and fortunately managed to find it only 200m back up the road (it had fallen off without me noticing). Unfortunately it had scratches all over it and, even worse, refused to work. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I got a replacement globe and all is better.
Dinner on friday night with Paul and Alli who gave me PJ Harvey's new album. Pia Smith (Linux Australia president) who I'd not met before, was also around doing some FTA stuff. Saturday night Martin and Mel were over for dinner. We were going to watch Fahrenheit 9/11, but ended up just eating, drinking and talking.
This is a great site. Topographic maps of NSW, with the ACT in excellent detail.
Over the weekend I made my first curry from only basic ingredients. I even made my own Garam Masala by crushing seeds with the Mortar and Pestle Jo gave me for my birthday. The only thing I didn't make was the curry powder. It turned out great and the kitchen smelt awesome afterwards.
Martin's band The Taken played their first gig at the Pot Belly on Friday night. Not as loose (read drunk) as the next band, but they were really good.
This really pisses me off. To suggest that Rusty is anti-FTA because he works for IBM, couldn't be further from the truth. It's tempting to waste time debunking these claims, but it's not where the real FTA battle lies.
The government announced tougher competition laws for companies today. Interesting to consider this relative to the IP provisions of the AUSFTA which generally hinder competition. Also, good to see they support collective bargaining for small companies but not for individuals (eg. Unions). Oh, and schools are going to get more money if they display an Australian flag. I wonder if they'll start offering tax cuts to individuals if they display an Australian flag as well or give tax benefits to people who are in heterosexual relationships. Oh, hang on, they already plan to do the latter. Sigh.
Yay, we got all our bond back. Of course, they still haven't refunded the extra rent they charged us... Oh and the move went really well. We are in the new place and there is only a few more boxes to unpack. Thanks to Mum and Dad, Martin and Mel, Paul and Alli who helped us move and provided sustenance during the day. Nothing got broken and no one killed anyone else, so all is good. I had a fun moment in the rain with the trailer going downhill with dodgy front tyres and an unfortunatley timed switch from green to red lights. I didn't hit anything and I stopped in time, but only just. Also, it was my birthday yesterday. Thanks to all who sent me birthday wishes.
After the early start on Saturday morning, the rest of the weekend was quite relaxing. Went to Milk and Honey for brunch with Martin & Mel and Paul & Alli. The food was great, I'm sure we'll be back there soon. Did some more packing getting ready for the big move. Checked out the shops near the new place. There is an IGA, bakery, news agent/post office, cafe (with another good brunch menu) and petrol station all with 100m. Should be very convenient.
The property manager for our current unit sent us a letter saying that since we are moving out they would only debit part of the last fortnight rent. They then went ahead and debited the whole amount. They didn't argue when I rang them, but it makes you wonder what would have happened if I'd not queried them. Note to self: don't give real estate agents access to my bank account every again.
The fridge hole in the new place is just over 168cm tall but our fridge is just under 170cm high at the front. Fortunately, the door hinge is 2cm high making the rest of the fridge just under 168cm high. So it looks like we'll be able to fit the fridge in provided the hinge is sticking out, which should be good enough.
I arranged to do some measurements on the new place but the real estate agent didn't turn up. I hate having to deal with people who know they can screw you and have no consequences. If this had been an open inspection, she would have been there.
One of the foggiest mornings I've experienced in Canberra this morning. It was foggy for the whole 10Km into work with visibility anywhere between 50 and 200 meters. Weekend was pretty slow. The next few weekends are going to be busy moving and doing other stuff so we decided to take it easy. I rode down to the new unit via work on my treadly to see what the paths are like. It seems pretty good compared to the ride I do at the moment. It's a marginally longer distance but a much easier ride without the ridge to contend with.
...who really cares what you do so long as you do not cause harm to others (including doing harm to their property), and keep your agreements?
Granted, there are people who may want you to believe as they do, act in a manner consistent with their beliefs and desires, and otherwise submit to their authority in all or most all matters of consequence. In other words, there are people who want slaves in one form or another -- but who likely do not wish to become slaves themselves.
The enlightened view is to tolerate the varied pursuits of happiness employed by others (so long as they do not cause injury to still others), rejoice in the diversity of human creativity in following their oftentimes strange or perplexing dreams, and recognize the fundamental stability of a society which sees chaos, even Anarchy and/or Revolution, as opportunity, liberty, and freedom of choice.
Jo and I have applied for a new unit to rent. I hope we get it as it'll be much closer to Jo's work and there's lock up parking for our bikes.
I had to ride my motorbike to and from work in the rain yesterday. Braking in the rain is very difficult on the bike as the disc brakes don't work nearly as well. You end up having to pull harder on the brake level in the rain than what you would in the dry. This is hard to do as naturally you want to be lighter on the brakes in the rain to avoid skidding. It's really quite disconcerting and hard to train yourself to get over.
Another busy weekend with Brad and Di over from Brisbane. We've been having a steady stream of people over in the last few months with ever second weekend being taken up with looking after people. Not that I'm complaining.
DFAT just presented at the FTA senate committee about the IP provisions in the FTA. They were so bad it seemed like even the Liberal senator was having trouble believing them, and she had no idea (was reading prepared questions). Senator Cook (ALP) made them look silly and had to apologise for embarrassing the DFAT representatives. Easy to see how we got steam rolled in the negotiations.
Rusty spoke at the Senate Select Committee on the FTA. He did a good presentation and answered questions well. Seems that people who care about the issues (other than big business) don't want the DMCA in Australia and the rest are apathetic, which probably explains why he didn't asked any nasty questions. This seems to be the same as what happened during the negotiation stages, but no one in Australia who knows about the issues was consulted, hence we got screwed.
This FTA "doesn't pass the laugh test". Under the FTA it'll be illegal to play a DVD legally bought in the USA on an DVD player legally bought in Australia. So much for the Free Trade Agreement freeing trade!
Naomi was in Canberra. Went go karting with her and her Rusty (her brother) in Fyshwick and ate way too much at the Charcoal Restaurant where they have 1KG steaks and some very old Grange and Hill of Grace on the menu Kraka is also here currently. He's doing some courses at the ANU and staying about 100m away from my work. Went to a mock meat place in Dickson last night. We couldn't believe how real the beef looked but they assured us it was just mushroom.
As part of this blogger account I can beta trial Google's email service Gmail. Thought I sign up and see what it's like (ignoring Gmails privacy concerns). I hate web mail but first impressions are good. Very fast and the user interface is excellent. Lots of stuff that other web mail systems do on the server side is done client side in Gmail making it really fast. For example, you get prompted in real time for addresses as you type into the To: field. It's Google's lightweight, simple and quick interface principles applied to webmail. Very neat. BTW my address is Michael.Neuling@gmail.com if you want to spam me.
Work has been very busy. I've been pulled into a project which seems to be on the critical path. It's not really my thing (not hardware design) but I guess doing something with a deadline may be good for me. I've been cycling a lot. I've ridden every day this week so far. Went to see Monster with the lovely Martin and Mel on Friday. Saturday was slow so we got Kill Bill Vol 1 on DVD which neither Jo or I had seen. Sunday was brunch with Paul and Alli and Alli's mum.
Listening to Meet the Press the other day Terry McCarthy (St Vincent De Paul Society Social Justice Spokesman) was talking about payments people receive from the government like the dole or pension. He said that increases in payments are linked to CPI and that CPI is an unfair measure of the cost of living. He gave the example that politicians, hypocritically, get their benefits scaled with the male average weekly earnings data which normally increases faster than CPI. Obviously these measures are trying to determine the cost of living but they do so in completely different ways. One is via how much people spend (CPI) and the other is via how much people earn (average weekly earnings). Having a brief look it seems that in the last financial year CPI increased about 2.5% but the average weekly earnings increased by about 5.0% (about twice). So if you got a 5% pay rise last year, you got, quite literally, an average pay rise.
After some beers at Uni House with the OzLabs crowd on Thursday night, Alli came over while Paul talked at CLUG about the FTA and how it's bad for open source in Australia. Paul turned up later and we ended up watching my favorite movie The Shawshank Redemption. We managed to get screwed by Domino's who forgot to deliver one of our pizzas. Took an hour for the second pizza to be delivered after the first had arrived. Saturday night we had old Adelaide friends Brad and Tennille over for dinner. We managed to cook Brad's favorite main and Tennille's favorite desert purely by accident. It was good to catch up but would be nice to be able to see more of them. Seeing Brad and Tennille is one of the biggest things I miss from Adelaide. Sunday we went to the Canberra Wine festival with Martin and Mel. If you ever think about going to Yass Valley Wines, make sure you don't mind being treated like a moron and getting bad service from the cafe. Great view, shitty people. Anyway, off to rock climbing...
Another fun weekend bites the dust, although I'm a little late writing about it. Friday was a dinner for work at the Hellenic Club followed by drinks at All Bar None. In the foyer of the Hellenic Club has a giant fridge containing meat trays which are raffled off. This pretty much explains the class of the establishment. Saturday was Alli's birthday party/BBQ. Paul and Alli did a great job hosting as usual and a good time was had by all. The rest of the weekend was pretty slow. Went for a bike ride with Jo and finished season 2 of the West Wing DVDs. I just ordered season 3 which has been released only in the UK so far. Mike and Na will bring it over when they are here soon.
The weekend was fun. Friday night was dinner at Paul and Alli's. Time flew by and it was midnight very quickly. Dinner was simple (but very yummy) as Alli's started work on Monday and, sensibly, was taking it easy. Saturday I went to Anton and Jeremy's house warming. They have a great view of eastern Canberra including the airport and Queanbeyan. Sunday I rode my push bike to work and back to see that it was like. To my surprise the ride home up the O'Connor ridge was not as bad as expected. I did run into a lot of people going to the Brumbies game at Bruce stadium which make life a little easier for me. Anyway, so Monday I decided to ride to work. It takes about 30 minutes to get here and 40 minutes to get home. There are some hilly bits but they are getting easier the more I do them (also rode today). Last night I went rock climbing with the OzLabs crowd and Tony Breeds (one of the Perth LCA organisers in 2003 who is now in Canberra). I really enjoyed it although all muscles below my elbows are hurting today. The ride in this morning warmed them up again so it's too bad now. Stayed later than I expected to do a few extra climbs with Paul, but it seems to be a game of diminishing returns as your hands and arms die at the end of the night. We did get to see one guy go over the top which was pretty impressive. Jeremy was the best of our group and I was probably the worst. I blame my extra ballast and lack of reach (read short and fat).
The weekend was fun. Friday night we went to Martin and Mel's for dinner and a lively game of Pictionary. Lots of good wine and food and two Pictionary victories by the boys. Saturday I did a little shopping for an upcoming wedding. Went for a walk around town with Jo and found some awesome looking apartments right in the city called Forum (I could easily walk to work at the ANU from where they are). Sunday, I got up to discover an unhappy TiVo and (hence) Jo. Decided to ignore it and go for a ride to Batemans Bay. Took less than 2 hours each way and the last part up and down the Clyde mountain is as good as advertised although a little too much traffic to be really great. Very sore when I got home after be cramped on the bike for almost 4 hours in total but was all worth it. Looks Like the TiVo problem due to the last OzTiVo image which is fixed in the new version, so looks like I'll be re-imaging.... again.
I did my first reference this morning for someone I use to work with back in Adelaide who is applying for a job at C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures in Toronto Canada. Interesting their CEO is William Shatner.
Our West Wing Season 2 DVD's arrived last night. It took a while...
Busy and long 4 day weekend with Jo's parents Sue and Geoff over. Canberra day was Monday and we both took Tuesday off. Went to the Cotter, Bungendore and ate lots of nice food. I even managed to convince Sue to come for a ride on the bike but we only went around the block on the 250cc. Took Geoff for a longer ride on the R6 at a reasonable (read illegal) speed. A good time was had by all.
We didn't do much this weekend as last weekend was busy with Matt and Ben over and next weekend Jo's folks are over. Friday we watched a movie and got take-away. Saturday I played around with the TiVo, got my firewall working again and watch the GP in Melbourne. Saturday night, Paul and Alli came over for dinner and cards. We played 500 and Warlords & Scumbags. I spent most of the time trying to channel my fathers expert bridge skills (bridge is much like 500) without much luck. Sunday was another slow day with more TiVo hacking and GP watching. Managed to go for a ride for an hour or so but the weather set in and nixed that.
Today our new COO started. He's worked for many years as a senior manager in the evil empire in Australia. Seems to be a really nice guy.
Some portable devices, such as mobile phones, are limited in how small they can be because of the size of the human interfaces. Embedding a mini projector like this and a keyboard like the Canesta keyboard should solve this problem. Very neat.
Turns out it was the starter motor. They guys at the local servo took it out but couldn't fix it so they had to replace it. $500 later we have a working car again.
The problem with owning a new car or motorbike is that the insurance and rego coincide. So each year you get a bunch of bills that all happen at the same time.... this just happened with my bike. Coupled with the recent car problems, I've spent over $2000 on the VISA in the last day and I've got nothing to show of it. Snuh.
Went to Verve in Manuka last night for dinner with Jamin. Natasha Stott Despoja was hanging out there, so it must be a trendy spot. Everyone was pretty tired, especially Jamin who'd been up since 5am. Took Jamin to GoodBerry's for a concrete (frozen custard). Very yummy. Also showed him the TiVo which he was more than sold on. I did a preemptive battery change on the car last night as it seemed to be dying. The car started better after but I'm not completely convinced that was the problem. Hopefully Jo won't get stranded somewhere
Kraka was staying with us last weekend. He's studying at the ANU and seeing some clients in Canberra. Canberra is not new to Matt as he lived here for a while after graduating and has been here 20-30 times since for work. He's decided that his house needs less of a bachelor pad feel so he's been purchasing art work for his house. We managed to find him some nice stuff at Gold Creek and Bungendore. Jamin is up from Melbourne today. He's intending to work long term in England soon so he needs to see the British high commission to get his passport organised. We picked him up from the airport this morning, showed him how to navigate the myriad of round-a-bouts that Canberra is and sent him on his way. He's not been here since he was a youngster, so there's plently for him to see.
Yummy bits: unfortunately our offices are attached to the foyer in our building. There is often conferences or talks which inevitably leads to a mob of loud people congregating in the foyer having coffee and nibbles. This results in an unbearable noise for us. We have complained numerous times but nothing seems to be happening. Lately the solution has been to bring us all the left over goodies (cakes, biscuits, chocolates etc) as a bride. It's works for me :-)
No longer a week away...the air conditioning is back... yay!!!
Went to see Mystic River on Friday night with Martin and Mel. I thought it was a good movie although nothing mind blowing. It's directed by Clint Eastwood and has been nominated for 6 Academy awards. We also went to Montezuma's before hand which somehow managed to lose our booking, even though I made it only 2 hours before hand. Martin and I went through a jug of Margaritas which were on special for happy hour... very yummy. Saturday was a minor amount of TiVo hacking to get my new Ethernet card working. Pretty easy, although I did managed to kill the guide data for a while, which took some time to restore. Saturday night was a BBQ at Dennis' to celebrate his successful Lasik eye surgery.. any excuse for a party I guess. Sunday, Jo and I went for a ride to the base of Mt Stromlo and then back around parliament house. You really notice the wind when you are riding a bike, especially in bends where you tend to use more road anyway. It was pretty windy Sunday, especially on the bridges over the lake, which was good experience for Jo.
The heat: well the air conditioning is still not fixed, but what else is new. We are continuing to get Paddle pops. I'm glad I'm on the south side of the building as we don't get the sun most of the day. One of the offices on the north side is over 34C in the afternoon.
I saw this article on the TiVo Remote Control. Personally, I find it hard to use as it feels the same in your hand when it's upside down. Thus when you pick it up and it's dark, you never know if you are pointing it at your chest or the TiVo.
This is funny. A guy rides his bike numerous times through the Sydney tunnel at speeds up to 220Kph. He obscured his license plate number but, stupidly, he did it at about the same time each day, so the police just waited for him one day and.....
The weekend was fun. Saturday I took Jo on a picnic by lake with lots of nice food and a bottle of Abendlese (sweet white) from Kellermeister that we picked up last time we were in Adelaide. Saturday night was dinner at Paul and Alli's. They did a great job cooking dinner for 8 people. Everything was very yummy. Sunday was a slow day. I went for blade with Ivie from work around Commonwealth park and later for a bike ride with Jo. She is getting much better and far more confident, although my bike is getting very hot in this weather when we ride slowly.
That air conditioning saga... is still going. It'll probably get fixed sometime this week. Someone bought themometer into work and at 1pm it was 30.7C in the office already.
I ordered the season 2 West Wing DVD's from Atlantic DVD in South Australia (cheaper than Crave). They have a weird but interesting authentication procedure for credit cards. They initially deduct a small amount from your card which is less than a $1 but they don't tell you how much it's going to be. You then have to contact your bank (which is easy via net banking) and find out how much they deducted. You then contact them to tell say how much was deducted and if you get it write, they assume you are the real person who owns that card. Although a little slow messy, I thought it was kinda neat. They said they only do it for first time customers.
Well no news on when the AC will be fixed. It seems to be a week away but it was a week away a week ago. We managed to kill a $900 prototype camera that over heated and ate itself. Management has been good, telling us to go home and giving us paddle pops and beer.
Escape!: try to stay away from the other blocks and keep inside the white area or as long as possible.
Ordered The West Wing Season 1 DVD's from DVD Crave on Wednesday afternoon and they arrived Thursday morning. For $1.95 postage and being 10% cheaper than everywhere else for The West Wing, I was very impressed. Highly recommended.
A couple of nice photos we took on Australia day at the Chinese gardens in Sydney. 1 and 2
Email filtering: There seems to be an increase in the use of machine learning techniques for filtering spam these days. A while ago I got sick of writing procmail rules for new mailing lists and groups so I decided I'd try to adapt one of the Bayesian spam tools to learn how I classified my mail. I use MH which uses the refile command to move messages around, so I wrapped that command so that every time I moved a message to a new folder, the filter would get this info and use it as training data. This has worked really well, but now I'd like to be able to do the same thing at work where MS Outlook is mandated. There are spam filters which use Bayesian techniques but these only classify to spam or ham. Writing email rules under Outlook is a slow, painful, point and dribble processes which I hate even more than writing procmail rules. Even if the filter only got 90% of the classifications correct, that'd save me lots of time.
An 80 Amp fuse was tripped in our side of the build over the weekend and now all of our air conditioners are not worked. The ANU has a policy of finding out what caused it to blow before they turn it back on, which means they have to get quotes and blah, blah, blah... screw us over.
What's worse is that it's actually cold outside now but we can't open the windows because the medical research group in the building next door is burning off a bunch of crap (dead rats normally) and it smells to high heaven.