Diary of a geek

July 2006
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Andrew Pollock

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Sunday, 30 July 2006

Lady in the Water

Tonight Sarah and I went to see Lady in the Water with Sean and Louise.

Best. M. Night Shyamalan movie. Ever.

Sarah and I (and I think Sean and Louise) are big fans of Night's work. This movie made a much more pointed excursion into the fantastic, but remained (for me) absolutely rivetting, right through to the end.

Shyamalan makes much less of a cameo appearance, and is more of a supporting actor in this one, and there are his usual plot subtleties littered throughout.

I also want to see 5 out of 6 of the trailers that preceded:

If you're looking for me in November/December, I'll be at the movies.

[23:49] [life] [permalink]

Sunday, 23 July 2006

I love technology

Although Windows' Bluetooth support is a bit weird.

I'm sitting in a hotel room in Canberra, with my old Sony Ericsson HBH-35 Bluetooth headset paired with my laptop, talking to Sarah on her mobile phone, using X-Lite on my laptop, talking to my Asterisk server at home. The call quality is quite acceptable without any QoS.

I should do some maths to work out if the obscene rate the Telstra wireless hot-spot is charging me is less than what it would cost me to use my Australian mobile phone or the hotel phone for the same call.

The next step is to do all of this, but with the iPaq, and on Google Wifi anywhere in Mountain View. Then I'll just have a ridiculously expensive mobile phone.

[12:40] [geek] [permalink]

Be an agent of change

Michael feels hot and unempowered, when it comes to global warming. I generally feel hot and bothered. I'm doing what I can about it.

[12:16] [life] [permalink]

It's nice to be back

Today I drove back to Canberra from Sydney, which was a nice drive given the rental car had cruise control. That Canberra-Sydney drive was what made me wish I'd had cruise control in the last car...

Caught up with Mel and Ash, who were incidentally in Canberra and returning to Sydney, and we had lunch at Gus' Cafe. That was nice. The Civic redevelopment is continuing, but far from complete. The new buildings look a lot higher than I expected for a construction in Canberra. It certainly looks like it'll be an impressive bunch of buildings when it's done, but I wonder if it'll steal all the focus from City Walk?

Caught up with some Bilby friends for afternoon tea, ran a few errands to collect things we miss from Australia and can't readily obtain in the US, and offloaded some DVDs on our old flatmate.

There seems to be a few people arriving for the conference this evening, a roaming horde of sysadmins went out in search of food a little while ago.

My luggage also turned up. Apparently they thought I'd failed to board (how, I do not know) and so didn't put my luggage on the plane. I'm glad that's behind me now anyway.

Looks like Sarah received the flowers I sent her, given that we're spending our first wedding anniversary apart...

[02:38] [life] [permalink]

Friday, 21 July 2006

The wackiness continues and turns to general suckiness

So the flight to Sydney was relatively uneventful. I managed to get a reasonable amount of sleep, and with the assistance of some Coke, I've managed to stay awake and will probably last until a reasonable bed time for this time zone.

The general suckiness is because they managed to lose my bag. I feel totally naked without a functional mobile phone. My work one isn't roaming for some reason (it seems to be the phone itself, and so I'm assuming it's a GSM900 thing), and my personal Australian one is in the lost bag.

Then I discovered that United didn't take the I-94 out of my passport when I checked in, so that's probably going to cause me all sorts of immigration grief when I return to the United States.

[23:40] [life] [permalink]

Thursday, 20 July 2006

Wackiest. International departure. Ever.

And I haven't even left yet.

So I'm now sitting in the domestic terminal, waiting to board my international flight to Sydney, for SAGE-AU'2006.

This is after a very slow check-in with my least favourite airline, United, because they had to do everyone's check-ins sneaker-net to some remote location because the "computers were down".

I was sitting in the departure area (post x-ray machines) eating some dinner (with a metal fork and a plastic knife, incidentally) and having a beer, and an announcement came through that we had to move to a gate in the domestic terminal. This is after I've checked in, surrendered my I-94, and done the bullshit US-VISIT thing. I'm effectively out of the country now.

This made me realise, that if I wanted to "go dark", all I'd have to do is check in for an international flight, check out of the country on the bullshit US-VISIT thing, and then turn around and exit the international departure lounge area and disappear. Seems like a rather serious flaw in the system to me.

Oh, and because I'd exited the international x-ray area, I had to go through a way busy domestic x-ray security check point.

They're now calling up passengers for "documentation checks". This flight is so not leaving on time.

[21:48] [life] [permalink]

Tuesday, 18 July 2006

Gadgets always seem to arrive in bulk

Whenever I get stuff, I always seem to get lots of stuff all at once.

So tonight we went to the lovely Fry's, with a mission to acquire an Ethernet switch to plug in the new printer, which was due to arrive any day now. A co-worker had also recently bought a 160Gb hard drive that cost $40 after rebate, so I was on the lookout for one of them too.

Instead, I came home with 1.6Tb of hard drive. Oh well.

There were some Seagate 400Gb hard drives going for around 30 cents a gigabyte (that figure still blows me away, I remember when it was dollars per megabyte), so I couldn't pass that up. Hopefully it'll motivate me into getting a wriggle-on with building the MythTV box. I figure I'll try to get a USB-2 card and stick it in my 1RU server, attach the four disks to that, and export them via ATA over Ethernet, and I should be able to have an essentially diskless MythTV front-end (maybe boot it from a 1Gb USB key I've got lying around spare, or PXE boot). Should be fun, if I ever get around to it...

[23:30] [tech] [permalink]

All I've ever wanted was a networked printer

Sad, but true. Well, not so much networked, as attached to my Linux box...

With Sarah going back to school, we needed a working printer. Numerous attempts at step-up transformer technology had met with failure, to the point where it was rapidly becoming more economical to buy a new printer. So we did. Today it arrived.

We got a Brother HL-5250DN, for the princely sum of $230 from Amazon. Main reasons for going for it were it had built-in duplexing, like the Panasonic KX-P7100 it was replacing, but unlike the Panasonic, which I unfortunately discovered after purchasing, was a WinPrinter, the Brother is a full-blown PostScript/PCL printer. And it's network-ready to boot. Very sweet. It's very important to be able to telnet to your printer.

It does the whole gamut of networky things (naturally the first thing I did after plugging it in was run nmap over it): FTP, Telnet, HTTP, SMB, LPD, IPP and JetDirect support. Oh, and SNMP. Awesome.

It gave me a good excuse to have a quick tinker with CUPS, and now we can print from Linux, MacOS X, and Windows. Very nice. Much better than the stupid WinPrinter. Hopefully the consumables won't cost a fortune, and I wonder if A4 paper exists in this country?

[23:21] [tech] [permalink]

Wednesday, 12 July 2006

Yay!

[21:42] [work] [permalink]

Tuesday, 11 July 2006

On Howard and Costello

So it sounds like Costello is doing his annual (or so) stirring of the pot about the leadership of the Liberal party. It's interesting to see how the media's got itself whipped into a frenzy over a supposed agreement between Howard and Costello from 12 years ago.

That said, it does smack a bit of the Hawke/Keating "all bets are off" debacle, that ultimately cost Hawke the top job.

I'm inclined to agree with Queensland Premier Beattie, Costello acting like an impatient child isn't doing him any good. I don't see how he thinks it's his God-given right to assume the leadership of the Liberal party (and thus become Prime Minister).

I think Costello has done a great job as Treasurer, but as someone once commented, when he comes to Prime Minister, he just doesn't pass the "Balmain Barbecue" test. I just can't imagine this guy letting his hair down with a beer at a backyard barbecue. Howard, the guy who's out going for a brisk walk every morning in his footy jersey and shorts, on the other hand, comes across as a little more of a man of the people, than Costello, who always looks very stiff and formal in a suit. I don't know, he just doesn't have the same appeal. I put him in the same basket as Kim Beazley, for similar reasons.

[22:38] [politics] [permalink]

Sunday, 02 July 2006

Weirdest. Rental policy. Ever.

We were just at the local Blockbuster grabbing a few DVDs, and I noticed the late returns policy on a sign proclaiming an end to late fees:

Rental product kept more than 7 days after the due date is converted to a sale. Sale may be reversed by returning the product within 30 days of the sale date and paying a $1.25 restocking fee. Franchise restocking fees may vary.

So this pretty much means that I can rent a video for 36 days plus the original rental period for the cost of the initial rental plus $1.25 (and some forward and reverse credit card transaction shenanigans). I don't see the point in them referring to rentals as "overnight" or "three nights" or "weekly" any more.

Wacky.

[19:50] [life] [permalink]

On the state of Flash on Linux

The state of Flash on Linux is starting to irk me, specifically the fact that what's available for Linux seems to be trailing 2 versions behind what's available for Windows.

Case in point: Kynan blogs about the Transformers movie. "Yay" I go, and scoot off to check it out, only to discover that it requires Flash 8, and points me off in that direction. If only a version greater than 7 was available to download, I would.

Sigh. I'm due for a reboot into Windows soon so I can download the exercise data off my watch, so maybe I'll remember to visit the site then...

[12:07] [tech] [permalink]